This is How I Know I’m Failing at Adulthood

Am I the only one who has that single spot in their home that is just a constant, infuriating reminder of how epically they are failing as an adult?

For me, it’s right here:
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When it’s clean (semi-annually), it’s supposed to be the counter where you’ll find kitchen utensil storage and perhaps a place to store a few pieces of new mail. There is a little stack of post-it notes and a pen or two nearby for scrawling messages, like people in tidy homes do for each other when one isn’t home. There’s a calendar hanging up, not at all buried under a plethora of reminder notices and kids homework assignments. It’s an orderly, functional area of the home. Or at least, it’s supposed to be.

The thing is, this kitchen counter is more than just a ridiculously cluttered spot in a home that is almost equally disorganized. It’s more than an inside-out junk drawer that seemingly threw up on itself.  It’s more than a mere representation of my extremely messy personality.

It’s like…… a symbol of adulthood as I’ve come to know it.

Look closely. There isn’t just random junk mail and school art projects strewn carelessly about (though you will find an abundance of those too).

There are actual important documents in that pile. Things that should be dealt with immediately or at least put away neatly. Things like unpaid bills. Important school notices. Insurance paperwork. My income taxes. My daughter’s first ever “report card” from preschool. Copies of the magazine I work for — my own words literally published in print for the first time in my life. Like, seriously important shit.

It’s as though everything that is vitally significant to my existence resides within a chaotic stack of crap on my kitchen counter, sandwiched between loose crayons and old Costco catalogues.

It’s not like I really have time to clean it. I sometimes distractedly stop what I’m doing and grab one or two things off the top to either toss in the recycling bin or file away somewhere safe. But then I take a second look and think “who the hell am I even kidding?” and give up to stick my head in the fridge to find something to snack on while flipping through the TV (which I also technically don’t have time for, but…..).

Basically the stack just grows higher and higher with each passing day, more and more art projects and potentially important documents piled on top on a regular basis.

Sometimes I walk past that counter and I’m just like, holy shit. If being an adult were a class in school I would be seriously flunking out. If growing up were a video game, I would lose one life every time I added another “Final Notice” to the never-ending stack ‘o’ crap. If the fate of the entire free world hinged on my ability to be an actual, mature, grown, human being, there would be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions.

I think that kitchen counter represents the apocalypse of my ability to have my shit together. My shit has never been so UN-together in my whole life. I thought it was bad when I was in college and only did laundry when my clean underwear ran out or when I was tired of dousing my waitress apron with coffee to cover the split-pea soup stains. But these days I only do laundry when the dirty clothes in the laundry basket are no longer stackable and begin heaving themselves onto the floor like a Jenga puzzle.

When you’re young, you have this built-in notion that someday you’ll enter adulthood and just automatically grow up. Like it happens overnight or something. Maybe the domestic goddess fairy will sprinkle some fairy dust on your pillow one night and you’ll wake up the next morning as June Cleaver or at least Monica Gellar.

How idiotic, right? No one ever seems to realize that keeping your shit together is hard enough when you only need to care for yourself, but it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re suddenly taking care of others as well. Why did no one ever tell me this? Guess it doesn’t matter now.

Here’s a funny thought: I just realized that the time I’ve devoted to writing about my messy kitchen counter could have been spent ACTUALLY CLEANING IT.

Ha! As if.

Mom Guilt: The Working Parent Edition

work mom delilah

Want to hear something ironic? I work for a parenting magazine, and a huge part of my job is finding fun stuff for people to do with their kids and sharing the stuff I find with the community. But I spend so much time looking for fun stuff other people can do with their kids that it takes a load of time away from me doing fun stuff with MY own kids.

First, let me say this: I love my job. Let me repeat (and not just because my boss may or may not browse through my blogs from time to time), I LOVE my job. I can’t say I’ve ever had a job that I love, doing something that I truly enjoy, and feeling like I am making valuable contributions to society using the skills and creativity that I have always known I possessed. As much fun as it was slinging pastrami sandwiches at a kosher deli in Brooklyn for eight years, it wasn’t exactly my calling.

But this job? This is as close to “my calling” as I’ve ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with quite a bit of stress and pressure, but what job doesn’t? At least, what CAREER doesn’t?

I did the Stay at Home Mom thing for a very long time, and it certainly had its ups and downs. Now that I’m working, I never realized just how much of myself I was available to give to my children when I was literally always available for them. We could pick up and go whenever we wanted. There were no schedules to coordinate, no deadlines looming, no emails to answer first. If we wanted to go to the park, we went. If we were low on groceries, to the supermarket we’d go. If they wanted to watch all three Toy Story Movies in a row, I knew we would just play together later. We were together all the time and they loved it.

And I…liked….it. Kind of. Well, as any Stay at Home Mom will tell you, being around your kids 24/7 can be draining. There are no breaks, no real help from anyone else. It’s on YOU to keep those kids happy around the clock. It’s tough stuff. So when the opportunity arose for me to take a job where I could keep a flexible schedule and often work from home, well, mentally and financially speaking, turning it down was never an option.

So while I’m very familiar with the Stay at Home Mom depression, I’m new to the whole Working Mom guilt. And, boy, is it something else entirely. When I tell people I can work from home, I think they envision this utopian ideal wherein I’m simultaneously baking cookies, overseeing fun craft projects, and emailing my boss all in perfect unison. How lucky I must be, to be able to accomplish so many tasks at once!

Well, in fact, I DO accomplish all of these things at once, but perfection it is NOT.

Allow me to set the scene for you.

