Wednesday, September 3, 2014


 This was Baxter two weeks ago on vacation.

This is him today, wondering where all the fun is gone.  He can't believe how fast the kids are growing up.

Neither can I.  Here is a column I wrote several years ago when I dropped my youngest son off at kindergarten.  I am posting this for one of my friends whose youngest is starting kindergarten this week.  (It's included in my book "Better Living Through Chaos" which can be conveniently purchased by clicking the link on this page!)


 By Pam Lobley

Taking your youngest child, your last child, your baby, to his first day of Kindergarten can be a traumatic experience.  Even if he is ready, you may not be.  After all, he’s still so young.  It was just yesterday he was standing on his tiptoes trying to see the top of dining room table, or charging around the living room with his shirt off waving a wooden spoon as a sword.  Actually, that sword thing was this morning.  In any case, he’s a big boy now.  So here are some tips to make it through the day successfully.

DO:  Try to make the last 2 weeks of summer stupefyingly boring.  You will all be so sick of each other school will seem like a Disney ride.

DO:  Wear sunglasses, so that if you get teary eyed people will not see it.

DO: Plan an activity for after drop off, so that you will not have to go home to that empty house.

DO NOT, however, become so absorbed in planning your post drop activity that you forget your child’s backpack, have to run back home for it and barely make it to lineup time, sweaty and disoriented.

DO NOT: Go the library.  You will end up wandering into the children’s section, looking at all the baby flap books you read to him just a few years ago.  Or you will find yourself wistfully staring at a “Blues Clues” videotape, and remembering a song, word for word, about the planets.

DO: Go the wine store and pick out something for yourself for dinner tonight.  A nice bottle, not the usual el cheapo jug stuff you drink most days.  And when the clerk asks if you need help DO NOT snap “Uh uh” simply because you are too emotional to talk to anyone.

DO NOT:  Plan to do housework.  If there is anything worse than coming home to an empty house, it is coming home to an empty house and picking up a dust rag.  It’s been messy this long, let it go a few more days.

DO:  Spend some time thinking up some new excuses not to do housework.  Now that you don’t have a baby at home, how will you explain the mess?

DO NOT:  Clean out your child’s clothing drawers.  I know they are a mess, but you have been through enough today.  You don’t need to also face the fact that he will never again fit into those adorable Spiderman PJs.

DO: plan a nice family dinner for tonight.  Maybe bake a cake.  This will give you the opportunity to eat from stress and lick the frosting bowl until you’re slightly queasy. 

DO NOT:  Keep looking at the clock and think:  “I wonder what he is doing right now.” 

DO NOT:  Go on to look at the cute little dog you’ve been trying to talk your husband into adopting.  That dog has been adopted by someone else.  This is too much loss for one day.  Perhaps a second cake is in order.

DO NOT:  Plan to get a lot done.  Because if by chance you end up drifting from room to room, unable to get your bearings, at a loss for how to organize your time without constant cries of “Mom” to punctuate your day, you will accomplish nothing and feel terrible about it.  Try instead to just get one simple thing done.  Like, for instance, baking a cake.

DO:  Greet him joyfully at pick up time. 

DO:  Bring him to his older brother’s soccer practice.  Listen to him whine about the heat and how he hates the snack you brought.  Let him step on your toes several times as he tries to climb up your legs.  Have him spill Gatorade all over your newspaper.  Have him bite your stomach, TWICE, while you are trying to get the game schedule from the coach.  During dinner, listen to him howl that “This is the gross chicken!” and watch him twist in his chair, eat with his fingers, and pretend to snore in your face when you correct his manners. 

You will be ready for drop off again first thing tomorrow.

My youngest son starts high school today.  Savor your moments!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Isn't my purse adorable?

Or do you call it a handbag?  A pocketbook?

I get a lot of compliments on the color - which is a terrific shade of bright blue, making it a smart accessory for any outfit.

It's also quite roomy.  Which is to say, it is a bottomless pit that I dread cleaning out.

So I don't clean it out.

Today it is carrying:

my sunglasses ...

my distance glasses ...

my reading glasses.  I also carry ...

all my favorite lipsticks.  I usually decide which one to wear when I am in the car about to back out of the driveway.

This is an old grocery list.  I usually have several of those in there, too.  Would you believe all the things on this list add up to much more than $200?  They do.  Every week. 

Also in my purse are receipts, tissues, coupons and well ...

I really don't know. 

What I do know is that it is summer now, and I usually switch to a darling wicker bag.

Cute little thing, isn't it? 

