Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mom’s Code Chronicles #3: Best Part of Waking up

momscode-eileenwacker-coffee

Getting four kids up and out every day is a reckless endeavor my younger self never imagined and I’ll never master it. Today, my morning started with my teen daughter announcing, “I’ve decided to skip track team tryouts. I don’t want that time commitment right now.” It’s junior year, the worst possible time to quit a sport. I experience an exquisite moment of pain.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

Then, my little girl comes down the stairs, looking upset. She can’t find her shirt for tonight’s choir performance. I washed the shirt last night and watched it walk upstairs, but now it’s disappeared. I hug her and say, “We need to go but I’ll find your shirt and bring it to you. It’s okay.” Her face falls lower. “Miss Leighton has three rules: a good night’s sleep, our shirt for the 7:30 rehearsal, and a good breakfast. I’m in trouble.” My youngest is a gentle soul who never gets in trouble, yet dreads the thought of it.

I turn away as my tween ties his sneakers. My impatience is justified. He spends more time tying his shoes than on his entire hygiene routine. We are late so I stop at the Burger King drive thru. My son fist pumps the air. “Mom, they have fries and cheeseburgers all day. Can I get a large fry, plain cheeseburger, and Sprite?” I yell, “No soda!” like it will magically make this breakfast healthier. My frowning little girl says, “I’d feel better if I drank Orange Fanta.”  My mom standards are below sea level and it’s not even 7:30.

My teen daughter says, “This family is so embarrassing! I don’t want to get out of the car with a Burger King bag. Is there a Whole Foods bag somewhere? At least eat breakfast, not fries, People!” She points at her little sister. “And F.Y.I.! Your teeth are going to be orange in your choir performance.” She continues, “Fine! I’ll have the mocha drink thingy and tater tots.” Her brother points out, “Tater tots are no better than fries and the Mocha Frappe has more sugar than Sprite.” I check to see if my ears are bleeding. I say to my little girl, “Here’s an Orange Fanta. Please eat a croissant.”

choir-teacher-momscode-eileenwacker
Before I can cancel my workout or reschedule a meeting, the school nurse calls. She says, “Miss Leighton sent your little girl from the choir rehearsal, concerned that she’s tired, upset about a missing shirt, and has a stomachache. Did she have Orange Fanta for breakfast?” Stress breaks over me like an unruly wave.

I can’t get my day on track after this. I’m fifteen minutes late for everything and forgetting things. When I pick up my teen daughter a half hour late from school, she says, “You’re late. I have a ton of homework and will be up all night; then I’ll fall asleep in study hall and someone will take a photo of me sleeping and post it. Then everyone will post comments like RIP. I’m facing total humiliation.” I’ve been milking a Starbuck Iced latte all day and never finished it. I offer it to her, not saying anything, wondering how she gets from ‘A‘ to total humiliation in 10 seconds.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

I head to the choir performance in the same faded sundress I put on at 6 a.m. My husband slips in at the last possible second, sits, and holds my hand. The choir kids come out and sing like angels. My little girl looks happy. I exhale, thinking, “There is no place I would rather be right now.”

eileenwacker-momscode-coffee
We get home to three kids fighting. No one fed the two dogs. The kitchen is a mess. The TV is on and no one is doing homework. I say, “Please stop fighting over who has the right to enter whose room. And let’s get on the homework, guys.” On TV, a song about the best part of waking up is playing. A pretty mom is standing alone on a boat dock, waves lapping around her with a breeze blowing through her hair. She’s savoring a cup of coffee.

For some reason, I yell, “This is false advertising! No mom sits down and savors a morning cup of coffee, alone. It takes me all day to finish one coffee! Is there a house burning down behind her? I didn’t think so. It’s not real!” My son pats me on the shoulder. “Someone get mom a glass of wine. She’s yelling at the TV.” I squint my eyes at him and say, “You, go study your Spanish!” Then we start to laugh. My little girl walks over, hugs me, and says, “Mom, you know what the best part of waking up is for me? It’s you.”

