Family

Maid of Honor vs. Made Of Money

Posted on August 8, 2013. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My younger sister is getting married and has asked me to be her Matron of Honor.  Although I feel privileged to be asked, I am a wife and mother of three.  Not only is money limited, but so is my time.  She’s expecting me to throw her a shower and I’m afraid I don’t have the time or funds to make it happen.  Is there anyway I can still be a part of the wedding, without hosting a shower, or should I back out altogether?

Dear Not Made of Money,

Let me guess, your sister is the baby of the family, so the fact that you have been married long enough to produce three children means she can’t even remember your wedding.  I’m also guessing whatever she did before, during and after your ceremony, your mom and dad paid for — including the push up bra needed for the super cute bridesmaid dress you picked out, am I getting warm?  Making matters worse, she probably has no idea what the cost analysis of a bridal shower is, right?

Trust me, I can feel your anxiety all the way over here!  Grab a glass of wine and let me put your mind at ease:

As a close family member of the bride, you are not actually supposed to host the shower.  You read that right, you’re not supposed to!  That’s because the guests might feel like you (family) were pressuring them to bring gifts.  Here’s a link to the goddess of all things wedding, Emily Post, who does an excellent job explaining why:

http://www.emilypost.com/weddings/new-times-new-traditions/129-who-can-host-a-shower

Now, how many of us would have lost that bet in Vegas?  I’m guessing the majority.

Take if from me, it’s good to follow ol’ Emily’s advice, otherwise things may be on a path to disaster.

My first trip down the aisle, I was given a shower by my ex-husbands immediate family members, needless to say, that union barely lasted long enough to write the thank you notes.  If EP was reading the tea leaves, based on the shower alone, she would have likely thought it was doomed before it even got started, and she would have been correct!

Honestly, it was downhill from there — trying to be agreeable, I let my ex talk me into allowing the groomsmen to each wear a different colored bow tie, so they could look like a “rainbow” (his description).  That was followed by reluctantly giving in to a rum flavored wedding cake, which I didn’t even like and everyone else complained about.  Then came the realization my ex didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer until the actual service when his lips weren’t moving!  Good gravy, I wish I was making this stuff up and wish, at times, I didn’t have a memory like an elephant — but I digress.

After my practice marriage, as I call it, came the one that counts, marriage #2 (which is #1 in my heart).  This time, following EP’s book of etiquette to a T, both of my showers were given to me by friends, no relatives of either myself or my husband, Scooter, involved.  Needless to say, the rest of the wedding went smoothly, with black-ties, a tasty vanilla cake with butter-cream frosting and a hubby that even knows the words to the doxology!  The only rainbow that day was in the sky, where it belongs.

Basically, if you stick with EP,  you can’t go wrong.

Now, with that said, if you win the lottery and hire two nannies to take care of the kids, perhaps then you could offer to help physically and financially with the shower, but remember, you are under no obligation as Maid of Honor to do so.  She needs to understand the true duties of the MOH, it’s more of an assistant versus a wallet.

As the MOH, you get to do some pretty cool stuff, like help pick out the bridesmaid dresses, which is huge, we all know what a bridezilla thinks you should wear — lavender dotted swiss with empire waists – UGH!  Also on your list: witnessing the marriage certificate, assisting your sister during the reception, etc.  All stuff you can handle AND afford!

Feel free to share my story with her of what happens when you stray from the EP path.  Basically, when you mess with the tried and true, you may end up with more than just something blue.

So do yourself and your sister a favor, avoid the rum and rainbows and grab a copy of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette.  Put a post-it on the page which explains the MOH duties, give it to your sister and happily accept the position.

 

 

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Messy Marriage

Posted on July 31, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Home, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My son has been married to a sweet gal for 7 years, although she’s nice, her mother is a different story.  Within a year of the wedding, her mom moved in.  A couple of years later, the mother-in-law took custody of one of her other grand-kids, that little girl currently lives with them as well (her parents are nowhere to be found).  They have two kids of their own and now, reluctantly, he has also taken on parenting the niece.  He doesn’t feel he ever has alone time with his children and feels obligated to include the niece.  I need to point out my son is the only one working in the house and they are financially strapped.  His wife says she can’t find a job, although she is a credentialed nurses assistant.  The mother-in-law has a bad back, but is not on disability, so I wonder about that.  I told him to kick the mom out, but that would mean the girl would have to go too.   I hate to see him struggle, what should I do?

Mom in the middle

Dear Middle Mom,

Good gravy Miss Mavey, there sure plenty of lumps in this batch!  The good news, with a little whisking, I think we can get this smoothed out.

I totally get that this situation seems incredibly overwhelming — for those in it, it must feel like there’s no way out.  Luckily, I’m sitting some distance away on another pew, which gives me the chance to see this a little differently.

I hate to sound like a preacher, but I’m a firm believer in that old saying “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”.  (For those out there who aren’t big fans of God, you can insert “universe”.)

With that said, your son is going to have to man on up!  Especially since this is a girl we’re talking about.  Girls need father figures, whether it’s their own biological one or otherwise.

