Like many soon-to-be-five-year-olds, Monkey has long had a fascination with Spider-Man. When Monkey isn't making up stories about him, he pretends to be Spider-Man, saving the world one play session at a time. On the way home from school one day, Monkey asked me if people could really climb walls like Spider-Man does. As a former rock climber, I've seen a number of people scaling walls to incredible heights so I told him that there are rock climbers who can do some of what Spider-Man does. When I got home, I logged onto youtube and found a video of an incredible eleven-year-old girl, Brooke Raboutou, rock climbing. Together, with Munchkin, we watched the short documentary that followed Brooke into the rock climbing gym and her home, where she strengthened every part of her body, down to her fingers. The video presented Monkey the opportunity not just to see a kid climbing a wall like Spider-Man, but to see how hard she worked and the effort she put into becoming a pint-sized expert in her sport.
Today, as the weather warmed up to a balmy 34 degrees, I set Munchkin free from the constraints of her stroller and watched her scramble unto the icy snow still lingering on our sidewalks. Months of multiple snowstorms and freezing temperatures have left uneven piles of snow on the streets and the curb, their jagged tentacles waiting for rising temperatures to melt them away. How I would like to take a spade to those icy edges and clear them away. After days full of the thankless feeding of children, sweeping of crumbs and washing of faces, the idea of wiping a sidewalk clean is very appealing. The concreteness of it--one moment the snow is there and the next it's gone--sounds magical.
Raising children on the other hand, is fleeting. Sure, the fact the both my kids are still alive and well is proof that I am tending to at least their basic needs, but there is no daily milestone that makes me feel as if I've done anything at all. If the house looks the same at the end of the day as it did in the morning it's because I've picked up all the toys, done the dishes three times and dried my tears from spilled milk, but no one can tell. Raising kids is grueling because of that repetition. Changing a newborn's diaper turns into potty training turns into overseeing basic hygiene. Like shampoo, you rinse and repeat.
I remember the newborn days, just thinking, "Once Monkey gets to this phase, parenting will get easier." I was right sometimes, but with every new phase came a new challenge. When Munchkin arrived two years later, I tried to appreciate whatever she was doing instead of whatever I wished she was already doing. I often failed, thinking "Well...she's great but having both kids above this age will be better." As Munchkin takes full claim to the title of "terrible twos," I am currently not too appreciative in the least. Yet, between reading books and cleaning up paint, I see the days and weeks passing.
I find it hard to believe that Monkey's fifth birthday is approaching and Munchkin is almost halfway through her year of terror (I hope it's just a year.) Five years ago, I couldn't have imagined what these two little ones would look like, much less what they would have brought to my life. I could not have imagined Monkey's insistence on grandly celebrating his birthday or Munchkin's doggedness in stomping on the snow until it crumbled into tiny specks, once-solid chunks disappearing under her little feet.
My eldest sister once told me that when it comes to raising children, the days are long, but the years are short and she is right. Perhaps, when my children are grown, my mothering days will feel concrete and solid. Like all that snow I'd like to clear away, maybe I will look back and think that one day my children were born and, seemingly the next day, they were gone.
LIke most four-year-olds, my son Monkey loves super heroes, especially the ones that don't wear underwear over their clothes. (Sorry Superman) He idolizes super heroes, he talks about their superpowers and even has a super-powered imaginary watch that lets him see things mere mortals can't. Last week, as I helped Monkey stir the sticky cookie batter we were preparing, he said, "Mama, by helping me, you're giving me your powers to make me stronger." Monkey's comment made me smile and made me think he was onto something.
Maybe I, and all moms, are superheroes. After all, I can lift strollers over mountains of snow, carry my weight in groceries and heal an ouchie in seconds. I wake up the second before my children call me from their beds and I swear I can hear my child's cry from across town. I may be slowing down as a runner, but no one sprints faster than me when I see Munchkin heading towards a street on a scooter. At any moment I can tell my children (and husband) the exact location of a missing item.
