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Don’t Wait For Your Family To Give You A Mother’s Day Gift

On Mother’s Day,  Facebook is flooded with articles of What Moms Really Want For Mother’s Day.

For most of us, it’s nothing major.  It’s a day where we don’t have to take care of anyone else. Where we can sleep and have some alone time.

An opportunity to recharge.

But for many of us, it’s simply an appreciation for what we do every day.

My friend’s husband wrote this message on her Facebook timeline today:

Happy Mother’s Day to the glue to our family!  The lady that makes it all happen!

Oh, yes. YES, YES, YES!!!

Acknowledgment!

That’s it!

And this isn’t to say that husbands don’t do a lot or that they aren’t an integral part of the family machine.

But boy that would be nice to hear.

Because moms get shit done. And they get it done with efficiency, forethought, and an attention to detail.

 

They perform some seriously impressive logistical gymnastics.

They keep things running smoothly when all hell breaks loose.

If it’s lost, if it’s broken, if it’s due in twelve hours, if it’s impossible, moms find a way to make it happen.

Even when they are sick.

And so, Moms, I’m putting this out there to you.

On this Mother’s Day, don’t wait for your family to give you the perfect gift.

Give it to yourself.

Give yourself the gift of self care.

Because you are the glue.

And when the glue breaks down, then the family falls apart. And then you’re all fucked.

In the long term, take care of your body. Break a sweat every day.

Make time to rest. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the zamboni for your brain.

Invest time in finding a person (or people) you completely trust to spend time with your children. Because there’s no greater stress than feeling like you are the only one who can take care of them.

Find something that makes you happy. Really happy. And then do it. Regularly. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you don’t get (or need) to have fun anymore.

Ask for help when you need it. We all need help sometimes!

Spend time with your friends.

In the short term, if you like having fresh flowers, don’t wait for someone to get them for you… get them for yourself. Book yourself a massage. Take the damn day off. Schedule a man-pedi. Go to the movies. Book a weekend at a hotel. Whatever gift you’d really like, get it!

You’ve earned it!

Sure, it would be nice if someone did this for us. But that’s not always how it pans out.

This Mother’s Day, don’t wait for your husband or your children or anyone else to do this for you.

Acknowledge and appreciate yourself.

You deserve it.

And just in case no one else has told you today, Happy Mother’s Day to the glue in your family!

 

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The Little Bear

For the first time in the history of, um… ever, I have all my Christmas shopping done.

And all of my presents are wrapped.

It’s a Christmas miracle.

Of course, that means that one of the kids was going to add something onto their Christmas list, something that they wanted MORE. THAN. ANYTHING.

Number 4, who had shared a very modest Christmas wish list with me all of the sudden decided she wanted and iPod.

Like one of the really nice ones that you can watch Netflix on, do Musical.ly videos on and do whatever else the kids like to do on them  (although actually listening to music doesn’t seem to really be one of those things kids do with an iPod anymore).

I told her Santa had already done all his shopping.

The first heavy sigh presented itself.

Number 3, who was sitting right there when Number 4 amended her  Christmas list said, “I’m sure they are going to get you one. Mom just doesn’t want to ruin the surprise.”

I assured Number 4 that there would be no iPod under or anywhere near the Christmas tree. And there wouldn’t be one at Grammy and Papa’s house either.

I reminded Number 4 about what I had told all the kids this past summer.

From now on, we would not be buying any electronics for the kids.

If they wanted phones or iPods or iPads or anything like that, they were going to have to pay for them themselves.

“MOM!!!” Number 4 yelled. “THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!”

She gave me the death glare, let the tears start flowing, and stomped out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

A couple minutes later, she tried again.

I looked at her and now I was sighing heavily.

I tried hard not to roll my eyes when she started stomping again.

“MOM!!!” she yelled.

“Remember that song you were asking me about? Feed the World? The one where the kids in Africa don’t even know it’s Christmas and they are seriously happy if they just have water to drink?”

She stomped back up the stairs.

About twenty minutes later, I went upstairs to read a story to Number 6 and 7 and  put them into bed.

Number 4 came in their room.

“Did you read my story?” Number 4 asked.

I told her I hadn’t seen it.

“I left it in the office by your computer,” she told me.

I told her I would read it after I got the little guys into bed.

Once they were all tucked in, I walked into the office and I sat down.

There was her story right in front of me.

It was entitled The Little Bear.

Number 4 appeared right beside me, from out of nowhere. Like a ninja.

I picked up the story and started reading.

Once upon a time their was a teeny-tiny bear who only wanted an i-pod for christmas.

Oh my God. She was not going down without a damn fight.