Remember:  just because some dude showed up and donated a few of his genes at the right time of one month, doesn’t always guarantee he will show up with his big boy jeans on and do the right thing for the rest of that child’s life.

It’s been proven, girls with positive male figures have a greater chance of doing better in life.  They have more self-worth, score higher in certain school subjects, are most likely to excel at a sport, and list goes on.  If that doesn’t get his attention, then mention what can happen without one: teenage pregnancy, ending up in an abusive relationship, even becoming a stripper.  Not that stripping is illegal or anything, but you know what I’m saying.   I have yet to meet anyone who would proudly announce their daughter works at Cheetah’s!  Or niece for that matter!

It’s simple — it’s NOT that little girls fault, but it could be your sons, if he doesn’t handle this properly.  Right or wrong, he’s been placed in her life as much as she’s been placed in his.  Honestly, it sounds like she’s got an angel looking out for her, without your son and daughter-in-law, she could end up in a foster home, if anything were ever happened to grandma.

As for his much-needed one on one time with his own children, he needs to plan dates.  Mark off time on the calendar to spend with each separately – that could be going to the park or just getting ice cream.  It doesn’t have to be an entire day and doesn’t need to cost anything.  Side note to all of us: you can’t put a price on time well spent.  However, there’s a catch — he must also makes dates with the niece.  Whether he likes it or not, his kids are watching and taking it all in…he’s not only showing the niece she’s important, but also showing his kids what a real man is.  A real man steps up and takes responsibility.

For example, my dad died when I was in the 6th grade.  Although my mom, Norma Jean, never remarried, I was blessed with a fantastic brother-in-law who always made sure he was around when it was time to learn how to drive, who made sure I still went snow skiing, taught me how to check the air in my tires, etc., you get my point.  Although I have 2 brothers, it was my sister’s husband who stepped up to the plate.  Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize what he was doing at the time, but looking back, it’s super clear.  He never announced his actions, never said “since your dad can’t be around”, he just did them, those little things that a dad would have done, had he been there.  An important point to your son, I remember all of those nice things.

On to the mother-in-law.  I hear your frustration, but I’m not sure the best answer is to kick the mother-in-law out and it certainly isn’t what the niece needs.  He’s going have to sit his wife and her mother down with all the bills and explain he needs some financial help.   Basically, one of them needs to get a job.  It doesn’t matter which one, it just needs to happen to keep the family afloat.  This is pretty darn simple: you can’t keep rowing down the river with 6 people and only 1 oar.  Bottom line – one gets a job, the other can stay home and take care of the kids.  OR, they could both get part time jobs and split the child rearing, either way, he needs a life-preserver and fast!  If some of the financial burden is lifted off  your son, I think it will offer much smoother sailing.

I commend your son for taking on of this extended family.  Despite what we envision for our children, today, families take on many different forms.  There’s no set of rules as to what a home needs to look like.  It’s what ever you make it.  I truly believe if more families watched out for each other, our country wouldn’t be running the huge moral deficit it is right now.

Take pride in the way you raised your son, he’s clearly been putting up with more than most husbands would be willing to.  I really believe there is a special place in heaven for him, at the least there will be special place in his niece’s heart if he handles this opportunity correctly.

Ps.  While I am skeptical of most government handouts, I believe there are those who truly need financial help, and it sounds like this little girl does.  I am not well versed on this subject, but I think it’s worth a call to the local Social Security office.  Since neither the girl’s father nor mother are able to contribute, there may be some assistant available to her.

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Spit Slinging Sprout

Posted on May 2, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , |

Dear Lora,

During a party last week a 6 year old spat in my face!  Making matters worse, his parents were present and didn’t do anything about it, they just laughed it off.  This is a classmate of my sons and someone he considers a friend.  I’m appalled, what can I do?

Wet & Worried

Dear W.W.,

Slow down sister…WHAT?!?  A 6-year-old boy spat in your face while his parents were present and they did nothing?  Okay, I need a moment…

All right, I’m back with one question: is the barn he lives in a cattle barn or a horse barn?  Honestly, I was hoping you’d go on to say he was pretending to be a llama…a snake…something – anything!  I mean really, WHO let’s their kid do that?  Okay, so the boy is only 6, but come on people!

I can only imagine you were too shocked to say anything to the pint-sized saliva sprayer.  I know my first thoughts wouldn’t be clean enough to type, let alone repeat aloud.

Candidly, this is a non-starter for me, especially since I have a super low tolerance for gross conduct of any kind.  If your child is hanging out with another child who thinks it’s okay to spit on someone AND has parents who clearly see it as humorous, it’s simple: STOP IT, stop all of it!  Playdates, carpools, etc.

It’s one thing if the parents know this is an issue, acknowledge it, and are “working on it”, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.  These parents are part of what I call the “friends first” program.  They choose to completely forget they hold the most important titles in the world:  Mom and Dad.  I’m shocked by the amount of parents who spend more time trying to be cool rather than focusing on the job they signed up for, aren’t you?

Here’s the thing…spitting has never been considered cool, so I’m baffled as to why the parents would choose to laugh it off when their little sproutlet sprung a leak.  Doesn’t it make you wonder what the kid would have to do to get in trouble?  Actually, I won’t even go there.  It’s a pretty safe bet they’d likely throw in the towel if given the chance.  In this case, the least they could have done is toss it your way so you could have wiped the wet stuff off — but they didn’t!

