Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs on Parenting

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Steve Jobs lately but in a weird way. I can’t stop thinking about what kind of Dad he was. In one of the many articles I read about Jobs last week he said he had agreed to contribute to his forthcoming biography because he had been away from his family so much he wanted to them to understand why and know more about him as a person. I found this touching. And sad. He sounds like a lot of the working moms I know. Except that we haven’t been changing the world while we’re at work.

Jobs’s quote has got me thinking about what kind of image I’ll leave behind. What do my kids think about me? They have told me—more than once—that I don’t laugh or smile very much. I realize this is true, but only at home. I laugh all the times with my friends and colleagues. I think I’m thought of as kind of funny outside the house. Why am I such a drill sergeant, focused on getting homework done and vegetable eaten, when I’m with my family? (This question, while interesting, is too big to be addressed here and will be thought about and written about in a future blog.)

My husband has a game he plays with the kids at night. It’s basically a wrestling tickle-fest on our bed; the kids call it “silly something.” If I had a game with the kids it would be called “serious something” and probably involve checklists and bribes.

If I died tomorrow would my kids remember me as a humorless, negotiator of TV minutes and clean(er) rooms? Probably to some degree. What do they actually know about me? They know I was dumped by my two best friends the summer between 4th and 5th grade but that it turned out OK because I met a nice new girl who moved in down the street. They know that I can and will keep a secret (even from their dad if they ask me to). They know I believe in God but probably not all the stories in the Bible. They know I’m a good swimmer. They know I love them all equally but in different ways “kind of like how you like pizza and ice cream at the same time.” They know that most of what I do when I’m away from them,whether it’s work or a run, is important to me.

The good news is I’m not going to die tomorrow so I have time to work on “project smiling and laughing more at home.” I want my kids to know the lighter side of me; this is important to me. I’m glad I have the chance to “tweak” myself. Yet another way—albeit a tiny, tiny way—Steve Jobs changed the world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

young whippersnappers (for lack of a better phrase)

Today I got my but kicked by some 26-year-olds. There is no other way to describe it. Sitting in a meeting, these “girls” talked circles around me, dazzled the group with their smart design and walked away in hot pants and red stillettos. (Honestly one wearing this and she looked incredible.)

For the past year an a half, since I was laid off from my Creative Director job, I've been struggling to find my place in the digital world and get out of print design. It’s not easy, in fact it’s f---ing hard, way harder than I'd ever imagined. I thought it was all about technology. Well, yeah, it is. But it’s also about thinking in layers upon layers, movement, video, SEO, tktk. I'm smart, I thought I could pick it up. Maybe. But my brain is not wired like a 26-year-old’s. Baby I was born this way. Unfortunately, that was when phones had cords and copy machines smelled like blueprints.

Yes, I have “experience” that these young workers don”t. But how much is it really worth in the new digital world? I’ve found out over the past couple months that what I know isn’t that applicable to web design. This is pretty much a fact.

It”s humbling being flattened by someone so young (and gorgeous). I can’t belittle their talent—these girls are phenomenally talented and fast—in fact it’s hard not to be in awe. At times like this I have to remind myself that I was this girl at one time. The wunderkind 25-year-old winning Gold awards for design and writing a feature story for the Washington Post. I'm sure the older women in my department felt intimidated by me. In fact, I can remember sensing it at the time.

What comes around goes around. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes tonight (well those stilettos were pretty hot—but on her). I have a date with a 5-year-old and we're watching the “Aristocats.” Beat that, whippersnapper.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

princesses drink wine

I haven’t had time to post lately but this was too good to just leave on the fridge. Frances brought the above drawing home from preschool yesterday. It’s title: “Two princesses riding skateboards and drinking wine” I kind of get the princesses and the skateboard but where on earth did she get the wine idea? (ha ha)

Friday, April 8, 2011

the terrible 10s

Oy. I had a huge fight with my daughter this morning. Scary and sad. She’s only ten and I never expected to have these kinds of rows at this early age. Maybe at 13 or 16, but 10?

