They Done Good

One of the challenges of being a swimmer is that swimming is not a seasonal sport.

It’s a year-round, full-time commitment once you really decide to commit.

The  year is broken into two main seasons (in the Northeast, anyway).

September through March is known as short course season. That’s because all meets are held in a 25-yard pool.

Most teams have about a two week break at the end of March or beginning of April, and then you move into the summer season, which is called long course. It’s called long course because you swim in a 50 meter pool. It’s also called an Olympic distance pool (cause that’s the distance pool used in the Olympics).

After long course season, you might get a little longer break. Like close to a month.

So out of every 52 weeks,  you have a total of 5-6 weeks off.

By the time you get to  the end of long course season, you are fried.

Which is why I didn’t give you a recap of our trip to Zones yet.

Because when we got home from the meet on Sunday night, I was shot. And I wanted a couple days where I didn’t even think about swimming. At all.

To be honest, I’m still kind of in I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about-swimming mode.

But I do want to let you know about our trip.

If you missed the first post before we left, in a nutshell, Zones is short for Eastern Zones Long Course Championships, and it’s a big, intense meet for the top swimmers on the East Coast in Richmond, Virginia.

There are teams from Virginia all the way up to Maine who attend the meet. It’s a four day meet, and if you are involved in swimming at all, you know how tiring these are for not only the swimmers, but also for the family members who attend them.

If you are not familiar with swimming at all, all I can say is that they are grueling. And that is no exaggeration. Each session, from the time you get your swimmer there for warm up until you leave the pool is at least five hours long. Usually closer to six hours.

The pool area is well over 80 degrees, the stands are even hotter and filled to capacity, and people are often douchebags in the stands. Of course it’s fun to watch your kids swim, but in a session that lasts four hours, your kid probably swims for a total of less than five minutes.

However nervous your kid is, you are ten times as nervous. You leave each session of a meet like this feeling like you’ve run a marathon. I’m not really kidding.

If you have more than one kid swimming, you are stressed out about both of them doing well because when one has a good meet and one has a shitty meet, that is no fun.

And if you have to bring along younger siblings who are hot, tired, thirsty, bored, have no desire to watch the meet and who have to sit around for 4+ hours,  that does not help.

At all.

So I had four days of that, and then two days of driving at least eight hours in the car with four kids ten and younger.

It was a long week.

There was not much personal space.

In fact, there wasn’t any personal space.

So it was definitely not a vacation. Not for me, anyway.

But I will say that breakfast was included at our hotel and there was free coffee available 24/7. It was pretty awesome to just walk downstairs and have breakfast waiting for us. And I absolutely needed the always available coffee.

The families from our team stayed in the same hotel, and one of my friends has five kids roughly the same age as our five younger ones, so the kids were ecstatic to have five consecutive days of playdates with their buddies.

They had lots of fun in the hotel pool and hot tub.

They enjoyed having the freedom to go to their friends’ rooms on their own.

Number 6 especially enjoyed having his own key. He also learned how to sweet talk the hotel concierge into giving him extras.

When I got home and cleaned out my purse, I found these:


The kids were a little crazy at times. There was a lot of whining, a lot of arguing, and a lot of crying. There may have been a few complaints by other guests at the hotel about some blond kids running in the halls early in the morning.

But there was also a lot of laughing and fun. (But more whining than fun).

So there was the management of Number 5, 6 and 7.

Then there was the swimming part. Which was, you know, the reason we were down there.

Number 3 stayed with the CT team in a different hotel. So I only saw him at the pool.

I talked to him for a grand total of approximately 90 seconds  between the time I dropped him off at the bus on Tuesday morning and the time I picked him up from the bus on Sunday night.

That was just what he needed. He needed time away. He needed a little space from Number 4. He needed to do his own thing.

Four years ago he was so crippled by anxiety he wouldn’t even walk into the locker room alone at an unfamiliar pool.

Last week he hopped on a bus and drove 400 miles away with a bunch of kids he didn’t really know, slept in a hotel with two other swimmers he hadn’t ever met before for  five nights, and had almost zero contact with me the entire time.

He swam really well. But I was sure he would.

When I picked him up on Sunday and asked him if he was bummed it was over or if he was happy to be home, he said, “I wish we could have hung out for three more days. It was so awesome, Mom.”

So I couldn’t be happier for him. It was a major self confidence building experience for him.

I was much more stressed out about Number 4.  Trying to make sure she got a decent night’s sleep every night in the hotel room with three younger siblings was a challenge.