But motherly superpowers go beyond radar vision and physical feats. After all, the heroic thing about superheroes isn't just their special powers but their morals. Kids don't just learn from what I teach them from a book, but by watching who I am between washing dishes, sorting laundry and traipsing around town. When I open doors for others or give up my seat up on the train, my children learn to be kind. When I look up a new word in Spanish, they realize I'm not afraid to say, "I don't know. Let me find out." When I help Monkey persevere while completing challenging homework, he learns to be persistent. When I let the kids try things on their own, they learn I have faith in them. When I ask that they give their teary sibling a hug, they learn sympathy.
If one of my superpowers is raising my children to be good citizens and thoughtful neighbors, another is to use our powers to help others. Maybe the reason I'm tired at night is because, like Monkey said, I give my powers to my children. I help them when they're tired by tugging their scooters along. I lift Munchkin up high so that she can see something new out the window. I carry the children's backpacks so that they may dance on their walk home. I let them "help" me clean so that they may learn responsibility, even if they leave a bigger mess behind. I know I'm doing the right thing when my children share their powers with me by helping me unload the dishwasher and carry groceries.
It's draining to keep up with my energetic mini superheroes and to give them the attention they deserve with the patience that they need. But as the three of us trek through the snow and build forts on the couch, we all benefit from the sharing of powers. For a few minutes here and there, I can visualize the world through Monkey's powerful watch and see that we can accomplish more and have more fun together than we can apart. Super powers activated!
I've been at this parenting thing for almost five years. In these five years I've discovered that parenting of any sort is challenging. Whether at home with the kids or working full-time, I've made a thousand decisions for my children from what they should eat to how to keep them safe. Every time I've made those decisions I've made them with the knowledge I had on hand and with the best of intentions, but my plans often went awry. When my son was tackling his friends too frequently or my daughter was throwing food too often, I blamed myself. When my newborn was fussy or my toddler not talking "enough," I doubted my parenting. Over the years, I've witnessed one mother after another do the same and blame herself for whatever may not be going as planned.
I've realized, however, that some of these "failures" are just beyond my control. As much as I want my kids to behave like saints, my kids have their own needs and desires and will, probably, not act like saints, but like children. When my babies were crying more than usual, it wasn't me they were upset about, but an upset stomach or a bad dream. Every time I see angst on a parents face caused by the latest phase of a child's development, I want to lean over, put my hand on their shoulder and say, "It's not your fault." It's not. Parenting is not a simple formula where what you want is what you get from yourself or your children. There is a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. So if you're stressed about what you're doing wrong, lean in and listen carefully.
When your newborn is fussy for no identifiable reason, it's not your fault.
When your child isn't sleeping through the night, it's not your fault.
When your child is having trouble potty-training, it's not your fault.
When your toddler is biting other kids, it's not your fault.
When you fret you're not making enough milk, it's not your fault
When you've had a miscarriage, it's not your fault
When you're having trouble conceiving, it's not your fault
When you are having trouble balancing work and children, it's not your fault
When you are going crazy being home full time, it's not your fault
I'm not absolving parents of their responsibilities--such as disciplining their children and being aware of negative dynamics--but I am absolving parents of guilt. Children evolve and our job is to assist them along their journey with the best information we have and with all the love we possess. If you, dear mother, are going to use the word "fault" then you need to think about "intent." You cannot be blamed for something you did not intend to happen.
Next time your child behaves inexplicably or your parenting doesn't go smoothly. Please take a breath, tell yourself you are doing your best and remember, it's not your fault.
Growing up in Central Ohio, I loved snow days. Oh, the reprieve they gave us from daily life and homework! My twin sister Pamela and I would go into the backyard and build snowmen or make snow angels. We'd bring in cups of snow to turn into snow ice cream and sometimes cap off our day by drinking Swiss Miss hot chocolate with those tiny marshmallows.
Now that I have kids of my own--one who is school aged--I wonder how my working parents felt about those snow days. Once we reached a certain age, Pamela and I stayed home alone when school was closed, but I imagine that they had to stay home in the early days. Did they cheer the fact they had a day off of work or cry at the thought of being home with two rambunctious kids for a whole day.
