I am raising a narcissist


I am raising a narcissist.  A bright, beautiful, funny, creative and thoughtful narcissist.  From the moment she was born, this world was her oyster.  We played what she wanted to play, we sang what she wanted to sing and the entire world revolved around her.  Then, three years later when our son was born and we were panicked about our first-born feeling left out or unloved, we overcompensated by making the day he came home from the hospital “Big Sister Day”!  We had balloons, a cake and a gift from the baby.  Thus, reinforcing the fact that this was her world and we were just living in it.

Now, I myself am an admitted narcissist.  But, as any good narcissist does, I blame it solely on someone else.  My parents.  Was it possible that my parents were TOO encouraging?  Could it be that absolutely everything I ever did was wonderful, incredible and positively perfect?  I doubt it.  How can parental encouragement be a bad thing, though?  I had two parents who were constantly praising me, bragging about my accomplishments and telling me that every drawing I did was beautiful.  Every photo I took was gorgeous (though you’ve seen plenty of evidence to the contrary).  I had incredibly high self-esteem, but needed the approval and, more importantly, the praise and recognition from others to validate it.

It is only now that I realize that each positive action in my daughter’s life has been met with the same positive reaction that I, myself received as a child.  How could this possibly do harm?  Her over-inflated sense of self is cobbled together with her biting wit, though, thus creating a very confusing game of “Is she serious or just being sarcastic again”?  I, personally, throw in a dash of humor and self-deprecation just to throw people off the scent of my own narcissism.

At several points in my daughter’s young life, she has encountered a number of reality-checks.  But the one last night has been the most profound to date.  She has a very close-knit group of girlfriends at school.  They’re such a melting pot of personality traits- the sensitive one, the crazy, outgoing one, the pensive and over-thinking one- and then there’s my daughter, who has appointed and established herself as their fearless leader.  Every group needs a leader, I always told myself.  “No one else is stepping up, so it’s up to me to make things happen”.  My daughter, apparently feels the same way.  Whether it is age or Prozac that has helped me realize the contrary, I don’t know.  If friends are indifferent, or unsure of what to do- it is my daughter who always has a suggestion.

My own reality check is one that happened at the end of high school.  I’m lucky enough to have met my best friend in third grade.  She stuck by me as I ran through phases of adolescence, sometimes leaving her by the wayside when I was distracted with someone or something else.  But at the end of our senior year of high school, we had come up with a plan for living together in the dorm.  I had picked out our matching comforters and some nice, white wicker furniture.   As a decisive planner, I wanted to confirm that this is what we would do, where we would go and when we would do it.  She had had enough.  Finally, she let me know that she did not think it was a good idea for us to live together.  Lots of tears and hurt feelings- but what a life lesson for me.  I find myself apologizing to her to this day for behavior, that only in retrospect must have been utterly overwhelming for her.

Her own friends, deciding that they too have had enough of being bossed around, finally took a stand with my daughter.  She handled it gracefully at first, and then, as has been woven into her DNA to do, she lost it.  Anger and blame replaced what should have been presented as remorse and insight.  Tears lasted for hours and hurt feelings overshadowed any responsibility and acceptance of wrong-doing on her part.  I empathize with her, I really do, but in order for her to learn from this, I need to let it play out and let her really feel this.  It may be a long process of trying to spin my wheels backward, but I’ve got to try to undo some of the damage I’ve done in creating this poised, pretty, perfect little narcissist.




Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica


The very first text I ever sent was to my friend from work.  We were both obsessed with the show “The Office” at the time and there was an episode in which Jim was imitating his co-worker Dwight.  Jim had on the same yellow shirt and tie, glasses and said “Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica”- something Dwight might have said.

I decided to text that very message to my friend, as my first-ever text message.

“Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica” it read.

Apparently he had not seen the previous night’s episode and texted back,

“I think something is wrong with your Auto-correct”.

I didn’t have the time or energy to write a reply, since the first one took me all of 8 minutes to compose.

I cheat in Pilates

When living in Orange County, I discovered that I LOVED Pilates.  I’d taken mat Pilates classes before, which were great for stretching, but Reformer Pilates was a whole new deal-  and I quickly became obsessed.  The machine looks a little Medieval with its coils and pulls, but the core work and strength building moves made me a believer.  For about 3 years I’ve been religiously taking my reformer pilates classes about three times a week.  I even have a Reformer machine at home now too.  But there’s a caveat.  I cheat.  I play the part well in my Lulu pants and funny toe-d pilates socks.  I’m always on time and I have “my spot” over by the window (where the teacher lurks less).

The least obvious cheat (at least to those around me) is the: “Putting one spring less on the machine”.  They ask you to put on all your springs- I put on all but that one damn red one.

The next best cheat is the “I need to grab a drink of water in the middle of class” or the “My-toe-socks-need-adjustment” break.

Then there is the “Slow to an almost stop” when the teacher is looking the other way.  Luckily, there are mirror covering the entire wall, so I can see when she begins to make the turn to walk back toward me, and I then pick up the pace.

What I like best about pilates is that I get to lie down.  It’s like taking a nap – but while simultaneously getting a great workout.  The stretching at the end is pretty fabulous too.  Now, they just need to build on a “Nap Room” for after class.

I couldn’t run a mile if something was chasing me, so cardio is out.  I tried yoga once or twice but could not find my third eye, and am honestly not that invested in locating it.

I’d like to clarify something, though.   This is no reflection on the honesty with which I live my everyday life.  I am a rule follower.  I’ve never broken the law, never tried to cheat the system or dodge jury duty.  I only lie to my children (McDonald’s is closed today) and, apparently, always tell on myself anyway (Melissa, my pilates instructor now knows all my tricks).

