Revisiting Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

I am revisiting being a stay-at-home mom since the pandemic and brazenly quitting my job. I haven’t done this since 2007, and I have to say it’s interesting? Well, first off, looking for a job, particularly now, is fairly rotten. I hit up all the job sites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, in addition to going to actual websites of places I might like to work, and I have not had much success. It takes forever, and you have to enter a lot of search filters, leaving you eventually tired, exasperated and cross-eyed. Plus, I don’t even know what I want to do. I clicked on a wide array of positions, including being a Door Dash delivery person, an online social media designer, a development director, and a reporter. I freaked out that I’d get murdered with being a delivery person, so I opted out of that search.

But, then, I stumbled upon what may be my real talent and niche: Camp Counselor Philanthropist! Since school has yet to begin here in our town (first full day is October 13 #brutal), I started Camp Alex: Endless Summer. It’s essentially impossible for working parents now when kids are home all day, so I am helping them out while simultaneously entertaining my own children by having them over for camp. Win-win!

Here’s a look at Camp Alex. First, we have Puppy School, in which the dogs do math and get grades. The kids do “drop-off,” bringing the dogs upstairs with treats, and I do “pick-up.” At this time, I am versed on how well they behaved. For example, today, Poppy got an A+ and Winnie struggled with some addition and got a B+

Didn’t make Honor Roll

Around noon, we have lunchtime, which consists of whatever I can find in my fridge that they might like: edamame, french fries, grilled cheese and gummies.

Healthy!
Questionable

Next, we have play time on the trampoline and on the slide. One of their favorite games, which I created a long time ago as a disciplinary method, is “The Crab.” It’s really quite simple: find some tongs, and chase them around with the tongs biting at their ankles (gently, of course) and their knees. This is the crab! They absolutely love it, and it only costs a pair of tongs! Cheap, officious and fun. Next, we have pool time, in the baby pool, and finally quiet time with puzzles and crafts.

It’s interesting how we fall into things and unknown talents, like me being a camp counselor, during difficult times. I’m making the most of my staying at home during COVID, because I know it could be short lived. I don’t miss being in the office cubicle even one bit. The paycheck? Er, well, that’s another thing. For now, though, these kids laughing is a pretty good payoff.

My kindness rock garden

A Happy Family, or Just Make Believe?

What defines a “Happy Family?” I ask this after buying a Barbie set that was called “Happy Family,” and it was comprised of a pregnant mom, a dad and one little girl.

I have never seen a pregnant Barbie before, and I was excited to play with it. To my ultimate shock and surprise, her belly actually comes off, and a tiny baby is in it! Like, a full-grown, breach baby (head up). And, you can even turn her stomach inside out, and it’s flat again. Like, the “Happy Family” Mom loses the baby weight immediately! She is as good as new!

The Happy Family did come with some accessories, including a brush (for post-birth glamour shots on Facebook?), a pre-digital camera (imagine waiting to see the photos of the birth after developing the actual film?), and two cell phones. There was no laptop, so I don’t know how the toddler was going to go to school on Zoom, or how the Dad would surf the internet while mom was in labor.

And why are they happy this way? I’m thinking this mom’s not so happy. I mean, she can’t be! First off, she had to give birth in her underwear (see photo). Second, in the accessories, there should have been a bottle of wine and some Chinese food for post-delivery. Third, they could have added in a nanny or a wet nurse? I mean, just to take the pressure off when they get home…

The real question is: what would the “Unhappy Family” look like?

I, too, used to think that a Happy Family looked very similar to what was in this toy box: a mom, dad, and two kids. Well, now, I have the two kids, but I am divorced and their dad lives fifteen minutes away. I would say we get along well, so we can also be called a happy family. And, if you add in new spouses or children, that can be an even bigger, happy family? I don’t know! I wonder if Matel would be open to creating a new “Happy Family” comprised of two sets of parents and stepchildren? Or maybe a single mom and a sperm donor? Or a single dad, or two dads, or two moms and three kids? I know several happy “families” likes that! The list could go on, which leads me to the next point.

I am pretty sure this barbie was recalled, and we found like the last one, an aberration, in Marshall’s yesterday. I bet others took issue with the idea of a Happy Family being depicted as such.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!

(My) School is in Session! And, Home Ec Returns!

I have officially taken matters into my own hands, and I began homeschooling today. I needed some sort of routine, not only for myself but also for my children. Here was the situation: I was on the couch with coffee, thinking of maybe turning on Bravo to waste away the early morning hours while the kids were asleep, and, lo and behold, they were awake! And again on their iPads.

I started to feel pangs of guilt and was torn between Million Dollar Listing and being a good parent. It was a tough one… Ha! But, I am proud to say, I yelled up the stairs, “Kids! Get dressed! Brush your teeth! We are having school today!”

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Breakfast is served (Dannon smoothie), and pencils are sharpened!

They were confused. “Wait, what?” That’s right, peops. Make the bed, pull your act together, and we are done with this lackadaisical, sedentary, gluttonous behavior (I was sort of talking to myself). I had them each pick out a chapter book. She picked Junie b. Jones, and he picked out something about sharks and walruses, one of those “Who Would Win?” books. You know who is winning today? ME! I kicked it into high gear, created some math worksheets, and I taught her about carrying over and subtraction. (Oh, and I had to use my fingers to count once. That’s kind of embarrassing? Shhh).

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She even got dressed in a glitter headband. I think she was excited!

