Traci's Blog

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

The Way We Were

Those damn Facebook memories. That damn TimeHop app. All it does is give me a daily reminder, complete with notification on my phone screen, of how fast it all goes. This week, it was a glimpse back to the Easters of yesteryear, complete with My Little Pony toys and footie pajamas and twins with binkies and blankies. Now, there’s deodorant and iTunes gift cards in the Easter baskets. I can’t even remember the last time we had a binky in this house (we do still have the blankies).
It.just.goes.so.fast.
I spent Friday morning at my children’s old preschool, also our church, where there was a pre-Easter event. The preschool classrooms were the stations that we visited on our “Walk to Easter” excursion, and seeing the artwork and the cubbies and even the teacher’s handwriting brought up the most poignant memories. Outside of one room, there was the weekly “Eating the Alphabet” list, where the letter of the week food was listed at the top. Yams. On the Liked It list were the two teachers and child called Taryn. On the Did Not Like It list were all the other kids. When my boys were in that class, they insisted on a third column: Would Not Try It. That’s where their names were, every week. #truestory And I had completely forgotten about that, until today. What else have I forgotten about?
And what am I forgetting now?

Small Victories

So I’m volunteering at Book Fair this week – fully absorbed in my forever fantasy of owning a small book shop, where I spend my days chatting with customers and reading – and a mom there volunteering is apologizing for being in sweats, she hadn’t planned to stay, just getting her daughter to school on time felt like a huge accomplishment that day. Wingmom says “it’s the small victories.”
YES. It is the small victories. In some jobs, the victories are nearly globally celebrated: a ball player hits a home run and a stadium literally cheers for him doing his job. A big case closes or a big deal is signed and the champagne corks pop. In our jobs – whether we are SAHMs (ha!) or FTWMs or PTWMs or whatever – in our mom jobs, the small victories come and go so quickly that we really need to pause to give them the kudos they deserve.
Here are few: a 3rd grader at book fair put back a book she really wanted so she could instead buy one from the teacher wish list, all on her own. VICTORY! Laundry went from floor to washer to dryer to baseball bag in time for the Friday night game that subsequently got cancelled. VICTORY! The gift for the Sunday birthday party AND the carpool was arranged a full 48 hours before the party start time. VICTORY! A little boy fell on the playground and 9 kids race over to make sure he’s okay. A brother and sister have a knock-down drag-out fight and work it out all on their own. Report cards come home and the envelopes get signed and back in the backpacks. Meals are prepared and cleaned up and sleepy children are put to bed clean and tired from playing outdoors and growing so fast. Permission slips are signed and baked goods for teacher appreciation week are baked.
Our days are filled with hundreds of small victories. Celebrate each and every one, however and whenever you can.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

True confession: baseball bores the living HECK out of me. I’ve been to about 4 MLB games in my life and once I run through the beer line a few times, I’m ready to call it a day and head on home. I have less than zero interest in any of the things that the sportsy types tell me is what makes baseball fun. To me, if it’s less interesting than whatever I’m currently bingeing on Netflix, then no. Even the monkeys riding on sheepdogs don’t hold my attention. Again, a cold beer or two and I’m all “let’s go kids, let’s beat the traffic out of here.”
My husband can take or leave baseball and he’s not the family signer-upper, so it was always up to me to enroll the kids in tee-ball, baseball, softball. And so our family has been blissfully baseball free. Until now.
Twin A decided he really wanted to try baseball this spring. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts to dissuade him, I asked around, pulled a string, got him on a team with some people I trust and enjoy, and we’re off to the races. First practice cancelled due to ice blizzard. Most subsequent practices cancelled due to endless spring rain. Not so bad so far. But the games start next week and I hear that they can last a very.long.time.
On the plus side, this will give me ample time to chat with the other families on the team, who I really enjoy. I am looking forward to enjoying the great outdoors from the comfort of a tailgate chair and letting my other two explore the joys of living in a small town, where the Wawa, the playground, the library, the pizza place, and the ball field all share the same corner. I am looking forward to the structure that a team sport offers. I am already loving how this sport is helping my boy with patience and responsibility. As a twin, he is really enjoying having something that is “just his.” As a mom, I can’t help but enjoy his enjoyment.
And, about halfway through the season, I’ll begin to look forward to the very best part of spring sports: summer!

