Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Most Irresponsible TV Commercial...Ever

On Saturday, January 28th, 2006, while watching the Marquette vs. Pittsburgh Big East basketball game, I saw a Nike commercial for Air Total Force Max shoes. This commercial, which ran several times, basically consists of young men dunking the basketball. Interspersed with the scenes of the men dunking, is a young boy setting a ladder up in front of the basketball hoop. He sits on top of this six-foot ladder and eventually stands up, leaps to the basket and hangs on the rim. In very tiny type at the bottom of the screen, it says: “do not attempt.” My first thought upon seeing this was: "Are they INSANE?!"

This commercial is one of the most irresponsible marketing ploys I have seen in years. Despite the tiny disclaimer on the screen, I can only imagine how many young kids are hauling ladders out of garages in an attempt to perform a slam dunk. Nike should be held responsible for any injuries or, God forbid, deaths that occur as a result of this commercial.

If you are a parent, you know that kids don’t listen to what you say (“do not attempt”), they watch what you do and if it looks cool, they try it. This attempt at selling basketball shoes by appealing to young kids’ dreams of dunking is dangerous.

I wonder if anyone else has complained about this commercial or if I'm the lone person that has a significant problem with this. I have e-mailed Nike with my letter of complaint and plan on sending letters to the NCAA, The Big East, Marquette and anyone else associated with college basketball. I just think this is so wrong and irresponsible.

If you'd like to join me in my efforts to get this commercial pulled from television, you can start here:

Mr. Phil Knight, CEO
Nike World Headquarters
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Office. The School Office

Sometime during their child's education, every parent should be required to work in the school office. It will not only make you appreciate the secretary and the principal, it will make you think twice before you fill out forms, write notes or call the school. It will also make you believe that many parents are idiots.

The secretary at my daughter's school was on jury duty this week and several parents took turns working in the office. I've done it before, so I was prepared for the amount of paper and systems that are in place to keep the school running. And even though this school has only 400+ children, I couldn't fathom doing that job every day.

First there's the germ assault that hits you hourly. At one point, I had three teachers standing in front of my desk discussing the various strains of their sinus infections or flu viruses. I wished I could reach for a facemask, or at the very least, scream GET OUT OF HERE! But I didn't. Then there are the children that march in and out searching for the health room volunteer, who is never there when you really need him/her. The kids are dripping, on the verge of hurling or complaining of a phantom ache or pain that always needs an ice pack. I swear these kids are addicted to ice packs, or perhaps just attention. Each of these minor incidents requires grilling the child for name, grade, room number and a recounting of what you did to treat the stubbed toe.

The next hurdle is attendance. It sounds easy - the kids either show up or they don't. Or, better yet, they walk in late, pop their head in the office door and say: "I'm late" so fast that you don't get a chance to ask who they are. In our school, the secretary knows everyone, a gift that goes far in her job. Even when I had the time to ask their name, I couldn't understand what they said through the mumbles and the sniffles. Part of taking attendance is recording the phone messages of the parents that do call in to say that their child will be absent. Bless them. Because after the attendance sheets are checked and teachers are quizzed about stragglers, the next job is to call the parents who don't call in. What are they thinking? That the school has a medium on staff to have visions of their child home sick in bed? And the best part is when they're irritated that you called. "Yes, of course she's sick. She's been sick all week!" Oh, right lady. I forgot to ask the medium about that.

Eventually, the phone calls start coming in. You'd be amazed at what parents call in to ask. "Do you know if Billy has gym at 10:30 or 11:30 today?" Or, "Can you get a message to Sally to say that she should walk home with Mary and not Suzy and when she gets home she should put the meatloaf in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half..." Parents, this is the school secretary, not your personal secretary.

Then, you get the parents dropping things off in the office. "Jimmy forgot his lunch, can I leave it here?" "Sure," you say, an answer you eventually regret when it becomes apparent that Jimmy's lunch has fish and onions in it and he has no plans to come and retrieve it.

Parents pop in and out of the office with a stunning variety of requests. "Can I have a copy of the permission slip that was sent home six weeks ago?" Or, "Do you have a 2009 school calendar?" Or, "I'm picking up Eric for his haircut appointment. Where is he?" This one really blew my mind. First of all, I can't imagine taking my kid out of school early for a haircut, unless he was preparing for a White House visit. Secondly, the school office doesn't have GPS devices on every child. If your kid didn't show up in the office, go to his classroom and find him!

