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You’re a big fat liar, Facebook.

I was talking with a friend recently about the difficulties in parenting teenagers (and really children of all ages, for that matter).

And what I took away from our conversation was that a lot of us are lying.

Because what this friend told me is that when she looks at Facebook, her friends make it look like raising kids is all sunshine and rainbows.

When instead, it’s really a lot of eye rolling and slammed doors.

I’m just as guilty of this. If I look back at my last few Facebook posts about my own children, they’re about the funny things they’ve said or accomplishments I’m proud of.

Because really, I assume that nobody wants to read about the argument we had because someone told me they didn’t like what I was making for dinner, or about the 237 times I had to ask one of them to put away their clean laundry before it actually got done. I don’t write about the times that my kids are doing homework together at the kitchen table and one throws a pencil at the other because he’s annoyed by the other one talking himself through math homework. I post vacation photos of my smiling family, but leave out the anecdotes about the screaming match that happened during mini golf.

But maybe our friends WOULD be interested in reading about this stuff. Because if we all posted about the crappy days too, instead of just about dance recitals, achievements and family trips, parents might realize that we’re all in this together, and that someone is probably having the same problem that you are.

It’s interesting, because most of us give our kids this lesson about social media, but we often forget about it ourselves. We remind kids that there’s more to those selfies posted on Instagram. And the post about that beautiful semiformal dress? I can’t think of a teenage girl who is going to also post about the arguments she had with her parents about the appropriateness or cost of that dress. And unfortunately, neither is her mom.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that I (along with most of you) will continue to put my happy face forward on Facebook. But the next time you see a photo of one of my kids at a concert, smiling and wearing a tie, please try and remember that they might not have been so nice to me when their pants weren’t ironed at the exact moment they had planned to put them on. And that I may have yelled at them because those pants were crumpled in the bottom of a closet since the last concert until they were handed over for ironing.

In the end, we wouldn’t (most days, anyway) trade our kids for the other ones who look so perfect on Facebook.

Well, maybe that one in the tutu….

 

 

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This is love.

This morning, I came downstairs to discover my husband’s used Band-Aid on the kitchen counter. Before I threw it away, I did what I believe any rational wife would do.

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This is pretty much how things go around here. Dave and I have been married for 18 years, and the one thing we’ve never done in those 18 years is take each other too seriously.

This morning’s offending Band-Aid was used to cover what I’m going to categorize as a disgusting rash on Dave’s hands that the doctor thinks is some allergic reaction. It’s been itchy and bothering him, so I’ve been doing what any loving wife would do – I’ve been checking in to see how he feels. And calling him “Rashy McScabby.”

A few months ago, Dave was snoring so loudly one night that in my irritated non-sleep, I recorded the sound to play for him in the morning. He listened for a few seconds and said, “What? It sounds like the ocean. Very soothing.”

I’m not saying this kind of relationship works for everyone. But for Dave and me, behind our jokes and fake insults, there’s nothing but love and respect.

And how do I know that?

A few years ago, Dave told me that he’d never be able to cheat on me. I said that I thought it was sweet that he was telling me. His reply — “Oh, no … it’s that we’re so close and I tell you everything. I’d be so excited that I got some other girl that I’d just HAVE to tell you about it!”

Now if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

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A love letter to my sons.

Dear Matthew and Michael,

Before we get started, I have a confession to make. I wanted girls.

I think I’ve mentioned this to you. I didn’t want boys because I have anything against them; it’s just that, you know, I’m a girl, and growing up I really didn’t have a lot of friends who were boys.  I was a pretty stereotypical girl, playing with dolls and makeup, so I think I assumed that I’d have girls, because that’s what I knew.

Someone had a different plan.

I realized that the first time I changed a diaper and had to clean pee off a wall. Seriously, I don’t think I even realized that was possible, but there I was. I’m fairly certain one of you still holds the record for the number of times a baby has peed on the wall in our pediatrician’s office in one visit. Three.

But aside from what I consider to be the sometimes quirky differences between sons and daughters, I couldn’t be happier with my two boys, and realized that we were all meant to be together.

Until yesterday.

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When I came downstairs after one of you returned from a baseball game, and I found – gasp! – a cup sitting on the kitchen island. Where I was about to make your lunch for the next day. Why? There are so many other places you could put it – your room, the bathroom, even your bed, or, you know, the bin in your room designated for all of your sports equipment. And I hate to admit this, but yesterday was not the first time I found your cup in the kitchen. And I’ve talked to other moms of boys about this, and I know you’re not the only boy who has done this.

