My Sister was in town recently, which as I’ve told you, means I saw a bit of my Mother.  She usually has something to say about our parenting skills (again, you know how much I like people talking about my parenting)  My sister and I have always been open about talking to our daughters about sex (age appropriate).  The conversation went something like this:

Mother: I don’t know why you have to talk to the girls about sex

Me: Well, it’s a natural thing.  I want daughter to learn the right things and not have hang-ups.

Sister: Yeah.  I don’t want my kid to feel shame when thinking/talking about sex

Me: Totally.  The way you taught us left me filled with shame.

Mother: No it didn’t.  I was very good about teaching you those things.

Sister: No you weren’t.  I felt shame too.

Mother: No you didn’t.  I did it the right way.

Me: Mom, if we’re both saying the same thing, you have to at least consider that what we’re saying is correct.  You tried, but we’re telling you that your method didn’t work.

Mother: Yes it did.

I know parents make mistakes.  I’m sure my daughter has a list that she’s waiting to spring on me.  But I HOPE that I can acknowledge when I made a mistake, when I did something wrong, especially if my daughter tells me.

My Mother is a know it all (seriously- she makes me look like an amateur) Whenever someone says anything, she knows better.  My daughter mentioned that she wanted to look at a certain college.  My Mother immediately said, “That’s in a bad neighborhood.”  I asked, “When were you there?”  My Mother said “40 years ago.”  Now I realize that some things stay the same.  But guess what?  Some things change.  My Mother had no basis for her statement, but she will say it loud and repeatedly.

I really know that my Mother has my best interests at heart.  I know she says things in order to help me out.  But here’s the problem:  her statements are not always logical, factual or realistic.  She will read one article on something and declare it the absolute law, because it backs up her beliefs.  She will not even consider another opinion on pretty much anything:  there’s her way or no way.  And she has opinions on everything.  My daughter wanted a certain type of make-up brush for Christmas, which I bought her.  As soon as my Mother saw it she said “You don’t want to use that.  It’s horrible.”  Had my Mother ever used this item?  No.  Does she know anyone personally that used this item? No.  She just didn’t like the idea of it.  I told her that sometimes people need to try things out themselves- learn from experience.  She just shook her head at me.

See, that’s another issue with my Mother’s parenting skills.  She gave us a road map as to what we should and should not do.  She told us exactly how to proceed through life without teaching us how to make a good decision.  She never taught us to think about our actions.  We all know this is bad.  We need to make mistakes.  We need to get hurt.  We need to get dirty.  I know my Mother did these things out of love because she didn’t want us to feel pain or hurt.  But guess what, you still feel pain and hurt, because those things are unavoidable.

My Mother gave us the facts that she thought were important, not the facts that we needed.  And I have accepted that she didn’t know any better.  I have no issue with the fact that she made mistakes.  My issue is that she refuses to accept that she made mistakes.  In her mind, she did everything right and would not have changed her parenting choices at all.  This is why it is difficult to have an adult relationship with her.  She still tells me all the things I am doing wrong with regards to everything, and still tries to give me directions on how to live my life.

Yes, today is blog as journal day.  Today I randomly write down things that annoy me about my Mother, because it is somewhat cathartic to write the words down.  When I write it down, it releases a little something in me.  I feel a little bit better.

And as always, I often wonder why I am so screwed up, and then I spend some time with my Mother, and I wonder how am I so normal.


They Were Better

I’ve talked about my daughter before, but I’m going to give you a few relevant facts so that everyone is up to speed.

  1. Very hard working and strong work ethic
  2. Wants to be a lawyer
  3. Co-Captain of her high school law team
  4. Very competetive

In the winter/spring, the law team competes in mock trial.  The teams are assigned a case, and the students research the case and act as lawyers and witnesses and compete against other teams.  There is a great deal of work involved in being on a team such as this: she probably puts in a minimum of 20 hours a week when they are prepping. (on top of the other responsibilities she has) So this is a fairly large commitment.

So, a few weeks ago they competed.  And while their defense team won, their prosecution lost.  I knew how much she wanted to win, so I told her that I was sorry that they lost.  And her response was simple:  “It’s Ok.  They were just better than us.”

