These are the Children in a Small Town

spuddies“Do you know everyone?” the girl asks. I shrug. “Close enough,” is the answer, as I turn to the next child on line to buy candy from the AYSO soccer concession stand.

“What would you like?” I ask, tacking on that child’s name too.

Names matter.

Remember how special it felt as a kid when an adult knew you by yours? You puffed up with pride, feeling like a grown up or a celebrity (nearly the same thing when you’re too young to drive). You felt, if just for a moment, like you mattered. [Read more…]

The Best Parenting Advice You’ll Ever Get

parenting-adviceIt’s been two hours, and we haven’t heard a single noise from the top of the stairs. A few years ago I would have been panicked. Quiet from the other room could only mean one thing: disaster.

Quiet was rare then.

Noise was a constant.

How I longed for the opposite, longed for the nights when she would disappear into her room and not come out 37 times during the evening hours with requests for a glass of water, to pee because she’d just drank an entire glass of water, a blanket because she was cold, a blanket that wasn’t quite so heavy because she was hot, a glass of water because she was thirsty, to pee because she’d just drank another glass of water …

If I could just have some peace, I wished. Just a little bit. One night a week, even.

Now there’s peace in our house. Too much peace. [Read more…]

So My Girl Shoots a Pink (Toy) Gun — So What?

crossbowWhen the (toy) gun arrived in my house, I didn’t know what to say to my daughter. It was white, pink, baby blue, and purple, but still, it was a gun. Some folks would tell you little girls don’t play with guns because they’re girls. They’re supposed to be prepping for their future in the kitchen or some such.

I’ve never told my daughter she can’t play with guns. We are country folk, and we’ve been talking about the difference between toys guns and real ones since she could walk and — God forbid — stumble on the real thing in a playmate’s house. Safety first … for girls and boys.

But when the box arrived from Nerf Rebelle — one of those perks of being a blogger — I didn’t want to color the kid’s opinions.

Moms, what I’m about to say might upset a few of you. See, I don’t believe in “girl toys” and “boy toys.” I’m happy to see my daughter playing with trucks and your sons playing with dolls, and the sooner the world accepts that kids are better being raised with open minds, the better.

But I’ve seen something alarming of late. Ever since my little girl came barreling into this world, ready to climb trees clad in a dress, the notion that girls should have more options has slowly become a push away from so-called “girl” things and toward stereotypical “boy” things. Girls whose mom made them dress up as Darth Vader for Halloween = a step toward equality. Girls who decided on their own to dress up as Cinderella = oppressive.


Me too. [Read more…]

If Motherhood Is the ‘Toughest Job’ You’re Doing It Wrong

upside downBy now you’ve probably seen the viral video of folks interviewing for the “toughest job in America.” Spoiler alert: it’s a stunt put together by an advertising agency meant to sell cards for Mother’s Day. Yes, they duped real people into interviewing for a job that doesn’t exist just to make a point about how we should all appreciate our mothers more.

As a mother, I suppose I should appreciate the sentiment. But I’m having a hard time seeing this video as anything more than a cheesy publicity stunt that — when you get down to it — is more than a little insulting to us all. It’s insulting to people who don’t have moms or who don’t have good moms. It’s insulting to dads. It’s insulting to the poor folks who got dressed that morning and thought they were interviewing for an actual job that they probably need (I haven’t read anything yet about these being paid actors — if they are, fine … if not, my complaint stands).

And it’s insulting to those folks who get up every day and go to real jobs where the work is hard and the pay pisspoor.

Am I saying motherhood isn’t tough? No way. Absolutely not.

Being a mom is one of the hardest things I do on a daily basis. But it’s not my job. [Read more…]

Not. Another. Snow Day!!

Girl in snow

By now, we should all know better than to complain about another storm. So it’s cold and they’re predicting snow? It’s January in the northeast. Get used to it.

So I won’t complain about the cold. Or the snow.

I won’t even voice my displeasure with the black ice.

But folks, I am going to come right out and say it. The snow days. For the love of all that is good in this world and the sanity of parents near and far, they CAN’T continue. [Read more…]

The Moment I Learned to Just Accept My Age

Never going to grow up

I’m not old. When I make that first step down the stairs in the morning, and my foot protests by cramping up, I certainly feel it. But according to the latest life expectancy statistics for Americans — it’s 78.64 if you’re wondering — I’m not.

I put this out there as a disclaimer because if you have a chance to chat up my 8-year-old, she will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that her mother is ancient.

In the past two weeks I have been accused of wearing “granny pants” (no, this is not too much information about my underthings … she’s 8 and thought baggy sweatpants qualify). I have been referred to as “old woman.” And, in case the aforementioned were not clear enough, she flat out, to my face, announced, “You are old.”

I thought I’d get around it when I asked, “But what does that make your Dad?”

She didn’t even blink before responding, “Old …. er!”

Well, at least he and I are in this thing together.

I’ll admit this whole being old thing is confusing. I’m too used to the opposite.

I was the child who skipped a grade in high school, making me the youngest in my class throughout school. I was always “the kid.”

I married young too, and though we’d been married for nearly five years when we decided to have a baby, the growing number of moms waiting until their 30s — or later — to have their kids has often left me feeling like the odd mom out.

Even my young face, which I’m coming to appreciate more and more, has made for some uncomfortable moments over the years as I’ve been pre-judged as a teenager doing adult things when in reality I was a grown up just being, well, a grown up!

Suffice it to say, I’ve always yearned to be older, if only to fit in.

Yearned to be older, that is, until lately.
Because now, I am. 

Good thing the husband is old …. er.

