This Is How We Do It

It’s Friday, of course, but this post has little in common with the upbeat infectious anthem of the same name, sung (is that the right word?) by Montell Jordan. It’s also lacking the introspection of the NYT Motherlode’s How We Do It series. This is just my real life without a filter, an editor or even a Timbaland-esque producer. For those things I apologize.

Despite my soul-baring post at Outlaw Mama about going back to work full-time, my change-challenged son was NOT on board. First of all, he likes me to do everything for him. Brush his teeth, put on his shoes, cut his watermelon just right. And it’s just me. Daddy won’t do, aunts, uncles, no one, but Mommy. I know you are thinking I’m raising an incompetent mama’s boy, but until you volunteer to raise him, keep your judgment to yourself and allow me my major mother flaws. Second, it’s probably my fault I didn’t introduce him to babysitters earlier, but he does not take well to strangers. And by strangers I mean pretty much anyone but me. I was home for the first two years of his life and over the brief eighteen months that I went back to work when he was two, he never – for a single day – greeted his amazing nanny with anything but tears.

So I wasn’t looking forward to finding another one. Generally, I’m not crazy about the idea of a nanny (I grew up in a Puerto Rican and Italian family — we didn’t have sitters, we had extended family nearby) but we knew we would have to get one. It was just too late in the summer to switch my daughter into a full-time daycare. We found a wonderful woman with trusted friend references and hired her on the spot. Two days later she quit. My son is not an easy child. Let’s leave it at that.

Since I was scheduled to start the very next day, there was no time for blame or second guessing. Our family needed a solution. We decided against looking for a new nanny, the sting of that recent burn still smarting.

“I guess we’ll have to do it ourselves,” I said. Oddly, Ian thought this was a great idea. We must have both been out of our freaking minds. But that’s what we are doing. We have two full-time jobs and NO babysitter. This is what our day looks like:

5:30am – Ian goes into the office.

6-830am – I get myself ready for work, the kids ready for school (camp during the summer) and leave the house.

9am – drop off at school. Go to work.

12pm – Ian picks the kids up from school, gives them lunch and plays with them.

5pm – I get home to do dinner for the kids and hang out with them while Ian works some more.

730pm – kids disappear in their shared bedroom wearing their pajamas (as long as they don’t bother me I really don’t care what goes on in there). Ian and I eat dinner, watch Ray Donovan and work remotely.

10pm – we enter the disaster zone that is the kids’ room, pick them up off the floor where they passed out from exhaustion and put everything in its appropriate place. Go back to working.

11pm – bedtime.

That, my friends, is the chaos of our house for the foreseeable future. How long can this possibly last before we break down? I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime, please send patience and cupcakes our way. A little sleep and/or rational thinking wouldn’t hurt either, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’m a sucker for Sprinkles.

My happy camper

My happy camper

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I Can Finally Admit I’m Not Good At Being A Mom…Or At Least That’s The Story In My Head

Now that it’s over I can finally let you in on my big secret.  I’m not a fan of Mother’s Day.  There could be a lot of reasons for that — I don’t love being “celebrated”, I don’t love being forced to do things in the name of being “celebrated” when I really just want to go to a yoga class, or maybe because I feel torn as a mother and a daughter.  Or it might be because I’m super lazy and lame.

But if I am being honest, I probably don’t love Mother’s Day because the journey to motherhood has been a rocky road for me.  I struggled to get pregnant the first time, I was in the hospital with the “Royal Disease” (hyperemesis gravidarium) during my second pregnancy, and I flat-out sucked as a new mother with my first.  I couldn’t get him on a schedule, I couldn’t get him to stop crying unless he was being pushed around in a stroller, and I couldn’t get him to sleep…ever.

But that has changed.  I hit a stride when Gavin turned one and then a year later, Chloe was born as one of those mythical “easy babies,” so I haven’t really had a hard time as a mother in years.  Yet I still identify most with those first really hard months.

Today I have a feature up at Mommyish talking more about this strange feeling I just can’t shake.

I’m Convinced There Is No Comfort Zone In Parenting

Since suffering through that impossibly difficult first year with a challenging baby, I have never really allowed myself to get into a groove as a mother.  This isn’t a sob story about how kids constantly change and ruin your perfectly laid plans. I gave up those expectations years ago. I have learned to really go with the flow in practice. Yet in my mind, I find myself always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Four years and two kids later – despite many more good days than bad – I constantly wonder “when is it going to be like that again?”

Read more on Mommyish…

And don’t forget, I publish a news story with a parenting angle every weekday at 9:30am (today I’m jumping for joy over the fact that someone asked “that question” to a man).  Like the WTTM Facebook page here to get my newest news piece in your feed every morning.

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More Truths About Pregnancy

Recently a couple of celebrities have been talking about the not-so-wonderful aspects of pregnancy. And it made me want to puke. I know – that’s so shocking coming from me – the woman who reveals way too much about her prenatal and post-partum body. But it’s true. In the business of revealing “the truth”, some of them will be homeruns that everyone can understand and some of them will get you a face of disgust from the person across the table (or internet, as it may be).

I wrote a piece today at Mommyish revealing the “interesting” new truths from Drew Barrymore, Lisa Osbourne, and Snooki.

Do you relate or want to gag?

The Problem With Telling The Truth About Pregnancy

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Where To Start…

I have so much to tell you about, I’m really not sure where to start.  How about chronological order?

