Mamapedia National Voices
Mamapedia City Voices highlights the inside scoop on your city by selected writers, from up-and-coming mom bloggers to well-known mom experts.
by Jaclyn of "Mommy Ennui"
Photo by: Shutterstock
When my husband and I had been married for a few years, I went through a period of being conflicted over whether I wanted kids or not. I once said to him, “What if I decide I don’t want to have kids?” to which he lovingly replied, “I would leave More
I’m feeling a little wistful this year because I fear that it may be the last Christmas that we have a true believer in our family. Our youngest child is eight and in the third grade, the same age and grade I was when More
Our first child was born two weeks before Christmas and for the last 15 years, the belief in Santa, reindeers and the North Pole have (once again) been a regular part of the season.
I’m feeling a little wistful this year because I fear that it may be the last Christmas that we have a true believer in our family. Our youngest child is eight and in the third grade, the same age and grade I was when I found out there was no such thing as Santa.
Or as I remember it, the day I took my first step into adulthood.
Growing up holidays were a huge deal in my family, and none was as big as Christmas.
Right after Thanksgiving, my mom would paint a Christmas scene on our front door, start baking fruit cakes, dozens of cookies, and plan her wonderful gingerbread houses. There was a joy that entered our house, and it stayed until New Year’s Day.
My parents loved the mystery and fantasy of the season. They really turned the day into a magical celebration, and Santa Claus was a huge part of their plans.
My two sisters and I saw him every year.
In the flesh.
In our own home.
At around 2:00 am or 3:00 am Christmas Day, Santa Claus would come in to set up the tree and bring our presents. He would stay just long enough to wish us a Merry Christmas, and then he would run out the door to continue his work.
Why were we so lucky to get to see Santa each year when our cousins and our friends did not?
Well my maiden name starts with a B, and as everyone knows Santa delivers his presents in alphabetical order. It was just a good piece of luck that we had a name in the beginning of the alphabet. Our best friends and cousins had to suffer with surnames starting with Hs, Ms, or Zs.
My parents would put us to bed by 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve. We would have to will ourselves to fall asleep. The anticipation was almost too much.
The ornaments would be left out so Santa could trim the tree for us. We didn’t see our Christmas tree decorated until after Santa came.
With much fanfare and excitement, my mother would wake us up in the middle of the night. She would tell us to listen for the sounds of Santa’s reindeer’s on our roof.
(It wouldn’t be until years later that I found out it was my dad throwing pebbles on the roof. These people were not fooling around.)
I still remember the rush of adrenaline I got as we walked down the stairs, clinging nervously to my mother. We were in the presence of a celebrity. And not just any celebrity, this was, The Man himself. It wasn’t just the Christmas elf helping out at the local mall.
How lucky could a girl from Long Island get?
Santa would hand my sisters and me a present and tell us how good we had been the whole year. Then he was off. The whole visit lasted about five minutes.
As we were opening up our gifts, my dad, who always managed to miss Santa, would come back from the store having had to buy ice at 2:00 in the morning. We would tell him all about our visit and would unwrap the rest of our gifts when it was still pitch dark outside.
I could never understand why my dad always forgot to get ice each year. Did the man never learn?
When I was in the third grade, my friends started to say something that was just outrageous. According to some of these so-called friends, there was no such thing as Santa Claus. They had the crazy idea that our parents were the ones who really bought the gifts.
Poor misguided souls. If they only had names in the beginning of the alphabet.
One day I’d had enough of these naysayers and decided to ask my mother, the person I knew would tell me the truth, why these poor children would doubt the existence of Santa Claus.
As I remember it, it was a few weeks before Christmas, and I was alone in the car with my mother.
“Mom I really want to know, is there such a thing as Santa Claus?
“You want the truth Kathy?”
I should add that I was 99.9% sure she was going to say yes. How could it not be true? I saw him every year.
“Well, there is a Santa, but he is the spirit of Christmas.” Then she went on to explain that the man in the red suit who rode in a sleigh with eight reindeer was just a fun story.
I was devastated. This was not the answer I was expecting. It was the beginning of the end of my childhood innocence.
I found out the truth. Daddy was Santa. He really did not go out to buy ice in the middle of the night, he was getting out of his costume.
What was the world coming to? What was she going to say next that there was no Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny either?
We both cried in the car. It was the beginning of the end for her too. Her oldest child was growing up.
That Christmas was different for me. It ushered in a new phase in my life. I remember I got to stay up a bit later and trim the tree with my older cousins who were already in the non-believers’ club.
