All posts by Kelly

Why I’m Rejecting Working Mom Guilt

Anyone who has ever tried to work with a baby on their lap will appreciate the hilarity of this photo.

Working mom guilt. Just typing the phrase alone makes me cringe. Not for the reasons you might imagine though. I’d venture a guess that when you think about this phrase, you picture something like this; a mom in heels, running frantically from a school drop off to an important meeting, forgetting that her kid’s lunch is still in her purse. Or maybe you see a mom crying at her desk because the nanny just sent her a video of her baby’s first steps.

Perhaps you picture yourself and a moment in your own professional life that has shot like a dagger through your heart because you weren’t with your children for a particular milestone or celebration.

Am I right?

Those are all common images associated with this notion of working mom guilt, and they are very real scenarios for many women, but that’s not what makes me cringe. What makes me cringe is the saying itself – working mom GUILT.

The very definition of this word insinuates that working mothers, myself included, are doing something wrong. Not something hard, or something that can come with challenging moments or even sadness sometimes. Nope, guilt doesn’t mean any of those things; it means you’ve done something for which you should feel ashamed, like stealing money from your workplace or cheating on your spouse.

No wonder so many working moms feel negative about their experience. The very term used to describe what we go through suggests that we’ve made the wrong choice. When often, working isn’t even a choice for us at all.

Listen, do I feel sad when I have to say goodbye to my two-year-old in the morning, and he’s sitting on our front steps waving at me with the cutest damn face ever? Yes, of course, I do. Do I wish that I could volunteer in my first grader’s classroom regularly, so I have a better sense of how his teacher operates? Without a doubt.

no working mom guilt here
Getting a visit at work from my guys is simply the best.

But do I feel guilty about loving what I do for a living and providing financial security for my family? Absolutely not. What I feel can better be described as what I call the working mom anger.

I feel anger that most of the women I talked to about this topic told me they went back to work before they were ready because their maternity leave, if they ever had one, was too short. I feel anger that many of us end up apologizing to our employers if we leave early for something child-related, even though we know it will have zero negative impact on their bottom line.

One of the moms I spoke to explained this best when she stated, “I’m more likely to feel guilty for leaving the office early to take care of my kids than I am to feel guilty for leaving my kids. I think that is a societal/cultural issue.” Indeed it is. And it’s high time we demanded a change.

How will employers ever revise their policies if we keep acting like it’s our fault there’s an issue? The problem is not your guilt, ladies. The problem is that we haven’t been shouting from the rooftops about how unnecessary all the hoops we have to jump through in order to both work and parent, are in this country!

Why are we still accepting of the fact that all over the U.S., women are given zilch in terms of paid maternity leave? Even in our Government, as one of my friends who is a federal employee notes, “You simply have to use your annual leave/sick days. If you don’t have enough you can enroll in a program and hopefully get approved or get donations for six to eight weeks of paid leave, but nothing more than postpartum recovery (six-eight weeks). Everything else is LWOP (leave without pay) if you don’t have enough time in your bank and want the full 12 weeks.”

You guys, that is insane. We’re talking about six weeks to three months here – anyone who has ever had a baby or been around anyone who has ever had a baby knows that at six weeks postpartum you are still hormonal, sleep-deprived, peeing your pants and getting up multiple times a night to feed your child. I honestly just cannot fathom how any company, much less our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can rationalize this.

Did you know in Canada, women can get up to a full year (and sometimes more) of leave? It’s true. One Canadian mom I spoke to explained, “We get a percentage of our wage. So, while we make less than when working, we save in other costs (i.e., childcare) and we can also split the leave with our husband so he can take time as well.” When I asked if she thought this led to fewer feelings of this so-called working mom guilt, she responded, “I don’t know if it helps alleviate the guilt because I think, working or not, we are so incredibly hard on ourselves. However, I’m more ready (both physically and emotionally) to go back as compared to others who go back much sooner.”

Can you imagine what a shift there would be in our own country if we adopted this policy? If working moms knew from the beginning of their journey that they were valued as mothers and employees, with the two not standing in opposition to each other?

My plea to all the working mothers out there is that you stop internalizing these feelings you’ve been led to believe are your own fault, your own “working mom guilt”, and start verbalizing what you want, what you need, and what you deserve, in order to function in both roles. Let’s start talking about change, not guilt. Lord knows it isn’t going to happen until we demand it!

