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303rd Friday Blog Roundup

Thank you for your support this week with the twins heading off soon for kindergarten.  Please indulge me in some more weeping?  I would promise that these will be the last thoughts, though I know they’re not because I haven’t even begun to unpack our 6 hour excursion to purchase a backpack.

And yes, I’m well aware that I sound nut-jobby about the twins, but that is because I am unapologetically nut-jobby about the twins.  And these posts are not just to let out these feelings so they don’t knock around inside my heart all day, but also, I hope that one day they read these and realize how much they mean to me.  How incredibly loved they are.

Jonathan Franzen was on the cover of Time this week (really, the more interesting story is the one from Jen Weiner and Jodi Picoult pointing out which types of writers the media fawns over — hint: they’re white and male).  I only knew this because Josh and I stopped in a Royal Farms on our way back from the beach since my mid-year resolution is to never deny myself a beverage, and the magazine was by the cashier’s stand.  It reminded me of his book The Corrections, which I read and Josh was banned from reading because he had just lost his grandfather.

In The Corrections, the eldest son, Gary, has a wife and sons who make his life miserable.  They’re really infuriating characters so it may not make a lot of sense when I say this, but without the evil inclinations and exclusionary actions, I wanted some of that relationship that Franzen describes when he writes about the mother and sons playing football.  That easy-going friendship they share.  The boys are her partners-in-crime, and I wanted that, though only on the side of good.

Until now, I’ve had that — grand adventures with my two sidekicks.  Preschool cramped our style, but it was only two hours in the morning which gave us plenty of time to take wrong turns while driving to see where the roads would lead or go to the farm or out to Shepherdstown to have a tea party.

This will be the first time their day belongs to someone else.  When kindergarten begins, I lose my job — the job I’ve held for six years — and someone else, someone who doesn’t have the time or energy to listen to every last one of their great ideas and only wants the executive summary will be doing my job of teaching them.  I’ve met their teacher and she is wonderful and kind.  But with that many students, she cannot sit with them for a full hour while they tell her their plans to capture a mermaid.  And so, this job that I have loved (though let’s not forget all the times I’ve also whined about it), is being taken away from me.  My hours reduced.  My favourite tasks outsourced to someone else.

When I read descriptions of the derogatory terms parenting experts throw at other parents, I fit the idea of the helicopter parent, the velcro parent, the hovering parent.  I like to be around because I genuinely enjoy their company.  No one calls me a helicopter wife when I spend inordinate amounts of time with Josh because, frankly, he rocks.  But I am a helicopter parent because I have a lot of fun with them and I want to grab that fun while I can.

(I have long suspected that the reason they do this is not to label us for our own good since how many people would honestly change how they approach life just because they were belittled by a “parenting expert,” but because their terms are the embodiment of their own embarrassment.  Rationally enjoy time apart from your child, but feel guilty because you think it makes you look like a bad parent?  Just call someone who enjoys being with their kids a helicopter parent.  Secretly wish you could grab back some semblance of your life pre-child, but feel guilty admitting how much you hurt over the idea of losing yourself?  Simply write a rant about laissez-faire parents.)

This separation is painful, and there aren’t really any words or thoughts that erase that.  As I said to Allison this week, “It feels like someone is digging out my insides with a spoon.  And it is both painful AND I am acutely aware that they are removing my internal organs.”

So, that’s where I am.


On a more fun note (gee, Mel, why don’t you just pee in everyone’s Cheerios with that Roundup opening … ), I am involved in Calliope and Lindsay’s new brain-child, Who Wants to Know.  It is an everything site — reviews, opinions, experiences, advice, suggestions, giveaways — and I’ll begin writing over there once I get over the kindergarten threshold.  It is a really fun site, and I encourage you to go over, check it out, bookmark it, add it to your feed reader, get a tattoo of the header across your back, and rename yourself after your favourite dessert.


The Weekly What If: what if the universe would magically make your favourite dessert calorie-free (you could eat it indefinitely and never put on a single pound) in exchange for having you walk around for 24 hours with dog shit smeared to the bottom of your shoes.  Would you do it?  You know, for ice cream?