And I was not sure how she was going to swim.

Actually, that’s not true.

I was sure she was going to swim like crap.

Two weeks before Zones, she had a very disappointing meet. It was the championship meet for the season, and she did not have the times either one of us expected she would. She spent the last night of the meet crying in the car for a good hour or so.

She was determined and convinced she was going to swim much faster this past week at Zones.

I was not convinced. I was afraid she was putting too much pressure on herself.

It is typically difficult to swim well at a meet like this for younger swimmers, especially only two weeks after a big championship meet.

So I was expecting her to be disappointed. I was expecting lots of crying and drama. Again.

Of course, in true Number 4 fashion, she totally proved me wrong, and she kicked some serious ass.

She swam better than I would have ever anticipated. And I’m her coach.

She walked away from Zones with huge drops in times and a fifth, a third, and a first place medal.

She said she had something to prove to herself, and she had something to prove to everyone else.

And she did it.

I was blown away by her.


And that sums up our trip to Richmond.

Exhausting, exciting, challenging, surprising and 100% rewarding.

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We Just Aren’t Ready Yet

I do not know where I stand regarding my kids and technology.

It’s a constant battle in my head.

On the one hand, I realize that technology is now a thing. The thing.

I understand that it’s not going anywhere and the kids need to know how to use it efficiently and responsibly.

And I don’t hate it, myself, obviously. I love Facebook, and I write a blog. So technology is kind of crucial.

But keeping up with all the different platforms is not easy for me.

I can’t keep up with my Twitter and Instagram. And forget all the comments on Facebook.

Then there are the kids.

Number 3 isn’t really all that interested in social media.

He has an iPod, but he really just wants to watch YouTube videos.

About a year ago, he opened up a Snapchat account. He was 11 at the time. I let him have it because all he really did was use those filters that change your voice, and I have to admit, they were pretty funny.

He and the rest of the kids would make Snapchats (is that what you even call them?) and laugh and have fun.

It didn’t take long for Number 3 to get friends. Or followers. Or whatever you call them. They were mostly his friends from the swim team.

I monitored what he was doing on there fairly often. He wasn’t all that interested in using it to communicate with people.

Number 6, who was six years old at the time, became semi-obsessed with Snapchat. I thought it was cute. He just made videos of himself and watched them.

So I didn’t mind.

But Number 6 is the tech-savviest kid in this house. If any of us have a technology-related question, we go to him. He’s like the Rain Man of technology. It’s just the way his brain works.

And it didn’t take long for him to start snapchatting with some of Number 3’s friends.

When I realized my six-year-old was communicating with thirteen-year-olds and I had absolutely no idea, (even though it was totally harmless) that’s when the Snapchat account was deleted.

It was just too much for me to stay on top of.

This past week while we were away in Richmond,  Number 4 managed to open her own account with the help of a team mate.

I had no idea she did this. The teammate had his own phone and together, they opened an account for her.

Then she accessed the account on the iPad I let the kids use, and she was able to post videos from there.

I only realized she did this after I noticed her not wanting me to see what she was doing on the iPad.

She fessed up and begged me to keep the account.

All her friends had one. She wouldn’t do anything bad. PLEEEEEEASE, MOM.

So I caved.

We had a talk.  The account needed to be private. She could only have followers she knew. I would monitor what she posted on there.

She promised me she’d be responsible.

It took approximately ninety seconds for her to become obsessed and to tell me how many likes (or whatever you call them) she already had.

When we left the hotel on Sunday morning, she could not leave until she made a saying goodbye to everyone.

Everyone else was doing it.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly how works.

Because of that fact alone, my gut was not sitting right with this.

When we got back to CT, I checked her account. She had several videos with her tongue sticking out a la Miley Cyrus.

This is fine if you are eighteen and realize what you are doing.

But not when you are ten.

I had a talk with Number 4 about that. She thought it was harmless.

I know she didn’t mean anything by it, but was seriously stressing me out.

Later on Monday afternoon, Number 4 was on the iPad again. She was watching other peoples musical.lys.

I was not in the room at the time, and to be honest, I didn’t even know she had the iPad. But as siblings who are close in age often do (especially at this stage in the summer when we have all spent quite a bit of time together in relatively close quarters) Number 3 and 4 were pissing each other off. Number 3 got the iPad, and he wrote a comment on a Number 4 was watching.

One of Number 3’s go-to comments is You’re garbage and I’m garbage.

He uses it when he’s joking around.  There is a time and a place where it’s okay.

