Tag Archives: motherhood

Unsolicited Parenting Advice #1

I’m not a quiet girl.  If you’ve met me in person I will give you a minute to wipe that “no shit” look off of your face.

I have a new parenting technique and it doesn’t feel right to keep it to myself.

One of the hardest things about being home with the kids full-time is the noise.  It is constant.  It is relentless.  There is a never-ending hum of sound. I think that is how parents end up being yellers.  We just have to compete to get heard.

I really don’t want to be a yeller. But I have a two year old.

Solution:  Quiet Riot. Specifically “Cum on Feel the Noize.

Scenario:  I am cutting chicken.  Shit always hits the fan when I have raw chicken on my hands. I have said “Lucy please stop banging that lid on the oven door” several times at a reasonable volume level.   She has interpreted this to me “Start yelling along with the slamming.”

Here is where I employ my new technique.  Instead of screaming “For the love of all that is holy, STOP with the banging for one blessed second!  I can not pick you up so do not start crying like I have ruined your life, I have chicken on my hands, RAW CHICKEN.  Jeeezus, stop crying.  I didn’t do anything, I just asked you to stop with the banging, Go.  Bang.  Bang all the lids.  Do whatever you want.  Nobody listens to me!!!” n0t that I have ever had this sort of situation go down. I, personally, never, ever lose my cool.

Instead, at the moment that I feel the crazy start to make its way up my throat and tickle my yelling muscles I open my mouth and I shriek “CUM ON FEEL THE NOIZE!” and I smile.  You have to smile while you do it or it is just like screaming at your kid. Remember, you are singing. You are FunTime Mom.  You are the mom that loves it when your kid bangs lids on the oven door.

“Girls, Rock the boys!  We’ll get wild, wild wild!! Wild, wild wild!!”  Take a minute. Catch your breath. If you’re doing it right your kid has stopped dead in their tracks.  They are staring at you like they have no idea what is going to happen next.

So, you think I’ve got an evil mind… that is the next line.  That isn’t a question.

That’s it.  This is my new Toddler Parenting Technique.  Go ahead and yell.  But yell a song, shake your hips and smile, smile, smile and you can pretend you are dancing, singing Fun Mom.  It works. It is the latest and greatest in my Fake It Til You Make It life plan.

Try it.  I suggest 80s hair metal, but I suppose any tune will do. Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a hit in our house. Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” will work. But you have to start right in with “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” and you have to really put your hips into it.

Come back and tell me your favorite song to scream, I mean, sing at your kids.

This kid is nuts.

This kid is nuts.

Bikini Body?

Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea.  But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.

It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate.  Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort.  I even tried to tan those mofos.  If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece.  (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)

Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s.  I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.  Bend over.  Sit down.  Eh.  It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok.  But the color?

Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size.  I just don’t know about brown.

I called to Emily.  “Come here.  What do you think?”

She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip.   “Hmmm.  That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.

“The truth,” I answer.

“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath.  “Do you like it?”

I love her. I do.  I should have been more clear, I suppose.  “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.

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If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold.  My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press.  But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time.  The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely.  Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy.  Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me –  “Do I like it?” Maybe.  Someday.

Four

In February of 2010 Emily was little.  She was unabashed.  She danced in the driveway and she didn’t take long to get dressed.  She had bangs.  She liked zip-up hoodies and sunglasses and the more accessories, the better.  The Universe was all Emily’s.  She wasn’t selfish but the only life she had ever known was one that was all about her.  Today she went to a book fair at school and came home with several books for Lucy. “Because just because she is too little for school doesn’t mean she doesn’t get books, right?” 

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I don’t know exactly why I went digging through old pictures. Emily said something hilarious and followed it up with “Don’t put that on the Internet.” And I tried to remember when she became self aware.  Was it last year?  The year before? The year before that?  She has changed more in the years since Lucy was born than she did in her entire life prior.  She became something new.  She is a Big Sister now.

Maybe that is what is different.

I tell her she is still my little girl.  I tell her that she is lucky that she had me all to herself for so many years.  I tell her that I love her.  But sometimes I fear she will read through these posts someday and wonder where she is…. all this schmaltz about Lucy, what about me?