She didn’t blame her teammates.  She didn’t say the judge was biased.  She didn’t complain about their mentor law firm (who really did let the team down- but that’s a whole other story) She just said that the other team was better.  She said that her team was well prepared, that everyone really performed above expectations, that they gave it their all.  They just weren’t good enough.  She said it didn’t reflect badly on her teammates because they left nothing on the table, but sometimes in life you can do all the right things and still lose.

Now, I’m going to go with nurture again, because I’ll take all the credit because I’m ultra competitive.  So seriously, I don’t take losing lightly- how did I end up with a child so mature about losing?

Here’s the thing:  I have some rules in the house.

  1. If she wanted to join something or take lessons, she must finish out stated commitment- go to all lessons, go to all games and practices
  2. These commitments come first- she wasn’t allowed to not go to something, especially in a team situation, because I stressed that it is a team, and teammates show up
  3. You always give 100% of your effort.  The end result doesn’t matter, but the effort and work do
  4. I made it very clear that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and that’s life
  5. Life is not fair
  6. You can’t win something if you don’t try it (this isn’t really a rule, more of a saying, but I preached it a lot, so I’m including it)

My daughter has a room full of trophies and plaques and certificates.  She has had her fair share of wins.  But she has also had losses.  She has been losing things since she was young.  But I have shown her that if you lose, you get to be sad, or mad or whatever emotion you want.  But then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with it.  Because sulking is not a lifestyle choice that winners have.  Winners keep going- even when they lose.  Winners are always in the game.

So what’s the lesson?  I’m the greatest parent in the world?  Not even close.  But you need to think about the lessons you’re teaching your kids.  Someday they are going to make all their own decisions: they need to be prepared for that.  Make sure you’re stressing the important things.


The Water Bottle

I love my water bottle.  I mean, I really love it.

  1. It holds 32 ounces of water
  2. It’s curved like an hour glass, so it’s easy to hold
  3. It’s narrow enough at the bottom so it fits comfortably in cup holders at the gym and most movie theaters (this is actually rare for a bottle that holds 32 ounces)
  4. The cover is pink!
  5. The cover is a screw top, which means that unless I don’t close it properly, it is leak-proof, so I can throw it in my bag without worry

In short, it is my perfect water bottle.

Now here’s the story:  A few weeks ago I was at the movie theater.  I left my treasured water bottle at the movie theater.  I realized it when I was about halfway home.  The movie theater is about a 30 minute walk from my house, and it’s also not a convenient mass transit ride. (I live on the east side, the theater is on the west- it’s basically a Manhattan nightmare).  I was very bummed.

When my daughter got home she asked about my day.  I told her my tale of woe.  She sympathized.  She knew what that water bottle meant to me.  So she put her coat back on and made the trek to the theater and retrieved my water bottle for me.

My daughter did the hour round trip to get me my water bottle.  She simply said, “I know you would do this for me.  I know you have done this for me.”  There are no words for how I felt.

Now, this is one of those moments that I am going to say it’s nurture.  My daughter was nice to me because I have been an awesome Mom and raised her to be an amazing person.  Don’t you dare tell me it’s nature…

So, is it silly to be enamored with a water bottle?  Yes.  Was it necessary for my daughter to spend an hour retrieving the water bottle?  No.  Do either of those things matter?  Probably not.  My daughter did something sweet for me that didn’t cost any money, and she did it without expecting anything in return.  That’s pretty much the only gift I will ever need.

Advice: Should You?

This week I spoke of opinion/criticism and I spoke about family.  Today, we’re going to sort of combine the two subjects and talk about advice.  Specifically, parenting advice.

I do not like to receive unsolicited  parenting advice.  There you have it.  I don’t like when anyone tells me what to do with regards to the child that I am raising.  If I want an opinion, I will ask.

