Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweet Lies

There's a sweet mom that always comes to my daughter's gymnastics class exceedingly late.

Even for a mom, she always seems disheveled.  (And that is coming from me, someone who is never in a cute pair of J. Crew green skinny pants and doesn't wear lipstick because simply, I often have no idea where my make-up bag is.)  This mom has three kids under the age of 3 and she always wears a brown parka that does nothing for her sandy hair and light complexion. 

 The class begins at 10.  This past week, she was so late that she showed up at 10:32.   I want to describe the withering looks she got from the waiting room.  It was cold man, and I'm not talking about the wind chill factor. 

I want to be the first person to say I try very hard to get my children and myself to places on time.  Sometimes though, I fail. I do believe that if you're habitually late your life is out of control so I try not to be habitually late. I also find it annoying when someone I'm meeting is always late.  They know this. I tell them. I tell them that this must mean that their lives are out of control. Then they start coming on time.  It's like magic.

But that being said, Late Mom rushed in, hair flying willy nilly, kids covered in crumbs and juice stains and, of course, still wearing the unflattering brown parka. 

She said to the room "You know it's bad when your 2 year old tells you that you need to manage your time better!"

And there was silence.  And it hung there.  And it felt like judgment.   And I think we were all feeling rather smug because we had gotten our children to class on time. Certainly, we were all doing better than that mom least.  And then I saw that Late Mom looked really bummed out. And then I felt kind of ashamed because we were all silently patting ourselves on the back for getting our little kids to a class on time. Big fricking whoop.

There was a mom there who was basically putting out a bid for connection and we were all shaming her?  No one was throwing her a bone and the rather bitchy receptionist was even giving her a superior sort of look.

So I my book of Maeve Binchy essays aside, (which is a huge sacrifice since that hour in the waiting room without any kids is very precious to me) and, all in the name of being less of an asshole than I was being, I did what I do best.  I white lied.  I'm a great white liar, (it's sad but true) and lately I've started owning it. I learned this skill post-college, when white jeans were in and people were asking if they made their respective butts look big.

"I know, RIGHT?"  I yelled back at her.

She looked relieved that anyone was talking to her late, pariah self.  A smile flooded her cute, albeit caked-with-something face.

"It's like we were already so late...my daughter wanted a juice box, so I had to run back inside the house and get it....and then she wanted apple juice instead of grape juice...so I had to run back inside to switch it," she says.

Ohdearohdearohdear....

I squelched to urge to give her advice like "How about next time tell her either "no!" or "it's grape juice or the highway" and I remembered a time (perhaps many times) when I too, indulged my kids because I was just plain too tired for a fight.

" I hear ya, sister!"  I sang out. (My whole demeanor changes when I'm white lying. I sound like someone testifying in a gospel choir, I don't know why.)

"I'm embarrassed I'm so late, I am" She sort of fake-laughed nervously.

"Oh, come on! You're not late for your daughter's inauguration.  It's a tumbling class." I encouraged.

Cue very bitchy look zinging my way from receptionist.

"I know!" she said. "It's the same with the movies...it's like why do I need to get there on time?"

ohdearohdearohdear.  Because your arrival disrupts the entire movie? Because you miss all the previews which is the best part?

"I hear ya!" I say again.  Because that's what this was about.  She wanted to be heard 

This nice mom and I clearly didn't agree on our respective timetables, that was obvious. It was also certain she wasn't looking for advice on how to organize her life. (Not that I'm qualified to give any) But she was having a tough morning and reaching out for some reassurance. And if I couldn't extend my hand for 1 minute with a few kind words than really, what's the point?

It took me back to a time when I burst into tears outside my son's swim class, so horrible was my week.  The kids had been acting up, my husband was away and one of my book reviews had been criticized by a reader for being anti-feminist (as IF!)  One my friends told me her kids could be gargoyles also, her husband left a sopping wet towel on their down comforter that morning and people were crazy.  I was comforted.

Another mom we don't know that well piped in, "my kids have actually been behaving really well this week.  And my husband made me breakfast in bed today!" 