It’s 3:30pm on any given weekday. My son is working on his math homework, that hellish Go Math common core homework book open in front of him. He’s crying a little because he doesn’t understand how to solve 15-7 by “making a ten” first. Quite frankly, neither do I, and I’m about to cry along with him. At the same moment, my three-year-old daughter is climbing on my back, shoving her Princess Sofia floor puzzle in my face and begging me to help her finish it. I glance over at the clock and see that if I don’t start dinner soon, I’ll have hunger meltdowns thrown into the mix. So I get up and head to the fridge to start cooking.

I wash and chop and slice and prep while my son reads his “book buddy” to me, hoping he’s actually reading what it says and not just making up random things to avoid using his brain. My daughter lingers dangerously over the cutting board, narrowly missing my razor-sharp knife with her tiny fingers as she tries to reorganize the veggies in a futile attempt to “help” me cook. I stop for a quick minute to check my work email, remembering something important I’d forgotten to do earlier. I see that I have 15 new emails and realize that the thing I forgot to do has spiraled into into an entirely new problem, and I absentmindedly spend another 20 “quick minutes” attempting to rectify it.

Suddenly I hear the sizzle of hot liquid hitting the stove and I realize my potatoes are boiling over, which is my reminder to check the oven and find that I’ve overcooked the crap out of the chicken. I look up and find Princess Sofia puzzle pieces and sliced vegetables strewn about the living room— my daughter’s passive aggressive way of displaying her resentment for my ignoring her. My son hands me his homework to check and I try to explain that “We bilted a snwmn” is spelled incorrectly, which immediately prompts a tantrum because, according to him, it IS spelled correctly and I’m the MEANEST MOM EVER and he just wants to go play video games but I WON’T LET HIM and his homework is DONE…..

And then my night-shift-working husband emerges from hibernation, bitching about us all making too much noise and waking him up, and wanting to know why the house smells like burnt chicken.

Fast forward a few hours; dinner is done, baths are done, husband’s off to work, kids are tucked in bed. And me? I’m on the couch, laptop open, typing away—finally able to get some work done.

The sad part is that I actually AM lucky to be able to do this with my family because I’m home from work in time to make dinner and oversee homework. Some working parents don’t get home until well after the kids are sleeping. And as insane as the afternoons with my family are, it’s a whole other type of insanity when you don’t even get to see your kids during the day at all.

The part I hate is when my daughter looks at me with her heart-meltingly innocent baby blue eyes and asks me “mommy can you play with me?” and I have to say no because I have work to do. Or when my son’s school sends home a note about yet ANOTHER school fair and I try to move heaven and earth to make it there, every single time, because I never want to let him down.  Or when I’m up very late, typing away into the wee hours of the night, and it causes me to wake up like Oscar the Grouch, ready to bite the head off of anyone who dares to ask me for plain Cheerios after I’ve already poured milk on an entire bowl of the honey-nut ones.

Sometimes I worry that my kids’ happiest childhood memories will be overshadowed by mental images of Mommy hiding behind a computer screen.

I love that I love my job. I don’t know how many people can say that and mean it, but I love having a job I enjoy, a job I’m proud to do. And financially speaking, I REALLY love that I can finally start putting some money away to someday, somehow, possibly, hopefully, maybe be able to afford my family’s first real home. Or our first trip to Disney. Or maybe even start up a college fund (well, after I’m done paying for my own college loans).

As stressed as I feel most of the time, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I’m sacrificing a lot, I know. But I do believe that in the end, it’s worth it.

I just wish it wouldn’t feel like my kids are the ones making the biggest sacrifice. Hopefully someday they’ll understand why.

You Know it’s the First Day of School When…

blogSo it would have been nice if I’d posted this on the actual first day of school (which was Thursday here in NYC), but like many of you, I drank a little too much celebratory wine that day and was in no position for organized thought. The memory is still quite fresh, though, so read on for some classic first day of school occurrences.

1. Every other post in your Facebook newsfeed is a picture of a kid sporting a new book bag and a forced smile.

2. Staples looks like Toys R Us on Christmas Eve.

3. Your teacher friends are all on suicide watch.

4. You made the face in the above picture trying to locate everything on your child’s supply list.

5. The line in the haircut place was even worse than Staples.

6. You lost your toddler at least once amidst the chaos of first day dismissal.

7. You managed to avoid hitting too many red lights, but you still got stuck behind at least two school buses.

8. So. Much. Contact. Paper.

9. You’ve mentally prepared a list of all the parents you hope to avoid running into (and inevitably end up seeing them all). Side note: I just gave myself an idea for a future blog 😉

10. You forgot to set your alarm and almost missed morning drop off.

–or–

You pressed snooze so many times you almost missed morning drop off.

–or–

You missed morning drop off.

11. You’ve made a long list of things to do when the kids leave for school, but instead you spend the morning drinking coffee, watching TV, and liking everyone’s first day pics on Facebook.

12. You have so many permission slips to sign that you stop reading them after a while and just start signing. You’re not sure, but you might have just accidentally nominated yourself for PTA president.

13. You haven’t heard the words “common core” in over two months (but that will change very soon).

14. You spent a small fortune on brand new fall clothes for school and you’re dying to see how great the kids look in them. Too bad it’s 85 degrees and humid.

15. Your daughter tells you her best friend isn’t in her class, and it’s a straight up crisis.

16.  Your eyes sort of watered a bit when you dropped off your youngest, but you’re not entirely sure if they were tears of sadness or tears of joy.  Probably both.

Putting My Kids First: A Nasty Habit

Do you have a nasty habit of putting your kids first?

Well of course you do.  You’re a parent. It’s part of the job. It’s unavoidable (kind of like Frozen, which I’ve chosen to weave into today’s blog after my daughter watched it on repeat all morning).

If you didn’t bother to put your kids first, I would think you were a total jerk.  And I’d be right.

Because once you have children, you can no longer claim your life as your own.  Your children are now your number one priority, and everything you used to do for yourself gets pushed all the way to the back of your to-do list.

