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 😉

Six Things I’m Too Broke To Do For My Kids (But It Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Mom)

I’m not rich.  Far from it.  I’m not like running to the bank to file for bankruptcy or taking up residence in a station wagon or anything like that, but we have to meet up with a lot of ends around here or whatever it is they say about people who are broke.  I’ll put it this way, as my late grandfather would always say: if thieves came and robbed my house, all they’d get is practice.

Unfortunately, there are a few things I see a lot of other parents doing all the time that I have to skimp on for my own kids.  I can’t help but feel kind of shitty about it, but I don’t think I’m a shitty mom because of it. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Have professional photos taken — I love professional pictures.  Look, that baby fits in a basket!  Wow that little girl is holding a flower in a field full of…flowers!  Professional pictures ARE adorable, and people should do it at least once, if they can.  Not for every single holiday (Christmas, Easter, ok.  Halloween, alright.  Fourth of July, pushing it.  Valentines Day, really?).  And certainly please do not send out the pictures on little fridge magnets.  My own kids aren’t even on my fridge, do you really think yours will be?  But this photography stuff is expensive.  I have tons of family photo albums that are jam-packed with pictures of my kids doing everything from opening Christmas gifts, and mashing birthday cake in each others’ faces, to posing in front of the tiger cage at the zoo.  And guess who took the pics? ME.  Guess what else? Didn’t cost me more than the price of getting them printed out at Walgreens.  Kind of a win.

Go on big vacations —  I wish I could take my kids to Disney.  I really do.  My son would probably shit his pants if he ever saw a life-size version of Lightning McQueen.  And now that social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are all the rage, it feels like EVERYONE is taking their kids to the happiest place on earth but me. I can’t lie, my heart breaks a little every time someone posts that pic of their kids with the Magic Kingdom in the background because I’m not sure that will ever be my own kids in that iconic picture.  But I can’t say that we don’t still try to do fun vacations in our price range.  We do road trips and we’ve stayed in hotels and we do what we can.  I try to remind myself that these kids won’t remember more than three seconds of any family vacation once they are older.  Maybe that’s true, maybe that’s not.  Either way, they can still see Mickey Mouse like twenty times a day on the Disney channel if they want.  Good enough for now.

Whatever.

Whatever.

Own a house —  I don’t own a home.  I live in an apartment.  Not in a swanky, retro urbanite, New York City apartment kind of way.  In a my-mother-in-law-is-my-landlord, Staten Island quasi-suburban kind of way.  I’ve never lived anywhere but New York so I don’t know what houses go for in other parts of the country, but the average price of a home around here is like over a half million dollars.  I couldn’t even afford the down payment for a shack… in a neighborhood where I’d have to carry weapons with me to do my food shopping.  I do live in a nice neighborhood, though, which is a plus.  But when my kids do play dates I rarely find myself returning the invite because, well, these people have playrooms the size of my entire apartment and I don’t want my kids to get a complex or anything.  My son recently told me that he would ask a genie for a new house if he had three wishes, and in my head I was like “ditto!”  But in my heart I can’t help but think these slightly humble beginnings will motivate him to work a little harder for what he wants in life, and to show a little more appreciation for what he has.

Purchase organic everything — This one drives me nuts, because it’s such BULLSHIT that we live in a world where you can only give your family the very best if you have the money to do so.  I have a budget to at least attempt to stick to when I go food-shopping, and that fancy gluten-free shit just ain’t fitting in it.  Sure, I’ve seen the thousands of Facebook posts about the GMO’s making our grandchildren infertile, and the pesticides that are causing cancer in lab rats, and the pink slime vomit-inducing grossness in the chop meat, and the cheap, toxic, made-in-china plastic that’s in all the toys, and all the dyes and chemicals and harsh parabens and nitrates and glutens and sulfites and bisphenol A and the goddamn TRAGHEROPASTICVICBNINTITESICIDES that are all slowly killing us and straight up murdering the environment.  I KNOW THIS.  But you know what else I’m PAINFULLY aware of?  The fact that I CAN’T AFFORD TO DO SHIT ABOUT IT.  For me, only buying organic versions of everything is NOT best for my family.  Know why?  Because of these other little things I need to also afford in my daily life.  I call them necessities.  Like clothing, gas, and, um, BILLS.  Look, I still try to always feed everyone healthy meals with lots of fruits and veggies and all that good crap.  I really do.  Someone might grow an extra pair of hands out of their kneecaps or something, but at least no one is getting obese on my watch.  No way.

