See Mom Run: Boys vs. Girls—Who’s Harder to Raise?

The adorable Raskin kids, Eli and Olivia

]Before I had kids of my own, I can remember spending a day with some friends and their kids. A boy and a girl of similar ages, the girl sat on the couch with us ladies, snuggled up with her mommy, and looked at a book. The boy ran all over the house flipping the light switches on and off for about two hours. I can remember my friends saying that this exemplified the difference between little boys and little girls. Having nothing but this (and memories of my own childhood, which included my very mellow little brother) to base my opinions upon, I had to wonder if this was true. Were little girls hardwired to be chill and little boys to be maniacs, or was it more about genetics?

Fast forward a year and along came Olivia who was, for all intents and purposes, a really easy kid. She slept well. She played well with others and shared. She was affectionate. She was funny and curious and ridiculously adorable (if I do say so myself). People would meet her, then look at my ever-expanding pregnant stomach and tell me that I shouldn’t get used to it, because it wasn’t going to be this easy the next time around. I didn’t believe them. I was holding fast to the belief that if two children came from the same gene pool their temperaments had to be in the same ballpark. Even if number two was a boy (we weren’t finding out), I was sure that he would be similarly mild-mannered and life would move along smoothly.

Hilarious.

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See Mom Run: About That Time I Dropped the F-Bomb in Sixth Grade


A few weeks ago I went out to dinner with some old friends. Real old. Like, nursery-school old. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we chatted about the kids. You know, the usual. When we got around to the reminiscing portion of the evening, a particularly unflattering story about me came up. One in which I, for no apparent reason other than that I was in sixth grade and you do some really stupid shit when you are that age, went up to a friend at her locker and said “f*&% you.” Out of the blue. Like I was asking her for the time. Or telling her that I really liked her Cavariccis. (As if. They weren’t popular until we were in seventh grade. I just like talking about Cavariccis.)

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See Mom Run: Do You Trust Your Husband to Take Care of Your Kids?

Ladies, a simple question: Do you trust your husband to take care of your children?

In theory, of course you do. When you agreed to marry this person it was assumed that you would and could trust him with anything, including your most precious DNA-filled possessions. Theory aside, though, do you trust him? Can he do as good a job as you do feeding them? Getting them dressed? Putting them to bed? Do you feel uneasy leaving the kids with him for a few hours or, God forbid, an entire weekend? Are you afraid that the complex feeding and bedtime systems you have put into place will be blown to bits by his lack of know-how, thereby ruining their little lives forever? Are you a (gasp!) gatekeeper?

Admittedly, I am a control freak. I like things done the way I like them done, when I like them done. I would venture to say that many (most?) women could say this about themselves. It’s just how we’re wired.

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See Mom Run: How a Disaster Became a Teachable Moment for Our Kids

Anyone else watch the Superstorm Sandy Fundraiser that aired two Friday nights ago on NBC? You know, the one where a bunch of rock stars (and Jimmy Fallon) managed to butcher the timeless classic “Under The Boardwalk,” and we were all left wondering, “What are those caterpillars on either side of Joe Perry’s upper lip?” Not quite ’stache, not quite Fu Manchu, but 100 percent bizarre and hideous. For the love of God, Joe, please tend to that immediately. Signed, someone who is not at all an Aerosmith fan and therefore rarely glimpses your mug but is disturbed to her very core when she does.

Anyhoo, Eric and I let the kids stay up to watch with us because God forbid they miss an opportunity to see Bruce Springsteen perform. (Yes, my five- and three-year-olds are, like their father, obsessed with The Boss. How they managed to side with him over me and the Bee Gees I will never know, but I will say that I far prefer long car trips with Bruce on shuffle to Elmo and The Fresh Beat Band.) We were all good with the Christina Aguilera opener (save for her beyond-weird choice of outfit and unnecessary and mind-numbing vocal runs. Just sing the f-ing song!), some Brian Williams, Jimmy Fallon, and Jon Stewart love, etc., etc. But then came the montages. I hadn’t even thought about this when we said that the kids could watch with us. All they knew about the storm up until that point was that we all had a basement sleepover party one night and school was closed for two days. How were we going to explain what they were seeing and keep them from freaking out? We decided to take cues from them, which went something like this:

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See Mom Run: Facebook and Pinterest Make Me Feel Like a Crappy Mom

**This week’s column was going to be about children’s extracurricular activities, but I have decided to push that topic to next time due to some bitch named Sandy. Hoping that all of my readers have come through the storm relatively unscathed and are resuming life as usual.**