We don't sit with her anymore.

The point is if you have a choice between being a giant beeotch who thinks she's got it all together or a an empathic human being willing to connect, please go with the latter, especially if someone seems to be in need. 

Be kind, even if it means telling someone their white jeans don't make them look like a cannoli.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Have Mercy

From Vegas to church on Sunday in just in a matter of days.

Spending so much time indulging in the city of sin last week perversely caused me to want to go to church this past Sunday even though I hadn't been there in a while.   I gifted my husband with 3 hours of blessed solitude to go for a bike ride and I packed up the children to go to our church.  That sounds much easier than it is since my 3 year old Little D and I got into a huge argument because I wouldn't let her wear her Mets shirt and Big A insisted on bringing a tiny Minecraft figure that would surely somehow end up in the collection plate.

But we made it, (with time to spare!) and collapsed into the pew along my parents.  My mom immediately began doling out tictacs which annoyed me because she should really wait until the sermon for that kind of thing when the kids get really antsy. Daphne opened her mouth wide to smugly show me the dissolving contraband Grandma had given her and promptly dropped a hymnal on the floor.

We got through the prayer of the day without incident but during a quiet moment of reflection during the Gospel Big A stage whispered "IS THIS ALMOST OVER YET?"  It wasn't.  And then Little D dropped a hymnal again.   During the sermon, where the pastor made a reference to Great Expectations I enjoyed immensely, I began to feel peace in my heart.  Then Little D dropped a hymnal again. I noticed Big A's finger kept scratching his nose in such a way that he was itching to pick it and I rooted around in my bag for a Kleenex.  Then during another moment of quiet reflection Little D dropped a hymnal again.

I took away the hymnal.

We sang the Hymn of the Day, but I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing since my 6 year old was belting it out and even trilling his Rs, a la the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. I have no inkling why he was singing that way but I was distracted because Little D had now bamboozled Grandma into giving her more orange tictacs. Big A stage whispered during the prayers "WHEN IS COFFEE HOUR?  DO YOU THINK THEY'LL HAVE BROWNIES?" instead of "Help us, oh Lord!" and I could have sworn he mumbled "Help us to have brownies at coffee hour today, oh Lord" but I can't prove it.  When the choir sang, quite beautifully, Little D showed her distaste by covering her ears with her hands.  "Where is all this music coming from?"  Big A wondered and I tried to silently point towards the pipe organ. 

The kids started slumping down in the pew, emulating a posture I remember well from my own childhood and when communion came I was glad that they'd get to stretch their legs a bit. But imagine my surprise when the pastor offered my son communion wine. 

"No!"  I objected.

"Yes, please!" he insisted.

To my relief she didn't give him the blood of Christ but imagine my surprise when Big A grabbed my near-empty plastic cup I was about to throw away and chugged the rest down.  My cheeks flaming I dragged them back to my seats, wondering why I put myself through this.

From what I've noticed, kids get really bored in church.  That's why I lobbied successfully to have Sunday happen during the majority of the service.   But this particular day there was no Sunday School and thus, no real way to make the Parable of the Bridesmaids and Their Lamps relatable to kids.

When we finally got down to coffee hour and the kids plates were heaped with bagels, fruit and the coveted brownies, I tried to explain the gospel to them in a way they could understand.

"Are you glad you came with me to church today?" I asked Big A.

"Definitely!" he said.

"Really?" I said, somewhat touched that this all wasn't lost on him.

"Oh, yeah," he said "If I hadn't come with you to church today, I wouldn't be here munching on this delicious brownie."

True story.

But I will not give up despite what can be an incredibly embarrassing and seemingly futile endeavor.  I will continue taking the kids to church, because I want to expose them to a place where I've found a lot of joy and peace throughout my life.  I'm sorry it's boring at times, (and truthfully my mind wanders off occasionally also) but I ultimately think proving a church life and a church family for my children is incredibly important.

Even if it inadvertently starts them drinking wine at an early age.     

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Childless in Vegas

I don't miss the kids.

