Archive for January, 2010

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Carla: While the actual birth-days of my children are three of the most miraculous and memorable moments of my life, I must say that celebrating those days is, to me, one of life’s bigger hassles.

My poor son was born on a major holiday, which means we either have his birthday party a few weeks before the actual day or a few weeks after it. If I remember. I have managed to pull off some kind of birthday party for him every year, but only out of guilt. I long for the day he doesn’t care or just plans his own party.

I’m not alone here. Today I called another mom to invite her son to my son’s last-minute, way-overdue birthday party and she noted that she has not had a party for her son yet, even though his birthday was a few months ago. Another mom invited my son to her boy’s party with the caveat, “His actual birthday was last summer but we’re just getting around to the party now.”

I hate hate hate hate hate planning birthday parties, even the extremely low-key, not-at-our-house, someone-else-makes-the-food-and-cleans-up, no-there-is-no-goodie-bag kind we are prone to throw together. I suppose like most things that stress me out it’s just a matter of making it happen–the event itself is not a big deal. And now that the friends have been called and the thing is on iCal, I feel a bit better. But still.

I guess what I really want to know is, how did this become my job? My husband hasn’t put one ounce of thought into this thing. He has not once woken up in the middle of the night panic-stricken because he can’t believe it’s almost February and we still haven’t had a party. Oh, he’ll be at the party and help hand out cupcakes and get bowling balls for everyone. And he makes the kids’ actual birthdays all kinds of fun. But the party planning has somehow landed on my mental plate and I don’t know why.

Caryn: Funny you should mention this. I’ve got two b-days coming up in the next month-ish and have already been thinking about how this will all go down. I, too, hate planning parties and I too have never done a goodie bag (but we DO always have a pinata, so that counts). And I too am always the one planning the party–with the husband who gets drinks for the adults and hangs and finds the proper bat for the pinata.

But I dunno. I don’t know why this falls on our laps. Clearly, the party should be for US that day. But I’m guessing it’s just because we love our kids so stinkin’ much and we’ve all heard the stories of those kids born on leap day in a leap year and who’s mom only celebrated their birthdays ever four years and know that moms who throw parties give their kids one less thing to grumble about down the road.

(Can you tell I have wet hair and have to run out the door to a meeting in 10 minutes?)

Carla: In the scope of things, this is a very minor complaint. And really, it’s not even a complaint as much as a…um…an…eh…. Okay, it’s a complaint.

I will say this, however, I am blessed to be amongst parents who–with very few exceptions–keep their kids’ parties as low-key as we do. I read about these over-the-top parties and how parents feel like they are stuck in this cycle of one-up-momship and I’m sooo glad that’s not the world I live in. I would be a big dud in that world.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those for whom birthdays are a big deal and those for whom they are not. I like to think that I am raising my children to have low expectations for their birthday celebrations. Their future friends will thank me.

Listen Up

Carla: This morning, as is the case every Sunday morning, I will be talking about Rev. stuff with my dear friend Doug Pagitt. His weekly show is on am950 in the Twin Cities, but you can listen online anytime here. I’m usually on at 10:34 and this morning will be extra special as Sarah Sampedro of Art and Motherhood joins Doug at 11. So if you’re digging Sarah’s photos, wait until you hear her talk about what she’s doing. Hope you’ll tune in!

Honesty, Art, and Motherhood

Carla: I’m about to make your day so much better. My friend Sarah has started a project that you have to see for yourselves–365 days of motherhood as seen through her camera. Her project is called Art and Motherhood and you need to take a look.

Now here’s what makes this so incredible. Sarah is an award-winning photographer. She is also one of the most honest, transparent people I know. That means the pictures she’s taking are the real deal. They are beautiful, heartbreaking, funny, hopeful, stark, and sometimes literally naked. She doesn’t gloss over the realities of motherhood or family life. Sometimes there are tears–and not just from the kids. Sometimes there are messes. Sometimes there is laughter. Sometimes there is just work.

But this project isn’t just about the photos. It’s about Sarah. This photo-journal is her effort to keep her creative spirit alive in the middle of her life as a mom. It’s a way of keeping the best parts of herself from withering under the weight of responsibility. I love that about her and I think you will too.

Caryn: Of course, I love everything about this. Well, except for today’s photo. I had to click away quickly. It represents all of the kid-neediness I am overwhelmed with at this moment and I just couldn’t deal. But the other ones are wonderful. I’m sure if I go back to today’s photo later—when my kids are reading or playing quietly—I will also love it.

