Upon giving birth, my usual list of worries was replaced by a list of grave fears. What was once no big deal suddenly became a huge deal. Like, what if I forget to clean the dryer vent and it starts a fire while we are napping or what if we run out of Organic Baby Shampoo and I am forced to rub my child’s pristine scalp with carcinogens? I often wonder what my daughter will worry about if she has children and think about what my own Mom worried about when we were little. With social media breathing down our necks every second and a sanctimommy lurking around every corner just waiting to judge, motherhood has become something that you MUST excel at, no matter the circumstance. My Mom recently told me that when I was little, kids just played. That’s just what we did. We went outside with our bikes and our friends and came back at lunch or dinner. Parents were not checking in with other parents to make sure they only served organic carrots at a play date. Hell, we were eating raw hot dogs at everyone’s houses all of the time and that was OK! Do we “over-parent” kids now or are times now different with more things to worry about? Let’s take a look at some of the differences. Continue reading
Planning and plotting the education of one’s offspring in the city of Los Angeles feels like navigating a dark labyrinth, filled with venomous snakes, deep ditches and fire bombs being tossed at you from unknown locations so you never know where you are supposed to be looking as to not die a firey death. Reggio, Montessori, Waldorf, Public, Private, Charter, Experimental, Progressive, Immersion, Preparatory, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, predominantly White, predominately Black, predominately Asian and super-diverse are just some of the things you have to educate yourself on in order to understand what is right for your child.
As I reflect back on what was the insanity and ridiculousness I lived while being educated by nuns, I always come back to the one monumental positive I took away from my all-girls school, the positive that has made my life what it is today. And that is, no one ever said I couldn’t do something because I was a GIRL. In fact, no one ever mentioned any sort of limitations because of one’s sex ever because it was a non-issue. We did everything boys did, we just did them without them. We went to school makeup-less, with wet hair, in unflattering uniforms, eating cookies and laughing about things we probably wouldn’t have spoken about while walking in between buildings if boys had been around.
Here are my Top Seven Reasons Why Single Sex Education Rules the School –
- You can eat whatever you want
You can order cheese fries topped with bacon and literally talk with your mouth open while eating them and yes, it’s still gross but no one really gives two fecks. You could get pizza, fries, a salad, a chicken sandwich, ice cream and soda for lunch and no one was like, “Eww, you’re a cow”. My friend’s daughter told me she had friends in school who would barely eat because they were embarrassed to do so in front of boys. WTF is that? That ain’t right.
- Getting ready for school meant maybe showering
Hours of hair and makeup? I think not! A top knot and some Zinc Pink and I was on my way baby! I did spend quite a bit of time searching for one, matching regulatory knee sock every.stinking.morning. Which brings me to my next point.
I know I grunted and groaned about this one because there was not much personal expression in green and blue plaid skirts and knee socks but seriously, no one was like, “Ugh, I wish my navy blue blazer was as nice as her navy blue blazer” because all of the navy blue blazers were equally ugly as shit. Also, no one got to dress slutty and isn’t that really what we all want for our girls? A place where you don’t feel like you have to dress in shorts shorter than your ass or don a tube top to go and learn Geometry? I know it’s all I can hope for.
You dated after school and on weekends. There was no boy distraction in class, no breakups in the cafeteria, no lusting after Jake Ryan in study hall. Study Hall was time for us to discuss what boys’ penises looked like and maybe sometimes, just sometimes, we might have studied, but never in the Library because that’s where we planned our keggers and talked about what penises looked like while some of us gasped in horror.
- Conversation was not censored
We would discuss why our nipples got hard when it was cold outside while we tossed tampons between each other while pondering if pubic hair got gray when you got older. Do you think girls talk about this stuff in front of boys when they are fifteen? They don’t because after school when the boys came around, we talked about music and where we were gonna score some beer for the weekend. It was liberating to be able to be yourself and to talk about things that were on your mind and to know that you would all laugh hysterically and you never had to put the filter on except when a teacher passed you by.
- Boys Schools
When you attend an all-girl school, you usually have an all-boy school close by. When one of you has a dance, it’s like an explosion of wonder. All of these coeds in one place! It’s magical and special and fun! They’d have their proms and we’d have our prom and they’d have their games and we’d have ours and everything was done in multiples which meant for a robust social life, not gonna lie.
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
When we’d see a man or a boy on campus in Grade School we used whisper under our breath “Sound the alarm!” and it would really make us giggle. They looked funny, awkward, almost like intruders when they came around. Later, in High School they were allowed to visit us in the parking lot and in the cafeteria after school, so it became a lot more natural but if one stepped on campus before 2:30pm all hell would break loose. We’d run to the window like there was a fireworks display or a three-headed unicorn.