Also, I do not offer unsolicited parenting advice to people.  If someone asks my opinion, I will gladly give it, but…  Sometimes I do talk about parenting when I am blogging.  Though I may be giving advice, I am not aiming it towards any specific person, I’m merely sharing my thoughts on a subject.  I think writing about parenting in the abstract is not really advice (my blog, my rules)

I have a rough plan when it comes to how I want to parent my child.  If something is not working, I figure out how to change course.  So far, this method has worked for me.  The rules that I have thought about and put into practice work FOR ME.  They are great in our specific family dynamic.  They might not be great in someone else’s. (my house, my rules)

I have had people scoff at my parenting notions.  I have people that make very passive aggressive comments about how I choose to raise my child.  To say I get annoyed by this is an understatement.  It’s not that I don’t value other opinions, but let’s just say that I don’t like certain things about their children, so why would I want to repeat their mistakes?  This most closely applies to my Mother, because I see which of her actions caused my bad behavior patterns.  Behavior patterns that I find so abhorrent that I refuse to have my child ever thing the same way.  But enough of my emotional baggage for today.

(On a side note, if you do not have children- please don’t ever tell someone how to parent.  Just remember, everyone is the best parent in the world until they have children)

Now we come to the crux of my problem that I am writing about today.  I think my Sister is making a huge parenting mistake with my niece.  Notice how I used the word think.  I don’t know for sure if it is actually a mistake.  I have no actual psychological training with which to base my thoughts on, I’m going off of instinct.

I know that I don’t know everything (seriously- I know it often appears as if I think I know everything, but I really don’t think it or know everything).  But… My logic meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute.  My emotional meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute. Yet, I remain silent.  Because I don’t like to give parenting advice.

Should I break my rule?

When breaking a rule, you have to ask what the benefit will be.  I run the risk of my sister not ever speaking to me again. (she runs a little hot and holds grudges and is a blamer)  I run the risk of her giving me unsolicited advice.  But…is telling her my feelings going to be beneficial to my niece?  See, that’s the unknowable thing- I have no idea if I’m right and my sister is wrong.  I have no idea if my way of doing something is actually better.  Because there are no definitive rights and no definitive wrongs when it comes to parenting.  Different things work for different people in different situations.  Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book.

I’ve actually talked around the specific subject with my sister.  I know her feelings on the issue and I’ve tried to hypothetically point out things to her, so I know her stance.  To delve more into it would be pushing the boundaries.  I know I don’t like when my personal boundaries are pushed:  shouldn’t I respect the boundaries of others?  The issue is also one that would never specifically affect my child.  I have no personal knowledge of the issues faced, so it makes my opinion less valuable.  Do I have the right to comment on something I really know nothing about?

So here I sit- wondering what the best course of action is.  Because I just don’t know what to do.



Relationships: Family

Since John Mahoney of “Frasier” fame passed away last month, I’ve been working my way through the reruns.  Along with being a funny show, it was also filled with surprising bits of wisdom.  One episode has Daphne asking “Why is it so easy to love our families, but so hard to like them.”  Truer words were never spoken.

My Sister and my niece were in town a few weeks ago.  They live in Seattle (I know- odd Frasier connection), so we only see each other once a year.  As they were staying with my Mom, this meant I saw more of my Mother and Father.  Even though my parents live in New Jersey, I try to limit how often I see them.  Because, you know, it’s easy to love your family, but hard to like them.

Nothing increases my stress level more than time with my Mother.  Arguments abound.  We’ve never learned how to communicate with one another.  Every conversation turns into a yelling match, and a show down as to who can interrupt the others the most.  I don’t think I completed a sentence for four days.  It ends with my Mother saying something along the lines of “I’m not screaming.  I’m Italian.  This is how we talk.”  My Father is the opposite though- he sits stoically in the chair and says little.  And my Sister, well, she is the Queen of pushing buttons.  She is also the most sensitive person on the planet.  She thinks every sentence uttered is a personal attack against her.

Happy day.

I love my family.  I truly do.  But spending time with them is excruciating.  I had a headache for the better part of the week because we are truly unable to communicate with one another in a rational manner.  I feel like I’m walking on eggshells when we are together.  I try to stay calm, but my Mother and Sister often say the most ridiculous things.  Ok- to be fair- they may not be ridiculous if you are a stark raving lunatic, but if you’re trying to be a somewhat logical, rational person, their statements may come across as a tad antagonistic.  My Mother has opinions on most subjects.  If she doesn’t have an opinion on something it’s because she doesn’t think it’s a “worthy” topic.  Needless to say, my Sister has the exact opposite opinions of my Mother.  And she makes that known.  In fact, I believe that all the residents of my 19 story apartment building know her opinions on everything.