As much as I loved the mystery of Santa, I also loved that I was growing up. I felt as if I was in a secret club, different from my sisters.
Our family traditions started to change after that year. The next Christmas we put up our tree as a family, and when my youngest sister finally admitted that she knew the truth, we even started taking turns dressing up as Santa. Christmas was still special but different.
Peter is my baby, and when he crosses over to the land of the non-believers that will be it for Santa and my family until my kids have families of their own.
Just as it was a step into adulthood as a kid, it will be a step into a new phase of my parenthood.
Is it wrong that all want for Christmas is one more year with Santa?
Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher’s possessed. She is honored to have essays in two anthologies, Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, and The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain and Power of Female Friendship. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
When my husband and I had been married for a few years, I went through a period of being conflicted over whether I wanted kids or not. I once said to him, “What if I decide I don’t want to have kids?” to which he lovingly replied, “I would leave you.” (I have witnesses.)
Clearly, he suffered no such ambiguity. I think it’s notable to consider who ended up stepping away from HER career once we did procreate. (Can I get an, “Amen, sister”?)
Anyway, during this time, I searched for a book that would help me weigh the pros and cons of having children, but I came up empty handed. The opinions of my friends with children weren’t helpful because, much like a foreign terrorist group, part of a parent’s job is to recruit others to the cause.
As I am nothing but helpful and don’t take orders well, I have decided to break with protocol and give you a real, constructive way of determining whether parenthood is right for you.
- The exact scheduling of your sex life
- The quantity and quality of your husband’s/donor’s sperm
- The evils of formula feeding
- The evils of breastfeeding
- The evils of starting a child on solid food before the age of 6
- Whether or not you will circumcise a potential child who may or may not have a penis
- Mucus plugs
- The diameter of your cervix
- Rock hard porn boobs (I’m guessing your partner will give that one a thumb’s up)
- Cracked nipples
- Heartburn that makes Flaming Hot Cheetos seem mild
- Leaking milk in public
- Catching vomit with your bare hands
- Having poop in the crevices of your wedding rings
- Add dark circles under your eyes
- Add wild eyebrows, hairy armpits and an unruly bush
- Delete manicure and pedicure
- Take your perky B cups and replace them with one of the following:
1) droopy A cups that look like deflated balloons, or
2) enormous D cups that require major structural underpinnings and make all your tops fit like that half-shirt you wore in 10th grade
- Add stretch marks (this one’s optional, but you don’t get to choose)
- Add one muffin top
- Have sex
- Poop in private
- Sleep 5 or more hours in a row
- Eat a hot meal
- Be on time for anything, ever
- Have an uninterrupted conversation
- Put your makeup on anywhere but in a moving vehicle
- Add approximately 5,000 garishly colored plastic objects
- Add a film of filth to every wall measuring from the ground up to approximately 3 feet high
- See that handy guest room? Remove guests and add a bunk bed
- Throw all your clothes on the floor
- Gather all the objects that are irreplaceable and smash half of them
- Replace that Diptyque candle with the scent of a teen boy’s feet after marinating in sweaty sneakers all day
“Mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mom, mommy, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mom, moooooooommyyyy!!! Now, how do you feel?
- Have your intelligence insulted on every subject?
- Be the cause of constant embarrassment?
- Be viewed as nothing more than a chauffeur, chef, ATM?
- Receive late night calls from the police?
- Listen to the same Taylor Swift CD over and over and over again?
- Age 20 years in the next 5?
If all of the foregoing sounds like a fun adventure to you and your partner… congratulations! You are now ready for some super hot, rigorously scheduled sex.
If not, then run! Run for your life! That is until your hormones take you hostage and send a ransom note demanding a soft, pink, sweet-smelling, little ball of love who will steal your heart and trash everything else in its wake.
Jaclyn Schoknecht is a former Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and producer who got all hormonal, had two kids and reemerged from the fog only to find herself a conflicted forty-something Atlanta stay-at-home mom. She is currently on a quest to claw her way back up the corporate ladder… or at least learn to bake a decent loaf of bread. You can read more at Mommy Ennui.
A few weeks after Grace was born in 2008, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. And now, five years later, I’m still dealing with its effects.
I no longer have a baby, but I’m still dealing with the aftermath of an illness that I thought I would have kicked to the curb by now, set out with the trash alongside Gracie’s stained onesies and chewed-up teethers.
But here I am, still battling it.
Soon I have an appointment with a psychiatrist. He’s supposed to be The Best, the guy who can put all the puzzle pieces together and figure out a solution that will help me feel like me again.