The essence of being a mom is keeping it all basically on track despite the chaos. And I leave a little room in my soul for a happy, thankful moment every day. Because every morning when I wake up, I know I wouldn’t trade the mayhem and magic, for anything.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moms Code Chronicles #2: Mom Misdemeanors


momscode-chronicles-Eileenwacker-moving-packing-losAngeles
My 13 year-old son was recently cast as a series regular in an upcoming show. He is the third of my four children. The role requires relocation to LA from Honolulu, with almost no notice. We sent him through the entire audition process, knowing this could be a possibility, but never thought through how we would manage if it actually happened. My husband and I are running for our lives trying to get a million things done, including finding an apartment, getting the school situation tamped down, and preparing our family for what will become our new normal. Because my husband, three other kids and two dogs will remain in Honolulu and we will all do a lot of commuting back and forth. Sigh.

It’s almost his last day in his current school, which is a great school. So emotions are running high. I’m determined to focus on the positive during this transition. I’m paying attention to every detail so I leave everything in the best shape possible. The truth is if my four kids knew how many situations I handle on the spot, unplanned, they would have trouble sleeping at night, just like me. Take parent conferences, teacher development days, or the sports meetings for tryouts. I want to remember all these dates, but just like passwords, they somehow they slip my mind. Plus, the kids’ appointments are endless. And, schedules with tutors and coaches are constantly shifting. I handle most of the routine on the fly, and rely on mom interactions as a part of my ‘reminder system’. I put things on the phone calendar, but it only beeps me when the actual event is upon me. 

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

Moms need other moms. I can’t write a one-page summary for someone that would keep the hot mess express on track! I have to keep moving fast to handle everything that is thrown in my path. I will have to rely on my Honolulu mom network and then build an LA-based one too.

This morning, I had to turn away as my tween tied his sneakers. My impatience is justifiable. He spends more time tying his shoes than on his entire daily hygiene. He smiles and says, “Mom you’re way too uptight about the whole brushing teeth and using soap thing.” I remind my teen daughter to bring her stuff for the track team tryouts. She tells me, “I’ve decided to skip the tryouts. I don’t want to make the time commitment right now.” I feel a sarcastic remark trying to come out. “Oh? Right now? During junior year, when it counts? Tell me. If you could bring your phone and take Selfies and text while you run, would you tryout?” She’s been training and on the team for years, even went to Nike Running Camp last summer. My mom’s pain is exquisite as I assess how to apply mommy marketing to this scenario.

Before I can start to threaten and cajole, my little girl comes down the stairs in tears. She can’t find her shirt for today’s rehearsal and tonight’s choir performance. I washed and cleaned the choir shirt last night and watched it walk up the stairs, but now she can’t find it. I can’t stand tears on any day, never mind a performance day. I hug her and say, “We need to go but I’ll find it. It’s going to be fine.” She shakes her head. “Miss Leighton said that we need to have a good night’s sleep, our shirt for the 7:30rehearsal, and a good breakfast. I’m going to get in trouble.” My youngest is a gentle soul who has never been in trouble, but deeply dreads the thought of it. Clowns and choir teachers have an amazing ability to instill fear in children.

The morning is totally off kilter. It’s not unusual but it never gets easier. We leave late and a massive ‘cave in’ occurs. I stop at the Burger King drive thru for breakfast. My son is fist pumping the air. “Mom, they have French fries and cheeseburgers all day. Can I get a large fry, two plain cheeseburgers and a Sprite. I love today.” I yell, “No soda!” like it will magically make this breakfast healthier. My little girl doesn’t want to eat because she doesn’t have her shirt. She says, “An Orange Fanta would make me feel better.” 