Keep in mind, spitting on someone can be considered an assault.  The fact that his mother and father dropped the ball is a big old warning sign and yet another reminder why I think all parents need to be certified to raise a child.  Until then, I’ll remind you of one of my favorite sayings:  “You can’t reason with stupid”.

That’s why I suggest keeping that kid a safe distance away from yours.  I’m not suggesting your child be mean or ignore him, I’m just recommending their contact be left to school or organized activities, like team sports, where there are teachers and coaches around who are trained to handle this type of behavior.

Lord knows you don’t want your child to pick up any hints from this spit slinging Jessie James.  I don’t mean to imply this boy is bad, but he’s clearly not getting the guidance he needs at this point.  Until he does, less is better when it comes to your sons exposure to his buddy’s unregulated behavior.  In this case, it’s better to be safe and dry, literally and figuratively.

If your boys are in the same class at school, be sure to give the teacher a friendly heads up on the wet and wild conduct.  Not in a tattletale way, but rather an “I’m concerned” fashion.  Which is true, you are concerned, for your son and the squirt squirter.

In this case, don’t expectorate (couldn’t help myself) big things from these parents, it sounds like they could use a mom and dad themselves.

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Showered With Demands

Posted on April 11, 2012. Filed under: Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

I am the maid of honor for my sister’s wedding.  While I’m thrilled to be part of her special day, she’s treating me like dirt!  On top of that, she expects me to plan AND pay for the entire bridal shower!  She also wants to tell me who, what, when and where it’s going to be.  She keeps talking about having 50 friends meet for cocktails at a super expensive bar, where drinks can cost $15 each.  I keep telling her that’s what bachelorette parties are for, not showers, but she won’t listen. 

Showered with grief

Dear  Showered with grief,

Whoa!  Sounds like your sister may have a black eye to go with that white dress if she keeps this up!

I totally feel for you, there are few things more upsetting than feeling like you’re being taken advantage of.  Instead of being showered with kindness and gratitude, you find yourself showered with demands as the maid of honor (MOH).

In the back of your mind, you try to keep the sound track of life tuned into something positive like the old Lou Rawls song “Love is in the air, everywhere I look around…”, but the needle keeps skipping on the record and all you seem to hear is “this is so unfair, what does she keep making that hissing sound???”  Right?

We’ve all heard of the term bridezilla, but seeing one in action is like seeing Linda Blair’s head spin around in that gawd awful movie The Exorcist.  It’s upsetting and leaves you with the same gut wrenching feeling – it seems nothing short of divine intervention can stop the madness.  In fact, you’re pretty sure you’ll need to call the priest to conduct a different type of mass before the wedding, IF she makes it that far!

What makes a bride turn into a big hot mess anyway?  We could blame it on Disney for making all of those princess movies about how we’re all going to get our day in a glass carriage and marry a man who’s not only perfect, but also a Prince!  Going through the process of planning a wedding makes one realize, this isn’t an animated fairytale with talking animals after all, in fact, it actually seems more like a bad dream full of creepy clowns.

Let’s start out with her side of the story, or at least what I imagine to be her side:

The pressure on a bride is huge!  She’s usually surviving on celery sticks and watermelon in an attempt to fit into a dress she ordered 2 sizes smaller than what she really wears.  At the same time she’s trying to figure out a way to keep her future mother-in-law from going with her to Bed, Bath and Beyond to register because she doesn’t want a gnocchi maker or her grief!  On top of all that, she’s constantly worried her husband’s bachelor party, which is taking place in Vegas (as they always do) will end with him falling madly in love with a stripper named Sable, which also happened to be the make of his first car.

Now that we understand why your sister is such a flipp’n mess, let’s focus on how to handle all the “noise” as I call it.  Taking the lead from the country’s leading wedding experts, I’ve boiled their advice down to 4 main points you may want to share with her.

First, let me point out that it’s actually a major faux pas for a family member to host or pay for a shower, because is can appear the family is trying to better it’s status or being greedy by requesting more gifts.  This may be old and antiquated, but that’s the way it is.  The only time it’s okay to bend this rule is when the relative is part of the wedding party, such as yourself.  Basically, you already need to treed lightly.

Second, the MOH is allowed (if desired) to do the bulk of the planning, i.e.: location, decorations, etc.  However, the entire bridal party should help with the costs, which should be determined based on everyone’s budget.  For example, one person isn’t allowed to plan an event the others can’t afford, unless, of course, they want to foot the bill themselves.

Third, showers are considered an intimate event, with no more than 35 guests, so bridezilla’s idea of  happy hour at a bar with four dozen friends it out!

Fourth, but most importantly, the bride is NOT to weigh in.  Like her crock-pot and blender, this is a GIFT.  Tell her to consider it a surprise party where she knows the place, time and who’s coming – that’s it!

Cut her a little slack, and then cut off all communication about the shower!

Keep in mind, there’s a reason the wedding march goes: dum-dum-de-dum…that’s because, given the stress they are under, brides aren’t always the brightest crayons in the box!

