Giving Up Lent

If you’re Catholic, you know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a.k.a., the first day of Lent. Lent, for all you non-Catholics reading this, is the forty days (or 43, this year) before Easter when Catholics pray, reflect, fast and make penance. Basically, it’s a six-week period when we give up our biggest vices as a way to repent and sacrifice before overindulging in them once again on Easter Sunday.

So what am I giving up this year?

I usually denounce chocolate for the 40+ days, but being that tomorrow is also Valentine’s Day and next week is my birthday, this creates a bit of a conundrum for me. I could forego chocolate on the two days a year when I do indulge or I could cheat and suffer weeks of Catholic guilt. Neither option sounds appealing, so chocolate will not be on my Lenten hit list this year … Problem solved.

I could give up swearing and speeding, my two biggest vices, but who am I kidding? Both are part of my DNA and I own that sh*t. Plus, I’m usually late — hence my propensity to speed — so, no.

I could offer up alcohol, but I stopped drinking over five years ago and I don’t think Lenten sacrifices are retroactive.

I could duplicate last year’s extreme efforts and avoid the basics of modern life — food (I attempted the Whole 30 diet) and social media — but depriving myself of these necessities just made me mean. Or meaner, according to my wonderfully honest kids. Besides, if I give up Instagram again, how will you know what I eat for dinner or when it’s leg day at the gym?

So after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided that this Lenten season I am giving up Lent. Yes, you read that correctly. I am giving up the Lenten tradition of sacrifice and fasting. Instead, I am taking my cue from the universe aligning the first day of Lent with Valentine’s Day and giving something out rather than giving something up. For the next 43 days, my Lenten promise is to commit at least one act of love, kindness and/or compassion a day. Big or small. For a stranger, friend or family member. Anything counts as long as it’s heartfelt, pure and meaningful. Because isn’t that what being Christian is really about? Isn’t that what being human is really about? Spreading love, being kind, showing compassion … It’s what the world needs now more than ever.Plus, I figure a few good deeds should counterbalance a handful of F-bombs, right? I call that a Lenten win-win.


Recycling Resolutions, 2018-style

Happy New Year! Can I still say that? It is January 12, after all. Anyway, …

This is the time of year when we all make grand resolutions to improve ourselves in some way: Vow to eat healthier and exercise more; Promise to meditate daily and go to bed earlier; Pledge to live in the moment and be kinder; Save more, do more, be more … The list goes on. I get it. I do it, too. Every year, I make similar resolutions: 2015 – To be calmer, happier, better; 2016 – To be less uptight and rigid; 2017 – To be more forgiving, mindful and connected. Notice a trend?

According to researchers, 80% of people abandon their resolutions by mid-February. They just throw in the towel and straight-up quit. Well, I am not a quitter. I am also not a totally relaxed, carefree, zen yogi like I hoped to be by now, which is why I’ve decided to recycle my old resolutions from the past three years as my new resolutions for this year. Some will say this is lazy, but I say it’s inspired — maybe even genius — because I never fully achieved any of those old resolutions. Sure, I’m a little calmer, looser and more aware than I used to be, there’s still lots of room for improvement. Every day is a chance to get better, to be better and to move closer to truly reaching my goals of inner peace and happiness, so I’m going to keep trying.

Strive for progress, not perfection.

My motto for 2018 is, “Progression over perfection,” which is a good thing because it’s been slow-going these first twelve days of the new year. 2017 went out with more of a fizzle than a bang (a canceled vacation and ten long days of family togetherness left a bitter taste in my mouth) and 2018 started off sort of strong — until it didn’t. The boys finally went back to school and actually left the house showered, fed and on-time without any yelling involved for two days in a row! This minor miracle gave me hope and I took it as a positive sign of what the year had in store for me — peace, serenity and productivity. Unfortunately, Mother Nature interpreted this sign differently. She must have thought hell froze over because what followed has been nothing short of a shit show so far: One ice storm (with a school delay), two snow days, three broken toilets, four power outages, five days without heat, six meltdowns (all mine) and, of course, back to the usual scream-filled, late mornings. I’m not sure if I’m more pissed at Mother Nature, my kids, the school superintendent or that f*cker Murphy with the bad luck that makes everything “law.” Not exactly the road to blissful living.

This is 100% me #keepingitreal

But tomorrow is a new day and I’m not giving up. Progression over perfection. And things are already looking up: The sub-zero temperatures are gone, our heat has been fixed, new toilets will be installed next week and my husband and I are going on a much-needed vacation without the kids. Life is good. I know there are more sucky days ahead, but in general, my life is good.