Hippity Hoppity

They say Easter’s on its way. Yes, kids, a large bunny in a bow tie skips through the house hiding eggs and wearing pants and leaves you Mommy’s favorite kinds of candy in a basket – along with sunscreen, goggles, and all the other stuff you’ll need for a quick trip to Florida over spring break. Sounds legit, right?
About as legit as calling a week off from school in the late winter “spring break.” Without being too much of a Debbie Downer, please manage your own expectations. It is likely that there will be very little break in your break, unless your children are spending their break in a different location than you are.
Break will either entail all of you together, possibly with grandparents or other additional people, in a different location, in a place that is probably a bit smaller than your own home, on a schedule that causes someone to be irritated (at best) and possibly ragicidal (toddlers) – or it will entail a week without a routine and a schedule at your own house, as you try to log in a few hours here and there and you spend all of your free time juggling playdates and waiting for babysitters to call you back.
Yet, somehow, I am still *really* looking forward to it. We are headed to Hogwarts where a few days of roller coasters and butterbeer await. A few college friends will be there at the same time and we are counting on at least two full uninterrupted days by the pool where I will alternate between napping and reading a novel. My children will be quietly happy nearby, entertaining themselves and each other and making new spring break friends at the pool. The weather will be warm – but not too hot or humid – and sunny with a few breaks from clouds just when it gets almost too hot. They will not fight with each other and they will spontaneously learn how to apply their own sunscreen. It will be as magical as Hogwarts School itself.
And then we will fly home and it will seriously be mid-spring, like for real. Time flies when you’re living in Fantasyland.

Is Spring Ahead?

They say hope springs eternal but I can’t see any reason to leave the seasons up to the seasons any more. I mean, if climate change was a real thing, would we have an ice storm in March? NOPE. So it’s time to crank up the heat and the electronics and stop recycling and buy things with ridiculous amounts of packaging and leave our cars running at all times. Yes?
Ugh, no. Obviously no. Spring IS coming. It has every year since the dawn of time and there is no reason to think it won’t this year. But … please hurry! The mounds of ice in our driveway are making it hard for the babysitter to park and even harder for my kids to play outdoors and I am ALL DONE with them playing indoors and regulating their screen time in this weather is not easy because it really does prevent the house from disintegrating into a pile of mess and snacks.
Yup, we need some spring up in here. STAT. We’ve been patient and the one snow day wasn’t so bad but it’s time now to get back on track. I’ve got a 9 year old that is desperate to start baseball and a screened in porch that is ready for a good spring cleaning and an al fresco cocktail hour. C’mon, Mother Nature. LET’S DO THIS.

Snow More.

The Delaware Weather Guy (https://delawareweatherguy.blog/2017/03/11/storm-mode-location-location-and-location/) says we might get clobbered. The heavily sponsored Stormchasers (http://www.ssstormchasers.org/) say we might get clobbered. The teachers at my kids’ school say we might get clobbered. Hurricane Schwartz says we might get clobbered. The grocery store panic says we might get clobbered.
My friend Kerry calls BS. She says it’s all hype, it’s all nonsense, it’s all to sell bread and milk and beer and wine and redbox and it just won’t happen they way they say.
What do I say? I’m torn.
On the one hand, please, no. My husband’s back has been on the fritz and that combined with my persistent tennis elbow will mean a snowstorm of extreme pain in our house as we work to clear the driveway, the car, the front walkway. #Thisis40something
On the other hand, sure, why not? My kids could use a good snowstorm – those sleds we got from Santa haven’t seen the light of day. Missing a day or two of school means no lunches to pack and no homework to supervise, and I’m totally good with that. I can easily work from home and my kids will mostly leave me alone, unlike the N. Korea expert who had to parent during his live interview on BBC, which went totally viral in hours and was a great example of real life. (Cheers to the mom who busted in, grabbed the kids, and closed the door, all while trying to keep herself off camera. I have watched it a dozen times. I love them all.) (If you didn’t see it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/anatomy-masterpiece-13-reasons-funniest-video-year-pure-comedy/)
At this point, we’ll just keep watching the forecast. Good luck, and good night.

And the Award Goes To …

The votes are in. And for work in a ongoing performance piece called “no, you may not have a sleepover” and a recurring role in “42 additional reasons we don’t have an Xbox” the award for the most terrible mother goes to – once again – me.
[Applause]
I’d like to thank the Academy for this honor. It’s especially meaningful to accept this award after having been awarded it so many times before – it shows a level of commitment and persistence that I did not think possible during that one 10K I did where I had to stop and walk several times and during many trial-and-error episodes with various and sundry stylists in the greater 19707.
But my commitment to being The Worst Mom Ever cannot be underestimated. I re-commit to the cause every time I buy a vegetable, every time I wash an inside-out-with-underwear-still-in-it pair of jeans, and certainly every time I prioritize needs over wants. I’d like to thank the teachers who made me work for the occasional good grades I received and especially my parents who taught me everything I know.
Next, I will be appearing as a series regular in “That’s What I Call Natural Consequences.” Tune in.

