a look back at 2009, and forward to 2010

So, how’d you do in 2009? Did you make resolutions, and did you meet them?

My 2009 resolutions were:

-work on the muffin top, while being resigned to its probable eternal presence about my midsection

-get down on the floor and play with the kids once in a while

-stop finishing the kids’ dinners

-spend more time interacting with friends in the real world than I do on Facebook

-get Maggie to sleep through the night

-take my vitamins

-more books, less DVR’s

-do five Kegels. (not daily, just at some point in 2009)

Talk about setting the bar high.

Maggie sleeps through, I take vitamins regularly (now that I have switched to the kids’ gummy vitamins), and I have done better at playing with the kids. The muffin top, my virtual vs. real world friend interaction, and number of books read continue to be not what I would hope.

I really could make all of these resolutions over again, year after year, but I’m going to resolve something else this time:

I resolve to be happier in 2010. Not that I’m an unhappy person. My life is full of blessings and I am grateful for them daily. But I spend more time being stressed and worried and harried than I do enjoying the moment. I’d like that to change this year.

I resolve to have greater reserves of patience and calm, to be the mother my kids deserve.

I resolve to have a sense of humor, enabling me to see the unbelievably good man that is my husband, rather than the roommate who throws his dirty socks around.

How am I going to do all that? I do have a plan. Part two tomorrow.

reader mail

Today, an inquiry from a reader: “Please tell me it’s normal to have to scream JUST DON’T TOUCH HIM! several times a day at reasonably full volume.”

Yes, Virginia, it is.

At least I hope so, since just this morning, I announced to my two boys that 2010 was going to be the Year of Not Touching Maggie and Just Leaving Her ALONE.

I then had to explain to the boys the whole concept of New Year’s resolutions. I have, through this experience, discovered it is much more rewarding to impose resolutions on others than on oneself. For Maggie, 2010 will be the Year of the Potty. The boys, as seen above. David will find 2010 the Year of Payback for Having Given Me a PajamaGram. And so on.

Keep those letters coming!

Only 364 days left

As soon as Maggie woke up this morning, she asked, “Santa coming today?”
“Um, NO,” I said, “he’s definitely not.”
“Cwistmas comin’ soon?” she asked again, still hoping we had entered some new, magical reality where presents dropped from the sky by the dozen each morning.
“That’s right, honey,” I answered her, as we took in the scene of wrapping paper and toy chaos that is our living room. “Just 364 more days.”

Christmas seems more exhausting every year, although I really do love it. The kids were all up by 6 a.m. to open their presents, and Maggie was especially taken with her “sock bag” full of candy, Fisher Price Little People, and Chap Stick (also known as “makeup.”) David and I have taken oaths in the past not to buy each other anything; I think I was first to float that balloon, because he is seriously impossible to buy for. Even so, we still get each other ONE gift, just in case the other spouse does, and that seems to be how it is settling out.

Like I said, David is impossible to buy for; if you ask him what he wants, he says Gold Toe socks, which is just too depressing for me to consider. Instead, I got him a pair of Bose noise-reducing headphones, since he flies overnight to London five or six times a year. I gave them to him the weekend before Christmas this year, since we were spending that time with our extended family on his side. He seemed moderately psyched; to be honest, my brother-in-law was more excited about them, but what can you do? David then announced to all those gathered that he was “still working” on my present, which I knew, in this particular context, meant “have not begun to consider.”

I told him he really didn’t have to bother, that I could just get something at the post-Christmas sales for myself with a clear conscience and that would be a nice present. “I’m on it,” he insisted, sneaking away to access the World Wide Web.

OK. At least I’m easy to buy for. Cute earrings, spa certificate, cashmere sweater, leather gloves. Can’t go wrong with any of those, and in the past, he hasn’t.

Last night, after the children were in bed, he presented me with his Christmas gift…

a PajamaGram.

I opened the purple box (as in, when I am an old lady I shall wear) and took out a pair of black and white pajamas so roomy I could have worn them 38 weeks pregnant with twins.

“I took the hint you dropped,” David said, smiling.

Said “hint” was when I asked him, a few days ago, if a friend of ours had ever invested in the company. David said he didn’t think so. I said that was good, since I couldn’t really imagine they were selling many PajamaGrams, had he ever seen their website?

So then I’m holding the pajamas and wondering whether I should be madder at David because he 1) bought me the lamest Christmas present ever, or 2) is clearly never listening to me AT ALL.

I picked neither. I think he is still under the impression he chose well for me this holiday season, and he hardly ever reads this blog, so it will stay that way. Hey, it’s not like he bought me something from the As We Change catalog. Though I must say their washable walking sneakers look both comfy and practical.

does pink stink?

Lisa Belkin wrote an interesting essay this week on the nascent Pink Stinks movement in the UK. Pink Stink calls itself a “social enterprise which challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls’ lives.”

Before I had a daughter, I was an eye-roller at all things pink, and laughed when my sons did the same. Once I put that in print, some commenters pointed out that that was the wrong message to send: that I was telling them girls were inferior.

Oh, come on, I started to respond– if I had two daughters instead, we’d all be snorting derisively at dinosaurs and Thomas the Tank Engine. Upon further reflection, though, I had to admit these commenters had a point. No one gets a laugh out of making fun of high school football players; cheerleaders, on the other hand, will be an easy laugh as long as SNL is on the air. “Girly girls” and the things they like are viewed as trivial, and when you pigeonhole a girly girl’s interests as lame, is that not a slippery slope to saying she is lame herself? There’s no such term as “boys-y boys.” Even if someone says, “Boys will be boys,” they are usually talking about a boy’s activity level, his strength. What pink represents, what the Disney Princess represents, is the opposite of that. Which by the way was why I was such an eye-roller at the stuff in the first place. My third child, my girl, was going to be interested in none of those things.

