I’m running away from home

If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I saw myself doing in the future, arguing for 23 minutes with a toddler about appropriate places to poop would have been fairly low on the list (which, by the way, the bathtub, Momma’s bed and the dairy aisle at the grocery store all equal Not Appropriate for any of you toddlers out there reading this).

Winning the Pulitzer Prize, divorcing Orlando Bloom so I could marry Ryan Reynolds, sailing on a fancy boat with a clever name like Ship For Brains; all of these answers would have probably come tumbling out of my mouth (No, YOU were a delusional 25-year-old!).

Even jail wouldn’t have been too outlandish an answer (No, YOU have issues with authority!).

But running on a trail with actual running shoes when nothing was chasing me and/or I wasn’t trying to make it to the liquor store before it closes? That wouldn’t have even made it ON the list.

Running for fun? Pffft. In my book, those two things are mutually exclusive. Much like, say, a delicious vegan meal or a funny Kevin James movie.

And yet, here I am, sweaty and gross and begrudgingly emitting an aura of health because I just got done with a run. A run I did ON PURPOSE.

It all started because after I had my second baby my body was 80 percent mush. And, to be honest, I’m not really comfortable in my own skin when I’m above 75 percent bodily mush. So, as much as I hated it, I gritted my teeth and ran (well, did a weird walk/sad jog hybrid before working my way up to my current level of just a sad jog).

But then a funny thing happened. I started to look forward to these runs. So much so, in fact, that I was actually willing to do them at 6 a.m., watching the sun rise while my perky ponytail swished back and forth like I’m goddamn Kate Hudson in some rom-com. Not because I started to like to run. Oh god, no. It’s the worst. But because that 45 minutes hoofing it around the park gave me an escape from my kids.

I love my kids. Of course I do. You know I do. Just like I know you love your kids. Children are amazing human beings we occasionally want to murder.

And so that we don’t murder them, we do insane things like literally run away from home (albeit temporarily).

The best part is that even though my main motivation while running is that at some point I will stop running, all this exercise is helping me get back to myself. To the person I was before I considered a trip to Target by myself as a luxurious vacation.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the demands of parenthood. To remember that you are not just a glorified sippy cup re-filler and breathing boob milk dispenser. Having children changes you to your very core but it doesn’t erase your former self. That person is still in there, waiting to come out occasionally so they can look around and say “why the hell are we running?”

Running helps me remember that I’m a complex person with interests outside achieving the perfect brown color on a grilled cheese sandwich. And on the other end of the spectrum, although I have yet to feel that mythical runner’s high, I have experienced what I call “cranial radio static.” This is when your brain just stops and there’s no thought; just music and pavement and your feet going one in front of the other and heavy breathing and chaotic jiggly butt movement. And as a mom and a writer and a woman who keeps up with the news in 2016, anything that helps you turn off your brain even for a short while is a miracle.

But most importantly, now that I have kids, I want to be healthy enough that I live forever. I want to be the unbelieveably old lady with the leather face that says wildly inappropriate things at Christmas about losing her virginity and terrifies her infant great-grandchildren because she looks like the Crypt Keeper and sounds like Marge Simpsons’ sisters. But she don’t care. Cause she lived through both 9/11 and the Kardashians.



Rawhide bones double as binkies, right?

Everyone tells you. Everyone. But of course you don’t believe them. You didn’t believe them about breastfeeding hurting so bad it made you want to shoot yourself in the face. Why would you believe them about this?

But it turns out they’re right. (On both accounts. I can’t be around any weapons until my nipples are mine again. I like my face too much). And when it comes to having kids, the second time around is indeed completely different.

It’s not that you set out to treat your second baby differently. And it’s not as though you love them any less. You love them the same and for the exact same reason you love your first: They’re the most amazing human being ON THE PLANET (crazy how you gave birth to all the best people who’ve ever existed…what are the odds?).

It’s just that the situation has changed. Because as much as you’d love to take a snuggly nap with them or go on a gentle stroll through the park with them or even take five minutes to huff that magic-scented aura wafting up from the top of their head, you simply can’t. You can’t because chances are extremely high that there is a toddler trying his best to kill himself somewhere.

Not to mention you have more experience now. No longer can an 8-pound human trick you into believing that they can nap ONLY while sleeping on your chest. HaHA! Those clever little slightly demonic imps and their manipulative ways. But you’re onto their game. Here’s a section of the floor not covered in Legos, kiddo. Nighty-night.

And here are all the other reasons my youngest is bound to need a therapist some day:

The Scenario: The Crying Game

First kid: *barely mews*

Me: *sprints over immediately, hurdling toys and small pets* What’s wrong, baby?!? You alright? Aw, come here. Momma will make it all better. There, there.