And now, the blogs…

Maybe Baby (or maybe the looney bin) has a post about the realities of IVF vs. what the general public believes.  She admits, “I guess if I have to be here then I am going to write it how it is. I try to keep my blog amusing as I do tend to live my life with glass half full but sometimes it can be exhausting and I don’t want to make it seem like this isn’t hard.”  Sort of wish the New York Times would publish her post rather than some of the drivel they produce about fertility treatments.

It is Tuesday, Right? has a funny post about being strung out on IVF drugs.  From wanting to two-fist oreos to manically making felt bats to getting the crankles, she wonders what the hell will happen if she has to do this again.

I love Infertile Fantasies’s post about being pregnant and conceiving without treatments.  While some may feel that the benefit of not doing treatments outweighs everything else (and perhaps if weighed against everything else, it would), uncareful readers would miss the point — that it is a different playing field which brings out different emotions.  I just thought it was an illuminating post.

Lastly, perhaps because I am already in a weep-tastic mood, Unwellness’s post about her mother moved me to tears.  I love the point she makes about her birthday: “But my birthday… wouldn’t exist without her.”  The post is an unbelievable, raw, stunning post — one you will probably want to reread many times, even if you never knew her mother.

The roundup to the Roundup: having a hard time losing my job.  Check out Who Wants to Know.  Answer the Weekly What If.  And lots of great posts to read.


1 sulfababy { 08.27.10 at 7:51 am }

re: kindergarten – *big ginormous hugs from an internet stranger* You’re strong! You can do it! 🙂

re: what if – I just might do it!… Besides, must I be *wearing* said shoes 24/7? 🙂 Yeah… I’d still probably do it. Long live strawberry cheesecake ice cream!

2 Tonggu Momma { 08.27.10 at 7:52 am }

Sending the Tongginator off to kindergarten last year was SO hard for me. I cried. A lot. A couple of things helped – the first is that one of the other mommas on the street grabbed me on the first day of school and wouldn’t let me go home. She took me out for coffee and then a movie. And I got very involved at the school – volunteering a ton. That helped it feel more like a partnership and less like I was losing her to the school system. I volunteered almost every afternoon, usually in her classroom. The hardest thing? Missing my gal. The best thing? I really got to see the Tongginator’s world grow that much bigger.

3 Heather { 08.27.10 at 8:23 am }

I can’t imagine sending one child off – much less BOTH at the SAME time. Too much. I’m thinking of you Sweetie.

4 LC { 08.27.10 at 8:37 am }

I don’t think you’re a helicopter parent. From my experience as an educator, a helicopter parent believes that their child can do no wrong, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Nothing you’ve written here sounds like that. I also think you are allowed and even expected to be a helicopter parent for Kindergarten. It’s not like either of your kids can speak up for themselves in the situation, so you are their advocate. I’d really only worry about being a helicopter parent toward the end of high school and into college.

Oh, and I’d have to think really hard about the dog poop thing, but this morning I’m leaning toward yes. 🙂

5 Shelli { 08.27.10 at 8:39 am }

D’s first day of Kindergarten was PAINFUL. I clock-watched and sniffled my way through the day until he came home on that first day. Seemed ironic in that my boy had already spent a good amount of time away from me (being in some form of preschool/daycare for many years prior, often full-day).

It was just different. And he knew it too. It KILLED me.

Sorry, that’s not helping is it?

His first day of second grade is 9/8, so pop on over… I’ll link back to my post about Kindergarten, and we can compare our days. 😉

Exciting times ahead for your lovlies. It is so much fun once it starts.

6 Delenn { 08.27.10 at 9:13 am }

Number one–Dog Shit, no f*($#*# problem…I’ve had kids puke and shit on me before EVERYWHERE…going 24 hours with Dog poo on my shoe–a BIG CAN DO!!!