Pass on the hand-me-downs — Hand me downs are great.  You know why?  Because they are free.  Really, that’s the only reason.  There’s no experience more humbling than jumping for joy when you suddenly locate an article of clothing with a tag still attached after pulling out fifteen spit-up stained onesies in a row.  Even if the tag is attached to a hideous, misshapen, green sweater that’s two sizes too big (that tag was still there for a reason).  It isn’t like I don’t appreciate the stuff, because believe me, I definitely do.  For the record, I give away my kids’ old clothes all the time (sometimes even spit-up stained onesies and all).  But who doesn’t love the new stuff?  The stuff you got to pick out all by yourself?  There are no ugly, misshapen sweaters in those bags.  There is something positively euphoric about holding shopping bags full of brand new clothing.  Even when it’s for the kids.  Hell, especially when it’s for the kids (I’m usually walking around town in Old Navy’s frumpy fall line from several years ago, so clearly I’ve given up on myself).  Thankfully, my son only notices his outfit if it includes dinosaurs or Ninja Turtles of some sort, so I still have some time before clothing is an issue.  Phew.

Throw big birthday parties every year —  I don’t understand how people afford these big birthday parties for their kids. It baffles me.   My daughter’s second birthday is coming up and I’m currently researching ways to entertain fifteen kids in a small apartment without committing suicide in the process.  Why?  Because unlike these so-called party places, I won’t charge myself five hundred bucks to walk around looking miserable and hand out cold pizza to whiny children for two hours at a time.  And then give everyone a stomach virus to take home with their goody bags at the end.  Screw that.

I love my kids, and I’d do anything for them.  In a perfect world, I’d live in a giant mansion adorned with professional photos of my kids wearing brand new, organic clothing, and standing next to Mickey and Minnie outside Cinderella’s castle.  But life isn’t pefect, and all the wealth in the world won’t make it that way.

I spend time with my kids.  We laugh, we play, we cuddle, we learn, we sing, we dance, we’re together. And we do what we can with what we have.  I think, even in a perfect world, that’s really all that matters.

Things I Needed to Know at Sixteen

I recently stumbled across a post by another blogger that was basically a letter of advice to her own teenage self.  I loved this idea so much that I’m stealing it for my own blog.  I don’t know if this is a major no-no in the blogging community, as I’m fairly new here, but they do say imitation is the highest form of flattery.  So you’re welcome!

Here is a list of things I wish I could go back in time and say to the sixteen year old version of me, even though I was so brainless and immature back then that I probably wouldn’t have heeded advice from myself.