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Racing To Conclusions

Posted on March 26, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My 6th grade son wants to play soccer for his school.  I want him to do track instead.  Our school recruited this amazing coach who was a US runner in the Beijing Olympics, who is super serious and teaches the technicalities of his sport and events.  While I don’t want to dictate, I think my son would benefit far more from his teachings than our more run-of-the-mill staff coaches who are catch-alls for boys soccer, girls volleyball, baseball, basketball, etc.  What should I do?

One Track Mind

Dear One Track,

My first thought was, WOW, your school landed a US Olympian?!?  That’s huge!  I wish my kids had access to someone of that caliber, you go girl!  Toss that “soccer mom” title to the side and make sure your son is on the right track!  Then, I had a second thought…

I must admit, I’m not a fan of running — at all!  In fact, the only time I run is when I’m being chased or there’s a shoe sale, so I am not the best person in the world to opine on the topic of track.  I just don’t get runners.  Honestly, when I see folks sprinting down my street, especially on cold, rainy mornings, I have this urge to stop and ask if they need a ride.

I’ve asked several of my friends who run for pleasure (if you can imagine) why they do it and they all answer the same: “because I love it”.   I believe them, otherwise, why would anyone do it?  Now a brisk walk, or even a decent stride, I can get my mind around, but running, I’m just not interested.

In my entire life, I’ve only run into one runner who admitted she’s not really a fan, but kept pounding the pavement anyway.  It’s one of our daughters buddies who joined the cross-country team, yes, the cross-country team (I won’t even drive across the country, let alone run it)!  When I asked her why she took up such a dreadful activity, she said it’s because she needed to put a sport on her college application.  CC was the only sport that didn’t require any skill, other than running, and the ability to deal with being bored for hours on end.

So unless you love it or want to use it as a tool to get into college, why would anyone on Gods green earth do it, right?  Okay, so I’m being overly dramatic, but I hope I’m making my point:  It’s hard to make someone do something they aren’t interested in.

These days I think we force kids to do things we want them to do way more than our parents did.  We take the notion that “mother knows best” to an entirely different level.   Hey, most of the time we do know what the better, in this case, track is, but not all of the time.

You’re clearly a good mom and have nothing but the best intentions for your child.  You want to make sure he has the best access to the most amazing teachers, coaches, etc.  However, trying to make your child play a sport they aren’t  jazzed about is like trying to make a cake in an Easy-Bake Oven – it’s just won’t work.  Even if you could fit the 9” pan in the small toy range, it’s impossible to really cook it with a 60 watt light bulb!

To be good at any sport, you need to be engaged, somewhat coordinated, and hope that your DNA matches up with your desired sport.

For example, let’s say you love playing basketball and that you are lucky enough to have the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson, as your coach…if you’re a 5’ 8” white guy, you’re still not making it to the NBA.

So I’m not sure an Olympic track coach can do much for a kid who wishes they were on the grass bending it like Beckham, instead of trying to chase Bruce Jenner’s records.  Sure, he may learn some fancy techniques, but if his heart isn’t in it, there’s not a lot of fun in being the most skilled 10th place runner, right?  I mean, what color is that ribbon anyway, Magenta?

Here’s the thing, at the end of the day, I just don’t believe it really matters what any of us played in school.  No one has ever called to see if I was interested in a game of volleyball, nor has anyone asked my husband, Scooter, if he’d be interested in discussing a business deal over a game of hockey.  See what I’m saying?

Here’s something else to mull over: the odds of your child becoming a professional athlete of any kind is 22,000 to 1.  In my opinion, the odds of him turning pro at something he can’t stand – zero.

Even if your child digs his sport, he still has a better chance of winning an Academy Award than they he does at making it to the cover of a Wheaties box.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be with my son on the red carpet, rather than sitting in the hot, blistering sun watching him run around a track in an outfit which looks like it was inspired by Richard Simmons.

Ask yourself, what is the end goal?  To have your son hopefully end up in the Olympics, perhaps even win a gold medal?  Or to enjoy a sport and learn the meaning of being part of a team?

Maybe it just sounds good to say your son is being instructed by a real champion, but honestly, that and 3 bucks will get you a tall latte at Starbucks.  No one cares, and if they do, you don’t want to be friends with them.

I get that being in the presence of an Olympian at the age of 12 can be considered rarefied air, but for your son, being forced to run track instead of what he’s interested in may cause him to feel like his oxygen supply has been completely cutoff.

I vote for soccer – which by they way, I can’t stand either, but I’ll save that for another column.

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Gay-O-Meter Mama

Posted on March 12, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

Last weekend, my teenage daughter had a sleepover with a friend.  At the sleepover, the other girls mother told my daughter that her boyfriend was going to dump her because he is really gay.  Imagine how shocked my daughter was to hear that!  She then asked the mom how she knew and she said it’s because she has a “Gay-o-meter”.  It’s important to note that my daughters boyfriend turned down that friends invitation to a dance before he started dating my daughter.  So, the fact that my daughters boyfriend decided not to pursue her daughter, must mean he’s gay.  I don’t know whether to say something to the mom, or just let it go.  Geez!  This mother is worse than any “stage mom”. 