I wonder about these things because this winter has been brutal for parents with school-aged children. After being sucked into an arctic vortex (read: below-freezing temperatures for days) we've been hit with heavy snowfall several times. As a result, Monkey has had multiple snow days and we only just started February. I love being home with my kids and, if I can be spared the long walk to school through slush and traffic, I'm usually excited. But after having so many school days cut short and cancelled, days with both kids home are starting to drive me batty.
There is something about snow days that, without the bookends of drop-off and pick-up, make the days feel endless. Even if I maximize the morning snuggle time and slowly make snow-day-waffles, the day starts to seem long by 10am. By then my kids have been up for more than three hours and the entire day stretches in front of us.
My kids and I have baked cookies and chocolate truffle cupcakes, glazed carrots and shredded vegetables for green pancakes. I've had Monkey practice writing his numbers and alphabetize the letter cards. We've painted on paper, drawn on coloring books and decorated cookies. We've even brought out the scissors and Elmer's glue, which are huge risks with a liability named, "Munchkin" walking around.
But after so many days off, no matter how Martha Stewart-y I am in the kitchen or how crafty I am in the living room, the kids start fighting and it drives me crazy. At ages two and four, how much could the kids fight about ? It turns out that there is a lot to argue about. My two fight about who had the red car first and which plate of blueberries is theirs. One of them starts crying because the other won't take turns with the broom. Monkey builds elaborate train tracks and Munchkin wrecks them. Munchkin wants to play the helicopter but Monkey says it's his so she's not allowed. On and on it goes about the most mundane things.
On the frigid cold days, the kids couldn't even go outside to break up the monotony or the fighting. Theonly way to change the scenery was to let the kids go down to the lobby for a few minutes while praying that fights about pressing elevator buttons wouldn't escalate to tantrums or let them play in the hallway, while I prayed no crabby neighbor would emerge to complain. Either that or risk being judged by every adult in the street thinking, "That mom brought her children out in this weather! What was she thinking?"
I did take the kids out yesterday in the heavy snow and I'll tell you what I was thinking. I thought, "Either I get out of the house and tire these children out, or we are all going to have a miserable day." Yesterday--which was when I meant to write this blog before school got cancelled--ended up being pleasant largely because we had playdates. No comment on the number of times I had to carry Munchkin in her stroller over gigantic stretches of unshoveled sidewalks, but at least we made it out.
As for that unwritten blog post, being trapped indoors means I have very limited opportunities to get any writing done or even have a few minutes of peace to myself. Any hopes of being productive on the computer are dashed after the tenth time Monkey asks me to play with him or Munchkin repeatedly pushes the keyboard buttons. On the bright side, since the kids have had so much time at home, they have finally mastered setting and clearing the table and have learned to wash dishes and load the dishwasher. Now if they could just do all my chores when school is cancelled--in between drawing, painting, baking and playing--we'd be on our way to a more harmonious snow day. That is until the kids start fighting about who gets to turn the dishwasher on.
Does your child climb onto kitchen counters? Climb up playground ladders meant for older children? Fearlessly jump off of, well, everything? Then your kid might be a Cheerios-in-the-nose kind of kid. I came up with this diagnosis when I heard two-year-old Munchkin sniffling at the table. Sniffle sniffle snort. Sniffle sniffle snort. I turned around to see what was going on and I realized she was sticking Cheerios in her nose and then--with mixed success--blowing them out. This, I thought, was something Monkey never did.
Indeed, she does a lot of things four-year-old-Monkey never even considered. She spent months repeatedly climbing onto the dining table for the 10 seconds it took me to chase her off. She pulls the step-ladder into the kitchen to get goodies set onto the counter. (I rue the day we got rid of the kitchen gate!) In the living room, she stands on the TV stand to get the remote control and in my bedroom she pulls my jewelry box off the dresser to get to my necklaces. The way she tackles kids makes me think she'll be a professional wrestler. The frequency with which she writes on her stomach, back and nape of her neck makes me think she'll be a wrestler and a tattoo artist on the side. Every time I place something in a safe place, I walk into the room to find Munchkin waving it in her hand.
