Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a warm-weather, tankini-clad, floppy-hat-obsessed Scrooge. I love summer.

There’s the gloriously gorgeous weather. The maxi dresses and cute sandals. The perfect excuse to claim that pedicures are a necessity. Barbecues. Playing hooky on the perfect beach day. Fun field trips with the kids. Cocktails at sunset (and pretty much whenever else you damn well please).

But when your spending your summer with kids, things are a little more…complicated. And messy. And sweaty. And tantrum-y. Behold, the untold delights of summer with small children!

Sand.

No need to spend a day at the beach. Just head to the nearest playground. Millions of tiny grains from the sandbox will stick to your sweaty kid, as well as find its’ way into the abyss of their shoes and pockets. No matter how well you think you’ve de-sanded your kid, grains will magically appear all over your house a few hours later.

The crap you need to lug everywhere.

Trade in the bulky coats, gloves and hats for soccer balls, baseball bats and bubble machines, not to mention hats, water bottles, a change of clothes, towels, sunscreen and the like. You’ll have just as much crap, possibly more. The difference is that now you’ll be sweating profusely as you schlep it to and from the park.

Sunscreen.

You need to apply, then re-apply and then re-apply some more. If your precious little cherub goes home with more-than-rosy cheeks, you will be convinced that he’ll come down with melanoma in 20 years and it will be your fault.

Terrifying playground equipment.

Every year it gets bigger, higher, and more horrifying – at least from a mommy perspective. Despite the fact that my son is sturdier and stronger than he was last summer, he’s also more daring and that makes the threat of taking him to the ER with broken bones or a concussion a lot more real. I mean, what geniuses designed all of this playground equipment to be on concrete or padding that’s about as thick as a cracker?

Unexpected mom guilt.

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are making you sneeze, and you’re hungover. You could persuade your child to stay home and watch Frozen for the gazillionth time, but it’s just so damn nice outside. Remember when you were frozen a few months ago and wished for a day like this? Time to suck it up and hope that the sun doesn’t make your blood-shot eyes actually bleed.

Other a-hole kids.

They push, they shove, they cut in front of your sweet child who’s waiting patiently for his turn to go down the slide. They also usually have a-hole parents who are either not paying attention or who are trying to take pictures of said kids acting like a-holes. (That seriously just happened yesterday.)

Burgeoning independence.

I’m not a “free-range” parent, but I’m smart enough to know that I shouldn’t totally smother my kid. He’s started telling me to “watch from there”—way over there—and as long as he’s not doing anything death-defying, I respect his wishes. When I see him trying to make friends or join in the fun with some older boys, I back off. But wow, is it so hard.

Water, water, everywhere.

Which means having a change of clothes and water shoes. If you don’t pack these things, you may have a wet, shivering child with blue lips who either needs to walk too many blocks to get home or needs to get into a car seat. You’ll be praying that your car won’t acquire an eternally moldy smell. (Reality check: Most likely, it will.)

Bare arms and legs.

The hotter it is, the fewer clothes your kids will want to wear. The fewer clothes that they wear, the higher the possibility of scraped elbows and bruised shins. After just a few days, my rough-and-tumble kid’s legs looked like Courtney Love’s legs in the ’90s.

Epic meltdowns.

You haven’t experienced the meltdown of all meltdowns until you try to take your hot, restless kid out of a place where he/she is having a blast. It doesn’t matter that they are literally falling over because they are so tired or starting to get grumpy with his friends. It doesn’t matter if he’s hungry or if you want to move onto next fun thing. (Which, for you, would be a nap.) He…wants…to…stay! Good times.

So, yes, it’s complicated. But, hey, at least it’s not winter!

This article was originally posted on Dawn’s blog, Momsanity. Featured image via. 

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My family recently moved to a small town, and as a result, we had to change pediatricians. On the intake form, we wrote down that our daughter was adopted (as it rendered our genetic history irrelevant).

It took the doctor all of two minutes before she asked for “proof” that we were really the legal parents.

She walked out the door before I could ask her whether or not biological parents are also asked to provide proof. After all, you can’t always tell if two people are genetically related just by sight.

My husband wasn’t as annoyed as I was. He’s more passive than I am and it made me contemplate whether I’d been overreacting. I was fairly certain the doctor meant no offense, of course, but it still ate at me because I found her request ridiculous.

Then, I began to imagine living in a world where all adoptive moms turn into assholes, merely because of the general assumptions we all face under these type of circumstances.