Mad as a hornet mother

Dear Mad Mother,

Whoa, Nelly!  This gal certainly gives new meaning to mother’s intuition!  Doesn’t it just take you straight (no pun intended) back to high school yourself?  It’s pretty clear this poor gal hasn’t left her pom-pons and Aussie Sprunch Spray in the decade they belong!

Sister, she’s carrying so much baggage from her teenage years you almost want to ask if she’s still using a boom box to play her mixed tape, which I’m sure includes the single Careless Whisper from Wham!  Unfortunately, she’s nailed the careless part all right.

Sounds like this mom is trying to make up for her own short comings.  I’m guessing she wasn’t super popular when she was a teenager, and is clearly still struggling with that now.  Only someone starving for attention would open their mouth and make such an alarming comment.  Can you imagine how much pain it takes for a person to get to the point?  Talking badly about someone else’s child to make themselves feel better?   And to also use their own child to try to right perceived wrongs?

She’s what I classify as a hater.  Haters are everywhere and she happens to be one of them.  You know the type – they’re never happy for anyone else’s success, they believe if someone is more attractive than they are, they must be dumb and if they’re rich, they must be mean, awful people.  Dealing with a hater is hard.  In fact, it’s my policy to stay as far away from them as possible — mainly because I’m afraid the bad vibe they give off will cause them to spontaneously combust!   There’s so much negativity and jealously swirling around in them, it makes you wonder how they find time to manage their daily lives.  Clearly, as in this chicks case, she isn’t doing that very well as demonstrated by her current target: teenagers.

Since it doesn’t sound like you’re ever going to want to be friends with this gal, unless she undergoes some sort of hypnotic transformation, then I say you should have a simple conversation with her about the incident.  You have nothing to lose, but will feel better know you did something.  By the way, I’m referring to it as an incident, a police term, because to me, it’s criminal what she said to your daughter!

Despite the fact she’s given you plenty of ingredients to add to the pot she’s already stirring, I’d avoid discussing either of your girls or the boyfriend, just keep it to the most disturbing part – the gay-o-meter statement.

Keep it basic, let her know you’re trying to raise an open-minded teen and would rather not have someone discussing sexual orientation of any kind, gay, straight or otherwise.

We all know there’s no scientific proof anyone actual has a gay-o-meter so I think you’d be wasting your breath by trying to prove that one way or another, so try not to get caught up in the verbiage, but rather focus on the overall implied meaning.  That way you’re not accusing her of being a liar.  Side note: you never really want to call someone a liar, even if they are, because once you do, they shut down all listening mechanisms and the conversation/argument takes a different focus and gets off track.

The reason I suggest talking to her at all, is that I think you need to let her know this isn’t cool, not only for your daughter, but for anyone else she comes in contact with AND for the boy in question — bless his heart!  He’s done nothing to deserve this attention and I feel for him.

Whether her statement is fact or fiction, this is a form of bullying.  Making any comment (positive or otherwise) about someone’s sexuality, unless they’ve been on the cover of People magazine reveling their sex change, is not okay, it’s downright cruel.

Make sure you tell your daughter to tread lightly with this friend.  I’m not saying the friend is like her mom, but the gal certainly has imbedded herself in her daughters dating life to a disturbing degree.  If you allow her to have any contact with this other mother, keep a close eye on it.  This woman has her sights set on anyone who she perceives to be better than she is…honestly, at this point, it seems that would be pretty much anyone.

ps. Don’t expect to make serious headway with this chick, at this age she’s pretty set in her ways.  The goal here is to let her know that at least one other person has been offended by her off the cuff comments.  Might I add, Lord help her husband!

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Rugrat Resume Rhetoric

Posted on March 6, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

I can hardly believe that I’m being counseled to create a resume for my kids while they’re still in elementary and middle school!  I think I wrote my first resume my senior year in college.  Those who’ve walked in my shoes tell me that kids need to be competitive from a very early age if they’re going to get into a good high school.  My question is, what extra-curricular activities can young kids do to fill a resume?  Should I be worried my kids aren’t standout stars at school?

Ignorance was bliss

Dear Bliss-less,

Way back in the colonial period when I went to high school, all you had to do was show up.  We only had one option in my small town, so there wasn’t any discussion and certainly no resumes!  Thank the Lord, as I’m not sure what school I would have landed given my only two skills: fire baton twirling and clogging.  Can you imagine the medical releases my mom, Norma Jean, would have had to sign off on those?

So I was as surprised as you are sister when our oldest, Betsy, hit middle school and folks started talking about “resume building”!  What resume?  What building?  At that point she couldn’t even load the dishwasher without guidance, what in the world could she possibly put on a piece of paper that would make her stand out at age 11?   I quickly realized I’d have to harken back to my creative writing class days to turn her limited abilities into talents.

Betsy’s hair styling became: “has an eye for details and exhibits extreme patience on long format projects”.  At the time she had a MySpace account, which was quickly turned into: “creative director of child friendly web page”.  And my personal best — begging for the latest pair of designer jeans translated to: “has strong negotiating skills and shows promise as a litigator”.

