Create your mission

Maria came home from Brownies a few months ago and asked us to consider our family values. She had been tasked with creating a family tree full of branches outlining our family values – what we believe is most important to our family.

We discussed it over dinner blurting out different thoughts: “we take care of each other” (dad); “we respect each other” (me); “we love each other” (Mario); “we listen to each other’s words” (Ri).  Ri decided that “we listen to each other’s words” was our most important value because it encompassed all of the other values: when you listen, you take care of each other, respect each other, and love each other.  Wise beyond her years.

I thought of this time together as I read the New York TImes article about creating your family mission. The article outlined a study which found that the more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. Children’s emotional health and happiness increased when they knew more of their family history.

A-ha!  Jon and I had finally found a study that confirmed we did something right (I remember going back to work after RI’s birth and reading studies about moms who worked outside of the home being prone to hyperactive and obnoxious kids and bawling my eyes out).  There isn’t a day that goes by that Maria and Mario aren’t begging us to tell them a story about their childhood, our childhood, our parents’ childhood.  They love the story of Jon taking forever to walk home because he had to stare at all the trees or me crying my eyes out because I missed the Brady Bunch.  They love hearing how Peepaw used to make furniture and Grandpa Ionno used to write stories and Grandma Lolo used to pump Ri’s legs to get her to poop and Grandma Ionno used to rock Mario to sleep and Grandma Meg used to read wise books to Ri.

The study also recommended that parents convey a sense of history by passing down traditions – the hokier the family’s tradition, the more likely it will be passed down.  Oh, we got that covered, too.  We have hokey, we have normal, we have in-between.  We check our stockings on St. Nick’s Day, we draw pictures of what we are grateful for at the end of the day, we look for candy and toys in the back yard on Easter, we head to Kings Island every year, we have a family bash on New Year’s Eve, we buy chips and pop for the ride home from Cincy.

So, I may have hyperactive and attention-deficit prone children from my 9-5 job but at least they will have self-esteem and be able to stand up for themselves.

New Years 2011 011

Three Cheers for the microwave

Jon always makes fun of my over use of the microwave. The running joke in our family is “Who is a better cook?” The kids yell “Dad!” However, if you ask “Who is better with the microwave?” they immediately yell “Mom!”

Well babe, here’s an article for ya. I am actually thinking outside of the box and down with the newest trend.

Except I didn’t read anything in the article about the beauty in using the microwave like I do – for heating frozen dinners and corn dogs?!

Stepping off the scale

I appreciate the New York Times article on the issue of women’s weight but dang, I wish this issue didn’t need such blatant attention. I wish we were at a point with women’s weight where the size of a woman’s pants did not enter anyone’s head when they met her.

I have to admit that I am guilty of this very thing at times. I don’t like the thought of someone assessing my body shape and judging me on my arms or belly but I find myself meeting another woman and thinking “she looks like she works out a lot; she’s got awesome arms; I’m glad I don’t have her boobs.” I stop myself eventually, thinking about how obnoxious I am being to both the woman and myself (stop judging my body against hers!). And when I look past the physical, I can be completely present in the conversation. Where I want to be.

I struggle with my weight, with what to eat during the day, and I often think about how much more I could get accomplished through the day if I didn’t focus on that crap. I love Lena Dunham’s quote in the article after she is asked about her jiggly belly: “No, I have not tried to lose weight. I decided I was going to have some other concerns in my life.” Amen.

Now that I have a daughter (and son, frankly), I am all that more aware of this type of behavior. I commend these actresses and authors for getting out there and showing society that there is more to them than their weight. Media is definitely a vehicle for changing thinking. I do not want Maria and Mario to spend any of their precious time worrying about their body shape – life is too short to ignore the “other concerns” in it. And those other concerns are so much more interesting.


Motherhood = Absurdity

“To write well in the mother-child arena, a person must understand that the essential condition of motherhood isn’t pleasure or wonderment or even terror — although there’s plenty of that. The essential condition is absurdity.”

I love this quote by Judith Newman of the New York Times writing about Anne Enright’s new book Making Babies.  How true of an insight.  Newman opines on why writing about children is tough: because 95% of child rearing is incredibly boring.  It’s only the 5% of pure, raw joy that keeps us going.  It’s easy to understand that 5%  as mothers but what about the 95%?  Newman questions “How did I survive spending most of 2004, the year my twin sons were 3, in front of a tank of sea lions? What got me through the years when the only way to persuade one son to brush his teeth was to hum the theme song to “The Pink Panther”?

I love her questions because she is being so real. 

How many times do I need to wrestle Mario before he gets tired out?  What gets me through playing baby with Maria every night?  Why is it that the only way to get them upstairs to change in their pjs every night is to chase them like I am a big, kid-eating monster?  How do I always fall into the trap of reading three extra books when I made it clear that I would only read one before bed?  What am I thinking when I agree to let M&M help me make chocolate chip pancakes and eggs and powdered chocolate milk (can we say “complete mess”)? 

I go back to the quote above… the essential condition of motherhood is absurdity.  I look at all of these crazy antics I engage in and all of the hoops I climb through for these munchos, and I realize, yes, it is absurd.  It is completely nuts.  Insane.  And I would never have dreamed of doing one-fourth of it when I was single and 25 years old.  But would I change a bit of it now?  Not a chance.