If you’ve adopted (or know someone who has) you probably know what I’m talking about – the none-of-your-business questions people have. The unintentional prying that makes you think you left the house wearing a t-shirt that read, “Please, ask me about my child!”

Now, let me be clear, I absolutely don’t mind if people I know ask questions. That’s how mere introductions evolve into lifelong friendships. I certainly ask them questions too – about how they think and how they feel. Or the routing number to their checking account.

But, when people I’ve never met and will most likely never see again ask questions, it makes me wonder. I wouldn’t say it makes me upset, but I do take notice and I imagine answering their questions like a total asshole.

It would go something like this:

Stranger at grocery store: Is your daughter adopted?

Me: Yes, my daughter was adopted. What about yours? Is that your biological son?

If the stranger said yes, I’d then turn to the son and say, “Your parents had you through sex!”

Stranger at grocery store: Is your daughter from a different country?

Me: No. My daughter was born in the US. Yes, her skin is a bit darker than mine but this is America, not Iceland. She was born in an exotic place called Colorado. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s the place with all the pot.

Stranger at grocery store: Well, I guess you’re lucky you didn’t have to go through labor.

Me: Well, I guess you’re lucky that it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face.

Stranger at grocery store: How did you afford to adopt?

Me: The same way people afford to do anything. Saving, compromising, robbing strangers at knifepoint.

Then I’d rummage through my purse like I was really looking for something.

Stranger at grocery store: Are you going to tell your daughter that she’s adopted?

Me: I thought maybe you could tell her.

Stranger at grocery store: Do you know your daughter’s real mom?

Me: Yes. I know her quite well. I see her every morning…….in the freaking mirror.

This article was originally published on JJ Keeler’s blog, You’re Mommed. Featured image via. 

 

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There are a million books for new and expecting parents out there, but every mom I talk to has said that there are things she wishes someone had told her, before she had the baby.

I felt that way, too. So I’ve compiled a list of my top 8 things I blundered through the first time I had a child. These are also things I am having to remind myself that I have learned, now that I’m doing it all for the second time, so that I don’t think I’m being all high and mighty by sharing this shit. I’m just trying to pass anything that might qualify as “wisdom” along.

1. Whatever piece of hell you’re currently going through right now? It’s going to change.

Nothing lasts forever with babies. This means that those crazy nights of colic will come to an end. Or that sleep regression will disappear as strangely as it showed up. I know it doesn’t feel like it’ll end, right now. But it will. For real.

And you smug parents in the corner, with kids who started sleeping through the night at 3 weeks? It’ll change for you, too.

2. Breastfeeding can be fucking hard. Trust me, it ain’t all instinct.

And it’s not for the faint of heart. However, if you decide to feed your child, you are still a good mom. Unless you’re giving him caramel frappuccinos or something. Just sayin’.

3. At some point, you will find yourself touching your child’s poop with your bare hands.

That’s right. You will get shit under your fingernails, find yourself scooping a turd out of the bathwater at the speed of light, or something else that you would’ve found beyond disgusting in your pre-baby life. Don’t worry. If it hasn’t happened already, it will.

4. You will find yourself holding a handful of your child’s vomit.

Don’t believe me? When you’re over at your friends’ place and your kid gives you the 3-second warning like, “Mommy, I don’t feel so good”, you will automatically shove your hands in front of his mouth to prevent that puke from hitting your friends’ sofa. A better option than footing the cleaning bill, right?

5. You will inevitably compromise on one or another impossibly high standard you set for yourself as a parent, and then feel guilty about it for years.

Try to forgive yourself.

6. You are not alone and whatever you’re going through with your little one right now, you are more than likely not the first one to experience it.

In other words, Google that shit. If you need support, I bet you’ll find someone out there who will give you advice, or just commiserate.

7. It will all be over in the blink of an eye, so cherish every moment!

Just kidding. Some days will feel like they are fucking WEEKS long but they will come to an end. Most likely, there will be a glass of wine (or a pillow) waiting with your name on it after it’s over.

8. Your child will be an asshole, at some point or another.

And trust me, you will not be a bad parent for thinking this. You will still love your child, despite thinking this. She or he will still be an amazing, intelligent, fantastic human being, despite this stage. Why else do you think I called this blog “The Joy of Cooking (for little assholes)?”

Do you have anything you wish you had known, early on, as a parent?

~g

This article was originally published on Glynis’s blog, Little Assholes. Featured image via.