My hub and I head to Vegas for our yearly jaunt where he works for 3 days and I generally have no responsibility whatsoever.  The drive to airport was like a vacation in itself...there were no children in the backseat asking me for juice and requesting I tell an umpteenth story.

On the plane, my hub and I grew playful with each other in the way we usually reserve for the kids  We ordered two cocktails and my husband began a conversation between his empty gin bottle and my empty rum bottle. The woman next to us looked disgusted. We played hangman, using all our inside jokes.  The woman next us changed her expression from disgusted to revolted. Then we cheesily listened to Bob Marley and Neil Diamond songs, sharing one set of headphones, one ear bud in each of our ears.  The woman next to us vomited into her air bag. 

I read two books and laughed out loud, People I Want to Punch in the Throat and Spoiled Brats.  I didn't have to take any children to the bathroom or share the peanut M&Ms I had stowed away in my bag and when my sister, sitting two rows behind, handed me a People Magazine I didn't have to explain to my children why, as Big A says of the skin-baring fashions "all the ladies look like they're naked"

Then we checked into our hotel, the Palazzo, and while all the other adults seemed to be numb to it's beauty I was amazed by the fountain, the sculpture, the giant floating leaves and giant pears dangling from the ceiling. Clusters of empty green wine bottles were hung from each tree in clumps and the fountain tinkled away, nearly begging for me to throw in a penny.

I really missed the kids.  They would be in awe of this lobby. They would be amazed and inspired by fruit bigger than a couch and twirling, sparkling leaves seemingly suspended in mid air. They would freak out to see wine bottles growing on trees.  I began to sniffle. 

"I wish that Big A and Little D were--"

"Don't even say it!" Big G interrupted.  It's 11 o'clock their time. Vegas is not the place for them."

My husband left to meet with some clients right after we got settled in the room and  I ordered room service, including a daring bowl of new England clam chowder. I was wondering if maybe I had gotten over my shellfish allergy. What happens in Vegas...

As it turns out I am still allergic to shellfish. 

I was so glad the kids weren't there with me to see the rushing tidal waves of clams and cream, along with a tomato mozzarella salad exit my body the exact way it came in.  Vegas, baby.  Go big or go home.

The next morning I do something I never do at home. I wake up and go to the gym with my big sister,. How different than sneaking out to go for a run before my littlest one wakes up and wants to snuggle the desire to exercise right out of me.   We work out, my sister cracking up at me as I sing too loudly along with the music, drop her iPod off the treadmill, not once but twice, and try to mimic her weight lifting moves.

Now I have the whole day to myself.  It will be 10 hours before I talk to anyone I know again at a cocktail party my husband's company throws for his clients.  While I love the community of close friends in my life, I actually also enjoy being alone. I mean, I'm always hearing "That Natty...she's great company!" and I am usually the one saying it. 

So I book some spa treatments and I'm happy, once again, that the kids aren't here to run screaming through my relaxation time or whine the zen right out of me.  But then I visit the Bellagio gardens and the fountains and I wish the kids could be with me to enjoy them.  I visit the Leonardo DiVinci exhibit and think that my 6 year old would have loved it.  I go gamble and I'm happy, once again, I'm not looking after a wayward 3 year old in a dark smoky casino in the city of sin.  We go out to a club and I drink my face off.    Now I'm hungover for the first time in years and I am so ridiculously glad the children aren't here to make any noise that could exacerbate the jackhammer noises my brain is making all on it's own.

So I miss the kid and I don't miss the kids. It's not an either/or, it's a both/and.  I'm happy to escape for a couple of days once a year, content and at peace that my children are happily being spoiled by their grandparents.  But I miss having them around since they are generally my constant companions, and let's face it, they may be sticky but I actually like those little buggers.

I call them.  They are having a ball with Grandma probably doing taboo yet Grandparent-sanctioned activities like eating Skittles or playing on an iPad for three hours or slogging through the indoor playground at Burger King or probably all three at the same time.