Saving Money and Starbucks: A Parent’s Struggle

kissing starbucks cup
I don’t always match my straw…

If you’re anything like me, saving money is something that you think about doing a lot more often than you actually do it. Thanks, Target! I have recently realized however, that my kids’ toy cars are nicer than my actual car. So I decided it was time to really buckle down in order to buckle in to an upgraded vehicle. For this, I turned to the experts. Seemingly every financial Tom, Dick and Suze I read had the same advice: give up expensive coffee drinks if I want to get ahead on saving money. In theory, this seems reasonable. Buying these drinks isn’t a necessity, especially when I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home. How hard could it be?

But then I tried to do it. I failed miserably.

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My Kid’s a Thief. Now What the Hell Do I Do?

The funny thing about parenting (and running a funny parenting blog) is that you never really know what’s going to come next. You may think you have it under control, that you’re navigating the choppy waters successfully, avoiding all the circling sharks, but the next thing you know, bam! You cut your toe open on a jagged lego piece and the sharks move in the for the kill.

That’s a bit dramatic I’ll admit, but it’s exactly how I felt the day I found out my five-year-old son was a thief. Continue reading

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: A Retrospective

I realize the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired several weeks ago, which in this day and age is equivalent to an entire lifetime, but with two kids, a job etc. etc. I will most likely never be the first to write about anything pop-culture related. I did have some thoughts while watching the show though, so I decided to share them with you today, a month later. We’ll call it a “throwback” post so it seems cooler. Some of my thoughts were fleeting; Is Bruno Mars really that short? Should I get hair extensions? Oh look, there’s Kylie Jenner, again. This sandwich could really use some mustard, just to name a few. But some stuck with me longer and here they are, in no particular order.

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How I Ruined Date Night with One Simple Mistake

My husband recently turned 37 and to celebrate I decided to take him to a restaurant in our neighborhood that serves a 96 ounce steak. We did not order this steak, but I just wanted you to know that there is a place on the health-crazed, kale-obsessed Westside of Los Angeles that will still serve meat in massive quantities, and for this I am thankful. I digress. The only problem with my plan was that none of our regular babysitters were available. In these instances we have one of two choices. Continue reading

Mom Brain: A Rant

mombrain_steam2
Mom brain mad as hell and she ain’t gonna take it anymore!

Something has really been bothering me lately. I mean, lots of things bother me constantly, but for the sake of this post, I’m just going to focus on one of them. It’s this thing called “Mom Brain”. Mom brain, for those of you who may not know, is what us moms say about ourselves, or what other people say about us, when we’re having a forgetful moment. Can’t find the phone I just had in my hand 45 seconds ago? Mom brain! Drive away with my coffee on the roof of my car after standing in line with two fussy kids? Mom brain! Call the dog by my son’s name while trying to put a leash on my baby? Well, that’s just a normal Tuesday. Just kidding, blame mom brain! My friends and I have all used this saying hundreds of times without giving it a second thought (probably because our brains are so tired from being moms – see what I did there), but the more I started thinking about it, the more I started paying attention to the incredibly intelligent and talented women in my life attributing any little error in speech or memory to their “mom brain”, the more I thought, This. Is. Bullshit. Continue reading

The 2016 Trump Games

This is not a political post. I want to start there. There are hundreds, likely thousands, of people more qualified to write about the world of politics as it pertains to Donald Trump than I am. People whose job it is to analyze his every word and anticipate his every move. I am not one of those people.  But, like millions of other Americans, I am utterly fascinated by the man.  Similar to the way I am fascinated by the fact that people religiously watch a woman pop zits on YouTube or that everyday on my “news” feed there’s a story about Kendall Jenner. But fascinated nonetheless. Which leads me to this post.

The million dollar question on everyone’s minds right now is, of course, what will Trump actually do if he wins the White House? My best guess is that no one really knows at this point, not even Trump. So instead of focusing on Foreign Policy or Women’s Rights, instead of worrying about what impact he will make on the major issues facing our Country, or how Melania Trump will re-decorate the Oval Office,  I’m sticking with what I know. And what I know is, kids. Continue reading

Colin Dearest

It’s time for another edition of “Ask the Experts” where we task our very wise (and very child-free) friends with answering your toughest parenting questions. This week we’ve recruited Reality TV Development Executive and one of Kelly Dearest’s besties, Colin Devenish. Now, Colin may be better known for his love of poker and sports (see below) than his child-rearing abilities but that may all change after this post. Behold, Colin’s take on all things stinky kids, minivans and why preschoolers are really just Network Executives in disguise.

