Happy Kids = Happy Moms: A Mother’s Day Revelation

Happy Kids = Happy Moms:  A Mother’s Day Revelation

I like to assess the “State of the Union” of our house various times a year.  This is not a practice my family enjoys, but I do it anyway… because I’m the mom.

We moved to Coopersburg not too long ago, and I wanted to see how things stood with my family.

Plus, I wanted to go out to dinner. So, I picked the restaurant, and we made our way toward my much anticipated night of family bonding and communicating.

Once we were seated and had our salads, I cleared my throat and started, “Soooooo…”

Shoulders dropped and eyes rolled. My kids know my conversations leading with “Soooo” are seldom conversations they want to actively participate in. My husband knows my conversations leading with “Sooooo” are NEVER conversations he wants to actively participate in so he didn’t even stop chewing his salad.

Hummmph, I was a tad insulted but not deterred.

“Sooooo, anyway…”

The breadsticks arrived.  Arggh. I lost my momentum again. Ok, I’ll work this to my benefit. Let them get some food in their stomachs. They will be more receptive to my conversation.

A few minutes later I tried for the third time, “Soooooo, we’ve been here over a full year now! What have been your favorite things??”

Munch, munch, munch. “I like playing with my friends,” my son said.

Chew, chew, chew. “I like walking to get ice cream,” my daughter said.

W-H-A-T? Ok… maybe my little dumplings didn’t understand. Maybe they were too carbed-up and couldn’t process the complexity of the question. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and rephrased: “Soooo, this last year has been huge for us.  We moved, you started a new school, we have a new house. There were so many changes, and we did so much. What was your favorite?”

Munch, munch. “Yeah – playing.”

Chew, chew. “Getting ice cream.”

What is WRONG with them? At that point, I flew into my typical mental tailspin. I kept thinking of all of the things we DID do.

We relocated with my husband’s company. Time #7.  Enough said there – oh wait… I will say one word on that subject and that word is BOXES.

We also visited water parks, amusement parks and playground parks. We vacationed in the Adirondacks, we swam at the Jersey Shore, and we explored NYC. We went to the theater, took art classes and painted pottery. We went to museums, arboretums and national monuments. We biked until our butts were numb, we hiked until our legs ached, and we swam until we were wrinkly. We visited family, hosted friends and threw holiday parties. We walked to waterfalls, took train rides, and heck, we even toured a coal mine. Who does that?

How could they not mention ANY of this stuff?

Playing and ice cream? That’s the best they could come up with?

I was speechless. I looked at my husband for help. He was suddenly suspiciously interested in the croutons on his salad so no luck there.

Our main course arrived, so thankfully that was a nice distraction from the rumbling runaway train that was hurling down the track of my mental despair. All aboard kids… First stop.


I took a bite of lasagna and regrouped.

Ok. At this point, I realized things could go one of two ways. One – I could morph into the screeching howler monkey like I usually do and start rattling off a list of all the things they SHOULD have said, OR, 2 –  I could sit back and soak in what my kids actually did say. Playing and ice cream.

Hummmppph. Now I was the one who sat and chewed. And, as I chewed, I saw what they were saying.

When we moved, we landed in a great neighborhood full of very active kids.  Our son immediately landed in a group I affectionately call “The Alphabet Men” (by a stroke of craziness, all of the boys have last names that start with  A, B, C, or D, and we are a D), and our daughter has a little group of girls she can sing Frozen songs with over… and over… and over.

The kids play outside for hours: summer, winter, day or night. The Alphabet Men sweat, argue and bleed. The girls are mischievous, funny and creative. And we, as families, have S’more Nights, cook-outs, and yes, we all even walk to the local ice cream parlor for a scoop or two.

Yeah. Ok. I get it. Why wouldn’t they pick playing and ice cream? They are 12 and 8. They were plunked down in a new town and expected to start a new life. They had to adapt just like my husband and I did.  They just did it their way… through Whiffle ball and chocolate ice cream.

As I ate the last bite of my lasagna, I realized that as cliché as it may sound, my kids like the simple things. They always have. My husband and I can expose them to all the adventures, experiences, and travel we can, but it isn’t up to us to tell them what they should like. I can’t manufacture their likes and dislikes, and I can’t rank their memories. If their preferences are games of Kick the Can over touring a science museum, so be it.

“Wow!” I finally said after swallowing a little lasagna and my pride.  “That’s not quite the answer I expected but that’s great. “I think I detected some eye rolls, but I chose to ignore them.

I am 12 years into this mothering gig. Sometimes I think I have it figured out; most of the time I don’t. That night, I came away reminded of what my kids know and what I knew all along:  Sometimes simpler is better.

Sometimes all you need is playing and ice cream to make you happy.

And as a mom, you just want them to be happy.

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