Smash cut to two years and two months later. Maggie has never heard of Barbie or Bratz, and whenever she sees a Disney Princess, she says “Mommy dat YOU!” because she has no idea who any of them are, either. But Maggie loves pink. She LOVES pink. To the exclusion of all else. To wit:

–Maggie’s favorite food is “pink bacon,” which some of you may know as ham.

–Upon awaking, Maggie tells me in her two-year-old excited stammer of nightmares in which she was pursued by a “pink monster” in a pink car.

–Pajamas must be pink. Socks must be pink. Clothes have to be pink. I managed to get her red and green Christmas dress on her this week to go see Santa Claus, but only because I allowed her to complement it with her hot pink (and none-too-clean) sneakers.

–She claims that Santa will be bringing her a “pink cake” and “pink big girl underwears.”

I have no idea where this came from. I have not overdone the pink in her life (her doll stroller is navy, her two coats are white and red), and we have a house full of boy toys. But Maggie thinks pink, and it is, admittedly, adorable. Santa will be bringing her a pile of presents but I suspect none will top the pink Disney Princess cell phone her babysitter gave her for Christmas last week. Maggie has been marching around with it to her ear ever since. “Yeah… you come over?… I busy. I see you yater,” she says into it, rolling her eyes up and to the right as she must see me do. “She’s really something,” one of our neighbors said, a mother of four boys. I couldn’t tell if that meant my neighbor thought my daughter, dressed in cloying, Pepto-Bismol pink with her Disney Princess cell phone, was cute, or vaguely nauseating. Before I had a daughter of my own, I would probably have been in the latter camp.

Personally I would not have bought a pink Disney Princess cell phone for my daughter. It’s not the toy cell phone part I have a problem with (since my kids have broke my iphone twice), but couldn’t it be black or white? Why does it have to be princess-ified? The problem is that, even if my babysitter had set out to find Maggie a toy phone that wasn’t pink and sparkly, it’s not like it would have been easy. As Pamela Paul pointed out in her excellent book Parenting Inc., everything marketed to children these days is overwhelmingly gender-specified, so that we will buy more stuff. (Of course Maggie can’t play with Shea’s old Bob the Builder cell phone; that’s for boys.) Other than the obvious damage these marketing ploys do to every parent’s wallet, though, I haven’t been convinced that there was something wrong with Maggie loving everything pink. It was cute! I got my girl after all! See, boys and girls really are different!

But part of me now wonders if Maggie has noticed the huge reaction she gets for preferring pink, and that is what has reinforced her preference. Maybe Maggie has gotten the message that she’s supposed to prefer pink above all else by some sort of advertising osmosis, and now she’s going to buy into all the “girly girl” things that go along with it as the way she is ideally supposed to behave. That really would be a shame– not if she loved pink, but if she said so because she thought she was supposed to.

What about you? Have you tried to keep the pink creep out of your daughters’ toy chests and closets? Have you been successful? Do you think it even matters?

Restless Husband Syndrome

I am currently suffering from RHS. Not the Tiger Woods kind of restless husband, thankfully; I have the kind who doesn’t lie still in bed at night.

Around 5:30 this morning, Maggie was awake and calling down the hall, “Mommy, want to get cozy wif yoooo… in yoo bed Mommy…” Usually she makes it until after 6. But once a week or so– and always on a morning there is no particular reason for us to be awake– she doesn’t. I can tell her “it’s not light out yet,” but the days are so short right now, it’s also not light out when it really IS okay for her to be awake, so that’s kind of confusing for a two-year-old. Even so, I am probably supposed to leave her in bed so she’ll get the idea that it’s not time to be awake, but this morning she was yelling loud enough to wake the neighbors (let alone her two brothers), so I brought her into bed with us.

To my pleasant surprise, she lay down right on top of me and within a few minutes was doing that tell-tale audible breathing that meant she was asleep again, or very close to it.

Then, to my left, it started.

Rustle rustle rustle.


Cough rustle yank covers. Roll over. Rustle.

Heavy sigh. Rustle, rustle.

I swat David with my left hand. “Shhh!” I say in the dark.
He lies still for thirty seconds or so. Then starts up again, and this time, wakes our sweetly slumbering daughter.

This has been going on in our bed for seven years now, as long as there has been a child to have in bed with us. The other morning at 4:30 a.m. it was Connor snoring on my chest. I lay there like Giles Corey, being slowly crushed by my 50-pound-plus child, but NOT MOVING, because he was asleep. My falling asleep again was out of the question, but that was all right, because my son was out. All David had to do was lie still WITHOUT a child on top of him, and we would all be fine. But he couldn’t do it, and we were all up for the day at 4:50.

“I can’t help it,” he said this morning in the dark, sheepishly, with Maggie sitting up between us, chattering at full volume about how Santa was going to bring her a “weal” pink tiger. “I can’t get back to sleep.”

“How would the tossing and turning help with that?” I answered. “I don’t think it’s POSSIBLE to fall asleep while actually in motion.”

He didn’t have an answer for that. I have seen ads on TV for restless leg syndrome, but David’s got more than that– he’s got a full-body case of St. Vitus’ Dance.

Do you think I could still get leeches shipped Amazon Prime in time for Christmas?