How to Raise Non A-holes

It Wasn't Supposed To Be Like This

Welcome back for another installment in the series we’ll call, “Shit I Never Saw Coming As A Mom.”

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, there was this kid who would constantly lick my kid.

That’s right, you heard me: he licked him.  Not once, not twice.  He licked him daily for months.

My son would be sitting at his desk, minding his own business, and this yay-hoo would toodle on past, then swing around really fast, bend down, and lick my son’s hand.

He’d lick his face if he got close enough.

He’d lick my son’s desk if he couldn’t reach him for whatever reason.

You know how some things happen in our lives and they’ll sort-of define that era for you, in your memories?  

Like you might say, “Oh that was in my saving-money-by-cutting-my-own-hair phase,” or, “That was during my vegetarian* period.”

In our family we refer to my son’s early elementary school years as, “when that kid would lick you.”

It was a period of time that went on way longer than it should have.  

When It's Time To Quit

Quit with the hiding, quit with the playing devil's advocate, quit with the holding back, quit with the ever-present safety net thrown out, quit with the mamby-effing-pambying.

Let me back up a bit.

Last time we talked, I was in the depths of sleepless nights and feverish worry about our son, who’s away at college and has been going through some “stuff.”

After my drive down there to see him in person and grab him by the shoulders and shake him until he returned to himself, I spent the next few weeks texting him every morning to check in and make sure he knew we’re here for him.

To make sure he knows he’s not alone and to make sure he knows how very much he’s loved.

And to give him the nudges he needed to get out of his “comfort zone” and live life.

What Do Normal People Do When Forced Into A Fight At Target?

A couple of days ago I went on a rare non-rushed Target run - one of my very favorite pastimes.

To be clear, the “non-rushed” part is what was rare about it. The Target run itself isn’t rare for me at all.

In fact, the last time Mark joined me there he looked over and said, “Do you see the problem?” when we passed an employee who said to me, “Your haircut is so cute! I love your highlights this time,” which was just a few minutes after another employee asked as she straightened products on the shelf, “How did your IKEA built-ins* turn out?”

I had enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the store, having some delicious alone time before family came in for spring break.

Saving A Teenager. Parenting Or Coddling?

If you’re set up to get my emails you got yourself a gander into the peculiar world of my fear-dreams earlier this week, you lucky devil, you.

(By the way, I’m currently accepting dream interpretations, AND if you aren’t subscribed, but you’re looking for something juicy to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch play out like a kid at a carnie sideshow, click here and you’ll get the stuff I only share to people I trust with such oddities.)

You might have read this worried-mom post that I shared earlier this week about my son.

It’s a different post than what I usually share - the less-funny and more worrisome side of parenting than most of my posts - and I questioned whether I should share it for a few reasons:

Is the story too personal?

By sharing it, am I exploiting my son?

Anxiety Or Irresponsibility? How Do I Know What's Happening With My Son?

It’s been about a month since my oldest was home from college for the holidays, so I checked in on him last week with a phone call that went like this:

Me: Hey, baby, whatcha doing?

18: Walking over to get some food.

Me: Oh ok, so you can talk for a sec - how were your classes today?

18: I haven’t had them, yet.  They’re later today - one’s at 1:50 and the other isn’t until 6.

Me: UMM, IT’S 1:54!!

18: Oh.

I swear to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, he’s learned nothing since Mark and I lost every ounce of our shit with him over the Christmas break.

Let me update you.

When Someone Asks Your Advice And You're Unqualified AF

My 10-year-old has been fawning all over a girl in his class for the last month or so, and last week he told me he was going to ask her to be his valentine, which - ohmygod - could that be any cuter?

He’s very different than my older son, who never shared this kind of stuff with me, and even to this very day he only hits me with the very vaguest of information, making me wonder if one day I’ll be sporting an “I ♥ My Grandcat” bumper sticker, which you might think I just made up, but I saw one on a car last week and couldn’t grab my phone fast enough to snap a picture to prove it to you.  

My youngest asks me relationship advice all the time, because I guess he thinks I’m qualified to give counsel to fourth graders seeking matchmaking tips.

Why Today You Will Put On Your Sensible Panties

Hey, momma.

Yes, you.  You with the crispy hair from too many days of dry shampoo.  

You with the stack of mail you’ve promised to sort through for at least two weeks.  

You over there saying a little prayer that your kid doesn’t get salmonella from the slightly expired eggs you fed him this morning (cooked in the microwave, of course, and eaten on the way to school, as if that needed to be said).  

You with the screaming toddler in the checkout line at Target, beads of sweat dripping down the back of your neck, while people give you their judgy side-glances for not controlling your child better.

You with the soft bags under your eyes from staying up too late last night, just so you could savor a few delicious minutes of alone time.

The truth about my 504 article

A few years ago I wrote a post titled, “Back to School: How the 504 Is Keeping Your Kid From Adulting.”  

In case you don’t know what the 504 is, it's part of a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on a disability.  

In layman’s terms, it’s a list of accommodations that level the playing field for students with disabilities or health issues that put them at risk of not having the same opportunities at learning as all the other students.

I knew it was a provocative title I’d chosen for my post.  That was the point.  I wanted it to catch your attention so you’d read it.  

It worked.  It got lots of comments.

"You Need To Be A Better Loser"

As my son came off the ice yesterday following his hockey game, he looked at Mark and me, shrugged up one shoulder a bit and gave a, “meh, what are you gonna do?” expression.

They’d lost another game - they've had plenty of experience losing this season, which has been hard on the team’s morale.  

Except for my child’s.