But I think you get the idea that the visit was mainly spent yelling.

I love my family.  I know they love me and would always be there if I needed them.  I just have a great deal of trouble being in the same room as them.

Never fear.  There will be a few more posts that detail some of the more fun moments of the trip, as I try to logically break down exactly why you can love, yet not always like your family.


Yesterday I told you about the trip to the Spy Museum.  Now, let’s backtrack.  When I originally bought tickets, I asked my daughter if she wanted to join in on the excursion.  She said no, because she had a very long to do list and limited time.  No worries.

When Husband and I got home from the museum, we went into her room where she was seated at her desk doing homework, and we told her all about the place, the questions, the simulations.  We told her it was fun.

We are horrible parents.  We told our kid we had fun.  Without her.  And she got all sad and mad and teenagery.


Because she wished she had gone.  She felt she didn’t accomplish anything she set out to do, and it would have been a better use of her time, and more fun, to have gone off with us.  (for the record- she got more done in the three hours we were gone than I get done in a week- but I do lean towards the slacker side)

I feel for daughter.  She lives in a stress induced bubble, where every task before her appears to be life altering and tantamount to her having a future.  She also is a teenage girl dealing with issues that social media present and dramatic school mates.  She has moments of insecurity where she’s not smart enough, or pretty enough or talented enough.  Teenagers try to  appear to be super confident, but we all know that is a façade.  They are unsure if the face they present to the world is the one that the world wants to see.  Sometimes they overthink to a point where they are paralyzed and can’t do anything: sometimes they act without thinking.  To put it simply, being a teenager sucks.

I talked to her and told her it was OK- it wasn’t a lifetime opportunity to have gone to the spy museum that day, but, you know how it goes when you talk logically to a teen…

So she moped.

Later that day she used the dreaded B word.  She told me she was bored. (There are words that we never say in my house, I’ll probably blog about that now that it’s come to mind, and bored is one of those words)

I stormed into her room of a thousand and one objects and I looked for something to occupy her mind.  I pulled out her Nintendo DS which had probably not seen the light of day in awhile, and handed it to her.  She looked at me as I plugged it in to charge and handed it to her, along with her pink box of games.  She was skeptical as she opened the case and browsed titles she hadn’t thought about in awhile.  And out came Cooking Mama.

Now, parents don’t often say this, but thank goodness for video games.  This was the exact break my kid needed.  It reminded her of being a kid.  It got her brain working in different ways.  It made her laugh.  It tool her out of her funk.

She came out later laughing, telling is that she didn’t know how the game developers expected an eight year old to figure out the “Kit: An American Girl Game”.  She had to google stuff.  I didn’t care.  I was thankful to the developers.  They made my teenager laugh and be happy.

So what’s the moral of the story.  I don’t know.  Just remind your teenagers that nothing is the end of the world, it’s OK to mope, and life has its ups and downs.


Girl Talk

I’ve noticed a common theme in blogs recently- Moms upset that their teenage daughters are pulling away from them.  I guess it’s the season: it’s the second half of the school year, kids are getting closer to the next grade, the next school, the next milestone.  Moving up and moving on is right in the crosshairs…Mom’s are in the rearview mirror, waving and running towards the car, tears in their eyes….

What happened to my baby?  The words to “Sunrise, Sunset” purr through the mind.  When did I lose my daughter?

Well, to be fair, you started to lose your child pretty much after they were born.  From the moment they breathe air and the umbilical cord is cut, your daughter is striving for independence.  (This goes for non biological kids too, the umbilical cord is metaphorical)

I know this firsthand.  I have a daughter who is 16, and a Junior in High School.  She will be leaving the nest in August 2019, possibly forever. (It better be forever.  There is an elliptical trainer that is going to look great in that room)

I’m not a therapist, nor do I have any training in this area.  I’m just going to throw some common sense and logic out at you.