Little Ms. Clueless

Little Ms. Clueless

  1. Boys suck.  You have better things to do than chase around some idiot boy who DEFINITELY thinks of only one thing when he’s with you.  Stop dedicating every sappy Celine Dion song you hear to this seventeen-year-old asswipe– because he’s probably working out the muscles in his right hand over a stack of old Playboys he found in his basement while you’re home crying into your Discman that you are his lady, and he is your man, and whenever he reaches for you, you’ll do all that you can.  Um, GAG.
  2. Stop complaining about having big boobs.  It makes other girls want to smack you.  Not every girl is blessed with a perky set of 34D’s, you know.  Someday they’ll be nothing more than a saggy nuisance that gives you bad posture and backaches, so enjoy them now while you can.
  3. Drinking is kind of fun; hangovers are kind of not.  One is almost always followed by the other.  Remember this the first time you force down a gross-tasting swig of cheap, corner-store beer because that asswipe from #1 told you it was a good idea.
  4. Every time you feel embarrassed by something, just be grateful that there is no such thing as a camera phone in 1998.  Otherwise, pictures from the time you sat in a puddle of chocolate milk (think about it…) might have found their way to the internet by now. Oh, the internet?  It’s like America Online times a thousand—and it will eventually replace reality.
  5. Soak up every single note and lyric of 90’s music; music will never be this awesome again.  Someday you’ll publicly karaoke the shit out of some Juicy by the Notorious B.I.G. and you will thank me.
  6. You are beautiful.  No, seriously, you are.  You don’t seem to think so, which is so absurd I could barf, but you really are.  Your insecurity is the ugliest thing about you.
  7. Try to find some friends who make you feel amazing, ones who are real and honest and who truly understand you, and then hold onto those friendships as long as you can.  You probably won’t ever hear from the rest of your friends again after high school.  Well, not until this thing called Facebook comes along and makes you realize most of those other people are either crazy or really, really dumb.  Or both.
  8. Sweaters and bell-bottom jeans ARE sexy; so keep right on wearing them every day.  Luckily, you belong to a generation that neither applauds nor respects women who walk around with their private parts hanging out of their itsy bitsy clothing.
  9. Figure out what you want to be when you grow up.  You think you still have so much time to decide, but you’re on the cusp of adulthood and you need to have dreams RIGHT NOW.
  10. Don’t be discouraged by jaded adults who never got to be what they wanted when they grew up.  They’ll say bullshit things like “you won’t make money doing this,” or “there is so much competition in that.”  They failed because either something got in the way or they just didn’t try hard enough.  They’re a bunch of ignorant assholes, and their failure shouldn’t obstruct your success.
  11. There is no such thing as “good sex” for a teenage girl.  It’s risky, it usually hurts, it won’t make your boyfriend like you more, and you won’t even really be sure why you agreed to do it in the first place.  Sounds old-fashioned, but you need to wait until you are ready.  Here’s a hint, you’ll be neither ready nor dating a person who actually deserves you for a VERY long time.
  12. Study more.  Good grades will help you get into a good college, which will help you get a good job, which will help you buy all the Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and Polo Sport bags you could ever want.  Not that those will be the craze for too much longer—soon you will meet your very first Coach bag and it will be love at first sight.  Speaking of which, you might also want to work on toning down that pricey obsession with bags and purses now, or it won’t be long before you start dropping several paychecks at a time on something that merely hangs off your shoulder and holds keys and tampons.
  13. But seriously, study a lot.  Being smart is A LOT cooler than you think. Hell, it’s even sexy.  Like really, really, extremely sexy.  If you have to quit your afterschool job selling cookies at the mall (which is currently funding your bag obsession) to study more, then do it.   One day, you might even become the type of person who watches Jeopardy every night and gets a lot of right answers.  Oh, and you might have a great job too.
  14. Get closer with your family.  You share both a home and a bloodline with these people.  Sure, it’s important that you voice your concern over who spends the most time in the bathroom every morning or who ate the last toaster waffle, but that shouldn’t be the ONLY thing you ever talk about with them.   After all, no one ever says “I wish I had never been so close with my parents when I was growing up.”
  15. Be yourself.  In the words of the great Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.”  You need to be who you are and stop giving a shit what other people think.  Those people don’t care about you, and they never will.

Sorry for going all afterschool special for a while there (do they still make those???), but the teenage me REALLY needed to get a clue.

Spoiler alert: She did, eventually.  But it took a long damn time.

I guess maybe I’ll save this list for when Little D is 16.  Although I’m not sure that bell bottom jeans will be back in style by then.

A Letter to Women Who Look Amazing ALL THE TIME

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Dear Lucky Bitches,

I am writing to ask that you unveil the location of the magic button you press each day which enables you to instantaneously become impeccably-dressed and fabulous-looking on the spot.  You know what I’m talking about.  That button keeping you from ever leaving the house with a hair out of place or a visible smear of toddler snot on your collar?  Don’t shake your freshly blown-out, perfectly highlighted head in denial.  I know you are hiding that button somewhere.  Maybe on the night table next to your skin cream?  Or in the closet above your Jimmy Choo shelf?  Hidden under a pile of Gucci purses? In the makeup drawer behind your infinite lipstick collection?

I know it’s there, and I WILL find it.

It has to be there.  There’s just no other way you can leave your house every day sparkling and glowing like a freaking vampire from Twilight.

Is that what it is?  Are you a vampire?

I just don’t know how you do it.  I mean, I’m lucky if I make it through the whole day without getting peanut butter on my pants, a coffee stain on my shirt, partially covered in dog hair and smelling like cooked onions and olive oil.  And it’s a miracle if I’m not already in my pajamas by 6 pm.