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

My teen daughter says, “This family is so embarrassing! I don’t want to get out of the car with a Burger King bag. Is there a Whole Foods bag somewhere in this car? At least eat a breakfast, not cheeseburgers and fries, people!” She points at her little sister. “Your teeth are going to be orange in your choir performance F.Y.I.!” She continues her astute teen observations. “Fine! I’ll have the ham and cheese croissandwich thing with the mocha drink thingie and some tater tots.” Her brother argues, “tater tots are no better than fries and the Mocha Frappe has more sugar than a Sprite.” I check to see if my ears are bleeding. I mentally push all the chaos to the side. I say to my little girl, “I swear that I will find your shirt and drive it to you. Please eat this ham and cheese croissant. You can have an Orange Fanta.” 

They jump out of the minivan. My son is dancing on air with his BK bag; my two daughters are trudging along as if they are condemned felons.

I skip my work out and go home. As I’m walking in the door, the school nurse calls to tell me that Miss Leighton, the choir teacher, sent my little girl from the choir rehearsal, concerned that she just wasn’t herself. She’s tired, upset about a missing shirt, and has a stomachache. Is it true that she only had Orange Fanta for breakfast? 

Stress breaks over me like an unruly wave. I run upstairs and find her shirt under the stuffed tiger she still sleeps with, grab a lunch box and head to Subway. I get a plain turkey sandwich, which I take out of the packaging and put in a plastic baggie. I get milk as the drink. I run into the supermarket and get prepackaged carrots and some little cuties. I buy a Hershey bar and zipper it into the hidden side pouch. I’m determined to deliver a good mother lunch/snack and give my little girl a surprise treat to cheer her up.

I pick up my teen daughter a half hour late from school. She’s very upset and says, “I have a ton of homework and will be up all night, then I’ll fall asleep in study hall and someone will take a photo of me sleeping and post it up on social media. Then everyone will make fun of me and make comments like RIP. It will be total humiliation.” I’ve been milking a Starbuck Iced latte all day and never seemed to have enough time to finish it. I offer it to her. 

“This is the worst day ever,” she replies.  

I get everyone home and lament I’m headed to the choir performance in the same faded sundress I put on at 6 a.m.. When I get there, I see so many moms that I like. My husband slips in at the last possible second and holds my hand. The kids come out and sing like angels. My little girl searches the crowd and is so happy to see me. In seventh grade, she still wants me around. There is no place I’d rather be. 

We get home to the other three kids fighting. No one has fed the two dogs. The kitchen is a mess. The TV is on and no one is doing homework. I yell, “I committed about five mom misdemeanors today and I’m tired. I have an article due. Please stop fighting over who has the right to enter whose room.” The TV ad talks about the best part of waking up. A mom is standing alone on a boat dock savoring her cup of coffee, looking serene and relaxed. I yell, “This is false advertising! No mom I know ever sits and savors a morning cup of coffee. It takes me all day to finish my cup, as I’m putting out constant fires! Is her house burning down behind her? If not, it’s not real!”

My son says, “Mom go in your room for two minutes. We have a surprise for you.” My teen comes in to find me and says, “Hurry!” All the kids are laughing. My little girl says, “Chewie volunteered to help you with your article! Now do you love today?” I look at my kids, laugh out loud and say honestly, “Yes, I absolutely love today.”

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Moms Code Chronicles #1: Dull Moments?

Written by Eileen Wacker

I had a tough day today. Two of my four kids had no school due to a teacher development day so it should have been a simple and straightforward day. But it never turns out that way.

As my 12 year-old went to exit the car, I noticed the shorts she wore were not within dress code. She said she had extra in her locker. My son said, “Wow only two days left until we go to LA to shoot the series.” I’m not sure what we were thinking letting him audition. We live in Honolulu. My stress level went up and my face flushed red. “Have a great day buddy. Love you both lots.” Off they went with their backpacks and water bottles.

I drove to play tennis, my favorite way to relieve stress and I have a boatload of it. I like the people I play with and we play really early so moms can be back on the clock by 9 AM. The pro said, “Don’t forget to turn your ringers off. Let’s play tennis, not jungle ball.” He’s talking to me. If I don’t silence my phone, it rings off the hook and I get so distracted wondering if there is an issue, I start to hit impossibly wild shots.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

As I exit tennis, I see three missed calls from the school. The nurse tells me via voicemail that my 13 year-old son has been hit in face by a soccer ball and he can’t move his neck. I need to bring him to the doctors to get checked out. No choice but to pick him up in tennis clothes after not answering the calls.