I’ve seen other things too — the stuff of nightmares.

I’ve seen our dog ripping apart a small pile of the tissues you used when you had a terrible cold. Because for whatever reason, these tissues didn’t quite make it into the garbage.

I’ve seen you pick up a half eaten jellybean off the basement floor. And eat it.

I’ve seen you stuff the strings of your hoodie into your mouth.

I’ve seen you take dirty laundry out of a hamper to wear it. Because my usual 24- to 48-hour laundry turnaround wasn’t quite speedy enough for you.

I’ve seen you wipe your nose on a sleeve. On a clean towel. On me.

But you know what. I still wouldn’t trade either of you for anything. I can’t believe how much I love you both — more every day. You’re some pretty amazing kids.

But please. Put the cup away.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons from town.

We live in a suburban town with a central downtown area full of shops and restaurants. It’s a nice area that attracts couples, groups of friends, families, and parents with strollers, having coffee, enjoying a meal, shopping or seeing a movie.

Except on Friday afternoons, when downtown is overrun with middle school students. Every town has its rites of passage, and this is one of ours.

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Kids usually begin testing the waters toward the end of 5th grade. My 5th grade son Michael has recently started going into town with his friends, and as annoying as a pack of adolescents can be, I realize that there can be a lot of good lessons they learn from this particular rite of passage:

Negotiation: There are a handful of places these kids tend to eat (and therefore, places most adults learn to avoid when they are overtaken by smaller individuals who punctuate their sentences with “oh, man” and “like.”). They need to figure out how to decide where they’re going when there’s dissention in the group between pizza and Mexican food.

Money management: Kids develop an appreciation for how much things cost when they’re paying for it themselves. Ours have learned to manage their allowance and any other money they have so they can spend it how they like. They can also learn smaller lessons about counting their change, tipping and using coupons.

Generosity: For whatever reason, one of the usual stops for these kids is the old independent drugstore in town, where they have an unusually large candy selection. Both of my kids have occasionally come home with candy for their brother, just because they saw something they knew the other would like. I also know that Michael was pretty excited that he picked out and purchased his own Mother’s Day card for me this year.

Following the rules: We hope that by now our kids are following the general rules we’ve been teaching them for the last decade — ‘look both ways,’ ‘don’t talk to strangers,’ and ‘wash your hands,’ especially when they’re away from us. But sometimes there are more subtle rules that they can only learn through experience. The first time Michael went into town with a friend, they saw an older teen trying to not be seen taking pictures of a store employee. The teen was caught and reprimanded, and it definitely freaked Michael out. It was probably a good lesson.

Responsibility. Going into town with friends is a privilege. My kids know they’re supposed to respond to my check-in texts, and be where they’re supposed to be when they’re being picked up.

Sometimes there are lessons that kids can only learn from being out in the world on their own.

 

 

 

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Appreciating the Teachers.

I read on Facebook this morning that today is Teacher Appreciation Day. So it must be true.

My mother is a retired teacher, and I think because I was raised by a teacher, I was taught to appreciate teachers. (Insert shout out here to my mother – my first teacher – who taught me some of the more important things in life – how to fold a fitted sheet and make a bed with hospital corners, how to know when it’s time to flip a pancake, and how to shave my legs).

When I think back to my own childhood, there were so many teachers who impacted me, and helped shape me into the person I am today. My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Drake, who introduced our class to French because it was something she wanted to share. I ended up choosing French as the language I took in middle school, continued through high school, and minored in French in college. And my high school French teacher, Mrs. Larsen, took us to French restaurants in Manhattan, showed us French movies, and shared important French literature and more important French swear words. I remember my first trip to Paris, thinking of Mrs. Larsen as I walked around Montmartre, a place we had talked about in high school.

Mr. Gill, the band director in my elementary school, who nurtured my interest in music. I took piano lessons at home, but Mr. Gill was the one who taught me how to play several instruments, and allowed me to experience the joy of playing in band.

There were teachers who taught me things that were less academic, but equally important. Mrs. Pezak, a high school literature teacher, who taught me the importance of humor and warmth in connecting with people. Dr. Butt (a great college professor with a less than great name), who taught me that working with topics that engage you are going to bring out the best in you. Dr. Goodman, the director of my graduate program, who taught me how to transition from being a student to a professional adult.

Teaching isn’t the best paying profession, and aside from getting summers “off” (when many teachers take on summer jobs), there aren’t a lot of perks. But as a teacher myself, I know that a student letting me know that something they learned from me came up at their internship, or something we talked about was helpful in a job interview — this is what makes it all worth it.

 

 

 

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