Everyone wants to forge their own identity.  Everyone wants to do things their way.

Is this bad?

No.  Of course not.  Your goal as a parent is to make your child into a fully functioning adult.

Your goal is to make sure they can survive on their own.

Your goal is to make sure they see the opportunities that lie before them, and to go for what they want.  A little bit of Carpe Diem.

Though as a parent, I get the whole thought, “Can’t you Carpe  that Diem tomorrow?  Can’t you just sit with me and be my baby just one more day?”

But ask yourself- am I being fair to my daughter?  Is this the best path for her?

Here’s the anecdote- I know you were sitting with baited breath, waiting to hear what actually happens in my house…

A few years ago, I would look at the weekend calendar and automatically include my daughter in the plans.  As of 9th grade- well, her being around just wasn’t an option anymore.  I had to say to her- “What’s on your agenda?”  I would ask, “can you fit in family/Mommy time?”  (I will also add that I have a strict 3 family meals per week rule- but this is actually more for my husband, and this has been a rule forever.  No one crosses me on this)

I would ask her.  I did not assume, nor force her to spend time with me on the weekends.  You can disagree with me- everyone has their own rules for how their household is run. But I felt that she was old enough to learn/know how to manage her own time.  I know how much homework she has.  I know how many activities she juggles, and how much time she devotes to these.

I’m OK with her figuring out her path.

I know she still loves me, even if we don’t have an activity planned.

But, I have found (and this is me- I can’t vouch for it working anywhere else) that my daughter tries to find a little bit of time for me.

She has been very crazed lately- burning the candle on three ends.  Last week I said to her “I feel like we’re ships passing in the night and I miss you.  Can we play this weekend?”

I asked.  I told her the truth about how I felt.  Her response?

“Sure Mommy.  We can get lunch after my SAT class on Sunday.”

Which we did.  I found a little French café that has this amazing hot chocolate selection, and yummy crepes.  The décor was porcelain tea cups and wrought iron tables, the display case showcasing opera cakes and lemon meringue tarts.  The air smelled like chocolate- did I forget to mention it’s also a chocolate shop?  I knew we had an hour- I wanted to make sure the event was special- because I can’t take for granted the time I get to spend with her.

I don’t have a great relationship with my Mom.  I am trying to forge a different path with my Daughter.  I saw the mistakes my Mother made, and I’m trying not to make the same ones with my kid.  It’s a very fine line, trying to have a nice relationship with your adult daughter.  Right now, I’m still the parent- I need to speak to her as a parent.  But, I’m also learning to speak to my daughter as a woman and as an almost adult. (FYI- this is where my Mother made her biggest mistake- she has still not learned to talk to me, not at me- but that’s a whole series of blogs)

So Moms- accept that your daughters are growing up and away from you.  Figure out how to make the new dynamic work for you.  Figure out how to maintain a positive relationship with you child, who isn’t really a child anymore.

Your daughter loves you.

They just need to find themselves and stand on their own.



Highly Selective

My daughter wants to apply to “Highly Selective” colleges.  For my purposes, I will define those as schools that accept less than 20% of the applicants that apply.  They are four year universities that have instant name recognition, and can be found on lists of top schools in America.  They are schools that some will be impressed when they hear that you attended, while others will think you are pretentious.   Getting accepted at one of these colleges is my daughters goal.

Now to get into these schools, you need, at minimum, the following:

  1. high grades- daughter has high GPA
  2. leadership- she’s a captain or holds a leadership role in at least 3 activities
  3. community service- double her schools requirement
  4. awards and honors- yup- those too
  5. high SAT/ACT scores- OK here is the problem…..if you want to call it that

My kid is not a great standardized test taker.  Now- this point could be debated.  97% of the kids in the country would like to have her PSAT score.  I didn’t score that high on my SAT, back in the day (though we can’t compare- I was a lousy student).  But it’s a brave new world now.  A world where it’s 1500 + or bust.

So what do kids do now, to get those 1500 or better numbers?  Well, first off, if you think a kid grabs two#2 pencils and races in the room to take a test- you are mistaken.  Kids read test books.  Kids take prep classes.  Kids get tutors who specialize in how to take the test- they don’t teach algebra or English.  They specifically tell you how to look for clues in the question to help you determine what the right answer is.  I spoke to one of these type of tutors the other day.

