The Sound of Silence

In August 1992, my parents dropped me off in Iowa City. It was my freshman year in college and once they were done getting me settled into my crowded, not fancy or decorated like the kids today, dorm room, it was time for them to leave. My mom, not usually a very emotional person, started crying.

I vividly remember thinking “Why is she crying, I’ll see them at Christmas.”

Yep.

This is how emotional of a person I am. Frankly, until I had kids, I made sport out of making my younger sister cry because I was that kind of big sister.  You know, the crying is for losers, kind of older sister.

#DoYouWantToBeFriends?

I think I remember thinking “why is she crying” so clearly because in my own totally self-centered teen way – I still could recognize that this was totally normal – for a parent to be upset about leaving their child – and so it stuck with me.

Are we laughing and snickering at me just yet?

So fast forward 22 years to this past Monday, on a street corner in Maryland, when my little baby, my youngest, boarded the bus for Kindergarten.

I didn’t just tear up, I was a snorting, sobbing, wretched mess. It was an ugly ugly cry.

Eventually I collected myself. Tuesday was better, yesterday was even better. But there is still a heaviness hanging around me as the clock nears 1pm and I’m used to picking her up from preschool.

I realize I have THREE MORE HOURS.

What?

THREE HOURS?!?!? MORE?!?!?

For the last several years, I’ve built my own social media business from my kitchen table. I’ve crammed, jammed and raced through work in between preschool pickup and drop off. I’ve cut through and tried to ignore the guilt that weighed down on me each afternoon when I had my precious afternoon time with my youngest, yet I still had work to do, and often relied on TV shows, snacks, movies and bribes to get through that time because for the working world, it was still business hours.

I felt the weight of “Should I put this computer down, she’s going to Kindergarten” pushing me down. Meanwhile on my other shoulder, my dad’s sage advice of “Don’t buy a ticket on that (guilt) bus” echoing through my ears.

I knew I was lucky that my business was growing to the point of no longer being part-time but I couldn’t very well say “Hey, could you put this project on hold until September 2014 when my baby starts Kindergarten?” At the same time, I also knew I couldn’t walk away from the projects because I deserved to have work that fulfilled me, I deserved to have work to challenge me when they go off to school, you know, I matter too. Even though my things were conflicting with my kids’ time.

Getting ready to board the bus on the first day of Kindergarten. My tears were flowing.

Getting ready to board the bus on the first day of Kindergarten. My tears were flowing.

And now here we are. She’s in a full day of school and I have almost a full day to get work done.

Even so, the passage of time and the cliche of how the days are long but the years are short, overwhelms me this week.

Turns out, these confusing, conflicting feelings that come with parenting, keep coming back. I am both deeply sad and almost lonely that she’s gone all day, my sweet little buddy, and at the same time, I relish the sound of silence through the house and the hours of uninterrupted time.

I think it’s safe to assume I will definitely be crying the big, ugly cry when it’s time to take her to college.

 

Summer Kids Theatre: The Big Friendly Giant Review

“Mommy, I am going to read The BFG next,” casually remarked my 8-year-old at the conclusion of Imagination Stage’s current stage production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Could there be a better, more concise, or positive review of a play than those words? Especially coming from my not-overly-inclined-to-read-on-a-whim kid. It was music to my ears. One week later, she has officially cracked the book, further proving just how much she enjoyed the play.

The BFG (James Konicek) and Sophie (Megan Graves) celebrate friendship and bravery in THE BFG at Imagination Stage through August 10. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

The BFG (James Konicek) and Sophie (Megan Graves) celebrate friendship and bravery in THE BFG at Imagination Stage through August 10. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

We recently took a much-needed break from the sun and pool to head indoors for Imagination Stage’s new production, Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Full disclosure: We are avid Matilda fans here, including a whirlwind 24-hour trip to NYC over spring break to see it on Broadway, but we weren’t overly familiar with the BFG plot.

In fact, I don’t even think I read The BFG as a kid.

I know, I know. A disgrace.

#Don’tTellMyDaughter

For anyone else who might not know, the BFG  includes all the essential elements for kid theater-going success: farting jokes, enormous giants, a good-fighting-evil arc, a brave little girl and some explanation of where our dreams come from. In our house, my youngest shares a name with the show’s main character, Sophie, so we had that added perk. Also chez moi,  zapping bad dreams from heads before bed-time is a nightly ritual, so any chance to learn how these dreams get in our heads is a win-win for my girls.

The play opens with little Sophie’s cold and unloving orphan existence. While she’s looking out the window one sleepless night, she happens to spot a huge giant. According to Dahl, the master of exploring kid fears and imaginations, mean giants roam the globe when humans are sleeping, and do horrible things like eat children.