Second kid: *has been screaming bloody murder for the past 22 minutes*

Me: *knee deep in poopy toddler diaper* Stop being such a drama queen! I’ll be there in a minute. Or possibly 45 minutes. Definitely before bedtime. You’ll be fine.

The Scenario: Stranger Danger

(First kid)

Close Acquaintance: Aw, may I hold him?

Me: Sure! *dumps gallon of Purell over their head*

Close Acquaintance: He is so adorable.

Me: *hovering uncomfortably close* Thank you! I just…would you mind…his head needs more support…oh god, please just give him back *rips him out of their arms, hunches over the baby all feral-like and growling*

(Second kid)

Hobo on the street: Aw, may I hold her?

Me: Sure! *throws her football-style into his chest* Hey, I’ll be back in three hours. Probably. Have fun! Thanks!

The Scenario: Breastfeeding

First kid: *stares lovingly into his eyes, my own welling up with tears* I didn’t know I could feel this much love.

Second kid: *running down the street chasing naked toddler while baby clings desperately to wildly flapping boob* GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW! SO HELP ME WHEN I GET AHOLD OF YOU, KID! DAMMIT! YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK LIKE A BAD MOM!

The Scenario: Dropped Binkie

First kid: Burn tainted binkie in ceremonial cleansing fire before running out to buy 36 brand new sterile binkies.

Second kid: Stick binkie covered in dog hair immediately back in their mouth, realize three hours later it was actually a section off the dog’s ancient rawhide bone, shrug and continue making dinner.

The Scenario: Nutrition

First kid: Pour over any and all literature regarding childhood nutrition. Join breastfeeding forum online. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months before pureeing mountains of organic sweet potatoes and green beans.

Second kid: Hey, how did you get ahold of a slice of pizza? Can I have a bite?

The good news is that while my second little angel got the short end of the stick during her early years because of her unfortunate place in the birth order, it will be made up to her ten-fold during her teenage years. Because by the time we’re done surviving puberty with our eldest, we’ll likely be too tired to put up much of a fight with her.

And we will welcome her fiancé, Lizard, (you know, the one with the face tattoo and booming underground opium business) with open arms into our family.

Death is the ultimate guilt trip

Aprill “Danger” Brandon, age 35, a lifelong resident of stunted adolescence, died Thursday in her Boston home (technically Somerville but whatever, close enough). The cause of death was a brain aneurysm brought on by being forced to watch what authorities suspect was too many “Little Einsteins” episodes.

The first documented case of “brain suicide,” as the doctors are referring to it, it appears Aprill’s brain cells all rammed themselves against her skull at the same time so as to escape hearing that god-awful theme song ONE MORE TIME. Her condition was exacerbated by the fact that she did, indeed, have a very hard head to start with, according to multiple sources.

She was the mostly beloved wife of her husband, Ryan, who was, as you can imagine, devastated by the news even though their last fight was about how he uses too many paper towels. He is likely to remarry quickly but he is under strict orders that she be dumb and ugly. Or, at the very least, dumber and uglier than the deceased.

She is also survived by her two children, her baby Mae (yes, Aprill named her daughter Mae…sigh…yeah, we KNOW) and her toddler son, Riker (who, let’s be honest, essentially murdered her with his TV viewing habits).

Other survivors include her parents and a brother she nicknamed “Turd,” as well as a male dog named Buffy (ugh…again with the cutesy names).

Aprill spent her childhood in Ohio, where she was lucky enough to be shielded from the evil that is the “Little Einsteins” TV show, mainly because the sadistic bastards behind it hadn’t invented it yet. Instead she spent her time climbing trees and poking at dead things with sticks and slathering her face with her mother’s expensive Mary Kay makeup even though this was expressly forbidden and made her look like a Vegas showgirl who was down on her luck.

She attended Miami University where she majored in journalism and poor quality beer. Upon graduation, she worked at a series of newspapers and magazines around the country, making her living by writing boob jokes and sentences containing too many misplaced modifiers.

In 2010, she married her husband in Austin, Texas during the month of February because February in Texas is essentially June in the rest of the country. It was a wonderful ceremony that no one remembers, least of all the bride and groom, because there was an open bar with a giant kickass margarita machine.

In 2011, the happy couple moved to Boston, where they discussed having kids every time they got day drunk on the weekends.

In 2012, they discussed having kids even more while sleeping in on Sundays until noon.

And then in 2013, she got knocked up and basically turned into a swamp demon for nine months.

Her beautiful son was born in 2014, followed by his equally beautiful sister a mere 11 weeks ago. And she was super happy with her life up until the moment she collapsed face first into a giant pile of tiny, tiny cars by the aforementioned brain suicide.

In addition to her love/hate relationship with writing, Aprill was known for her love of books, photography, fancy-ish cheese, Pacey from “Dawson’s Creek” and cooking while drinking copious amounts of wine; all passions she wished to passed down to her children if they hadn’t up and murdered her with their cruel addiction to badly animated drivel.

