Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

“All the World’s a Stage” (and my kids will probably try to set it on fire)

I refer sometimes to my older son as The Destroyer of Worlds.  Before having children, I had no idea how quickly a home could start to resemble something out of a documentary about Sarajevo.

The baby is now joining in.  His big brother is teaching him about how fun it is to throw all of the couch cushions on the floor and climb Mount Ultrasuede.  There are a few things I’d hoped my elder son would teach his sibling.  How to turn the living room into the set of Saving Private Ryan was not on that list.

Is this the living room? Has anyone seen the remote? Or my shoes? Or the dog?
(Special thanks to for the image from “Saving Private Ryan.”)

Years ago, I listened to my husband recap stories about how, when he was a boy, his friend and he would put bottle rockets into PVC pipe, hoist the pipe onto their shoulders and launch explosives out one end.  At each other.

I used to think it was all very funny.

I am not laughing anymore.

And, recently, my mother asked me what my plans were for the kids for the summer.  Would we be sending the preschooler to theater camp?  Would the boys try gymnastics classes?  Might the baby like “Mommy and Me Yoga”?  Anyone up for summer classes at the local community center?

No.  No, indeed, I’d not be releasing my two tornadoes upon unsuspecting Art Camp counselors or Nature Walk leaders.

We have the most amazing nanny.  Truly, we adore her.  She’s been a fabulous addition to our family.  But, even she looked like my children (who she loves) were going to send her to the nearest clock tower where she’d happily put herself out of the misery caused by my little monsters by hurling herself to her own welcome demise on the pavement below the other day.  I have no illusions about my kids being easily handled by untrained 18-year olds working at YMCA swim camp for summer break.

My boys are beautiful, loving, sweet, fiercely independent, smart, creative and athletic.  I didn’t know it was possible to love anyone or anything this much.

All of those amazing qualities have their dark sides, though.

Beautiful children sometimes know that their cuteness gets them stuff.  Loving children can learn that withholding their love can be a great manipulation tool.  Sweet children don’t always understand why Mommy isn’t sweet to them all the time; they don’t always understand why Mommy has rules such as “Don’t run in the street even though it might seem so fun” that make her seem so mean.  Fiercely independent children may be born leaders who will not be victims of peer pressure, but they also don’t really listen to their parents, either.  Smart kids can learn more than how to read at age 3:  they can learn how to push your buttons, too.    Creative kids can believe that your walls are the perfect canvas for their work.  Athletic kids will be fit, active and happy…and hard to catch.

So, indeed, raising my little men is an enormous job.  I have tons of help and I have no idea how so many women do it (and do it so well) alone.  But, for now, I will keep the Gymboree teachers, private piano lesson instructors and t-ball camp counselors out of my karass.  They ain’t ready for what my boys bring to the table.

Maybe next year…


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8 thoughts on ““All the World’s a Stage” (and my kids will probably try to set it on fire)

  1. Jennifer Butler Basile on said:

    I always say that I want my children to be strong, independent women; it’s just going to make it that much harder to raise them!

    • Isn’t that the truth? I WANT my kids to be independent, but it means they’ll be defiant to me sometimes. I don’t want to try to break them, so it is an awfully fine line to walk while raising them!

  2. Meredith bland on said:

    Love it.

  3. And everyone told me boys were easier. We’ll just see about that. Also, no one warned me about the complete mess they can make in a matter of minutes?! How do they do that?

    • I was not properly prepared for this, for sure. Maybe it’s the ancient/tribal instincts to hunt and gather. Are they looking for small game in the couch cushions? Are they gathering toys in a pile in case there is a winter toy-famine?

  4. I am right there with you! Raising boys is a lot of work. Right now, we have over 60 Matchbox cars on our kitchen table, a Lego set on the coffee table and a Star Wars figure battle poised on the kitchen counter. Did I mention there is a finished basement with all of my boys toys? Not sure how they managed to, in one morning, bring all of these things upstairs and “redecorate” for me.

    • My 3-year-old can carry his entire box of Thomas the Tank Engine toys up and down two flights of stairs. I have no idea how he does it. But, when he is determined to reenact “Thomas and the Magic Railroad,” nothing will stop him. Amazing, aren’t they?

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