I have so much hope for this appointment. I want him to give me the magical weapon that will end this fight, with me as the victor. I want to hear, If you put together x, y, and z, you will feel better. You will feel like you. You will win.
Because I’m just so tired of fighting.
Now before you get worried, I’m not suicidal or anything like that. I like being here. And though depression is still haunting me, I’m still a big fan of life and living and all that good stuff.
It’s more that I’m in the grips of Depression’s bastard brother: Tired. And it is really doing a number on me.
You see, when you’re treading water because you’re fighting off Depression and Tired joins in, you’re just plain outnumbered. Tired plants its heavy foot upon your head and pushes you down. And you’re just too damn worn out to fight off Tired because you’ve been battling Depression for so long.
Your meds are probably working enough to keep Depression from pulling you way under. But with Tired in the picture, you’re bobbing just under the surface of feeling alive. And you find yourself in this weird place of not drowning in Depression, but feeling pretty crummy – and being Tired enough not to have an ounce of energy to do anything about it.
To-dos pile up. Deadlines pass. Pants get too tight. You get a little stressed and then shrug. Meh. Whatever.
People who don’t understand depression don’t get why people struggling with it can’t just TRY to do something different. Make a change, they say. Just do it, they say, as if a inspirational sneaker slogan can fix everything.
I want to explain about Tired and how it keeps me from doing things I know could help me. But anyone who hasn’t dealt with depression just can’t understand. Because it doesn’t make sense. It sounds like a lazy excuse.
So I don’t try to explain anymore. I nod in agreement with the helpful advice givers. Of course I can get my butt out of bed early three times a week to work out. And not eat my kids’ candy. And go to bed earlier. Because anyone can get fit and feel better if they just want it enough.
And then I go back to apathetically staring at my to-do list and getting nothing done.
That’s why I have so much riding on this doctor appointment. I need him to find the right meds for me. Meds that will banish both Tired and Depression, and give me back the energy I need to care again.
To want to tackle my to-do list. To want to write those blog posts that are in my head. And yes, to want to exercise and lose weight.
I want to once again feel the thrill of accomplishment. The desire to inspire others. The joy of goofing around with my kids.
I want to remember what it’s like to be energized and alive and not constantly beaten down and… Tired.
I want to feel like me again. Because five years is a long time to feel like someone else.
JD Bailey is an author, blogger, and the creator of HonestMom.com, where she writes about raising her young daughters, being a working mom, and managing her depression. With real candor and a good dose of humor, JD blogs to connect with other moms and create a space for women to both vent and laugh. When she’s not writing or mom-ing, you can find JD on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+.
It’s official. We’ve entered the holidays – the most beautiful time of year. And it really is SO Beautiful. The white snow, the twinkling lights, sledding and hot cocoa and rosy cheeks and the wonderment of children on Christmas Eve and the magic of Santa Clause… The season of “Merry and Bright”. And Beauty, and more…
Yet, behind the merriment of it all – here we are, Parents, trying to “make a dollar outta 15 cents” like Shock G n’ 2Pac. Trying to somehow create the explosion of presents under our trees that our children so dearly want. Trying to figure out how we’ll pull this together while we struggle to pay our rising utility bills…You feel me?
I feel you.
You Got This. You’ll find a way, and you will create memory-worthy holidays. Because You – Parent – are a Hustler.
You’re no stranger to the game. I see you selling your goods to “Once Upon A Child” and slangin’ at the Mom2Mom sales – deciding which bill gets paid, and which ones wait – running carpools and clipping coupons and transferring debts to 0%.
The holidays just up the ante in the game of Life you’re already playing in – and you, Hustler, come from a long line of hustlers before you.
My great-grandmother used to save onion peels all year long. Come Easter, she would “dye” eggs with the saved peels. It wasn’t a “back to the land” movement she was following. It was all she had. But you can believe she wasn’t about to let her children go without dyeing eggs during the season.
Christmas didn’t simply “go away” as a favor to our forefamilies during the dark years of the Depression. The kids during those days hoped for goodies in their stockings and believed in Santa, too, just like ours do. Those parents – who had to wait in line for bread and milk, who had to carve out their difference between surviving or starving – had a lot less than today’s version of “broke”. Yet, they fell upon their ingenuity, utilized their strengths, their friendships. They found ways to make the holidays cozy.
Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies were born during those dark holidays. A mama by the name of Ruth Wakefield didn’t have the baker’s chocolate her “butter drop do” cookie recipe called for. She chopped up what she had left of a chocolate bar instead…the rest is some tasty history into chocolate chips and a story of a woman who made the most of what she had.
