13 Ridiculous Things Smart Moms Understand

when you give a toddler a pen

1. Why you never say the word hair at the table while a toddler is eating.
2. How to make the one last baby wipe in the container do things one poor lonely wipe was never intended to do.
3. The complex mechanics, athleticism, and grace required to cradle a sanity-saving cup of coffee in one hand while backing through a narrow doorway, holding the door open with your rear end, all while steering the stroller one-handed and herding a second (and possibly third and fourth, God help us) child(ren) with a spare pinky finger.
4. Diaper pails DO NOT WORK, no matter how expensive they are, or how extravagant their claims about how the aerodynamic pail also serves as a night light, smoke detector and life raft, and how it can count the number of dirty diapers in Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic, and trap odor and lock it inside a fresh-scented bag. Fresh-scented, my foot. Fresh as a landfill in July.
5. Dirty laundry breeds in the night.
6. There really is no need to rinse off a pacifier that falls to the ground, unless other people are around to watch you and judge your parenting.
7. All those “experts” who claim they know how to get kids to eat a well-rounded diet filled with exotic organic vegetables every color of the rainbow are either a) lying, or b) engaging in dangerous force-feeding behavior, most likely involving pliers.
8. Those white outfits we can’t resist buying our children because they look oh-so-adorable in family beach photos . . . yeah, they’ll only be worn once. After that, they’ll be brown and white polka-dotted outfits. (We understand this . . . but still we buy them. Blame your friends’ daggum beach photos.)
9. You should never sniff or lick any brown substance you find on your kitchen table, even if you’re SURE it is chocolate pudding. (Yep. Learned this the hard way.)
10. The kids’ rooms in Pottery Barn catalogs are fake, uninhabited rooms. It is highly possible that the children in Pottery Barn catalogs are also fake.
11. There’s no point in putting shoes on a baby before you drive somewhere—unless you like getting places and discovering that your baby is barefoot and your car has eaten one of the shoes. (If you’re lucky, the shoe will reappear one day, but only after your child has outgrown it.) And the same principle holds true for hair bows.
12. The person who invented baby vitamin drops had no taste buds, and thought babies are stupid. The stuff tastes like motor oil. No self-respecting infant will eat it.
13. Your own mother was a really smart woman after all. (This one’s not ridiculous . . . just true.)

Happy (almost) Mother’s Day to all the smart moms out there. 

If you enjoyed this, you’ll also enjoy On Pink Eye, Lice, and Love and The 13 Thou Shalt Nots of the Family Dinner Table. 

Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive seven two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with your kids! And every month, you’ll get a newsletter with parenting tips. You can subscribe here, or in the widget in the left sidebar.

Note: A version of this post appeared last year on my old website, and I thought all the new LizzyLife readers would enjoy it!

The 13 Thou Shalt Nots of the Family Dinner Table

dinner table manners

You know you have little ones in the house when you find yourself inventing dinnertime rules like these . . .

1. Thou shalt not pull out a tooth at the table.

2. Thou shalt not moan, sigh, wail, slump to the floor, or say the words “gross,” “ew,” or “I hate” in reference to anything on your plate. This makes thy mother cry.

3. Thou shalt not lick the table.

(Ideally, thou shalt not lick thy fingers either, unless thou art eating fried chicken, but . . . well, there’s still a lot of finger-licking. Your mother tells herself this happens because she is a fantastic cook, not because her children are Neanderthals.)

4. Thou shalt not put thy shoes or feet on the table. Thou also shalt not sniff or lick thy shoes or feet while at the table. (Seriously.)

5. Thou shalt not interrupt Mommy while she is eating to involve her in a situation involving poop. (Alas, this one also gets broken at almost every meal. This may account for Mommy’s frequent loss of appetite mid-meal. She can’t even think about last Thanksgiving without gagging.)

6. Thou shalt not whistle at the table—at least not during dinner while five other people are all speaking at the same time. At breakfast and lunch, some cheerful whistling is welcome.

