Friday, April 24, 2009

Are we there yet?

I was on a road trip with my kids earlier this month, and somewhere along I-71 all heck broke loose in the backseat. You see, my kids don't like to travel light. They have to bring along coloring tools, books, Nintendo games, Ipods and DVDs for entertainment. Then they have to have pillows and blankets and a special stuffed animal for cuddling during naps. This all makes for a crowded space, and anyone can tell you that 'tween girls and crowded spaces are a recipe for sibling bickering.

The comments started about an hour into our trip.

"Get off my side." "Get your stuff away from my stuff." "It's not on your stuff!"

Mom, who's not a great driver under the best circumstances, tells them to knock it off RIGHT NOW OR WE'RE TURNING AROUND AND I MEAN IT!

But about two hours in, the throwing began.

"Here's your dumb marker!" (throws marker!) "You did that on purpose! Here's your dumb book!" (throws book.) "Ow! That hit me! Mom, she hit me!" "She threw the marker first!" "I didn't throw it hard like you threw the book." "Yes you did. I have a mark to prove it!"

Fortunately, we were approaching an exit at this point. I drove off the highway, pulled into a Wendy's parking and gave the old "I've had it lecture." I'VE HAD IT WITH THE FIHGTING. DO YOU WANT TO TURN AROUND? DO YOU WANT TO NEVER VISIT YOUR COUSINS AGAIN? BECAUSE AT THIS POINT, I'VE HAD IT WITH ROAD TRIPS. I AM NOT GOING TO DRIVE FOR THREE MORE HOURS WITH THIS SORT OF BEHAVIOR. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?

The fighting continued. I got out of the car and told them they could figure out how to get home on their own. They of course didn't believe me, but the separation calmed us down long enough for the siblings to knock it off and the Mom to gain enough composure to take on I-71 again.

So I'm just a little sympathetic to the New York mom who told her bickering kids to get out of the car. Granted, she actually drove away from them, which I don't think I'd do unless we were only about two miles blocks away from home. Still, there are times when parents reach that proverbial end of their ropes, and no knots are strong enough to hold onto.

For some reason, parents don't like to admit that we came dangerously close to losing it with our kids. Maybe we're haunted by those pre-kid declarations we used to make, where we said no kid of ours would be able to behave like those little banshees we just saw at the grocery store. Maybe we've read too many self-help books that say there's no excuse for yelling and if we'd just abide by the books, we'd be perfect parents. Maybe we're used to reading news accounts of other imperfect parents, and we're afraid someone is going to record the voices coming from our windows on Monday mornings when nobody wants to get out the door in time to catch the bus. Maybe we're surrounded by other parents that seem perfect, parents who never seem to raise their voices around kids.

Women's magazines are full of stories telling women to quit comparing themselves to skinny models and actresses who can afford personal chefs and trainers. Love the bodies we're in. Strive for health, not perfection. Maybe parents need to take this advice. Maybe we need to quit kicking ourselves for not being the perfect parents we imagined we'd be. Maybe we need to give ourselves points for the days we do manage to stop the fights before blood is drawn, and the times when our kids say, "You're a great mom" and quit focusing on those moments where we almost lost it. Strive for healthy families, not perfection.

And at the very least, share our transgressions with our friends, so we can support each other instead of trying to put up a false front that's bound to fall apart.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Roll the die(t)

I come from a long line of hardy Eastern Europeans. Hardy, yet poor, Eastern Europeans. My guess is that winters in my gene pool were pretty rough, what with no 24-hour grocery stores in 19th century Germany and Hungary. Consequently, my ancestors' bodies must have evolved to a point where our metabolism would slow down to nothing in order to survive the winter.

That's my story.

Of course, this means that every spring, I say things like, "How did I gain so much weight this winter?" I'm sure it's all because of my ancestors and has nothing to do with the awesome Christmas cookies I bake each year and the trip to the Disney World resort where you'd pay the same for a single serving of carrots as you would for a grilled cheese and fries. Plus, that whole hibernation thing doesn't help the waistline. And don't get me started on what happens to women's bodies after we turn 40. It ain't pretty.

Anyhow, every spring, I start to diet, and this spring is no different. On Sunday, the last day of spring break, I decided enough is enough. I'm going to make healthy choices, eat sweets in moderation and exercise daily. There will be a new me in a month, ready for the pool or at least a pair of shorts.

This is my week:

Monday: Start the day with 30 minutes on the treadmill. Eat one small piece of chocolate from the Easter stash in the morning. For lunch, enjoy a salad with just a few pieces of turkey and light raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Skip dinner, because the hubby is working late and the kids are happy with mac and cheese. Get on the scale Tuesday morning. 1.5 pounds gone! Victory! We're on our way. At this rate, I'll drop 10 pounds in a week.

Tuesday: Start the day with 20 minutes on the treadmill. You don't want to push this whole exercise thing too hard, after all. Eat a couple extra chocolates from the Easter stash, because yesterday you lost 1.5 pounds, you're doing great. Add a few croutons to the salad, and go ahead and enjoy some full fat dressing. Life is for the living. Hubby's home tonight, but make a nice pot of homemade spaghetti and meatballs, and enjoy a modest serving with a salad on the side. Get on the scale Wednesday morning. A half pound is gone. OK, we're making progress.

Wednesday: Blow off the treadmill. Treadmills are boring. You'll walk the dog later. Attack the Easter stash, because this darned diet has you starving. Load your salad with turkey, cheese and an extra handful of croutons. It's still salad, right. Besides, dinner is going to be a low-fat, chicken stir fry over rice. Make sure dinner is a smaller serving, to make up for the Easter stash attack. Apologize to the dog, but it's still cold and rainy and you won't be walking outside. Do the easy 20-minute treadmill walk. Step on the scale Thursday morning. No pounds lost. What gives?

Thursday: OK, today's going to be nice, so we'll definitely do a walk. Stay away from the Easter stash, save for one Reese's Egg. (We have to have our priorities.) Blow off the salad in favor of some yogurt and a banana. Take the dog for a nice walk. Make tonight's dinner burgers Steak 'n' Shake thin, and eat only half. Go to bed early because you're so hungry. Step on the scale Friday morning. Another pound gone. Yippee!

Friday: Wake up hungry. Eat extra chocolate, including the second last Reese's egg. Tell the dog you'll walk later. Eat a couple of the Easter Peeps. Apologize to yourself and stick to yogurt for lunch. Promise yourself that you'll eat a sensible dinner, because the weekend is coming and you know you're probably going to splurge.

Obviously, my diary stops here, because it's only Friday. But I can almost guess what happens this weekend: Eat. Eat some more. Tell yourself that walking to the soccer field is exercise. Tell your husband to hide the Easter stash. Find it again. Get on the scale. How'd those pounds find me again?

Blame the ancestors. It's in my genes.