But what I really loved was this sentence on her “About” page about why she’s doing this: “I want to be successful at both without waiting until I’m fifty, have an empty nest and find myself at a community ed class saying ‘I used to really like photography and now I’d like to get back into it.'”

Amen, sister. It’s why we do what we do too. I hope you ALL have something you love to do, are great at, and are succeeding at while you are being a great mom.

Carla: And if you don’t, it’s time to figure out what that something might be. We die inside if we don’t have a dream, something that we’re passionate about, something that keeps us connected to the core of who we are created to be. It might even be being a great mom.

I think a big part of what touches me about what Sarah is doing is that she has paid attention to what gives her life and she’s not letting go of it. That’s what I want for myself, for my friends, for my kids. It’s far too easy to let it slip away.

Stupid Stupid

Caryn: I’ve written before about me not being a good mom. At least, not in the sense of being the sort of mom to whom others look for guidance or advice or wisdom. I’m a good mom in that I love my kids and am snuggling a crabby two-year-old on my lap as I type and am not reaching for my coffee because I don’t want to disturb this precious moment. But, I do a lot of things “wrong.”

Case in point: The other night I was telling a group of people about how my snuggly two-year-old is on a kick where he calls everything “stupid.” I was laughing as I shared examples of how I’ll say, “We’re going to Target.” And he’ll go, “No, that’s stupid.” Or how I’ll say, “Let’s get some lunch.” And he’ll go, “Lunch is stupid.” Honestly, it’s darling and it cracks me up.

But as I shared this—me laughing—I looked around at the faces. Total horror. One mom said, “How awful. Let’s hope he gets this out of his system before he gets to school.”

And I was reminded of how “stupid” is on the banned words list among many parents. I still don’t know why.

With the exception of calling another person “stupid” (particularly if that other person actually IS stupid) or being TOO disrespectful, I’ve never gotten the big deal with this word and kids. Maybe it’s because my kids are hilarious—and sharp–and want them to grow up being laughed at (in a good way). Maybe it’s because I say “stupid” all the time and think it’s a fantastic word. Very workable. Tons of things (and people) ARE stupid and I see little wrong with it.

So I thought this might be something to address here….What are the things that we’re cool with that might horrify others?

Carla: A friend of mine once told me she doesn’t let her kids read “Max and Ruby” books because they use the “s-word.” It was the first time I’d ever heard of that word being ban-worthy. I mean, I don’t want my kids calling other people stupid and we crack down when they use it to refer to each other, but it’s not like other “s-words” they could be using.

There’s a whole list of words like this, words that don’t bother me in the least that I worry are offensive to other people. Like butt. We call the rear end of a human being a butt. Not a bottom, not a behind, not a fanny, a butt. Sometimes it’s a tush, but only because that’s such a cute word and it suites the cuteness of my children’s butts. Anyway, I’m always a little taken aback when I hear parents “correct” their kids when they use a word like butt. I used to check myself because I figured it was me who was too lenient. Now? Well now I don’t really care. We say butt. Get over it.

As for things we think are cool that might be horrifying to other parents… where to start? Probably with The Simpsons. We don’t watch it often because it’s on while we’re at church (how fitting!), but when our oldest was a preschooler, we watched it all the time. And she watched it with us. And we laughed and laughed. Someone gave Emily a Marge Simpson doll and she carried it everywhere for a few months. She even brought it with her to the communion rail one Sunday. It was a proud moment for us. And lest anyone be horrified by a preschooler at the communion rail, it was an Episcopal church and they like that sort of thing.

Caryn: We say butt. When we’re not using what I thought was a Spanish word, but recently found out was totally made up by Rafi’s aunt. But that’s neither here nor there. With so much of this, it’s about usage and intent. Like, while I was just making dinner, my son was mocking my daughter for her pronounciation of “Messiah.” So I had to ban the word Messiah.

They asked if they could talk about Satan, then. I said sure. So now they’ve made up a nice song about “Satan Down in Hell.” It’s lovely. I’m sure they’ll someday see your Marge Simpson at the Lord’s Table and raise you a nice busted-out rendition of “Satan Down in Hell.” You think the Episcopalians can deal with THAT (Jen, can they?)?

But really, people, what are the things you are cool with that raise eyebrows elsewhere?