What set her off was my asking her to take fruit for her mid-morning snack. Yep. That’s all. She went off about how many rules I have, and how I never let her do what she wants (meaning watch TV during the week, get a cell phone, walk home from school by herself, take chips for snack). This is true. I’m probably a pretty strict parents as Manhattan parents go. But then again, the teachers ask that the kids don’t take chips for snack.

I was on the verge of tears most of the day. I don’t recognize my little girl lately: she’s grown 3 inches recently and her boobs are, well, boobs. And she says things like “I hate this family. I wish I wasn’t a part of it!”

So I’m not so clueless to think that our fight was about fruit. I know it wasn’t. It was so inane that it reminded me of the tantrums she used to have when she was 2 and I wouldn’t let her get out of a stroller on a crowded street. Or have ice cream before dinner. Or buy her a toy in Rite Aid. We’re having the same battles now. the terrible 2s have become the terrible 10s.

The way I saw it, the 2s were all about wanting to do things that she was not ready for or wasn’t allowed to. She wanted to roll down a car window but wasn’t strong enough. She wanted to stay up late. She wanted to let go of my hand crossing the street. “I DO!” “I DO!”

In many ways the 10s are the same. What she wants and what’s good for her are not always the same. She thinks she’s grown up but she’s still my baby. Is she ready to walk home from school on her own? Will she do her homework if we let her watch GLEE on Tuesdays? Does she need a phone? Can she make healthy food choices at least some of the time? Yes and no. She’s probably capable of walking home from school safely. but who is she hanging out with before she does? GLEE on Tuesday will morph into American Idol on Wednesday in a heartbeat. A phone opens up a whole world to her that I can’t monitor. Is that OK? Left to her own devices she’ll eat more crap than I like, but her body will soon cry out for something fresh.

I’ll admit that I’m adding to the fire in my own way. I’m not so ready to have her out in the world (although when she gets in one of her hateful moods I’d like to leave her at the school yard). It’s a tough call sometimes: too hard on her? not tough enough?

After a heart to heart this evening here’s where my daughter and I netted out: She can walk home occasionally if we know who she is hanging out with and when she’ll be home (not more than a half hour). No phone. Period. No TV on weekdays. If she eats eats 3 fruits or vegetables a day she can decide when and what. If she wants to eat two mangoes for breakfast I’ll keep my mouth shut.
We’ll see how it goes.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

the silver purse

A Marshall's department store landed in my neighborhood recently. I’m not sure when it opened but about 6 months ago I stumbled upon it and checked it out. I needed a black purse and couldn’t afford full-price so I happily went through the racks. As oftenhappens in those type of stores—Loehmann’s, TJMaxx, Daffy’s—I found the perfect purse but it wasn’t black. Or practical. Or cheap. It was fabulous. Silver. Versace. I fell in love.

OK, those of you who know me are saying Versace? Believe me it was beautiful, not too flashy and looked so good on. It was also $400 and (again) SILVER. I tried to rationalize the purchase and I just could not. It was too big a stretch. I don’t go places I need a silver purse anymore. Sadly, I put it back.

I’ve thought about that purse a lot over the past 6 months. I still want it. Every time I went to Marshall’s I’d look for it—Maybe it’s still there and marked down!—but it was gone. Some lucky chick with more money and a different life is walking around with it. It was kind of a relief to not see it, not have to make the decision not to buy it again. But every time I went back I looked for it just to make sure.

I never saw it again. Until yesterday. It was back. The same one. (It has a couple flaws I had tried—unsuccessfully—to use to negotiate a price reduction that first day.). It was still gorgeous and silver and the price was the same. I felt like crying.

Back when I had a “real” job and a steady paycheck I would have seen the purse and my still- burning desire for it as a sign that it was meant to be mine. Yes, the price was steep but not outrageous. After all, I would wear the purse to work and with jeans on the weekend and feel totally awesome. It would be part of my Spring/Summer look; the signature piece I bought to start the season and tie my wardrobe together. Yeah! I would feel that thrill of buying something wacky but cool. I would look forward to work the next day.

But I’m not that girl anymore. I have no where to take that purse. I would feel stupid wearing it to the playground to pick up the kids. I’d be pairing it with running shoes and 2 grocery bags not the “right” jeans and flats. I’d feel guilty for spending that kind of money when I have a ton of leftover purses that haven’t seen the light of day since I started working from home.