Emily June,

I am writing my story so I don’t forget.  And when you looked at me on New Year’s Eve after I took a perfectly hilarious video of you and said “Don’t put that on the Internet” it crushed me a little bit.  Not because I wanted to show the whole damn world how hilarious you are (well, maybe a little) but because I am afraid that as you get bigger and your story becomes yours to tell and I write less of it down… I will forget.  I will forget the moments, the details, perhaps, but I won’t forget the Big Stuff.  I promise.

You and I have butt heads this week. Big time.  We had the first of many screaming matches that ended with us both in tears and me saying “Listen, Em, I’m not your friend, I am your mother.  I know you are mad, and I am sorry.  If I knew a way to be your mother without making you mad I’d do it.  I am making this up as I go along, kid, and I don’t know much but I know I am supposed to be your mom first.  I can be your friend in between the cracks, but my first job is to be your mom.”  And you hugged me and you cried and you told me that it is so confusing.  You told me that you do respect me and you’re sorry that you get so mouthy but sometimes it just feels like you are with your friend when we are together.

I held you tight and I cried a little louder.  Because when you said I feel like your friend I felt like I was failing you as your mother.  But succeeding as a person.

I don’t know what I am doing exactly, Em.  You might as well know that. It is easy to teach Lucy the colors and the alphabet song. I have no idea how to teach you when it is hilarious to mock me openly and when it is disrespectful to even sort of roll your eyes.  It is confusing.  You’re right.   But I am doing the best I can.  And so far it has been good enough.

When you read all this some day and you wonder why I spilled my guts (and maybe a little of yours no matter how hard I try to protect your privacy) I hope you just ask me.  Maybe I will be able to give you an answer by then.  Because today?  Today I can’t explain why.  Writing it down makes things make more sense.  And sharing it makes it all less lonely.  Maybe you will understand that.  Weird that in this time of my life when I am never, ever, ever alone – well, it is the loneliest damn time.

I am watching you play with your sister right now.  You just looked up at me and said “Are you crying because of those old pictures? Don’t cry, Mom. I’m still little!” And you shook your tiny little butt and you smiled.

Yes.  You are.  For today.  But you are bigger than you were yesterday and you don’t show signs of slowing down.

Mom

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Dear Emily June, on your 8th Birthday

Dear Emily June,

I have been writing you letters on your birthday since you were very small.  But this year seems different. I usually write a letter that will help me to remember what it was like the year you were five or the year were two.  But this year, the year you were seven, I don’t think it will take any remembering.  Not because it was unforgettable or because I took a million pictures.  It is simpler than that.

I don’t think I will struggle to remember the year that you turned eight because I think you have become the person that you’ll be for good.  Things will change.  You will grow up and fall in love and drive a car and flunk a test and get a job and make mistakes.  Things will happen to you.  Layers will form on top of this person that you are right now.  But who you are – Emily June.  I know her.  She’s here to stay.

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You will be eight tomorrow.  And some day you will be nine and then ten.  But you will always be Emily June.  You will always have a little dimple in your cheek.  You will always have a little sister that adores you.  You will always make me laugh like no one else. You will always know just exactly what to say when I am blue.  You will probably always obsessively organize your shoes before you clean up anything else when you pick up your room.  You will always love crunchy peanut butter.

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All week you have asked me if I am sad that you are turning eight.  “Do you think I look a little bit old in these pants?” You shake that tiny heiny in front of your mirror and I watch you watch yourself.  “Nope, I think you look a lot bit crazy.”

I like to give you a little piece of motherly advice on your birthday.  It seems like the thing to do.  Through the years I have told you to dream big and love fiercely.  I have praised your strength and your kindness.  I have told you time and again that you are funny because good god almighty, kid, you are a riot.  This year I am at a loss.  Not because I think my advice would fall on deaf ears, quite the opposite. You want so desperately to please.  You’d move mountains if you thought it was expected of you.  This year I just want you to be you.

I want to tell you to just keep on keeping on, kiddo.  You are better at being Emily June than I could ever be.  I’m going to do my damnedest to keep my mouth shut through the next decade.  But if you are trying to make a decision and you need need to be reminded what Emily June would have done that summer right before she was eight – you just ask me, ok?  Because I will never forget.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.  I love you.

Keep it up, kid.