We were one thing and they were another but we were not inferior to them in any way, shape or form and the most important thing our all-female staff did was never mention that we might come across that notion in the outside world. I went to college where I learned about girls’ insecurities regarding participating in class and eating in front of the opposite sex or not studying something because “Engineering is for Boys”. I always grabbed these conversation bulls by the horns and I debated and lectured these young ladies as if I were Gloria Steinem on a hot day because I was given that foundation of being a secure, strong woman who did not doubt herself because she had a vagina. Also, I was able to school everyone in my dorm suite regarding aging pubic hair. That, if for nothing, is a great reason to consider an all-girls school.
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.
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?
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.
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)
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.
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!
Borderline Schizophrenic Mama
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.
Want your parenting questions answered by one of our experts? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We all have a few tricks that we keep up our sleeves for when times get rough. I read about these all of the time and marvel at the success stories that these Moms are bragging about. Titles usually sound something like this “How to Get Your Child to Eat Beets with This Delicious Chocolate Smoothie” or “Never Lose a Toddler Sock Again with This Nifty Trick” or even “How Much to Medicate Your Kids for Peaceful Air Travel”.
I am here to share with you my own “Mom Tricks” that haven’t exactly gone viral. However, I am not a quitter. One success and several thousand subsequent fails does not have me throwing in the towel just yet. I aim to master at least one of the below before my child turns 10. I’ve got five years to figure this out, but I have a feeling that I need every minute I can get. Here are the stumpers.
We co-sleep and shit I am tired sometimes. We have a lot of peaceful nights, but we also have plenty of nights where I am clinging to the edge of the mattress for dear life while my child flops all over the bed, arms flapping into my face unexpectedly, kicking me in the back, breathing one millimeter from my face while coughing directly into my mouth. When the early bird wakes up at 6:30am and wants to immediately start a full-blown conversation about why bird poop is white, I revert back to my old stand-by Mom Trick, fake sleeping. I have only been successful at this once, but the one time she actually fell back to sleep with me was so effin’ glorious that the possibility of it happening again keeps hope alive. My determination to get a few more minutes of sleep keeps me from fully accepting this as a FAIL.
The Bunny Bell
My daughter had a crazy fear of the “bell button” in elevators. It all started with a kid at the mall who insisted on pressing it about 40 times while we were in the elevator and the mom did nothing to stop him. Can you say traumatic? Afterwards, each time we got into an elevator, she would worry that someone would press the button and the loud bell would start ringing. At our lowest point, she would outright refuse to ride the elevator with any kid who may have that squirrelly “bell button presser” look in his eye. In an attempt to make the bell button a bit friendlier, we decided to take a picture of it, name it and decorate it with something she thought was nice. This turned out to be a bunny and his name was Daniel. We spent hours talking about the bell button, fielding hundreds of questions as to why it is there, why that kid wanted to press it, why his mom didn’t stop him. Either way, Daniel the Bunny Bell did zip to help the fear of the bell button. We still have to have the occasional agreement with friends about who will press the buttons before getting in and if your kid starts getting that squirrelly look – we will take the stairs. Bunny Bell, FAIL.
This particular activity is the ability to scarf a mini powdered donut in the amount of time it takes your kid to wash their hands (in my case this is equivalent to turning the water on and then off again without ever getting hands wet and definitely never using soap). Being able to swallow the donut whole earns bonus points. The timing of the donut wolf is typically around dinnertime while I am cooking and am super hungry myself. It’s RARE that we have things like mini donuts in the house so finding the sad and lonely donut that needs to be put out of its pathetic misery is always a special moment. Popping it into my mouth unnoticed is tricky if my child is home and likely to round the kitchen corner the moment it hits my lips. Sending her to wash her hands before dinner is an easy way to occupy her, even if for five seconds. The part that trips me up each time is the powdered sugar. No matter how hard I try, eating that mini donut will result in my looking like Al Pacino in Scarface when my kid inevitably barrels into the kitchen to show me how well she scrubbed her hands. This immediately results in her asking about what I am eating and demanding to smell my breath. FAIL.
Unwrapping the Secret Snack
You know the snack that you keep in your purse for emergencies or the random piece of Halloween candy you find in there while wildly searching for your keys? Try unwrapping that snack around your kids. I swear, children under the age of 10 have supersonic hearing and are able to detect the sound of crunchy snack wrappers from miles away. As soon as your eyes make contact with that wrapper, it sends a signal to the kids, “Alert! Alert! Mom found something in her purse. Looks to be a snack of sorts, has a crunchy wrapper and high calorie content. Prepare to launch the question!” We all know what question that is, “What are you eating and can I have some?” There are several ways that I have attempted to open one of these wrappers without being noticed. The loud cough and frantic unwrap, the turn up the music louder in the car and unwrap, and finally the slow and steady wins the race unwrap technique. Results tend to err on the FAIL side, especially when it happens to be a really good snack that I don’t want to share.
Here is where all of you come into play; I am accepting advice on how to turn these epic fails into wins. In the meantime, I will be exhausted, taking the stairs while looking like I just left a cocaine party while being questioned on what snack is in my purse by a firing squad of one (four year old).
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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????”
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…
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.
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.