It’s the moment when they take the bed out of the room that you know it’s all over.

A few years back, my youngest kid went to college. And I was a nervous wreck about it all. As proud as I was that he was “all grown up,” I hated that those childhood years were behind him. Behind me. Me. Yes, it’s me everyone should be thinking about. The mother.

When he left for school, his room stayed pretty much the same. The closet still held his yearbooks, basketball trophies, and the clothes he’d outgrown years ago were still squeezed between his Varsity jacket and lone black suit. The room was still a bedroom — with a bed, dresser, desk. It was still his bedroom. And that made the leaving part so much easier.

And now, in just two days, that bed will be packed into a U-Haul and carted off to Alabama. Five hours away.

When I tell people my son is moving away, I get a lot of “Wow, that’s exciting…what an adventure.” What I want them to say is this: “Oh my God, I can’t believe he’s moving so far away.” Yea, again, it’s all about me, right? And yes, I’m excited for him. I am. As the youngest of four, he wants to fly. Be on his own. Start his own life. I get it. He’s got this. But I’m also nervous. And, yes, I’m sad. I’m really just kind of sad that it’s really happening.

I wrote in his journal last night. The journal I’d been writing in since he was a toddler. (Sorry, I guess I should have warned you from the get-go that this is going to be a sappy post. I will understand if you stop reading here — especially if you’re a mother. I hear ya.) So, yes, he’ll be taking that journal with him when he leaves. That last entry was a tough one. Went through an entire roll of toilet paper as I filled the pages with all kinds of motherly advice:

  1. “Change your sheets every week.”
  2. “Use baking soda to absorb odors in your fridge.”
  3. “Buy a fire extinguisher.”
  4. “Brush your teeth.”
  5. “Call your mother. Once a week, at least.”
  6. “Text as often as you like, but call.”

I scribbled and scribbled, madly gathering life’s questions and making sure I’ve told him everything he needed to know. Though I know I’ve been preparing him for this moment his entire life, why does it feel like I’ve missed something?

He’ll figure it out, I know. On his own. It’s how it’s supposed to be–even if it does suck for me, the mother.

My own mother arrives in town for a visit on Wednesday. How serendipitous is that, eh? As I sit here thinking of my son being so far away from me, it does make me think of how I just up and left all those years ago. I moved to an entirely different country without giving a single thought of how my mother felt about it. I never even asked her what she thought of the idea. I was a “grown up” capable of making my own life decisions. I didn’t really consider the fact that other people would be impacted by my decision to move away.

Yea, feeling a little selfish now.

[Insert full circle moment here]

As I reflect on my own decision to move away from home–as sad as I know it probably made my mother feel–I know I would do it all over again. It was my journey to take and no one was going to talk me out of it. I guess my mother knew that. She understood it. Her journey to independence began when she left home at the mere 18 years old. She packed her bags and moved across the country, from Newfoundland to Ontario. I’m sure her mother, my grandmother, was sad to see her go — and yet excited that she was beginning a new life.

So my son has his own journey to take, now. It’s his turn and the greatest gift I could give him is to let go and place my trust in him. I’m trying. I really am.

I will be fine (in case you wondered, since it’s really all about me). Just not today.

Repeat after me, “It’s a beginning, not an end. It’s a beginning, not an end.”

This week is going to serve up some life lesson shit. I can just feel it.

This article was originally published on Gwen’s blog, Eat Drinkn Play. Featured image via.

Shop The Post

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you may remember that we’ve had our fair share of cyber bullying from “mean girls” and other forms of bullying.

The first time that I felt a need to step in was when M was in the 5th grade. This is when I learned a hard lesson of parenting: unless there’s significant harm being done, you’re better off being a coach on the sidelines than the quarterback trying to win the game.

7th grade brought the next significant round of bullying by mean girls and was the year I was in the principal’s office more times than I cared for. 8th grade was pretty quiet. But just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief, along came the 9th grade and high school. (What is it with the every 2 years pattern??)

High school has opened up a whole new can of challenges. My friend, Jon Lowder, warned me that going from middle to high is like going from a AAA farm league to the Major Leagues.

None of the stuff we’ve encountered is overtly bad – more of the PITA (pain in the ass) variety. Nasty tweets, snarky comments, bitchy texts – pretty textbook stuff. The only difference between what you and I had to deal with and what she and her friends have to deal with is that it’s done electronically as opposed to in person or with pen and paper.