#NomNom

Honestly, some might consider the Dahl stories too dark and morbid but I love them. Just as the children

The mean giants of Giant Country plot their next move during The Witching Hour in THE BFG at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

The mean giants of Giant Country plot their next move during The Witching Hour in THE BFG at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

are revolting in Matilda but they rise above their adult oppressors and prevail, the same proves true in The BFG. In this case, Sophie happens to spot the one giant who doesn’t eat children, so while he snatches her from her own bedroom (hello possible nightmares and kidnapping fears), he is nice and caring and hides her from the mean children-eating giants in his giant-land.

At this point, you might be wondering the right age group for the play? My 5-year-old came along and she never once was scared or upset by the plot. The only challenge we faced with her was the length of the play, especially because it includes a short intermission. Anyone who follows my theater reviews knows I loathe intermission for kid plays.  I confess, I was disappointed they brought back the intermission for this play because Imagination Stage had eliminated it from the past few consecutive plays. Bottom line, Mr. WM and me both agreed that early Elementary through 6th grade is the ideal target for this one, my rising Kindergartener was questionable but it wasn’t inappropriate or outrageous to bring her along. She just understand it or appreciate it like her older sister did and it got to be a little long for her.

The Queen of England (Susan Lynskey) honors the BFG (James Konicek) for his courage in THE BFG at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

The Queen of England (Susan Lynskey) honors the BFG (James Konicek) for his courage in THE BFG at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit: Imagination Stage

In the end, Sophie and the BFG plan to save the world’s children from the mean giants by concocting a clever plan to get inside the Queen of England’s head. Along the way, Dahl successfully mixes farting jokes with the ever-proper Queen while good wins over evil.

If the kids in your house are Dahl-lovers, I’d highly recommend this summer play. It’s a great chance to escape the heat and explore your little one’s imagination. From my perspective, there is no greater marker of a wonderful theater experience than a child actively seeking out the book after the show.

Catch The BFG now through August 10th. Tickets are on sale for $10 and can be purchased online.

Disclosure: Me and my family were guests of Imagination Stage but my opinions here are all my own.

A Father’s Guide to Mother’s Day

Today’s post is a win-win for everyone: Moms & Dads. Declaring myself the official spokeswoman for mothers the world over, Dads, I offer you this much-needed insight and guide for Mother’s Day.

What is Mother’s Day? Is it a day of epic failures and unrealistic expectations? Is it a day of miserable crowded brunches? Is it a day of breakfast in bed and afternoon spa time? Is it a day of unfulfilled dreams and hopes? It could be all or most of those things, depending on who you ask. So let’s cut to the chase.

Funny as it is, we don’t want this, really ever:

We probably wouldn't turn down a date with JT, however

We probably wouldn’t turn down a date with JT, however

Turning to TV icons and brilliant ideas, however, I can pretty much say we all loved this guy and what he had to say – especially the “Here are two tickets to that thing you love…and now those tickets are diamonds”

Let's bring this guy back, shall we, Old Spice?

Let’s bring this guy back, shall we, Old Spice?

So, while I’d discourage you from showing up on a horse on Mother’s Day, I would encourage you to take my guide to heart. It is a low-cost, win-win way to approach Mother’s Day. Best part – it’s a weekend filled with ideas. My advice – get started on this immediately:

  1. Initiative. This is what she wants for Mother’s Day. Are there dirty clothes in the laundry basket? Then go wash them. Then fold them and then put them away. Quietly. Don’t ask questions. Don’t ask for recognition. Oh, and don’t forget to treat the stains on the kid’s clothes. Are there any other unfinished projects around the home? Now is the time to do them, this includes light bulbs that might need to be changed, any batteries swapped out, any kid toys that need repair, outstanding yard work, piles of kid crap on the kitchen counter that needs to be sorted and put somewhere. The same goes for your work shoes on the floor.
  2. Planning. While you are eating breakfast, ask yourself what is for dinner. Wonder this alone in your head. Do you not know? Neither does she but someone has to figure it out and guarantee she’s already started thinking about it. So be the decision maker and take something out of the freezer and commit. How about lunches for the week ahead for the kids. Need to stock up on grocery items for them? Grab the kids and head to the grocery store and stock up, brother. Don’t ask for a list. Take inventory before you go. Are there any upcoming kid birthday parties? Does someone need to purchase a gift for those parties? Maybe knock that one out while you are out getting the groceries…with the kids.
  3. Intervention. Are the children fighting? Does someone need to step in before it escalates? Be bold! Go forth and do that. All weekend long.
  4. Foresight. Are you all heading out the door to go somewhere? Like maybe brunch or dinner with your mom or her mom? What time do you need to leave? Work backwards from that time to assess when you need to start corralling the children: getting them on the potty, getting their shoes on, are you bringing a gift or a bottle of wine, do you need to bring coloring books or crayons or anything to keep the kids occupied in the restaurant? Snacks for the car ride? You’ve got this covered. Quietly. These things are just getting done while she is getting ready for said departure.