They come on the line.  I hear there gorgeous voices and I miss them so much I want to climb through the phone and squeeze them. My children, in return, talk to me for a fraction of a second, saying what sounds to me like a very phoned-in "I miss you, Mommy!" before dashing off with laughter, presumably to get back to their Pixie Sticks.   

The kids clearly do not miss me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Girl I Got

Dear Little D:

You are turning 3 this weekend.  How did that happen?  I remember when you were born and we barely made in to the hospital in time.  My main memory is in the parking garage of the hospital, biting your father's shoulder through his green padded vest because the pain was so bad.  You shot out, literally with on time for no epidural or even an IV, soaking Dr. M's brand new Nikes because there was no time for shoe covers.  I actually called Grandma and when she asked "Did you get a room sweetie?" I was like "It's done.  She's here." You came into this world at lightning speed and you haven't stopped since.

I was so happy to have a daughter, especially one as charming as you.  You were a great sleeper and then you weren't.  You had a smile that took over your whole perfect face.  You were constantly stroking my hand, really anyone's hand, and you loved to snuggle.  You crawled at 6 months and walked at nearly ten and I forgave you for all that and the fact that you can scale counters, dressers and closets like a little spider with suction cups for hands.

I dreamed of all the things were would do together.  You would love to dress up like a princess and we'd play Barbie and I'd get to put bows in your hair.  If only I had discussed my expectations with you before deciding on this, I would be much less surprised right now. You, even at age three, insist on wearing your Mets shirt and old mesh shorts belonging to your brother.  You ask to wear this ensemble every day.  You fight me every time I suggest your wear a dress. You gave away your Barbies because, as you say, "she stinks" and you refuse to let me put bows in your hair. I can't believe it.  Your one concession to anything in your hair is headbands like that terrible glow-in-the-dark one that Aunt Vicky got you from Justice.

You are not the girl I thought I'd be getting when I learned I was having a girl.  When people say you are beautiful you frown and say "No!" as if it's an insult.  I've stopped calling things pretty and started calling them "awesome" because there's a higher chance you might like them.   You love things that are "cool" and "rock and roll".  You took the play ironing board I got you, ripped off the legs and took it into the shower with you so you could surf, like Daddy.

No, Little D...you are not what I expected in a daughter and yet you are so much more.  You are as tough as you are compassionate. When it thunders you worry "Will Big A get home from school safely?  Is Daddy inside at work?"  You notice everything. You can already do the monkey bars and learned to pump your own swing when you turned 2.   You are definitely cool, cooler than I could ever be since I love to wear dresses (the more ruffles the better) and I collect teapots.  I've never seen a more fiercely loyal sister to your big brother and you are always talking about "our family" and how much it means to you.  You have only 4 friends you really like and you speak constantly about your love for them.  You're not a sweet little girl who plays with baby dolls and loves adorable dresses but you are a force to be reckoned with and it will serve you well one day.

I'm sorry I tried for so long to put a bow in your hair against your will.  It really doesn't matter if you wear a bow or not, I see that now. I'm sorry for the times I tried to convince you that the pale pink smocked pinafore was "rock and roll" when we both know it isn't.  I'm sorry for all the times I tried to get you to watch Dora even though you kept insisting "This is terrible."  You were right, it is.  I'm sorry for how excited I am that purple is your favorite color.  It's the only truly traditionally "girly" thing about you.

But -- thank you so much for being so different than a typical girly girl.  Thanks for being here to remind me to accept and support people as they are, not as I'd like them (or society expects them) to be.  I'm working hard to encourage you to be you, like in Little Miss Sunshine when Toni Colette  encouraged everyone to "Let Olive be Olive." I want you to know that while it was jarring at first to discover I have a tomboy for a daughter I accept you fully.

So Happy Birthday to you, my dynamo of a girl.  I got you the Etch-a-Sketch and the new Mets shirt you asked for and not the Strawberry Shortcake collection I so desperately wanted to buy you.  Or the Elsa doll, in which you have no interest.  Or My Little Ponies.  Seriously, it's cool. 

Thanks for being the living embodiment of everything that matters.  Thanks for making me realize how anti-feminist I was being by expecting you to like all the toys geared towards girls.  You should play with and wear whatever you please.   

