Reading Between the Lines When Your Family Cares Enough to Send the Very Best


Recently, I got this card from my husband and kids:

photo (21)

On the surface, you could read this as, “You’re an awesome Mom/Wife/Food Sanitation Expert/Cleaning Lady!”

Digging a little deeper though, there’s a hidden meaning behind each of their missives, one that involves birth order, timing, and various stages of psychological development.

Allow me to explain.

Scot, husband, age 43


You are the best wife + best mom in the world we love you so much!




I’m sorry the towel rack in our bathroom has been dangling from one side pretty much since we moved to Colorado, so I’ll use cute nicknames from when we dated 3,000 years ago with the hope that you’ll forgive the fact that I generally don’t do anything around the house anymore because I know if I let chores sit idle long enough you’ll do them for me. I used to think your erratic pre-menstrual hormones were scary, but wow can you handle a power drill like a pro when you’re mad!

I forgot the punctuation and capitalization rules I learned watching Schoolhouse Rock and used “+” instead of “and” because I’m tweeting about my fantasy football league with my dominant hand while I write your card with the one I use to pick wax out of my ears.

Can you make me a panini? All this tweeting and writing and soul-searching is making me hungry.

This is Scot's mustache era, circa December 20 - December 31 2012. I love posting pics of him that he doesn't want any of his co-workers to see.

This is Scot’s mustache era, circa December 20 – December 31, 2012. I love posting pics of him that he doesn’t want any of his co-workers to see.

Taylor, son, age 12


You are the best mom ever. #1 on my list. I love you so much!



Listen. I’m practically a teenager so I’m gonna pretty much copy what Dad said but change it a little so it doesn’t look like I cheated. It’s not that cheaters don’t prosper, look at Tiger Woods. It’s just that it sucks getting caught. Again, look at Tiger Woods.

Can I have an iPhone?

That “#1” thing was all mine so can I have $20.00?

Seriously, I started a crappy phone club at school and I’m the only member.

Since you’re already making one for Dad, can I have a panini?

Taylor will probably kill me for posting this pic, but he had a bad attitude last Saturday night when I took him out for a special mother-son dinner so he can suck it.

Taylor will kill me for posting this pic, but he had a bad attitude last Saturday night when we went out for a special mother-son dinner so he can suck it.

Grace, daughter, age 10

I love U

– Grace


In case you haven’t noticed, I’m the middle child and I’m way too busy to write. In fact, I’d be willing to bet all the money I’m stashing away in my piggy bank for an Ivy League education that you don’t even realize I’m around because I’m too busy absorbing and channeling the arguments between my older brother and younger sister, making dinner, refinishing the front entryway floor, and timing my sprint splits to train for the upcoming state swim meet.

I’m not really into paninis because I’ve just declared myself a gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free vegan, so could you just whip me up a celery root smoothie while I work on some extra credit calculus problems so I can get a head start on my summer enrichment work?

It’s not fair that Taylor gets everything first because he’s oldest. I get straight As every quarter so if anyone’s getting an iPhone it’s me. Also I just finished alphabetizing the spice rack. You can thank me later.

That's Grace teaching our dog to follow commands in Mandarin.

That’s Grace teaching our dog to follow commands in Mandarin.

Essa, daughter, age 8

They diden’t leve me any room. E.


Being the youngest sucks.

I don’t care if I can’t spell. By the time I’m in high school the ghost of Steve Jobs will have invented a brain chip that will do everything for me so I can work on my tan.

I don’t care what Grace says about geophysics and I’m not wearing any more of her hand-me-downs. My style is totally Nicole Richie meets Kristen Stewart and she’s so Dakota Fanning.

I don’t care what Taylor says about his stupid iPhone because he’s stupid.

Can I have a panini, preferably with no crust, double cheese, hold the tomatoes? I’ll be in my room streaming “America’s Next Top Model” and pretty much raising myself.



So for those of you who recently got a seemingly sweet card from your family on a Hallmark-created holiday that looks and feels authentic? Look under the surface. It’s what you can’t see at first sight that will really trip you up if you’re not careful.

If you like this post, you might also like I Think I’m Smarter Than You or Is That Your Daughter’s Bra Hanging From A Tree?

234 responses »

  1. This was just brilliant, Stacie. I laughed through the whole thing. And now I’m really scared as my kids are a bit younger than yours. Congrats on another FP! Your writing is so good, I’m not surprised.

    • “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” Write that down. It’ll be a famous quote someday, right up there with every syllable Kim Kardashian has ever uttered.

