While my daughter was at soccer practice, (my off night for carpooling) I was in charge of “babysitting” her imaginary family. Yes, the standing sister is a vintage doll my parents conveniently discovered at a garage sale a while ago. I helped my daughter give her a makeover Friday night. Her look was a little too Betty Boop meets Mrs. Cunningham. (Amazing what an elastic band can do.) I keep wanting to call her Pat Benatar, but she has no clue who that is and she’s already annoyed by the fact that I use the word “hip” so frequently. The big sister is apparently 10 years old, my daughter says, but not quite old enough to babysit. Try folding five loads of laundry and fixing dinner while keeping four dolls from being trampled by a hyper active two-and-a-half-year-old Golden Retriever. They can’t exactly help me set the table or put clothes away, but I have to say, they’re refreshingly quiet.
When my daughter comes home from school, the first thing out of her mouth is, “Mom, did you feed the baby?” I smile and nod. “I remembered, honey.”
Before taking a shower, she fills the sink with water and gives the baby a bath. And I blow-dry her damp cloth bottom and dress her in a clean paper towel diaper. Yes, the “baby” I’m referring to is a doll. Which makes my daughter a Baby Doll Mama. And me? A 41-year-old Baby Doll Grandma. It’s been a lot of fun, and I can’t stop smiling as I take in every last drop of my youngest child’s sweet imagination.
She likes to include the family in her baby doll world too. Even our Golden Retriever has learned to respect the baby (by playing nice and not chewing on it). I have to say, she has a pretty amazing system. She does homework while the baby sits in a mini playpen. She goes on play dates and practices while the baby naps. I “take care of her” (a-hem) during the day. On a typical week night, you’ll hear her ask, “Dad, can you please wrap the baby in a tortilla blanket again?”
“Mom, can you please read her a story?”
“Mom, can you please watch the baby while I go to the bathroom?”
It’s all I can do to not tear up because it’s so precious.
But I can’t lie, I do have my days. Maybe I can’t hold her when I’m cooking dinner? Or heading out? And when we’re in a hurry, don’t worry about getting HER ready! Just get dressed for crying out loud! The other day, when I picked up my daughter from school, she found the baby in the back seat, as hot as Austin in August. “Mommy, did you leave baby in the car?”
“No, she was just running errands with me honey,” I fib, frantically wiping my saliva on her plastic face to cool her down.
Don’t even get me started on the two American Girl dolls that are the baby’s big sisters.
Are your kids picky? As a kid, when dinner was served, I finished everything on my plate. No questions asked. There was no, “I don’t like this, can I have something else?”. Those were the days when you waited a year to watch a movie on TV (or else you weren’t watching that movie for another year). After playing outside for five hours, there was no room to complain. Not about Sloppy Joes or cooked spinach. I poured salt on that green glob and prayed that I’d be as strong as Popeye the next day. My kids are picky eaters. Good sleepers. Well-behaved. And they are so quick witted. But they are picky about what they eat. I could fill a phone book with the reasons why I feel guilty about this, stemming back to the first spicy fish taco that I consumed during my pregnancy.
So, anyhoo, during a recent family trip, we decide to grab lunch at a small bar inside our hotel that claimed to offer lunch selections. (If you count maraschino cherries as an appetizer.) We were seated and glanced down the menu. We passed on the oysters and calamari and decide on the sliders. Yes, the mini-burger sliders. Unfortunately, these cute, tiny burgers were grilled with 40 kinds of spices, an imported cheese that smells like feet and some green-colored unmentionables. Trying to get my daughter to eat one slender patty is what I like to refer to as the Hennessey version of Fear Factor. We sat there for nearly an hour, waiting for her to stop complaining. She started taking bites, but it would be another week before we could get this child to finish her meal. I thought she was going to barf right there on the table. But she did it. Not puke. I mean, she ate her lunch. Well, most of it. OK, half of it. Maybe she didn’t finish it and I freaked out and let her have some chips so she wouldn’t feel weak or make a scene. In my eyes, she did it. In my maternal eyes, she was trapped in a glass box filled with snakes and never screamed once.
Seriously. If you had asked me this simple question 12 years ago, I’d be calling friends from the office trying to figure out where to meet in downtown Seattle. Either Smokey Pesos or Tini Bigs. Those were the days. But I love being a mom. And my husband and I may not be partying every weekend, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy sneaking away for a fun date every once in a while. There’s no crime in getting a sitter at 4:30 p.m. and getting home in time to see your kids before they go to bed, right? 😉
Are you a natural at decorating? When it comes to interior design, the women in my family have a knack for making something from TJ Maxx look like it’s imported from the south of France. Or they spend weeks sewing drapes that look like they were flown in by a Hollywood designer. You may need to take a seat for this one: My maternal relatives still CHANGE their drapes with the seasons. Who has the patience for this? God bless them. (I hope my daughter gets some of their genes.) I, on the other hand, inherited my dear paternal grandmother’s instincts when it comes to décor. Let’s just say I like to play on the safe side. I buy my own drapes. And they stay hanging ALL YEAR LONG. My couch is the color of crap for a reason (something that I go into further in my book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker). I’m not into big trends, silk flowers or anything too mix-and-matchy, which for the record, is exactly what the designers recommend. If you were to describe my style? Post-college dorm meets eclectic desperation. I adore my friends and family, but I tend to invite them over when it’s too dark to see the dog hair on my rug and my staid décor in the bright sunlight. About six years ago, I painted everything known to man in my house white because I wanted it to be cottagey looking to go with the rest of my house. Jackie’s version of Design on a Dime if you will. Through the years, that cottagey look, along with the fresh paint, has faded RIDONKULOUSLY. I’ve been calling it shabby chic for so long, and although it was never really shabby chic, I’m too stubborn and practical to admit that I need some decorator love. I have a tendency to take a while to embrace trends. (I think I learned a lesson growing up in the suburbs of Texas with puke green colored carpets and appliances. Things do go out of style over the years.) Or I’ll go overboard. Carson, from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, if you ever come to Rhode Island, please make my house (and me) your next project! I would love for you to tear me away from my bad designer habits.
And by the way, I totally miss this show, which went off the air years ago. But I have been happily watching repeats lately thanks to Netflix (when everyone is out of the house and I need some mommy sanity). http://www.tv.com/shows/queer-eye/ Miss you guys!