The number of times she's made other parents at the playground gasp and say, "She's fearless!" with a mix of awe and horror are countless. When she falls down, I get funny looks from other parents as I watch from a distance instead of running to her. Most of the time she gets right back up and keeps going without shedding a tear. Sometimes I shake my head at her and other times I beam with pride.
I try not to compare my kids, but I can say for certain that raising Munchkin is a different experience than raising Monkey. I always knew Monkey was very laid back and pretty easy kid. He is a little shy, likes to follow the rules most of the time and checks in with me before doing something he probably shouldn't. On the other hand, I constantly catch Munchkin doing things she should not be doing. Munchkin is also easy going, like her brother--when not climbing on shelves or onto tables--but more amenable to new people and situations. The upside of having a kid who puts food into her nose is that she'll also put almost any food in her mouth. She eats just about everything, especially if it doesn't belong to her.
Munchkin has me double checking all my safety locks and has even compelled me to lock my refrigerator. She's pulled out cartons of eggs more times than I can count. Those child-safety caps on bottles? They were invented for kids like her and I'm grateful because I am running out of places to put things she shouldn't be touching.
The good thing about Munchkin is that even though her fearlessness sometimes has me sprinting to the jungle gym, I know that it will serve her in the future. I can tell that she will try things that might make me hesitate. I can see that even though she needs my support she doesn't always need my approval and that's very powerful for girls today. I hope that the persistence Munchkin currently uses to hit me up for snacks will help her reach her goals even when others tell her it can't be done.
Not only is Munchkin tenacious but she's strong. This was evidenced just yesterday when she strolled into the room carrying my 5lb weights, one in each hand. Her strength and stubbornness will create countless opportunities for her, from cheerios-taster to Cheerios' CEO
For now, I've resigned myself to teaching Munchkin there is a time and place for her to climb or eat, but there is never ever a time to put Cheerios up her nose.
Last week a friend in my neighborhood sent a text to me and two of our friends. One lives in Oregon, one lives in New York but we all used to live within blocks of each other. Now, my friend announced, she too was moving out of town. My initial reaction was, "Nooooooooooo!" and, to be honest, three days later, I still feel the same. I'm excited for her family and happy she'll have a roomier new home, but not at the prospect of losing another good friend to the suburbs. Not only do I lose her company, her kindness and her sweet kids, but her departure means I'll have to make new mom friends and that is not an easy feat.
If, back in the day, you thought dating was difficult, finding a mom to spend time with sometimes feels impossible. Between juggling schedules, managing your kids, and surviving on little sleep, the last thing you need is a mom who judges your every parenting decision. However, the exhausting job of parenting is made less tedious by sharing a park bench (or a bar stool) with a mom who understands what it's like to call "taking a shower" an accomplishment.
As a frequent runner and obstacle course tackler, I've conveniently listed the obstacles a parent has to get over, under or through in order to find a terrific mom friend.
The Parenting Style Hurdles: While dating only involves finding one person, when it comes to finding a mom buddy, their personality as well as their parenting style has to be either very in sync or very tolerant of yours. If you're into free range parenting and they're hovering like helicopters, a friendship is unlikely to bloom. If a potential buddy prefers attachment parenting but understands why you're, say, less attached, then there is hope.
The "Their Kids" Dash: One you've figured out you have similar parenting styles, you have to watch their kids in action. Are they too whiny? Too boring? Too bossy? Too physical? If, after accommodating for teething, a cold or just a bad day, your pals' kids are more annoying than the average snot-nosed-two-year-old, then you probably won't want to spend time with them and that mom won't survive the 50-yard dash.
The "Your Kids" Gladiator Battle: Though unimportant the first year, eventually the kids have to get along. If the kids don't enjoy playing soccer together outdoors, can't seem to co-exist peacefully or even just chase each other gleefully around the room, you'll have to bonk the kids on the head, gladiator style, and send them on their way.