Love,

Mom

You can call me Mom, the Yes Man

Sometimes you want to be the parent that says yes.  So this morning when Em said “Can we go to Dunkin Donuts?” I just said “Sure” before I could change my mind.

Thirty minutes later we were eating donuts and hanging out at the swanky truck stop near our house when she said “Do you think I will ever get to play that game?” and pointed to the money robbing machine where you put a dollar in and try to grab a stuffed animal with the crane.  I said yes again.

It was a good morning.  Em was talking us up. Hopped up on donuts and orange juice she was even chattier than normal.

“Why do they make those machines so that you can never win? The man that owns that machine should just do something and get a job to make money instead of taking everyone’s dollars.  Do you think I should pack three or four outfits for while we are gone.  I think four.  Do you know why I always pack an extra outfit?”

“In case you pee your pants?” I said.

“No, because…”

And MQD interrupts to say “I once knew a DJ named MC Pee Pants”

And she burst in to tears.

“Why can’t I ever finish what I am saying without getting interrupted?  You guys are constantly acting crazy and saying crazy things and I am just being normal?!!”

And so it has begun.  We are no longer funny.  Poor kid.  It is going to get so much worse before it gets better.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.

I took a shower in my bathing suit and I feel dirty.

Sometimes you have to take a stand.  And today I decided that I am not an old, naked lady at the gym.  Well, not all of the time.

Sometimes I am.  But  today I had to make a split decision.

I am pro-naked.  I blame it on coming of age in a high school theatre dressing room but it really doesn’t matter where it started.  I am pro-body acceptance.  In my mind the more bodies that you see, real bodies, the less likely you are to hate on your own.  I work hard at not picking my body apart and ordinarily when I am given the opportunity to show someone else what an average middle aged woman’s body looks like I take it.

I am not yet one of the gals well beyond their middle years that stand in the locker room blowing their hair dry au naturale, chatting up my lady friends while they strap their aged bazooms in to their sensible nude brassieres.  But if I am honest with myself I know that I will be one of those ladies one day.

But not today.  Today I showered in my bathing suit.

“Hi!  Is Emily here?”  said the young girl in the shower across from mine.

I had just turned on the shower, still in my suit, as is customary.  I like to wash my hair and let the soap drip on my swimsuit, pull it off and rinse it out while I leave conditioner in my hair.  It’s an efficient system and one I recommend.  I digress.

Four words made me turn my back on my system. “Hi!  Is Emily here?”

“Nope, she isn’t here today, she’s at art camp this week.” I shampooed while we talked.  And before I knew it I was rinsing my hair and putting in the conditioner, still in my swim suit.

“Ok.  Maybe we will see you this afternoon.”

Umm…  you were about to see a whole lotta me, actually.  I’d already given them an eye full of an awful lot of tattoos they had previously not seen.  And I just wasn’t sure if I could in good conscience be “Emily’s Mom That We Saw Naked At The Gym” for the rest of the summer.

And now I am wrestling with that decision.  Did I miss my opportunity to let my freak flag fly in the form of a nudie shower in the community gym locker room?  Did I make the right choice?

“Mom, did you get totally naked in front of my friends?”

“Uh.  Yeah.  Because women shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies.”

I didn’t want to have that conversation.  Not yet.

So, I showered in my bathing suit and now I feel dirty.

I am doing my part to rid my corner of the universe of body shame, I am.   I just can’t wrap my mind around chit chatting with my daughter’s  friends while I am stark naked.  Not yet.

But when I am 60 and they are 30? Game on.  Her gal pals will be leaving tennis club and they will roll their eyes as I head towards the showers “There goes Em’s mom. Grandma never wears clothes.”

“And she sings when she wears head phones.  She is ridiculous.”

For your viewing pleasure – these are some weird wall stickers in the yoga room at the gym.   So, what do you see?  Olives?  I used to see olives.

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But lately… all I see is boobs, everywhere I look.  Especially in the locker room.

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A Not So Very Big Deal Kind of Day

“I just realized I should have called you before I did this… but I gave away our crib today,” I said, as soon as he answered the phone.

“Just get a picture before you take it apart,” he said.20130701-143311.jpgIt wasn’t all the way apart.  And to be honest, this is as “in the crib” as Lucy ever got in the last two years.  So, it was kind of a non-event.

