Monthly Archives: January 2017

Oh crap. Am I a lazy mom?

You know those brief moments in time when, as a parent, you finally feel like you have it all together? All the balls are in the air and you feel oddly confident you can keep them there? Maybe even have a whole extra second to use one of your hands to gulp down a glass of wine because you are a parenting goddess and you’ve earned it, dammit.

This was me a few days ago. My youngest is finally sleeping(ish) through the night. My oldest is developing into just a terrific human being, if with a bit more smart-assery than I’d like (although, to be fair, he gets it honest). We have a good daily routine down and I haven’t had to hide in the basement stress-eating baking chocolate in at least a week.

Finally. Finally, I got this, I told myself. I can do this. I am doing this. What was I stressing about in the first place?

And this amazing feeling lasted for all of 30 seconds.

It was a beautiful 30 seconds.

Because, of course, then I logged online like an idiot. Where I was inundated with pictures of all my friends and their kids at preschool and in swim lessons and banging a drum at baby music class and wearing matching outfits while doing Mommy and Me yoga and hanging out at craft workshops and playing pint-sized soccer.

My kids are enrolled in zero classes. None. Zip. Worse yet, they go to zero organized playgroups. Ditto for unorganized casual play dates. Double ditto for anything with the word “team” in the title. Basically they are involved in nothing that even has a whiff of a nurturing learning environment.

And that’s when I started to panic. Oh god, am I a lazy mom?

I mean, I’m not a complete monster. I take them to storytime at the library. Occasionally. Or, to be more accurate, erratically. Three weeks in a row! Followed by a four-month hiatus! Cause Momma is going through a “pants are too complicated” phase!

I also take them on a fairly regular basis to one of the two playgrounds that are within walking distance from my house, where my toddler speaks gibberish to the other kids and they look confused and I make awkward jokes with the other parents and they look confused.

We also have casual friendships with a small smattering of other neighborhood parents. But getting together and syncing up nap/food/not sick/regularly scheduled meltdown times requires spreadsheets and that computer from “Jeopardy” and an abacus or two.

lazy-schedule

I always have good intentions. This past summer, I planned on signing up my toddler for swimming lessons. But since I was a billion months pregnant, our scheduled activities pretty much just consisted of going out for ice cream.

Every single day.

At 10 a.m.

(On the plus side, if he’s ever drowning in ice cream, I have the utmost confidence he’d survive).

lazy-ice-cream

Once my daughter was born, I’d casually Google local Mommy and Me things or whatever. And they looked great. And they looked fun. And they looked expensive.

The local school district also has a drop-in playgroup I’ve been meaning to look into. Which I’ll do soon. I promise. It’s just…pants, you know?

Sometimes (all the time) I worry that they’ll fall behind their peers, who can already speak Mandarin and know computer code and play on no less than four sport teams. I mean, he’s almost 3. She’s heading toward 7 months. And neither one has developed an app, let alone sold it for millions.

So, I torture myself daily with the question of whether I’m an underachieving slacker mother or everybody else is just an annoying overachiever.

In my rare saner moments, I remind myself that we read books daily. We have music dance parties. We do violent circles with crayons and/or chalk and call it “art.”

lazy-art

We go to parks and take long walks along the river by our house and do impressions of our favorite SNL characters and Skype with grandparents and do “pretend” math lessons (since my skill and my toddler’s skill are pretty much on par with each other). Our day is filled with activities. They just happen to be mostly activities you can do in your underwear and a ratty Miami University sweatshirt.

But most importantly, I remind myself in these moments that my kids are happy. They’ll spend the rest of their lives in classes and organized activities and casual gatherings and not casual meetings and…*shudder*…group work.

And I take a deep breath and calm my frazzled mind.

They’re fine. They’ll be fine.

And that good feeling lasts for all of 30 seconds.

Ah, but what a 30 seconds.

 

 

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Why I went to the Women’s March

I’ve been trying to write this godforsaken article for hours now. So much of my social media feed is cluttered with people demanding to know why women across this country felt the need to protest and, as someone who participated, I felt it was my duty to explain. To respond. To…ugh…get a dialogue going.

I started a bunch of sentences. About how we’re fighting for equal pay. For the right to paid maternity and paternity leave. For reasonable access to affordable healthcare. For the right not to have our genitalia grabbed by strangers. For equality for everyone. On and on and on.