Will I ever be that girl anymore? The one with sparkly dress and an office? The one who wears lipstick and feels just a tiny bit smug cutting out of “family morning” at school to get to work on time. Sometimes I hope so.


Monday, February 21, 2011

home alone 5

My husband, Saint Casey, God bless him, has taken my 3 daughters to Ohio for the week. I’M HOME ALONE!!!!!

Why is it so delicious to have the house to myself? Have a couple hours? Let me count the ways:
When I leave my keys or lipstick on the counter they’re there when I come back.
When I get up in the night to pee I don’t step on a lego or a blob of jelly that fell out of a sandwich.
I can hear myself think.
No homework.
No teasing.
I don’t care if we have milk.
I know where the remote is.
I can eat out of the pan.
No one kicks me because I’m snoring.
I can read until I get bored.
I can get bored.
I don’t have to say “No.”
I don’t have to share.
Did I mention sleep?

My kids always ask me if I get lonely or miss them when they’re away. I lie. I say “of course!” The answer is “not really.” Am I a bad mom? I don’t think so but I also don’t care. Honestly. Whatever. I LOVE my week. I need it.

I love it because it is only a week.

The funny thing is I’m so boring when I’m alone. When I fantasize about having time alone my fantasy self does projects. Cleans out the closets. Gets drunk and stays out late with friends. My real home alone self is a slob, sleeps until 10:30, reads Norwegian mystery novels, doesn’t drink much at all (who needs a cocktail when you’re already in heaven?!), doesn’t even leave the house until the Stay’s Pita Chips run out. Left to my own devices I’m completely pathetic (and ecstatic, for the time being).

Who would I be without my husband and kids? Oh dear. I freaking couch potato with wierd knowledge of crime in Oslo but no idea who Lady Gaga is. A woman who hasn’t been projectile vomited on and therefor is under the illusion that she’s in control of her life. A woman who thinks having her keys in the same place she left them is really important. I know better. Any 4-year-old can tell you where your keys are (after all she hid them). She’ll also tell you that you’re “prettyful” and that your dress is “fabriolous”which in itself is worth more than a decent nights sleep.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

groundhog year

I know it’s not officially Groundhog Day but in the Bill Murray movie sense isn’t practicallyeveryday GH day when you’re a parent?

As I was trudging up the stairs looking for some missing clothing item for 16th time this morning I was stunned at what a catastrophe our home is. Clothes everywhere. Popcorn on the floor. Boardgames, paper, crayons, dishes. Didn’t I just pick everything up yesterday? There was not one trace of evidence that I had done anything yesterday. For that matter there was no evidence that I had even existed. What did I do all day?

There are subtle differences between yesterday and today. I made 4 unique breakfasts this morning instead of 3. Frances needed a cheeriosmilkandsugar chaser after her “porridge” (cream of wheat). The dishes left over from dinner last night were actually grosser than usual—the chicken had burned in the pan, the gravy was congealed and dried. No one—i.e. me—had soaked the greasy pans. I have a food hangover from stress induced late-night eating. Awesome.

If I had sat on my ass all day yesterday what would today look like? All the picking-up I did has been eradicated. Most of the food I made is gone and all I have to show for it is dishes. I still haven’t paid the bills or responded to all the emails I don’t want to. I went to the store but forgot eggs so I have to go again. I just found out a pitch I worked on and sent out yesterday has gone to someone else. If I could do yesterday over maybe I should just stay in bed?

There has to be a bright side to this. OK, yesterday was a wash (as many days are). It hasn’t been a Groundhog Year has it? Has it? Oh shit. It kinda has.

If you saw a friggin’ photograph of my house last February 10th it would look exactly the same. A mess. A year ago I was starting my little business. It’s still a little business. My kids are still OK, not rock stars but fine. My friend H’s cancer is still around. And so is he.

I guess that’s basically the point. We are still here. I’ve actually started a viable business. My kids are in school not stealing necklaces or flubbing the national anthem. H is helping me pitch a big website job.

The dishes are in the sink and I am not going to wash them until tomorrow.