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When your tearful six-year-old bursts into your room in the morning sobbing that the Tooth Fairy didn’t come, you’re going to feel like crap, so it’s a good idea to avoid such situations at all costs.

1. Don’t Forget

Make yourself a reminder of some sort. This is especially important when the six-year-old puts her tooth under her pillow after school and then doesn’t mention it again at bedtime. Apparently, our children are not dependable reminders, so be sure to remind yourself. Post-It notes on the bathroom mirror work well.

(Don’t write on the Post-It, you’re sure to get caught. The presence of the note itself will be enough of a reminder).

2. Don’t Be Drunk

It’s hard to remember to be the Tooth Fairy. If you killed a bottle of chardonnay while watching two hours of Game of Thrones after your kid went to sleep, it’s impossible to remember to be the Tooth Fairy. Don’t Fairy while intoxicated. It won’t end well.

3. Don’t Set the Bar Too High

I once “heard” of a drunk Tooth Fairy who got very excited and decided to give her daughter a new paint set in addition to a dollar bill. Not only was it cumbersome slipping a set of paints under the pillow, but now my her kids expect toys and cold hard cash for every lost tooth.

4. Think Fast

If you screw up your Fairy duties by forgetting, tell your child you will go check out the situation yourself. Then “find” a quarter that your child overlooked. Also, be prepared to think fast if your child wakes and catches you in the act of Fairying. Be ready with lines like, “Are you okay? I thought you were having a nightmare so I came to check on you. Yes, I know, I am the best mom in the world.”

5. Don’t Keep the Bounty

Throw those teeth away. Don’t keep a gruesome collection in your bedside table, because your kid will find it and then the jig is up. Some parents won’t budge on this. Some people keep locks of their kids’ hair, too. If that’s the case, why stop there? Get a jar of fingernail clippings going to add to the collection. No, wait. Don’t. That’s gross. Also, throw away the teeth and hair.

6. Play Dumb

If your child starts asking questions about the logistics of the Tooth Fairy’s operations, don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Feign ignorance. Get a little defensive about it, too. “How would I know? I’m not the Tooth Fairy!” This tactic also works well for covering up your Santa Claus and Easter Bunny duties.

7. Keep a Stash

Have a hidden bank of whatever currency your Tooth Fairy deals in, be it quarters, dimes, stickers, or toys. Not having a stash is one way parents accidentally raise the bar. Don’t find yourself as the Tooth Fairy with nothing smaller than a twenty-dollar bill.

8. Be Stealthy

Don’t try and Fairy ten minutes after you’ve put your kid to bed. Make sure they are well into la-la land. Wear socks, know where the creaky floorboards are, and get your ninja on.

9. Buck Convention

Save yourself a lot of stress. Tell your kid that the Tooth Fairy has instituted new policies in an effort to limit the instances of lost teeth and quarters. Henceforth, the Tooth Fairy requests that all teeth be placed prominently on the kitchen counter. The Tooth Fairy will retrieve teeth from this location and replace them with the appropriate swag. If this won’t fly in your household, at least convince your child to put the tooth in a Ziploc before putting it under the pillow so that it’s easier to retrieve when you get your ninja on.

10. Tell the Truth

No one wants the fairy tale to end, but it’s your child’s job to grow and learn and figure things out. When they do so and the charade is up, don’t mourn the end of an era. Fess up, answer their questions, and appreciate that your youngster is entering a new and equally exciting stage of childhood.

Featured image via. 

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“Do I look beautiful mommy?” asked my five year old son in the middle of an aisle at Target. He held up a shirt against him and wanted to know if he looked good.

“You look so beautiful,” I responded, bending down and planting a kiss on the top of his soft head. He smiled back and put the shirt in our cart (I don’t really remember telling him he could get it but whatever). I heard people snicker around us as I told him he was beautiful. Only one other mother in the boys clothing section smiled sweetly at us. I paid no attention to the snickers and kept on shopping. My kids followed suit and the snickers and one rude comment (regarding my response) made no impact on our day.

At five years old, my middle son has the brightest, bluest eyes, a sweet little face (it fools the best of em’), and a cute little body (totally not weird when a mother says this). He really is a beautiful boy, as is my seven year old son who has dark grey eyes and a long, lean body. I didn’t always tell they them were beautiful. I would tell them they were funny, sweet, smart, strong, quick. I didn’t begin telling them they were beautiful until I had my daughter.