7. Thou shalt not poke, prod, or otherwise injure another diner with thy fork, spoon, or finger. (Thou shalt not be entrusted with knives until thou art at least sixteen years old.)

8. Thou shalt not lick mashed potatoes off thy spoon as though it were ice cream. This makes thy mother gag.

9. Thou shalt not blog, text, Tweet, Facebook, or answer the phone while at the table. (Thy mother probably cannot help plotting epic teen novels in the back of her brain, but that is permitted.)

10. Thou shalt not pass gas, or imitate the sound of gas-passing using thy armpit, at the table. (This rule also extends to silent-but-violent episodes.)

11. Thou shalt not inflict Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash impressions upon thy family during dinner if thou wanteth thy wife to remain at the table and thy children to not clap their greasy hands over their anguished ears.

12. Thou shalt not roll thine eyes at the large number of animal-themed Knock-Knock jokes that are clearly being made up on the spot. Thou shalt listen patiently and laugh heartily at the nonsensical punch lines.

13. Thou shalt not worry, stress, or be angsty at the table. Thou shalt relax and belly-laugh until thy hiccups overflow.

Okay, it’s your turn. What are your family’s dinner table Thou Shalt Nots? (Scroll down to comment!)

 Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive seven two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table—or dinner table—with your kids! And every month, you’ll get a newsletter with parenting tips. You can subscribe here, or in the widget in the left sidebar.


Dinner table manners with kids

13 Reasons Moms Never Get Haircuts

Scheduling a haircut is never easy, but once you have a child, getting a haircut takes divine intervention, planetary alignment, and a whopping dose of good luck. Here are thirteen reasons moms hardly ever get their hair cut: 1. First, you have to call ahead. This requires having the wherewithal to think multiple thoughts in a row:Huh. I could probably sweep the floor with my hair. I guess I need a hair cut . . . I should call and make an appointment . . . I should do that today.” (Meanwhile, the baby cries; the potty-trainee tinkles on the floor. All hair-related thoughts fly from your head.)

13 Things that Rock About Being Kid-Free at the BRMCWC

In case you’re wondering, the BRMCWC is the oh-so-amazing Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference. And clearly, I am here without my four delightful children. (Stands up. Takes a bow. Sends husband and mother-in-law virtual flowers and chocolate and sleep.) Much as I adore and miss my children every minute, I am very happy to go on missing them for the duration of the conference, for these 13 glorious reasons, which I imagine every Writer Mom at this conference is also secretly celebrating:

1. Four full nights of uninterrupted sleep. Four! Nights! (Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I suspect this was one of my main reasons for attending a writing conference. Drive 400 miles for four full nights’ guaranteed sleep? YES.)
2. Getting to worship all the way through a song set without being forced out of the room by an adorable toddler who has an impressive talent for emitting eardrum-shattering shrieks.
3. Two words: white pants. Three more words: no jelly fingerprints.
4. Talking to wonderful new writer friends, using multisyllabic words that have nothing to do with the potty or smashed bananas.
5. Getting to use a hair straightener like a normal person . . . without wrestling with the cord the whole time, trying to keep it away from curious toddler fingers.
6. Using an iron and ironing board without the heart-stopping fear that a child will come running into the room unexpectedly and scar themselves (or Mommy) for life.
7. Hearing Alton Gansky say, “When an accountant looks out a window, he’s daydreaming; when a writer looks out a window, he’s working.” Laughing and nodding alongside four hundred other people who understand exactly what that means.
8. Admiring mountain views, breathing mountain air, savoring the sound of silence.
9. Taking a shower, getting dressed, putting on makeup, doing something to my hair besides yanking it into a ponytail . . . and doing all of these activities in a single span of time, without stopping to mop up spilled milk, remove a splinter, or resolve a sibling squabble. I have not done these things without interruption for, oh, eight years.
10. Staying up ridiculously late talking books and God, just because we can.
11. Four days without dishes and laundry? Call me Lady Mary.
12. Hearing Brian Bird say, “We gotta stop clamoring against the darkness and start lighting some candles.” Trying not to levitate out of my seat.
13. Filling up on inspiration, ideas, and conviction so I can go home and write a better world for those four precious people who I actually do miss with all my heart—jelly fingerprints, milk spills, sibling squabbles and all.