Dear Mother Nature,

Hey girl. On behalf of the moms, I just want to say thanks. I see that we are back to our regularly scheduled programming – but the interruption for a few days of spring temps and bright sunshine this week made a big difference. We got out to Longwood and the playground and we opened our windows and let some fresh air in. We drove with our windows down and maybe turned the radio up a little louder than normal. We may have dug out some old-school Alanis and “thank you India, thank you terror, thank you dis-i-llusion-ment” because thank you for a mid-winter week of sunshine.
It was just.what.the.doctor.ordered to get us out of the gloom-doom-despair of this winter. The news has been worse than the stomach bug and we’ve had enough of both, thank you very much. This week reminded us of all that lies ahead: spring break is around the corner and the third marking period is underway. We are more than halfway there, and we are livin’ on a prayer for summer to come and take us back to the pool and the beach and no homework.
We know you have to get back to the regular business of February and we are okay with that – truly we are. But our forsythia is budding and our daffodils are blooming and we just want you to maybe take it easy on us for the rest of the season, if it’s all the same to you.
Again, thanks girl. We know you are always in our corner.
Love, Moms

Sometimes You See It Right When It Happens

I’m pretty sure that I attended my last class Valentine’s Party this week. It’s not a big deal to go or not go to the Valentine’s Party – not like missing a recital or a play or an award, which we will likely all do at some point or other and feel terrible about until we make up for it by attending the next thing. The Valentine’s Party is Officially No Big Deal – two other moms and a grandmother were there, and we helped with set up and clean up and handed out juiceboxes and cupcakes coated with Red Dye #3 and after about 45 minutes we said goodbye and I made some copies for the PTO and went on my merry way. Officially No Big Deal.
But … there were no 4th grade moms milling about in the school. The 5th grader traded valentines with her classmates but there was no sign up genius for sending in sliced apples or cookies. I think 3rd grade is the end of the line for Valentine’s Parties.
What else is the end of the line for? It’s hard to know in the moment – the moments go fast and the every day moments come in one right after the other after the other, like waves on the beach.
One kid lost her last baby tooth recently and didn’t even put it under her pillow. The Tooth Fairy paid her her last visit some time ago — I don’t remember it, she probably doesn’t either. In the moment, it didn’t feel like a moment. It felt like an to-do to check of the list – lights out, dishes clean, laundry folded, show watched, email checked, tooth switched out for a crisp $1 bill. Done. Off to bed. Except – maybe would I have spent the extra few seconds to inhale her sweet sleeping head if I had known it was the last Tooth Fairy visit?
This time I really did know. I took that extra long hug from the 3rd grader who thanked me for coming to his Valentine’s Party. I shared that chocolate kiss he gave me and took in that sweet face, with the too-big teeth all lollipop stained and grinning. My funny valentine.

Book Club

We need a little spring up in here, STAT. That one 65+ degree day was enough to remind me that we’ve had enough of winter thankyouverymuch and the days are getting ever so slightly longer and I am ready to put the boots away and get this flower show on the road.
Except … it’s I Love To Read Month, and if you know anything about me, you know this: I’m a reader. As a writer, I’ve always felt that the best way to get good at writing is to read read read. As a mom, the memories I cherish most from the early years are the many hours I spent in the glider with a child or two on my lap, reading bedtime stories. My daughter’s first word was “book.” Now, my kids carry books with them all the time – they read as they eat their cereal before school and before bed at night, and plenty of other times in between. I don’t do everything right as a parent, but I’ve so far succeeded in raising readers and that’s.not.nothing.
And as a human, I find that reading – or sometimes, listening to an audiobook – helps me take a break from my reality.
So why, when I get busy, is Book Club one of the things I allow to slip off my calendar? I think Book Club feels like an indulgent treat, when it should be regarded as a functional necessity. Getting together with smart women who also love reading to discuss and engage on literature is not extracurricular – it’s fundamental, and it deserves pride of place on my calendar and not to be fit in if it works for my week and my work.
I hope you are recognizing I Love To Read Month too. We’re squeezing in an extra library trip this week, to gear up for the 4-day weekend. Better hit the wine store too, while I’m thinking of it …