Meanwhile, there's still a hefty load of paperwork for the secretary to process in between the thousands of interruptions. And the best part of the paperwork? The dated and dilapitated equipment on which you get to work. The computer that is slower than a Commodore 64. The copy machine that overheats just by looking at it. Add to these the cramped quarters and lack of privacy and you have the makings of a challenging working environment.

Finally, there's the glut of permission slips that eventually make their way to the office. People, everyone knows that parents are short on time, but think before you fill these forms out and send them in. Here's what NOT to do: Do not staple the check to the middle of the permission slip, thereby creating a hole in the middle of the permission slip and the check. And do not TAPE a five dollar bill to the middle of the permission slip, thereby making it impossible to remove the money without tearing off most of the information on the permission slip. When you fill out the permission slip, don't let your kid fill it out and don't write it like you're a physician filling out a prescription. This might surprise you, but people need to read these things. And don't clean out your change jar to pay for the trip to the zoo so that the envelope weighs 8 pounds and rips open. C'mon!

I know that every school is different. Some have more or less qualified staff members and more or less resources than other schools. Still, I think the office staff is greatly overlooked when giving credit to a school. These are the unsung heroes that rarely get the hugs or admiration that the teachers receive. We assume they're always there and take them for granted on a daily basis.

Next time you go in your child's school, stop in the office and say thank you to the special people behind the scenes. Just keep your distance if you're carrying any germs...or smelly lunches!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Scare Tactics

The day we give birth to our daughters is such a memorable moment in our lives as mothers. It's not that we're not equally joyous at the births of our sons, it's just that our first thought is usually something like: "Finally, a kid I can understand!" We couldn't be more wrong.

We fool ourselves into thinking that because we are the same gender as our daughters, we are already prequalified for perfect parenting. At last, we'll have a mini-reenactment of our girlhood with an opportunity to fine-tune the story along the way. Unlike her brothers, we believe our daughter won't have that uncanny enthusiasm for crashing toys together or rolling on the floor to a cacophony of sound effects.

Our heads are filled with visions of dolls, mother-daughter shopping trips, someone to take to chick-flicks and another estrogen-fueled body in the house with whom to share accessories, fashion tips...and feelings.

Then one day, reality hits. Often, it's at around age 10.

Despite the fact that, yes, we are also female, we find ourselves with virtually no ability to understand this other girl living in our midst. Our husbands look to us for guidance but we have no answers. We don't understand our daughters and they start to make our sons look, well easy.

We don't understand what they wear or why they think it's attractive. No matter what kind of hair or body they have, they want the opposite. They like everything we hate and our approval is the kiss of death when applied to fashion, music and friends.

We tiptoe around their mood swings in fear of saying THE WRONG THING. The harder we try to connect with them, the further they run away. We can't possibly understand anything they are going through. In their minds, it's so much worse today. Frankly, sometimes they scare us a little.

My friends and I joke about the coping techniques that we develop. The timing of a question, the phrasing of a suggestion or the diplomacy tactics needed for well-veiled criticism. Trust me, we've tried "direct" and it's a disaster. Instead we prepare ourselves for the various landmines of emotions that are hidden throughout the day.

We've become very adept at picking up visual cues. The rolled eyes, the grimace of disgust and the jaw-clenching anger can be spotted from a mile away. However, unlike us, our daughters are much more direct. "Mom, do you realize how annoying you are?" my daughter asked recently. "Yes," I tell her. "It's my job."

I find solace in the fact that both my mother and I survived my pre-teen and teen years and, at least in my opinion, we like each other. I like to think that on the day we become mothers, whether it's the first or the fifth time, we are reminded that our mothers were anything but clueless. In fact, it's my belief that these tactics that my friends and I use are nothing more than a time-honored tradition silently passed on from generation to generation.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my mom something that I wasn't going to share with my daughter because, as I told her, "You know how it is, Mom. Everything I say is stupid." "Yes," she replied. "I remember." Ouch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shall Remain Nameless

Once the wedding is over, the honeymoon spent, the gifts opened and the joint household established, there is one major hurdle that all newlyweds must face: What do you call your in-laws? It sounds like a simple dilemma, but ask your friends and you'll find it's fraught with obstacles and invisible hurdles. Many which last for decades.