Hell, if I’m still wearing my bra at that time then it’s been one humdinger of a day.

Even on those occasions special enough to warrant makeup application and, dare I say, high heels, it usually isn’t very long before mascara is blotching, hair is frizzing, feet are swelling, and lipstick is merely a smudge of what it used to be.

So if there really is no magic button, then what the hell is it?  Do you employ a live-in staff of stylists, hairdressers, and makeup artists?  Or are you secretly a princess from a foreign land?  A distant relative of Kate Upton, maybe?  A fem-bot, perhaps? A human freaking Barbie doll???

Please stop denying it.  You know who you are.  You walk around as though your children don’t occasionally wipe ketchup or mucus on your sleeve, or spill juice boxes and sippy cups down your shirt.  Your permanently manicured hands have never washed a single dish, and I know your closet must be the size of my entire apartment because, I swear, you’ve NEVER worn the same outfit twice.

Do you even OWN a pair of sweatpants?

All I’m asking for is your secret.  I have neither the time nor the patience for tiresome daily beauty rituals.  I can’t be bothered fishing through my closet in search of the perfect outfit for picking my son up from school, and I don’t know which shade of blush will accurately match my flushed cheeks after multiple trips carrying heavy groceries in from the car.  As much as I relish the thought of turning heads at the bank’s ATM or Dunkin Donuts or maybe even Kmart, I just cannot muster the effort it will take to achieve such a thing.

Look, I apologize for calling you a bitch (I actually said lucky bitch) at the beginning of this letter.  But, the thing is, you’re making me look bad.  Like, really bad.  If we were Kardashians, I’d surely be Khloe.  And if you’re Penny, then I’m Amy Farrah Fowler (hello, Big Bang Theory reference—if you have time to primp, then you have time for one of the best shows on TV, dammit).

So listen, maybe there is no button.  Maybe you aren’t really a fem-bot or a vampire, or a goddamn Disney princess in the flesh.  Maybe you are a regular chick who just happens to ALWAYS look like her shit is totally perfect and together– 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  And if so, good for you!  That’s quite a feat.

But I’m going to need you to take it down a few notches, okay?  Take one for the team.  Please?  Because the rest of us NORMAL PEOPLE don’t have the ability to look like we stepped off the set of a movie at all times.  And that shit just isn’t fair.

If not for me, then do it for your family.  Cut the routine down by an hour or two and go read a book to your kid or bake some muffins instead.  Maybe even try washing a dish.  Your family will thank you.

And, more importantly, so will I.

Sincerely,

A Not-So-Lucky Bitch

Baby Gift Do’s and Don’ts, or Why New Parents Can Buy Their Own Diapers

I love the heck out of my sweet babies, but I don’t want any more of them. I’m done. As much fun as it is to make bottles all day and lose sleep and go broke and have no life at all, I think I’ll pass on number three. Gosh, I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself. What’s today’s date, anyway….?

Unlike me, the majority of my friends know how to use birth control properly. So while I’ve been up to my elbows in dirty diapers for over five years now, most of them are relatively new to it or haven’t even begun their adventures in permanent babysitting yet. Like many people my age, I find myself frequenting baby showers all year long.

Since I’m not planning to have any more kids, the whole baby thing is going to be a distant memory soon. So I’m putting my two cents in on baby gifts now while I still know what I’m talking about. Who knows? In a few years maybe they’ll invent a changing table that actually changes the freaking baby for you. Then obviously all of my gift suggestions will be obsolete. Until that day comes, however, refer to the list below for my two cents worth of the five best baby gift “do’s” and five worst baby gifts “don’ts.”

Disclaimer: if you ever purchased a gift featured on my “don’ts” list for me, then I apologize in advance for this reality check. I did give pause before writing this blog because I don’t want to come off unappreciative or bratty to anyone. But I think people expect (and deserve) only the most brutal honesty from my blogs. So sorry, I gotta give the people what they want!

Truthfully, I barely even still remember who got me what. I may not have even known to begin with. Pregnancy brain + a baby shower spent distractedly opening a smorgasbord of baby gifts while suppressing the urge to scarf down every plate of food in the room and then lie down on the nearest couch to take a long nap = how on earth am I going to write a bunch of personalized thank you cards after this? Brutal honesty, remember…..