During this ridiculous exercise, I started wondering…how many other parents are feeling the way I feel?  Is it possible I have the only child who hasn’t saved all of her allowance in order to buy pet food for the local animal shelter?  Had I missed my mark as a mother by letting my daughter blow her hard-earned cash on candy and music CD’s?

Putting my years of watching Magnum PI  to work, I started sniffing around other parents to see what “talents” they were listing for their children.  Cocktail parties offered the best bragging opportunity, where it was common to hear the following:  “my child is a concert pianist”, “my kid speaks 3 languages”, “my daughter started her own clothing line and is donating all the funds to the children of Africa”.

I think my favorite was the parent who was hanging their hat on their son’s bagpipe playing proficiency!  Talk about hot air!  Really?  You’ve been making your child play the bagpipes???  A skill that’s only utilized in our society for funerals and Scottish weddings?  Good gravy!

Had I really been that remise as a parent?  Not focusing every waking moment on some random craft that would somehow, someday get Betsy into a high school somewhere that would lead her to an ivy league college?  That’s when I decided to just be blatantly honest with the other parents about who my child was.  A novel concept these days, I know!

I remember the first time I told someone if NASA was recruiting based on MySpace pages alone, Bets would be their first call. Although I had braced for a backlash, the other parent laughed out loud and admitted they were in the same boat!  A boat that was apparently on a course to nowhere – with no life vests, just a dingy for a mom.  After all, that was what other mothers and fathers had led us to believe.

Despite their best efforts to look like their child was on course and they were at the helm of their kids ship, I quickly started learning that most parents were lying about their child’s actual GPS location.

Here’s the reality, the majority of moms and dads in this country are just like you and me.  Instead of a ship, we’re in rowboats.  Nonetheless, we are doing the best we can sailing those small vessels trying to keep our sons/daughters on track.  Why isn’t that enough?  Why is there this ridiculous pressure to make our kids row harder and grow up faster?

Once I was honest about where Betsy really was in life —  a normal  tweener, others started being candid back.  That’s when I learned, there were more parents like me than the piano playing, bagpipe blowhards that had been commanding all the attention at these get-togethers.

With that said, unfortunately, in this day and age, your child does need some type of resume, but it’s not the kind you and I have to submit for a job.  Think of it as tool, versus an actual resume on linen paper.

Here’s why: most of these high schools will ask for recommendation letters – when you ask your friends or one of your childs teachers to write one, 9 times out of 10 they will ask for a bio on your child.  This is to help them draft an informative letter, basically, the more they know about your kid, the better the letter will be.

The goal is to make your child look like they care and are an active participant at his or her school, not valedictorian…we all know, there can only be 1 of those, so don’t worry.

Schedule a meeting with either the principal or school counselor and ask them what the different schools are looking for, it’s their job to know.  Get their advice on what schools they think your child would do well at.  They can also give you some great tips on how their resume should be crafted.

Anyone who tells you your child must be a rock star or bagpiper, as the case may be, to get into high school is uninformed and unrealistic.  Keep in mind, these private high schools are a business at the end of the day and need you as much as you need them.  They need your money to keep the doors open and to keep donations from alumni coming in.  I truly believe schools are always looking for good kids, not perfect kids.

Take a deep breath, you’re child is going to be fine.  You are a parent who cares, which is truly half the battle.

Ps.  If you need financial aid, they can help you with that information as well.  Most all private schools offer some sort of scholarship to students who can’t afford tuition, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask.

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Bounced because of Nana

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My mother can be inappropriate with the information she shares with my 12 year-old son.  The subjects vary.  Sometimes it’s about sex or drugs, etc., she defends it by saying she wants him to know any subject is okay with her so he has someone to talk to about anything.  Recently he complained to her that his babysitting job didn’t pay enough, so she gave him some bad advice that got him fired.  I am furious!  While he can’t be paid “normal” wages because he’s only 12 and has limited skills, that job was teaching him commitment and a good work ethic.  Now, he has lost all of it – including what money he had earned!

Galled Over By Granny

Dear Galled Over,

There’s a reason the old saying goes: “mother knows best” instead of “grandparents know best”.  That’s because, somewhere between becoming empty nesters and becoming nana and papa, our parents morph into a different species, which we wouldn’t recognize if we time traveled back to our childhood.

Their famous “eat your veggies first” line is replaced with “would you like nuggets or a cheeseburger with your Happy Meal?”  The mandatory bedtime you remember is now considered a suggestion, which is never implemented at their house.  It’s way more important for the grand-kids to stay up late watching old reruns of The Love Boat with grandma, who, by the way, considers it as educational as the History Channel.  Which is fitting, especially since your mother now seems more like bubbly cruise director Julie, than someone who was ever a parent.  She’s running around making sure her grand-babies are having fun, playing games and planning shore excursions in the backyard!

It comes as no surprise to me that your mom overstepped what you and I would consider to be normal parental boundaries.  When you combine a grandparents need to look like a rock-star with their desire to make up for their perceived mistakes made with us, you start to see how age doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Looking hip and “in the know” is super important to a lot of grandmothers.  While it may be cool for the grand-kids, it’s a hot button for us parents!  It’s crazy to watch the one time family sheriff turn into a court jester — treating grand-babies like royalty, letting them drink pop, eat cake for breakfast and teaching them how to play gin rummy for real money!  What happen to the parents who’s favorite line was “I’ll give you something to cry about”?  It’s almost like their bodies have been taken over by aliens, right?