I was barely 23 years old when I got married. I was fortunate that both of my parents were alive and well. My husband also had both of his parents and although healthy, they had at least 10 years on my parents. We had a brief discussion with my future in-laws and they said I could call them by their first names or something more traditional. And so, we all just assumed that I'd be calling my in-laws "Mom and Dad" with no problem, thinking that their more advanced age justified the title. I couldn't have been more wrong. I suddenly found myself stumbling when addressing my them. I started mumbling "mom and dad" in a soft whisper because it felt so unnatural. These people weren't my parents! And although they had many more children than my parents did, it just didn't feel right. When I finally stopped to think about it, I realized the problem. I felt like I was cheating on my parents. And so for the first of only a handful of times in my adult life, I took the proverbial bull by the horns, approached my mother-in-law and asked permission to use first names. She graciously agreed although perhaps there was a hint of disappointment which she never ever revealed again. Nevertheless, the problem was solved and I was relieved to be past it.

My husband, not so much. Being more of a casual guy, he's not big on using people's names except in business situations. He's good at making people feel very comfortable and his direct gaze is always warm and friendly. This is great until we were with my parents and he needed to say something to them and they were across the room. You see, he had never had "the talk" with my parents, not really wishing to have that awkward conversation. Gradually, I noticed that he'd walk across the room and sit next to them before speaking. Or, he'd speak louder in hopes that a raised voice would make it obvious to whom he was addressing his comments. He became like a ventriloquist attempting to throw his voice across the room in an effort to avoid calling them anything at all. Years went by before my husband dealt with it. Finally, he had to talk to them for business reasons and he just decided to go with first names. It was touchy at first, but he eventually got used to it.

My friend's daughter recently married and yesterday I asked her what her new son-in-law was calling her and her husband. "Nothing," she responded. She's tried every way to help him through this by giving him options or signing cards with their first names, but he still chooses not to choose. She understands that this is a dilemma for him because she said her husband still, after 25 years, doesn't call her parents anything. My other friend nodded in agreement because in her 20+ year marriage, her husband also does the same!

It's a much more delicate situation than it appears. My friend with the new son-in-law remembered when she started calling her new mother-in-law "Mom," (because it was requested,) and her own mother was upset. Here she was simply being a good daughter-in-law and she ended up unintentionally hurting her mom. Sometimes you just can't win.

Today our society is much more casual and the trend seems to lean toward the use of the more familiar first names. It gets tricky for younger couples, however, especially when they've been dating since high school and it's unlikely they'll easily jump from "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" to "Mary and Bob" overnight. It also seems to be a bigger challenge for men than women, with many never really facing it, instead choosing to remain silent on the issue.

When my time comes to become a mother-in-law, I hope to make it easy on my future daughter or son-in-law by giving them a simple choice. You can either call me "Karen" or "Mom" and if you don't choose, you will forever be banished to calling me "Your Royal Highness." You don't think it's too much, do you?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I've Got Me Under My Skin

Well, I find myself in a very interesting place this evening. Where, you ask? Well, I'm home. No, my house isn't especially interesting, although the antique slot machine is a huge attraction for visitors. The point here is that I'm alone. It's me, the cat and the dog and that makes it very quiet. Sure, I'm a stay-at-home mom and I spend many weekdays alone, but this is very different. Hubby is off on a well-deserved leisure trip to Vegas, my son is off at college and my daughter is out with friends. It is Saturday night and I am ALONE.

These aren't desperate times. I do have wonderful friends and if I had really put my mind to it, I could have arranged for something to do this evening. But thinking it over, I realized that this will be something that will occur more often in the next few years. My kids are growing up fast and from time to time, I'm going to have an empty house - whether it's a quiet weekend like this or the random weeknight when my husband goes out of town. I decided that it's time for me to get comfortable in my own skin.

I gotta hand it to you single people. This takes some work. I don't have a lot of hobbies and I don't personally find myself very entertaining. For the first time in years, I have long stretches of empty hours ahead of me and I'm feeling a little...antsy about it all. I'm not quite sure what to do with this newfound freedom.

When my kids were babies or toddlers, I would have given one of them away to get a weekend like this. Back then, I couldn't find a private moment, even in the bathroom, unless it was bathtime for the kids, not me. It was difficult to be comfortable in my own skin because I often had a child or two attached to it. It was hard to know where my skin and life ended and theirs began.