So here’s to slaying all your 2018 goals, and even those left over from 2015. Just take it one day at a time like me. Breathe, you got this!

Ready to slay 2018!


Festivus For The Rest of Us

Over the past two weeks, I’ve sat down four separate times to write a festive holiday post. Something light and fun about outrageous Elf on the Shelf shenanigans, ugly Christmas sweaters and oversized SUVs adorned with reindeer antlers and Rudolph noses. But I just can’t seem to do it. My yuletide cheer is buried somewhere inside a dusty box of velvet stockings and tangled lights that I didn’t bother to open this year.

Flashback to merrier times, circa 2006. Now jaded, the wonder has faded.

At the risk of being labeled a Christmas curmudgeon, I have a confession to make: It is December 22 and I’m still not in the holiday spirit. Maybe it’s the stress of shopping in overcrowded stores, the pressure to find “perfect gifts” and the financial strain that comes along with it. Or maybe it’s the absence of decorations at home, my self-imposed ban on Christmas music and the fact that I intentionally accidentally forgot to make a holiday card again. Whatever the reason, I’m just not feeling it.

Maybe I need therapy for my holiday angst, too?

The irony is, I actually like Christmas and many of its commercial traditions: The cheesy spectacle of lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn and 13th Street in South Philly, the elaborate windows at Lord & Taylor, Barneys and Saks in midtown Manhattan, the tree at Rockefeller Center and the outdoor ice rink beneath Philly’s Ben Franklin Bridge are some of my favorite holiday memories (minus the crowds that, today, give me anxiety). What I don’t enjoy is the build up. For me, a day and a half of merriment — December 24 and 25 — is more than sufficient. A month (or more!) of Christmas carols, decorations and shopping is simply too much for me. The weeks leading up to Christmas have become overbearing and exasperating, both emotionally and financially, and frankly, I can’t handle the pressure anymore. Correction: I choose not to handle it anymore. Call me a grinch, but I think Seinfeld‘s Frank Costanza was on to something with his December 23rd Festivus holiday. Maybe not with the unadorned aluminum pole, airing of grievances dinner or feats of strength competition, but the abolition of overspending and overindulging is right up my alley.

Frank Costanza may have made up Festivus, but I like it.

Thankfully, my kids are old enough to be unphased by our deck-less halls and stocking-less mantel. They understand that Mom wasn’t up for the decorating challenge this year, and apparently, it wasn’t important enough for them to tackle either. So while no one here has visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, it’s not all bad. And I’m not a total scrooge. For the boys’ gift, we’ll be spending the weekend in New York, spending too much money shopping in midtown, fighting the crowds seeing the sights and bickering spending time with family. Lighting candles at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is on the itinerary as well, as I can use the extra prayers. If I make it through the holiday, it’ll be a real #festivusmiracle.

Bam! Holiday card throwback-to-2008 style. Thanks, Facebook, for reminding me.

So whether your holiday is filled with candy canes and tinsel, latkes and dreidels, lights and corn or an aluminum pole, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and even a Happy Festivus for the rest of us!

Whatever you celebrate, happy/merry that.


The Tooth Fairy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Last week while I was cooking dinner, my 11-year-old casually handed me his molar (the third one in as many weeks) and held his hand open for money. This has been our routine — him trading his tooth for a dollar — ever since I told him the truth about the tooth fairy almost three years ago. Customary? No. Practical? Yes.

It wasn’t always this way. When my boys were much younger and losing a tooth — especially the first tooth — was exciting and novel, we did the whole tooth-under-the-pillow thing. I’d make a big fuss about the tooth falling out, then whichever kid lost the tooth would put it in a tooth-shaped felt pocket and place the pocket under his pillow. After he went to sleep, I’d sneak in and swap the tooth for a dollar, a la the tooth fairy. It was a sweet tradition — until the nights came when I forgot to make the exchange or didn’t have any small bills to leave. That endearing custom soon became a source of high anxiety for me. Being a pragmatist, I decided the best way to avoid this stress was to come clean. The tooth fairy was next on my kill list anyway, as I had already successfully iced the Easter Bunny, leprechaun and that dreaded Elf on the Shelf (ours was named Zachary). After outing the pilfering pixie for who she really was (i.e., me), I promised to still give the boys a dollar for each fallen tooth, but without all the trickery. Problem solved! That’s some magna cum laude mothering right there, if I do say so myself.