The Discipline Hoops: Discipline, which is different from the aforementioned parenting style, is very important. All kids have days (or years) of not listening, hitting or claiming every single toy to emphatically be, "Mine!" What matters is how the parent reacts. Do they brush off the behavior? Do they acknowledge that your kid was hurt or saddened by their child? Even if the kid won't apologize for bad behavior, knowing that your child is always fairly treated leaves room for a slam-dunk friendship.
Geography & Schedules Dodgeball: Herein lies the final obstacle to finding a parenting buddy. I know a number of terrific moms who live too far from me to hang out with regularly. How far away? About two miles. Yet, with Munchkin's nap falling in the middle of the day and Monkey's school drop-offs & pick-ups, it's hard to find time for playdates without finding myself dodging puddles, strollers and red lights in a dash to pick up Monkey on time. Finding moms that frequent your favorite haunts makes finding a buddy much easier.
If, by some miracle, you can find a mom who can surpass every obstacle, has your sense of humor and maybe even likes the same Friday evening cocktail, you've won the race and are on your way to a Whine & Wine happy hour. Some of my best memories are of evenings at home shared with my closest friends, our favorite beverage and our crazy kids.
New Years Eve is here and people are busy making resolutions. Instead of making a resolution to lose those pesky five (er, ten) pounds or promising to go to the gym every day, I'm going to try something else. I'm going to try to stop comparing myself to other people. I've been doing it for a very long time and usually end up feeling badly about myself.
I had typical high school insecurities, but it's not until I arrived at college that I remember feeling very unsure. My hall at the University of Michigan had about ten other freshmen and they were all valedictorians and salutatorians. I wasn't. I met people who had aced their ACT and SATs. I had not. Sure, none of them were bilingual nor had they lettered in track and cross-country, but I felt less-than. Then there were many friends who were incredible musicians, while I had been mediocre. My roommates were getting perfect scores in Michigan's competitive engineering program, while I was trying to survive Statistics for my psychology major. I remember constantly comparing myself to the tall and incredibly thin models of my day--Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell--which, of course, left me feeling less-than. At 5'4" I couldn't compete with such Amazonians, but that didn't stop me from staring at the mirror and cursing my flaws.
When I went overseas for my junior year, I did finally learn to be more forgiving, though it was a struggle. I gradually became more confident and sure of myself and was reminded by good friends that I deserved good things only because I was me, not because I had reached an arbitrary level of intellect, talent or beauty.
The funny thing about motherhood--especially about being at home full time--is that it is easy to get sucked into comparing oneself again. After all, there is no external measure of success nor an office-full of people whose opinions can help frame mine. I don't hold my single or parenting friends to a weight, beauty or intellectual standard, but I again feel myself comparing myself to people in aspects where I can't win. I envy the moms with flat stomachs and berate myself for overeating. I listen to other moms talk about what they're teaching their kids and wonder if I should be buying more workbooks for four-year-old Monkey. At the same time, I talk to friends who don't put their kids into a regular schooling program until age three or four and wonder why I'm so intent on getting Munchkin into a program because she misses the PreK3 cut-off. Why can't I happily stay home with her full-time until she's almost four?
Then there are moms who seem to manage work and home effortlessly when I know I struggled when I was working and parenting at the same time. Is it bad that I'm happy being home full-time? Should I be more ambitious about finding work in the next year when I really want to work part-time and pick my kids up from school every day? I was proud of Munchkin counting a little and imitating the alphabet at age two and ran into my neighbor whose 21-month old can count to 12 and recite the entire alphabet for real. Am I not teaching enough? Am I not parenting enough? The questions are endless. Am I lazy for wanting a daytime babysitter once a week? Am I a better person for not having a regular sitter in eight months? Should I be going out more at night? Should I be wearing nicer clothes? Does everyone notice the extra pounds I can't lose? Should I be cooking different meals? Should I be volunteering more?