I have a call with an independent school so my son can go to school on set while they are shooting the series. I send an email to push it back an hour. I get a voicemail back expressing concern and wondering if I have told the studio my son is injured. Shoot! I’m such a rookie. I call over the radio in my car and explain that everything is okay. His neck isn’t fractured; he just has whiplash.

I rush him home and pick up my other son. I have to confirm his parent conference time because I was sure I would remember it and never wrote it down. He is a different learner so I never know how things are going to go. There are no fires to put out! He’s proud and I’m proud.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

There are two more pick-ups, a friend drop off, a tennis lesson, a basketball game (we volunteered to tape all the games in a moment of weakness), a running session, an alleged swimmer’s ear and two tests to prepare for tomorrow.

My kids are eating chicken Katsu for dinner. It’s Asian Shake-and-Bake chicken but saying chicken Katsu sounds so much better. I tell them I’m not hungry and watch them eat. The truth is, I’m having wine and ice cream sandwiches for dinner. And my happy hour companion is our puppy. Moms never have a dull moment, ever. I could use a dull moment or two.

Mom's code tenet: save her when she's drowning

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chinese New Year: Tips for Moms in the Monkey Year

Written by Eileen Wacker

February 8th kicks off the Year of the Red Fire Monkey, the first day of Chinese or Lunar New Year.  The Year of the Monkey promises to bring both brag-worthy and cringe-worthy moments for moms. Luckily, there are more peaks! On the plus side, monkeys are the innovators of the zodiac so moms may see some masterful creations from our little treasures. Picture ‘ooh la la’ fashion shows and drawings galore. On the challenging side, monkeys are the mischievous pranksters that can get themselves into trouble. Think of the monkeys at the zoo who love to throw poop at each other and the onlookers. It’s all fun until someone loses an eye, or has a smelly brown stain on their favorite jacket.

Moms should harness the energy of the monkey to bring light heartedness, flexibility, and optimism to their everyday situations. Or else moms will end up feeling exhausted by the commotion and action.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

Two of my four children love to talk. They are extremely inquisitive and chatty. Like 357 questions-a-day-type inquisitive. And, one does not wait for my answer before she fires off her next observation or question.  The other just yells his question or comment louder and louder until he has my full attention. I’m not sure if my other two are quiet or simply unable to get a word in. I’m going to remind myself to treasure these moments because the talkers are going to be exceptionally talkative this year. Thank goodness they’re charming. I’m getting ready to nod, smile, and encourage them even as my ears are bleeding.

Monkeys are okay with taking risks. I love it when my kids try something new or put themselves out there and take a risk. But I’m still a mom. Certain risks, like skiing aggressive black diamond trails all day, make me nervous. Or going out at night, anywhere. Truth be told, I only want them to take the risks that I have outlined because I know these are calculated risks. Like performing in a piano recital, giving a speech at school, or trying out for a school team. I am an expert at calculating risks when it comes to my children. But this year, they may not go along with my plan and I will have to let them be a little more independent than I’m comfortable with.

 Monkeys love to brainstorm and are full of ideas. This is a year to be a fun mom. I’m going to throw a monkey wrench in my own plans once in a while. Be flexible. We might eat dinner out spur of the moment when I have cooked a meal at home. Just because my little girl has an intense craving for Outback’s Mac and Cheese. I’ll say yes to good ideas, even if they are inconvenient.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

This is not a year of collaboration and groupthink. That was last year’s sheep. I won’t tell my children to work as a team to figure it out. Last year, all I got in return from the requested teams were massive arguments, which I had to referee. Or, then there was the new puppy. When kids collaborate, it’s very dangerous for a mom. I’m pushing for innovation and imagination this year. The monkey is compassionate and generous. He/she, once committed, is very loyal and good in relationships. Monkeys believe in second chances as long as there is no hidden agenda. This year, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to my husband and children, especially around dinnertime when I’m on a diet and starving. When nobody wants to eat the food I cooked, I won’t yell. I’m going to get this monkey off my back and not get the maddest at the people I love the most.

