Guys, you know we love you. It’s just that, every now and then, you say stuff. We know you mean well. Heck, you are probably even trying to compliment us. But sometimes what you mean and how you say it, don’t quite hit the mark. And us girls, we have long memories. Those things you say stay with us and often get discussed among us. Trust me, none of these are ground for divorce or even for a good old argument … rather, they make us scratch our heads and wonder.
What? You don’t know what we are talking about? Here are just a couple of examples, crowd sourced from among the girls. (I’ve kept them anonymous so that no-one’s pride gets dented.)
“You look nice, if that’s the look you are going for.”
“If you want, you can call my mother and ask her how she cooks it.”
“You don’t have to dress up, you’re pretty in your own way.”
“Is it that time of month again?”
“All the girls before you were sex toys; I don’t think of you that way.”
“I think the kids toys could be better organized, don’t you?”
“Why don’t you make an appointment for your hair?”
“The kids don’t give me any trouble going to bed when you’re not here.”
Season 4 » Episode #22 - Bad Moon Rising
For some reason, this all makes me think of this infamous episode from Everybody Loves Raymond which makes me chuckle:
Debra Barone: Have you ever considered giving me a hug?
Raymond “Ray” Barone: A hug?
Debra Barone: Yes! A hug! Did you ever think of that, you big jerk?
Raymond “Ray” Barone: Well, it’s pretty hard to hug someone who’s trying to kill you!
Debra Barone: How would you know? You’ve never even tried it!
Raymond “Ray” Barone: Well, look, *this* is not huggable! *This* is not Debra! This is the woman who shows up once a month to tear into me like a monkey on a cupcake!
We still love you!
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 27, 2012
Diving for Pearls
As I wait at Target, a young couple pushes a stroller in the line behind me. The stroller, brand new, appears to be on its maiden voyage. I peer at the tiny sleeping newborn, his fingers curled up near his ruddy face.
“You guys do good work!” I comment. The parents beam with pride, but the weariness in their eyes lets me know that they are all still in the process of getting to know each other. The lady behind the couple glances at the stroller as well, and asks. “Is this your first?” They nod proudly. “Just wait…” she snorts, and then follows with a comment about unruly teenagers.
Inwardly, I wince. We seem to live in a country overrun by a great lot of negative naysayers when it comes to parenting. I remember hearing comments like that when I was a new (and overwhelmed!) mom. It seemed that many parents were suffering from a chronic…
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Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 26, 2012
Last evening, a good friend and I were talking about LBK (life before kids.) Remembering wistfully the days when we had the energy to go out – and stay out – beyond 9.30pm. The days before a rushed slap of mascara and lip balm, and tussling your hair as you run out the door, were sufficient for looking and feeling presentable. These days, the reality is that the babysitter usually arrives just as the kids are eating the dinner you hastily prepared while your husband is looking at his watch reminding you that “we have to be there in 15 mins” – which leaves you precisely minus two minutes to get ready.
Think back to LBK. Remember the pre-party? Those languorous 60-90 minutes spent getting ready were almost as much fun as the night out itself.
Moms, I say let’s re-instate the pre-party!! And here’s how:
Option 1: Have the babysitter arrive an hour earlier than you usually do. Surely the extra $10-15 bucks will be worth the indulgence of your me-time in the tub, perusing your closet, picking your accessories, checking yourself out in the mirror, detailed application of make-up, and yes – a large cocktail or glass (or two) of wine throughout.
Option 2: Get your partner/spouse to cover the kids while you spend the time getting ready, before the babysitter arrives. It’s a cheaper, though not always as serene, option. It’ll be important to lay down some rules for the family and for you i.e. they must not disturb you, and you must let the mayhem – I mean dinner time – happen without your intervening.
I’ve decided to give it a go. Not only will I be in a decent frame of mind for a fun night out with my husband and/or friends, but maybe I’ll even look better for it!
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 24, 2012
It’s been a long week and it’s not over yet. Been doing the working Mom/sick kid juggle a.k.a. trying to do it all and not doing much of anything well. I’ve been Worried Mama. I’ve been Sympathetic Mama. I’ve been Entertaining Mama. I’ve been Tradeoff Mama. I’ve been Sick Mama too. And today I’m Bitchy Mama. My patience has worn thin, I need uninterrupted sleep and to watch TV that is not animated.
These are the zero-tolerance rules that Bitchy Mama has set forth today for the kids:
- Any sentence starting with “I want” is being ignored.
- Any request that does not include the word “please” is being ignored.
- All and any whining is ignored.
- If you are yelling for me and I am in a different part of the house, you will be ignored. Come find me. Especially if it involves blood or other bodily fluids.
- If you are fighting, do not expect me to moderate. Work it out.
- Tattle-telling will get you nowhere, fast.
- If you do not listen to me, there’s a strong chance I will yell at you.
- If you need something and it is within reach, go get it yourself.
- I am the boss of you.
Let’s be clear. These are not rules that were implemented for the first time today. They are a constant – kind of. There’s usually a fair amount of latitude and negotiation involved; some give and take. But today I was The Enforcer. And it felt really good.
Bitchy Mama will hopefully be replaced by Sweet & Loving Mama tomorrow. But the zero-tolerance rules will remain.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 17, 2012
I don’t really like America. This may come as a shock to you as it’s been my home for 12 years. I’m the kind of person who lives in the moment and makes the most of what I have. I choose to embrace the world around me with an open mind and an open heart. So here I am, in America, 12 years after moving here with my job in February 2000. I could have gone back to France (which I still miss so viscerally,) could go back to my roots in England, could try somewhere entirely new.
