1. A massive appreciation for Disney and other animated movies.  I cried at Big Hero 6.  In the theater.  I wept along with my 2 year old who threw out his arms toward the big screen and yelled “NOOOOO!”  And you guys, everyone in the world can sing “Let it Go.”  Everyone in the world.  And if you have a female in your home, you own at least 25 different “Frozen” memorabilia. My Mom rented the movie for one of our visits, and was like “what is the big deal with these songs?  I mean, they’re pretty good, but c’mon.”  She later prepared dinner while singing “Let it go,” the entire time.  Verbatim.
  2. Appreciation for abstract art.  “Wow, buddy!  That’s amazing!  Tell me about it.”  That was a learned line.  Because if I had actually spoken out loud what I believed it clearly was (a bicycle), things could have been awkward when I learned that it was in fact, his room.  And a self-portrait with spiky hair.  Oh, and the booby trap he had set up that would send the intruder down a loopy water slide and into crystal blue water (lucky intruder).
  3. An open mind to what constitutes a canvas.  Continuing with the art theme, (winter is just ending, we have spent millions in art supplies), we did a crazy fun thing and purchased window markers.  Made ONLY for windows.  You guys, we spend all this time teaching them to color on the special paper we buy them, and set their station up with all kinds of protection in order to preserve our “non-canvas” things, and then we basically hand them window markers and tell them the rules are off. At first they look at you like, seriously?!  And you feel like the coolest parent ever because they are laughing hysterically as they create some abstract art on the sliding glass door to your backyard. But before you get too comfortable in that cape, look behind you in 10 seconds.  Just do it. And have your carpet cleaner somewhere handy.  We actually don’t freak out anymore when our kids get a little paint on our dark wood dining room table.  Because it was $75 on Craigslist and whatever.  (Actually, not owning nice things for about 10 years or more should probably be another point).  Roman once took a pen to our living room walls.  After establishing that it, in fact, wasn’t his 11 month old brother, I handed him some wet wipes (which are useful for freaking everything) and gave him a chance to “clean it up.” A few minutes later, I walked downstairs to find him tearing them into strips and attempting to stick them to the walls — so Dad wouldn’t see the mess.  Because of course, Dad will never notice soppy wet wipes clinging to the walls.  In case you’re wondering, the pen marks are still there.  It has been a year.  We don’t have time.  One glass of wine and I stop caring.
  4. Handling brutal honesty gracefully.  I did the coolest dance to “I like to move it” in the kitchen while my kids ate their breakfast the other day. “You are weird.”  I caught my breath, stopped dancing, sat down and ate my cereal.  A few hours later… “Hey sweetie.”  He stops, looks at me sweetly, then ruins it with: “Mom, do you have a baby in your belly?”  “Uh…nope.” And then speechless.  Because it would do not good to remind him that multiple children lived there for 9 months at a time, and I am working on it.  Graceful.  Welp, guess those hershey kisses will live to see another day…  But the honesty is not reserved just for family members.  No, every outing is a chance at complete humiliation  adventure.  And it’s karma, because we did this to our parents.  While awaiting the bagging of her groceries my Mom suddenly hears my brother’s sweet voice pose the question: “do you have a penis?”  Apparently uncertain as to the gender of the cashier.  Simon Cowell should take lessons from preschoolers.  Although “that was terrible,” actually can be offered with no disdain whatsoever when you are under 5.  It’s remarkable.
  5. Unparalleled ability to surprise and delight.  Needing a confidence boost?  Make french toast. Itching for some happy giggles?  Hand them the dusting mitt.  Want to feel hilarious?  Tell a knock-knock joke.  (Just don’t repeat it expecting the same peals of laughter from your peers.  It a downer, and you’ll confirm you’re a little crazy).  Back to awesomeness.  Who else screams with excitement because you. are. going. TO THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM?!”  These are confidence builders that we will absolutely need to get us through the preteen years.  It’s God’s gift.  Once, after an unexpected rager of a night (thank you albuterol, aka: legal speed) I calmly agreed to allow my littles the enormous gift of a movie on a Tuesday.  You would think I was Princess Elsa herself.  As he ran over to the chair I had collapsed in to offer a ginormous bear hug he simultaneously screamed, “YOU ARE THE BEST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORD!  I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!  THANK YOU, MOOOMMMMY!”  You are welcome.  I am suddenly feeling awesome.  Please say the exact same thing, the exact same way when I send you to college, or give you the privilege of getting a summer job.  Now please don’t pick Big Hero 6 or Cruz and I might cry.