13 Things I Wish I Could Teach My Dog

What I Wish I Could Teach My Dog

My two Christmas babies: our dog, Cole, born Christmas day 2004, and our daughter Cassidy, born Christmas day, 2005

1. Look both ways before you cross the street. Please, please, please—if you learn nothing else on this list, get this one down.
2. If you get tangled in a leash, just step out one paw at a time, and unwind. It’s really not that difficult. Really.
3. When people get down on the floor to do yoga, or stretch, or just pick up a piece of lint, that is not an invitation for you to pant wildly in their face, lick their cheeks, and plop your enormous derriere down in their lap. We love you, but really, it is unpleasant—and probably very unhealthy—to take cleansing yoga breaths when the air is full of doggy breath.
4. When I place a pile of clean laundry on the floor to fold, it is not for you. It is not there so you can walk in circles on top of it, then make your smelly self comfortable lying on it. And the baby’s mat is definitely not yours to lie on. You have a lovely bed that you may lounge upon at any time.
5. Don’t sneak up behind me at night—especially not when I’m holding the baby. If you haven’t noticed, your fur is pitch black, and I’ve nearly decapitated myself in violent collisions with you in dark rooms at night. And if I’m gone, who would buy you treats?
6. If you find that you must throw up inside the house, there is plenty of hardwood flooring available for your yakking pleasure. Please use that instead of the carpet. (I appreciate the way you always station yourself right at the seam where the hardwood meets the carpet, but still, you have a gift of aiming for the carpet. You’re not doing this on purpose, are you?)
7. Corollary to #6: If you absolutely must use the bathroom inside the house—I understand that sometimes even the best of dogs have emergencies, and if you do, it is probably your owner’s fault—but again, just find a nice spot on the hardwood. Your life expectancy will be much longer if you do this.
8. It is not necessary to eat paper, books, and DVDs when we leave you alone in the house for a little while. We will always come home—always. We know you are unhappy when we leave—but eating our stuff just makes your misery continue after we get home, and where’s the fun in that?
9. Corollary to #8: If you simply must display your displeasure by eating books, please don’t eat the ones that belong to the library. I imagine they have a distinct old-books-from-the-library scent that will be easy for you to distinguish. Library books cost a lot of money. (And you’re welcome, Athens-Clarke County Public Library, for my $200 “donation” on behalf of my dog.)
10. It is not necessary to bark 5,000 times when the doorbell rings. One bark will do the trick.
11. And on the subject of barking, if the baby is asleep, it is not necessary to bark at all when the doorbell rings.
12. Sometimes, Daddy likes to knock on the walls just to mess with you. No one is at the door; Daddy is just being mean.
13. Speaking of Daddy being mean . . . sometimes he pretends to throw the ball, and he doesn’t really throw anything. You have my permission to run into him and knock him down with your ginormous head whenever he does this. I promise to laugh hysterically and give you lots of treats.
I know we’ve hit 13 already, but I’ve got a few more bonus lessons . . .
14. If you would quit pulling on your leash, you would take a lot more walks and have a much fuller doggy life with many more opportunities to sniff new things.
15. If you must eat grass in preparation for emptying your stomach, just let me know you’ve been eating grass—we can work out some sort of paw signal or something—and I’ll gladly leave you outside for a few extra minutes.
16. Sometimes, you just gotta go in the rain. Sorry, bud, that’s just the way it is, and the sooner you accept that fact and stop looking at me with those “Are you crazy?” eyes, the happier we will both be.
17. When it rains, just stand at the door and give me one paw at a time to wipe the mud off. This is not, by the way, an invitation for you to flop onto your back in the doorway and roll your wet fur around on the floor, hoping for a luxurious belly rub.
18. You are no longer a puppy. You weigh 80 (ahem, maybe 85) pounds, and you are not a lap dog. Wait. Maybe I don’t want to teach you that one after all . . .