So what is the actual definition of cyber-bullying? According to Google, it is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” If you want to read the entire NC statute, click here.

All of the schools in our area preach about having zero tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and I’ve been pretty pleased with how they’ve handled situations if it got to that level. While the schools and parents may take a strong stand on cyber-bullying, unfortunately, our judicial system has a more difficult time prosecuting anyone should it get to that point.

IF they were to bring them through the system, they’d be tried as juveniles and most likely be given nothing more than a “slap-on-the-wrist.” We have a friend who did take another kid and their family to court for this kind of abuse. As a resolution, the other kid was ordered to write an apology letter. Pretty expensive apology letter, I’d say.

This past weekend, we had a situation pop up that made me call a friend of the family who is in law enforcement just to validate that what I was doing the right approach. He confirmed that I was, but as a parent, you can’t run to the school every time someone gets pissy and sends out a nasty tweet. So, what do you do?

I’m no expert on the law, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Be Mindful

Keep a diligent eye everywhere, but for the most part, do it from the sidelines. Trust me. It is SO hard for me to read the texts and tweets that come across while biting my tongue and resisting the urge to rip off a few well phrased tweets.

2. Create a “Twatch” List

You don’t have to follow the kids in question (i.e. bullies) on Twitter, but you can create a private list and add them to it without following them. The next best option is to keep a list and just check in on them if you think there’s an issue. For the most part, their everyday tweets are just typical teen bantering that bores me to tears.

3. Give The School A Heads Up

It never hurts to alert the school if they’re getting harassing texts or any other kind of electronic communication.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

My experience taught me that kids will withhold this kind of information until it reaches critical condition, so make sure you listen when they come to you. This is not the time to tell them, “just a minute”. This could be your one and only shot at them opening up. Don’t blow it. Listen to what they’re telling you even if it seems a bit over the top. I promise, if there’s smoke, there’s fire.

5. Screenshots Are Golden

If there IS an issue, make sure you educate your kid on the importance of taking screenshots and sending them to you. This will be helpful if you choose to send it to the school or addressing the issue with their parents.

6. Understand That There Are Always Two Sides

You may have to admit that your kid may be involved in the act. I have yet to go through one of these situations and think that my girls were 100% innocent. It takes two to tango friends.

7. Provide Your Kid(s) With Options

While it’s really, really hard to do, sometimes the best course of action is just to ignore the bully acts. Teach them not to engage, respond, or react. They may still do it, but if you repeat this often enough, they’ll get better at doing it – at least a little bit.

8. If All Else Fails, Do What You Have To Do

If it gets really bad, do what you have to do. Get the school, the parents, and the authorities involved. At the end of the day, it’s better to be overprotective than under.

The one thing that blows my mind about this group of kids is that they have some major cajones. They think nothing can stop them. I’ve seen texts where one kid proclaimed that “because his dad was rich, he’d make sure that M and her friends would never go to college”. I know you’re dying to know what my response to that was. Well, I pulled a Dr. Huxtable and told M, “he doesn’t have money. His DAD may have money, but this kid is like you…broke”.

I’ve never said this phase was easy, but my hope is that I can at least prepare you for what’s’ to come so that you’re ready to handle it as best as possible. Don’t worry – we’ll all survive!

This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’s blog, Four Hens and a Rooster. Featured image via. 

I think we can all agree that I am not a domestic goddess.

I would like to be a woman who can clean and cook and make holiday decorations out of a used milk carton and a couple of pipe cleaners, but the reality is that my talents lie in other arenas (I’m not sure exactly which arenas those are, but I must have some talents…right?). It surprised me, therefore, that I enjoy packing a lunch for the Muffin Man every day.

I know, it’s shocking, especially since the last thing I “cooked” was a vodka martini with extra olives.

I admit that the idea of packing a lunch initially stressed me out. Before school even started my anxiety about having to prepare a delicious lunch that my kid would actually eat led me down a Pinterest black hole in which I found myself pinning images of flower-shaped lunch meats and bananas sculpted to look like characters from Frozen.

If you are creative enough to sculpt Disney characters out of produce, I salute you, but for those of us living in the real world – the ones who have all of five minutes to throw something together during the morning rush – I prefer a more practical approach to packing lunches.

