How Bruno Mars Helped Me Become a Better Parent

Last night my daughter and I went to the Bruno Mars concert in Los Angeles–it was everything! That young man is truly talented and reminds me so much of Michael Jackson around the time he moonwalked during the Motown 25th televised show. Bruno performs with the same intensity and passion. Aside from having great music, a good voice with range, and backup dancers and singers that take you back to the boy-band era, Bruno Mars feels the music and makes people enjoy it in a way that’s truly special, like mid-career Michael Jackson.

 

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Bruno Mars XXIV Karat Magic Los Angeles Concert, November 2017

It’s probably important to note that Michael Jackson was my childhood idol. From “Blame it on the Boogie” and “Everybody” to “Lovely One” and “Beat It,” I knew almost every lyric, to every song, after first discovering him through the Off the Wall album (his best album, period). The childhood nostalgia came flooding back to me last night as Michael was my first concert and here I was with my daughter, at her first concert. It was incredibly special.

Naturally today, we are paying for it. My daughter was up and out last night much later than I’d anticipated and both of us are slower than normal. But it was worth it and a tremendous reminder to me to bend the rules occasionally and just enjoy my kids. And not just through big firsts like last night, but each day. Chucking the responsibility of managing the family schedule and making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it, is necessary from time to time. I’m so happy I overlooked my daughter’s bedtime and initial concerns that the content would be inappropriate (an aside, there was a lot of cursing but if you’ve heard the album, you know as much and my kids have indeed heard the album. Judge me if you want but they now know which words they can use, and which they can’t). I’m glad that I let her have this fun experience. It’s one she (and I) will cherish for the rest of our lives.

It’s made me reminisce about the fun times I had with my family as a child and think about how I can continue to create more of these moments with my own family. One favorite thing we used to do when I was a kid was spending Friday nights watching The Dukes of Hazard and The Love Boat as a family while playing a two-deck card game called Continental (which is now known as Phase 10…why didn’t we think of making it into a branded game back then?). We were home, in our family room, all sitting around together and doing something fun. It didn’t cost anything. It didn’t take too much effort. It was simple and yet so powerful in terms of reaffirming I was part of a loving (and fun) family. It bonded us in conscious and unconscious ways and gave us each something important and precious and special, for life.

Our family game of choice these days is the board game Sorry! It’s great for the ages of my kids and yet still fun for adults too. And thanks to Bruno, I’m now recommitted to getting down on that floor, rolling the dice and getting around the little board to “home” before my kids do so that I can have bragging rights as often as possible (we’re a competitive family).

I can only hope that the time we spend playing this game, and others, is the beginning of creating the same positive memories I have from my childhood.

Thank you for that reminder, Bruno.

 

 

This One Thing Could Save Your Child’s Life

There’s nothing like a good party in the car with the kids. Cue the music, roll the windows down, and sing and dance the traffic away. It’s fun and easy to make shuttling around a memorable party in the car but it can quickly go wrong. Odds are, something’s wrong with how your child’s car seat is installed or being used. Maybe you don’t have him correctly harnessed in it, you let him keep his jacket on underneath the belt, or perhaps you let him put on his own seat belt, straps twisted and all, because, well, you know, he’s a big boy now.

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It happens every day. I recently watched a car jam session I’d taped from the passenger side of our car while my husband drove us around. The kids were singing their hearts out and then I noticed, the seat belt straps on my son’s Graco harness booster seat were way too low to be effective in a car accident. There he was, singing at the top of his lungs and the harness that connects the straps were down, below his chest, closer to his waist! This is how it happens. This is how children end up severely hurt in car accidents. I’d looked at him several times during that car dance party and didn’t notice the straps until watching him on the video, days later. How did I miss this? How can I tune back in, be in the moment of checking and re-checking these belts, when so many times I’m just on autopilot? Should I leave myself a sticky note in the car to remind myself to check his car seat?

3 Lessons Mom Learned on the Vacation of a Lifetime

I’m in heaven. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m on the vacation of a lifetime, on a megayacht sailing around the French Riviera—Naples, Nice, Puerto Cervo, Capri, Portofino, Antibes, Saint Tropez, and Cannes. My days consist of sleeping in, frolicking in the sun, exploring the wonders of this clear, luring water, flirting with a certain handsome 36-year-old, sightseeing charming ruins, eating amazing food most of which is prepared by a personal chef, binge watching movies or getting caught up on some series, hiking through scenic trails along various ports, and anything else my heart desires. Did I mention that yesterday I took a 4-hour nap and that I’m vacationing without my kids? This is the type of trip that, as the young folk say, gives you life.