Our first “first tooth” experience, c. 2008

Our last “first tooth,” c. 2012

The thing is, before I had demolished the tooth fairy, the experience had already been ruined for my boys by their classmates. Kids talk, and in our ‘hood, apparently, they get big bucks for their baby teeth. Gone are the days of finding a shiny quarter under your pillow. These days, the going rate is anywhere between twenty and one hundred dollars for the first tooth and five to ten thereafter. For real. I asked around to be sure and those are in fact the amounts other parents fessed up to. Do the math: With twenty primary teeth, that’s a minimum of $115 and possibly as much as $290 per kid. I honestly do not remember how much we gave each of the boys for their first tooth  — maybe five dollars, possibly ten — but I do know that the going rate in the Tarr house for each subsequent tooth has always been just one dollar.

If you have more than one kid, the tooth fairy may need a side gig to pay for all those baby teeth.

And it’s not just about the money: Today’s uber-competitive parents have turned the tooth fairy into the year-round sister of the Elf on the Shelf. Thanks to social media, the pressure to be cute and creative — leaving traces of glitter (excuse me, fairy dust!) on the windowsill, doctoring photos of your sleeping child to make it look like the tooth fairy is beside him/her, writing miniature handwritten notes that lead to hidden prizes (like a new video game) and folding those crisp bills into origami-inspired art — is as bad as it is with that damn Elf. It’s stressful enough just remembering to leave the money and take the tooth. Who wants to spend their night staging photo shoots or crafting treasure hunts, too? And don’t get me started on the glitter mess.

Tooth fairy photos — creepy or cute?

Thankfully, my boys are too old for all that nonsense. The tooth fairy doesn’t live here anymore and that is just fine by us. Now I just have to figure out what to do with that box of baby teeth in my vanity.


Mother Knows Best

If you know my mother at all, you know her favorite things in life are black coffee and anything chocolate, Home Goods and Lord & Taylor, oldies music and the Sunday funnies, her friends and family — especially her two daughters and five grandsons (her husband and sons-in-law pull a close second. Sorry, guys). She’s a devoted grandmother who drives three hours to Pennsylvania for 24-hour visits on the regular, always with cupcakes and some new kitchen gadget that she “thought [I] might like” in hand. She’s a supportive mother who lets me vent without judgement, complain without correction and brag without limitation. And she’s a faithful wife who has survived over 49 years of marriage and almost as many years of coaching with my dad. She’s not without her flaws, but I wouldn’t trade her anything — on most days, anyway.

She’d do anything for her grandsons — even don a turkey hat in public. I’m sure I’ll pay for using this photo, but how could I not?

I’ve written in the past about my mom and identified the traits I’ve inherited from her — everything from her hair color and big hips to the inability to tell a succinct story. I’ve also received sage advice and useful life skills from her, like how to pluck my eyebrows, make sauce (although I’ve since altered the recipe to accommodate food allergies/sensitivities) and where to find the best deals. But some teachings go deeper than basic hair removal and savvy shopping tips; They offer life lessons worth their weight in gold. Here are the five that resonate with me the most:

  1. Lick the spoon. When cooking, baking or making chocolate milk … It’s the best part. Translation: Treat yourself and do what makes you happy.
  2. Dress the part. Even if you’re not the best tennis player (runner, yogi, etc.), you can still look cute in the outfit. My interpretation: Be confident in who you are.
  3. Never arrive empty-handed. A small gesture goes a long way. Meaning, be kind and generous to others.
  4. Your house, your rules; My house, my rules. Decoded as setting and respecting boundaries, both your own and others.
  5. Try your best and know that you’re doing a better job than you think you are. No explanation needed, just words to live by. #believeinyourself

Is Grace Dewey the next Tony Robbins? Not exactly, but she is one smart cookie. I’m not gonna lie … She can also be a hot mess and a huge pain in my ass at times (thus the short, 24-hour visits), but her heart is usually in the right place. Today is her 75th birthday and Thursday is Thanksgiving — what better week to tell the blogosphere how wonderful my mom is and how grateful I am to have her?

Happy Birthday, Mom! Chocolate cake and Motown to celebrate tomorrow when I see you.

c. 1973. One of my favorite photos, but why am I dressed like a clown at the petting zoo? So much for dressing the part!


