Tag Archives: motherhood

Tag team parenting

Parenting is hard.

That is both an understatement and an overstatement.

Of course it is hard. When you have the baby, you’re so concerned with late night feedings and lack of sleep and whether your boobs will work and if not are you the worst mother ever. You carefully plan your doctor’s visits and keep a record of immunizations close at hand and pop in Little Einstein videos as if they will somehow make your child the next, well, Einstein. Car seats, high chairs, soft toys, belly time, stimulating their every move, roll over, swaddle….. phew, it’s exhausting!

But at the same time, it’s not that hard. Seriously, if the child makes it through the day without catching on fire, you’ve pretty much done your job.

What new parents never think of is what comes next: School. Homework stinks. And it makes you feel like a total moron when you cannot help an 8-year-old with his homework because you cannot figure it out. And that WILL happen. Teacher conferences are also of the sucky nature, but mostly because I am kind of sarcastic (duh) and I have little if any control over the nature of the jokes that roll off my tongue, which I don’t think are as appreciated by those charged with educating my children. Like laughing when I tell her that the child has a new fondness for the word “shit.” I know it’s bad. But it’s funny too. He’s 8. It’s funny to hear an 8-year-old say “Holy shit look at that!” Of course he gets scolded when he says it, and he knows better. And of course I will support whatever punishment the school gives if he says it. And of course I will try to watch my mouth (it’s obviously where he learned it from). But it’s still funny.

I was a single mother once, and it was hard. Not that I was alone. Hank and I lived with my parents, and they hovered around him like they’d never seen another baby before. I could seriously have been missing for weeks on end, they would not have noticed. My mother has never forgiven me for eventually moving out and taking him with me.

When Jim popped into the picture, it got easier. Another person to rely on who takes on the same responsibilities. For one thing, how cool was that of him? He never looked at Hank like a “stepchild,” which is not to say that “steps” don’t love their stepchildren. But he was just a Dad from early on. Then we had George, and now it’s just a Mom and a Dad and two kids… typical family.

But like I said, parenting is hard. And while thousands of single parents out there get it done, it’s helpful to have two of you.

Case in point, we’ve had a few parenting interactions over the past week or so that have directly impacted the children. They go something like this:

Jim, behind the wheel: “There’s one coming up here.”

Marney: “Where?”

Jim, nodding his head to the left: “Behind that building.”

Marney, spotting it behind the building, then delivering a smack to the back seat: “SLUG BUG SILVER!”

Parenting is hard. Thank God we have each other to rely on.


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Summer’s last blast

It was a familiar sight this morning. The backpacks. The fresh haircuts. The shiny new shoes. The refusal to listen. Ah, yes, back to school time has arrived.

I love summer with a passion that few people understand. Sure, everyone seems to enjoy the warm weather and cookouts and lazy weekends. But more people seem to look with disdain on the chores of mowing and weeding and watering and would rather wrap themselves in the manufactured cool air comfort of the air conditioning than spend 15 minutes on the back deck in 90 degree temperatures. Not me. I love a good drippy sweat down my back and a breeze through the house, even a hot one. My husband and children, on the other hand, do not. So, on goes the air.

But sooner or later, it has to end. Even if the heat stays, the official “school’s out for summer” season ceases. Today was that day, but we didn’t let it come without the children getting one last night of fun. Enter the Joliet Jackhammers!

The Jackhammers are a non-affiliated minor league team. And man are they not good. If there were 1,000 people at last night’s game, I would be shocked. This year’s schedule was AWFUL, they were out of town most weekends. Despite the fact that they play teams with awesome names (like last night’s rival the Kansas City T-Bones, and the Edmonton Crackercats, former home of Canada’s favorite baseball son, Stubby Clapp), people simple don’t show up. Which is a shame because the stadium is nice and family friendly and there’s BEER there. Even this wasn’t enough to draw a crowd last night:

That’s right, the San Diego Chicken was in Jackhammers country for the last night of summer vacation!

That’s Hank running down to try to get a ball. I tried very hard to take pictures of The Chicken on the field, and every one of them turned out like this, even when Jim took the camera and got closer. Like The Chicken watched that video from The Ring at some point in the past seven days. See:

I must confess, he was funny. Did all the old gags. Held up the eye chart for the ump. Engaged in a water balloon fight with the opposing team. Bit the ump on the head. Good times.

Not to worry, we did get one good shot:

That’s George, terrified out of his mind, getting an autograph with his Poppy. Thanks The  Chicken!!

The game also had a few other notable memories, like Hank getting his very first ice cream in a helmet cup:

Just like when you were a kid, he shelled out a full $5 for a helmet ice cream, only to get the Marlins. Is there any other helmet out there? Maybe KC? Maybe? Seriously, why don’t they just stock local ice cream places that serve helmet ice cream with LOCAL teams. Is it really too much money to print up a Jackhammers logo, if nothing else? Freaking Marlins.

Anyway, the night was a fun success, the kids had a blast and everyone came home with autographed photos from The Chicken. Jim, however, declined to bring his to work, stating that hanging it next to his ginormous White Sox World Series photos and Blackhawks Stanley Cup paraphernalia would be “weird.” Whatever.

