Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Holidays Make My Tinsel Twitch

There are only 35 days until Christmas. Yep. You read that right. If you are anything like me, that number makes you sweat a little and sneak a glance at your clock to see if you could argue with a straight face that it's 5 o'clock somewhere. Especially since the amount of work I have done on Mission Christmas Morning Magic is exactly bupkis/zilch/nada/nixie.

I see Christmas morning differently as a mom. Moms are responsible for the holiday magic, without any magic help whatsoever. Mom is the big kahuna as it pertains to how much Mele will be in the Kalikimaka. It is no longer a time of wonderment and magic. It is a deadline.

Moms have a lot to do on a regular old day, especially when the kids are too little to serve as slave labor. Granted, non-mom-type-people likely don’t know what we do because a lot of it is invisible to everyone else. Ever wonder why there is always toilet paper under the bathroom sink when you need it? How do those ubiquitous juice box straw wrappers find their way from the floor to the garbage? And do you have any idea who empties the trashcan in the garage? Hint: It’s not elves.

But the holidays pile on additional responsibilities for us moms. We shop for gifts for everyone we know. We wrap them up with Pinterest-worthy sustainable paper and handmade bows made from organic silk and unicorn horns. And we deliver said gifts to the recipients, thanking the baby Jesus that they don’t have surge pricing on shipping at the holidays (or do they?).

We also are responsible for the three stages of a party: party planning, party catering, and party cleaning. Even if we are merely party attending, this requires phoning, texting, emailing, and posting desperate status updates to score a babysitter. (Do babysitters have surge pricing, too?)

We bring a covered dish everywhere. I like to keep one in my trunk for emergencies, next to the white elephant gift that I recycle from year to year. Let’s not forget the decorating of the tree, the inside of the house, the outside of the house, and, of course, the cookies.

Does writing out this list make my tinsel twitch? Does a reindeer poop in the woods?

The thing is, I forget the pain of the season with time, like childbirth and high school. In fact, I was excited about the Holidays last year. I switched on the Christmas carols and bought eggnog the day after Thanksgiving. I hummed "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" strolling the aisles at the grocery store. My cup was full of holiday cheer and it runneth over.
As for all the work involved with the holidays, I had a 3-step plan:

  1. Do a little bit every day 
  2. Don't overthink it
  3. Whenever possible, do less instead of more. 
I worked my 3-step plan. And yet, on December 8th last year, I Googled how to get a marijuana prescription for anxiety.

So how did last holiday season go from the most wonderful time of the year to lawn seats at a Dave Matthews concert? Maybe it’s hormonal. Maybe it’s poor planning. Maybe I got Christmas cocky, and my do a little every day was a little too little every day.

The holidays are a happy time—for everyone else! Behind every merry Christmas, there’s a woman with a frazzled expression and flask hidden in the waist of her yoga pants. And in the flask is all that’s left of her Christmas cheer.

This year will be different. I will embrace my inner Grinch right from the start. I still love Christmas, but in the married-for-25-years way. I see its faults, and I don’t like them, but I can live with them. After all, Christmas comes but once a year.

And thank goodness for that.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

25 Things My Mom Never Said in The 70s

Moms have a great way of telling it like it is. My mom said things to encourage us to be our best and to show us who was the boss when we were too big for our britches. However, I can guarantee she never would have said any of the following 25 things:

25 Things My Mom Never Said in The 70s

1.      Do you have your seatbelt on?
2.      Put that baby on its back to sleep!
3.      Sure, you can have a play date with the kid up the street. Just let me call her mom and arrange it on our schedules.
4.      Stop that! We do not drink from the hose! Get one of the bottled waters.
5.      Are those popsicles organic?
6.      Of course, you can have your own phone! I always feel bad that I am on it when you want to talk to your friends for hours.
7.      What can I make you for your lunch today?
8.      Make sure you get the mosquito repellent that doesn't have DEET in it.
9.      We are going to eat less red meat around here.
10.  Does anybody know where the baby wipes warmer is?
11.  Naturally, you can have a Disney Princess at your birthday party. We’ll have her set up next to the petting zoo behind the bounce house. Now, what should I put in the gift bags for your guests?
12.Thank goodness I'm number 13 on the waitlist for the right preschool.
13.  Come on, kids. We are going to the store. I'm all out of Dreft!  Do we have enough car seats?
14.  Finally found the perfect gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free biscotti recipe for the school “winter holiday” party.
15.  Do you want a timeout?
16.  Is that a participation trophy? Wow! What an accomplishment!
17.  Do you have your bike helmet on?
18.  Wow! Gas is only $3! Thanks, President Nixon/Ford/Carter!
19.  Do you know if the new station wagons help reduce your carbon footprint?
20.  Any sentence that uses the word "sustainable."
21.  Oh no! I'm a week late to send out the invitations to your little brother’s preschool graduation!
22.  Heavens no, you can’t ride in the back of your dad’s pickup truck! It’s not safe.
23.  I’m sorry, Betty. I’ll have to call you back. My daughter wants to ask me something while I’m on the phone.
24.  You know, lLaying out in the sun all day with no sunscreen slathered in baby oil makes you look like a leather handbag when you are my age.
25.  I got a job! And it pays the same as my male counterpart’s does!