Good times.

Now, my kid is a high achiever.  She studies a lot.  She invests much time and energy into her extracurricular activities. I don’t think she has slept since 3rd grade.  You get a picture of my kid?  Now imagine that the tutor basically told me that my kid doesn’t work hard enough, and does not do the right things.

First off- he chastised me for having her prep so late for the test.  She’s taking the test in March and then in August.  He actually said that she is behind and that she will never catch up.  Ok- how much do you think I liked this guy at this point?

Then, he told me that she should cut out all extracurricular that she has no chance of getting a scholarship in.  What.  The. *%^&.  My daughter LOVES her extra choices.  She loves law team, tech crew, tennis and school paper.  Like, these are often the high point of her day.  Give them up, so she can prep for a test, because they don’t “mean anything”?  How about – they fulfill her.  They give her something to dream about.  They engage her mind and body in things other than academia? As her Mom- these things are important.

Then he told me she should apply to at least 20 schools, including the top 12.  First off- applying to 10 schools is hard enough (10 is the number her school suggests)  Secondly- she doesn’t want to go to a brand name school just because it’s a brand name school.  She only wants to apply to 3 or 4 top 25 schools- the ones she really likes and knows would be a good fit for her.  I don’t get applying to schools just to say you went to a top school.  In my mind there is a difference.

He then told me we should hire someone to “work on” her essay with her.  Now he said “work on” but what he means is write the essays for her.  Now- what do you think I thought of that?

My kid is a humanities girl.  Her school limits the amount of AP courses you are allowed to take, so she did a hard target and is only taking humanities AP this year, and then next year- meaning no AP science or math.  He said she should take the science/math AP’s instead next year, because they look better.  My kid does really well in science and math, but she doesn’t like them enough to take the more advanced classes.  I agree with her.

He said some other things that I didn’t like, but at that point I had stopped listening.  My mind was made up about halfway through the conversation.  I did not want this guy anywhere near my daughter.  We had philosophical differences.


He was a good prep coach.  And my daughter needs a prep coach.

So I politely got off the phone, promising him that my daughter would consider his online workshop that he runs on Saturdays, 7-9 pm.  (OK- for the record- my daughter is often studying on a Saturday night- but sometimes she is actually having fun.  I know this guy doesn’t approve of fun- so we won’t even go there)

After I digested the conversation and told my husband that the guy was a lunatic (my Husband had gotten the number from a co-worker) I went to talk to my daughter.  At the end of the day, it was her decision.

Remember what I said yesterday about bias?  How it’s almost impossible for someone to relay a story without tipping the scales in their own favor?  How do you think this tutor sounded when I talked to my daughter about him?

My daughter agreed that this wasn’t the right tutor for her.  We would try someone our neighbor used.


I’m good at making decisions.  I weigh out all the options, the pros and cons, and I come to a conclusion.  My gut is telling me this guy is the wrong tutor.  Fine.  But what if the gist of what he is saying is right?  What if she does need to spend a billion hours to move her scores up to 1500?

This is where I hate parenting.  I feel that my daughter already spends too much time studying, but I balance it out with the fact that she has activities that she loves, and a great group of friends.  I think she is as well rounded as someone of her personality type will ever be.


I also know how much she wants to go to some of these elite schools


I know that even with a 1500, her chance of getting into these schools is still really slim

See- I’m going back and forth.  I don’t think his tutoring method is right for her, but maybe I don’t know everything.  (I know, I know- of course I know everything….)

Did I manipulate the facts when I spoke to her so that she wouldn’t want to work with this guy?

Will this be a decision I regret, down the line?

Parenting sucks……


Just Because You Can

My daughter has a vanity in her room.  The physical kind, a table with  a mirror, where you sit and primp yourself.  She had a vanity stool, but alas, it broke so we needed to replace it.  Enter assemble it yourself furniture.

She thoroughly exhausted the BBB website and found one that met her standards and was reasonably priced and qualified for free shipping.  Score!  Ordered and received.

Now we just had to put it together.