I know, I know, that I am a good mother. I know that my children feel loved and that they feel accepted for who they are. I know that I make them healthy food, keep them clean and play with them endlessly. I know that I work hard to keep my house as neat as I'm able and as organized as possible. I know that I'm a good person that has some incredible, long-lasting friendships with generous and kind people who love me exactly the way I am. I don't beat myself up for never being a supermodel but this year I have to work on not beating myself up for not being someone else: someone thinner, more put together and more talented who doesn't exist. My friends are flawed and I love them. In 2014 I'm going to work on loving my flaws just as much.
What a difference a year can make. Almost two years ago, Monkey barely knew he had a birthday. This past year he insisted he wanted a party. This year--four months in advance of his next birthday--he's already given me a partial guest list and told me which superhero he wants on the cake.
The same thing is happening with Christmas and Santa. He's gone from being blissfully unaware that we don't typically celebrate in the warmer climates of India like we did last year to analyzing Santa's every move. And boy are there a lot of Santas this year! There are Santas on TV, Santas at our local tree lighting and Santas at our mall every single day since November. If you're asking yourself why having Santa at a mall is big deal, it's because we walk through the mall every day to drop Monkey off at school and to pick him up. I don't know who decided that putting a mall in the middle of a city was a good idea, but I can assure you it wasn't a parent with small children. Many afternoons as we walk home Monkey looks at the huge set-up around the mall's Santa. At first he looked with curiosity, then with understanding of the photographic going-ons there, and now he looks with longing. "I wish we could have our picture taken there" he says in a plaintive voice.
I am very fond of Santa, but I don't really want Monkey and Munchkin to get their picture taken with him at the mall. I'm not sure exactly why but maybe it's the commercialism. After all, not only can you buy an overpriced photo with santa, but an overpriced mug! A dish! A magnet! And a variety of items you don't want in your house, but your kids will beg you for all the same. I'm not a complete Grinch. I did take them to get their photo taken with Santa at the tree lighting, but fearless Munchkin was so scared of Santa and his tall elf that she burst into tears. In the photo, Monkey is grinning on Santa's lap and Munchkin is grimacing on mine.
In November, Monkey asked repeatedly if Santa was real. I was so distracted when he asked that I almost said, "of course not." (We've since told him that all the Santas around town help the real Santa.) He's asked me about how Santa gets all the gifts delivered (I explained that the different times zones allow him to deliver presents on time) and has stated, mantra-like, "Santa doesn't need a chimney" as if willing himself to believe Santa will make it to our fireplace-free home.
Every time Monkey asks a question (I get presents from the family AND Santa?) I realize that I can't be lazy anymore in my holiday-related prep. I have to take the holiday decorations out from storage and actually put them up on time. I have to buy gifts and sign them "Love, Santa." Lastly, I have to keep up the Santa Clause farce for not just another week, but for another few years until Munchkin figures him out for herself.
Despite my minimally successful dodging-of-questions, it does feel odd to lie to Monkey. After all, I have to agree that not only Santa is real, but also discuss elves and reindeer and what it means to be good. But today, I read this beautiful response written in 1897 to a girl named Virginia who had posed the same question as Monkey "Is Santa real?" to a newspaper editor. This answer reminds me that there are few things as special as a child's innocent, though brief, belief in Santa.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished."
I will listen to Monkey's questions about Santa Clause and the magic that he provides. For now, I'll just be glad that despite the millions of Santas he and Munchkin have seen that at least they didn't see these, fighting in the snow.
Happy holidays everyone!
I know, I know. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and everyone is showing how grateful they are. There are news reports about it, magazine articles telling you how to be thankful and lots of blog posts about saying thanks too. Some people are writing posts about how grateful they are for 30 days in a row. Not to be a grinch, but can't they be grateful in private? Does everyone have to know about their spouse who is their best friend (ever!) and their wonderful kids whose team just won another championship? Maybe I should be grateful that their posts are positive and that they aren't complaining about the pool cleaner not coming on time.