So if you’re looking for a new way to stay in shape, get firmer abs and tighter buns- try Core Body Pilates (just don’t sit next to me looking for inspiration).


In the blink of an eye

It’s so cliche, I know, when we moms talk about how everything goes by “in the blink of an eye”.  Just yesterday they were babies and we were wishing for just a little more sleep.  Next, they were off to their first day of kindergarten (I’m one of those heartless moms who did not shed one tear as either of my kiddos went off to play on their new Kindergarten playground.  They were happy.  I was happier).  Then, they turned 10- a big milestone for kids (and a poignant example of how old we’ve become).

But today.  Today my baby nephew went off to college.  COLLEGE!

I can hear him saying “Hi Newin Newin (MaryLynn)!”  through his big front teeth, cobalt blue eyes and soft brown curls, at two years old.  I remember how we laughed when he pronounced Popcorn “Hot porn”.  He grew up smiling, always patient and careful.  He could build impressive Lego structures and ride a two wheeler before the other kids.  He played the piano beautifully, just one example of how he was good at everything he tried.    He could shoot an arrow from a great distance through a series of strung balloons- all in one shot, and take his dad down during a demonstration of Krav Maga fitness.  Suddenly he was 6’4″ and all muscle.  All at once, he had a job, a car and a girlfriend.  He graduated with honors and got a full ride to college… and today, that’s where he’s headed.

He’s all grown up.  It happened in leaps and bounds.  Big chunks of time broke off as I was turned the other way, busy in my own life.  Sure, we celebrated every birthday and holiday, snuck into his prom to spy, and proudly shared pictures of the man he was becoming.  But it hardly seems possible that the “childhood” part of his childhood is over.

My own childhood seemed to crawl along in slow motion for me, but a parental clock moves much more rapidly, seeming to lurch past days and weeks, bypassing special events and only pausing briefly for a few cherished photographs.  As I lived it, the weeks dragged and weekends could not come soon enough.  I never understood the phrase “Stop and smell the roses” in my youth.  There was too much to do.  Too many things to see and so many activities to attend.  I wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” like Thoreau advised (though without having to go live in the woods) but I wanted it NOW.  I was always at the ready for the next phase- graduation, a career, marriage and a family.  Now, on the other end of it, I wish more than anything that I’d inhaled a little more deeply as I raced through the garden.

But this thought of time passing too quickly never hit home until today.  We watch baby videos and simultaneously relish the laughter of fun times past, while dreading the moments we close our eyes- knowing we’re going to miss it.  We WILL miss this.  I DO miss this and I’m not nearly through.  My kids are still young.  There’s still time.  I just need to hug them a little tighter.  Put books on their head as my mother used to do with me so that I’d stop growing so fast.  I stare at them in their sleep and watch, in awe, when they’re awake.  I know that tomorrow I will be wondering how my own babies could be heading off to college.       I want to yell “Stop!  Look around.  Live this.  Enjoy this.  Walk slowly”.

So I send my sister a text.  An email.  I call her.  Because I know that today is unbearable for her.  The excitement and enthusiasm she’ll show for him as he heads off for this next adventure will be real, but beneath all that is a mom.                       A mom of that little blue eyed boy who used to hold her hand.


By Guest blogger Tara/ The Stylish Amateur

This is a little gem I like to pull out when my kids complain about having to do chores around the house or any kind of hard labor, whatsoever. Yes, that’s a bad perm combined with a Member’s Only jacket and my huge headphones (back in style I might add), cleaning up horse poop from a yard near my house. I like to write about style and fashion now and you can clearly see my stylish tendencies started early. But I digress….my kids today would never be caught dead doing anything like this for a hike in their allowance and hence, that pretty much means I’ve failed in the parenting department on this issue. I’m still working on it though and when they get lippy, out comes the photo. It’s too bad the javelinas don’t leave more excrement around, I have a great idea on some bonus chores they could do…

By Tara

Hard work

When the F#@k did they stop being “bad words”?!

I just took my kids to see Pixels today.  Yes- I’m THAT mom that did not even look at the rating because it was advertised as a movie for kids.  The movie was actually better than I had expected.  I appreciated the 80’s references and the throwback to my favorite… Pac Man (on which I had my name on the top of the scoreboard for quite some time at the arcade, I might add.  Yes.  I was that good and THAT popular!).  BUT- what I was not prepared for were the unnecessary number of curse words.  When did “shit”, “bitch” and “ass” become “minor language”?  If my kids ever used those words I’d have them go fetch the bar of Irish Spring.  How did this make Pixels any better for it?  What was the point?  Are PG-13 movies more highly attended than ones with the more conservative PG rating?  I don’t get it.  That being said, I take full responsibility for the oversight in taking my kids to the movie with a PG-13 rating and am quite certain that it wasn’t the first or last time my kiddos will hear those words, but REALLY?


Back to School

OK- I am back from my summer “off”.  Camps, vacations and family time- it’s all coming to a close as everyone heads back to school.  Sure, it’d have been nice if I had kids who slept in and relaxed during our time off, but NO- their permanently set internal clocks woke them at the same 6 AM as the rest of the year.  But they DID manage to stay up later- which provided the added bonus of sleep deprivation and crabbiness each day.  Then, it was off to camp, summer school, playdates and water parks (because the “I’m bored” song rings just as loudly in the summertime- except that they now have 12 hours to sing it!).

We managed a month away in California and Montana, got to the Grand Canyon and experienced the requisite summer RV “camping”, which I must admit, was a lovely escape from the 115 degree AZ heat.  Kids got to surf, paddle board, hike, fish, horseback ride, boat, pick huckleberries, camp, swim, and do all of the fun things kids do in summer… and I’m exhausted!

So, to my mommy friends who are looking forward to the start of school as much as I am, here are a few of my favorite Back to School pics.