1. Leftovers are your lunch time friend.

Whatever my kid doesn’t eat for dinner is destined for his lunch the following day. Obviously, this rule doesn’t hold if he didn’t like what we had for dinner and he refused to eat it, but we do our best to prepare something he will eat at every meal.

2. I’m not above subterfuge.

Getting Noah to eat protein, especially meat, is a major challenge. He used to eat everything, but his current preferred diet includes cheese and bread and bread and cheese. Since I know he’ll always eat a grilled cheese, I sneak in some shredded chicken and he’s none the wiser.

3. Play favorites.

If your kids will eat it, put it in their lunch. I don’t particularly like to eat the same thing every day, but Noah would be happy to eat bagels with cream cheese for every meal. I’ve found that when I include at least one thing Noah really loves, he’s more willing to try something new.

4. Wow Butter wins.

Noah’s preschool is peanut-free, but most of the schools here in the city of concrete and broken dreams are completely nut free. Wow Butter is made from toasted soy, so it’s school approved. It also happens to be totally delicious. It’s a fantastic way to get your kid to eat protein without endangering the lives of the kids with nut allergies.

5. Don’t despair.

Honestly, not every lunch is a win. Sometimes, Noah is just too excited to play with his friends to sit down and focus on eating. I’ve found that if I offer him the rest of his lunch to eat in the car on the way home, he often finishes whatever is left. If all else fails, remind yourself that it’s not how much your kid eats in a day, but how much he consumes in a week; then pour yourself a glass of wine and toast your lunchtime efforts.

Here’s what Noah ate for lunch last week:

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Lunch#1
Blanched green beans (leftover from dinner), Trader Joe’s organic hummus, Food Should Taste Good rice crackers, Lucky Cow teriyaki jerky, goat cheese, apple and almond butter crescents.
Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Lunch#2
Grilled cheese with shredded chicken (leftover from dinner), organic edamame, baby sweet red peppers, grapes and yellow plums.
Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Lunch#3
Sesame bagel with cream cheese and lox, Weelicious sweet potato muffin (adapted to be gluten free), Trader Joe’s organic hummus, red bell pepper, cantaloupe balls & yellow plum.
Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Lunch#4
Weelicious turkey & cucumber roll-ups, corn on the cob (leftover from dinner), Food Should Taste Good rice crackers, trail mix, watermelon balls & Asian pear.
Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Lunch#5
Apple and Wow Butter “sandwiches”, Trader Joe’s gluten free pretzels, edamame, Pad Thai noodles (leftover from dinner), sweet baby peppers.

I’d show you a picture of what I ate for lunch yesterday, but the crusts of bread and half-chewed meatball I snagged from Rose’s highchair weren’t all that photogenic.

This post was originally featured on Anna Lane’s blog, Misadventures in Motherhood. Featured image via.

When we moved over the summer, we ended up being only a few blocks away from the hummingbird’s school. I had these images in my head of walking her to school in the morning, hand in hand, with all the time in the world. Easy breezy.

In reality, I think that has only happened once.

No matter how much time we have in the morning before she has to go to school, time escapes us and chaos ensues. Every damn morning.

I make her lunch the night before and have her lay out her clothes for school. I make sure her backpack and school folder are all set to go. Most of the time, I even remember to put her lunch in her bag before we leave the house. Yeah, I’ve gotten the call about my 6 year-old finding that I forgot it. Whoops.

I’ve found that I am happy as hell when she actually wants to eat school lunch since that’s one less thing to worry about getting done.

Despite ALL of the preparation, that easy breezy walk to school ends up being a mad dash to the car and a drive only a few minutes away instead.

Me: “We have to leave in 10 minutes! Have you brushed your teeth and hair? No? Well, please do that now. Sweetie, we need to leave soon. You can watch Paw Patrol once you get home from school. Why aren’t you dressed yet? Did you brush your teeth? Okay, we need to leave in 5 minutes. No, you don’t need to change your clothes. Wear what you have on. It looks fine. Please, we really need to go in a few minutes.

Go put your shoes on. Wait, you didn’t brush your hair yet. Go brush your hair. Little Hummingbird?! What are you doing upstairs? I’m ready to walk out the door. Well, come on! Let’s go! Please! We’re going to be late! Why did you change your outfit? And where did your socks go? We need to hurry! Pleeeeease, let’s go!! I don’t know where that other shoe is. Just wear your purple shoes. No, you can’t wear your sandals. Because it’s too cold.