There are times when you have to try to put yourself first, usually only when your own sanity is at stake, but realistically the kids come first and they always will.  It takes some getting used to at first, but after a while you realize that what you want just doesn’t matter anymore.  Because all you really want is to make your children happy.  Sacrifices are made, and all of that “me, me, me” crap becomes a thing of the past.  It’s all just another part of raising children.

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But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still kinda suck.

So here’s how I know I’ve got that pesky “putting the kids first” bug:

  1. My wardrobe sucks, but theirs sure as hell doesn’t.  Winter, spring, summer, fall– these kids need new stuff every time the temperature jumps a degree or two.  New sneakers, coats, dresses, tee-shirts, the works.  Brand new everything, practically all year round.  But my summer wardrobe shopping? Basically consists of a grabbing a few tank tops off a “3 for $10” table at Old Navy and calling it a day.  I’m actually still wearing the same pair of banged-up old sneakers I wore when I was pregnant with my first child SIX years ago.  I guess my style sense flew right out the window with my common sense the day I whispered the words “it’s okay, I’m on the pill”.
  2. I haven’t been to the hair salon in over a year. Who has time for that? Have you ever heard of the “hombre” hairstyle?  The one where half of your hair is one color and the other half is a different color altogether?  Well, that’s the only stylish thing I’ve got going on in my life, and it was a total accident.  Apparently, going a full year without redoing your color or highlights is “trendy” these days.  I never thought that cosmetic negligence would actually someday become fashionable, but this is awesome. I don’t know who this hombre is, but let me tell you, he is mi mejor amigo.
  3. When I receive Visa gift cards for birthdays, Christmas, Mothers Day, etc., I usually use them on diapers, kids’ clothes, groceries, or gifts for someone else.  I like when I get one with special instructions, like “this is for a manicure and pedicure”.  Because then I slap a nice coat of polish above my overgrown cuticles before I head over to Pathmark to cash in on my “gift”. I do like to pamper myself.
  4. Date night is dead.  It’s gone from fun, romantic dinners at swanky restaurants to basically anytime my kids fall asleep before 8p.m. on a night when there is a good show on and a bottle of wine lying around.
  5. I know every word to every song on the entire Frozen soundtrack, but the only way I can identify a new singer on the radio is if they’ve ever starred in their own Nickelodeon show.  That’s actually okay though.  Reindeers are better than people, just like the music of my youth is better than today’s shitty pop music. (Off topic side note: reindeers really ARE better than people.)
  6. My lunch consists solely of sandwich crusts, spare chicken nuggets, and leftover mac and cheese. I sometimes look at healthy food and feel a twinge of nostalgia, remembering the pre-baby days, when I used to have those fancy salads for lunch because I was watching my girlish figure. You know, the ones with the cool, retro ingredients like arugula, dried cranberries, maybe some hearts of palm.  And I remember when I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting calories on fast food because I just spent an hour on the treadmill and didn’t want it to go to waste.  Gosh, I can’t believe I owned a treadmill. And I even USED it! Sigh. The memories.
  7. Vacation options have gone from anyplace with white, sandy beaches and exciting nightlife to anywhere that grown men and women dress up like giant cartoon characters and then make you wait in line to charge you twenty bucks for a picture.
  8. Book choices are not quite the same, either.  I used to read like a maniac, plowing through the year’s bestsellers faster than Amazon could deliver them to my door (back in the prehistoric, pre-Kindle era).  Now the only books I have time to read cover important issues like overeating caterpillars, misbehaving dinosaurs, and home-destroying, hat-wearing felines.
  9. Sometimes, in the winter, I DON’T wanna build a snowman.  But I do it anyway. Because I’m not shitty like Elsa.

I know I do a lot of complaining about raising kids.  It’s just really, really hard so I can’t help it. Plus I’m kind of a chronic complainer so it goes along with the territory.  But just to be clear: I love my kids more than life itself.   And I’m sure those of you with this nasty habit of putting your kids first feel exactly the same way about your own little ones.

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25 Reasons to Love and Hate Kid Clothes

I can’t help but miss the days when the only wardrobe I had to worry about was my own.  I’ve never really been an amazing dresser. And now that I have to pick out my kids clothes too, I’m pretty stressed out.  It’s just a lot of fashion decisions for someone who doesn’t even know the difference between yoga pants and sweatpants (but definitely owns several pairs of each).

Dressing the kids gets even more perplexing – and expensive – as they get older.  Sometimes it can be rewarding, when they look all adorable and stuff (for however long that lasts).  But most of the time it’s just plain frustrating.  So here’s my take on the whole thing, in twenty-five reasons to both love and hate children’s clothing (in no particular order).

She tried.

She tried.