She was a petite baby, with the same bright eyes as my middle son. She really was a gorgeous baby girl. I didn’t think twice saying this to her, whispering it in her ear as I rocked her to sleep as an infant. When she began playing dress up with her little friends at one year old, I had no qualms telling her she was beautiful then too. It was during one of those dress up sessions that my middle son put something on and after hearing me tell his sister she was beautiful, innocently asked “am I beautiful too mommy?”

I didn’t hesitate one second as I responded, “Of course you are my little love.” You see, in our house we don’t have gender roles. Nor do I really teach my kids about them. I’m (hopefully) teaching all of my kids to speak for themselves, speak up when something is wrong, not to let anyone take advantage of them, never judge any person or situation, that they are strong, smart, and quick. All three of my kids, even though two are boys and one is a girl, are all being taught this.

Several friends of mine shared a post on Facebook with the line “I’m going to teach my daughter to be strong and not let any man tell her what to do. I’m going to teach her to be courageous and be leader.” I was instantly irritated. Teach your daughter(s) that, great, but what about teaching your son(s) the same thing? At three years old, my daughter is more out spoken and more courageous than either of her brothers. Yes, these are qualities that I will help nurture, but also I will instill them in my boys as well.

Teach boys how to be gentleman? Great, then teach girls to be ladylike. Teach boys how to “treat a girl right” (as many of my friends have claimed)? Then teach girls how to treat a boy. The street goes both ways in gender equality.

When I first met my husband we were 15 years old and working our first jobs together. From the beginning, our relationship was built on equality. We had a friendship and a partnership. We did the same job, learned the same things, and supported each other from the start. This partnership has carried into our marriage and how we parent our children. We both pay the bills, we both take care of the household chores, we both make important decisions together. It’s not one of us wears the pants and the other takes orders. I mow the lawn and my husband cleans the kitchen every night (he also scrubs the toilet better and has more patience painting our daughter’s nails than I do).

People want gender roles to disappear, for gender equality to take hold in all areas of life: jobs, pay, leadership, etc. What about never teaching our children gender roles in the first place? What about teaching our sons that they can play dress up, be beautiful, play football, and are the smartest? What about teaching our daughters that they can do the same things?

The next time you claim to want to teach your daughter something, be sure you teach your sons as well. Imagine a life without gender roles, with gender equality, with no “who’s better than who” mentality. Food for thought.

This article was originally featured on Ashlen’s blog, The Kid Sperts. Featured image via.

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When our first child was a baby, I had plans to never yell at my kids.

Not surprisingly, that parenting ideal jumped ship about the same time as “My kid’s are never going to watch TV.”

I do try to only yell when necessary. Over the years, I’ve learned some surefire ways to get my kids’ full attention without having to raise my voice at all.

In no particular order:

1) Try to pee in peace.

There’s a sensor on the toilet seat that triggers a dire curiosity/desperate hunger/urgent emergency alarm inside kids’ heads. If you want your kids’ full, rapt attention, head straight to the bathroom.

2) Take a shower. 

See previous post, “My Morning Shower (a True Story).”

3) Sit down to read a book.

A leisure novel is like a beacon to my children. It took me two months to read the first half of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” at home. I finished the second half on a two-hour flight by myself with time to spare. Go figure.

4) Try to sneak them some candy.

My kids can smell chocolate from three rooms away. They can also teleport to arrive at the exact moment I’m popping it into my mouth. Works every time.

5) Start a conversation with a friend.

Particularly effective if you want your kids glued to your side, sprawled across your lap, or using you as a jungle gym.

6) Make an important phone call.

They won’t be able to fight the urge to come to you. Mom’s on the phone? Goody! That means she secretly wants me to come tattle on my sibling or ask for a snack!

7) Drive in traffic.

You’ve never had so much attention. “MAMA.” “MAMA?” “MAMA.” “MAMA!

8) Try to get some work done.

Absolutely. The more important or deadline-driven, the better.

9) Climb into bed.

That sensor on the toilet? There’s also one on your pillow.

10) Head toward funky-town with your spouse.

If simply climbing into bed doesn’t work, just start getting busy with your partner. You’ll have kids standing at attention at the foot of your bed in no time.

You really never have to yell to get your kids’ attention. Just try to get some alone time, do something important, or relax for a few minutes, and you’ll have them right where you want them.

This article was originally published on Annie Reneau’s blog, Motherhood and More. Featured article via.

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