I looked at Number 4 and rolled my eyes.

“It’s not what you think Mom! Keep reading,” she said.

I kept reading.

The mama bear said no, so the bear was very sad 🙁 .

I rolled my eyes a second time.

“It’s not what you think Mom! Keep reading,” she said again.

But the bear realized Christmas is not a time for reciveing, but for giving. The bear felt silly thinking all about himself. He knew there were children in  Africa who would never even dream of an i-pod. 

Well that certainly threw me for a loop.

“Keep reading, Mom!” Number 4 said.

The Bear said to his mom all he wants for Christmas is for everyone in Africa the world to be happy and content, and he knew he already was. And he knew the spirit of Christmas was all around him and he was happy for what he had.

The End (that was on the other side).

Whoah.

All I could do was laugh. I was stunned. And proud.

“I’m sorry for throwing a fit, Mom,” Number 4 said.

And she threw her arms around me and gave me a hug.

I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes with my kids. And I know I’m going to make plenty more.

But last night, well, last night I was reminded that I’m doing a halfway decent job. At least with one of them.

And the story of the Little Bear is one of the best Christmas gifts I’m ever gonna get.

 

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To All The Moms at Christmas

My aunt always used to say that Christmas is a woman’s holiday.

And she’s totally right.

Before I go any further, this post isn’t about bashing dads.

And I know there are a handful of fathers out there who do help out with shopping and wrapping and whatever.

But for the most part, moms around the world have been busting their asses over the last few weeks to give their kids a Christmas season they will remember. And also to make sure they let pretty much everyone they come into contact with on a regular basis know they are appreciated.

It’s not just about the shopping for presents. And wrapping them.

It’s about the thinking. And the details. And the time. So. Much. Time.

It’s making sure you contribute to the teacher’s class gift.

It’s letting the bus drivers know you appreciate what they do for your children.

It’s remembering your kids’ coaches.

It’s leaving something for the UPS guy or girl and the mail carrier and the garbage man and your hairdresser and whoever else.

It’s buying all the gifts not just for your children and your parents and your siblings and your nieces and nephews, but also for your husband’s parents and siblings.

So yeah, it is a lot about the shopping.

But it’s everything else, too.

It’s doing research and mapping out routes for your kids to see holiday light displays.

It’s decorating your house because as Number 4 says, “Mom! I love how every room in the house has a little bit of Christmas in it!”

It’s moving the damn elf around every day (and sometimes at  3 a.m. because you forgot to do it before you went to bed) because even though you think that fucker is kind of creepy, your kids can’t wait to look for him every day.

It’s making reindeer food for Christmas Eve.

It’s making gingerbread houses with your kids because even though you want to f*&%ing kill yourself about ten minutes into it, once it’s all said and done, in hindsight, it still was (sort of) fun.

It’s blocking off time to make Christmas cookies with your children which are ultimately inedible because your children have licked every finger, utensil, bowl, and surface in the kitchen continuously for 75 minutes.

But they sure had fun doing it.

It’s making advent calendars full of activities that your kids will remember not just the following year, but well into adulthood.

It’s planning and executing and (eventually) mailing a bazillion Christmas cards.

It’s scouring  Pinterest to make a perfect breakfast that everyone will love on Christmas morning and ask you to make again the following year.

It’s finding new Christmas pajamas for the whole family to wear on Christmas Eve.

It’s spending countless hours doing anything and everything you can to make the season extra special for your family.

And it’s doing all of that, with very little (or no) recognition or appreciation, on top of all the other sh*t you do on a daily basis.

So here’s to all you moms in the Christmas trenches.

Your kids have no clue how much thought, effort and time you have put into the past few weeks.

Neither do your husbands, really.

But I do.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

At some point down the road, your family will realize how much hard work you put into this time of year.

Well, maybe your sons won’t.

But eventually, your daughters will.

Take a minute to thank your mom for all the crap she did for you and your family when you were a kid.

And then, take some time in the next couple days to give yourself a break.

Get a pedicure.  Take a nap.  Sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing for a couple hours. Do something special for yourself leading up to Christmas.

You deserve it.

Because what you are able to accomplish and the memories you are creating for your family during the Christmas season are truly impressive.

And you are kicking some serious ass.

 

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Last night we made a pretty great memory.

A little over an hour from my house in Essex, CT, there’s an historic railroad company where you can ride on old school steam trains.

And at Christmas time, they transform their trains into the “Polar Express”, and you can ride a vintage car to the North Pole.

For the last four years, I have very enviously looked at pictures my friends have posted on Facebook riding the Polar Express each Christmas.

And along with my new tattoo, I promised myself when our financial situation changed, I was gonna take the kids on the Polar Express.