On Friday two of my favorite women, Christie of Outlaw Mama and Arnebya of What Now And Why acquiesced to my badgering and joined me in a Huffington Post Live conversation about the bizarre overpowering phenomenon to crave more babies (they were pretty darn vocal in my comments and on their own blogs so I dragged them in with me).  I’ve pasted the player for the segment at the end of the post, if you want to check us out.

On Saturday my family attended our first with-kids wedding.  It was beautiful, it was perfect, and it was so much fun.

photo (11)

photo (13)

photo (12)

And while you have that image of that adorable little girl in your mind, I wrote a post on Moonfrye thinking about the days Gavin and I braved the new world of mother-son life in the city in Before You Were Born.  I’ll warn you I can’t read it without crying, but that might just be me.  And my period.

I’ve also got a new regular gig.  Every weekday morning I will be covering a news article for Mommyish.  Expect to see me get my opinions about work-life balance into as many as I can – like this morning’s essay contemplating the benefits and drawbacks of a new egg freezing technique (that sounded a lot more serious than it is).  Please email or tweet me with any articles you find in the news that you would like to see addressed.  I won’t post my links here daily, but I will post them on the WTTM Facebook page.  So please check out Mommyish every morning to see what I’m ranting about now!

I left one thing out, because who likes to start with the bad news?  Last week I finished a first draft of my novel.  Oh yay – that’s great, I know!  The problem?  It is SO bad I don’t even know how to revive it in a rewrite.  I don’t tend to exaggerate (well, on some things) and am historically a pretty fair judge of my finished products, so when I tell you it was unreadable after the first 50 pages, I mean it was unreadable.  The characters were so flat, the ideas as stale as Saturday’s bagels, and the conflict as fierce as two kittens wrestling.  Blah.  I’m letting it sit for a while, but I’m calling 50/50 odds that I just scrap the thing and start anew.  My days as an aspiring novelist are not over – if no one else cares, I promise myself that – but it might just not be this idea that I want to pour any more time and effort into.  We shall see.

Last thing I need to tell you (are you sick of me or what?) – Sunday night TV is BACK ON PEOPLE!  Thank god for the DVR, Ian and I had to compromise – Game of Thrones on Sunday nights, Mad Men on Monday nights.  So please, NO spoilers for those of you who will have 24-hour advance knowledge of Don and Peggy and Joan and all their drama.  I can’t freaking wait to watch!!!!!

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The Holidays Are Out Of Control

Last week when I read Kristin Howerton’s Can We Bring The Holidays Down A Notch? I laughed and cried.  I laughed because I didn’t have multiple school age children complaining to me about St. Patrick Day celebrations, but I cried because I know it’s coming.  As it is, I’ve already struggled with how to bring them down after insane birthday celebrations and the holiday festivities are creeping in right behind them as sugar-fueled, expectation-riddled greed-fests.

Sure, it starts with the real holidays like Easter.  But do we really need a mandated Easter Party at preschool (yes, my husband had to leave work for this one)? Especially annoying was the fact that it was held six days before Easter day, despite the fact that I was willing to bring my kid in during Spring Break so they could have a more appropriately timed party.  No takers on that one.  This meant my kids expected us to do up Holy Week in style.  They seemed less than enthralled with pizza on Friday (again) and dying brown eggs on Saturday (oops).  Next thing I know I’ll be crafting leprechaun traps for St.Patty’s, sewing patriotic pants for Flag Day, and baking elaborate cake pops for Sweetest Day.  Or at least someone might expect me to do those insane things.  I’m exhausted just making fun of it.

Easter Monday proved to be the best day of the Holy Week for me (and let’s be honest, it’s all about me) because I participated in a Huffington Post Live segment debating the need to bring all our children’s celebrations down a notch.  One particularly crafty mom put my best delusional fueled handiwork to shame.  I could see why she loves celebrating every holiday to the nines.  Another mom talked about the guilt of working moms presenting store-bought confections next to a Martha Stewart-esque pie.  I mostly talked about how lazy I am.  Oh, and how I feel pressure to be crafty when I’m just not.

“With all that time on your hands, that’s the best you could do?”

The other moms might not be saying that, but it’s what I hear.  But all of us agreed that instilling gratitude in our children is just as important as making memories around important holidays.  It was an especially fun discussion with some really great moms.

If the player above doesn’t work, here’s the link:

Sorry, There’s No Candy For That

Bonus: a little behind the scenes shot of my in-home studio.  It takes a lot of work to look this human.

All smoke and mirrors, and I barely look alive, right?

All smoke and mirrors and MacGyver set-ups.


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Blog Comments Validate Me, Make Me Think, and Rip Me To Shreds All At The Same Time

Even though she warned me, I didn’t listen to my editor and I read the comments on the essay published through the NYT Motherlode.  All 210 (and counting) of them.

Anyone who blogs knows comments can get ugly.  It doesn’t matter how simple the subject or how much humor you inject into the piece, people hear and read what they want, not necessarily what you said.  Readers often attach to the line or thought that speaks to them and address only that.  I guess that is human nature.

This week I learned even the NYT comments get ugly.  Many of them were also very smart and true.  I had no choice but to dissect a topic I thought Ian and I had analyzed to death.  What I hadn’t looked at more closely was the context in which this fight came up. These are not excuses and they don’t negate any of the real issues set forth in the Motherlode piece, however they provide insight into why this divisive topic elicited particularly high stakes.  Continue reading

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Are YOU Going To Have More Kids?

It is a question both Ian and I are asked on a regular basis.  Today, I’m answering it in a piece for The New York Times Motherlode.  Because I’m efficient like that. Continue reading

Posted in am I doing this right? | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments