what you learn when you’re with your kids 24/7

School has been out for two weeks now, so I’ve been spending a lot more time with the kids than usual. A LOT. Which means we get to really drill down and talk about the stuff that matters. Here’s a few things I’ve learned in the last two weeks:

  • crossing your fingers is good luck. Crossing your fingers on both hands is very good luck. But crossing your toes is BAD LUCK, like, don’t-even-try-this-goofing-around bad luck. 
  • if you want to play “Cheese Touch,” somebody touches cheese, and then when you have the cheese touch, you have to touch somebody when they don’t have their fingers crossed, and the only way to block the cheese touch is by crossing your fingers.
  • You have to really have cheese to play the cheese touch. Or sometimes you can just decide that you want to have the cheese touch.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, there’s this peacock named Shen? And the kung fu panda has to fight them? And there’s this weapon that shoots like balls of metal that are on fire, and then Master Shifu teaches the kung fu panda something called “inner peace.”
  • If you want Chop Chop? He’s any any any. But they all have to be dragon blossoms. Sooki-Yaki is purple pepper, red magic, yellow magic, OR, red magic, yellow magic, black pepper. Or purple magic. And if you REALLY– Mom, listen. If you REALLY–
HELP ME. HELP ME, LORD JESUS. Eleven weeks until school starts. I don’t think I can make it that long. You gotta help me get rid of this Cheese Touch.

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for Father’s Day: a proclamation of my almost entirely serious admiration

Dad’s special day doesn’t get half the ink, fuss, or spending frenzy of Mother’s Day, and honestly you don’t hear fathers dusting up about that too much.  But that isn’t to say they are undeserving of recognition, even if they claim not to need the pomp and circumstance. This morning my husband saw me behind his back whispering and gesturing frantically (and subtly, or so I thought) to the kids that they should get to work on their homemade Father’s Day cards. “It’s okay,” he said. “Seriously, you can skip it. I know you guys love me.”

But my children’s father deserves better. And just in case I can’t find the card I bought at the drugstore a few days back (seriously, it must be here somewhere), I am hereby offering the below tribute:


WHEREAS, the children and I wish to honor and acknowledge all the contributions you make to the greater good;

WHEREAS, you suffer the little children to come unto you and climb upon you, yea, even all at the same time; 

WHEREAS, you have pretty much stopped playing golf (which you cannot do with the kids) and have started going fishing (which you can);

WHEREAS, you are not funny, but it is kind of funny how not funny you are; 

WHEREAS, when a bird flew in the house today and it was throwing itself against the kitchen windows most pathetically, I came and got you and said “get it out,” and you did not respond “why do you think I, as a man, am somehow more capable of this than you are?”, nay, you let me hide in the next room while you got a broom and whistled at the bird until you could shoo it back outside safely; 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by your wife and three offspring, that we hereby adopt, approve, and authorize your ninth Father’s Day, to be observed by sleeping until you are no longer tired, or until it is lunchtime, whichever comes first. 

Happy Father’s Day! How are you recognizing the dads in your lives?

does anyone talk to their spouse on the phone anymore?

My friend Erin over at I’m Gonna Kill Him has a hilarious post up on her blog listing all the acronyms she’s going to start using while texting with her husband to save time. One sample:

YOU:  ATNA?  (At Target, need anything?)
HIM:  NAEHTC  (No, and empty half the cart)
I need someone to text me that while I’m at Target, for sure. 
Read Erin’s whole post because it’s hilarious. It also made me think, since Erin said she and her husband have pretty much given up on trying to talk to each other on the phone. Who has time for a phone call? Texting is what they do instead. 
My husband and I don’t text that much; David carries multiple devices with him, and wherever he is, the smartphone that texts is not with him. Or so it seems. But phone calls don’t work too well for us either. David claims I pick up my phone about every one in twenty times. “What’s the point in calling you?” he exclaims. “It’s not like you’re gonna answer.” 
And who wants to talk anyway? We have in-laws who check in with each other all day long, lovey-dovey stuff like “How’s your day going? What did you have for lunch?” but all that seems like a complete waste of time to two type-As like us. And so we don’t bother. I will track him down if I really need something, but otherwise, talk to you tomorrow morning, or whenever I see you next. 
The only time we DO talk on the phone is when we are on separate continents. Our hearts grow suddenly fonder of each another, we miss each each other, and the phone rings. 
David is out of the country this week. The phone rang this morning at 7 a.m.
HIM: (on speaker) Hi! How are you guys? How are my kids?
Three children, munching Cascadian Farms Chocolate O’s, ignore him entirely.
ME: Well, not so good, Daddy, we’re already having time outs for biting and punching.
DADDY: Oh, boy. So let me ask you. Look at your calendar, week of–
8 YEAR OLD: I  said get OFF me!
ME: (into phone) What?
3 YEAR OLD: Mommy, I spilled a little bit of lot of milk.
DADDY: –thought we could make a long weekend of it and fly to–
8 YEAR OLD: I hate you and I HATE YOUR FACE!
6 YEAR OLD: (attempting a face rake) AGHHDHHHGHH! 
DADDY: –so what do you think?
ME: I think… this isn’t really a good time for me to talk.
My husband was offering me a romantic getaway. One that was HIS idea. And I was all, can you put it in a tweet? I’m refereeing right now.
I feel bad. I should call and say so. But he’s in bed. (I hope.) Once again, the planets are aligned against a meaningful phone conversation. 
Maybe we should try carrier pigeon?
How do you communicate with your spouse during the day? How often do you communicate? Do you find it is often not worth the trouble? 

everything but the sunscreen

You know how sometimes people say the funniest things when they’re not trying to be funny? Or reveal the most about themselves when they’re not trying to be particularly revealing? 

This weekend I was Skype-ing (Skyping?) with a group of moms who had read my book, and we were talking about trying to let go and just enjoy being a mom. One of the mothers said:

“When we’re with our kids, the fun should supersede everything!… Well. Everything but the sunscreen.” 

I LOVED this. She’s right, of course: moms shouldn’t ever be so let-it-all-hang-out that we skip the SPF 30. If you’re like me, you’ve probably learned from experience. Nothing brings the Mother Load of Guilt than a toddler with lobster-red shoulders.

But what really struck me was what this mom was doing in this sentence: while telling herself she needed to do better and be more relaxed, she did a 180 and warned herself against getting TOO relaxed. IN THE SAME SENTENCE, she managed to feel stressed about not letting go, and about letting go too much.

That’s not her fault, of course– we mothers get blamed when our kids get sunburned, and snickered at when we bring them to the town pool dressed like this. 

And there’s only so long one’s kids will wear a swim shirt anyhow, not to mention the Lawrence of Arabia type hats. This is Connor a few years back. Maggie is already saying hells to the no on that look, and she’s three. 

What I’m saying is, mothers can’t win, and listening to this mom castigate herself as both too slacker-ish and too uptight in the scope of five seconds was pretty funny.

Here’s what mothers need to remember: we ARE the ones who need to remember the sunscreen. The reason our kids (and our partners) can be so carefree is because they know we’ve got their backs. If it’s important, we’ll have thought of it already. Sometimes being the Responsible Grownup is a lot of pressure. But we shouldn’t add annoyance with ourselves on top of it: why can’t we ever  relax? We should try to relax, we should try to let things go. Everything, that is, but the sunscreen. And then we should pat ourselves on the back when everyone makes it through another day without getting burned.

How strict ARE you with the sunscreen, by the way? 

when it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange…

…who you are into what you’re gonna be.
Even if it makes you a little nervous.

The Brady Kids said it best.
I’ve been in hiding a bit recently. But good things are comin’.

This blog is gonna get a lot more exciting, very soon- a lot prettier to look at, for starters. But I think I’m going to take the opportunity to relaunch it in more ways than one.

“Mother Load” is a great title- and I’ve used it a whole lot in the last five years- but guess what? So has The New York Times, and while “Motherlode” is an awesome blog to be sometimes mistaken for, it does happen. Then there’s The Motherload, and motherload, and  The Mother Load, and the other The Mother Load, and the other The Mother Load


And so I’m considering changing the title of this blog to the title of my book: When Did I Get Like This? 

Because I like it.
Because it isn’t a not-as-original-as-I-once-thought play on words.
Because I do wonder that almost every day.
But also because, while I enjoy writing about the craziness of modern motherhood, I do sometimes have other stories to tell- like fuming in a hotel bed listening to a car alarm go off in the parking lot  for an entire hour before I realized… it was my car.

I’d like this blog to have funny stories about all parts of my life, not just my kids.
I’d like this blog to ask the question that we all ask of ourselves- and maybe once in a while, suggest a way out- if only for a moment.

But I don’t want to alienate the readers I have, or have you think that I’m changing direction in any serious way. This is just rearranging what this site is into what I want it to be. This would be motherloadtheblog dot com two point oh. I hope. 

What do you all think?