The Perfect Teenager

Recently, a friend of mine used the “P” word to describe her middle schooler. Not the Trump “P” word (get your mind out of the gutter). The word she used was “perfect.” I held my tongue because I love my friend and her son is honestly a great kid, but he’s still young. Hormones and high school haven’t wreaked havoc on their world yet.

As a mom with slightly older boys, I’m going to drop a truth bomb … There’s no such thing as a perfect teenager. The perfect teenager is a myth. A unicorn. A falsehood. An alternative fact, even. I was reminded of this today when I ran into another friend who was lamenting her teen’s behavior — a boy who is, by all accounts, kind, courteous and earnest, not to mention smart and talented. He is a “good boy,” but he is a teenager, so it goes without saying that he is also a hormonal, dramatic, capricious asshole at times.

Phone number, please!

Humblebrag alert: My boys are “good boys,” too. I’m often told how handsome, bright and athletic, as well as kind, polite and respectful they are. Even helpful at times! But I am a realist (at times, a cynic) and know this is only a half-truth, at best. At home (read: with me), my boys are less kind, polite, respectful and helpful. At home (again, read: with me), my boys are often temperamental, argumentative, uncommunicative and negligent. Just like most teenagers. It’s infuriating and exhausting, but it’s also par for the course.

I think I owe my parents an apology … Sorry, Mom and Dad!

Since I still have a few more years to go before escaping this teen stage, I’m trying to keep my sanity by remembering these four truths:

  1. It’s only a phase. Like all other childhood phases, it will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but once their skin clears up and they graduate from high school, my kids will magically turn back into decent, loving human beings again. I hope.
  2. It’s not all bad. Every now and then, they do or say something that fills my heart with joy and gives me a glimmer of hope that the end is near … until their moods swing back and they suck again.
  3. It’s not just my kids. From what I hear, I’m not the only mom who sometimes feels unappreciated, disrespected and used by her own offspring. Maybe that’s why the expression, “Misery loves company” resonates so strongly with me.
  4. It’s not me, it’s them. I like to think that the reason my boys behave like responsible young adults in public (despite how they behave at home) is because of my good parenting. And even if it’s not, just let me have this one.


My kids are far from perfect. Very far. But as imperfect as they are, I love them with all my heart. No matter how frustrating this stage may be, and no matter how loudly (and often) I bitch about it, I’d still do anything for them. Sure, I’d like to strangle them most days, but I will always have their backs. Always. I may be their biggest critic, but I am also their biggest supporter.

Selfie with my loves, last summer


Fourth Time’s a Charm? Not Exactly

Last Friday, I spent six hours at my son’s middle school for Parent Visitation Day. I think this should negate at least six of my bad mommy moments (one for each hour ) — am I right?

This should be on my next Mother’s Day card, for sure.

Since this is not my first rodeo, I’ll shed a little light for those unfamiliar with the concept: On Parent Visitation Day (PVD, as I like to call it), parents follow their student(s) around from class to class in order to get a feel for what their day is like. Spoiler alert: it’s long, chaotic and exactly as you remember middle school to be.

When it comes to this shadow day, there are three types of parents: The super excited class participators who think this is the best idea ever (most likely, they’re with their first-born child and this is their first experience with PVD); The badass rebel who’s been through it before and says, “Nope. Been there, done that,” so they skip it (hey, no judgement here!); And the reluctant rule-follower who’s there begrudgingly and will most likely cut out early. I fall in the third category, although I wish I was in the second.

Having already gone through this torture three other times with my older son, I swore I’d never do it again. The first time, when my oldest was in sixth grade, I naively suffered through a full day of classes. The following year, I bailed before lunchtime. And last year, I arrived late and only made it through a couple of classes before I ditched. Does this make me a bad mom? Maybe. If so, just add it to the list. But I’m also an honest mom and Parent Visitation Day is sheer misery for me. The chairs are uncomfortable, I pee too much and I think I have adult ADD. Or maybe I’m just too old and uptight to enjoy it. Either way, PVD is my tenth Circle of Hell.

When I read the calendar last week, for a brief moment I though I was in the clear now that my older son is in high school. I actually thought I had dodged a bullet — until I remembered that my younger son is only in the sixth grade. As a newly minted middle schooler, that means I have three more years of visitation days ahead of me. Ugh! So I held my breath and secretly prayed … Maybe he wouldn’t want me to go. Surprisingly, not only did he want me to go, he was excited about it. Despite my best intentions to avoid a PVD four-peat (is that what follows a three-peat?), mom guilt won out. So there I was last Friday, suffering through yet another middle school experience.