I took apart the crib and gave it away.

That sounds like a Big Deal, like a milestone.  “Awww, hold old is your baby? Is she moving in to a toddler bed?”

The “baby” is not even 18 months old but it doesn’t make any sense to keep stuffed animals in a gigantic cage.  In fact, I am not even really sure why we had so many damn stuffed animals and I gave away a trash bag of those today, too.

She isn’t moving in to a toddler bed.  In fact, when she moves out of our bed and in to her own it will be a step down.  She will be moving from a King to a Queen.  Poor kid.20130701-143303.jpg

I briefly considered looking at bedding online.  But it is hard to find whimsical kid bedding in a Queen size.  I spent a year and a half wedged in a twin bed with Emily when she “moved in to her own bed” and I am not making that mistake again. So, a Queen size bed it is for this kid.

And really, by the time she moves in to her own room she probably won’t want a whimsical kid room, anyway, right? I should probably get some kind of side table so she has a place for her cup of coffee, huh? I’m guessing she will be reading and drinking coffee by the time she moves out of our room.  She has a comfortable chair; she just needs a table.  Kid will be Virginia Woolf’ing it up by her 17th birthday, max.  But I am ready.

In the meantime, we are booking the Guest Room for the remainder of the summer season.

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The Secret Under My Sensible One Piece

It wouldn’t be easy to choose one word to define myself.  I like to think of myself as pretty multi-dimensional.  I am a lot of things.  Perhaps first and foremost I am your classic over-achieving liberal arts major, jack of all trades and master of none.  So, to choose one word, that is almost impossible.

But if I had to pick one  - I am a mother.

I am grateful that my journey to motherhood was easy.  It was not without tears and pain but I consider myself lucky. I grew two healthy, beautiful little girls.  I grew them.  Inside of me.  And I brought them in to the world.  And thus far I have lived to tell the tale.

I am a mother.

And I am beyond proud. And yet I keep this secret underneath my clothes.  It’s not really an issue nine months of the year, but the summer comes and I feel it.  Shame.

I have two girls.  I tell them both that they should be proud just exactly as they are.  But I don’t feel that way about myself.

I feel strong.  I am stronger than I have been in my lifetime.  I feel capable. Even with some sore muscles from overuse I am proud of the work I have done recently.  I am becoming an athlete.  My clothes feel good.  I stand up straight.  I am proud of this body that grew these two babies and continues to help me grow every day.  But I can’t seem to feel proud of my stretch marks.

Not long after Lucy was born I made peace with them, the tiger stripes I earned in my last pregnancy.  But peace making is a far cry from pride.

In the last month I have done this silly little song and dance.  Get the girls ready to go to the pool.   Put on the two piece.  Look in the mirror.  Take off the two piece and put the one piece on.  Go to the pool.  The other day Em walked in my bathroom while I had on a bikini. “Oh, I like that one, Mom.  You got that for your honeymoon. “

That was all she said.  She left my bathroom and I stood there, stomach glowing white against the rest of my month long summer tan.  I tried to imagine what I would say when I came out in  my signature black one-piece and not the red bikini  she had just seen me wearing.  I came up empty.  There really wasn’t any good reason to change.  None at all.  Except the niggling shame surrounding my smushy stomach and aging stretchmarks.  And that just wasn’t a good enough reason.

This week I did something that made me uncomfortable. I wore that damn bikini all week.  And I chased my little Lucy back and forth.  And I sat in the baby pool.  And I ate an ice cream cone.  And I dove for plastic rings with the big kids.  In my bikini.  And you know what?  My stretch marks didn’t actually have anything to do with any of it.

I can’t quite say that I am proud of them yet.  But I am not ashamed.  And that is a step in the right direction.

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Thousands of Push-ups and This Is What I Have to Show for It

I should have been excited.

Lucy only has about a dozen words.  Four or five of them are new as of this week.  So many things get easier when your toddler can use words. You know what they want.  Water?  Sleep? Outside? Up?

I don’t know what I thought her first two word thought would be.  Love mama? More eat? Dog out?

She was sitting in my lap.  It was nearing her bedtime and I was trying to squeeze a few more minutes of chatter with an old friend  in to my evening.  She was scooping her hands in and out of my tanktop.  I knew what she was after but she was still happy. I kept talking.