Number two–The first day of kindergarten for my son–I lost his pet Turtle–I was a mess because of it, more because of feeling like I was losing EVERYTHING at once I think. It does get easier to let them go, let them become the great children, the great human beings, the great individuals that they will be. But yet. It doesn’t. 🙂

7 a { 08.27.10 at 9:22 am }

There is a difference between an involved parent and a helicopter parent. Involved parents enjoy spending time with their children, teach them stuff, take them places, etc. Helicopter parents are overly involved in their children’s lives to the extent that they don’t let the children do anything on their own. The child can’t fail, because mom/dad is right there to do it for them if it looks like they might. I don’t get the sense that you won’t let your kids succeed or fail on their own. I get the sense that, if they fail, you’ll be there with cookies and suggestions on how better to try next time. Velcro – that I can see, but I don’t think that’s a terrible description. I think the real test of what kind of nutjob you are will be when they’re rotten hormonal teenagers – if you claim to ALWAYS enjoy their company then, you will earn the derogatory name. But, anyway…there’s always homeschooling. 🙂

I enjoy spending time with my child – she’s hilarious. But (and this is a big but), I am quite a solitary person and too much social interaction (with anyone. No matter how wonderful they are.) wears me down. While I will probably cry when she goes to kindergarten, it won’t be about separation – we will still have all the same amount of time to spend together.

As to the what-if: Hmm, that would make almost all desserts calorie-free…I think dog shit on my shoe is a small price to pay for that.

8 loribeth { 08.27.10 at 9:32 am }

I keep thinking back to your posts from when they started pre-school. It took awhile, but you gradually adjusted. I’m betting the same thing will happen now (and for all the other transitions to come over the years). Which is not to say it’s not hard while it’s happening.

I disagree that you’re losing your job. You still have a job (& a very important one!), it’s just the description is changing (so is the twins’…!). (And believe me, THAT’s something I understand right now — I may not be a mom, but I have a new boss & a departmental structure that’s under review…!)

9 Pie { 08.27.10 at 9:55 am }

Mel, you have the definition of helicopter parents all wrong. Your description is of an involved, caring parent. Helicopter parents (and here’s why it is derogatory) do not let their children make decisions, make mistakes, and generally control their children’s lives to the point that the children never get the opportunity to experience responsibility, consequences of their actions, or anything that will enable them to grown into their own beings. As a former educator, there is a very clear difference between you and helicopter parents.

Give those kids a huge hug, a big smootchy kiss, and let them know how proud you are of them for going to kindergarten. And send them on their way. Then go home and cry in your tea. Its ok, I hope to be there someday myself. 🙂

10 Emmy { 08.27.10 at 12:00 pm }

I’d totally go with poo on the shoe for calorie free dessert.

Good luck with the transition to K. My suggestion, which others have mentioned, is to make sure to volunteer regularly in their class or even be the room mom. They’ll love having you in their school world and you’ll get a nice peek at their expanding world.

11 niobe { 08.27.10 at 12:28 pm }

I kind of wish I were the kind of mother who cried — or at least wanted to — when her kids went off to school.

Which makes me wonder: what’s a catchy phrase for the opposite of a helicopter parent? A drive-by parent?

12 Chickenpig { 08.27.10 at 1:10 pm }

I agree with LC on this one. Enjoying your kids doesn’t make you a Helicopter parent, especially when they are only 5. Insinuating yourself into your child’s life because you don’t have your own is being a helicopter parent. For example: my aunt and uncle are HUGE helicopter parents, when my cousin wanted a horse, not only did they buy her one and board it and give her lessons, but my aunt got a horse for herself and boarded it at the same stable and took lessons with my cousin. Kids need their space to grow up and do their own stuff…but you know that.

My twins are heading to the big K too. I feel a little different about it than you do, though. At least I do for now. I have been the only one attending to their needs most of the day for almost 5 years now. They didn’t go to preschool, and I am READY for a break. I am ready for them to be someone else’s responsibility for just a little bit. Nathan in particular needs time with professionals, people who know more about autism than I do. My husband says that I will be skipping home from the bus stop, and I just might be. But I’ll be skipping and crying.

13 HereWeGoAJen { 08.27.10 at 1:35 pm }

I second (or third or fourth, whatever we are at) the fact that a helicopter parent is different. A helicopter parent would be telling their kids exactly HOW to capture that mermaid, not listening. Helicopter parents call up college professors to yell at them when their kid gets a B.

I eat my favorite desserts whenever I want anyway, so no, I’ll take clean shoes. 😉

14 JJ { 08.27.10 at 1:47 pm }

Hugs hugs, Mel. I so admire the love and adoration you have for your kids–all kids should be so lucky to have such affection. *mmmwwaaahh*

15 LJ { 08.27.10 at 1:53 pm }

I would simply classify you as a wonderful and loving parent. You are raising the most beautiful, smart, and kind children. We’ve been so blessed to have them in our lives, and will continue to marvel at how they grow through this next phase. I know how hard this is for you, but am so proud for how well you’ve prepared them for this day.