I know I should have been happy that my eleven-year-old was excited to spend time with me, but I also knew it wouldn’t last. Sadly, I was right. My son’s excitement petered out midway through first period when I made mistake #1: Offering my help in Spanish class. To ease the embarrassment, I bribed him with the two mini muffins that I grabbed from the parent visitation lounge (a.k.a., the library, where they were conveniently hosting a book fair and spirit wear sale). Crisis averted  — at least until lunchtime, when I committed mistake #2: Asking a few of his friends to pose for a photo. It went downhill from there.

Product of my mistake #2: Photo evidence of my middle school “freshman” and some of his buddies.

If the past four years of attending parent visitation days have taught me anything, it’s that I know my kids and I know my limits. My kids like the idea of me being with them at school, but not the reality of it. And my limits no longer include six hours of middle school … Or wearing a name tag.

Maybe next year he won’t be embarrassed, or maybe he’ll tell me to stay home. A girl can dream, right?


Putting My Mask on First

I don’t like to brag, but last Tuesday, I hopped on a plane in the middle of the school week to visit my best friend in Florida for her birthday. I was only gone for 36 hours, but it was fantastic! I am a lucky girl.

Happiness is … celebrating over thirty years of friendship with this #bosschick

My husband agreed to pick up the slack for two days so I could take this somewhat spur-of-the-moment trip. I felt very Eat, Pray, Love — dropping everything and running away from my life, even if only for a day and a half. It was exciting and fun and just what I needed. Who couldn’t use a little break from their everyday life once in a while?


My time away was both glorious and illuminating. Here are just a few of my brilliant insights from last week:

  • The lead up to leaving your family behind is hectic for a mom. In addition to making sure my roots were touched up, my legs were shaved and my bag was packed, I had to prepare meals, wash uniforms and outline the drop off/pick up schedule for the time I was away. A dad would have just left (not hating, just saying).
  • As a “just in case” person, I have trouble packing everything I might need in a small carry-on bag — and it takes me FOREVER to decide what to eliminate. What if it rains?!
  • I am like a kid on Christmas morning when I travel. No snooze button needed here!
  • It is very dark at 5AM and there are remarkably a lot of cars on the road at that ungodly hour … And just as many in the airport, too. WTF?!
  • The world is one big gym, but people will stare when you use the airport work space as a makeshift workout station. Oh well. #nevermissaworkout
  • Frontier Airlines is a cheap/decent option when traveling alone, without checked luggage. Just bring your own drinks/snacks.
  • I’m still perplexed as to why people clap when the pilot lands the plane successfully (read: does his job). Do those same people clap for their taxi driver, too? Or their dentist?
  • Florida weather and my hair do not get along!
  • Sometimes, a short break is all you need to get back on track. Asking for a break isn’t selfish, it’s enlightened.
  • Quality really is more important than quantity, especially when it comes to time. Make it count with deep conversations and even deeper belly laughs.
  • Bestie time is the best time — no matter how short.

Truth be told, this trip wasn’t just a present for my bestie; It was also a present for me. Leading up to my brief excursion, I was in a bit of a funk. My usual routine felt stale and simultaneously overwhelming. I was exhausted, stressed and bitter. This short break from reality was the antidote I needed to snap out of it. Yes, a day and a half isn’t much of a “getaway,” but it was the perfect amount of time to recharge and appreciate all that I have at home. Big shout out to my hubby for holding down the fort and kinda-sorta cleaning up around the house so my zen vibe wasn’t killed the minute I walked through the door (messes stress me out).

I know that skipping town in the middle of the week probably won’t happen again for a very long time, but I do plan on taking more local mini-breaks. A mani/pedi here, a coffee/tea date there, even a solo run through the hills followed by lunch at home while watching This Is Us On-Demand all sound pretty doable to me.

Preach! I don’t know who said this first, but it’s the truth.

In this crazy world of parenting, self-care is vital. In the words of the Frontier flight attendant, “Secure your mask first before assisting others.” It’s the only way to survive.


Are Teenage Boys Just Oversized Toddlers?

I’m not usually one to lament how kids grow up too fast or how time flies by. I probably will when the kids are out of the house and I’m all alone, but right now I mostly embrace the aging process — as my posts in 2015 (read here) and 2016 (read here) can attest.