Even if they were 47 years old by the time we could do it.

And last night, we were finally able to go.

It was awesome, and totally worth the wait.

For those of you who aren’t local, and for those of you in CT who have been living under a rock and have no idea what I’m talking about, tickets for the Polar Express go on sale in the beginning of November, and about an hour after they are available online, most of the decent tickets are already taken.

I managed to get eight tickets for a ride at 7 pm last night which was a minor miracle.

I didn’t tell the kids where we were going until we pulled into the parking lot.

Everyone was excited.

Except for Number 3. He was a little bit pissed initially by the “surprise.”

It was “the dumbest surprise ever.”

Anyway, when you reserve your seats online, you get actual tickets in the mail.

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And when you get to your assigned car, the conductor is there and he punches the crap out of them just like Tom Hanks does in the movie.

When you get into your car, your seats are already assigned for you, and your “guide” or whatever you would call him or her shows you to your seat.

Our car’s hostess/guide was Princess Snowflake.

She had more glitter on her than a stripper and the girls loved her. They boys weren’t sure what to make of her.

The car is decorated with Christmas lights and it’s warm and cozy (you can see Princess Snowflake standing in the aisle with her microphone).

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Pretty much all the kids  who ride the train wear their pajamas. I had gotten new Christmas pajamas for everyone a while ago, and I surprised them with them last night. So it was a double surprise night for us.

Of course, we also wore… our robes.

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(I had to turn my flash on to get a decent picture, so all the kids look like zombies in the remainder of my pictures because my phone has no red eye fix on it).

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Once we got going, Princess Snowflake walked through the car and spoke to every kid on it. She asked them their names, and she remembered all of them!

Throughout the ride she sang songs (it was kind of like an interactive dinner theater in a train. Minus the dinner) and she included the kids’ names when she was singing and talking.

Number 5 especially loved that.

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There were lights and things to see outside along the way, and then about a half hour into the ride, we made it to “the North Pole.” Santa and Mrs. Claus and all the elves were outside by Santa’s sleight waving to the kids through the windows.

A little while later the elves came onto the train and gave everyone hot chocolate and cookies (that were decorated by Rudolph himself).

After that, Mrs. Claus came onto the train and talked to every kid and paused for a photo op.

This picture is blurry, but it captures the excitement of Number 7 perfectly.

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This one’s a little more clear.

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Shortly after that, Santa came aboard the train.

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If you look closely, you can see that he gave all the kids little Polar Express bells that actually ring.

Of course, every kid on the train was now ringing his or her damn bell for the rest of the ride, but it was still very cute.

It took Number 4 approximately 12 seconds to fling the bell dinger thing right out of her bell so it wouldn’t make any noise.

Santa took time to talk to each of the kids on the train and ask them what they wanted.

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When he asked Number 7 what she wanted, she told him she wanted a bottle of water because she was dying of thirst.

Santa did not have any bottles of water on him.

After Santa left, Princess Snowflake had the kids line up so they could each tell her something they  had on their wish list. Then she waved her magic wand and tapped them on the head. I hope Grammy and Papa, I mean…  Santa comes through for Number 3 with that ping pong table he asked for.

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We finished up the ride singing  Christmas carols together.

It was a great night.

The only meltdown we had was when Number 7 (of course) spilled hot chocolate all over the floor and her new pajamas.

Fortunately Number 3 spotted rolls of paper towels overhead, and then it became apparent that Number 7 was not the first person to spill hot chocolate on the Polar Express.

 

Some pointers if you are going and have never been, or if you want to go in the future:

  1. You’re on the train about an hour and a half. I’d say the ideal age range for the trip is 4-8 years old — the kids who understand what’s going on and still believe and can sit for 90 minutes without losing it.
  2. Number 3 and 4 were pretty much the oldest kids on the train (there was one other 11-year-old). They had fun and it was definitely worth it to bring them, but the majority of the kids on the train were in that 4-8 year old range.
  3.  Bring water because your kids will get thirsty about 45 minutes into the trip, and Santa does not have water in his pack 😉
  4.  To be on the safe side, bring a change of clothes if your kids freak out over spills.
  5. Get tickets on the 5:00 train if you can, because by 8:30, my little guys were pretty pooped.
  6. Make sure your camera is charged before you go!

If you have thought about taking your kids on the Polar Express, it may be too late this year, but next year, for sure, DO IT!

Even Number 3, who was not initially a believer, had a really good time.

I am so grateful we were able to experience this together as a family.

It was a night we will remember forever.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

 

Check out this super cute set and and tons of other cute stuff out at Betsy Boo’s Boutique — my fave place to shop online!

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