So, the thing is … parenthood is so affirming.


I’ve decided I need to start doing some kind of positive affirmations because not only do I live with a five-year-old, I also live with a two-year-old.  Typical conversations with my two-year-old sound something like this.


Jane: “I want soup with rice.”


I make soup with rice.


Jane: “No, No, NO!  This is not the right soup.  This is soup with RICE. That’s not fay-air!”


Barb: “Didn’t you SAY you wanted soup with rice?”


Jane (wailing loudly): “No. Noooooooooo!”


Barb: “So, what kind of soup DO you want?”


More wailing.


Barb: “Do you want soup with noodles?  Is it the NOODLES you want?  Can you use your words to tell me what you want?  Okay, I’ll just make some soup with noodles.  Maybe that’s it.”


Jane eats soup with noodles.  (Mom eats soup with rice.  And eight handfuls of M&Ms.)


So, it’s been about seven months since either of my children has said anything nice to me and I’m starting to worry about my self-esteem, not to mention swimsuit season.   Here’s an example: Last week, coming out of music class with her head full of music and the teacher's broad smile when she saw my girls, Ana said, "Mom, can we have Miss Jeanne as our mother?"


I must have looked stricken because she said, "I mean, when you die?"


I’ve decided that I need to change the way I respond, which, to this point, has been to take it very personally.  (In the example above, I narrowed my eyes and suggested that Ana talk to her FATHER about this request since I would be dead.  DEAD, do you hear me??)   Maybe I just need something to counteract the negative things my kids throw at me.


See, I have a new theory that being a parent is like being a member of the Washington Generals.  Remember them?  They’re the team that got paid to go out and lose night after night, year after year to the Harlem Globetrotters.  Of course, the vast difference is that no one is willing to pay me to be the fall guy for my kids but the dynamic is much the same.  No matter how gracefully you choreograph your ultimate defeat, defeat is CERTAIN.  AND, it’s part of the entertainment!


So they were the losing-est team in history --two wins in more than 9,000 games.  Do you think it was hard to get up and go to work every day?  “Okay, honey, I’m off to my job as a professional LOSER.”  I wonder how they kept their morale up.  Maybe they practiced the art of positive affirmations.  Maybe I can do the same!


I found this site called The Rainbow Garden, which not only has pages and pages of affirmations but they are even organized by where an individual is in the process.  For example, if you are just beginning to affirm yourself, there is a page called “Affirmations for Getting Started.”  Like this one: [I have a basic trust that my affirmations will work and my efforts will be rewarded.]  That seems fairly straightforward, if a bit idealistic.  There are others:







I don’t know –-just that really assertive use of capital letters makes me feel these people know what they are doing.  So, Monday, I was taking Ana to school and Jane spied Ana’s white socks.


Jane (at full voice): “Mom, I wanted the white socks!  I DID!  IT’S MY TURN.  THAT’S NOT FAY-AIR!”


Barb: [I am One Hundred Percent alive, because I think, speak, and act enthusiastically.]  Jane.  Sweetie.  You are WEARING white socks, too!


Jane (to Ana): “Ana, we’re wearing white socks together!”


Well, now.  See.  While I didn’t exactly get a, “Oh, I forgot, Mom.  Silly me.” At least my head did not spin around like that woman in the Exorcist. 


A few nights ago, after battling with Ana to get her to eat dinner (grilled chicken and green beans) I agreed, once she'd made a grudging effort, to let her have cheerios with milk. At some point, she came back to where I am writing and asked if she could have some dry cheerios now. I asked if she had eaten her whole bowl. She said, "You mean the WHOLE bowl with Ernie and Bert on it???" She was horrified.


Now see, this is a perfect Washington General’s moment.  Have I EVER required my children to eat a plastic and indigestible item?  Not even once.  You might say that my sole goal in life is to have them eat highly digestible things so that we don’t find ourselves (any of us) melting down in some public place. But see, I’m familiar with my role and the grace it takes to be a part of the Washington Generals team. I didn’t snarl anything like, “I would never expect you to eat that Ernie and Bert bowl because how could I possibly cut it up, bread it, deep fry it and drench it in enough ketchup for you to choke it down?  After all, apparently there wasn’t enough ketchup in the WORLD for you to eat the lovely succulent chicken I marinated and grilled to perfection, NOT THAT I’M BITTER!”


I didn’t say that because, of course, [I Relax as deeply as I wish at any time I want.]


I am on a ROLL.  I got GAME.  “Oh, sweetie, of course not.  I’ll come and give you another bowl of Cheerios right now.”


Two points for Mommy, who kept her composure under pressure.


Later in the week, I took Ana and Jane and a buddy to the Children’s Museum for some three hours of GOLF BALLS whizzing past me as part of an exhibition introducing kids to the laws of physics. 


[I give Freely from my Endless Inner Supply of Love, but if that Screaming toddler Heaves another golf ball at my Head while his Mother stands there Chatting, I’m going to teach him what Happens when he meets an Irresistible Force.] 


Then, I took all three girls to the gift shop. [I am Thrifty and Manage my Money well despite numerous temptations.  Riiiiigggghhht.]


AND THEN, I ordered pizza for them and read to them and gave them dreams and in general was the Stepford Mom we all can be (with the proper medication), and STILL Ana committed some infraction so awful that I completely lost my cool and sent her to her room until she turns thirty. [It is Okay to Be Angry. Pass the M&Ms!]


A bit later, I heard her call to me over the monitor.  “Mom?  Mom?  I just wanted to say I’m sorry.  And… and… I wish you were five-years-old, too, Mom, so that we could both be alive together longer.  I love you, Mom.”


There now, see?  Just when I wasn’t watching, she lobs a nice three pointer from center court to win the game.



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(c) Barbara Cooper 2003


Barbara Cooper is the mother of Ana (5) and Hurricane Jane (2.5).  She lives in Austin, Texas and it is quite coincidental that there is no NBA team there.