You Can Have It All – 8 Steps to Becoming the Ultimate Woman

At 5am I am adjusting my calender, storing breast milk I pumped at 4am, having a powerful cup of Joe and getting breakfast ready for the fam.
At 5am I am adjusting my calendar, storing breast milk I pumped at 4am, having a powerful cup of Joe and getting breakfast ready for the fam.

Nothing infuriates me more than a panel of privileged, white men telling me what I can and cannot have. I’ve read numerous articles and studies about how a woman must choose between work and raising a child and how even when she does, she’ll never be satisfied. This is hogwash and I am starting to think that women are extremely whiney regarding their guilt and dissatisfaction about their status in life. Stop whining ladies, you are your own worst enemy. If you get your butt in gear and organize your life correctly, you most certainly can have it all. Below are eight steps to becoming the ultimate woman.

  1. Spend less time whining and more time doing.

Instead of moaning about there not being enough hours in the day, grab yourself a double espresso, mix that with your favorite energy drink and WHAMMY! Suddenly you will find that being tired is a thing of the past. There are 24 hours in a day for a reason and if you have a clear “To Do” list, you can utilize every hour available to you. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 8 hours of sleep per day to live a long, healthy life but they don’t know what it feels like to have it all. Plus, you are in your prime, this is when everything is yours for the taking. If you sleep now, you’ll miss your chance. We’ll sleep when we’re dead, ammiright?

  1. Give Equally to Everyone and Everything.

Women spend a lot of time complaining about having to choose between thriving in their careers or being a good mother. This always give me a good chuckle. If you just get up a little extra early and go to bed a little later than you’d like to, you can accomplish it all. When you get home from your fruitful career at 8pm, you actually have plenty of time run up to your children’s beds to read them “The Little Prince”, kiss them and tell them you love them. Take five minutes to relish in their angelic states while they sleep before you get to work.

  1. Use your time wisely.

Don’t throw on your yoga pants and take that bra off when you get home from work, it will only make you lazy! After the kiddos are down, you get to business in the healthy lunch department. Pay your Instacart shopper a little more to divide your bags into food groups so when you start putting the groceries away, you can save six or seven minutes by having your food pregrouped. Also, Sunday Funday, my ass. This is the most opportune time of the week to get your shit together. I find that if you use the Planet Box lunch boxes, you can split up all of the organic food you’ve bought and grown at home into glass storage bowls and then just grab them from the fridge when you are making lunches. Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT ever let them eat lunches made at school. It makes you look weak and it will give them ADHD. Just because a school says the food is organic, doesn’t mean it is.

  1. LEAN IN.

The more projects you have at work and at your child’s school, the better you’ll be able to manage your time. If you have a lot on your plate, you will thrive. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see your hard work come to fruition. So, your boss is asking you for something unthinkable in a completely unreasonable amount of time and your inbox is exploding with an email chain from Harlow and Skyler’s moms about how the committee needs you to complete the spreadsheet regarding possible allergens (environmental only, don’t be a baby) in the school yard so that you can all tackle ridding your children’s educational setting of poisonous pollens and the like? Skip lunch that day (you really shouldn’t be taking a lunch any day unless it’s a business meeting). While you are packing your child’s lunch, pack one for yourself. Your thighs have been touching lately anyway and we all know that’s a sign of not having your shit together.

  1. Don’t Neglect the Big Guy/Gal!

Yes, yes, you’ve only slept four hours a night for the past three years but nobody likes a complainer and if you want to keep your significant other’s eyes on you, you’d better find time to keep that body slender and save enough energy for passionate love-making every night of the week except Sunday (Mama’s got lunches to organize into the wee hours and that lemon tree is not going to prune itself). Keep things spicy between you and your loved one by hitting up the adult gift store before dinner on date night (once a week minimum if you don’t want to get divorced) and make sure you are constantly replenishing your lingerie collection. We don’t want them to get bored! Yes, after your passionate love-making session you will need to excuse yourself to really take advantage of the hours left in the night to pay the bills, return Harlow’s mom’s emails and come up with a brilliant campaign for that multi-billion dollar account you just landed at work. You’ve got this.

  1. Don’t neglect yourself.

There’s nothing more unattractive than a women who doesn’t take care of herself because she thinks she’s “too busy”. Request a lock on your office door so you can get that landing strip groomed while never having to leave the office! Celebrating a full bush is in no way a power play. Don’t have an office? Don’t fret, reserve the conference room for a “very important meeting” in a pinch. You can even take a conference call to be super-efficient. No one has to know! Keeping yourself groomed to enhance your love life while working at the same time? GIIIIRRRLL, you are the epitome of time management!

  1. Balance Your Damn Life

So, you are up for a promotion but you’ll need to land a huge account in Europe first, where you’ll have to spend an entire week wining and dining a gaggle of Middle Eastern businessmen. Unfortunately, little Betsy has to build an entire Mission out of toothpicks and her project is due the following week. Dad has poker night and a lot of important meetings himself so just pack up Betsy, grab the Nanny and head to Spain – The Missions’ birthplace! After you’ve landed that multi-billion dollar deal, Madrid here we come! It’s in Betsy’s best interest to have a list of interviews lined up with Spanish Historians who focus on the American Missions. She’s sure to get into Harvard and once again, you’ve nailed it, Mama!

  1. Keep Your Social Life in Tact

Between reffing your daughter’s field hockey games, date night and trying to keep up with your exercise regimen, your evenings can get pret-ty full. Don’t let that hold you back from showing off those amazing culinary skills you’ve been working on for all of these years! Cooking is a form of affection and love, so invite people over at least once a week to show them you care. Don’t be one of those losers who order-in when people take the time to get a babysitter. UGH, the worst. Make sure your flowers are fresh, your table setting is magazine-worthy and your guests, well let’s just refer to the old expression, “Show me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are”. POWER, POWER, POWER! You can squeeze in a coffee with “Linda, The Stay at Home Mom” any old day but to get ahead, make sure that dinner table is full of extremely interesting and successful people. You’ll be the talk of the town and we all know the way to people’s hearts (and vacation homes) is through their stomachs. Show them what you’ve got woman because you’ve got everything.

Homemade pasta with freshly foraged wild mushrooms is what's on the menu for tonight's dinner!
Homemade pasta with freshly foraged wild mushrooms is what’s on the menu for tonight’s dinner!

I know it can get overwhelming but nothing great is easy. It’s your job as a woman to be successful, raise amazing children, nourish your family, invest properly, avoid wearing active wear outside the gym, keep a clean car, have a picturesque home, emotionally invest in your marriage, your children and your friendships. If you really look at the big picture, it’s not that much so please, for women everywhere, stop complaining because you can have it all…just lean in, ladies…but not too much because you don’t want to look desperate.

 

The Day in Questions

In my favorite musical, Rent (stay with me), one of the most powerful moments comes when the cast belts out the song, “Seasons of Love.” In it, they passionately plea that you should “measure your life in love.” For years, I really took this to heart and tried to measure the “525, 600 minutes” of my year in just that, love. And then, my oldest son started talking. And almost instantly it started to feel like my life was measured less in love and more in the seemingly endless number of questions he asks on a daily basis. I get it, as his Mom it’s my responsibility to guide and encourage his exploration of the world. But honestly, it’s fucking exhausting. And it often feels like my answers never satiate him. “I don’t know” and “that’s just the way it is” are never acceptable so I spend all day trying to come up with creative reasonings when all I really want to do is drive from point A to point B listening to Bieber’s latest hits and not get the third degree about every little thing that pops into his mind. 

Knowing that this is a pipe dream however, I decided I would turn his queries into a modified version of a baby book entry. I neglected to document when he figured out how to write his name for the first time or when he learned to ride his bike. But now, thanks to my notebook and a tally counter, I will forever remember the day he asked me if he could have a room full of Boomwhackers (February 7, 2016).

And here for you now, that day, in 190 questions…

6:35am – At some point in the night he gets in bed with us. I have no recollection of this but am stirred out of my dream by his little voice so close to my ear I wonder if it’s actually coming from inside my brain…

Question 1: “Will you rub my arm?”

Question 2: “Is it morning?”

Question 3: “Can I get up now?”

Question 4: “Who will play with me?”

Question 5: “Will you play with me?”

Question 6: “WHY ISN’T ANYONE PLAYING WITH ME????”

6:37am

I attempt to pry my eyes open but am, as of yet, unable to speak. This displeases him a great deal. Sometime around 7am I am now upright with eyes open and caffeine in hand. He notices the tally counter around my neck…

Questions 14 – 16: “What is that?”

Shit. I neglected to think of an excuse for why I’m wearing this ridiculous thing. I deflect, certain that any acknowledgment of its purpose will only lead to more questions.

Question 24:  “Mommy, where’s Chewbacca?”

Here we go. I’d say roughly half of the questions I am asked on a daily basis revolve around something he can’t find. Answer: “Honey, I don’t know. Where did you have him last?” He hates this response. Answering his question with another question elicits a reaction similar to what happens when he loses a game of UNO. In case you’re wondering, that shit ain’t pretty. 

Questions 25 – 32 all revolve around me helping him find Chewbacca and just really giving no fucks that I answer with “I don’t know” each and every time. This kid is relentless.

It is now 9:40am and the topic of whether or not we will have a third child has come up. 

Question 51: “What if we had 43 babies?”

Question 52: “What if we had 101 babies?”

Question 53: “What if we had INFINITY babies??”

My response looks like this…

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Thank god for an impromptu playdate. For a glorious two hours the questions to me dwindle and I can enjoy some meaningful conversation with my friend. We use our time wisely, looking up who has the most Twitter followers (it’s Katy Perry).

At 1:30pm we leave the playdate. 1:31pm…

Question 65: “Mommy, when can I have a playdate with Watson? I really want a playdate with Watson.”

We have just left Watson’s house. I’m pretty sure at this point he’s just screwing with me.

Question 69: “Can I have carrots today?” I quickly check the rearview mirror to make sure I have the right child. Yep, that’s him. Answer: “Sure, buddy!” I’m pretty sure I’m being set up…I am.

Question 73: “Mommy, when is the next time I can get a treat?” Oh, here it comes. Answer: “Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so probably you could get a pastry or something then.”

Question 74: “What’s a pastry” Answer: “A pastry is a type of sweet treat.”

Question 75: “But what if my pastry fell over, can I get another one?” Answer: “Sure”

Question 76: “So, when is Valentine’s Day?” Answer: “Next Sunday”

Question 77: “It’s not today?” Answer: “No, it’s next Sunday”

Question 78: “Why isn’t it today?” Answer: “Because today is the 7th and Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, which is next Sunday.”

Question 79: (crying) “But I want it to be today! Why isn’t next Sunday today?!” Answer I say in my head: “Because life is really unfair sometimes, dude. Like me, being held hostage in this car by your ridiculous questions.” Answer I say out loud: “I don’t know, sweetie. That’s just the way the calendar works. Maybe ask Daddy about it later and see what he says” (haha!)

The day, and the questions, continue…

Question 108: “What are you eating?” How the hell can he hear me eating a cookie from two rooms away?? I try to swallow it quickly, but it’s no use. Now he’s staring at me and he knows. He always knows.

At around 4pm we start doing crafts.

Question 131: “What if I opened up these scissors and cut off my thumb?” Answer: “That would hurt a lot.”

Question 132: “Would we have to call the Fire Department?” Answer: “No, we would call the ambulance, or I would take you to the emergency room.”

Question 133: “Why wouldn’t we call the Fire Department?” Answer: “Because there wouldn’t be a fire.”

Question 134: “Well would we call the Police?” Answer: “No, we wouldn’t call them either.”

Question 135: “Why not?” Answer: “How about you just don’t cut off your thumb and then we don’t have to worry about it.” 

6:15pm. Dinner. I prepare a chicken dish he is uninterested in eating.

Questions 165 – 168 are all the same, “Why?” He wants to know why I have made this dish and why he must eat it. I can tell we’re about to negotiate here because after Question 108 I decided to avoid a nuclear meltdown and relented on my stance that his next sweet treat would be on Valentine’s Day. Instead, I told him he could have a cookie after he ate his dinner. I remind him of this.

Question 169: “Okay, so how many bites?” Answer: “10 bites”

Question 170: “Of just the chicken?” Answer: “No, of the chicken and the rice and the vegetables.” He takes a bite.

Question 171: “So was that one or no?” Answer: “That was one.”

Question 172: “So how many is left?” I think you know where this is heading…I answer the question from the kitchen, where I am pouring myself a glass of wine.

At approximately 7:30pm, he is in bed. Teeth brushed, books read, lights out.

Question 187: “Will you tell me a story?” Answer: “No, this day is done. We can do stories tomorrow.”

Questions 188 & 189: “Can I have a little milk? Just a teeny tiny little smidgen of milk, please?” Answer: “No. You can have milk in the morning.”

Question 190: “Do you love me to the moon and back?” Answer: Absolutely! Sweet dreams, my little love.” (He’s no dummy – he knows how to end the day so I leave the room thinking he’s the sweetest S.O.B. ever to walk the face of the Earth)

I know what you’re thinking. One of these days the only questions he’ll ask me will be, “Will you drop me off further away from school?” and “Why do you hate my girlfriend (and/or boyfriend) so much?!” And I will miss these days. And maybe that’s true. But for now, I would just like one day where I don’t feel like I’m playing an endless game of Jeopardy with my own smug little Alex Trebek. As much as I love him. My son that is. Well and Alex Trebek too, I suppose.

5 Reasons why you need a Mom Group

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Me and my sidekick.

Let me just cut to the chase, prior to having my baby, the term “Mom Group” made me, well, cringe. I imagined the “stroller parking lot” at CPK teeming with crusty strollers filled with gummed up yogurt melts, crushed Goldfish, Cheerio smithereens and shellacked with a thick coat of apple juice. I envisioned a herd of moms trying to hold a conversation and eat a civilized lunch while their infants screamed and toddlers built forts under the table. I feared that along with my bundle of joy, my “parting gift” from the hospital would include a pair of black yoga pants, a spit-up stained tee shirt, an eighty ounce coffee mug and a year subscription to the “I Only Wear Slut Buns” club. Let me also say that I was foolishly under the impression that everything would be all rainbows and gumdrops after MY baby arrived. My plan would look something like Reese Witherspoon with her new baby; pulled together, glamorous, calm and collected. Little did I know the shit storm that was about to be unleashed into my world.

Flash forward to having an 8-week-old baby and after having yet another humiliating breakdown during my lactation consultant appointment, she kindly suggested (urged) that I join a Mom Group. I was so lonely and sad that I agreed to go, seeing that I wasn’t meeting anyone while holed up in my bathroom crying. So ladies, I bestow upon you this pearl of wisdom, unless you are a “sister wife” (minus the total creeper husband) and have your Mom Group living with you, you need to get your hustle on and find yourself a team of supporters. Here are the top five reasons why:

1 – Surprise! Your problems are not unique!