She had her eyebrows squinched together like she does when something does not meet her approval.

“Boob.  Up!”

Sigh.  I hear you, little lady.  37 years old and two pregnancies –  this is as up as they get, girl.

Up

Poetic License for Bloggers is called Bullshit

Poetic License – the distortion of fact or narrative to tell a story or evoke a feeling. It’s cool.

I mean, poetic license is cool when you are writing a poem. But blogging or a personal narrative? I call bullshit on “poetic license.” I call the stretching and fudging of truth and fact bullshit when you are telling a “true story.” And man… that is just too damn bad.

Sometimes when something happens to me I start to write a blog post in my mind. I ramble on in my own personal little stand-up routine. Occasionally I get to laughing and I realize that the “punch line,” the part that made something really, truly funny… it didn’t actually happen. And I am left with what could have been funny “if only…” But more often than not what makes it funny is if I stretch the truth about how I think or feel on a subject. A spider in my medicine cabinet can get really funny if I couple it with a crippling fear of spiders. But I am not scared of spiders. At all. It is kind of funny to realize that I am standing in my bedroom fresh from the shower and all the blinds are open if my neighbor moonlights as a cabana boy, not so much if it is the seven year old son of my best friend. You get the picture.

Today I tore open the top of a PowerGel with my teeth (because working out like such a bad mamajama that you require PowerGels means that you no longer use scissors! The brute force of your own teeth will work just fine, thankyouverymuch.) I squirted the Vanilla tasting snot-like substance in to my mouth, waiting for the promised immediate burst of energy and thought to myself:

PowerGels taste like shit. The horrific taste helps make me certain that it is entering my blood stream and getting shit done! Just like tossing back hard liquor – I wince and think good lord, that was heinous. And that is how I know for sure that it is going to fuck me up.

Only that last part is not true. At all. I might have been the only college undergrad that didn’t hate the taste of booze. Not even Scotch. Sure, I am not wild about the lowest of the low. The bottom-shelf, plastic bottle of rotgut and I are not fast friends – but I can guarantee you that it is not as horrible as a PowerGel.

But the trouble is the blog post that starts “So, I ate a PowerGel today and man, did I wish it was a mini bottle of vodka” isn’t very funny. Although, now that I have typed it out perhaps I am on to something. I can see how a quick shot of vodka midway through the bike portion of the sprint triathlon might actually kick my ass in to high gear. It would at least help me out in the fearlessness department. I have a moderate fear of riding my bike really fast downhill brought on by one too many late-night crash and burns in college. But I suspect once the shot wore off my run would certainly suffer – unless there was more booze and a pizza at the finish line. Again, I think I might be on to something.

I will be 37 in 19 days. 9 days before that I will swim 250 yards, bike 10 miles and then run 2 more. It’s no Ironman. Hell, it isn’t even an Olympic distance triathlon. But it’s further than I have moved my ass in a long, long time. And it is a first for me.

A few years ago at the bottom of a bottle of wine I confessed to Mike that I wanted to get married before I was 35 so we could try and get pregnant before I was an “elderly gravida,” a wickedly offensive term for a woman over 35 who is pregnant. We pulled it off. We got married 7 days before I turned 35 and I am fairly sure that we were pregnant by my birthday. Take a newlywed couple that has been living with their five year old daughter and give them a hotel room and an open bar and they can make a baby pronto. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

36 passed in a blur of breastfeeding and tears and sleeplessness and finding my groove. If 35 was the Year of the Newlywed and 36 was the Year of the New Stay At Home Mom, what I am calling 37? Beats me.

I can tell you this. 37 will not be the Year of the PowerGel because they taste like shit. I have a sneaking suspicion that in retrospect 37 will be phase one of Turn in to a Bad Mofo Before I Turn 40. I will continue to work on a catchier name. I have 384 days before it is over.

Sorry this wasn’t really very funny. Or insightful. Or poignant. Y’all seem to like the funny and the sad. You especially love the embarrassing. So, I offer you this. My pinhead is disguised by my widow’s peak ordinarily. I’m glad swimming caps are not required for all trips to the gym or my effort at picking up gym moms might be fruitless. I mean, would you go on a Mom Date with this girl?

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