With a four-year-old and two-year-old at home, I'm still in the trenches of daily cleaning and carting children all over the city. While I'm grateful for the wonderful people in my life--not to mention my perfect children--let me tell you about the items that have helped me survive the first four years of parenthood.
Baby's First Year:
Wipe warmers: I know it's pretentious to have a wipe warmer, but my kids were both born in cold-weather months and those wipe warmers kept their newborn bums from freezing. Once the kids were a few months old, they had enough padding to protect themselves and I went to regular non-heated wipes.
Diaper trashcans: These trashcans kept diapers and their odor locked within their little walls so my house didn't stink. Considering the huge number of diapers my newborns went through and how little energy I had for emptying the trash six times a day, my nose is eternally grateful.
The Potette: I potty-trained Munchkin six weeks ago and the Potette has been a life-saver. I didn't need it for Monkey because I trained him in the summer and he didn't get dragged around to toilet-free-places like Munchkin does as a second child. I've used the Potette indoors and out and I hate to imagine the amount of laundry I'd be doing without it.
Foaming hand soap: Nothing makes a kid want to wash their hands like foaming hand soap. Considering Munchkin's newfound potty-training skills and her propensity for covering her hands in marker, foaming hand soap is very much appreciated in this house.
Scooter: Thanks goodness for the Mini-Kick Scooter because as Monkey outgrew the stroller phase, but not yet reached the walking-long-distance phase, his scooter got us where we need to go at a fast pace. Now that Munchkin has mastered the scooter--well, she can't exactly brake yet--I see a stroller-less stroll in my future!
Stain Remover: When Monkey turned three, Munchkin was in the throes of, um, filling diapers. Between her blow-outs and affection for jumping in puddles, I had a lot of laundry to do. I'm pretty sure they would have ended up walking around naked if I hadn't used stain remover on their clothes. Monkey likes to apply the remover to his clothes, which is good because I dream of the day I can delegate all the laundry to him.
Surviving Two Kids:
Double strollers: I can't imagine the days when strollers were heavy, unwieldy and only designed to hold one child. I used a Phil & Teds double stroller (not to be confused with Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) for about a year and I'm thankful someone had the smarts to design an in-line, lightweight stroller I could use for a jog or for running the kids to school. It worked from Munchkin's newborn days until Monkey mastered the scooter and I loved it. Also ideal for hauling lots of groceries.
Fitted stroller storm covers: In the early days of motherhood, I had stroller rain covers that were loosey-goosey and slid all over the stroller. Then I got spoiled when I received a fitted storm cover for my double stroller. Living by the water means that in addition to rain, there is a lot of wind that can turn a stroller with an over-sized rain cover into a soggy ship headed straight into traffic. I was able to snap and tie each end of the covers down and keep the kids dry and toasty warm. Now if only someone could invent a rain cover that would keep me dry and toasty warm, I'd be psyched.
Dishwasher: If there was one appliance that saved my sanity on a daily basis, it'd have to be the dishwasher. Since my SAHM income of zero does not afford me a maid, I am grateful that my husband and I are able to throw dishes into a contraption, add soap, hit a button and have the dishes come out clean. If not, we'd be fighting about whose turn it was to do the dishes. (His. It's always his turn.) Some dishwasher company should use the tag line of "Dishwashers: Saving marriages daily."
Lightweight vacuums: I remember tugging vacuums around the house by the hose trying to clean the floor. Who can forget those vacuum bag replacements we had to buy on a regular basis? Now I can haul out a vacuum every day--nay, three times a day--to pick up the cheerios scattered beneath the table. (I'm starting to think my floor grows cheerios.)
In addition to all this gear and these appliances, I am grateful for the fact that grocery stores, pharmacies and banks are open much more frequently than they were when I was a kid. I still recall queuing up at bank with my parents to get money out on Fridays and making desperate grocery runs before the store closed. Such conveniences certainly make parenting less stressful and for that, I'm grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!
Patricia is a part-time working mom with a 9-year-old son (Monkey) and 7-year-old daughter (Munchkin). She thinks passing judgment on other parents comes easy, so why not (politely) pass judgement on GMvBM?