So I decided tonight not to rush to fill the empty hours. Instead, I'm leisurely reading magazines, watching a few rented movies and generally "putzing." I don't know if this is typically what people do alone on a Saturday night, but it's what I'm doing and it's OK.

I'm also going to relish the few nice parts of this solo weekend. When I put things away, they stay there and new things aren't found out of place. I can watch the dumbest TV shows there are and not worry that I'm boring someone else. Chick flicks and more chick flicks. LOTS of room in bed. Not shaving my legs.

Tomorrow, I'll snap out of it and get together with friends and get back to normal. Tonight...well, I might just fall asleep on the couch and not feel guilty about it. Now that's livin' large.

Editor's Note: So after my daughter returned last night, we sat down to watch a movie we had rented the night before: "My Date With Drew" which is a documentary about a guy who has had a lifelong crush on Drew Barrymore and tries to get a date with her within 30 days with only $1,100. My review? It was ADORABLE! It has so much heart and humor. I recommend it to everyone - women, men, even pre-teen kids. (It's rated PG.) Do yourself a favor and rent this movie.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Short List Just Got Shorter

The list is growing shorter. In fact, if I were honest, I probably don't want to count how many names are on it. It's not even a real list. It's more or less in my mind, there to reassure me that I have nothing to worry about. What is this list, you ask? Why, it's the list of people in prominent positions that are older than me...of course. Allow me to explain.

Since I was young, I've kept a mental list of everyone important that was older than me. This list gave me hope and challenges and goals. Most of all, it gave me time. When I was a child, the list consisted of...well, everyone. My teachers, the principal, the mayor, the president, most movie stars, astronauts...and on and on. As I grew, it was fun to find out about the random child actor or prodigy that had done something noteworthy but it was better to know that most people with responsibility were older.

In high school, the list became a bit of self-imposed peer pressure. There were suddenly a few people no longer on the list that had already done something. After college, the list gave me a false sense of security. As long as most of the significant people were older than me, I still had time to accomplish something...anything.

Today, the list just got shorter. Actually, it shortens every day, but I just choose to ignore it. Today,the Green Bay Packers chose a new coach and he is younger than me. For so many years, virtually every coach in the NFL was older than me. It made me feel comforted to know that these father figures were leading our athletes. I've never had a desire to be an NFL coach, but in some bizarre way, I liked knowing that the coach of my favorite team had at least a little more life experience than me. Today, I found out that the new Packers' head coach is three years younger than me. For some reason, this is messing with my mind.

You see, I like to know that people in positions of leadership and notoriety are older than me. I'm not sure if it's because I can't imagine doing what they do or if it's because it brings them down to earth...I guess it just makes them fallible. For instance it helps me enormously to know that the leader of the free world is almost 60 years old...and I'm not. Even if I disagree with whoever is holding an office, I want to know that they have a little more wear and tear on their tires than I do.

What it comes down to, for me, is that I believe with age comes wisdom. A couple of months ago, I hit 45, which, on the wisdom scale is getting there. I'm not sure I feel as wise as I should which is where the list comes into play. As long as there is a list, everything will be OK. The important question is, do the people who aren't on the list know what the hell they're doing?

Today isn't really the first time this has all occurred to me. For the past several years, my kids' teachers are all starting to be younger than me. Most of the hot Hollywood actors are younger than me and those that are playing older roles are, gasp, my age. The guy that teaches me tennis is a lot younger than me and he was probably in diapers when Chrissy Evert hit her stride.

Here's an abbreviated version of the list: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Joe Montana, Pope Benedict XVI, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Neil Armstrong, Caroline Kennedy....well, you get the idea.

The list has variations. For instance, it used to be selfishly reassuring to know that it was always people older than me having various age-related ailments. Just this week I found out that a female high school classmate died of a heart attack. It doesn't hit much closer to home than that. Apparently, we're all mere mortals, despite what we've hoped all along. Obviously age isn't a sign of intelligence or good health. There are exceptions to this all around me, if I simply pay attention.