From Ruth… our fellow Hustler. Hustlin’: “To do things to get closer to the point you want to get.”
But this holiday season, don’t lose sight of what you’re actually Hustlin’ for. Presents, sure. Vacations…yeah yeah.
But your ultimate job here this season – the reason you Hustle and will continue to do so no matter what in the face of anything: We Parents protect “Merry and Bright” for our little and loves ones, even when times are anything but.
We don’t “fold” because the going is tough, and we don’t let our children see us sweat behind closed doors turning those cents into dollars. We keep their joyous spirits alive! We. Protect. Their. Joy. Teach them Beauty. Singing Christmas carols is free-as-free-can-be. Making a snowman doesn’t cost a thing. Laughing. Hugging. Loving.
But they want things. And they deserve things. And I want to give them all the things they want…
And we’ll find our way, Hustlers.
Saving our Swagbucks, nabbing our Craigslist deals and Ebay bargains, clipping our coupons, making our homemade everything, locking down our layaways. We may not be able to get everything we wanted to, but we’ll figure it out. Within our means. Working with what we’ve got. Just as the Hustlers did before us — For us.
Our children will soon forget most of the explosion under that tree, but they’ll never forget the way the holidays feel.
They’ll never understand all the beauty of the season if they only remember their parents stressed out about what they couldn’t buy.
Our true legacy as Parents during the holidays lies less in the gifts under the tree, and more in our ability to promote Joy. We Hustle to give our children the greatest gift of all — the cozy feeling of “Merry and Bright”. (Batteries not included.)
Happy Holidays, Hustlers.
Jen Wainwright is a writer, parent to three, and she’s been a stepparent for over 15 years. She discusses the great, and the not-so-great, details of parenting monthly in JEN’S ZEN on Great Lakes Bay Moms Blog.
“Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” —Brene’ Brown
“Who do you think you are?!” I said it. No, I said it REALLY LOUDLY to my son the other night when he made fun of his brother who was already upset about something. I promised myself I would not poke my kids with the shame stick (my made up reference to the destructive words that, when used, can cause a person to question their own self-worth). And yet, I spoke out of anger and frustration, and said things that I wished I wouldn’t have, because I wanted his behavior to change, to stop, and this was certainly not the first time I had asked him.
I realized, after I calmed down, that there were two main thoughts that screamed in my own head before they came out of my mouth. When I saw behavior in my son that I didn’t like, I immediately thought, “What is wrong with him that he would act like that? He should know better!” And then, I turned it inward, “What is wrong with me that I have a son who acts so insensitively to his brother? I must be doing something very wrong.”
Using that damn shame stick on both of us—a double whammy!
Since we all know that this kind of thinking will get us absolutely nowhere, it’s time to back track and look at what is real and what is completely blown out of proportion. First of all, siblings pick on siblings; can’t think of anything more normal (my sister has the goods on me for sure!). Cajoling amongst siblings certainly does not mean there is a “character flaw” in any of them. In fact, most of the time, my kids are good to one another, and I know that they all care about each other tremendously. And then to take it a step further and throw myself under the bus for how my son acts…that’s a bit of a stretch.
Last week, I looked over and saw that my older son had his arm around my daughter and was helping his little sister with her homework, without me asking. Do I take credit for that? No.
I have given my kids messages their whole lives about how important it is to be respectful to one another. I have always called out any one of my kids who is mistreating one of their siblings. They understand that it is not okay to make fun of one another or put each other down for kicks. Yet, they still do it, and probably will continue to do so for the remainder of the time that they live in my house, and maybe throughout their lives. And I will continue to point out that it is not okay.
Sibling rivalry and tension is not new. Me, losing my cool with my kids every so often, is not new either, unfortunately. What is relatively new is my awareness of how sometimes, when I have been extremely upset about one of my kid’s behaviors, I have poked them with the shame stick.
This needs to go.
“Who do you think you are” needs to be changed to, “I know who you are. I know you are a good person who cares about and loves his siblings. When you pick on one of them, it seems like you are being insensitive and unkind. This isn’t consistent with how I know you feel about them.”
At first, however, I probably will need to yell this messages. Otherwise, my kids will for sure think that I have been brainwashed by Dr. Phil.
Julie Burton is an experienced writer specializing in any and all aspects of parenting, relationships and finding balance. She is a wife and mother of four children ranging in age from 9 to 18. In addition to freelance writing and blogging, she is a yoga instructor, an active community volunteer and soon-to-be author of a tell-all book for mothers. She lives in Minnetonka, MN with her family. You can find her at unscripted mom.