Traci's Blog

Traci Murphy, Buzz co-founder and editor, shares thoughts on working-mother-hood.

Twins Are The New Black

On behalf of all the MOMs (that’s Moms of Multiples for the uninitiated), welcome to the world to the Carter twins (proud parents Jay-Z and Beyoncé and Big Sister Blue Ivy) and the Clooney twins (George and Amal). It’s an exciting time for you, as your family just grew by twice the typical amount. It’s also a scary time, as the first weeks of parenting a newborn can remind you just how fragile life is and just how much you hate your spouse, the entire world, and all of its inhabitants.
Luckily – and we’re just making assumptions here – you can afford a night nurse and a quality lactation consultant and a hospital grade pump. Put these things to good use and don’t worry too much about the thank you notes for the (useless) Tiffany & Co. baby rattles and the very very useful double stroller that we assume your book group chipped in to buy.
Parenting twins can be a funny thing. No matter the genders of your twins or how well-educated your acquaintances, someone will invariably ask you if they are identical even when they are clearly not. All kinds of people will compliment your husband for doing a single dish or getting up overnight even once, no matter if you are literally Beyonce or an incredibly acclaimed international human rights lawyer and have kind of a big job to manage after your maternity leave is over. EVERYONE will ask you (or at least wonder) if they run in your family or if, you know, you did assisted fertility.
Let’s get this cleared up: no matter how you got the twins, via surrogate or stork or sauvignon blanc and a wild night of staying up past 9:30 while also having a toddler at home, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that twins is twice the amount of one baby. Twice the feedings, twice the diapers, twice the laundry, twice the pacifiers to lose and twice the bottles to wash, ounces to pump, pediatrician visits and teacher conferences.
What you don’t know now, Amal and Bey, is this: there comes a time in every twin parents’ life when you feel just the tiniest bit sorry for families that *don’t* have twins. It’s like your own nature vs. nurture study under your very own roof, day in and day out. There are a million times that you’ll be jealous of the moms with only one child to chase, change, and chastise … but there’s something pretty magical about the twin thing that only parents of twins – like us – truly understand.
Carters and Clooneys, welcome to the club.
And, to the parents of triplets and even higher order multiples, WE LITERALLY DON’T KNOW HOW YOU DO IT.

We Are All Summer Mom

It’s summertime, and moms need a break too. No homework and far fewer organized activities help. Encouraging kids to do just a bit more for themselves, now that the stress of the school year is at bay for a few months, also helps. Call it fostering their independence or protecting your own sanity, but if you follow along with this script, you can have the summer you’ve always dreamed of. My wingmom, who turns into SummerMom in June, swears by this regiment.
1. When the kids begin to approach at the summer BBQ or the pool, SummerMom’s immediate response is “Go ask Dad.” If Dad is not available, next response is “I think this is something you can figure out yourself.”
2. Munchkins are a perfectly acceptable breakfast.
3. And lunch. If you are still hungry, please see if we have any single serving fruit you can eat like a banana or an apple. If we don’t, check for applesauce.
4. There is always snack bar money but please just help yourself and don’t ask. SummerMom is trying to chat with my friends or close my weary eyes for five minutes or read my book and you can just go self-regulate your snack bar choices. If your belly hurts later, that’s a good way to figure out what not choose next time.
5. Sure, you can watch that. If it’s scary, then you can stop and if it has bad language please choose to not repeat that language to your friends whose mothers care more than yours does.
6. Just kidding! Of course SummerMom cares. That’s why I make sure you go to the mom that *has* the sunscreen to get sunscreened up. And to the mom that always has the snacks when you suddenly want a snack.
7. Too much screen time is not good for you, so when SummerMom is catching up on Orange Is The New Black, you can go ride your bike. If you happen to ride your bike to your friend’s house and he’s playing on his xbox, then you can do screen time there if his mom says it’s okay. I really only monitor the screen time going on at our house.
8. Too much sugar is also not good for you so if you have more than two water ices or packages of twizzlers at the pool, please don’t tell me about it. I don’t want to worry about you more than I already do.
9. No, honey, SummerMom can’t help you with that baking/glueing/slime/playdoh/glitter/sand art project. The sitter will be here in a few days and you can get her to help you with it. I pay her to do the things I really can’t stand, like camp pick up and crafts. If you want, we can do a puzzle or play Clue, or Scrabble. Or Boggle.
10. No, SummerMom is not sure where you left your goggles/pool towel/$5 bill. Sorry. Better luck keeping track of your own stuff next time.
See? SummerMom *is* more relaxed than school year mom, PTO Mom, volunteer mom, or juggling it all mom. Enjoy. Labor Day is 11 weeks away.

