Jelly Mom Column – Antelopes in The Mail

January 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

Front of an envelope mailed in the U.S.

Image via Wikipedia

©Lisa Barker – Used by Permission

It’s antelope season at my house again.  Another child has reached the age where he can print and sound out some words so writing letters to Grammy and Auntie are high on his list.  So are antelopes.

“Momma, I need an antelope for my letter.”

Aw.  It takes me back.  Little does he know that his older siblings needed antelopes as well or the even more rare ombilope a direct cousin of the antelope.

Antelopes are fascinating.  They have a strip of glue on them that, when wet, makes a perfect seal securing the letter safely inside.  Unless you’re a five-year old and drool like a Saint Bernard.

“Don’t worry.  Momma’s got a hair dryer and lots of tape.  It’ll dry completely before it reaches Grammy’s.”

The next step is to cover the back of the antelope with stickers.  It doesn’t matter if they are from the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes or if they are Mom’s special stationery stickers, each antelope needs at least three stickers.  The more stickers you find on the back of an antelope, the more love there is inside.

The card inside harkens back to caveman days.  There are hieroglyphics of square people with stick legs and a message written in a strange language that, if read from left to write reads:


The best part is running to the mailbox and stuffing your antelopes inside.  Now begins the slow agony.  Every day for the next week it will be, “Did I get an antelope?”

“No, not today.  Maybe by Friday.”

“What’s today?”


“Is tomorrow Friday?”

Sigh.  Antelopes come and go.  Most of them are from Bill.  Why does he keep writing to Momma?  She doesn’t like his antelopes very much.

At last an antelope arrives with my son’s name on it.  But he doesn’t tear right in.  An antelope from Grammy or Auntie Jenny requires careful dissecting with mom’s antelope opener because we don’t want to accidentally tear any stickers.

Older Brother enters the room.  “What did you get?”

“I got an antelope from Grammy.  If you send antelopes to people, they send antelopes back!”

“It’s not ‘antelope.’  It’s ‘EMBALOPE.’  It’s the illiterate leading the illiterate.

Still this is all good practice.  In a few months children will be writing letters to Santa.  The older ones will ask for world peace, the middle ones will ask for every high priced item ever conceived by the elves and the youngest will still ask for a lollipop, some cake and a book.

“If you behave, Santa might send you a letter back.”

“Does Santa have antelopes?” I can just hear the youngest ask innocently only to be swiftly corrected by an older sibling:  “No, Santa has reindeer.”

LISA BARKER of Greenfield is a syndicated humor columnist and mom of five. Her latest book is “Before I Had Kids I Was A Size 9.”  See for more information.

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Jelly Mom Column – I’ve created a monster

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

I’ve Created A Monster
©Lisa Barker

I have another theory about why my youngest is so brash and demanding.  He’s a celebrity.

I thought he couldn’t read, but he must have discovered his starring role in the Jelly Mom column and now he treats the whole family like we’re dim-witted assistants that he can just order around and fire at will.

“Here’s your breakfast, kiddo.”

“I said I want eggs!”

Oh, don’t worry.  I don’t fry him eggs.  I just take away his only option for breakfast.  It makes him a little more courteous at lunch.

“Here’s a tuna sandwich.”

“I said!”


“That I want peanut butter.  Please.”

It’s a token please, tacked on the end after great personal struggle with himself, but now we’re finally getting somewhere.

Just about the time I think I’ve civilized him again and think he might actually ask for his snack in a more polite tone, his older brother comes home from summer school bearing gifts he earned for behaving all day.  I can just read the youngest one’s mind:  See ya, Mom, and all your stupid rules about courtesy. Big Brother brought me toys!

Well, soon enough the two boys are fighting.  Big Brother has repossessed Little Brother’s toys because he can.  He says Little Brother was rude to him, but I know that Big Brother giveth and Big Brother taketh.  (Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so generous in the first place.)

Yet I take Big Brother’s side when Little Brother pops off with rapid-fire demands:  You give me the toys!  You play with me out back!  You stupid idiot!!

He comes crying to me for justice.  “Momma, no one will play with me.”

It’s not easy being the youngest in the family.  All those promises about how great it is to be a big boy and you still don’t get your own way, still can’t make people do what you want them to do, still can’t do nothing!
He thought that when he turned five-years old he would start going to school the very next day.  He packed his backpack, carried a book and told me he needed a lunch to go.  But I said he had to wait until the fall, some mysterious other time that is still too difficult for him to fathom, sometime after an equally puzzling thing called ‘summer vacation.’

He gets up at the crack of dawn every day, just in case that’s the morning school starts.  He can’t be late for the bus!  He packs his backpack again and I tell him to wait some more.

I almost pity him.  But when I give him grapes for his snack and he screams at me, “I wanted apples!” I pity the kindergarten teacher he will get.

For now, someone needs a nap.

Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit

There’s No Place Like Home – Jelly Mom

June 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

©Lisa Barker

I love being a stay at home mom. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want, I can drink water whenever I want and I never have to say ‘excuse me’ unless the children hear.

I haven’t let myself go. I just don’t have to answer to anyone and that’s a definite drawback especially when you return to the workforce.

Once I held an office job after having spent the previous five years alone with three little ones. I hadn’t realized how I’d morphed from a shy person to one who speaks her mind until I was hired as an administrative assistant.

My boss said, “Let’s do a little less talking and a little more work.”

I blurted out, “I can talk and work just fine.” Then realized what I’d said and recovered with, “But you’re the boss and what you say goes. Yes, sir!” It’s not easy being the boss at home and not being one at work.

The hardest thing about having kids and working outside the home is not having enough time to care for the house and my family the way I want to. I want to be there and be in charge. My hat is off to those women who are able to stay home, but choose to work outside the home. They do it all, but I can’t.

While I’m stuck at a desk hiding files of work I have done for the rest of the week (to slowly dole out to a boss that will hyperventilate if he sees me more than five minutes ahead of him with my work) I’m thinking of all the things I could be doing at home that are piling up while I pretend I’m working.

Laundry is multiplying by the nanosecond. Dishes are breeding in the sink and on the counters. Toothpaste is oozing down the bathroom cabinet. Dust bunnies are plotting a siege. Weeds are securing the perimeter of the garden and are poised for an all out war.

Worst of all I’m not there for my kids’ firsts or when they’re sick or when they need me around just so they can ignore me. It’s my job to be there and say, “I told you so,” or “Because I said so,” or “Don’t touch it, that’s gross!”

And then after adding it all up, I discovered that my entire job paid only for my work expenses (clothes and gas) and daycare for the children. In other words, I was working to afford to work. Does that make sense to you?

I’d rather be home where the kids can take me for granted in person. I’m there for them, they get the best care in the world (me) and it doesn’t cost me a dime, just my sanity.

Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit

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