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Essay

by Nick Lee

How To Have A Nice, Quiet Dinner With Two Small Children

5:00 pm: Locate the one, specific plate they will each condescend to eat off of. They will usually be dirty. Clean them.

5:05 pm: Fill their plates with food. Be sure to include:
a. One food they will almost definitely eat (this will be something that only technically qualifies as food, like Chef Boyardee or hot dogs).
b. One food they might, possibly, in a fit of wild adventureness, decide to try one bite of before spitting out (this will be something unassuming looking, like rice, or maybe carrots).
c. One food they will never in a million years touch but which you feel you must put on their plates for your own peace of mind (this will be something green).

5:20 pm: Make your own dinner. This will be leftovers, since after cooking for the kids you don’t have time to cook for yourself.

5:22 pm: Call the kids to the table.

5:23 pm: Kid #1

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Moments

Just Say Yes

Photo: Traci Shannon

With all the craziness of downsizing from 1600 sq. ft. home to a 320 sq. ft. trailer to see the lower 48 states in a year-long family road trip, I’ve had some control issues. This has caused the word “No” to come out of my mouth more often than I would like.

So when my daughter mentioned

When You Least Expect It

Photo Credit: el7bara

I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I opened the door to the hallway, there was my seven-year-old son waiting for his turn.

And seeing him, standing in his boy-sized underwear in the glow of the nightlight, my heart split right open and my throat caught.

There was something in

Don’t Judge Me, I’m a Mom

photo submitted by youbabyandi author

Moms are judged too frequently.

I had an incident with my daughter not too long ago at a lodge we visited for a weekend. It was 8 PM at night and we were at dinner shortly after we arrived. She normally sleeps at 8, so she was tired and grumpy.

At this point, I’m starving and so

Plan a Strategic Santa Response

photo by Kevin Dooley

1) Answer every Santa-related question with a question, and however your kid answers, go with it:

How do YOU think he gets down the chimney?…Wow! I never even imagined he gets Floo Powder from elves in the the wizarding world! That makes such perfect sense!

2) When that doesn’t work, say you don’t know:

Well, I’ve

The Moment My Children’s Fashion Sense Blindsided Me

photo by Jen Preiss

I believe I have a good fashion sense. I have clothed all my children without someone questioning my taste. Even my own clothing has earned occasional positive reviews.

So I wasn’t prepared for my children to rebel, making shopping a grueling nightmare. I’ve had more fun at my yearly OB/GYN visits.

My thirteen-year-old son refused to wear

No Return Policy

baby's bracelet tag

My three-year-old son stared in horror as I delicately cut my newborn twins’ hospital ID bracelets off with a manicuring scissors so I could scrapbook them.

As he burst into tears, I calmly reassured him that I hadn’t harmed his new siblings and, in fact, they slept through the whole thing. But that wasn’t the problem

Stepping Off the Parent Treadmill

Photo by: Leslie Gordon

Ever since having children, I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill: getting through the days, trying to keep up with who needs what when (usually: everyone, all the time), all the while wondering what this is for, how it really works, and, of course, if I’m doing it right.

But

More Like the Sun Than the Sun That Day

More Liek the Sun Than the Sun That Day

It was a perfect day with a bright sun and a cool breeze. My one year old in the stroller was pointing and yelling “Ba!” at each bird, squirrel, dog, butterfly, and live creature he saw along the way.

My three and four year olds raced down the sidewalk smelling every flower they could find. “Smell

The Last Gift

Photo by Tot Schlor (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tatjanaschloer/7880375974/)

The last gift: grief and mourning for my granddaughter over the death of her beloved dog.

Proof Positive

Radio

Listening to an NPR show discuss the Ferguson, MO, shooting in the car this morning, my daughter asked, “Why don’t they just call people by their name? Not black or white, they have a name. I just want to know their name and if they are good people.”

The Pre-teen Shopping Wars

Photo by: Tat Schloer

I have found six key phrases to keep my pre-teen girl from buying clothing that I don’t like:

1. Wow, that is really cute! I love it! So cute!
2. Doesn’t ______ have that shirt, too? (Fill in the blank with any friend’s name or Miley Cirus.)
3. Super, they have that in my size too!
4. That reminds

Future Lawyer

Future Lawyer

I threatened to charge the kids money every time they tattled on each other this summer. My son just found $5 on the ground and said excitedly, “Now I can tattle five times!”

 

Photo credit: Cecilie Sønsteby

Too Much Stuff

Too Much Stuff

It occurred to me that if I charge the rates of a public storage facility, my adult children might come and remove their stuff. Brilliant!

Then I realized how hard it would be to get them to pay that bill. Darn it.

Empty house, full of stuff. Memories. Family. Love. A lifetime.

Photo credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm

The Perfect Anniversary Gift

Sharing their lives with each other

What do you get the woman you love to celebrate 16 years of marriage? In my case, I knew the answer. There’s only one thing my wife wants more than anything else, and that’s a healthy future for our son.

Along with being a bright, energetic, playful kid with a quirky sense of humor, our son

The Worst Day of Her Life

The Worst Day of Her Life

“This is the worst day of my entire life,” my daughter sobs. Her eyes are red and tears are dripping down her cheeks.

Today someone adopted the last puppy we have been fostering for the animal shelter. Today the big beautiful tree that shaded our front yard was taken down. My daughter mourned the birds’ nests

Zombie Grandma

Photo by ankakay (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ankakay/)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the time (second grade) when kids try to figure out death.

“Your mom’s DEAD!” my son reminds me from the back seat. “I know,” I say. “That’s a real thing. It makes me sad.” But nothing I say changes his interest in

Let’s Play Babies!

Let's Play Babies!

Ava: “Mommy, want to play babies? You and Jack are the babies and I’m the Mommy?”

Me: “Yes, please!”

Ava: “Okay babies, time to clean up the Barbies. Mommy didn’t make this mess!”

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Mads Boedker

And What Does Your Mother Do?

wine

We were on vacation, five people crammed into a tiny hotel room. I told the kids they needed to find something to do for a few minutes so I could shower and the husband could get the car.

“It must be hard,” my seven-year-old son said.

“What?”

“Trying to take care of yourself when you have to take

Century Old Mama

year in review clock

One of the weirder mom quotes: We were reading a story when out of the blue my six year old asked me, “Mommy have you lived for a century?”

I replied “No, that’s 100 years.” “Are you sure?” he said. “Yep, I’m sure butterbean.” (Though sometimes it feels like it.)

Tot Etiquette

lessons from toddlers

In the early years we spend plenty of time and energy teaching manners and etiquette to our little squirts.

Wash your hands–but sing the entire alphabet while doing so. What is this message we send? Don’t you ever wonder what our kids think of these signals we send? And why is it that “we” don’t sing