Now, Hank is at school, and George is apparently sleeping off his sugar hangover:

He’s still wearing last night’s clothes, because that’s just how I roll as a mother.

Speaking of, I would be remiss to not mention my two mother-of-the-year nomination worthy moments from last night.

First — Slug Bug. Upon leaving the game, a silver Beetle drove past. Naturally prompting me to yell out “SLUG BUG SILVER” while delivering a swift punch to Hank’s arm. Right in front of a Joliet cop. “That was a pretty hard hit,” the cop says to me, raising an eyebrow. Not skipping a beat, I snap back, “He knows the rules.” That’s parenting!

Second — To be filed under “I can’t believe I just said that to a child, my own child for that matter!” Out in left field there was a small cage, inside of which were two small goats. Like a mini-petting zoo for the family friendly park. Children were petting the goats, giving them crap to eat, that kind of stuff. When I say children, I mean other people’s children. Not mine. Because that’s nasty. If I wanted my kids to pet farm animals, I’d live on a farm. They are livestock, not kittens. Anyway, two of the customer service type gals opened up the gate and went into the cage, where they pet the animals and showed them off to the children around them.

“Mom,” Hank says. “Mom, those girls are in the cage with the goats!”

Before I could stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said to Hank, just 8-years-old, “Wow, you usually only see that in Tijuana.”

Let’s hope that’s not the first thing he tells his little friends about during the first day of school. Happy Back-to-School season everyone!


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A mother’s words of wisdom – part 1

I’ve decided that I need to start chronicling the things I say to my children. Not because I give stellar parenting advice or because I am mother of the year, but because most times, I am astonished at the things I say within seconds of them leaving my mouth.

Today’s actual statement to the boys:

“Please don’t kiss each other’s butts.”


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Rivalry, schmilvary

So, the Cubs and Sox are playing this weekend in the second installment of this year’s big crosstown classic. Which frankly, lost all its allure (in my opinion) when interleague play started. Back in the day, when it was just a single game that they played for the fans on an off day for both teams, that was good stuff. I had my Chicago Tribune issued poster with caricatures of Jim Frey and Tony LaRussa hanging on my closet door for much of my childhood.

Now, it’s even been named. This year, the winner gets…

wait for it…

The BP Cup!

No shit.

My brother promptly announced that while the cup itself is lovely, it leaks. He also thinks it should be handed to the loser, not the winner. Too bad, sucker, the Sox have already embarrassed the ever-living pants out of the Cubs, 4 games. You win! You win! You win! Take your BP Cup and put it in your BP case next to you BP World Series memorabilia from 2005 and celebrate with some of that nasty BP Miller Lite you drink on the South Side. It’s one championship the Cubs are happy to lose! Hoo!

Anyway, I headed to the game with the boys yesterday. Had a great time. The only real entertainment was when Carlos Zambrano had a temper tantrum in the dugout and was told to go home, you know, after giving up four runs in the first (final score 6-0 Sox). We had a pretty good view from our seats. Oh, I was so proud to be a Cubs fan at Comiskey U.S. Cellular Field. Those Ricketts kids are turning this team around!!! Thanks Omaha!

But there was one awesome highlight of the game. Check it out:

My sister Laura snapped this photo of me and the boys after the game. Sure, George looks like a total goober. But look how skinny I look! And no snide comments from those of you who are like, ummm, sure you look skinny, in you know, a total fatty type of way. Shut up, I look good!

Well worth the loss, Cubs! I’m ready for my BP Mother of the Year Award!


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It’s strong in this one…

I cannot believe that I left out the very most important part of the story regarding Hank and the tale of the super mean German Shepherd.

So there we were, sitting in the ER. After several hours and a good cleaning, that wound just looked bad. Not big, but deep. A gash, if you will. The child asked several times if he needed stitches, and all I could say was, “I just don’t know.” Hank is one of those kids who just HATES the doctor. He cries during school shots as if he’s been stabbed in the heart with a dull spoon, and no amount of promises of ice cream or action figures can calm his little nerves.

So after the nurse cleaned his wound and Hank realized that the doctor was next in, he started to shake. And shudder. And cry. Knowing that there was nothing I could promise, nothing I could say, no amount of hugs or kisses that would soothe my first-born, I pulled out the only trick I could think of:

“Use the force,” I said.

Dudes, it worked. He closed his eyes and said, “Focus.” Then, he promptly stopped crying, and smiled.

My kid is a freaking Jedi Knight.


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8 years old

Happy Birthday Hank!

Next year, try not to throw your own party.


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Say what?

I’m always amazed at some of the things that my children say. Not to get all Bill Cosby on everyone, but for real, they actually DO say the darndest things.

Case in point — tonight I made dinner and placed their plates in front of them at the table. On each plate, some steak, a little dab of A1, and for the vegetable, a big old heaping of steamed broccoli.

They looked at their meals, then both of my children — two boys, a four year old and the other just days shy of eight — shouted out:


I will never cease to be amazed by these little creatures.

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