  1. I’m no mathematical genius, but isn’t 24 months and two years the same exact thing? Like, mathematically and stuff? So why the hell are they two different sizes? And can someone tell me which one my kid should be in?
  2. I have no idea what they call those little bands along the inside of the waist on your kids’ pants that makes them tighter, but they’re the greatest thing to happen to moms since post-c-section Percocet prescriptions.
  3. When it comes to sneakers, velcro is the ONLY way to go.  Why do they even make sneakers with shoelaces for kids who are too young to know how to tie them?  To torture parents?  Because that’s what stopping every five minutes to tie your two-year-old’s shoe feels like.  Slow torture. Right up there with potty-training.
  4. Why are pajamas more expensive than actual clothes?  I’ve been wearing the same ratty, torn-up old t-shirts to bed every night for at least a decade, yet these kids get to cozy up at the end of the day in the very best sleepwear that The Children’s Place sale rack has to offer. What the hell?
  5. Baby laundry is so deceiving. Because one load of the baby stuff equals four loads of adult laundry.  Which, by the way, is also sitting on your laundry room floor waiting to be folded.
  6. Baby socks MUST have grips on the bottom.  I mean sure, you could buy the cheapy ones they sell over at Kmart, but you’ll regret that little attempt at thriftiness when you see the bill for the emergency room visit.
  7. Baby pajamas with zippers will always trump baby pajamas with snaps.  Everyone knows that.
  8. Summer clothes + long sleeve onesies/thermals = instant winter wardrobe.
  9. Baby bathrobes.  Got at least five of ‘em at my baby shower.  Gave away at least five of ‘em with tags still attached. NO ONE USES THESE THINGS.
  10. Baby sunglasses: possibly even more useless than baby bathrobes.
  11. Baby shoes: equally as useless as baby bathrobes but cute enough to be totally fine.
  12. Crocs for adults are a big fat DON’T.  However, crocs for kids are a big fat DO.
  13. Tie dye clothing for kids will forever be a big DON’T.  And FYI, tie dye anything at all is actually an abomination to the entire fashion industry.
  14. They need to just stop selling kids clothes in white.  I mean if I were smart, I’d stop buying white clothes.  But my kids always look so cute in white.  Until they do absolutely anything at all and ruin everything.
  15. Do they even make kids jackets with fully-functioning zippers? I feel like there is a 75% probability of stuckness at all times.  Nope, that’s not a real word.
  16. Every parent has sent their kid to school with their pants on backwards, two different shoes on their feet, and/or without any underwear on at least once or twice.  Don’t feel bad, it happens.  Your kid didn’t care and neither should you.
  17. Girls’ clothes are A THOUSAND TIMES more complicated than boys’ clothes. And I’m catching on slowly.  For example, I know my daughter is supposed to like be obsessed with tutus or something, but I’m still not totally sure when the tutu-wearing is supposed to be taking place.  Like what’s a tutu-appropriate occasion?  If anyone wants to clue me in on this, please feel free. We’re a little tutu-phobic over here.
  18. Blue t-shirt in child’s small- $8.99.  Blue t-shirt in child’s small with Frozen character on the front- $18.99.  Screw you, Disney.
  19. Online shopping for children’s clothing is possibly more addictive than crack.  You didn’t really need to buy food this week, right?
  20. I know I’m going to get some slack for this one, but I’m not sure that the bow on top of your child’s head should be larger than her head itself.  Seriously, it looks ridiculous.
  21. Baby tights + a onesie + a dress/skirt + a dirty diaper = party’s over, time to go home.
  22. Wet bathing suit + a dirty swim diaper + publicly naked toddler = why you should avoid the beach. Also time to go home.
  23. “I WANNA PUT IT ON MYSELF!” when you’re already running late. Darn that pesky independent phase.
  24. Boys shorts have the longest shelf life of any article of clothing.  I literally squeezed THREE summers out of my son’s shorts.  I practically cried when I realized he finally outgrew them this year.  But then I went to Old Navy and spent a jillion dollars on summer clothes and felt better.
  25. My last reason can definitely be filed under “love”.  Because an adult could never rock this onesie– but my little guy sure did 😉Scan 18

Mom Guilt

I’m a sucky mom.

Well, realistically, I’m probably not all that bad.  But I still think I suck at parenting.

Please don’t give me that stupid “you’re a GREAT mom!” spiel that people deliver whenever you whine about your mom guilt.  I don’t need to hear it.  It doesn’t make anyone feel better and we both know it.

You’re probably a sucky mom too.  I’m guessing that’s why you’re reading this right now.   Well, you know what?  Your best friend also sucks.  So does your sister, and your cousin, and so do your coworkers, and your neighbors, and every single stranger you pass on the street.

We all honestly believe we suck at this mom thing.

Mom guilt is one of the shittiest feelings you will ever know, and it NEVER goes away.  Once you have kids, you’re a victim of mom guilt for the rest of your life.  You are destined to spend the remainder of your days on this earth second guessing every decision you’ve ever made when it comes to your kids, comparing yourself to every other mom you know, criticizing your parenting skills (or lack thereof), and regretting your choices before you’ve even made them.

Today my daughter asked me to read her a book, but I was in the middle of folding two million loads of laundry so I quickly put the book away and turned her attention to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Awesome parenting right there.  “Sorry baby, The Very Hungry Caterpillar can wait until later.  Ooh look at the TV! It’s a special DOUBLE EPISODE! Woohoo! Now please go take your zero-nutritional-value fruit snacks to the couch and watch your show.  Folding Daddy’s underwear is slightly more important than your growing literacy skills right now.”

So then I stood there like a jerk, folding away, feeling all crappy because it wasn’t the first time I did that to her and it surely wouldn’t be the last.  I almost felt bad enough to change my mind, but by then she was so engrossed in Mickey that shutting the TV might have caused a meltdown that neither of us were in the mood for.

Stupid social media doesn’t help with the mom guilt either.  Because people don’t exactly Instagram pictures of their kids parked on the couch watching Nicktoons on a warm spring day.  No freaking way.   And when it comes to old Facebrag, EVERYONE is mom of the year.  They’re all taking their kids to parks and museums and libraries and freaking Disney World, and all of their kids are reading way above grade level and getting straight A’s and joining NASA’s space program, right on track to becoming the first preschoolers to land on the moon.

Just once, I want see someone post: “The school called today.  Junior farted in someone’s face at lunch and landed detention for a week.”  It would be a refreshing change, donchathink?

Some pictures don't make the Facebook cut.

Some not-so-shining moments fail to make the Facebook cut. Why do you hate Mommy?

Social media antics aside (because as you probably know, I could go on all day about that topic), when it feels like everyone else is raising the perfect kid, it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing everything wrong.

But I have a secret.  And no, it isn’t that everyone is a wonderful parent – because that’s just not true. Some parents really do suck, like in real life and not just their head.  You do know that, right?  That you aren’t the worst mom in the world?  ‘Cuz I’m pretty sure Casey Anthony grabbed that title a few years ago.