During the depths of our eight-week pediatrician-imposed lockdown, I was completely unaware that there were other new moms out there struggling with the same problems. My baby that won’t sleep anywhere other than the Ergo? Yeah, I had nothing on the mom who had to run the vacuum while bouncing on a yoga ball, humming and breastfeeding at the same time. Morale improved already! Strapping on the Ergo began to actually heal my back; it was like popping a few Doan’s and washing them down with a slug of Wild Turkey. And what I had coined “The Warthog Routine” (the snorting, grunting and frantic head thrashing when feeding) was happening right before my eyes to other babies. Previously, I was convinced it was an early indication of some terrible and rare condition. Not that this is a contest in one-upmanship, but talking with other moms who are in the trenches with you is such a relief. Just knowing that someone else was raising a baby warthog was enough support to keep me going until our next meeting.

2 – Bitches unite!

Perhaps you enjoy the alone time spent sobbing while folding onesies and listening to your baby howl but believe me, you need lady friends. Your baby may be the sweetest, cutest little peanut in the universe but after your partner goes back to work and you are flying solo – suddenly you are staring down the barrel of week six with 12-hour days ahead of you, and the one-sided conversation starts running bone dry. After being out of normal society for weeks, I was so desperate to talk and be around other people, I didn’t care if you had 10 heads, horns, and a tail. If you were at this Mom Group meeting you were fair game and I was going to be your friend, come hell or high water. When I walked into that room, I reeked of desperation. I needed friends who understood what I was going through. Being able to commiserate over your newly found night sweats and hideous mood swings is something only a new mom friend would understand. (Bonus: Your husband will thank you for this since he bears the brunt of both problems.)

3 – You need to get the hell out of the house.

Rejoining the free world seems like an insurmountable task during those first couple of months. Prior to my Mom Group, brushing my teeth required an hour of preplanning and scheduling. After joining the Mom Group, I would turn up the music extra loud to drown out the weird baby noises that gave me massive anxiety and gussy myself up; slap on some lip gloss, put my hair up, dredge up a cute outfit from the bottom of my closet, strap her into her car seat, then immediately take her out again to change her entire outfit due to an up the back blowout diaper and arrive with a few minutes to spare! No sweat (under-boob sweat doesn’t count). Waking up knowing that you have a plan for the day is a game changer, even if it is just going to Starbucks, everyone is just happy to get the f*ck out of the house.

4 – Your breast pump is not talking to you.

The same phenomenon as the hairdryer applies to the breast pump – turn it on and suddenly you think you have heard the doorbell or the baby crying – turn it off, go check, find nothing and repeat. I spent hours with that pump. HOURS. 3 out of 4 times I would have to turn it off because of phantom noises. Chalk it up to reasons 1, 2 and 3. Or perhaps I was so desperate for someone to talk to that maybe I did just hear the pump say, “Your hair looks great”. Thanks, Medela! Love you too, guuuurl!

5 – Your baby will be happier.

I know this sounds a little extreme but hear me out. After I joined the Mom Group and gained a shred of sanity back into my life, I could see in my baby’s eyes a new sense of calm, a new understanding if you will. Despite being my personal stage-five-clinger, she was happy to be surrounded by other 2 month olds who also hated the car with a burning passion and she thrived each time she spit-up someplace new. She needed all of the same things I needed, friends with something in common, new places to go and new people to see. And I swear, after I started slowing down a mile out from a red light so we never had to actually stop, when I looked in the rearview, she winked at me as if to say, “Yeah Mama, I got you”. We were a team.

The women in the photo below are my Mom Group. They are the ones who welcomed me with open arms when I arrived at my first Mom Group meeting. I would not be where I am today without what they gave to me – hope that things would get better, shoulders to cry on, ears that listened to the good, bad and ugly, they never judged or made me feel like I was doing it all wrong (even when it felt like everything I did was wrong). They had advice and suggestions when needed, kept me company and gave me laughs through the long nights of breastfeeding on our chat group. When everything else in my world was falling apart, they were there for me and THIS is why you need a Mom Group.

_DSC3715 farewell to friend
Photo Credit – Lisa Rayman Goldfarb Photography