I’ve felt at home everywhere that I’ve lived.
As I embarked upon this post, I was thinking of chronicling the major milestones during these 12 years. But two particular moments stand out, defining me and my future.
Flashback to August 5, 2001. Not to that lazy Sunday morning and the heart-stopping moment when this wonderful man I had fallen in love with asked me to be his wife. But later that night, as he slept beside me and my head and heart exploded with emotions and my eyes gushed with tears. Joy: I had finally found my soul mate. Amazement/gratitude: that someone could love me enough to want to marry me. Relief: now I could actually dare to see my future, having children could finally become a reality.
Fast-forward to April 2004. After a tough and mentally torturous journey, we discover I am pregnant. Yes, my body is about to perform this ridiculously clever process of growing a person. They say when you become a parent, you permanently wear your heart on your sleeve. For me, this started the day the little blue line appeared after peeing on the white stick. Life was profoundly altered from that moment. I was no longer one person. I still look at my son with amazement and say, “I made you! How nuts is that.”
Now we have two beautiful kids. This April, Devin and I celebrate 10 happy years of marriage. We have a lovely home, great jobs, good health, fantastic friends. I do not take any of this for granted. I wish my parents and siblings were closer, geographically, but we are closer precisely because of our physical distance.
They say home is where the heart is. Right now, it’s here. America.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 12, 2012
February 2012 marks 12 years since I moved to America from Grenoble, France, a picturesque town surrounded by three masterful mountain ranges. Three hours by train from Paris, one hour by car from Lyon, two hours by car from Geneva and just shy of four hours to the Cote d’Azure, Grenoble was the perfect town in which to live “la vie francaise” from 1997-2000.
Those were three of the best years of my life. I find it hard to believe that I have lived in America now four times longer than I lived in Grenoble. Those three years were packed full of emotion, experiences, adventure and ambition. It was a small town life but it was big with fun and friendship.
Frequently, as I go about my day-to-day life here in the U.S., I get pangs for France. It’s more than just longing for times gone by, my “misspent youth”, memories of good times. It’s visceral. When I’m missing France, I’m missing:
- How my brain feels energized by speaking and thinking in French, my second language
- Amazement and gratitude for the multi-cultural friendships created and sustained
- Viewing the world through a European filter
- The powerful seductive smell of cheese shops and patisseries
- Discovering – and being completely swallowed up by – the voice, lyrics and harmonies of Francis Cabrel and Lara Fabian
- The serendipity of being introduced to works of author Paulo Coelho
- Experiencing the mountains, lakes and countryside in all their overwhelming raw beauty
- The cobblestone streets, the ever-flowing wine, the boutiques,
- Living within and among history and architecture
- Hunting for chanterelles and then making omelets with them
- The deep sleep that follows a day of skiing in the Alps and a cheese fondue
- Did I mention the ever-flowing wine?
The urge to go back, not just to visit but to stay, is powerful. Life in Grenoble made an indelible mark on my soul.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 8, 2012
I am by no means a perfect mother. I say ‘no’ a great deal, the naughty step is frequently used, I threaten to throw away all the toys that are widely distributed throughout our house, I bribe with chocolate and I’m not above feeding my kids a Happy Meal from time to time. I feel guilty when I put my work – or the next tweet or FB status – before their immediate need for x, y or z. My tolerance threshold for whining is very, very (did I say very?) low. There are many unanticipated realities of parenthood that keep me dazed and confused every day.
Still, there is a lot that I think I might be doing right. When I say I – I mean my husband and I – because it’s a team sport, this parenting business.
Right from the beginning, our wonderfully wise pediatrician told us not to become short order cooks for our kids. Dinner is what’s on their plates. Same thing for everyone. If you don’t eat it, it’s a long time till breakfast. We have tried our very hardest to maintain this policy, even when it’s meant our four year-old daughter going to bed with an empty tummy and waking up hungry in the night. Call me mean, but the lesson is slowing seeping into her angelic and often quirky grey matter. Last week she voraciously ate swordfish! (Of course, this week she turned it down) It’s worked with my son too – he now has a man-sized appetite and is (mostly) willing to try new foods.
Beyond the dinner table, we’ve taken this approach further. By that I mean that teaching our kids to do stuff for themselves is an everyday priority. Self-reliance, independence, resourcefulness – call it what you will, but teaching it to your kids from an early age is so important. It was tough for me at first. Being the control freak that I am, it was intolerably painful sitting by and watching my toddler figure out how to get into feety jammies and zip ’em up by herself. Standing back as your kids pour cereal into their own bowls knowing that, at any moment, the entire contents of the Cheerio box are going to be avalanching out of the packet and cascading onto the floor. Waiting for your kid to figure how out to buckle their own car seat when you are already running ten minutes behind schedule.
The key, we discovered, was to drill this concept of self-reliance into them precisely during the “I want to do it by myself” stage (which starts around three) to the “teach me how to do it” and “can I help?” stages (which are roughly from four to seven – and who knows maybe longer.)
Patience, restraint and several large glasses of wine later …. the rewards for teaching our kids to be resourceful is paying off. Not only are they doing more stuff for themselves (and feeling proud about it,) now they are finally doing stuff for me! See what I mean? Hooray!
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 5, 2012
Since I committed to putting my resolutions in writing for the first time, I feel compelled to report back after the first month. Here goes:
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 1, 2012