Since I don’t have her side of the story, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.  In most cases, the last thing any grandparent would want to do is look bad in the eyes of their grandchildren.  I’m pretty sure she thinks she gave great advice and is completely shocked it backfired.

Unfortunately, you are the one who has to deal with the aftermath.  It’s one more thing added to your thankless routine of screaming “turn the volume on TV down”, “do your homework” and “for the love of gawd, quit trying to give the dog a Mohawk!”  It’s no wonder granny and pops have our kids undivided attention, not to mention unconditional love.  It’s easy to idolize someone who never requires they eat food with nutritional value and spends a crazy amount of time teaching the values of a Vegas card game!

Here’s the thing, your mom needs to “know her audience” — in fact, that’s something all of us can work on.  Just as there is a time and place for off-color jokes you can only share with certain friends, the same is applicable with the grand-kids.  Explain there are some things you shouldn’t be discussing with the kids — YET.  You can also tell her, when they are adults, she can say whatever she wants – whether you mean that or not, it will buy you some time — right now, they’re way too impressionable to handle that kind of advice.  Build her up so she can hear your message.  Re-enforce her queen bee status with her grandchildren and remind her that with that position comes big responsibility.  Let her know you’re trying to help her hold on to that spot…I know, I know, that’s going to nearly kill you to do that, especially now, since you’re so upset, but keep in mind, this is for your kid, not you.

I’d skip harping on how bad her advice was, and how ridiculous it was that she shared that with your son, that will only put her on the defense.  Make sure you stay away from the blame game and focus on gently conveying that it’s best for her to be a cheerleader, rather than an agent.

I agree, your son was earning more than just money with that gig and I applaud your efforts for instilling a work ethic, Lord knows more kids need that these days.  I suggest you call the family he was babysitting for and explain what happened.  Like all of us, that mom has a mother too and will probably understand the situation.  Hopefully she’ll give your son another chance and perhaps a little raise!

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Bolting On A Beauty

Posted on February 13, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

One of our best friends was recently dumped by her husband of over 20  years.  They have 2 children and what seemed to be a great relationship.  And here’s the kicker – she is gorgeous!  By far, the most beautiful of our group AND a sweetheart.  Now the rest of us, who aren’t nearly as attractive, are worried our husbands may trade us in.  How worried should we be?

1st Wives Club

Dear 1st Wives,

Remember the old song: “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife…”?  It reminds me of what my husband, Scooter, has said for years “Show me a super model and I’ll show you someone, somewhere, who’s tired of sleeping with her!”  His point may be crude, but he certainly has an interesting take – not only are looks fleeting, but gorgeous woman can be a look of work!

Just because your girlfriend is a knockout, doesn’t mean she’s immune to being treated like garbage and dumped at the curb.  Look no further than 3 of the most gorgeous women in the world who were all treated like rubbish:

Christie Brinkley’s 4th husband cheated on her with an 18-year-old.  Jennifer Lopez was dumped by Ben Affleck just days before their wedding.  And how can anyone forget Sandra Bullocks ex-husband, Jesse James affair with a tattoo model?  Really people?  What were any of these men thinking?

You get the message — looks don’t equal relationship longevity.  Now, would you like it if your spouse took care of him or herself and maintained some sort of personal pride in their appearance?  Absolutely!  But if you love them, you’re not tossing them in the recycle bin if they refuse to erase wrinkles with Botox.  The exception to this, of course is if you’re a Playboy Bunny dating Hugh Hefner and then it’s just part of the deal, you know from the beginning that your days are numbered.

To me, this situation seems to be more about the husband versus the beautiful bride he bailed on.  Clearly he’s just not happy — with himself or his life in general.  It’s also a pretty safe bet he’s going through a mid-life crisis.  After two decades with the same gal he may be hearing the bartender say “last call!”.

Men who’ve made these decisions tend to think they can easily trade-in, trade-up or trade-down, as the case may be on the age scale.  The bottom line, nothing is going to make them happier, unless they figure out a way to be happy themselves.  Looking for someone or something to make them complete never works.

With all of that said, it’s important to remember what our parents have lived long enough to understand — none of us know what goes on behind closed doors, you can only assume they were living the perfect life you envisioned.

Second, many times, the end of a relationship doesn’t have anything to do with what you and I consider to be deal breakers.  It may actually be the thing that sitcoms have used as a punch line for years: nagging!  I’m not saying this is why your buddy’s beau bolted, I’m just tossing out some more food for thought.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that nagging can be disastrous to a relationship: “…the dynamic can potentially be as dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances”.

Nagging isn’t something only ugly people do, in fact, I’d venture to guess that super attractive people may even nag more than average looking folks.  Why?  Because good-looking people get away with a lot and can start to believe their own press.  Look at the celebrities who think they are entitled, it’s because of years of being surrounded by “yes” people.  Your average John Doe doesn’t get that kind of tail kissing.  Funny how puckering up to someone’s fanny goes straight to his or her head, isn’t it?