In any case, I choose to be blissfully ignorant of all of these facts and I'm about ready to exercise my right to "reverse agism." I believe that my being older than these "list dropouts" gives me the privilege of criticizing their every move...if only because they're younger than me. Darn whippersnappers!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rude Awakening

This past weekend, my friend Joy* experienced what I'd call a mid-life crisis one-two punch. On Saturday, her oldest daughter was married. On Sunday, she turned 50. The only thing that prevented it from becoming a hat trick was that she did not become a grandmother on Monday.

In terms of life-changes, I'd say she hit the motherlode (forgive the pun.) As I stood in the church watching her beautiful daughter walk down the aisle, I became sort of weepy thinking how this was the first of my friends whose children were getting married, meaning that my life was going to change soon as well. But when I woke up the next day, I was relieved to be a blissful 5 years away from the big FIVE-OH! (Hey, you count your blessings when you find 'em, right?)

Joy, on the other hand, handled it all with grace, style and operating under the radar. She absolutely forbid anyone from singing her Happy Birthday during the reception. Knowing Joy, it was so as not to steal attention away from the bride and groom. If it were me, it would be to continue a cycle of bold denial.

Age has never bothered me. I've never hidden my age and will happily share it with anyone that asks. (OK, I'm 45, if you must know.) But for some reason, thinking of Joy and this weekend's double-whammy felt me. Being a mom is a constant reminder of how old you are. As your children age, you do too - twice as fast, it seems. Your kids constantly remind you that you're old and have no clue what they're about. Although they're often right, you never, EVER admit it. Yes, I readily give out my age now, but I'm honestly not sure how I'm going to feel about doing it in five years.

I'm sure part of Joy's secret is that she has aged extremely well. She looks much younger than me and has blessedly avoided the paunch and jowls that plague so many of us. As firmly as I believe in the phrase "you're as young as you feel," I can't help but feel jealous lately when I run into younger moms or women blessed with Hilton, Lohan or Witherspoon genes. (Of course the fact that they probably exercise, um, WAY more than me or actually pass up the pastry samples in the grocery store might have something to do with their fantastic figures.)

Nevertheless, time marches on and with it go our bodies, our children and our lives. Life-changing events, like weddings and significant birthdays can be wake-up calls for all of us. They force us to think back, which is easy, and look ahead, which becomes a little harder to do with each passing year. Thank goodness I have Joy to teach me how to do it well.

*Names were changed to protect the aging.

Friday, January 06, 2006

News Flash! Mom Drops Ball, Family Picks It Up!

I had a revelation today. It was no small thing, really. You see, yesterday I was sick. I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that Mr. Flu visited me for the first time in about 15 years. Lucky me. I spent the entire day and night in bed. The revelation is that (gosh this is hard to admit) the world revolved without me yesterday. Yes, without my assistance, my kids were fed, voice lessons were taken, choir practices were attended, the dog was taken out, dishes were washed, most of the Christmas decorations were put away, science reports were finished and dry cleaning was picked up.

I'm telling you, this is amazing, because until yesterday, I figured that I was the only one that made these things happen. Until yesterday, I was so full of my own self-importance that I just assumed that if I fell off the face of the earth, life itself would stop. It didn't and I'm hear to say that this is both reassuring and humbling. On the one hand, I'm so grateful that my husband and my son jumped into action by driving and cooking and getting stuff done, with vague or no directions from me. On the other hand, this really puts a crimp into my whole nagging gig. Could it be that I've been wasting my breath for nearly 20 years or that, gasp, I need to learn to let go?

You see, we moms are notorious control freaks. We often feel responsible for everything in our house. Or, as my friend said the other day: "I never realized how NEEDY my kids are!" This begs the question: Are the kids really needy or are we secretly undermining their ability by enabling this neediness? Obviously, if you have kids under the age of 12, this doesn't really apply to you, but once they pass 12, I believe it's not that they can't do it, it's that we don't let them.