Like many of you, I have spent the last few days stuck inside my house. Lucky for me, my neighborhood seems to be spared each time a natural disaster strikes (see: “snowicanes,” Irene, Sandy, etc.), even while power outages abound in the Greater Philadelphia area. So I’m coming to you live from my bedroom while my kids and their friends run around downstairs, stirring up a hurricane of their own.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I hear of a storm of any kind headed our way is “Crap. What am I going to do with the kids while we’re stuck inside?” I am not Crafty Mom with a storeroom full of art supplies to set their little hands working on project after project. (Also? The unavoidable mess that makes my skin crawl.) Nor am I Imaginative Play Mom, ready and willing to sit on the floor and play Barbie and Buzz Lightyear go to the diner and order every piece of plastic food we have in the house. I wish that craftiness and imaginative play were in my Mommy Toolbox, but they are things that didn’t come easily to me as a kid (according to my cousin, I never had an imagination; rude, but true) and don’t come easily to me now. I sometimes look at other moms and feel bad about myself. Why am I the bad mom who would rather shove a device in my kids’ hands than play restaurant? The mom who would rather brave the weather to get my kids out of the house rather than finger-paint and play Play-Doh? (Again, this is about the mess; these two activities are unacceptable and should be outlawed in the U.S.) Should I have had some sort of genetic testing done to ensure that the imagination gene existed within my DNA? And if not, should I not have become a parent? Are my kids missing out on some fundamental tenets of childhood, which means they’ll be damaged goods because of my lack of creativity?

I blame these feelings—this guilt—partially, on Facebook and Pinterest. Because of sites like these, we are assaulted by images of what other families are doing on an hourly basis.

“Wow. The Smiths just went apple picking and made the most beautiful apple rhubarb pies to give to their neighbors.” (Can I use this opportunity to ask, what is rhubarb, anyway? I’ve never seen it live, have never tasted it, wouldn’t know what to do with it if it hit me in the face.)

“Gee, check out Tammy’s Kid’s Crafts board with all of the Thanksgiving-themed projects. I didn’t realize how many different kinds of turkeys could be made using hand- and footprints.”

“The Joneses just took an old box, decorated it like a rocket, and then mixed up something potentially lethal and illegal to make it actually fly. They are amazing parents. I have to keep up with them.”

Is there some kind of support group where parents can go to discuss their feelings of inadequacy brought on by social media? You know, a place where we can give each other high fives for small triumphs, like playing the part of Izzy in a Jake and The Neverland Pirates treasure hunt. Or coloring in the Toy Story coloring book and only getting a liiiiiittle bit annoyed that the three-year-old was hogging all of the good crayons. We could give each other affirmations like, I may not be Crafty Mom or Imaginative Play Mom, but I am …

Baking Mom, with an arsenal of recipes and ingredients with which the kids can help me make bad-for-you-but-oh-so-tasty treats.

Movie Mom, ready to dig into our treasure trove of Disney movies and/or order the latest On Demand flick and snuggle up on the couch. (Have you seen Tinkerbell and the Secret Wings? Uh-Mah-Zing!)

Dance Party Mom, with Spotify playlists that go on for days and moves that blow the kids’ minds. “My Roger Rabbit” is a huge hit, and don’t get me started on my “Kid N’ Play Kickstep”!

Experience Mom, prepared to throw the kids in the car, no matter the weather, and take them somewhere fun—the zoo, aquarium, farm, indoor mall playground (okay, that last ones not exactly an experience, but at least it’s not in the house)—and have an experience with them.

The Wife of Your Father, who has a killer imagination and rocks in all the ways that I don’t.

… Or even just Mom. Imperfect. Always learning. Frequently frazzled. Constantly exhausted. But will love you fiercely and forever no matter what and will try my best to be exactly what you need me to be. Except if it comes to making art projects involving hands and feet dipped in paint and then shaped into all manner of things. Because I won’t be that mom. Ever. Sorry. It’s just not happening.

Mommy’s Corner

As of this moment, my husband and I are still unemployed. How has this happened? How is this our life? Am I THAT unemployable? Don’t people know that by hiring me they are virtually guaranteeing themselves boatloads of fun and laughs, and even a little bit of hard work to go along with it? Well, f* you, electronic abyss where my resumes seem to be piling up, unread.

I can’t wait for someone to come along and sweep me off of my unemployed feet anymore. I have put in to become a sub at my kids’ school (and have taken on the position as chair of the first-ever 5K supporting the PTO of said school. Holla!) and am working on trying to get my own thing off the ground. You know … Mohammed and the mountain, and one not coming so the other one has to … You get my drift. Time to be proactive, folks! Watch out!

…………

Robin Raskin lives with her family in Bucks County. She blogs Thursdays on Be Well Philly. Catch up with the series here.

See Mom Run: How a Mom Keeps Her Sanity

What is your favorite time of day? Are you a(n):

1. Morning person: Up before the sun. You enjoy the silence in the house, a cup of coffee, and being able to get things done before the madness of your typical day begins.

2. Afternoon person: Not one to excel during either the morning or evening, the hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. are when you are your best self.

3. Evening Person: The hustle and bustle of the day is almost over. You like a glass of wine while cooking dinner and some down time with the family before it’s time to turn in.