My daughter and I opened the box.  That took about thirty minutes.  I beleive opening packaging is a true test of character.  You want to know who someone really is- give them a package to open.  Once we got in, we realized the chair was a fairly simple thing- I believe there were 7 pieces and 1000 screws.  The screws were where we started to have issues.

First off- they wanted me to use an actual Philips head screw driver for some of the things.  There was the little L shaped Allen wrench, but also, Required: Philips Head Screw Driver.  What?  They want me to get an actual tool?  Like, actual work?

“Attach post c to post b using screw 2.”  OK  I ask my daughter to hand me required pieces.

First thing I realized:  I’m not that strong anymore.  I was having trouble actually screwing the pieces together.  Time for the electric drill.  Which of course has no charge.  My daughter looked very bored.

Two hours later, charged drill in hand, I taught my daughter how to use the drill.  Now using a drill on cheap furniture is a tricky matter- you have to be gentle.  You have to drill just enough so you can take over and manually screw it in.  I showed her how to angle it, the amount of pressure to use, etc.  After not too much sweat and tears, we did it.

After we finished, she asked the question “Who taught you how to do this?  Who taught you how to use the drill?”

To which I replied “I taught myself.  I can’t build much, but I know the basics.”

“When I get older, I’m going to pay someone to do this stuff.” she said

I started banging my head against the newly assembled vanity seat.

“You can’t always pay for someone to do stuff for you.” I finally said.

“Why not?  You have the handyman do stuff for you.” she countered.

She had me there.  I had recently paid the handyman to put up a new coat rack because i knew how much weight the rack would need to hold and I felt more confident with him doing it.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting expert advice, or paying for someone to do something for you.  But, there is also nothing wrong with having some basic skills.  Isn’t it nice to know that you can do something if you wanted to?” I said.

“But isn’t it better to know some things really well, like be an expert, and not worry about other stuff?” she asked.

Now she was giving me the “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality.  What do I say?  Part of me is thinking I’ve raised an over privileged child who has no practical knowledge, and part of me is excited because I can see her future career as a lawyer coming to fruition.

OK.  I needed some sort of Momlogic.  What do I say?  Is she right?  What’s the lesson and who is teaching it?

“Here’s the deal.” I said.  “You should be an expert on certain things.  Like, whatever you’re passionate about, and your career.  Clearly, spend your time and mental energy on these things.  But, there is nothing wrong with a smattering of knowledge.  There is nothing wrong with having basic survival skills under your belt, like sewing a button, making a meal, putting furniture together.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s good to know some of these things, to be able to do something yourself.  It makes you feel good about yourself.  It gives you confidence in your innate abilities.  It makes you know you can survive anything.”

Ok- I know I was stretching it.  Personally even though I can sew a button, cook a meal and use a screwdriver there is no way I’m surviving on a deserted island Gilligan’s Island style.  I could not make a phone out of a coconut.  Would she buy it?

“I don’t think I feel any more confident in my abilities now that you’ve showed me how to use a drill.” she said.

I hate parenting.

I showed her the stool.  “Look at this.”  I said.  “A few hours ago this was a bunch of pieces and screws.  Now is a usable item.  You can sit on this and it won’t break.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you did that?  That you can put together something useful?  That you had the ability to read the instructions, figure out what needed to be done, and do it?  You accomplished something.  Can everyone say that?  You know your Father would have thrown this down the garbage chute by now.”  His frustration level is very very low.  Putting new batteries in the TV remote could send him into a tizzy.  “You Father could not have put this together.  Doesn’t it make you feel just a little bit good that you could?”

She looked at the vanity.  Her mouth curled into the shape it gets when she’s about to be snarky.

“Yeah.  I guess that’s true.  I did do it.  And you’re right- and besides Grandpa (my father) no one else in our family could.”


“But this doesn’t mean I want to spend weekends building things.” she added.

“Fine.” I said.  Do you really think that’s something I wanted to do, spend weekends building furniture?  “And now you have an idea how to use a drill.  And this is about the fifth thing you’ve helped me build.  So be proud.”