Guess what? Now you really are this guy:

Wasn't that easy?

Wasn’t that easy?

It goes without saying that flowers, a card, home-made cards from the children and really any other gift recognizing her is pretty much welcome, as well. But in the meantime, you’ve got this amazing low-cost guide that will guarantee you measurable results: a very happy wife.  What did I forget, Moms? Speak up…and be sure to “Like” and weigh in on the WM Facebook page.

 

 

Is Mother’s Day a Farce?

There are 365 days in the year. When you are a young kid, they all blur together. The seasons change. Whether you wear boots and a hat or flip-flops and a swimsuit changes. But the day or the month or the year is largely immaterial. It’s lovely.

Then as you get older, you assign meaning to days and months. Anniversaries matter. Days of mourning matter. Rites of passage – marriage, birth of a child, getting engaged, graduating from college. These all matter. They have hype. They have build up. You anticipate them. You imagine what they will be like, what you will wear, if the day will meet your expectations.

Then there is Mother’s Day. The MOTHER of all hyped up days.

I ask you this:  If you had to decide which day ultimately #fails more – could you decide between Mother’s Day or Daylight Savings, when you don’t get an extra hour of sleep, instead your day begins at 5am instead of 6am?

They’re kind of neck’n’neck for moi. At least one of those days you are supposed to get a card or two – so if you don’t even get a card – then you’re probably even more pissed off than you are on Daylight Savings when the day feels 100 years long because it starts so damn early.

Though we try to ignore it and pretend it isn’t so – Mother’s day is any given Sunday for young kids. They don’t care that you have earned a moment. That of all the days of the year this is supposed to be your day. Along with millions of other women across the country, of course.  Why should they care? Just like they don’t sleep in on weekends. Or on daylight savings Sunday. A few years ago, my eldest asked me this, on Mother’s Day:

“Mommy, what day is dedicated to just kids?”

Umm….EVERY damn day, kiddo.

So instead  on Mother’s Day, you have this glaring reminder in your face, filled with cards and miserable crying over-crowded brunches, that this is the day your children are SUPPOSED to cherish you.

But each time they act out, you ask yourself WHY – WHY can’t they just give you this ONE DAY - is it really so much to ask? And what have you done wrong as a parent that they can’t respect you enough to give you peace and quiet on ONE DAY?

And your husband falls into one of two camps- he indulges you with a gift or flowers because you are the mother of his children OR he points out that you are not, in fact, his mother, and it’s the kid’s job to give you something (that don’t fly chez WM, FYI).

Either way – you’ve got something nagging at you that reminds you that somehow, somewhere along the way, this day just doesn’t seem to be about YOU and you angrily wash a dish or make some lunch wondering who the hell is enjoying Mother’s Day.

Is Mother’s Day a farce? Would we all be better off without it? Just as I firmly believe we’d all be better off without the torture that is daylight savings?

Me & my mom - at Disney World last year over Mother's Day weekend - with the most appropriate character of all from the Incredibles.

Me & my mom – at Disney World last year over Mother’s Day weekend – with the most appropriate character of all from the Incredibles.

Setting aside the sarcasm and snark, I think it’s important to acknowledge what is awesome about us Moms. Frank Bruni, in an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times two years ago, tied it up neatly with a bow in his oped “Muddling Through Mother’s Day” when he wrote about his own mother:

“I was – I am – one of the four luckiest children I know, my siblings being the other three. We had a mother who held us in esteem and held us to account; told us we were magnificent and told us we were miserable; exhorted us to please her but found ways to forgive when, all too frequently, we didn’t; and made certain that we knew she was there for us until, unimaginably, she wasn’t.”

In two sentences he said everything I hope my children will think of me when they are adults. So on future Mother’s Day, in say 2050, when my children are adults, I hope it is a day that gives them pause to think not so much about themselves, if they are mothers, but about what kind of mother I was to them. Because my own mom successfully did for me and my three sisters exactly what Frank Bruni’s mom did for him.

Until that point, I just head to the hotel bar at the Ritz or the 4 Seasons, where you should join moi, we can order some champagne and talk about how freaking awesome we are as mothers.  And maybe even draft up some model legislation banning Daylight Savings Time in honor of Mothers everywhere.

Until next year….Photo Credit: Someecards

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