Supermoms Anonymous

Can I really have it all and why would I want to?

Multiple Choice Parenting

Ever wonder what parenting and the SAT have in common??  You can plan ahead, sign up way in advance (up to 9 months) . You pay your fees. You buy a book about what to expect on the big day.

A few more similarities…

1. Loss of sleep worrying about how you will measure up.

2. Lots of studying in advance.

3. Headaches! Probably due to reason #1 and #2!

4. Test-taking strategies: Don’t spend too much time on one question or you may run out of time to finish. Translation in parentese: PICK YOUR BATTLES!

5. Constantly compared to everyone else in the group. What score did you make? When did your baby take his first step? Did you understand that essay about deforestation? Can your kid read yet?

Upsides to the SAT or ACT exams

1. You know in advance what to expect. It really is pretty much like they tell you in the test prep books.  Bring your sharpened #2 pencils and be on time.

2. You get a final score and it is done. Finito. The end. Unless… see #3

3. You can get a do-over.  Just take the darned thing again. This time, don’t take it the morning after prom!

Upside to parenting

1. After childbirth, they send you home with all sorts of useless brochures, samples, and a cute baby picture (and don’t forget the grand prize: BABY). All I got at the SAT exam was writer’s cramp.

2. Usually, you get to drop a few pounds from pushing out a 7 pound baby.  College on the other hand is nearly guaranteed to send you home at Christmas 10 pounds heavier.

3. Last but not least – In ten years nobody will care what your SAT score was. But your children won’t fade away into your distant memories along with SAT scores and class schedules.

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Language Barriers a.k.a. “Do you hear me?”

Everyone kept telling me to enjoy the diaper days because before you know it they will be teenagers.  I could not believe that life could get more complicated than being surrounded by babies.

Well it is not FAIR, I tell you. My oldest is about to become a teenager and most of the time I feel completely clueless as to what the heck his problem is.  Most conversations seem to end with him saying “FINE” or “Yes, Mom” or something similar. But it sounds like he is saying “Whatever. You can make me do what you want for now but in five years (minus 1 month,  2 weeks, 3 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes, and 3 seconds), I will be free from your tyrannical rules. Then we’ll see who gets to drink caffeine, stay up all night, skip showers, abolish toothpaste and live on doritos…”

We do not even seem to speak the same language anymore.  Something as simple as “please go get the mail” suddenly causes him to come down with a rash of complaints like “Why me? Didn’t I do my chores today?  Why don’t you pick on someone else? Fine, I’ll get the mail…” Translation: You are a slave driver. I hate you.  Maybe I can drop some of the mail in the ditch.

I ask “Have you showered today?” He retorts, “I showered last night.” Translation: My body, my business. Back off,  Mom!

I say “Dinner is scrounge. Tonight is leftovers night.”  We usually empty the fridge the night before shopping. Because I am not cooking, he replies “I’m not hungry yet.” Translation: If I have to put any effort at heating up my own food and bringing it to the table, I am not eating. Besides, I ate all the good leftovers at lunch.  Mom will probably feel guilty later and cook something.  In the meantime, I can sit here and sulk.

I miss the pampers and formula days.  One cry meant hungry. Another cry meant hurt.  I was pretty good at baby translation.

I have a long way to go in my quest to understand the teenagers. Did I mention that I also have two tweens? Maybe by the time my youngest reaches the ripe old age of 13, I will speak fluent teenager-ese.


A time for everything

The clock and I are mortal enemies.  My archenemy, the alarm clock, has many tricks up its sleeve.  Not ringing loudly enough, having a far-too accessible snooze button, blinking “12:00″ like a madman every time the power stays off longer than the battery can stand the suspense. That darn clock tries to trip me up every morning.

There is a clock in just about every room of the house. The kitchen has FIVE clocks (counting appliance clocks).  None of them have the same time on them.  No matter how I try to synchronize the clocks in my home, they never agree.  And, I don’t mean they are a minute or so off – more like five or ten minutes.  My clocks are like a bunch of in-laws at a family reunion.  Not only do they never agree with each other, but I don’t even get a say. (After all, I’m not real family – just married into the mess.)

I have given up setting the time on most of the appliances and other electronics in the house.  I live by my wristwatch (which of course I set ten minutes fast just in case).  Even the kids have given up hope in the clocks around here. They just come looking for me and ask conspiratorially “Mom, what time is it REALLY?” I glance at my watch, subtract five or so minutes and declare that it is maybe, almost, around quarter till four.

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Feminism, my way

I never really understand what people mean when they say “the feminist movement.” I mean, I understand we want equal rights, we want to vote and we want equal pay.  But people talk about this vague thing… “the feminist movement.” Do they mean more, like they can bash on men and still expect men to pay for the date?  Some act like women are better than men.

Worse still, MY choices as a woman, a wife and a mother are constantly critiqued by others against this imaginary “feminist movement” yardstick.   When I got pregnant, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t go back to work when the baby was the prerequisite 6 weeks old. People kept asking me right up until labor started if I was really and truly coming back to work.   I looked at them like they were crazy. I didn’t understand their doubts… until I held that baby.