In this year of the Red Monkey, I can handle a little monkey business if I keep my sense of humor. I can’t wait. Great year for fun mom to come out and play.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Puppy Trap


One moment of weakness and now I have a dog for twelve to fifteen years. I forgot how much work puppies are. We already have one dog, a Tibetan spaniel named Buster Brown. He is cute and basically a good dog but he caused quite a bit of damage to our house, namely to the rugs, floor and furniture. He runs away whenever he can and barks at us if we dare put him in his crate. At five years old, he has mellowed out and uses stealth tactics to accumulate privileges like sleeping in the kids’ beds and getting up on the furniture.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a photo of her adorable new puppy. I commented on the cuteness. She sent me a text saying the breeder had a brother still left in the litter. I fell into the puppy trap and the next day we had a puppy. Not planned, not thought through, and honestly not a good idea. Puppies are naughty but get away with a lot because they are so irresistible. Our puppy Chewbacca (Chewie) is energetic, funny and brings immense joy. But Chewie is a destroying machine, like none I’ve come across.


Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

He needs to be cleaned coming out of his soiled crate. He wants to play wildly. He chews up the puppy pad he is supposed to go to the bathroom on. He devours his little breakfast and races to Buster Brown’s bowl to steal his. He chews our rugs, table legs, shoes and socks. Every time I turn around the puppy is licking the wall. He barks at us. He runs at full speed and pounces on Buster over and over.

It’s puppy mayhem, puppy pandemonium and puppy destruction of property. My kids feel the puppy has a right to be wild. My little girl Natalie assures me, “Puppies don’t have too many rights because they are not humans. But they have the right to be wild. That’s what my teacher said.” I look at her. “Your teacher did not say that. No teacher would ever say that puppies have the right to be wild.”

Ethan walks over. “Mom have you ever heard of animal rights groups? They are just kind of everywhere. I think you might want to read up…” Christian nods like he has a point.

I have no response for this.

My daughter Olivia comes in the kitchen and announces, “people start to resemble their dogs over time. It’s a fact. I saw it on the internet.” I say, “Thank goodness Chewie is so cute, it should be against the law.” She rolls her eyes at me. “How could being cute break any laws? Really mom? I’m just saying we should get him groomed a lot, just in case. Look at this picture of a Lhasa Apso with long hair. I can’t look like this! Please get on this.” I find myself nodding. The Lhasa Apso with hair all the way to the ground and a pony tail on its head is not a look anyone in my family could embrace.

I’m cleaning up yet another accident and I say to my son Ethan, “See what happens when you have a momentary lapse in judgment and give into temptation. Don’t do it.” He looks at me and says, “Wait a minute! Let me see if I have this straight. You’re saying if I can’t resist doing something, I’m going to end up with the cutest puppy ever? Good talk mom…”

I say, “That’s not what I meant” but somehow I can’t explain what I really meant. Do I deeply regret getting this puppy? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I never wanted a dog in a thought-out kind of way. No one has ever called a dog ‘mom’s best friend’.  A mom’s best friend may be a number of things depending on the mom. The best friend could be another mom, her husband, her sister, her child or a wine bottle after a hard day. It’s never a puppy. Because puppies wreck things with exuberance and rarely have remorse for chewing my shoes or sensing which rug is my favorite, only to ruin it. My daughter Natalie told me to pee on my favorite things and then clean them up with ‘puppy no’ spray. I would be marking my territory and the puppy would go somewhere else. She was sure she had seen that tip in an on-line training manual.

So for now, I am riding solo on the training committee. I will tell Chewie to stop being so wild. I will potty train him without using any human urine to mark territories. I will not give him the haircut I want so we look alike. He can have his own unique look. I will hold him and play with him when no one is home so no one thinks I’m soft on the puppy.