A month ago, my (barely) fourteen-year-old son started high school. He takes classes with sophomores. He plays football with juniors and seniors. He even went to his first high school party (freshmen only, thank goodness). Then last week, he shaved for the first time — out of actual necessity. I know my man-child, who wears a size 12-1/2 shoe, has more body hair than I care to see and stands almost as tall as his father, is growing up, but shaving?! Is he more man than child now? Just when I think so, he says or does something that makes me think, nope … still a kid. Like how he needs to be reminded to flush the toilet, use soap in the shower or remove his underwear from his pants before throwing them in the washing machine. Maybe my fourteen-year-old is really just a hairy, oversized four-year-old.

c. August, 2017 – It took a lot of coaxing to get my man-child to smile and pose at Hershey this year.

Here are five more ways my teenage son is just like his toddler self …

  1. His aim sucks. Eleven years after potty training and there’s still an equal amount of pee on the seat, floor and wall as there is in the bowl. Nice, right?
  2. He leaves crumbs everywhere he goes. I get it — boys are messy eaters. But wiping the crumbs from the counter onto the floor doesn’t count as cleaning up.
  3. He outgrows clothes and shoes faster than I can keep up. Puberty is a bitch on the wallet. In the past three years, my fourteen-year-old has put on 60 pounds (much of it muscle) and grown over a foot. WTF?!
  4. He challenges me at every turn. As a toddler, it was the inquisitive “Why?” Now, it’s a defiant “Why not?” — often asked with attitude and indignation, to boot.
  5. He is moody. Eye rolls, sighs and huffs … Can you say hormones? At least when he was four, his moodiness could be alleviated with a nap or a snack.

Can anyone else relate to this? Seriously, it frustrates the hell out of me and drives me insane. I totally get why some parents drink and why some animals eat their young.

#truth. I love him to death, but my teenager pisses me off on a daily basis.

But, hey … It’s not all bad, right? There are perks to having a teenage son. Like the fact that he can tie his own shoes (although he rarely does), do his own laundry (rolled up socks and underwear in shorts be damned!) and reach things on the top shelves (he is three inches taller than me, after all). Toddlers can’t do any of that. Plus, we can watch (some) R-rated movies together and listen to dirty lyrics (within reason) without me worrying that I’m corrupting a minor. Score one for me and Jay Z!

Age 4-1/2: Back when he still fit on my lap.

Age 14: Taller than me and still growing.

Now, how soon until he can drive?


Back to School: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

It’s the end of week 3 of the new school year and I’m already fed up with the morning struggle. Who’s with me?

This year, both my boys started in new schools (one high school, one middle school) with new start times, new bus routes and new schedules and commitments. But with all the newness, some things never change — at least not in the Tarr household. My boys still sleep through their alarms and need to be woken up. They still take too long in the shower and need to be hurried. They still treat breakfast like it’s Sunday brunch (read: slow and casual) and need to be prodded. And they still forget their stuff (e.g., lunchbox, house key, chrome book) and need to be reminded. Yes, this happens each and every morning. And yes, as a result, I yell at them each and every morning … But at least they haven’t had to chase the school bus yet. Score one for the Tarr boys!

Obligatory first day of school photo, 2017: Entering high school (9th grade) and middle school (6th grade), respectively.

Time management is a skill neither of my boys possess. Genetics are partly to blame, I’ll admit. I am perpetually five minutes late — in part because I’m always trying to cram one more thing in before I leave the house (e.g., start the laundry, empty the dishwasher, put on makeup if I’m lucky!) and in part because I still think nothing is further away from my home than twenty minutes (which is a falsehood I need to grasp after eight years of living here). But genetic makeup is only part of the story. I think for my kids, it’s a combination of not being morning people and not be interested/motivated. After all, going to school means sitting still and doing work for six and half hours. To tell you the truth, I kinda don’t blame them. But I still want to pull my hair out when they are checking their phones to read last night’s sports scores and trades instead of brushing their teeth.

I’m sure there are well-intentioned readers out there who would tell me to make better use of the night before: Have the boys shower, make their lunches, pack their backpacks and lay out their clothes for the next day. Done, done and done. My boys already do all of that, sans the clothes. They don’t care what they wear; They just pull from the top of the drawer. But even with all the prep and planning (and the extra sleep they are getting due to the later school start time), my kids still can’t pull it together in the morning without a struggle.

I know it’s only been three weeks and things will improve over time. We’ll get into a rhythm, we’ll find our groove and then it’ll be smooth sailing … Until the seasons change, sports shift and a new routine is required. #thingstolookforwardto.

Happy back to school season, everyone!

Think a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old are too old for a school-day “morning checklist”?!