There were so many reasons. But I was getting increasingly frustrated the more I tried to justify why I decided to exercise my American right to peacefully protest. And it took me awhile (clearly) but I think I finally figured out why I was having so much trouble.

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if you don’t “get it.”

I spent the day surrounded by a sea of people who did. And they spilled out into the streets to make themselves heard. They wanted their government, who works for them, for all of us, to know how a huge chunk of us felt about the direction we were headed as a nation. And it was beautiful and life-affirming and gave me hope and made me realize that this nation is already great and there are huge swaths of us fighting to make it even better.

But most importantly, it made me realize that the burden of explaining why we did this didn’t have to fall on my shoulders. Because if the sight of hundreds of thousands of women, men and children all uniting for equal rights bothers you, maybe you need to examine why it bothers you. If the idea of a level playing field bothers you, then perhaps you should examine why it bothers you.

Because if you don’t get why women’s rights are human rights, I can’t make you understand. Nor can I make you feel how oppressive it is to hear a lifetime’s worth of negative comments about how you look, your weight, your wrinkles, your clothes, your makeup, your attitude, your competence, your drive, your passion, your sexuality.

If you see nothing wrong with blaming a rape victim for being raped rather than blaming the rapist, I can’t make you see how wrong and cruel that is.

If you don’t think it’s appalling that a country as wealthy and advanced as America has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, I can’t make you be appalled.

If you don’t think it’s criminal that we pass laws that punish children for having poor parents, I can’t make you see how reprehensible that is.

If you can’t possibly fathom why a minority or a gay person or an immigrant or a young girl would be scared for their safety, I can’t make you try to imagine what it’s like to be them.

I can’t make you care about other people in this country. I can’t make you understand that just because you have it good and I have it good in this country doesn’t mean that everyone else does. These are all things you need to try to understand for yourself. Because clearly a huge portion of our population already understands these things.

We will not go backward in this great nation of ours that I personally happen to love. Not without a fight. If you understand nothing else, understand that. The 1950’s, the 1980’s, the 1800’s…whatever time period you thought America was great and are trying to get back to, was only great for a small minority.

But I, and millions of other Americans who marched Saturday, want it great for all.

And if you don’t understand that, that’s on you.

 

 

How much no is too much no?

Is there anything more surreal than being a parent?

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the midst of some hardcore parenting and thought to myself “is this real life?” Pretty much every day of my life is the ultimate performance in the theater of the absurd.

Take, for instance, when I’m arguing with my almost 3-year-old about something ridiculous. And LOSING.

TODDLER: I can’t use the potty.

ME: Why not?

TODDLER: Because I can’t.

Me: …

Or when the dog senses the exact moment the baby has finally fallen asleep and chooses that exact moment to make every old man dog noise in his arsenal (you know, groans, farts, clickety nails, unnecessarily loud yawns, whole body shakes that makes his collar chime like church bells) RIGHT BESIDE THE BABY.

nope1

Or when your child demands toast but toast that is not warm or brown or toasted. But Lord help you if you try to give them just BUTTERED BREAD.

Or those moments when I realize I’m less a mother and more just a living, breathing, no machine.

These days, I produce no’s like Kardashians produce tabloid stories. I’m a bustling no factory. I’m a volcano of nope gushing a river of hot lava negatives throughout my children’s lives.

nope2

Can I have a cookie?

No.

Can I wear my swimsuit to play in the snow?

No.

Can Mr. Doody have a cookie?

No.

Can I eat this rock?

Nope.

Can I have two cookies?

Hahaha…no.

Can I use your body as an elaborate jungle gym as you are making an important phone call?

Ow. No. Ow.

Can I draw all over the TV in permanent marker?

NO. NOOOOOOOOOOO…

Can I bang incessantly on the table with these two huge sticks I illegally procured at the park, producing a sound I imagine they play on a loop at the entrance to Hell, for 45 minutes straight while staring directly into your eyes because I’m hoping for some kind of passionate reaction because that is how I get a perverted toddler thrill?

*gritted teeth* No.

Even the baby gets told no pretty much around the clock. And she can’t even talk yet.

Can I bite your nipple with my two brand new and razor sharp teeth?

No!

Can I head butt you when you least expect it?

No–oh my god, that’s so much blood.

Can I only nap while you are holding me?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, ok, fine, whatever.