As the holidays approach, do something crazy. Get a puppy. You’ll regret it almost as much as you’ll be glad you did it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Disney Training For the DMV

Written by Eileen Wacker

Yesterday I took my son to get his driving permit at the DMV. There was no school for him due to a teacher development day. The other three still had school so I was up by 6:00 to make breakfast and drive them. My kids are never all in school for five days in a given week. Days off for kids = work for a tired mom as my day becomes filled with randomness. Schedules are security blankets for moms.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I wanted to get to the DMV as it opened. Going to the DMV is a mom chore. I don’t want to go. It’s the opposite of a happy place. It’s filled with scowling people who torment moms who like things fast, efficient, and friendly. As a mom, I prefer people who smile big and welcome me with extra chirpy voices. That’s why I love Disney. Disney workers are my definition of cheerful. Although I admit I yelled at my kids in the happiest place on the planet. They were acting horrible—fighting and begging to buy big souvenirs that I had to lug around the entire park. And all the giant items ended up lost or thrown away within a week.

If I can become impatient in Disneyland, I knew the DMV posed a serious challenge to keep any good mood going.

Watching my teenage son put on his socks was painful. And tying his sneakers in slow motion was worse. I had to leave the room. As we were driving, my son confessed that he has not studied the manual. He insisted since he listened in the Drivers Ed class, he should be fine. “It’s all common sense anyway. That’s what Colin told me,” he said confidently. I said, “This is an example of being lulled into the dummie circle.” The dummie circle is when kids reinforce each other’s teenage notions, which we adults can plainly see are not going to work out for them.

When we arrived, we were told that one of our forms is a copy and not accepted. I showed how we have everything the website indicated we needed and brought his new passport as back up. I pointed to the sign on the wall that lists the accepted ID forms. The DMV employee said the sign was old and I needed another form. She did not accept his passport as proof of identity because he is not eighteen. I tried to use humor so she’d like me and I wouldn’t have to go all the way home for an additional form. I said, “We just got this passport and you are all the same government, just different departments. How can the passport not be a form of ID? Passports are the ultimate form of ID.” I didn’t make a new friend. I think the DMV training program includes instructions on how to transition from scowling to displaying apathy and back.

We went home to retrieve the form and headed back. The same employee played her role as a mom tormentor, inspecting every form again and called her supervisor over to inspect them as well. After four hours of waiting in four different lines, my son failed the test. I snapped at him, “Now I have to come back here. I don’t have time for this. If you don’t do well in school, this might be where you end up!” As the words flew out, I regretted them. They sounded snobby. He looked at me, “Mom, I’m just saying, there are some positive things about working here. There doesn’t appear to be a dress code. I hate dress codes. And the people don’t seem to work too hard.” I kept my mouth shut, liking the person he is.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

He wasn’t really upset about not passing, either. He said, “I just need to get five more right next time. Hey, can Colin come over and shoot some hoops?” Since Colin’s mom was at work this means I’m picking up and dropping off and making or buying lunch. I said yes because that’s how we’re wired as moms. Saying no and having him sit on his Xbox all day is definitely a worse option. As we got out of the car, he said with a smile, “Thanks mom. That was fun hanging out with you.” And there it was; he gave me my Disney moment.

This morning, I woke up to randomly strewn eyelashes all over my pillow. I pulled out the eyelashes that I paid to put on. I didn’t deliberately do it and I only pulled them off of one eye. It’s how I know the stress is getting big. My little girl came into my room and said, “Mom, I think I should stay home today and play with the puppy. I need to train him. You can have a day off from taking care of Chewie. Wait, what happened to your eyes? Your face doesn’t match.”

I hugged her and said, “Today you go to school. Next Wednesday is Veteran’s Day and there is no school. Another four day week. I’m sure we’ll think of some fun stuff to do. Meanwhile give me five minutes to make my face match.” Then, I started the day pulling the rest of the eyelashes out. This is why I need a little more Disney in my days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is the Truth Over-rated?

