31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 15: Kiss Me!

ballroom image“Mom! I need my love banks filled!”

The declaration is never entirely unexpected; I can usually read the symptoms: Grumpy, Snarky, Snippy, and all the other objectionable little dwarves take up residence, and the only thing that will drive them out of my kids is a systematic foot massage with corresponding breaks for butterfly kisses, “face tracing,” back rubs, and silly songs.

The truth is, the kids aren’t the only ones with love banks in need of filling. The dwarves come to visit when the adults in our house don’t get the recommended dosage of TLC. When we first met, my husband and I belonged to the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club. Every Sunday night he would twirl me around the dance floor in waltz, salsa, West Coast Swing, or cha-cha.

That was fifteen years ago. Swing Girl is pretty much all swung out . . . so is Swing Guy. But Flirt Girl is alive and well, and sometimes what her “love banks” need most is … “Kiss me!”

Not wining and dining. Not a chick flick marathon. Nothing strenuous. Just a cuddle and a twirl. And, yes, That Kiss.

My favorite kind of de-stressing.



31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 12: Get Silly

monster momIn 2002, when we got the kids, we quickly realized we were in over our heads, trying to foster three kids under the age of five with special emotional needs. Looking back, it’s kind of miraculous that no one died those first two years. From my first blog, “Mommy Monsters,” archive in 2004 . . .

One morning when you least expect it, you’ll look in the mirror and find it looking back at you. The phantasm bears a slight resemblance to your familiar self, except… Is it possible that your husband installed a trick mirror while you were dozing, just for kicks? This gal has…

  • Eyes bloodshot from getting up every two hours with one toddler’s night terrors and the other’s asthma attacks.
  • Stomach is rumbling from not eating a decent meal since… What is this? May?
  • Throat is raw from screaming like a fishwife, just to hear yourself above the din.
  • In the same set of sweats you’ve worn all week, sans bra. Even to the doctor’s office.

And as the bathroom door reverberates with the pounding of three insistent sets of little fists, you pray the lock will hold long enough for you to sit down for five seconds and have one coherent thought.

Suddenly, it hits you: This is not what I signed up for. I don’t recognize that ghoulish figure in the mirror. She’s grouchy. She’s wrinkled, and so are her clothes. She smells like baby barf. Ugh.

I remember being that disheveled freakshow, running to my computer and sending an emergency e-blast to every mother in my distribution list, looking for immediate solutions. “What do you do,” I implored, “When you’ve had it up to here and they simply won’t give you a moment’s peace?!”

I received sympathetic chuckled from all over cyberspace. But the one that was the most immediately useful came from my friend Martha Bolton, a comedienne who was for years a staff writer for Bob Hope. “Get on the floor with them,” she said to me. “Get silly.”

Not a bad idea. You see it in all the great parenting movies, like “Mr. Napkin Head” in The Holiday.

The Holiday, mr napkin head

Yes, we mothers really need to cut loose!

Sometimes you just need to put away the datebook and pull out a little fun. Make sock puppets or sugar cookies. Paint a handprint mural or let your eight-year-old give you a makeover. (I thought this mom was especially inspiring, letting her daughter draw a mustache on her baby brother.)

Okay, now put down the computer . . . S-L-0-W-L-Y. And go have fun!