Aprill lived as she died, with a cocktail in her hand and a snarky Tweet in her heart.

In lieu of flowers, please send some thugs over to the house of the creator of “Little Einsteins” to break his/her kneecaps. Feel free to also beat up the creators of Netflix, who are keeping this animation abomination alive and well with their stupid invention.

There will be no viewing as Aprill’s last wishes included not being laid down in a position that would make her look like she had a double chin.

Per her will, she will be cremated and her ashes placed above her son’s bed so he is reminded daily of how he killed her.

All I need now are the mom jeans

Hey, you know when you’re sitting around the breakfast table, or maybe it’s Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone is talking and having a good time and someone mentions that great new movie they just saw and suddenly your mom goes…

“Oh yeah, it stars that good-lookin’ fella; Peter Dunphy.”

And everyone laughs. Oh, poor, silly mom. It’s Patrick Dempsey. Geez.

Only the thing is, it’s no laughing matter. Celebrity Name Dyslexia is a real disease. And it affects millions of parents each year. I should know. My own mother has suffered from it for years.

And then, just the other day, this happened with my husband:


Oh sure, I had a good chuckle at the expense of my husband. I mean, he’s older than me so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise that he would start suffering from CND waaaaay before I did. Besides, it was likely to never even affect me. I was too young. Too hip. I used to be on the entertainment beat for a newspaper, for crying out loud.

But then…then…(ragged breath)…this happened this morning:


Celebrity Name Dyslexia is real, kids. And it’s horrifying. So, let’s all do our part to raise awareness about this terrible disease that cripples the street cred of parents all over the world. Let’s organize a 5K or a charity concert. Maybe we could even get someone famous to host. Like, say, Selena Gonzalez.

Or Liam Hemmingway.

Or Liam’s big brother, Thor.

Or that singer Della who has that hit song “Hey.”

Today I will be a good mom

Today I will be a good mom.

Today, when my 9-week-old baby wakes up screaming at 4 a.m., I will not roll out of bed cursing under my breath like a sailor with Tourette’s. I will not wake up looking like a swamp demon because I was too tired the night before to take off my makeup. And I most definitely will not rant to her as she poops all over my hand about how I bet Duchess Kate doesn’t have to deal with this kind of crap with HER daughter.

No, today, I will wake up like friggin’ Cinderella, happy and chipper and oozing peaceful serenity while tiny birds help me put on my robe. I will be fresh-faced and wrinkle-free because of my elaborate nighttime skin care routine I do every night without fail. And as I change her diaper, I will sing a beautiful rendition of “Close To You” while staring deeply into her eyes.

Because today I will be a good mom.


Today, when my toddler wakes up and eats two bites of his cereal before pouring the rest of the bowl on his head while looking me dead in the eye, I will not scream “are you freaking kidding me right now?” loud enough for all the neighbors to hear. I will not then take him out to the backyard and spray him down with the garden hose because I am too lazy to give him a bath.

Oh no, today I will calmly and rationally explain to him why we don’t do that and then I’ll have him help me clean up the mess. Then we will have a bath-time that looks straight out of a Johnson & Johnson commercial before we go out to the porch hand-in-hand to blow bubbles.

Oh yes, today, I will be a good mom.

Today, when my kid asks me for the 37th time if he can watch an episode of “Little Einsteins,” I will not sigh and sarcastically say “all the Einsteins died, you can never watch them again,” triggering an epic tantrum.

Instead, I will tell him calmly for the 37th time that he cannot because he’s already watched five episodes and too much TV rots the brain. (And I should know. I’ve watched a thousand hours of “Shameless” while breastfeeding his sister in the middle of the night and I can no longer speak in full sentences).

Today, when the baby won’t stop crying even though she’s been changed, fed, burped and rocked, I will not slink off to the kitchen, holding her wailing body in one hand and stress eating an entire wheel of cheese with my other. Today, when my son is yelling at me at the top of his lungs because I won’t give him a cookie, I will not yell back at him “WHY ARE YOU YELLING!?! STOP YELLING!” at the top of my lungs.


Today, no matter what, I will be a good mom.

Today on our walk, I will not lose my patience when he stops to pick up every single leaf on the ground. In the middle of September. In New England.

No, today, I will live in the moment! I will force myself to slow down and marvel at the simple joys childhood brings! Even if those joys means it takes two friggin’ hours to walk a fourth of a mile!

Today I will be the BEST MOM IN THE WORLD!!!