My secret is that there is NOTHING you can do about the never-ending mom guilt. Nothing! It will always be there, hanging over your head like a poison-filled rain cloud. Okay, maybe that’s not such a big secret, but it sure makes me feel better.

You can practically bust your ass trying to be the MOST AMAZING MOM EVER, planning enough activities, outings, and educational moments to fill every waking minute of every day, but it will never be enough.  In your mind, you are still going to scar your children for life somehow, and you’re going to give yourself a nervous breakdown in the process.  Stop trying to be perfect.

No one is perfect.  There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  Some parents appear perfect, and I don’t know what the hell is the deal with those people, but they aren’t perfect either.  They probably just put on a good show and we’re all buying it.  Behind the smoke and mirrors of those so-called perfect parents you will find regular old people, like you and me, who feed their kids chicken nuggets and let them watch all the Spongebob they want.

I think the trick with mom guilt is to channel the guilt.  Embrace it.  Learn from it.  Pinpoint exactly what you feel shittiest about and use it to motivate the hell out of yourself.

I’m not telling you to do it every day.  Hell, I’m not parent of the year and neither are you (right?).  But once in a while, when you get those days where you are just feeling like one big steaming pile of mom garbage, and you are literally on your hands and knees praying that your kid doesn’t turn out to be a giant asshole because you suck so badly as a parent, you’re going to have to take action.  Pick your sucky ass up off the floor, grab those crazy kids, and go do something awesome together.  Anything at all.  Whatever will put a smile on their little faces and alleviate the sting of mom guilt for at least a day or two.  Like I said, it will never go away, but at least there can be a temporary fix. And that’s better than wallowing around in self-pity, right?  Hmm, I guess there is something you can do about it after all.

Oh, and don’t forget to post the pictures from your day on Facebook 😉

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Cuteness Overload

Do you ever look at your kid and think “holy shit, this kid is so fucking cute I wanna bite her freaking arm off?”

I do.  Often.

Okay, I’m not going to bite her arm off.  But I might nibble on it a little.

I mean, a lot of kids are cute.  There are cutiepies everywhere you go, just walking around, going about their business and stuff, looking all kinds of adorable like they don’t even know it.

But there is just SOMETHING about your own kid.  Something besides the obvious fact that you made him and so therefore he’s just as awesome as you are.  Something about his mushy little face, and tiny little feet, and squishy little nose, and soft little skin, and rosy little cheeks, and sweet little smile.  Something so insanely endearing that it kind of makes your head want to explode.

99% of you without children are probably gagging right now, and that’s totally cool.  I would be, too.  Before I popped out a few of these cute little fuckers myself, I wasn’t exactly a kid person.  Hell, I’m still not what you would call a “kid person” (hence my use of the word “fuckers”).  I’m actually more of a “MY kid person,” if you know what I mean.

These. Kids.

These. Kids.

It seems like there’s a switch that flips into the “on” position after you give birth for the first time, one that turns you into this big softy and reduces you to a pile of mush every time you look at your own kid.  Like there’s this giant ray of sunlight beaming down upon your child wherever she goes, emitting hypnotic waves of yummy adorableness and sweet perfection at all times, and you can’t help but be drawn in by it.  I bet you didn’t even know you could have such delicious feelings of pride and love and warmth toward another human being before you had a kid.  And now it’s basically out of control.

What about when your kid says something funny?  It isn’t just funny, or cute, or even just clever.  It’s HILARIOUS!  Your child is a comedic GENIUS!  Watch out, Jimmy Fallon.  Your Tonight Show replacement has been born, and is ready to step in at any time.

For example, yesterday my son gets home from school and my daughter runs up to give him a huge hug like she does every day (which, by the way, is fucking cuteness OVERLOAD times two,  all by itself).  My son stops her in her tracks and goes, “Wait! Just let me take off my shoes and my coat and STAY A WHILE first!”

I died laughing.  Then I told my husband, who also cracked up quite a bit.

Not exactly hilarious, right?  I mean, cute.   Sweet, smile-worthy.  But I was over there acting like my kid just won Last Comic Standing.

I guess that’s just how it is once you’re a parent.  It’s scientific, actually – like a Darwinian thing. It’s NATURE. You are just naturally meant to find your children so charming and wonderful that you will have to resist the urge to choke them every time you trip over a rogue matchbox car or find permanent marker stains on your couch cushions.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  There are times when my kids’ cuteness is the furthest thing from my mind. Times when I’m literally banging my head against the wall in frustration.   I mean, there’s NOTHING cute about my daughter when she’s mid-tantrum, her face all mangled up in an angry scowl, tears and snot pouring out everywhere, and she’s sobbing and throwing food and smacking the living crap out of me because I wouldn’t let her watch Team Umizoomi during dinnertime.  And I’m over there fumbling with the cap to the Xanax when she suddenly stops crying, giggles, and starts singing her favorite song “I don’t care, I love it!” in her tiny voice… And we all just lose it, erupting into fits of hysterical laughter.

True, I laugh partially out of relief that she finally shut the hell up, but also because her little squeaky voice is so cute that I can’t even take it.

I swear, these kids make me bipolar.

And how about when they’re sleeping?  There is no selective amnesia like a mother gazing adoringly upon her soundly sleeping child.  Your kid could have just thrown your brand new iPhone in the toilet, spilled fingerpaint on the rug, and fed a chocolate bar to the dog all in the same night– but once the little darling is peacefully slumbering away, it’s like the gates of heaven have opened up and God himself has appeared to absolve the child of any wrongdoing.

Because all sleeping children are perfect angels.  Everyone knows that.

2d

Jackpot.