    • She’s definitely working on being the boss of me. Now that she can sit in the front seat of the car she loves to let me know when I’m speeding and if I have any errant hairs sticking out of my chin. Awesome. Don’t be surprised if she sees your comment and starts posting inspirational quotes on your site. =p

  2. You are so funny. I had read the title of the post but was not prepared about the dissection of the messages on that card. I was expecting some gooey mother-y, Oh-My-Family-adores-me stuff. This is way better! (not that I have any problem with goo-ey, mushy posts)
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    • I like gooey too, but generally when it’s contained in a box of melted milk duds (have you ever had melted milk duds mixed with popcorn at the movies? It’s the BEST!).

      Thank you for your comment, and for liking the fact that I make fun of my family. Trust me, I get it back in spades.


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  4. First congrats on FP, entirely well deserved. This was brilliant, I would never think to look under the covers for what my children were really saying! My husband? Oh yes always looking for the real meaning, but my kids they were so elusive and bad I was just grateful they remembered I existed as anything other than an ATM (of course I only remember them as teenagers because they wiped my memory of any good years that might have existed previously).

    • Valentine,

      That’s because you’re genuinely a good person and aren’t as jaded/cynical/beaten down by the man as I am. =p

      You know I love my kids, but I feel like one of the reasons I was put on this beautiful planet was to make their sweet little lives just a teeny-tiny bit more real.

      Thanks for the congrats, I appreciate it!


      • Boy do I have you fooled! I just have never admitted to some of the lovely things I use to say directly to my wonderful sons. I think they were ruined for life, except they aren’t.

    • My mother is counting the days until my girls give me double what I gave her. When you add my son to the list, who is sure to also go through preteen/teen/and post-teen angst, I’m pretty much screwed. Thanks for the love, I’m gonna need it! =)

    • That’s awesome on two counts! We Gemini girls have to stick together, especially when we’re feeling of two minds…Leos and Capricorns and all of those other one-dimensional astrological signs so don’t get that. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Hi, your post made me smile on a wet friday afternoon in London, thank you so much. I have just posted an article on things i love about my mum and then I came across your blog which resonated with me. You made me smile so thank you!

  6. What an absolutely FANTASTIC post! I literally laughed out loud through the entire entry. It’s so true that as a parent that reading in between the lines is where we find the greatest declarations of love and humor as well!

    By the way, if you’re just giving out Iphones, I could really use an upgrade…. 😉

    • Amber,

      I promise to give you an iPhone long before I give one to any of my offspring. It might be awhile though, so don’t throw away that 4G.

      Thanks for the read and kind comment, I truly appreciate it.


    • Awww, thanks Bridgette. I appreciate it!

      My kids were only mildly horrified when I wrote this about them but then it kind of snowballed when it was FPd. There’s a lot of horror in the world though, so I figure what doesn’t kill them will make them stronger.

      On Grace’s behalf, thank you for your vote. I think she’s creating a grassroots email list that has something to do with running for Class President when she’s in high school so if you start getting org charts and inspirational quotes from her feel free to move them to your spam folder. =p

  7. wish i got a note like that. i prob’ly wood-a fallen over, dead, dread.
    i suspect your subliminal psychic abilities is something you don’t OPENLY let (too many) people know about. shhh! i’ll keep kwe-itt.

  8. LOL… parenting a teen for the first time… from 8000 miles away and across numerous cultural divides… I’m learning how to read kid subtext.
    But the other day I received an email from my long-distance son, saying that after a week of being incommunicado he had renewed his Blackberry Internet service on his phone so that we could chat and email daily.
    His reason in the email was that “I know it’s always your desire to keep in touch.” However… the subject line of his email was “Missing You.” That one needed no analysis. And I been missing him, too.

    • What a sweet, sweet boy. I’ve got one of those too, Taylor is a gentle giant. He’s going to be about 6’4″, but he’s got the kindest, sweetest soul, at least, when he’s not trying to drive me to an early grave. Thank you for the thoughtful comment, I hope you get to see your long-distance son soon. =)

  9. Sadly, I think we all write inane nonsense on greeting cards rather than expressing our true feelings. I used to write essays about my wife in V-day and Mother’s Day cards. Now it’s just a short note; although, in my defense, she never really showed any appreciation for the effort I put into the essays.

    Also – Grace should be nominated for an award or something. Being middle child is a pain in the butt. I may be biased though.

    • It seems that as time goes by, all love letters get shorter. Not necessarily sweeter, just shorter. which is kind of a shame.

      I read Grace your comment, you’re now her favorite person in the world.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  10. I enjoyed this post a lot. You have a wonderful and loving family. They must be very lucky to have you. It really shows how much they appreciate and cares for you! You have a Great post indeed!

  11. You really know your family, depending on the cast of characters these translations could go on a whole different road trip!

    • I love road trips, especially when they end in a super-swank hotel. I don’t love them so much when I run out of gas, which is what happened on the last one. The cast of characters, however, thought it was awesome.

      Thanks for the comment!

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