He still comes off the ice with a smile.

It drives Mark insane.  

“It would be nice if he was just a little more competitive,” he’ll say.

I'm Afraid This Was Caused By Old Eggs

Have I ever told you how we decided to have another kid?  

The truth is, I always wanted a house full of children until my youngest was born and I realized I could barely manage keeping two children alive, much less a throng of them.

Mark was perfectly fine just having one kid.  

I tried for years to get him on board, but our first-born wasn’t an easy infant.  He had colic, but not the kind that people claim to have when their baby is just an asshole and cries a lot. 

A Few Ways To Save Your Marriage During The Trump Administration

It’s a bad time to be non-political, y’all (wait - apolitical? Pan-political? Anti-political?  Non-politics-specific?  I’m not sure which term is accurate, and with all the labels we throw out nowadays, I can’t keep up with all their meanings.  I just know that I’m not interested in any of it and I know that sounds naive and immature, but this isn’t about maturity.  It’s about politics.  And divorce.)

I Wondered Who It Would Be Today

Ok, I just canNOT with all this sexual misconduct, y’all.  I mean - Matt Lauer?  Are you freakin’ kidding me right now?  I can’t even believe it.  

I’ve grown up watching Matt.  But not just watching him, knowing him.  Matt and I shared some laughs - albeit unbeknownst to him - over his Halloween costumes throughout the years.  

We shared tears through the unbearable sadness of the events of 9/11.

We traveled the world together through his annual Where In The World Is Matt Lauer series.

We shared the same disdain for Tom Cruise when Tom used that gorgeous mouth of his to blast Matt with an embarrassing misuse of his vocabulary by calling him “glib.”

Why You Should Say The Nice Thing You're Thinking

A few weeks ago I was sitting on the train heading into Austin for the Texas Conference for Women.  I spent the hour ride visiting with my new friends, the veteran train riders, and also reflecting on last year’s conference.

Last year, I was honored to interview Carla Birnberg, a local author and blogger.  She and I had a 15 minute time slot, but she gave me nearly an hour of her time, and she’s so easy to connect with, that hour flew by.  

My Birthday Wish

The story is that your birthday wish won’t come true if you share it.  But I’m feeling frisky, so I’m throwing caution to the wind.

Hopefully, by sharing, I’m not changing the course of my life’s direction, which is something I’ve worried about before:  when I got my driver's license renewed one year and checked the box labeled “Organ Donor,” and I stepped outside the DMV, I was suddenly paralyzed with fear, worried that I’d just set in motion a new purpose for my life - to be the body parts for someone else’s.  

This Is The Worst-Case Scenario

I’m blaming the fact that I’m running late on Christmas prep on the fact that I was still wearing shorts until just last week, and I just cannot force myself to get in the mood until I have to wear fuzzy socks and pajama bottoms when I take my dogs out back to potty (I apologize to any neighbors who can see in my backyard when it’s warm outside, because I tell myself that wearing a t-shirt and undies is no different than wearing a swimsuit and coverup.)  

We just got our first cool snap last week, so it was in the upper 70’s until then.  Now it feels like winter, but this weekend it’s going to be almost 80 degrees.  

Texas weather is a box of chocolates, y’all.

Dirty Laundry, Doing Less, and Idiots' Guides

Not to air out my medical dirty laundry, but I have a mental condition that you may have heard of:  I have ADHD.  I haven’t been diagnosed by a doctor, but trust me: it’s obvious.

I fill my days with all the hundreds of things I want and need to do, trying to cram it all in, rushing around to keep the house together, letting dogs in and out and in and out and in and out, writing words for this very blog, with the hope of making other moms realize we’re all dealing with the same B.S., and that, yes, they are “doing it right,” whatever that means, and that it’s totally okay that their kids think their name is “Ja-Co-Li-Coo-Dammit!” because - by the end of the day, our brains are just piles of slop.  

Thank goodness for tomorrow. 

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

A week or so ago, a young man that goes to my son’s high school was arrested for graffitiing a terroristic threat on the school’s bathroom wall.  I texted a picture of the kid’s mug shot to my son and asked if he knew him, and he said that, yes, he did - that they even worked together, and that he’d given him a ride home from work a time or two, and that he’d told me about him several times.

I’ll tell you what irritates me more than the itch of a growing-out bikini area, it's finding out my son’s been talking to me, and I haven’t been listening.

I immediately searched all the local news media posts about the arrest, not just to fulfill my need for juicy gossip (but that, too), but also because - now that I was paying attention - I realized how close to home it hits:  the guy's being my son’s age, going to the same school, working at the same place, and **gulp** riding in my son’s car.  

Problems With My Uterus

Sorry I’ve been off the grid for the last week or so.  You may remember that we’ve been prepping for a new addition to our family, and last week, Mark and I drove the six hours (one way!) to pick up our new little puppy-nugget.

We argued for the entire six-hour trip over what her name would be.  

Me:  I love the name Ivy.

Mark:  **Crinkling his nose up in disgust**  But that's a plant.  No.  What about Rio?

Me:  Ew, no.  Rio Braziel?  No.  That sounds like a strip-dancer.  What about Birdie?  Or Bunny?

Hypocrisy & Other Life Lessons For Your Kids

My teenager asked if he could stay home from school this morning because - get this - he didn’t have any clean clothes, and he even went so far as to say, “...because you didn’t do my laundry.” 

Before you get all judgy about me as a mother and housekeeper, let me say this:  he’s been responsible for doing his own laundry since he was about 13.  

But yesterday - as a favor - I offered to throw some of his things into the washing machine, and he of course jumped on-board.