And then, today, when both kids are crying hysterically and the dog is barking nonstop and dinner is burning on the stove and everyone is hungry and both diapers are filled to bursting and I still have emails to return and a deadline to meet and the house looks like it should be on an episode of “Hoarders” and I haven’t peed since 6 a.m., I will not belt out a primal scream while standing in the middle of the dining room and then run and hide in the bathroom so I can cry hysterically in private. I will not verbally assault my husband with a laundry list of every single thing that drove me insane today as soon as his keys hit the lock to the front door and he stands there bewildered, briefcase hanging limply at his side. And I will not rush through the oh-so-elaborate bedtime ritual that takes roughly 40 hours to complete because if I have to be a mom for one more second I WILL DIE.

Oh no.


Today I will be a good mom.

And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow everyone is grounded and I’m having wine at lunch.


When the bedtime ritual gets out of hand

The one great thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

The one terrible thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

And nowhere does this become more evident than when you become a parent. Even the most absurd daily rituals become normalized if you do them enough times. Which is how you find yourself doing things like spending 45 minutes making toast until it is “the right color.”

It’s also how I came to dread night-night time.

I’m not even sure how he did it. I suspect it’s because my toddler is secretly a wizard (which would also explain how he always manages to convince me he needs both his dessert and mine).

It started out so simple. Butt. Bottle. Burp.



Set the kid down and Army crawl out of the nursery before he catches you trying to escape. Then bust out the grown-up juice and “Game of Thrones.”

The best part of all was that my husband usually did the entire production himself since I answered the 4 a.m. “screeching murdered eagle” wake-up call.

But then my baby got older. And it started evolving into a two-person job. Book. Butt. Jammies. Sippy Cup. A verse of “You Are My Sunshine” followed by three more verses because it’s impossible to resist the combo of big, brown eyes boring into your soul and the phrase “More pease, Momma?”

However, it didn’t evolve into the behemoth it is today until we did the traumatic switchover to the (cue dramatic music) TODDLER BED.*

And now? Well, now the whole production starts an entire hour before actual “night-night.”

First is the milk. And I’m not being cute when I say he really milks this part. The clever little imp finally figured out he won’t go night-night until it’s all gone. So he drinks it slower than I had previously thought was humanly possible.

Then comes story-time, which is continually interrupted by an intense negotiation of just how many books are acceptable. I say three. He says 9,037. Every single night he somehow manages to make me feel like I’m impeding his mental and emotional growth by denying him the power of the written word. Like I’m some nefarious medieval lord plotting to make sure my serfs never discover someone invented the printing press.

Then comes the clean-up. Considering he spent the whole day putting the entire contents of our house into the living room, this is by far the most labor intensive part of the ritual. And yes, I am that mean Mommy who makes her 2-year-old clean up his messes. If he can dump 4.5 tons of itty bitty cars on my floor, he can pick them all back up. Hell, I’d make my 2-month-old do it too but that lazy bum is still claiming workman’s comp due to “inability to hold her head up.”

That’s the youth of America for you.

Of course, my husband and I help him. If we didn’t, he’d still be cleaning up the Great Puzzle Piece Dumping Bonanza from July.

Then comes the whole putting his entire collection of 832 stuffed animals onto his tiny bed followed by digging through this ridiculous pile to find Mr. Doody, who was sucked to the bottom of the heap like Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards.

There’s the brushing of the teeth, which used to take 90 seconds but now takes 9 minutes because he has to do it himself.

There’s the last diaper change (usually preceded by a half-hearted attempt at “going potty,” which is really just him sitting on a tiny musical plastic toilet while we bribe him with M&M’s and while he wills his body to explode before ever surrendering and actually releasing any pee-pee or poopy).

Then comes “Ribbet,” a game my husband invented, where they pretend to be frogs jumping super high and I pretend not to lose my mind because JUST GO TO FREAKING SLEEP ALREADY.

We then must pull down all the blinds and turn on the fan. DON’T YOU DARE FORGET. May God have mercy on your soul if you forget.

Then come the lullabies. Plural. It started with the aforementioned “You Are My Sunshine.” Now the set list also includes several rounds of “Where Is Thumbkin?” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and usually a request for the moon song, followed by this argument:

TODDLER: Moon song?

ME: I don’t know the moon song, baby.

TODDLER: Please, Momma. Moon song?

ME: I’d sing it if I knew what song you were talking about, sweets.


ME: *sings* “I see a bad moon rising…”

TODDLER: No, not that one.

ME: Son of a …

Then comes the “oh crap, we forgot Beep-Beep and Woobie.” Followed by the search for Beep-Beep and Woobie. Followed by a giant swig from the flask I’ve taken to hiding in my nursing bra.

And finally, AT LAST, is hugs and kisses, a last desperate request to watch “just one more ‘Little Einsteins’?” which is swiftly denied and then lights out.

Of course, there is always a little bit of crying at this point, but in general I stop sobbing fairly quickly and am free to spend the rest of my evening joyfully passed out in exhaustion in the doorway to my own bedroom.

*A story for another time

Love is a battlefield, indeed