And if your first three years are any indication you're on your way to being a strong, determined,  loving happy person and a hell of an athlete.  And I love you, just as you are.  Now let's clink our tea cups together and cheers to that!  Oh, you're running away to inspect your worm collection.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Facebook faux pas

I like Facebook for a number of reasons (one of which being it's a great way to pepper my friends with my weekly musings on this blog). 

But because don't live in a house made of lollypops at the end of a rainbow, I'm also aware that many people use Facebook to brag about their lives.  But we all know that just because it's on Facebook doesn't make something true. (Case in point, my husband's new friend's wife looks amazingly skinny in all of her Facebook photos.  I girded my loins to meet this perfect specimen of womanhood only to behold that she has the biggest ass of anyone I've ever met. How did this not translate on Facebook? I was both shocked and delighted that she was actually human.)

But back to the bragging versus sharing when it comes to personal details.  If you've shared something, i.e.; "Check out my...pregnant twin sister....giant martini the size my head........muffin I baked that looks just like Obama"....it should make people smile.  When you brag something "Isn't my daughter just the cutest girl in the world, eveh?...Look, my son got another A+....future president!..I have the best hubby in the whole world, much better than yours!" people generally want to punch you in the throat. However, they are more likely to roll their eyes and knock you out of their newsfeed.

But one thing I never thought about, but now I think about is that some people post photos on Facebook with the added bonus of leaving people out.  I didn't realize this until a friend pointed it out to me, but now I do.  She shared how sad she feels when parents post pictures of kids' birthday parties on Facebook and her child isn't invited.

Gulp.

Guilty. 

I have been guilty of doing this in the past but you can bet my husband's friend's wife's ass I won't be doing it again.   When I posted pictures of my kids' birthday parties, it was more in the spirit of "look how awesome this cake is!" or "look how big my little boy is getting!" or even "look at all his adorable friends...surely he won't be up on the bell tower one day!"  I certainly didn't mean to make anyone feel left out, and yet in hindsight I'm sure that some people did.  Seriously, why didn't I just make it a private group?  Who wanted to see all those kids besides their own parents?  And probably Grandma, who could easily be added to a private photo album.

As our kids get older and both their (and our) social circles grow, the reality is that you can't always invite everyone.  It doesn't mean you're not friends or not friendly but seriously, do we need to rub it in each other's faces?  I tell my 6 year old son not to discuss any birthday parties he is attending on the bus or with other kids in his class because not everyone is always invited.  If we can impart such wisdom to our children, we can certainly reign in our out-of-control egos enough to restrain ourselves from putting certain things publicly on FB.  Just use a private album to share all the awesome pictures of the party with the only people who care, anyway -- the parents of the children who attended. 

So I've come up with a few rules of thumb that work for me. They may not work for you, but I've come up with them so I am never the cause of some little girl looking over her mom's shoulder on Facebook and exclaiming an anguished "Why wasn't I invited to Little D's birthday party!?" (Truthfully, because she only wants to invite her brother, her cousin and the plastic dog she calls Coco)

Family events such as pumpkin picking, cookie decorating or birthday parties are all fair game for public posting.  Kids' birthday parties where you didn't invite the whole class should perhaps be put in a private album. 

Church, sports or scouting events where everyone is welcome?  Post to the world! (You may even get more participants!)

Pictures of you in your boxers?  Please don't.

Pictures of Ryan Gosling in his boxers?  Early and often please.

The point is, I'm trying to carefully consider what I'm posting these days, before I post it.  If it's an attempt to make my life seem "oh so glamorous" (like I need to prove this...I have two small children and I'm a bookworm -- how much more rock n' roll can things get?!) or, more importantly, I think it will perhaps hurt someone's feelings, I probably will not be sharing it with the FB world.

Our FB posts, just like our actions, have consequences.  I will carefully consider my motivations in posting status updates and photos, especially when it could potentially leave someone feeling left out.  As left out as my husband's friend's wife's ass was in all of her FB photos. (But we all know she doesn't exist anyway and was just a construct invented for today's blog.)









Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mature mamas, why hast thou forsaken me?

We are outside a bagel place, a Fellow Mommy and me. Our boys are playing on the sidewalk.  Our girls are prancing about.  Fellow Mommy is holding her sleeping 11 month old.  We are stealing some snippets of adult conversation.  It's glorious. 

A women in her mid-50s drives up and scowls at us.   I smile back.  That's my default with scowling. It's usually random and annoying enough that the person scowling skulks away.  But she holds her glare, stomps out of the car, gives us a disgusted look and busted out with:

"Maybe you should watch your kids."

What? 

"Excuse me?" I said.

"I coulda hit 'em with my car" she muttered as she lumbered towards the doorway.

"I guess if you were driving on the sidewalk!" Fellow Mom bristled.

"You should look after these kids.  That's what I had to do." the grouchy woman continued as she went in, presumably to gobble down an everything bagel with extra cream cheese. 

I felt my face got hot.  Was I not watching Big A and Little D, so enthralled was I with the adult conversation I was stealing in the middle of the day.  Did I let them run around the parking lot?  No, this was not the case, as the air karate chopping of the boys and the pirouettes the girls were doing were happening firmly on the sidewalk. 

So my next thought was that the Grouchy woman was drunk. Maybe SHE should be the one watching herself.

Or maybe she was having a bad day.

Or maybe...just maybe...could it be...did she forget how hard it is to have small children?  It seems that a number of older moms have forgotten how hard it can be to parent a young child.

They are the ones that turn around at church and glare at me when my kids drop a hymnal on the floor. 

 "I'm here!" I want to yell. "I could be sleeping in or going out for pancakes with my family that I didn't make.  At least I'm trying to give them a life based in faith!"  But I don't say that. I shush my kids and threaten to take away Wii privileges if they don't pipe down.

They are the ones that roll their eyes when my kids spill a lemonade at the WindMill.  "It's the WindMill!" I want to explain. "It's geared towards kids!  I could understand your reaction if we were at The Molly Pitcher but c'mon!"

They are the ones at Target that huff and puff if my child bumps their purse as my traveling circus is stampeding past them to get to the toy aisle.  "I'm sorry!" I say.  I apologize for myself and my children constantly.  I'm sorry for their very existence because it might inconvenience someone else.

Why am I doing this?

Why?

a.  I'm not the jerk that takes my children uninvited to parties and weddings. I never take them to a fancy restaurant, let alone after 8 pm and have them meltdown, thus ruining the nights of couples that actually did get a sitter.   I don't assume that my children's company is a precious gift to be inflicted upon everyone.

b.  Children can be loud, clumsy and spill things.  Okay?  They're kids, they're not perfect robots. I wouldn't want them to be.  They're learning and I'm trying to teach them.

c.  Most of you judging me are parents of older children.  I see them with you.  Did you forget?  Did you forget what it's like to have small children?

Because I think you forgot.

I think you forgot how tired I am because sometimes my children are up in the night with accidents, illness or nightmares.  I think you forgot that that my children are still so attached to me that sitting down to pay bills without a child wrapped around my bicep is a luxury.  I think you forgot all that and now you judge me when you used to stagger around my Nikes.

Just because your kids are preparing for college and you can go out to eat without hiring a babysitter doesn't mean that you should forget that young(ish) moms like me still struggle with the rearing of small children. 

Please don't judge me because you have amnesia regarding how hard those times were for you.  Please share with me your wisdom, because you've gone through it, and tell me it's all going to work out okay.  The next time my child melts down in the middle of Kohl's because I won't buy her a Hello Kitty sprinkler tell me you've been there and I'm doing a great job.  I need to hear that.

You don't know how much I need to hear that from a woman who has gone before me and lived to tell the tale.

And please watch where you're driving next time when there are small children running about.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Steve Jobs I Am Not

Unlike Vanilla Ice, I try not to do anything to the extreme.  Technology is no exception. I don't swear off Facebook (obviously) but nor do I track my every move and meal.  For a combined 45 minutes a day FB is amusing, fun and occasionally informative.