No, not even then did I get it. But having to drop off that baby boy every morning for someone else to take care of him. Not seeing him for 9, 10, or even 12 hours a day. Listening to the babysitter tell me about my own son and what he could do now… that pretty much told me where I needed to be… at least for now.

When I became a stay-at-home mom, people wanted to know why I was wasting my education. When I went back to work, they wanted to know, why would I take a job outside of my field of study. Why didn’t I go back and finish my grad school degree?  When would I do something with my life?

Now they look at me like I’m crazy when I answer,“I am doing something with my life. The rest can wait…”

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News Flash!! Clothes go out of fashion quickly!!

At least that is the breaking news in today’s Huntsville Times.  By breaking news, I mean a small, bottom fold article with no bold titles, buried on page E4.

Anyway, the news blurb is an Associated Press article about clothing recycling.  According to the EPA, Americans dispose of nearly 10 pounds of clothing and sheets each year (Who counts sheets with clothes? Sheets count but not shoes or blankets?).  New York City is accepting bids for a long-term contract to manage 50 clothing collection bins.  Since Goodwill Industries is one of the bidders, one can only hope that the clothing will earn another ride on the merry go round of life.

Clothing can be reused or recycled in a number of ways.  Last week I saw a teenager on CNN doing an interview. She was bedazzling and altering clothes for a custom look.  Jean jackets were cut into vests and decorated until they qualified as shiny, glittering substitutes for crossing guard safety vests, America’s Got Talent stage costumes, and airport landing strip lights.

The newspaper article did not list any other bidders. Are the clothes going to end up in a thrift store? What about the clothing beyond repair and wear?  Besides college kids looking for the newest retro fad, who else really wants that pair of bell bottoms that holds the record for pant leg diameter? And what about those well-worn jeans with the mustard, ketchup, relish stains from dropping my…I mean…one’s fully-loaded stadium hot dog in one’s lap.

I have tried giving clothes a second chance: dying to freshen up the color, putting on new buttons to change the look, and tie-dying.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.  Today, my daughter tie-bleached a stained shirt.

I was unable to get a stain out of a shirt.  After three attempts to remove the spots, I finally confessed. I was not overly concerned as I usually spend under three dollars for her clothes, courtesy of the multiple thrift stores in our town. She was upset to say the least. “It’s my favorite.” (So are the other 15 shirts you own.) “I just got it.” (Three thrift shopping trips ago.) “But it’s green.” (One of her new favorite colors…which explains the four or five other GREEN shirts in her closet.)

I suggested a bleach design. After a little explanation, she tied the shirt up with rubber bands, loaded a spray bottle with bleach and went to work.  After only a few minutes and a quick rinse, the shirt looked great.

Throwing away clothes, or any other fabric is a relatively new concept.  In the past, clothing would be dressed up with new trimmings, passed down, and finally dissected and used to make household items like quilts and rag rugs. I personally do not have the time or patience for quilts.  And rag rugs are very homey, but I don’t think I could let anybody walk on something I spent that much time working to complete.  (I can just see me obsessing over who got that rug dirty again…doesn’t anybody appreciate my efforts?)

When I was young, one of the guest stars on Mister Rogers used old clothing to stuff cushions, pillows, etc.  She would tear the fabric into small pieces and reuse them as filling.  The bonus is that shredding clothes could even be marketed as a good way to vent frustration and anger.  (Feel free to deposit your fees for my counseling services in my paypal account. You can choose to pay by the hour or per clothing item.)

Clothes can also be used for the fabric itself.  We have made curtains from sheets (if the EPA can count sheets in the clothing tally, so can I.)  My daughter makes doll clothes from her outgrown clothing.  I wrap small gifts in reclaimed cloth.

I recently dissected a worn and tired dress shirt.  Using pinking shears, I salvaged the back of the shirt for a large square of fabric.  We used ribbon (from a thrift shop) and the reclaimed cloth to wrap a gift.  My daughter cut the front pocket off the shirt to make a neat little pouch to fill with candy.  We then cut off half a sleeve. We folded and pinned the salvage end closed to make a short-notice gift bag.  After my husband opened his Father’s Day gifts, he realized why he never seems to have worn out clothes in the closet.  (Note: I do not recommend this method for getting rid of hubby’s favorite holy – I mean holey – tee shirts. For those items, please refer to the Mister Rogers recycled stuffing).

Old socks, tee shirts (not hubby’s), and worn out linens can be tossed into the rag basket.  (We do not buy paper towels very often.) I mark a big X on the old socks so they do not accidentally get put back into circulation. However, I would never recommend being as frugal as my own mother. It can be embarrassing to have a guest arrive while you have a can of Pledge in one hand and a pair of holey underwear in the other.  She was right about Fruit of the Loom being lint-free for polishing the coffee table, but a girl has to have some standards.


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