And yes, sometimes I feel awful about always having to tell them no. It’s no fun being the fun police. But the alternative is to say yes, and if you’ve ever met a small child, then you know that they simply cannot handle the freedom of unrestrained yes.

See, as far as I can tell in my limited experience, the main goal of a small child’s life is to kill themselves in the most spectacular manner possible. Whether that manner is death via sugar overdose, or jumping off very high and very unstable items, or running up to hug the huge and clearly agitated stray dog that looks like a mix of Cujo and Vin Diesel, is really up to them. But as someone with a working knowledge of physics, and the limits of the human digestive system, and wonderful yet cheesy cinema, I simply can’t stand by and watch it all unfold.

Thus, it is my job to stop that spectacular death from happening. And I personally choose the Sword of No as my weapon in this daily war.

Oh sure, I could use the Shield of Compromise or perhaps the Scythe of Indifference, or even, in desperate times, the Cuddly Ax of Indulgence.

But I like my kids. And I want them to live forever. And more importantly, I want them to live forever in such a way that they can eventually function in this world without me. And be successful in their own lives. And afford the fancy retirement home for me and their father.

So, I am currently ruining their lives with a never-ending verbal conga line of no.

They’ll thank me some day.

Actually, they won’t.

But at least I’ll have the consolation of eating all those cookies I won’t let them have. Which I will do in secret. In that dark corner of the kitchen. While laughing manically.

nope3

I bet Hell is nice this time of year

Well, Christmas is over. Meaning life is basically over. Nothing to look forward to now except a bleak, never-ending winter and easily getting all my cardio in with the Herculean exertion it takes to stuff two squirmy tiny humans into snow suits and winter coats and mittens and hats and snow boots that were designed by engineers who have apparently never seen a child’s foot before.

Welcome to the most depressing time of the year! Cheers!

winter1

Every year it’s the same thing. I spend the next four months just trying to survive. I pretty much put my entire life on hold until the day I can crawl out of bed without mentally weighing the pros and cons of moving to a warmer climate, like Hell.

But this year on December 26, as I was doing my post-Christmas manic purging (you know, picking up all the wrapping paper, breaking down all the Amazon boxes, coping with the plastic Mount Doom in my living room after liberating all the children’s toys from their synthetic prisons, and then trying to stealthily burglarize the kids’ rooms of old clothes and toys to make room for the new ones…)

winter2

…it hit me. It doesn’t have to be this way. This year I could try to appreciate all that the winter season has to offer (besides making it socially acceptable to drink whiskey at 3 p.m. simply because “it’s so cold out.”). I could actually embrace it instead of just waiting for it to be over.

Of course, I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own. That kind of mature response to adversity is not in my nature (my nature being more drink whiskey at 3 p.m. and drunkenly yell at falling snow when it hits my face).

No, I came to this enlightened conclusion after reading an article by an old friend, Stacie Kenton, who is an outdoor enthusiast and lives on a 22-acre farm in Ohio (and was, like, a super chill senior when I was a freshman in high school and bought me beer that one time). She wrote a great piece about enjoying your connection to nature during winter and how we should all try “to live in this winter and not just through it.”

Now, I should mention that Stacie is the love child of Diana the Huntress and a mermaid, so, pretty much my complete opposite (I’m more like if Lorelai Gilmore and a bottle of gin had a baby). Meaning it is highly unlikely I will ever achieve her sincere level of love and light and calm when dealing with the world.

But, hey, who’s to say a girl can’t change in the name of self-growth?

I plan to start small. For example, usually this time of year, when a blast of icy wind hits my face, I unleash a torrent of curse words so harsh and horrifyingly creative it’s been known to make grown sailors cry. But this year, I’m going to try to embrace the fact that when the air hurts my face it’s letting me know I’m alive. Even though I want to die. Just curl up in a snow bank and wait for sweet, sweet death. And even though Father Winter is a vindictive douchebag who is targeting my face specifically. And even though winter is stupid.

But no! Not this year! I’m alive, dammit! Feel the freezer burn!

winter3

Winter also means all the bugs and mosquitos and ridiculously hairy spiders are dead. And they probably died a horrific death, screaming their tiny bug screams as they lay there and raged against a world so cruel before their tiny lives were snuffed out. Ha! Ha! So, the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that.

Not to mention, this time of year offers a whole new slew of opportunities to make memories with my young family. For example, I want to take the kids sledding! Or at least the one who doesn’t currently flop over without an extensive chair support system.