But your kid doesn’t have to be asleep to be your little angel.  Everyone knows that too.  They are ALWAYS your little angels.  Sure they might drive you to drink, or occasionally sob uncontrollably, and maybe even contemplate a bridge-jump every now and then.

But none of that matters when you are really looking at them.  Because there’s something so very beautiful that happens every time you take in your child’s sweet, innocent face.  Something that takes all the difficulties of being a parent away for a moment.  Something that inevitably makes every exasperating minute totally….. worth it.

I think they call it love. 2e

25 Signs You’re A New Mom

The feeling's mutual, kid. Still love you, though.

The feeling’s mutual, kid. Still love you, though.

I’m not exactly a new mom.  My kids are five and two, so I’m not quite new to this parenting rodeo.  But like most moms, I’ll certainly never forget the long, sleepless nights, the crazy ups and downs, the seemingly endless stress, and all of those bittersweet moments that go along with having a new baby.

So I put together this list for all the new mommies to relate to, and maybe delight in knowing that everyone else kind of loses it the first time around (and sometimes the second and third time) too.

As for the older mamas?  You ladies might feel some combination of nostalgia and extreme relief looking back on that “new mom” whirlwind in your life.

Either way, here you go!

1. At least once a night, you jump up out of bed just to hear the baby breathe.

2. You have more baby bottles than forks and spoons combined, and you often find yourself ransacking the house for items to fill the empty bottom rack of the dishwasher because the top rack  is always maxed out.

3. You have threatened the life of at least one telemarketer (or relative) for calling during the baby’s nap.

4. You play rock-paper-scissors with your spouse over who has to change the next dirty diaper (and somehow you lose every time).

5. You find yourself searching every corner and crevice of your house to see where that nasty odor is coming from— and then realize that it’s you.  You’re the nasty odor.  You smell like a person who hasn’t showered in over a week.  Then you sigh because there’s no one around to watch the baby while you go take a shower so you’re left to stew in your own stench for a few more hours.

6. You proudly relay your baby’s height, weight, head circumference and frequency of bowel movements to all close friends and relatives at the start of each conversation (and a quick conversation it will be, as they are likely thinking of a good excuse to get off the phone with you).

7. You will do almost ANYTHING to quiet a screaming baby, even if it means continuously running your dryer with the baby nestled on top, or wasting gallons of water letting him listen to the faucet run, or pacing the floor for hours at a time while swaying, bopping, rocking, and humming, or even watching an endless stream of loud and horrible rap videos all night long (I tried all of the above with my colicky first child).  Seriously, whatever works – no matter how ridiculous it seems, you’ll try it.

8. The last home-cooked meal you had (while sitting down!) was on Thanksgiving, and you certainly weren’t the one who cooked it.

9. Waking a sleeping baby is an offense punishable by termination of friendship and possibly loss of life to the offender.

10. Coffee.  Just coffee.  Lots and lots and lots of it.

11. Your trips to Babies ‘R’ Us “just for diapers” are doing more damage to your bank account than your wedding did.

12. The next person to ask “is the baby cold?” is getting smacked.  Hard.

13. Same goes for the next person to ask “where is his hat? Doesn’t he have a hat?”

14. The next person to say “just sleep when they sleep” will be forced to wash every dish in the sink, fold five loads of laundry, scrub the toilets, and wash the kitchen floor.

15. Your diaper bag: a quick trip to the store or leaving town for a week?  Who could tell?

16. Your DVR is an absolute lifesaver at 2a.m.

17. You’re officially part of the wonderful world of children’s television, where torturously catchy songs will play on an endless loop in your head for the next five years or so– songs with absurd and repetitive lyrics like “there’s a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy;” or “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’M THE MAP;” or “when we’ve gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, we know how to pee and poo, just sit on the toilet like a grown up would and see what we can doo doo doo doo!”

18. You choose the color for your rare mani/pedi carefully; it will linger on your nails for the next three months or until chipping away completely on its own.

19. Your pediatrician is on speed dial, and you could probably navigate the route to his office in your sleep.

20. What was once your living room is now an obstacle course of large, brightly-colored objects, designed to hold or occupy your baby for any period of time – none of which work nearly as well as merely holding him yourself and utilizing your only free arm for household tasks.

21. And that other arm? The one holding the baby?  Let’s just say the Incredible Hulk has NOTHING on you and your freakishly strong baby-holding arm.

22. Remember when you created your first resume and listed “excellent at multi-tasking” as one of your skills?  Ha! You didn’t even know the DEFINITION of multi-tasking until now.

23. Google is somehow simultaneously your very best friend and very worst enemy.

24.  You’ve officially been peed on by another human being (and I really do hope that’s a first for you).

25. Remember how much you loved the baby yesterday?  Well, that love just doubled today.  And tomorrow, it’ll triple.  And the day after that, it’ll quadruple.  It never stops.  Someday, your baby will grow into a precious, baby-faced toddler, and she’ll say “I love you” for the first time ever, and your heart will explode into so many pieces that you’ll need a broom and dustpan to pick them all up.

Try to remember that feeling after your sweet little angel has her first ever public meltdown.

A Long December: My Struggle With Depression and Anxiety

1d

Every time I hear the theme song to that show Special Agent Oso, on the Disney Channel, I’m reminded of my nervous breakdown (or so it’s come to be known in my mind).  It’s a silly little TV jingle but somehow serves as a painful reminder of a very difficult time in my life when I was just physically, mentally, and emotionally ….not myself.  When I heard the song today while my kids were watching their shows, I was suddenly compelled to tell my story.

Depression is a funny little illness.  Because you look and feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle of a washing machine, yet everyone keeps telling you that you’re totally fine.  You’re fine, your family says.  You’re fine, your friends say.  You’re fine, the doctor says.  You’re healthy, your family is healthy, everything is perfectly fine in your life.