For instance, he has a friendly rivalry with a girl on the swim team. They swim some of the same events, and their times are about the same. At Zones this weekend, this girl swam faster than Number 3 in one of their events. When her mom told Number 3 he had a great race, he responded to her with, I’m garbage!

It’s a running joke with them, and in that situation, I’m okay with him saying that.

But when he posted the comment You’re garbage on one of Number 4’s friend’s musical.lys, that was not okay.

Number 4 was understandably upset.

Number 3 was not really aware of how serious a comment like that could be.

So that was the end of the account for now.

My kids are not ready to handle all the responsibilities that come along with social media.  I believe that 13-year-old age guideline is in place for a very good reason.

But it’s not just the kids who aren’t ready.

I am not ready or capable of handling the responsibility of monitoring devices and accounts for multiple kids who are twelve-years-old and younger.

It’s just too much.

So although they are unhappy about it, although they may be the only ones in the whole school without a phone or Snapchat or, although this makes me the World’s Meanest Mom, I don’t care.

The kids still have some growing up to do, and I still have some educating to do.

And in a couple years when we are all more mature and better equipped, maybe then we’ll give it another try.


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Remember That Time At Costco?

We got back from our trip to Richmond on Sunday night. After being gone for six days, there wasn’t much food in the house.

Yesterday (Monday) I had plans to get caught up on laundry, clean some stuff up and get to the grocery store, but as so often happens, things did not run completely according to plan, and at 6:00, I still had not gone food shopping.

So I told the kids we were going to Costco and that they could get something to eat there for dinner.

Going to the store with five kids is not exactly my idea of fun. But with Number 7 being almost six years old and Number 3 being twelve, it’s not quite as bad as it was two or three (or four or five) years ago.

Rather than drag them around the store with me, I told them they could order their food and eat it together while I was shopping.

This is a stage of parenting that I have to admit I am really enjoying. This independence thing does not suck.

I put Number 4 in charge of ordering the food, made sure they all had a spot to sit, and then I headed into Costco solo.

It was glorious.

I didn’t have to get that much, so it only took me about ten minutes.

When I got in line to pay for everything, I could see all the kids sitting down eating.

They looked calm and well-behaved.

I immediately thought to myself, I need to take a picture of this and write a post about it. About this stage of parenting where things are slightly less labor intensive. Where your kids aren’t trying to swipe everything within arm’s reach off the shelves. Where you don’t have to deal with an infant seat or those stupid cloth things you put into the cart so your first kid (cause let’s face it, by the second or third or seventh kid you don’t really give a flying f*ck) is protected from everyone else’s germs. Where you don’t have to take your kid into the bathroom and change a diaper on those disgusting changing stations attached to the wall. Where you can appreciate your kids being older rather than getting all sentimental about how quickly they are growing up.

Where you don’t leave the building feeling like you’ve just gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson.

So after I paid, I headed over to the table where the kids were.  I stopped my cart and got my phone out. I told them how much I appreciated them eating together and behaving so I could quickly get my shopping done, and I asked if I could take their picture.

As I was focusing the camera, Number  7 saw a penny on the ground an immediately climbed under the table.

I don’t know what Number 6 was doing, but he was distracted by something behind him.

I snapped the picture.

At that exact moment, Number 6’s head somehow hit his drink, knocking it over.

Its entire contents spilled out of the cup, flowed across the table, and directly onto…

Number 7’s head.

Number 7 had a thirty second freak out and started bawling.

I felt bad, but it was so funny, Number 3 and I couldn’t stop laughing.

I got about five thousand napkins and attempted to dry Number 7 off.

And then I said to Number 3, “How funny would it be if I actually caught that moment in the picture?”

After Number 7 was mostly dry, I looked at my phone, and sure enough, the only picture I managed to take was the exact moment the Pepsi floodgates opened up.

I showed it to Number 7 and she went from hysterically crying to hysterically laughing. And then the six of us had the biggest laugh we’ve had in a long, long time.

I sent a sticky Number 7 and a still laughing Number 4 over to get some ice cream, and then we all headed out of Costco.

So even when the kids get older, life is still a shit show. But it’s a different kind of shit show. A shit show that you can all appreciate together.

I miss having babies sometimes. I’m sure I always will.

But I like relating to my kids on this different level. It’s fun. And while they still drive me batshit crazy most days, it’s not quite so lonely now that they are a little older.

I’ll appreciate this stage where the kids (and I) can enjoy a little more freedom.