One Day At A Time

Note to fall sports deadlines and early bird registrations: Calm The F— Down. SERIOUSLY. Some of us haven’t even purchased the end of year teacher gifts yet and you’re all “hurry up and sign up for fall soccer you so don’t miss the early bird price” and I’m all “fall? NOOOOOOO.”
Can we just enjoy a teeny bit of summer first before we have to start planning for fall? Why in the world does rec soccer need my registration this week when soccer rosters won’t come out until the week before practices start?
Before my oldest even finishes 5th grade on Tuesday, I have the 6th grade supply list in hand. Will I use it before August? Nope. Will I lose it before August? Likely. Will the school be able to reach me in August? I’m assuming yes, since every time there is a snow day or a wear white to support whatever day I get three emails, three texts, and three calls to the home phone. I’m guessing they could track me down with a school supply list.
When did I stop being able to plan ahead? Was it the curveball of unexpected twins? Is it nearly 12 years of parenting in general? There was a time when I could happily plan for fall while simultaneously enjoying summer. Now, that feels as impossible as me getting up and running a marathon today. I couldn’t even plan for this weekend’s beach trip before I got through the 3rd grade picnic, the 5th grade picnic, the mud run, a work event, and a board meeting. One Day At A Time no longer feels like a needlepoint pillow or an old TV show or one of the 12 steps – it’s my every day mantra. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s perhaps the best reminder to stay present, stay focused, stay in the now, and don’t wish it away … because this is the only Summer17 we’re ever going to get. Enjoy it, one day at a time.
#ODAAT #HereComesSummer #Summer17

Start Strong, Stay Strong

Summer is starting, and moms all over the 1980whatever are all “I printed out a weekly activity chart” and “my kids have to do at least 6 chores to earn a trip to the snack bar” and “workbooks AND the library summer reading program, totally.”
I’m here to tell you, if you can start this strong and stay this strong you are a much stronger woman than I. I’ve also started the summer this way. Creative centers in the playroom, art time in the driveway, nature walks. I’ve printed out the summer schedule of $1 movies and circled activities at the library, the other library, and even that other library. We’d do day trips and try new foods and the babysitter would always help clean up the kitchen and keep the laundry moving along so mommy could enjoy some of the good old fashioned fun of summer.
Here are the rules for this summer:
1. Nothing blue. That means blue raspberry Planet Ice, blue Rita’s, blue slushies, or blue freezer pops at the pool. Blue food dye does not agree with my kids and it’s important to have boundaries.
2. No screen before swim team.
3. The tween is learning how to do her own laundry since she’s heading to Middle School in the fall and she already hates me so why not?
That’s it. The blue food dye thing which gives my kids belly aches and the no screen before swim team thing because then I don’t have to fight with them to leave the house for swim team at 9:50 am and the laundry thing because I can. The rest? We’re just going to take it day by day, hour by hour. Will they read? Of course, they always do. But no charts to complete or incentives. Will they help around the house? They damn well better. Will they be a little creative? A little bored? A little over sugared and under slept? Probably. Will we survive? I suspect we will.
It’s Summer 17. Stay strong.