If you’re supposedly so damn fine, then why don’t you feel fine?

Why, instead, do you feel like every moment spent awake is an assault on your mind and body, like the very act of taking air into your lungs is earth-shatteringly terrifying, and like you are no longer even living inside of yourself, but instead just functioning as a separate, mindless entity, numbly hovering over your former self in the meager hope that someday you can return and feel, dare I say, normal again?

And all the while, as you’re feeling increasingly UNFINE, the world around you is spinning away.  People are still living their lives, still going to work, still caring for their children, still eating and sleeping and smiling and laughing every day.  They’re doing all the things you did back when you really were FINE.  Except now, everyone else is fine.  They are the “fine” ones.  They go right on living while you teeter dangerously on the brink of insanity, wondering how the hell you’ll make it another day, another hour, even another minute.

I had my miscarriage in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.  I watched the parade, got my son dressed, drove over to my mom’s, and then sat down with my family at the table to eat.  Somewhere between my first stuffed mushroom and second slice of turkey, I began feeling the stabbing pangs of labor pain.  Two terrifying hours later, in an emergency room somewhere in Staten Island, I emerged from a public bathroom stall with a tiny, balled-up fetus wrapped inside of a sanitary napkin.  Horrified and shaking, I handed it to the triage nurse, who then told me I was running a fever and needed to calm myself down.

Don’t feel sorry for me; my story is only seemingly dramatic because hospitals, blood, and death tend to fill me with sheer terror, and retelling the events of that day is simply impossible to do without conveying just how dramatic it all felt at the time.  In reality, I was only eight weeks along, quite optimistic that I would conceive again soon, and I honestly thought I was going to be okay.  I mean, MUCH, MUCH worse things have happened to MUCH, MUCH more unfortunate people than me.  So after about 10 miserable hours in a dim hospital room, I went home and crawled into bed, feeling exhausted and sad, but also knowing that the worst of it was over.

Or so I thought.

I did not know, at that point, that postpartum depression could happen after a miscarriage, even one occurring in just the first trimester.  I didn’t know that the overflow of hormones coursing through my body after this event, coupled with the extreme loneliness brought on by a severely harsh winter, a young child who needed more from me than I could possibly give at the time, and a hardworking husband who was never ever home, would lead me into a frightening downward spiral so intense that I am still recovering from it today.  And it’s been three full years.

My husband used to leave for work around 6 a.m., and I’d wake up at 5a.m. just to savor the only adult company I’d enjoy all day until he returned, already half-asleep, around 9p.m.  Those mornings I’d sit on the floor in the foggy bathroom while he showered for work and we’d chitchat back and forth; it was the closest to normal that I would feel all day.  Then I’d climb back into bed when he left, around the same time my son would usually wake up, and we’d watch Special Agent Oso together (for no special reason, he just happened to like the show and it happened to be on at that time).  And then I’d brace myself for a very long, lonely, dreary, anxiety-ridden day.

Ugh, the anxiety.  The anxiety is always there.  Depressed or not, anxiety is like that extra layer of fat you can’t shed, or the crooked bone in your nose that broke when you were a kid and never fully repaired itself.  It’s that single, most hated, THING that will always be a part of you.  That’s anxiety for me.

The darkest period of my life was like one, long, drawn-out anxiety attack.  My days were spent pacing the floors of my three-room apartment for hours at a time, fingers tearing at the hair behind my neck and pulling until it was smooth, maybe even bleeding.  I’d clutch the phone in my hands and cry, praying for it to ring, wishing for someone to talk to, anyone at all who could distract me from my personal hell for a moment or two.  I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away.  I’d wait by the window, praying, begging, pleading for my husband to pull up in his car and save me from the bitter, paralyzing loneliness.

My son was only two years old at the time, not nearly old enough to understand why mommy was starting to lose her mind.  But he knew something was terribly wrong.  I know he did. He would randomly break out in hives, or he would suddenly be covered in eczema patches on his arms and legs—but it only happened that winter and then never again.  Neither the allergist nor the dermatologist could explain the peculiar sudden onset of my poor little boy’s skin ailments.  “It’s just the harsh winter,” they said, and prescribed some expensive ointment or cream.  But I knew it was my fault.  My torment was spilling over onto my son, he was taking in my stress, my depression, and it was finding its way to the surface of his skin.  It might sound crazy to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  My son was hurting, too.

One morning, after I’d gotten out of bed, I fainted as I poured my son’s cereal.  Boom, hit the floor, just like that.  It could have been dehydration, or anxiety, or maybe just plain hunger, as I hadn’t been able to force down more than a slice or two of bread in about three days.  I woke to find my son, confused and visibly upset, pleading with me to get up.  Seeing pain in the eyes of a two-year-old is not something you can ever un-see.  Knowing that his pain is a reflection of the pain in your own eyes, well, that’s rock bottom.

At that point, I really needed help.  For my little boy, my sweet, innocent, scared little child, I had to come out of this.  I simply had to.  There was just no other way.

Recovery was a slow, gradual process.  My family, namely my mother and sister, whom I spoke to most often at the time, held my hand through most of my struggle.  With the help of my family, some medication, and a whole lot of self-discipline and self-discovery, I eventually began to feel like myself again.

That journey was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. NO ONE in my life understands or has even half of a clue how difficult that was for me- how every single second of every single day was wholly consumed by my hunger to push forward, my drive to never let this illness consume me again, and to be around for my children, no matter what.

In March, I was thrilled to learn that my daughter was on the way.  This was a blessing for more than just the obvious reasons– I was forced to stop taking medication and learn to heal entirely on my own.  If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I may not have stopped the meds so soon and grown overly dependent on them instead of learning to heal on my own.   My little girl saved me from what might have been a different kind of downward spiral.  My little girl saved my life.