We did reading, wrote an essay (okay, a few sentences about the problem in the book and the solution), math, and then…get this: I had them do laundry! That’s right. This school brought back Home Economics. Remember that? That’s kind of old-school. Well, it SHOULD be mandatory curriculum, because my children are seriously lacking in the folding laundry department, and I could use some little elves to help around here.

Remember when our parents had kids just to do chores? I feel like I was born with an apron and a dusting mitt on. (Sorry, mom. No, you did a good job, but I mean so did I…with cleaning).

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Cursory folding job. Grade: B-

It’s only 11:00, though, and they are done with school. Next up: recess outside. I guess this is a half-day. Contact me if you’d like to sign up for my school. There will be an (A) cohort and a (B) cohort, scattered drop-offs, mercurial schedules, lots of emails, and no remote learning. Mmmkay? Oh, and have them dressed ready to do chores!

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Retirement Ain’t Just for the Birds!

Since I retired a few weeks ago, life as an unmarried housewife has been, well, delightful! For starters, I have a savage tan. It brings me back to the days I used to pump gas as a dock master (er, “master” might be a stretch) and wear my royal blue Body Glove bathing suit on the beach without one drop of sunscreen in the 80s all day. My freckles speak to that, and I think I might even be growing some more. Punky Brewster is back! The wan and sallow glow I had in summers’ past from my overhead cubicle light is now gone. I’m more Baywatch than Dilbert–well, minus the you knows on Pam Anderson.

Okay, so what else has changed? Oh, I realized I have no clothes. I used to get dressed for work in the morning and put on my Mary Tyler Moore knee length Talbot’s skirt (super hot), a blouse, pearls, and some flats. Now, that look doesn’t quite jam when flagging down the ice cream truck on the beach or buying beach chairs and umbrellas at Christmas Tree Shop.

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Before Retirement

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After Retirement

Speaking of jam…I really might try to bring back Jams. Remember those? Those like flowered longer shorts from 1986 that look more like a man’s Panama Jack bathing suit than something any eighth grade girl would EVER wear now (well, yes, because they actually COVERED me, unlike the midriffs and short-shorts girls wear now). Jams? Might not be so hot on Tic Tock. And it’s all about the likes. Am I right? I could try to bust into a midriff now, but probs not the best idea when picking up the kids from camp. Wait, did I say pick up the kids from camp? Bwahah! What camp? No such thing! It’s back to Up my Grill camp here at Al’s, just like the good old days when the kids were toddlers, and they stayed in their pajamas till noon (okay, more like four), and I was the entertainment.

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Jams

 

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Dinner outfit=Same as breakfast outfit.

 

Okay, so what else has happened in retirement, besides the obvious attrition of my bank account, and not just from Roblox purchases? Well, I’ve enjoyed the crap out of my days. And the days go a heck of a lot faster when I’m not sniffing white out. Wait, what? I never did that. But, it’s been so nice spending time with my family and friends. I’ve also taken up gardening and am sewing a lot. Ha! Kidding. Come on now. Have we met? I still enjoy a cocktail at 3 and pretending I’m in St. Barth’s drinking rose while sitting on my backyard swing set. It’s almost the same thing, especially when I call the dogs in French.

So! So far, so good! I think I might ride this out a bit longer. Retirement is not for the birds. It might just be for me!

 

 

Dear Parents, The yard doesn’t cut it anymore

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“I don’t want to invite anyone to come over to play in our backyard,” my daughter said.
“Why not?” I asked, ready to lob out the invite.
“Because it’s boring,” she said. “We have nothing to do here. I’d rather go somewhere else.”
This hurt.
Of course, she’s referring to the fact that we don’t have a pool or a large trampoline (in fact, we do have a smaller one, and we even have a cool swing set!). But, nowadays, unless you have all the gadgets, gizmos and a virtual Disneyland resort, your backyard is, well, a snooze fest. Dull, dismal and…boring.

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Now I know this is a thing with this new generation, and I’m getting in my old lady whicker rocker now and sipping on an Arnold Palmer when I say this, but remember the days of yore when we had like a tree and some acorns to play with in the backyard? Maybe just a crappy sandbox, too?

Well, I do.

I recall playing with imaginary friends, or making a “house” over the vent above our basement with rocks and grass. The neighbors would come, and we’d play kick the can till the sun went down, or we’d make forts with dirt and mud.

There was no zip line, no pool, no hot tub, nothing. Sometimes, my neighbor would have her parents’ camper out back, and we’d move into that for the weekend, tape recording ourselves doing interviews in different voices on an old-school tape recorder. We’d eat rolls of Now & Laters and Jolly Ranchers, play Mad Libs, or MASH. We’d trade stickers or play Chinese jump rope, share the one barbie doll we had between us, creating different hairstyles.

Now, I have 50 barbies and a barbie camper for my child. And an iPad, two dogs, bikes, and a swing set. But it’s boring here? I’m not sure how to keep up. Last year, we were able to join the pool. Now, we have to stay home to be safe.

“Want to run through the sprinkler?!” I ask, thinking this might be a solution. Her look says it all. This, too, is boring and “cold.”

So, we can tell them not to be spoiled, to appreciate what they have, or the “When I was young, I played with acorns,” stories, but it doesn’t seem to resonate. For now, I wonder, what I can BUY to make my yard more “fun?” This is just sad.

You can’t buy an imagination or a sense of wonder. 

Do you think our kids will look back when they’re older and say, “Remember that time I got Robucks, and we sat next to each other on our iPads buying Adopt Me pets or Fortnite skins?”

I don’t know. They might.

But, for now, I’ll sit in my boring backyard and wait to see!