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Summer Reading Giveaway: John Grisham’s Theodore Boone

John Grisham Theodore Boone The Activist

Summer vacation has just started in my neck of the woods, and already I’ve had to walk into the living room and hit the power button on the TV (which, by the way, is not nearly as satisfy in these touch-screen days). My daughter is a self-described “super reader” who will stay up until the wee hours to finish a good book, but the lure to do something a little more brainless is always there.

I never thought I’d have to “work” at getting her into the habit of summer reading, but it seems after a school year of saving her reading time for bed, she’s not USED to reading during the day.

So what’s a mom to do? I’m bribing her. With books, of course. She got a new pile for her birthday a few weeks ago, along with a brand new bookcase, and I dove into the attic where I’ve saved the books that I’ve long collected for her to “grow into.”

Have a reader who hasn’t really gotten into it? How about a new book?

The folks at Penguin have offered one Inside Out Motherhood reader a copy of the newest edition in John Grisham’s Theodore Boone series!
The Activist follows 13-year-old Theodore, son of two lawyers with his own taste for the law, in another courtroom adventure that puts a whole new spin on crime for the kids who love Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (wait, kids still read those, right?). Although it’s presented to kids as a regular adventure with a kid crime solver, hidden inside is an education on heavy issues from eminent domain to political machines.

Kids can join the Theodore Boone Fan Club online to dive a little deeper into the intrigue (and have their appetites whetted for more reading).

Want a copy to put in your reader’s hands?

You know what to do:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This Is What Happens When You Dive In & Take Risks

Warning: I’m about to date myself.

It’s hard not to wander back in time while sitting in the audience of a graduation ceremony.

You remember the precarious perch of the mortarboard on your head. The sweat beading beneath the gown. That mix of excitement and anxiety singular to life-changing events.

I realized on Saturday, as I sat listening to the Livingston Manor Central School graduation speakers, that the last time I was in their shoes, they weren’t even in school. They’d yet to load up their backpacks with pencils and clamber aboard a bus for the first trip to kindergarten.

In the years since, so much has changed.

[Read more…]

Disney Vault System Gets a Major Upgrade

I have a love/hate relationship with the Disney Vault system. When the company flew me out to Los Angeles earlier this year for an event for Oz the Great and Powerful, I put in my plea to have them get rid of it entirely. They won’t … but they are beginning to slowly but surely put out combo packs of DVD plus Blu-Ray and digital copy, so technology won’t have left you far behind before they next see fit to let beloved classics out of the vault.

Even better is something I noticed with the newly released Lilo & Stitch and Emperor’s New Groove combo packs.

Rather than making you fill up your shelves with multiple DVD boxes, Disney is finally putting series all in one box.

So Lilo & Stitch isn’t just the 2002 story of a little Hawiian girl and her alien buddy but also the second movie put out about the best friends, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch.

The same goes for Emperor’s New Groove, which has been packaged with Kronk’s New Groove.

Good for shelf space. Good for your wallet. And good for sharing memories of movies gone by with the kids of today.

Because as frustrating as the whole “wait for a new upgraded version” of the Disney classics can be, when I sat down to watch the newest combo packs, I couldn’t help reflecting on the way Disney magic works on me as a parent rather than a child. These films were fun once, but now watching my child watch them they’re fun in yet another way.

I marvel at what makes her laugh, wonder at what makes her scared, smile at what makes her get up and dance.

What do you think of the Disney Vault system? Have you checked out their latest re-releases?

Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

Disclaimer: I received review copies of the films mentioned in this piece to facilitate my review. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions are expressly my own. 

You CAN Tell the Smoker at the Park to Butt Out

All parks need these

Oh warm weather, how I’ve missed you!

Late nights in the backyard catching fireflies. Waking up to fresh air blowing through windows. Baseball on the TV.

And, of course, playdates at the playground with the kid.

Which brings me to something I haven’t missed.

The people smoking at the playground full of kids.

Every year it happens, and this year’s no different.

Wednesday night it was a mother, with an infant in his little car seat perched on the ground beside her, puff, puff, puffing away while my kid, my friends’ kids, and I’m assuming her kid played.

I wanted to say something. 

I was a coward.

And as I drove myself home, I got angrier and angrier — not at her but at me.

Why didn’t I say something? Why didn’t I stick up for my kid? For her kid?

I could give two figs if people smoke in the privacy of their own homes or even their own cars (provided there are no kids trapped inside the cancer mobile). This is not the rant of an American trying to take away your God-given right to give yourself lung cancer.

It’s the rant of a mother who knows that our kids have enough hurdles awaiting them on the path of growing up healthy.

Every time you turn on the news there’s another recall, another report of a funky chemical showing up in kiddie products. BPA in bottles. Formaldehyde in pajamas. Hormone-interrupters in their tear-free shampoo.

And those are just the things we know about. The evils lurking ’round the bend keep parents up at night.
We don’t need more stress. We don’t need careless people knowingly putting our kids at further risk.

This is the problem with smoking at a park, folks: you aren’t just making the decision to puff on that cigarette for you. You’re making the decision to spread both second and thirdhand (yes, it’s real — look it up) with everyone else.

And at parks, particularly, “everyone else” tends to be made up primarily of people under 4 feet tall, people who have a fighting chance of not ending up with lungs like yours, people who can’t really tell you to shove it.
Which leaves their parents to do it for them.

I’m sorry I didn’t say anything the other night, sorry even though I imagine it would have gotten me the stink eye, sorry even though I know I would have ticked off a stranger. I owed it to my kid to do it, and I failed.
I won’t next time.

I’ll be that mom at the park with the look of righteous indignation on her face, the hands on her hips.

Will you join me?

Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

Image courtesy of Jennifer Price