You might be wondering why I’ve recounted this extremely personal story with you today, especially given that I’m prone to much more lighthearted subject matter.

Recently I came down with a pesky case of writer’s block, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why.  I think, perhaps, my heart simply decided it was time to tell my story.  Or it could be that this bonechilling winter we’re having is a constant reminder of that low point in my life, and I needed to just blurt it all out before I lost my mind.  It’s almost like I’ve had this feeling in my chest, tugging at my heart, just sitting there and pulling at me with all its might, like a giant, malignant growth pushing to be set free.  Well, I’m setting it free today, for whatever the reason.  Perhaps someone will read my story and benefit from it in some small way. Maybe someone will read it and feel a little bit less alone. At the very least, perhaps I’ll be cured of writer’s block.

You don’t need to be a parent to find yourself coping with depression, although I know many are.  You don’t need to be married, engaged, employed, unemployed, grieving, sick, healthy, rich, poor….  You don’t need to have any reason at all.  For many of us, depression and anxiety are simply things we struggle with every single day.  They’re as real to us as breathing.

Your depression affects everyone around you, whether you realize it or not.  Your family, your children, your friends, your job.  Sometimes people understand, but most of the time, they don’t.  If you’re lucky, someone will get it, and they’ll reach out to you.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a place within yourself where healing can begin on its own– where you can realize how much the people in your life need you – and you can learn to be you again.

My journey is an ongoing one.  Some days are good, some notsomuch.  I know I’ll never be 100%.

But I’ll never stop trying, either.

I Love It When People Aren’t Assholes

I really love it when people aren’t assholes.

Let’s face it, people are assholes ALL THE TIME.  Everywhere you go, you find asshole people doing asshole things in all different kinds of asshole ways, and you think to yourself, “wow, what assholes.”

For example, when I’m trying to catch an elevator because I’m lugging around a stroller that, believe it or not, doesn’t come equipped with retractable legs for climbing stairs, and I’m suddenly cut off by a group of non-stroller-wielding, non-handicapped individuals, I’m like “holy shit, these people are a bunch of assholes.”

Or when I’m waiting for my son outside his school, and I look to my right and see a person parked in the yellow, school bus-loading zone and her gargantuan SUV is blocking actual school buses from parking there and letting children on, I think to myself “she’s quite the asshole.”

Or back when I was nine months pregnant in the supermarket, pushing a heavy shopping cart full of groceries and a screaming three-year-old, and someone practically threw themselves in front of me like a goddamn NFL linebacker in order to get in line first, I was like “yeesh, asshole city!”

It’s like the world’s population consists of just two kinds of people: assholes and non-assholes.

Once in a while, you get lucky and come upon the non-assholes. I like those days.

I like the days when when I walk into a shopping mall and someone jumps ahead to grab the door and open it for me and my awkward, bulky double-stroller.  I like when I’m at the pediatrician’s office and I’m checked in by the sweet receptionist who smiles at my kids and offers them SpongeBob and Dora stickers, instead of by the miserable teenager who clearly hates her job and sneers at my babies like the spawn of Satan that she is.

I like when I’m driving and people kindly let me merge into their lane when mine is closing, instead of slamming on the gas like Speedy Gonzalez with a drivers license just to not let me in for NO REASON AT ALL.  There’s a special spot in hell for those kinds of assholes, by the way.

I liked it when I used to commute to work on an express bus and a person would get a call on their cell phone, and they would speak in a low whisper or, even better, hang up and promise to call back when they got off the bus.

I like the words “thank you.”  I love to hear them and I don’t think people say them nearly enough.  It’s such a simple phrase, yet I can’t count how many doors I’ve held open, how many cars I’ve let go ahead of me, how many sneezing strangers I’ve blessed, without receiving even the simplest form of gratitude.  It’s truly mind-boggling.

I also enjoy the words “excuse me.”  They are, incidentally, very simple to say.  Assholes of the world, please try saying them with me.  It won’t take more than a moment.  “Excuse me.”  There.  You assholes CAN say it.  So the next time you feel like charging onto the subway like a fucking bull in a china shop, try uttering that very simple phrase instead of proceeding to be the animal that you are.  I lost a shoe on some train tracks in Brooklyn a few years ago on my way to work because of an asshole like you, and I will never get over it.  Yes, seriously.  That happened to me.  Stupid asshole kicked it right off my foot.  Not my best day.

Sometimes it seems like there aren’t any nice people left in the world.  Some days you just encounter one asshole after another, and you’re so fed up with the assholes around you that you think you may, someday soon, just turn into one yourself.  Maybe that’s how the world ended up with so many assholes in the first place.

But please don’t ever do that.  Please don’t ever become an asshole.  You’ll be letting the assholes win and you must NEVER LET THE ASSHOLES WIN.

Where is Larry David when you need him??

Where is Larry David when you need him??

Believe it or not, my goal today is not to spread my disdain for those eternally plagued by asshole disease.  Such people are disliked widely enough all on their own without any of my help .  My goal is actually to celebrate the wonderful people among us who are not assholes AT ALL.  It is to give thanks to those who go about their day, every day, with no intention whatsoever of unleashing deliberate grief or anguish upon a single person they come across.

I wish to express my appreciation for those who always keep their nasty comments to themselves, who often go out of their way to make brighter the day of the people around them, who will express their own gratitude toward others who have been decent to them as well, and who never fail to follow the most basic, childhood lesson in morality that a shockingly large number of people seem to have long forgotten: always treat others the same way that you, yourself, wish to be treated.

I want to use my blogging platform today to give a big, hearty THANK YOU to the NICE people of the world. Your kindness, manners, and general awesomeness does not go unnoticed by everyone (contrary to how it often may feel).

And as for the rest of you?  Please stop being such assholes.

You know who you are 😉