My mom was a fabulous 70s mom. My mom could change her John Denver 8-track tape and open a can of Shasta cola while driving down the interstate at 55 mph. She didn’t worry about her carbon footprint or genetically modified organisms in the Cheez Whiz she poured over the broccoli that came shaped like a frozen cube. She wore a bikini top and track shorts the whole summer long and made it look good. She also spanked us—hard, I might add—and not one of us is a delinquent sadist today.

Times have changed, and, in many ways, for the better—if only for the fact that my kids have no idea that broccoli comes frozen in a cube. Also, who can argue that sunscreen is not a good idea?

Some things are worse, of course. Does anyone besides me have heart palpitations about birthday parties for their kids? And Preschool graduations are squeal-worthy cute, but not essential.

Sadly, some things are not as different as we would like (number 25).

What hasn’t changed is how much we love our kids. That’s a concept that my 70s mom never failed to communicate to me or my brothers or sisters. That is way cool, awesome possum, groovy to the Max, dig? *
Was your mom a 70s mom, too? What are some things she would never say?

* She would never have said any of these phrases either.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Helping Your Children Find a Path to Happiness

We all want our children to be happy. The trouble is there is no guarantee of what will make them happy. But we try, nonetheless.

When they are young, we make most of their choices. As they mature, however, they make their decisions. So what do we do when our children make a decision we know will make them unhappy down the road? Do we step in or step back? How do we help them find a path to happiness?

I am an ex-actress who is now a writer. My journey from writing to acting and back again is a long one spanning nearly twenty years. I won’t bore you with the all the details, just a few of them. My hope is my story will ease your mind about the choices your children make.

In high school, I developed a love for acting and writing. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer could have been actress or journalist, depending on the day.

I didn’t always want to do those things. At the age of eight, I told my parents I would never marry, become a scientist and live with them. Forever. They must have been thrilled with my plans.

Despite my issues with realistic career choices, at age 18 even I knew an acting career was risky. I had also abandoned my plans to be a scientist (too much math) and living with my parents (too much supervision). So when it came time to fill in the bubble on my college paperwork for “major,” I skipped acting and the sciences, and instead chose “Journalism.”

Journalism was a practical profession. Respectable. A career where one could expect to earn a living. And, as far as I could tell, there was little math involved.

I went to a state school in Kirksville, Missouri, touted as “the Harvard of the Midwest.” Knowing what I do about Ivy League schools now, I can assure you this was false advertising. I enjoyed none of the advantages a Harvard graduate does, in the Midwest or anywhere else.

My Journalism 101 professor was a slim fellow in need of a haircut. He wore a plaid button-down shirt, chinos, and worn topsider shoes. He carried a messenger bag slung across his body, its strap cutting a diagonal across his thin chest. He had pudgy white cheeks like a child’s and wore Lennon glasses before they were fashionable (again).

I expected to be inspired. I was disappointed.

His entire first lecture described journalism as a miserable profession. A job where you made less than $18,000 a year, which even then was a meager sum, and that was just when you were employed. Furthermore, when you were lucky enough to have a permanent gig, you were on call 24/7 and expected to thrust a microphone into the face of a grieving mother that just discovered her child died and ask her how she feels.


While I knew Journalism wasn’t a cakewalk, I didn’t picture anything quite so desolate as what he described. I left class feeling snake bit, the punctures of his lecture’s fangs allowing my journalistic enthusiasm to leak out with a slow, pathetic hiss.

I had an epiphany. If this bleak and challenging career path is what I’m in for, then I may as well suffer for the art I really love…acting!

I told my parents I was going to be a Theatre major but not to worry; I would get my minor in Music, to “fall back on.” They didn’t say a word. I took this to mean they were once again thrilled with my plans.

Acting didn’t work out. It turns out not everyone who decides to go for stardom makes it. Who knew?

I needed a job. I became a sales rep for an alternative radio station. It paid 100% commission. My desk was so close to the back door that when people went out to smoke behind the station, the snowflakes would spatter across my desk.

Not that the spattering mattered. No snow got on the phone that I used to get smacked with rejection all day.

I didn’t bother looking for another job, however. Where else would a Theatre major (with that helpful Music minor) get hired that didn’t involve the phrases “Would you like to see a dessert menu?” or “Do you need a different size of the curvy, boot-cut stonewash denim?”

Without any other choice, I survived my first job in sales. I bounced around for the next couple of years, always taking a better opportunity, and always learning more about how to be better at my job. At the top of my sales career, I was the Director of Client Relations for a marketing company in Southern California. So hey, it worked out fine in the end.

After I had left this job to raise my children, I missed it. Being a mom was not enough. One of my ex-team members reached out to me in my mommyhood five years ago and asked if I wanted to write some copy for my old company. And just like that, Lively Copywriting was born. I am one of the work-at-home-moms otherwise known as WAHMs.

When I decided to be a theater major, my parents were less than thrilled and probably terrified for my future. However, if they had tried to convince me to return to my Journalism major or even to my original dream of spinster scientist, I wouldn’t have listened. Wisely, they didn’t.

When your son or daughter comes to you full of exuberance about their decision to major in Elizabethan Poetry or Pottery, don’t despair. Our job as parents is not to control what our children do as adults, but to lay the foundation of confidence and determination that will help them find happiness, whatever twisty-turny path they choose.

When I went to college, I was a Journalism major. When I left it, I was a Theatre major with a Music minor. Now I am a writer and a WAHM. I made my choices. I lived with them. My journey led me here, and I can assure you it’s a happy place.

That is a good thing because if there is any truth to Karma, my kids are going to test my theory when their time comes.