I, of course, am none of these. Instead, I am:

4. A night person. The bedtime routine (read: clusterfuck) is over. The kids are finally asleep, after each has gotten out of bed at least three times for water (not too much or your diaper will overflow and I’ll be changing the sheets at 3 a.m … again), because his/her room is too dark/light/hot/cold, or to give you another kiss and hug, which, while adorable at any other time of day, is just annoying at this point. And it’s finally mommy time!

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See Mom Run: How I Avoid Getting Sick When My Family Has the Plague

I heart fall. Jeans. Sweaters. Jackets. Pumpkin-flavored everything. The list goes on. What I do not love about this time of year, however, is that cold and flu season is upon us. My family was illness-free the entire summer, and the minute school started up again—WHAM! My husband had a two-week-long stomach virus (during which he dropped 10 pounds. Figures. I would get the same virus and manage to somehow gain weight. Stupid men and their metabolisms.) followed by a horrible cold that both of my kids are still getting over. And wait until you hear what illnesses befell me … oh, wait. None. While the other three were going through rolls of toilet paper and boxes of tissues at an alarming rate, I was sitting on the couch wondering why both of these super-attractive illnesses were just passing me by. With a list of chronic conditions and prescription meds that looks like that of an 85-year-old, 800-pound man, you would think that my immune system would be welcoming these bugs to our already crowded party, but I was able to steer clear.

Let’s take a minute to ponder this, shall we?

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See Mom Run: Help! My Daughter Is a Picky Eater

From the get-go, I wanted to be one of those moms who made one meal for the entire family—no short-order cooks in this house, thank you very much. My kids were going to try new things, be exposed to all sorts of exotic cuisines, and never ever have to take vitamins because they would be such well-rounded eaters.

That worked until they each turned one and then it all went downhill.

While my son, Eli, will devour a plate of veggies and hummus and occasionally try new things, my daughter, Olivia, is a fairly horrendous eater. (Although she will eat fruit—I’ll give her that.) She eats the standard kid fare: pasta (plain), mac and cheese, PB&J, pancakes, etc. Her diet is mostly made up of colorless white food with the occasional cucumber and container of yogurt thrown in there. When I try to get her to try something new she just barely grazes it with her tongue and then enumerates the many reasons why she doesn’t like it. It makes my blood boil.

Now that school is back in session, I am packing her lunch every day—a task made even more difficult by the fact that everything in there has to be kosher. Not that my kid would eat a meat and cheese combo of any kind (or any meat at all), but it would be nice to have the option. Anyway, I started off this year with my standards from the past few years: PB&J, yogurt, bagel and cream cheese, plain pasta. My heart would break with each press of her lunch bag’s Velcro closure; I wanted so much more for her. I had visions of Molly Ringwald’s prom queen taking out her little bento box filled with sushi and wonder when my daughter was going to start bringing pretentious fare to weekend detention.

Something had to be done.

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See Mom Run: Robin’s Back with a New Blog Series!

Meet Robin's adorable kids, Olivia and Eli.

Hello to one and all, and happy September! I told you I’d be back and, not wanting to break anyone’s heart or any promises, here I am! First, let’s get ourselves back up to speed, shall we? Throw the newbies a bone, and all that.

{Ahem}

Hi! My name is Robin, and I was Be Well Philly’s weight loss blogger from last December until June. I pretty much spent seven months laughing, crying, cooking, and sweating off 10 pounds. Along the way I went from making excuses to making some major life changes and becoming someone I never knew I could be. (Go on … high five your monitor. You know you want to.). Just one pound short of my goal weight, I went on hiatus and shipped off to overnight camp with the kiddos, where I was in charge of special events.

I started off strong (see my husband, Eric’s, report on my progress), eating well, exercising, and eating KIND Bars like they were going out of style. But after about two weeks of thinking that I had this thing in the bag, it all went downhill and the weight started to creep back on. Not being in control of my own schedule and food made keeping the weight off virtually impossible. Was I disappointed in myself? Sure. Was I going to let it ruin my life? Nope.

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Losing It: A Word from the Husband

Robin's sticking with her workouts—even at summer camp.

You think you have the best spouse in the world? Well, you would be wrong, because I do. After my final pre-hiatus column went up, my husband, a fabulous writer and editor, asked if he could write a guest column about how proud of me he is. I said, “You want to gush about me for all of my hundreds of thousands of adoring fans to read? Well, alrighty then!” So, without further ado, some words on my fabulousness from my darling husband, Eric Raskin:

You know those early days of dating someone, when you’re still inclined to pretend to be interested in the things your boyfriend or girlfriend is interested in that actually don’t interest you at all? It was during that period that I first saw my wife run. She joined me on a jog about two weeks after we started dating. That remained, for the next 8½ years, the only time I saw her run.

The concept of Robin Raskin as a person who now jogs is jarring to me. It’s like Andy Reid committing to the ground attack or Snooki offering insightful commentary on foreign policy. For as long as I knew her, my wife was steadfast in her refusal to run; she made it about three-quarters of a mile with me back in those brand-new-relationship days in the summer of 2003, and that was the full extent of her experience breaking 4 mph on foot for the balance of the decade.

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