There's an article flying around (I saw it on Facebook, actually) that not only did Steve Jobs' kids never use an iPad while he was alive but that other tech professionals severely limit their kids' screen time. I had to tear myself away from FB and do some thinking. Is technology really as addictive as heroin as the article states?  The piece went onto say that if you remove all screen time "your kids will hate you for it right now but thank you for it someday."  Oookay.

I set limits, I do.

My kids, aged 6 and almost 3 are banned from using their hand-me-down Wii on weekdays.  Not that this affects the 3 year old since she usually dumps her controller in the back of her toy fire truck and drives it out of the room each time her brother plays.

Weekends we try and limit video games to about 45 minutes per day. I feel pretty good about all this, but during the week I've been known to let my son watch a video or two on my laptop (Either Mario or Minecraft) and my daughter definitely watches tv...usually while I'm sitting with her trying (unsuccessfully) to get work done.  The Jobs' anti-technology stance when it pertained to their kids spooked me so I decided to try taking away ALL screen time yesterday and watching the fun.

I picked the wrong week to give up drinking.

I blurted out the bad news when I picked up Big A from the bus stop.

"Can I watch a Minecraft video after I do my homework?" he asked as was his custom as we meandered home.

"No," I said.  "No screen time today."

"WHAT?!" he said as he launched into his whiny voice.  "BUT I've had a hard da-ay!  I was doing my best at scho-ool."  Any whiner who can turn a one syllable word into a two syllable word is good, very good.

"I no watch t.v.?" Little D repeated.  "No.  I say no!"

They both became as grumpy and irate as I am when I'm on a juice cleanse.

"We're going to the park!" I announced over the din.

I loaded their protesting little selves into the car as they moaned and groaned. 

"You may hate me for this now," I quoted from the article, "but you will thank me for it one day!"  That actually shut them up.  They were intrigued by the concept of "hating me" and talked it over in the back seat.

We had a lovely two hours at the park.  We ran into 3 families we know. Yay and everything.

But I didn't get any reading or writing done, I didn't fold laundry and get to vacuum the floor as I was basking on a park bench.  It wasn't very productive.

And then it occurred to me.  Did Steve Jobs' wife even work?  Didn't they have a nanny?  A full-time housekeeper and possibly a cook?  And a myriad of resources? My kids' dinner wasn't going to cook itself.

After a long day of school and 2 hours of fresh air, exercise and imaginative play the kids were beat.  I came home and put on Teen Titans Go for 45 minutes (which is actually my current favorite cartoon) with zippo guilt as I prepared dinner and did a whirlwind tidy up of my home. I even sat with them on a couch and dashed off a book review as they giggled along with the show.  It was "Meatball Party" by the way, in case any other nerds are reading this.

And then we had dinner, did bath time, read books and I put them to bed.  I'm sorry I didn't set up a playdough station or finger painting experience instead of letting them watch tv, but

a. I had already done that earlier in the day for my 3 year old and

b. I was just plain tired. 

I get a little crazy when it comes to going to the extreme. It's just not for me.  I'm not removing screen time from my children's lives.  And I don't think other parents should feel bad about occasionally occupying their kids with screen time to make their own lives easier...especially when it's something their kids clearly enjoy.  The key word here is occasionally. Don't feel guilty if you sometimes use it to your advantage.  Isn't that what technology is there for?  To make our lives easier?

We all know the kids who are permitted endless hours upon hours of tv, video games and iPad access.  They're obvious. They're impatient, irritable little beings who are often struggling at school. They have no interest in connecting with others.  Most parents care for their kids too deeply to allow them 4 hours straight of Call of Duty daily.  But I hope parents don't get scared to use small amounts of technology in their children's lives. Like the occasional donut, it's fun! Technology will be a part of their lives in the future unless your kid decides to grow up to be a dairy farmer in a remote area with no Wi-Fi. 

Do what works for you, not what worked for the Jobs' family.  Their budget for household support staff was probably slightly larger than yours.