I know what you’re thinking–I’m on a vacation of a lifetime, it should give me life! The Siren is a 230-foot-long yacht with six guest cabins and a crew of 18. I’d have to be crazy not to feel super relaxed and like the weight of the mommy world isn’t so heavy. On the Siren, I have discovered some amazing things but they aren’t specific to this fabulous boat or trip, even though the first-class, picturesque voyage doesn’t hurt. I am just blessed to learn these few golden gems here, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and they are important lessons every mom should consider.

Lesson #1: It’s okay.

This trip took me away, and I mean mentally away, from my life at home. Because of the 9-hour time change and without the constant interruption of little, well-meaning people who like to say, “mom, mom, mom,” I have completely disconnected from the mommy load. We all know it’s important to disconnect and recharge from time to time, without kids and without the guilt of not being with kids. That guilt part, however, is difficult.

3 Simple Ways to Nurture An Early Sibling Bond

I‘m the youngest of three, the baby in the family. My older siblings are fraternal twins and that meant I grew up desperately wanting to be a twin myself so that I’d have a playmate and someone with whom I could communicate telepathically (because you know, that’s what you get to do when you’re a twin, so my young mind thought). When that didn’t seem to work, I fought hard to simply be taken seriously as a viable playmate for my brother and sister, only they weren’t having it for the most part. Instead, they wanted very little to do with me. Undeterred, I pestered on and made them include me when possible. If that didn’t work, I ran to my mom who would make them include me and that didn’t always go over so well. I was confident that one day, they would cave to my cuteness, my wit and charm. My ability to belt out Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall word for word, my amazing high score on Intellivision’s Pitfall, or my fast footwork would win them over, eventually (I was the runner in the family and could whip them in any front yard race at any time). I was convinced that one day, they would sincerely like me. I was right.

(Home Video Caption: Gigi sings to her baby brother Avery while he’s in my belly)

New Quiz: Are You Privileged?

Why yes, yes you are privileged. We all are to some degree, depending on who you are, where you live, what you want and a host of other variables.

There’s never enough conversation about the role privilege plays when it comes to getting ahead in life. Too many people believe it has no impact and live in a bubble of privilege, unable to fathom the possibility. To me, it seems ludicrous to think otherwise–how can anyone “make it” without benefiting from myriad factors such as the generations before, gender, racial bias, socio-economic status, and more? Is it possible to “make it” without any type of advantage? By having an unwavering dream and strong work ethic? Are those that “make it” an anomaly who give false hope about what’s really possible?

The tricky thing about privilege is that it is often individually evaluated and defined against personal experiences and agendas. The notion is perpetually misunderstood and even when it appears as if it’s been properly considered, there’s always a way to understand it further, to push further, or consider more. It’s a complex notion worthy of ongoing dialogue and self-reflection. But first, we have to all agree on baseline understandings of the concept and that starts with each of us acknowledging who we are as individuals, our surroundings, circumstances and environment and then weighing those factors against what’s being pursued.

A new quiz created by the Ford Foundation–“What’s Your American Dream Score?“–highlights how privilege at its most granular level impacts chances of success. If you take the quiz it will feel overly simplistic. However, it will force you to consider things you most likely have taken for granted and force you to contemplate privilege from its most basic understanding. I scored a 63 which showed that many factors in my life have worked in my favor, not to my surprise. While many things have helped me along the way, this privilege works in tandem with bias. The reality is, it’s virtually impossible for people to not have any bias about anything–it’s a human quality–and so with that comes factoring in the role of privilege.

Finding a solution to the fight for all types of equality will take many lifetimes and have multiple layers. Being aware of the fundamental origins of privilege and accepting that it impacts everything is a universal first step in the right direction if we are going to truly make long-standing inroads. If you are someone who still doesn’t grasp how the basic facts about someone impacts success, you need to go back to the drawing board, take this quiz, and reconsider the factors in your life that may have impacted your accomplishments.