16 coffeegrl { 08.27.10 at 3:34 pm }

Yes, I’d agree with the other comments here. Enjoying your parents isn’t a crime and shouldn’t really earn you a label. I think helicopter parenting is really about trying to live your child’s life for them instead of just being with them and watching them live and enjoy their own lives. And of course kindergarten is different. They’re still little and need us. I think the bigger problem is not knowing when and how to let them be independent (which doesn’t mean not spending time with them – it means letting them make their own choices right?). There’s a fine line, but at some point it becomes obvious that the parent has crossed the line (most college bound students should be able to register for their own classes without parental involvement. Giving them advice in the matter is one thing, esp. if they ask for it, but telling them what to do and how to do it is something else entirely).

As much as my 2.5 year old is a handful on most days, I’m already dreading the first day of kindergarten for exactly the reasons you describe. Who will be there to listen to her rambling monologues about everything under the sun? She’s a chatterbox with lots of amazing things to say, stories to recite and questions to ask. How can that possibly be contained in kindergarten?

I’ll be thinking of you during these next weeks. Hope the kids *love* school and that you all find some peace with the transition.

17 tina { 08.27.10 at 3:37 pm }

Aw, although your post only gives a glimpse of the relationship between you and your little guys, it makes me excited to meet my little guy! I think sending your little ones to school has to be way more traumatic on the parents than the kids! HUGS.

I’m also here to proudly comment that I’ve commented on each and every ICLW blog! I started at the bottom and saved yours for last. 🙂 I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. Hooray! HAPPY ICLW!


18 mrs spock { 08.27.10 at 7:43 pm }

The helicopter parents I know become furious if their child is punished despite true wrongdoing- and they do EVERYTHING for their kid- their homework, projects, managing their social life. You really don’t do that, I think.

19 Toni { 08.27.10 at 8:02 pm }

You’re most certainly not losing your job. You’re position is just currently going through an adjustment period, and you’re right that teacher won’t have enough time to devote to each child, which means your job will now become even more important. Wish I could make the transition easier for you though.

And yeah, I would totally do the 24-hour dog poo thing.

20 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.27.10 at 10:58 pm }

The pejorative parenting terms may or may not deter the people that they describe, but they definitely affect the behavior of people who aren’t full-blown helicopters (or whatever the label that applies to a particular person). I’ve seen lots of people who were about to do something smothery, then a lightbulb went off that it would be something a helicopter parent would do, and the person did something more reasonable instead. The label is shorthand for a whole set of behaviors that some people are prone to but would prefer not to do.

That said, I was raised by a helicopter parent and you’re no helicopter. To this day, I can’t ride a bike because as a child I was not allowed to play outside. I had a bike, but I wasn’t allowed to ride it. My mother meant well, but fostering independence and letting me be a regular kid were never among her goals. You are not like that.

Poo for dessert: yes.

21 Battynurse { 08.28.10 at 6:19 pm }

Yes, I think I would walk around with dog poo on my foot for a calories free desert. And hopefully one that I could eat more than a few bites of.

22 Annie { 08.29.10 at 11:35 am }

My youngest child is off to kindergarten soon as well and I can totally relate to your feeling that you are losing your job. I’ve said exactly the same thing so many times. Every child I’ve managed to conceive in the last five years has died and now even my embryos don’t make it. I feel like God Himself has fired me from the only job I could ever love, and that really does a number on one’s self-esteem. Anyways, I’m here crying with you . . .

23 Bea { 09.01.10 at 6:15 am }

Oh! And I wanted to add my definition of helicopter parent: I thought to be one you had to be cramping your kids’ style. Like, mum, I’m fourteen, you don’t have to accompany me to the public toilet anymore, I can use the men’s. Sort of thing. Enjoying your child’s company is not the same thing, to me.

Not that you are going to change anyway!


24 Bea { 09.01.10 at 6:17 am }

Also, cheers for the inclusion! Honoured, as always.

(Can you tell I feel deprived of being able to comment on your blog? I don’t know what’s been happening – I’ve been able to comment on certain, seemingly random blogs, and not others…)


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