Sweetie, please, please, pleeeease just put on your shoes. We really need to go. Okay, well, I’m leaving. No, you don’t need to bring your My Little Pony stuffie to school. Leave it here. Pleeeeease, let’s go!!!!!! I’m walking out the door for real this time. I guess I’m going to school by myself. Then, come on and put your shoes on. Hurry! It’s time to go!!!”

This happens almost every freaking morning. Oh my god.

We end up rushing to school in the car, I park since they don’t have a car drop off/pick up area in front of the school, and we zoom across the school grounds and go inside. As we do this, I see the easy breezy moms walking their kids into the school. Some are pushing strollers and may have a meandering toddler, along with their school age child. These moms don’t even seem to be breaking a sweat. They look so put together and are often chatting with other moms even though time is ticking away before the late bell.

There are a few moms I see with their hair and make up on point. Wearing skinny jeans, ankle boots, and a shirt that isn’t wrinkled. The nail in the drop off coffin is that these moms are almost always holding a Starbucks coffee. The two Starbucks we have in the entire area aren’t close by.

It would be one thing if they had a coffee from a nearby place but they have time to presumably shower in the morning, put on full make up and have perfectly coiffed hair, wear clothes that could go from day to a night out with the girls, get their children ready for school, AND on top of that they have plenty of time to drive 20 minutes to and from Starbucks before dropping their kid off at school.

I’m jealous!

And then there’s me. I’m so busy getting my one child ready for school that there are days I can’t even remember whether or not I even brushed my hair. I’m usually in my pajama pants and ugly but oh so comfy Uggs, wearing my husband’s comfy and oversized warm jacket. I’m also usually starving since I was only able to have a few bites of breakfast in between yelling for my daughter to HURRY UP, and I’m in desperate need of caffeine.

What’s worse is that I’m not much better when it comes to picking my daughter up from school. Except for getting a shower. I’ll get so caught up in doing things around the house and running errands. When I check the time, I’ll be happy to see that I have an hour or two before the hummingbird needs to be picked up.

I’m not sure what happens in that time… maybe I’m abducted by aliens and my sense of time gets screwed up from it but it never fails that the next time I check the clock, it’ll be 10-15 minutes before I need to pick her up. Wtf? So, instead of that easy breezy walk to her school in the afternoon, once again I’m making a mad dash to the car to get there on time. And of course, the couple of times I’ve been a few minutes late are the days she gets out of class early.

I know I’m just not cut out to be that chill mom bringing my kid to school with plenty of time to spare but maybe some day, I will actually have time to put on some real pants. Probably not, but I can dream.

This post was originally featured on Elle Davis’ blog, This Is Mommyhood. Featured image via.

This mom totally gets the struggle and anger we all feel while in the school drop-off line.

For instance, this is us when a parent forgets the FIRST RULE OF THE DROP-OFF LINE: PULL. FORWARD.

What the Flicka-Angry Gif
via.

We’re going full Johnny on those parents who never pull forward and make everything horrible for the rest of us.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-School Drop Off Rant
via.

Seriously. This is not okay, and Jenny says everything we feel.

Can. We. Get. An. AMEN!?

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Praise Gif
via.

Jenny, thank you for this PSA for school drop-offs, and for being a hero to mothers everywhere.

SEE MORE: SH*T PARENTS SAY

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Shit Parents Say

This hilarious video is a painfully accurate look at some of the ridiculous things that make it out of parents’ mouths.

SEE MORE: THIS LITTLE GIRL TELLING HER AUNT OFF FOR SAYING A BAD WORD IS THE GREATEST

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Toddler Telling Aunt Off

“When my mommy and daddy pick me up I’m going to tell them and I’m going to run away and go home, take a rest, then I’m going to be upset.”

Be still our beating hearts! 

This video absolutely melts us. No matter if you’re a parent of a two year old, or a twenty-two year old — sending them off into the great, big world can be one of the hardest things to do. So there’s really nothing quite like the feeling of seeing them at the end of the day, semester, whatever it may be! For this little girl, watching her face completely light up when her dad picks her up from her very first day of school is just priceless. She’s so excited that she uses her little baby strength to fling open the door to greet him! It is possibly the most precious thing we’ve seen all week.