Climbing A Mountain

At any given time, on top of work deadlines and homework supervision and keeping the mental calendar of who is where and when, I also need to keep mental track of where each piece of laundry that belongs to each person is at any given time.
Wednesday evening I scrambled around looking for the baseball uniform for Thursday’s game. I folded 1282 pieces of clothing, matched 42 dozen socks and emptied basket after basket. Husband thinks it’s in the washer or dryer, but I *knew* I hadn’t seen it. An hour later, I’m pulling sheets out of the closet to change the linens and I see it: jammed in a small cardboard box under the desk.
WHY? For the love of all things holy, why why why would a 9 year old put several pieces of dirty laundry in a BOX under his DESK? WHYYYYY?
On the plus side, having the uniform located is half the battle – it means we will probably still be late for the game, but you won’t be nearly as late as if I hadn’t already found the uniform.
I never knew how much of parenting would be locating things. Like, ALL THE THINGS.

Occam’s Razor

If you didn’t study philosophy, you might not be familiar with the principle of Occam’s Razor, which boils down to “the simplest solution is usually the right one.” There are other platitudes that say essentially the same thing: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses – not zebras.
I couldn’t help but think of this when I saw a post in a local mommy Facebook group this week. The mom asked the group how to help with eye rolling from an ornery 8 year old. This too-kind mom was getting the eyeroll treatment when she helped her son do his hair. There were scores of helpful responses – ask the pediatrician! Read this book and implement the concepts! Try taking away screen time! Try adding chores!
My response: ignore it. Also, let him do his own hair.
Why? I’m sure the other responses would work too – but ultimately, as moms, we need to take a collective deep breath and not constantly be consumed with worry. The simple solutions are okay too. We don’t need a crowd-sourced answer and an hour on google and the stress that comes with too much information to balance the previous stressor of not enough – when all we really need is to allow ourselves to trust our own instincts.
This is especially true now in The Month of May, which is officially The Worst. If one more sign up genius comes through my inbox, I might actually cry. And worry or not, the school year will end as abruptly as if we didn’t know it was happening 100 days ago and we’ll be in it – the summer of 17 – faster than you can sign up for paper plates and juice pouches. Trust your gut, moms. And if your gut is telling you to skip the sign up genius and get your nails done instead of being there for all three hours of the end of year picnic, then go for it.

The Finish Line

Twin third graders’ field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo this week – the goal, on paper, was to choose an animal on which to do the end of year research project. The goal for chaperones was to tire out these excited monkeys and get them back on the bus safely and at the appointed time. In order to manage both goals, my co-chaperone WingMom and I raced our six boys all the way to the back, figuring it would be easier to get to the bus on time if we ended up close to the exit.
We managed to navigate six very busy boys to the back of the zoo without too many stops and we were rewarded amply – it was empty and we could easily get up close and personal with all of the exhibits, and (pro tip) it was easy to keep track of our charges because there were very few other people around. Moments later, we were in the otter/red panda area when a zoo official asked us to leave the area because THE RED PANDA HAD ESCAPED ITS ENCLOSURE. Zoo personnel were rapidly arriving on the scene – yellow jackets on bicycles, in golf carts, and on foot, with walkie-talkies and badges.
It was literally the most exciting thing to happen at a zoo since April the Giraffe finally gave birth. It was like Jurassic Park and Madagascar all in one, and our boys were … not nearly as excited as the other moms and I were. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? This was a BIG DEAL. Why were they not out of their minds?
It hit me a few days later. For me, with my days filled with work, pack the lunches, check the backpacks, meet the bus, wash the baseball uniform, pack the bags, unpack the groceries, move the clothes from floor to basket to washer to dryer to bedrooms and repeat x infinity, this was a big freaking deal. I was at the zoo with my kids on a work day and there was a wild animal on the loose. For my kids, every day is filled with wonder and excitement and discovery and different experiences and so this was just another in a long line of “guess what happened today” events. And there will be dozens more of them as we wrap up the 2016-17 school year and embark on the summer of 17. My goal at the zoo was to bring the kids back alive and on-time, and I think that’s my end-of-year school goal as well: race to the finish, survive the myriad pitfalls of field days, tag days, dress up and dress down and dress spirit and dress whatever days, end of year party days, last minute project days, field trip days, and last days – and get there alive and on-time.
See you at the finish line!