She picked up the vanity chair and brought it to her bedroom.  As she walked away she quietly said “Can you make me hot chocolate?  You do it so much better than I do.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

That’s What I Like About You

My blog friend G Sandwich wrote a great post the other day about writing.  Sometimes as a journalist she (and every other journalist in the known world) would need to file copy, so they would “milk” an already written article – basically rewrite the story using mainly the same facts.  The other option is to write a “follow-up”.  This is where the majority of the new story is actually new, but just brings up different viewpoints or more info.  Here’s hoping that todays post is a follow-up and not a milk.

Last week I wrote about saying I Love you unconditionally.   My blogging friend Deep As Thought commented that sometimes she would like important people in her life to say, not necessarily I love you (though I think everyone wants that) but “I like you because ….”  That got me thinking.

Growing up, my Mother was very critical.  In 3rd grade, I remember getting a 95 on a test.  I was proud of myself.  I went home and told my Mom.  her response: “Well, if you’d studied harder you would have had a 100.” ( No- my Mother was not nominated for parent of the year that year, or any year since.)  These words from my Mother never got less harsh as time passed, but guess what, my grades got worse.  I stopped studying and doing homework.  How I managed to escape High School with an average somewhere in the B range is a testament to being somehow smart enough to get through a test. What I lacked in actual book knowledge I made up for in an uncanny ability to figure out multiple choice questions.  In my teenage mind, my Mother was not going to appreciate anything I did, so why should I try? No- I hadn’t yet learned the art of doing things for myself.  Again, my Mom was so controlling, I didn’t think having my own thoughts and actions was possible. She did not like who I was. Thanks Mom.

My Mothers words and actions continued to dominate my thoughts and actions.  This lasted for way too long.  I had a long line of mistakes and missteps that can be directly attributed to my weird relationship with her.  Because at the root of everything, my Mother did not like me.  She did not like what I did.  She had comments about my weight, choice in friends, what I wore, what I read, how I spent my free time.  There was little in my life she did not criticize.  As a child and a teenager and young adult, even as a real adult, it did not feel great to think that my Mother didn’t like me.  It sort of zaps your confidence.  Well, not sort of.  It  totally zaps your confidence.  And if you don’t feel confident, then you really can’t succeed at anything,  you really can’t ever be happy.  You walk around with a feeling of not being worthy of anything.  This is not a great path to be on.  It is a dizzying downward spiral.  It is a spiral that is hard to recover from.

All because my Mother never said “I like….”

We all want to be liked, especially by our parents.  Shouldn’t the assumption be that a parent likes their child?  As a Mother, I know I want my daughter to feel loved, liked and appreciated every day.  I make sure I praise her about the things she does well at, give constructive criticism if the situation warrants it, thank her when she does something nice, and tell her I love her.  (Don’t worry- I screw up a lot too- I’m sure one day she will write a blog and tell you all the horrible things I did…)  But I really try.

So here’s your homework assignment.  Really think about why you like all the people in your life.  Think about their positive attributes that draw you to them.  Tell them.  Tell the people in your life why you like them.

Here’s my list:

  1. I like it when my husband takes out dog out for the 10pm walk, because if I’m home I like to be in my pajamas by then.  He knows this is important to me, which is why he does it.
  2. I like it that my daughter comes home and takes care of school work right away.  This makes my life so easy.  I have never had the dreaded homework fight.
  3. I like my best friend S because she is a vault.  I can tell her anything and she will not even share it with her husband.  Everyone needs a friend like that.
  4. I like my friend G because she will always tell you the truth.  Sometimes I need the reality.
  5. I like my friend M because she is completely realistic.  She knows that sometimes life has to be ugly, and she will guide me through the cold hard facts.
  6. I like my friend A because she is truly the funniest, most sarcastic person I;ve ever met.  No matter what the situation, she finds the humor, no matter how dark.  I need this type of person in my life.
  7. I like my friend SF because he is willing to argue with me.  We differ on certain subjects, and he’s never afraid to engage, even though he’s always wrong.
  8. I like my friend M2 because she loves culture.  I need a friend I can go to a museum, concert or whatever with because those experiences are fun to share

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

Tell someone you like them.  It really means a lot.  They will like it.