Colin's happy place, sans children
Colin’s happy place, sans children

Dear Colin, 

My nine year old could care less about personal hygiene. She lies more often then not when I ask her if she brushed her teeth, changed her underwear or used actual shampoo in the shower. It’s a real problem and I am worried that people might start calling her the stinky kid. Can you help?

-Kathleen 

Dear Stinky,

Does your nine-year-old live out loud? Does she have no Plan B? Is she all-in? I’m just asking because we’re casting for a precocious pre-teens with halitosis show for the Breath Mint Network and I feel like your daughter could potentially be a good fit. While it is worrying that your kid is gonna be the one with the cloud of dust and pack of flies following her into her teen years, I’m gonna say this actually isn’t that big of a deal. Adolescence has a way of self-correcting even the smelliest kid’s hygiene failures. All you need is one cute boy she has a crush on telling her she reeks for soap and toothpaste to start getting real interesting to her. In the meantime I’d plug your nose and pour yourself a tall Scotch. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Dear Colin,

I have never seen myself as a “minivan mom.” I’ve always seen myself more as an “Aston Martin Mom.” However, I have had three kids in 4 years and I had to give up my dream of an Aston Martin for the time being and settle for a Honda Odyssey. It was a tough pill to swallow but there are worse things, I suppose. My question to you is, how am I supposed to drive a small-sized yacht, with three crazy kids in the back, park in the only parking that exists in LA, which is “compact” and still keep my “cool” (in more ways than one)

Respectfully Yours,

Needs her Mojo Mama

Dear Mojo Mom,

One of the greatest challenges of working in TV is not going to Defcon 4 everyday. Why? Because expectations are unreasonable, money is tight, time is short and no one will face reality when the IDEA of something feels better.

Ahhh, but you did ask about the kids and an oversized car. Let’s dig into that a little bit. The Aston Martin isn’t happening Mojo, not if you wanna send the ankle biters through college and pay for them to eat organic kale salads and avocado toast everyday and have every damn Apple product that comes out for the next 18 years. Given all that, the aptly named Odyssey will probably be the best vehicle to pilot you through these choppy childhood years. So the only X factors here are the kids and the means to contain their uncivilized behavior and that pesky parking issue. I say you put a steel-cage in the back and treat every trip to the store or soccer practice like a championship WWE wrestling match. Lock ‘em in, swallow the key, and let them batter each other to their heart’s content. Then blast some of that music that made you feel cool in the 90’s (they call it oldies now), and try to pretend there’s not three feral animals in the back of the car engaged in some Revenant style beatdowns. As long as the kids can’t smack you while you’re driving, or physically exit the car, you should be ok. Oh and just start valet-ing everywhere. Is 5 bucks here and there worth saving you from flying into a homicidal rage? I am no accountant, but I’d say yes.

Dear Colin, 

I feel like my son has a split personality! He is basically a complete asshole to all children and adults, friends and strangers alike, when we are in public, yet the sweetest most loving child when we are alone. I suppose I could keep him in the house and continue crafting all damn day, but I like people and wanna be out in the world. HELP!

Thanks,

Borderline Schizophrenic Mama

Dear Borderline,

I’m pretty sure your son is a network exec. The bad news is he’s gonna be completely unbearable, unreasonable, insane, malevolent, vicious, simple-minded, tyrannical, maniacal, callous, callow, petty, ridiculous, vindictive, cheap, asinine, oh hell, where was I? Oh yeah, the good news. The good news is if you don’t like him you can fire him in a year and start over. Honestly though, in my experience with network execs, very few of them are actually certifiable schizos and some of them might actually be human. In general, when they are unkind to us humble development folk, it tends to be because they are afraid of something. Maybe your son is anxious to be around people and being around them makes him act out. I’d ask him how he feels when he’s outside the house. As a shut-in myself, er, I mean as someone like me who’s super well-adjusted and calm, I bet he just gets nervous around people. And if that’s not it, fire him now. It ain’t gonna get any better.

colinvisit
Summer 2011 in NYC. Neither one of us knew what to do with the kid so we ate burgers and looked at dinosaurs.

 Want your parenting questions answered by one of our experts? Comment below or email us at mommies@mommydearestinc.com

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…

IMG_5308

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.