Again, I’m not saying your girlfriend is a nag, I’m just reiterating that being attractive usually isn’t enough to hold anyone’s attention for very long.

Relationships are complicated and can have more layers than an onion.  Just like the pungent veggie, pulling the layers back can be messy, smelly and can even make you cry.  Thus, I wouldn’t waste any precious life minutes worrying about why their relationship didn’t work.  Just be there for your friend during this crisis.

As for your husband, don’t worry about him leaving you — divorce isn’t like chickenpox, you can’t catch it.  Getting married may be easy, but getting divorced is like trying to cut the lawn with nail clippers.  I’m guessing your pals estranged husband is learning that right now.  It’s a pretty safe bet the grass isn’t any greener in the yard he’s currently standing in.

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Daily Dose Of Love

Posted on January 30, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Home, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

What are some fun, easy things my husband and I can do for each other to keep that romance alive when we don’t have time on some days to spend time together?  And how do we carve out time for each other while juggling 2 toddlers?

Romantically Challenged

Dear No-mance,

Don’t we all remember the dating days, also know as the days of wine and roses?  Awww, yes, those were fun times!  My husband, Scooter, and I refer to those as the P.R. (public relation) days – when I’d take time to put lipstick on and he’d wear his fancy Cole Haan loafers instead of flip-flops on date night.  Now he’s lucky if I have chap-stick on and I, if  Scoot wears what he considers to be his “good” thong sandals on Saturday night.

Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship has been there.  The crazy part, most of us can’t even tell you when the PR phase ends, it just melts away like a cube of ice on a hot summer sidewalk.  Then one day, we realize we’ve taken the term “slip into something more comfortable” a little too literally and have traded the red lacy thing for a blue fleece hoodie.

While there is a lot of comfort found in this phase, reflected both in your relationship and wardrobe, it’s important to make sure that you two are still connecting, even if it is in sweats.

Although it’s often said variety is the spice of life, I think a guaranteed date night with your spouse might be the ingredient you need for a spicy marriage.  I know it’s not very exciting to schedule romance, but when you have kids (of any age) at home, it’s a necessity.

For example, Tuesday night, after the kids are in bed, make a pact to power off your iPhone, Kindle and computer and have time together, without outside “noise”, as I call it.  In our house, that means popping open a bottle of wine, cuddling up on the couch and watching a TiVo’d episode of Mike & Molly.  For the record, it’s amazing how great anything on TV can be when you get to watch it without one kid doing a cart-wheel in front of the coffee-table, while another uses the fireplace poker as golf club.

It’s far from sexy, but I’ll tell you, it’s those moments Scooter says he misses most when he’s on the road.  It’s not necessarily the “bown chicka bown bown” moments, but rather the everyday things he misses.

Just for one night, don’t worry about the dishes or opening the mail, trust me, they’ll both be there in the morning.  Focus on just “being” with your better half.  No matter what you’re doing, you’re connecting and sharing a moment.  I often think there is too much pressure to do something “fabulous”, especially when you’re juggling all that you are – husband, kids and work.  I happened to think it’s pretty fabulous just to do nothing sometimes, as long as you’re together.

Raising 3 kids and a dog doesn’t leave a lot of time for Harlequin Romance novel moments.  I think as women we worry about recreating those nearly impossible fantasies — keep in mind, men don’t read those books!  They read Sports Illustrated and Newsweek…at last check, Fabio hasn’t graced the cover of either.

It goes without saying that if time, money and schedules weren’t an issue, you’d be getting dolled up and going to candlelight dinners a couple of times a week, but the reality is, that only happens when you’re a contestant on a reality show.  In my opinion, that’s why 99 percent of those relationships don’t last.  Real life isn’t filled with private jets and pomegranate martini’s, it’s about microwave popcorn and a bottle of Merlot from Trader Joe’s.

As for the electronic devices I just requested you unplug, use those to stay connected when you’re not together.  Put those high-tech puppies to use and start rekindling some old puppy love.  Text each other during the day, send a little email or call just to say a quick “hi”, no heavy conversation, just a little “hey, hope you’re having a great day”.  I love it when Scoot sends me an email that says “just thinking about you”.  It’s simple, takes only a second, and definitely makes me smile.  When he travels for work, I sometimes put a post-it in his Dopp kit that says “miss you already”.   Both things are free and easy to do.

Then there are the daily tasks you can take turn into sweet nothings.  For example, Scooter usually sets up the coffeemaker before we got to bed, so the coffee is ready when we get up.  Once in a while I surprise him and have it ready to go before he can get to it.  It’s surprising how cool he thinks that is.  And when he removes all the decorative pillows from the bed (including my side) at night, I dig it!

Turn the little things into surprise moments when you can and you’ll start connecting on a lot of levels.  Scooter and I are FAR  from perfect when it comes to this stuff…reading the above, you’d think we have it all figured out!  Trust me, we don’t, the important part is that we keep trying.

Cheesy?  A little, but I love cheese and don’t trust anyone who doesn’t!

 

 

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