I want to take walks in a quiet snowy wood (and not complain the whole time about how that vindictive douchebag Father Winter is a part of our U.S. system of patriarchy and is, again, targeting my face specifically)!

I want to build a snowman and drink hot chocolate and not stress out about the trail of snow and salt and grimy dirt all our freaking shoes drag through the house that is bound later to be licked up by the aforementioned infant who constantly flops over and makes out with the floor like it’s her job.

I’ve even Googled local skiing resorts where you can go and not actually ski but just drink booze in front of a fireplace and they don’t kick you out.

Winter! Yay…!?!

winter4

So, yes, I’ve decided I’m embracing this post-Christmas winter season whole-heartedly. And by whole-heartedly I mean half-assedly. But hey, it’s a start.

Life is too short, my friends. Too short to wish for an entire season to be over. Even if that season is dumb and cold and makes it impossible to find an effective moisturizer.

So, here’s to appreciating what’s in front of us right now!

Right after I finish this hot toddy under my electric blanket fort and cry for a few hours.

 

 

I’m a Fitbit person now

Guys, it’s been nice knowing you. You’re all swell, really. But eventually all good things must come to an end. So, while I enjoyed our time together, it’s a new year and time for me to move on. Time for me to leave you in the dust as I walk exactly…*checks wrist* …6,101 steps away from you.

I’m a Fitbit person now.

Yes, dear readers, thanks to my husband and a very merry Christmas, I am now the proud owner of a Fitbit, those magical little devices that shoot laser beams into your arms and let you know just what a lazy sack of human pudding you are on a near constant basis.

What a time to be alive!

Needless to say, I instantly fell in love. There is something weirdly intoxicating about having every single movement and moment of your day logged by a tiny robot who gives you electronic stickers and trophies when you do good (like walking in a circle around your house while eating frosting straight from the container instead of eating it on the couch like some kind of barbarian). I should hate it. The lazy me terrified of Big Brother that I have been for the past 30-odd years should absolutely loathe it. But I don’t.

Because I’m a Fitbit person now.

And don’t worry. It’s not like because I have a Fitbit now that I’m a better person than you or anything.

Except I’m a better person than you now.

Just look at how this divine little watch has improved not only my life, but the life of my family. Our house is now filled with health-conscious conversations such as this:

Me: Guess how many steps I’ve taken today!

Husband: Is it much different from the amount you told me 15 minutes ago?

Me: 879! Wanna know how many times I was restless last night while sleeping?

Husband: I haven’t even had my coffee yet, babe.

Me: You only have yourself to blame.

And this one:

Husband: Hey, can you run upstairs and grab me the tape? I don’t know where you put it.

Me: No.

Husband: Um…please?

Me: I can’t. My Fitbit is charging.

Husband: …

Me: I want credit for walking up the stairs.

Husband: …

Me: You only have yourself to blame.

And this one:

Toddler: Momma, can you carry me?

Me: I wish I could, sweetheart, but then my Fitbit doesn’t log my steps when you’re in my arms.

Toddler: …

Me: You only have your father to blame.

I mean, can I help it that I’m pretty much the healthiest person alive now? I have a resting heart rate of 55, thanks to lugging around two adorable children (who I’m pretty sure are made up of chicken nuggets and quark-gluon plasma, the densest material ever created) all day around the city. And thanks to living on the second and third floor of our rented house, I climb on average 18 flights of stairs a day. Shoot, I burned 43 calories just in the time it took me to eat half of a leftover holiday cheeseball.

And, AND, I managed to get 15,000 daily steps in last Wednesday, enough to earn me the Urban Boot badge, thankyouverymuch. I can’t believe I spent all those years walking around without a computer logging every step like some kind of idiot. What a waste!

Alas, clearly, my family doesn’t understand.

I guess I can’t blame them. I mean, I’d be bitter too if I had never earned the Happy Hill badge or the Weekend Warrior trophy.

But I’m hoping, my dear readers, you do. That you do understand why my health has become my top priority and why I only want to talk to other people who know at any given moment exactly how many steps it took them to walk to Starbucks in their fancy athleisure wear.

So, please, by all means, keep reading my blogs and columns. But if you see me in person, let’s just ignore each other and awkwardly avoid eye contact. Which should be easy enough. I’ll likely be looking at my wrist anyway.

I’m a Fitbit person now.