I think this is a particularly sensitive issue for stay-at-home-moms. If our families can get along fine when we're out of commission, what is our purpose? It means that it might be time to address the issue of what to do with our lives when the kids grow up. After years of taking care of others, the time has come to take care of ourselves. That might be the hardest thing we've ever done.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Great Expectations

With a new year comes reflections on the past and dreams for the future. Many of you are hoping, wishing and planning to become new moms in the coming year. I wish you the very best and I offer you this list of things to consider before embarking on this magical journey. I'm not trying to discourage you, but rather to give you a sort of "caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)" to consider. Anyway, here goes:

1) You will never sleep again. Period. No, I mean you will sleep, but it will never be the sleep of the innocents - the sleep of the child that you just brought into your life. You will sleep in embarrassing places like carpool lanes and auditoriums during recitals and churches and doctors' offices with a lovely strand of drool adorning your shoulder. You will not sleep in your bed because, well babies don't sleep until they turn 13 and then they can't be awakened until they turn 16 and then they go out and don't return home and then you won't sleep because of the imaginary horror show starring them that your mind has created and can't erase.

2) Your thoughts and ideas will never again be thoughtfully considered. It starts when they're young: "Sweetie, I don't think that's a good idea to put the dog toy in your mouth," and continues: "Honey, I think you should start your project soon since it's due tomorrow" and "I don't think you should dye your hair that color the night before the dance." Your opinion will cease to matter, even if it is correct.

3) A child will make you look at your mate differently. Suddenly, you'll start digging through his parents' photo albums to find the recessive gene that made your children have freakish overnight growth spurts. You'll finally start listening when he tells stories of his youth knowing it wasn't just another lame high school story, it's a peak at your future.

4) Your current body? Gone. I don't care if you had six-pack abs going into this, you're not going to come out looking the same or better, despite the stories you've heard of Julia Roberts, Denise Richards and Cindy Crawford. Low-rise will now refer to your bustline. You'll finally get that thick hair you always wanted, but it won't be on your head. And, I'm sorry to tell you, but there isn't enough concealer in all of Sephora to hide the newly-earned bags under your eyes.

5) Start writing things Soon, you will be doing the not-so-subtle Momba dance which essentially consists of walking into rooms, putting your finger on your chin, and trying to remember why you walked in there. It's often accompanied by quiet, plaintive, "self-talking" to try and work through the mental lapse. Oh yes, and those names you worked so hard to assign to each child? Fuggedaboudit. In a short time, the names will be interchanged and eventually replaced with those of homely aunts that died long ago.

6) Your privacy and personal space are now things of the past. It starts immediately as you carry the 40 pound baby carrier into the bathroom during your 20-second shower and wash your hair to the wail of a colicky infant. Once they start walking, there are no locks to keep them out of the bathroom while you're in there, no matter what you're doing. Once they've reached pre-teens, and especially if they're female, you'll suddenly find all of your makeup, hygiene products and most personal belongings either unearthed, shifted or moved to their rooms.

7) There is no such thing as a worry-free day. If they're sleeping, you wonder if they're sleeping too long or not enough or whether they're ill. You will soon start following the path of every ambulance and praying that it is not towards your child's daycare or school. Really. You think about their grades, their friendships, their fitness, their mental health, their habits, their lack of self-discipline, their obsession with test scores and finally, will they ever come home again.

8) Your wallet is now the toll-booth for your family. Expect it to be aired out often and sometimes cold and empty. If you are not doling out cash, then you are charging, rearranging funds and, the daily exercise of parents everywhere - writing checks. You'll write checks for field trips, textbooks, school clothes, sporting equipment, sports tournaments, coaches' gifts, instrument rentals, dance shoes, prom dresses, car insurance and, maybe one day...a wedding more expensive than your first house. Your wallet and your bank account will see more action than, well than you ever will...again.

9) Clutter. It's your new best friend. It will surround you, embrace you, envelope you and drown you. At first it's pacifiers and baby bottle tops and tiny socks that never have mates. Then it evolves into Happy Meal toys and board game pieces and tiny, sharp Legos that cause great pain when stepped on. Eventually, it's hair bands, and bobby pins and CDs and cell phones and looseleaf paper scribbled with assignments. There is no way to clean it, control it or eliminate it. None whatsoever. Believe me. I've tried.

10) Your heart is forever altered. With the birth of your child, it unexpectedly swells to ten times its normal size. Don't worry, it's still healthy, but do expect it to be broken and mended time and time again. Having a child is the greatest love story you will ever read, see or experience. In one brief moment, you are so taken with this tiny person, that you can't imagine having been complete before they entered your life. Prepare to be loved so much that you're almost suffocated and hated so much that you can't bear it, all because you're doing your job. You will never be the same again.

So, you still think you're ready to become a parent? Then good luck and God Bless. I highly recommend it.