Written by Eileen Wacker

As parents, my husband and I have always insisted that telling the truth is critical. It is one of our most important rules. No lying. Lying is a sure way to get your phone taken away or earn some other dreaded consequence. But now that my four kids are teens and tweens, I want them to stop telling ‘their truths’ sometimes. Keep things in a thought bubble instead.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

Last night, we decided to go to a local restaurant for dinner. I quickly changed into a casual sundress. My oldest daughter, Olivia, asked, “Are you going to wear that?” I almost responded, “No, I just put this on for fun. I’m going back into my closet and put on the outfit I’m really going to wear. This is my trial outfit.” This would only earn me a remark like, “Did you really say ‘outfit’? Really Mom? No one says that. Not one person.” Then I would be a dinosaur in a lame dress. She was not neutralized by my silence. She went on. “Ethan, do you see what mom is wearing? She’s wearing the nightgown again.”

I protested, “This is a sundress. It’s not a nightgown.” They ignored me and tween Ethan chimed in, “Yah. And she’s wearing the nightgown with a blanket.” I’m insulted. “It is not a blanket! It’s a sweater.” They start laughing. “Mom, sorry but you’re wearing a nightgown with a sweater blanket.”

In the restaurant, my tween daughter, Natalie grabbed my hand and looked at me earnestly. “Mom, your hair is about eight different colors. You need to fix it.” I took my hand back before she could see my bitten cuticles. I ordered a glass of wine. My teen daughter Olivia said, “You’re going to end up in jail if you drink that and that would be so embarrassing for me. Plus, I need a ride to Jen’s party this weekend.”

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

Then my teen son Christian said, “No offense but…” I cut off his sentence because I don’t want to hear the rest of it. Inevitably what’s coming next is something negative. He had already said, “I’m just saying…” after making the observation, “That dress makes you look a little big.” I yelled at him for using poor grammar (‘little big’ is not a phrase) and made a mental note to never wear this dress again.

I don’t take it personally. Anyone can be the subject of their ‘observations’. My husband and I went to Napa for our anniversary. My parents came out and stayed with the kids. Everyone allegedly had an amazing time while we were gone.

But last night during the dinner, Natalie said, “to be honest, I think Grampy has to work on a few things.”

Ethan agreed, “Grampy is really fun and we love him but he breaks promises. You need to tell him we can see PG 13 movies. He promised to take us to the movies and then we didn’t go.”

Natalie said, “That would make him the oldest liar in the world and I don’t think he wants to be that.” Wow, tough crowd. She nonchalantly bit her mozzarella stick as I winced under her truth. Because she’s right. My dad would never, ever want to be thought of as the oldest liar in the world.

No one is safe from teens’ and tweens’ observations. They had a conversation about two iconic figures. Their opinion was Justin Timberlake is old and they had never heard of Clint Eastwood. The only connection they made is that both have trees as part of their names. And they thought this was hilarious.

Why do they tell the truth about my mommy flaws? They are constantly evasive about their own situations. I asked if anyone was sneaking electronics into his or her bed. I asked my son if he followed up with a teacher over a bad grade to see what can be done. I asked my other son how he ended up at a night beach party. “I don’t know what happened. We just ended up there.” I asked, “So you blinked your eyes and all of a sudden there was sand under your feet.” Blank looks were the response to all my queries. My sweater blanket had become a wet blanket.

Then it dawned on me. They tell the truth about my mommy flaws because they love me. This is their teenage way of teasing me, of trying to be funny. They are including me. I’m in the circle. And we are laughing and hanging out as a family.


Driving home, there was a fight over a song on the radio. I felt like my head might explode. I called Olivia a pill. She countered, “Did you hear what mom said?” Of course everyone heard what I said. We are all sitting together in the car. That’s the set up line. Because the follow up was, “Mom said I‘m acting like a pill! Hah! A pill! As if a pill acts like anything!” Then they all laughed so hard I thought we might drive off the road. I laughed too, treasuring this as a fun and memorable night.