Circus Act

It’s fitting that I just bought myself tickets Hetty Feather at the Delaware Theatre Company for the 2 pm performance on Mother’s Day. It’s a show about a little kid with a big imagination that runs away with the circus on her journey to find her birth mom. Fun for the whole family!
A show about moms and kids and a circus? Yep, that sounds about right. After all, this *is* my circus and these *are* my monkeys. And I’m pretty sure I’m the ringmaster, adding events to the calendar with the push of a button and magically making meals appear on the regular while juggling work, health, family, sports calendars, drama club, endless laundry, and the mountains of paperwork coming out of the backpacks as the end of the year approaches.
This time of year is a circus act for everyone involved – jumping through the proverbial hoops of the year end madness (international day for twin 3rd graders this week had me preparing meatballs for one class and corned beef for the other) and walking across the tightrope (checking the forecast for field day, the grades for the 5th grader, the season finales schedule) and climbing up up up on the high dive to springboard right into summer.
We are almost there – and the circus goes on a slight hiatus for a little while, as the school madness takes a backseat to the no less maddening summer break schedule of swim team, camps, babysitters, beach vacations, and household projects (the twins getting their own rooms) that need to get done this summer if they’re ever getting done at all.
Hang in there, Ringmasters. The Show Must Go On!

Baby Giraffe

Tween daughter was tottering around the Florida rental on spring break in my wedge espadrilles, looking like a cross between a runway model and that baby giraffe. All long legs and knees and adorable. I could hardly take it. I blinked and she went from learning to walk to trying on my shoes as a pre-schooler, pretending to be the mom. Now when she tries on my shoes, she means business. Ditto for “borrowing” my mascara. I blinked, and she’s not a little girl anymore.
Same for the twins – who are each sporting floods as I really can’t bring myself to buy pants when it feels like spring and summer weather is here to stay. Sorry boys, anymore cold days and you can either wear shorts with your socks pulled all the way up (kidding! they do that every day!) or you can wear the too-short pants from fall. Sorry about your toes scrunching up in your sneakers, too, but I was sort of hoping the sneakers I bought in MARCH would fit you for at least another month or so.
They grow fast this time of year, like the weeds already popping up through the freshly laid mulch. Everything happens fast this time of year. The season finales are almost here, and then the end-of-year parties. And then summer.
Where’s the pause button???

The Top of the Coaster

We’re almost there, to the top of the coaster where you sit back in the seat and it click-click-click-clicks up and up and if you didn’t know what was coming it would be a slow, enjoyable ride and you could look around and see the the sky and the tops of the trees and for miles in every direction but instead because you do know what’s coming all you can do is look ahead and think when? When? Now? When?
THAT’S what the end of the school year is like. Right now, we are clicking up to the apex. We know what’s coming and we are about to take that deep breath that will help us remain calm and somewhat in control during the series of plummets and twists and turns and rocket starts that are about to happen.
Projects hinted about in March and outlined in April are now almost due. Field trips and brown bag lunches and field day celebrations are all on the calendar THIS MONTH. In the immediate future, you will make 42 trips to Walgreens to get posterboard (oaktag) and a snack to send in for the class picnic and something appropriate for the teacher appreciation luncheon and three different kinds of paper plates for the end of year class parties and a box of envelopes because every other day you have to send in a check for a tee shirt or a yearbook or a field trip.
It is during this same time that your children will outgrow that they own and you will be faced with the choice of either sending them to school in seriously short pants or else squeezing in a trip to Target or Marshall’s in between baseball practice and play rehearsal and your afternoon coffee.
Know this: as you are buckling up for what could be a very bumpy ride ahead, just know that you’re not riding this coaster alone.