I'm going to need to pare down.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


If you need a small Mother's Day gift, please consider my book "Better Living Through Chaos."  It's a collection of columns from my time at the Bergen Record.  Just click on the link to the right to learn more or to purchase. 

So you can get an idea of the book, here's one of my favorites from it.  Thanks for reading me, and Happy Mother's Day to all of our Mothers!


I am driving my dream car.  Every time I slide into the driver’s seat and caress the steering wheel I feel a deep sense of satisfaction.  Every sacrifice I had to make, every year I waited for it, was so very worth it.

My dream car is a late model minivan with a dent in the hatch.  My dream car has a box of tissues in the front seat, toys on the floor and cracker crumbs in the seat cushions.  My dream car can hold two adults, five kids, two bikes, a stroller, dozens of plastic swords and balls, and a scooter, provided one adult holds the scooter on her lap.

My dream car has plenty of head room.  A six year old boy can easily stand up in the back and change his muddy pants.  In fact, so can an adult woman, but don’t ask me how I know.

With my minivan, I can pull over to the curb at a moment’s notice and pick up a perfectly good patio table and chairs that my neighbor was just going to throw away.  If you don’t think that’s a blast, all I can say is, you haven’t tried it. 

When I told my friends that I was getting a minivan, many of them grimaced in light horror and groaned things like, “Oh, well, I’ll still be friends with you.”

I realize that I driving a minivan is not hip.  It’s even less hip to openly love your minivan.  The usual minivan owner will acknowledge his car with a sheepish nod meaning “Yeah, yeah, I’m driving a minivan.  I have to, for the kids.” 

OK.  You may be driving a snappy sedan or trendy SUV, but if you have kids and you let them snack in the car, if you shuttle them around to soccer games and birthday parties, if you bulk shop once a month, believe me, you have left hip far behind.

As Hollywood types settle down and have babies, the fan magazines would have you believe that  motherhood is actually becoming hip.  Really?  Which motherhood are they talking about?  The gorgeous-starlet motherhood, in which your abdomen snaps back into a size 4 two weeks after the baby is born?  The motherhood with night nurses and nannies and someone to do the grocery shopping for you?  Or the one in which your son requests that you turn down the radio so he can hear himself burp the alphabet?

Being a parent is anti-hip.  You stop cursing (or you should!), you become super safety conscious, you adopt your child’s baby talk into your vocabulary, you start cutting your own hair.

Do you get excited about being asleep before 11 p.m.?  Do you have living room furniture that is important to you?  Did you see Eminem perform on a televised award show and conclude that, while he was talented, you would not be downloading his songs to your iPod?  You, my friend, are no longer hip and a car cannot change that.

Being hip is all about detachment, coolness.  Feeling detached can be a heady and immortal feeling in youth.  It feels free and exhilarating. Driving too fast, listening to loud music, maybe even flicking your cigarette ash out the window, all contrives to make you feel free, unencumbered, powerful, immortal. 

Now, in the middle of my life, being encumbered is what I want, that is what makes me feel immortal now.   I am needed for everything:  to pour cereal, fold laundry, notice progress, make unpopular rules, share discoveries.  A cool sense of detachment is impossible for me these days because I am so extremely attached … to my kids, to my husband, to my house, to my debt, to my church, to my friends, and darn it all, to my car.  

I have settled into my life and it’s as comfortable as, well, as a bucket seat with lower lumbar support.

Loving my minivan means that I have happily let children take over my life.  There are no better passengers for a ride.  They clamor, they compete, they notice everything.  “Mom!  Look!  That dog just has three legs!  Can you believe that!?  Did you see how fast he was running on three legs?  Did you, Mom?”

I know how I look.  When I pull up at the drive thru and holler at the kids to “Quiet down so I can order!”, then start tossing bags of fries and nuggets back to the famished hordes,  I can see the look of pity from the quiet guy in his tidy coupe.   I’m shoving backpacks and library books off the passenger seat to make room for the happy meals, and he is flicking a piece of lint off his dress pants.  I wonder if he saw that three-legged dog back there.

Driving a minivan is the ultimate betrayal of our youth/sex/success obsessed culture.  It says “I am more concerned with safety than style!”  “I put a balanced meal on the table almost every night!” “I sing along to the Eagles!”

I don’t want to drive fast.  I don’t want to be flashy.  I want to buckle my loved ones in safely, pass out some snacks, and enjoy each mile for what it brings.  I want to go slowly, I want to be considerate, I don’t care about being the best at anything.  I want to be the one who is responsible, the one who keeps us from getting lost.  The one in the driver’s seat of a car that has room for everything.