One day I’ll be a grandma and get to enjoy the baby phase again. And maybe I’ll go to Costco with Number 7 to help her out when she has a little one of her own.

As we’re walking out of checkout line and past the food, we’ll both look at each other and say, “Remember that time Number 6 spilled his entire drink on your head?”

And then we can have another real good laugh together on another whole new level.



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Because My Kids Are Already At Risk

I made the decision to stop drinking about six weeks ago.

I did this for a number of reasons.

One is that I have a hard time drinking in moderation.

I either drink no alcohol, or drink all the alcohol.

Another reason is that while my body has never really tolerated alcohol very well, the older I get, it’s really becoming a problem.

A mom’s night out turns into a mom’s two days out, because that’s how long it takes me to recover from a night where I have more than two drinks (which was pretty much every time I went out).

But there is a third reason. And it’s a pretty big one.

One of the things I noticed about myself, especially since becoming a parent, is how often I would joke to other people that it had been a really long or tiring or especially shitty day, and how I couldn’t wait to have a glass (or a whole bottle) of wine later that night.

That’s the thing so many of us moms do. We joke about how shitty our kids or our days have been and about how we can’t wait to  have a drink. Or nine.

Because we earned it.

We deserve it.

I’d often say this in front of my kids. Like really often.

On a side note, I come from a long line of addictive personalities on both sides of my family.

I also have a long history of depression.

If I’m going to be honest with myself, alcohol is pretty much the last thing I should be putting into my body.


I am only able to acknowledge this now, at almost 48 years old. It’s taken me 30+ years of drinking to be completely honest with myself.

So that third reason I quit drinking… I still haven’t quite gotten to it.

Coming from a long line of addicts and having a history of depression puts my kids at a much higher risk for becoming addicts.

I’ve known this.

But then I recently read a blog post from Scientific American entitled Opioid Addiction Is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause

In a nutshell, the majority of opioid addictions do not stem from medical use. Meaning if you hurt yourself and get a prescription for percoset, chances are, you will not become addicted.

According to this article, “90 percent of all addictions—no matter what the drug—start in the adolescent and young adult years… The vast majority of people who are prescribed opioids use them responsibly.”


“If we want to reduce opioid addiction, we have to target the real risk factors for it: child trauma, mental illness and unemployment. Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had at least one severely traumatic childhood experience, and the greater your exposure to different types of trauma, the higher the risk becomes. We need to help abused, neglected and otherwise traumatized children before they turn to drugs for self-medication when they hit their teens.


“At least half of people with opioid addictions also have a mental illness or personality disorder. The precursors to these problems are often evident in childhood, too. For example, children who are extremely impulsive are at high risk—but on the opposite end of the scale, so, too are children who are highly cautious and anxious.”

So I read this.

And then I thought to myself, What if one of the kids had a really bad day at school. If their friends were jerks to them. If they did bad on a test. If they were just feeling down… and they came home from school and said to me, “I am going to get so wasted tonight. I totally deserve it.”

I’d be crushed, honestly.

But I’ve said that same thing in front of my children probably hundreds of times.

(It may not be opioid usage, but the drug doesn’t really matter).

I have modeled for them that getting drunk, (even if I was only joking), is an acceptable way to deal with stress and disappointment and worry and anxiety and depression.

I’m not okay with that. Because while I am grateful my kids haven’t had any major childhood trauma to put them at an increased risk for addiction, thanks to genes and heredity, they are all candidates for mental illness. (Although really, at one point or another, aren’t we all?)

And we’ve got anxiety and impulsivity issues here at home already.

I’m not saying that alcohol is poison for everyone. There are plenty of (lucky) people who can enjoy it in moderation.

But joking about how you’ve had a bad day and can’t wait to have a drink (or five) in front of your kids?

Now that I’ve got six weeks of sobriety under my belt, I don’t think that’s such a great thing.

In fact, I think it’s pretty bad.

I am not trying to tell you or convince you to stop drinking.

I’m really not.

But I am throwing out there that maybe you are sending messages to your kids that you don’t mean to send. Or that you don’t realize you are sending.

The next time you have a shitty day? The next time your kids are total assholes?

Maybe don’t joke with your friends about how badly you need a few drinks.

Instead, tell them you need a time out. Some alone time. A walk to clear your head.

Send your kids a different message.

A healthier one.

A message that doesn’t have the potential to put them at a higher risk than they may already be.

Because that’s that’s the message we all really want to send anyway, isn’t it?


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