Can I go eat now?

Can I go eat now?

Conversely, if you ever purchased any of the gifts off the “do’s” list for me, please disregard my last statement. I totally remember everything. Loved the gift; thanks, um, whoever you are!

Also, you’ll notice I haven’t listed any large or expensive gifts. If there’s a $400 car seat or rocking chair or baby monitor on a registry and you’re the proud grandma-to-be, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Go ahead and whip out that AmEx, granny. It’s spoiling time.

Baby Gift Don’ts:

1. Bath Robes – Yes, they are cute. Sometimes the hoods are shaped like little duck beaks or crocodile mouths, and they come with little green and yellow matching fuzzy slippers. Adorable, right? Wrong. Because a baby can’t look cute in something he NEVER wears. Nobody uses those stupid robes! Like any sane person is going to shove some wiggling, slippery infant into an annoying terrycloth robe thingy with arms and slippers and a damn tie around the waist, when you can just throw a towel around him and get it the hell over with.

2. Handmade Blankets – It’s about the sentiment, and I do get that. You’ve poured blood, sweat, and several hours of soap opera watching or subway riding into knitting the perfect, colorful, homemade baby blanket for someone’s little bundle of joy. But I have some bad news for you, Martha Stewart. You could have saved yourself a lot of time and carpal tunnel syndrome by simply marching into a Babies R Us and grabbing a package of brightly colored onesies. Because, unlike your slightly itchy blanket, those onesies will actually be worn regularly. And no one is going to feel like shit throwing them out when they’re no longer being used.

I know it sounds harsh, and occasionally you do get one you really like. Even I have ONE that I love from an old coworker whose sweet grandmother knitted my son a blanket that matched the colors of my then-deployed husband’s cammies. It would be a cold day in hell before I ever got rid of that blanket. See? I do have a heart. But seriously, don’t make a blanket for anyone. It’s really not likely to tug on anyone’s heartstrings (unless their husband is away at war or something).

3. Wrong Season/Size Baby Clothes – Little D was born at the beginning of the winter, after we had a particularly cold and snowy winter the year before. So it was no surprise that I received several snowsuits before I had her. By several, I mean FIVE. It ended up being one of the warmest winters on record here in NYC and we saw not a single inch of snow that whole year.

But I actually liked the snowsuits; they were cute and Little D did wear some of them. What I found strange was the fact that one of the snowsuits I received was a size 6-9 months. I was due at the end of November, so six months later was….. April. Nine months later…. July. Didn’t need to be a math genius to figure out that the baby wasn’t going to need a thick, fleece snowsuit at the end of spring.

For the record, I ended up donating all of those snowsuits to Hurricane Sandy victims. There’s that I heart I told you about again!

4. Infant shoes – Fact: infants don’t walk. Fact (sort of): most infants don’t like having shoes on their feet anyway. Baby shoes are good for pictures, for the first ten minutes of a party, or maybe for a trip to grandma’s house. And also for ending up in the lost-and-found at shopping malls. But that’s it. Besides, there is not a pair of shoes on earth that is cuter than a pair of tiny baby feet. Free those little piggies, I say!

5. Diapers – I know a box of diapers seems like the most practical gift ever. Babies need LOTS AND LOTS of diapers, right? How can you go wrong? Aren’t they little shit machines? Perhaps, but no baby needs multiple mega-super-giant boxes of newborn diapers. Even if a baby really poops ten times a day for their whole first month of life, that’s still only about 300 diapers. Those huge newborn diaper boxes can contain over 200 diapers each (there’s that pesky math again). Don’t ever buy anyone newborn diapers. Or even size one or size two, for that matter. Actually, just don’t buy diapers at all. Babies outgrow their diapers faster than you can say “I changed the last one, babe!” Leave the diaper-buying to the people who know how big their kid’s ass really is, and go buy a boppy pillow or something instead.

Baby Gift Do’s:

1. Sippy Cups – Seems so simple and easy to buy sippy cups as a gift, or at least as an add-on to a gift. Yet people rarely seem to do it. Kids use sippy cups much longer than baby bottles. I admit that Little M is five and still uses them. You might think that’s a bad idea, but I think my couch has less orange juice stains than yours. So there. Now go buy someone a sippy cup.

And make sure it’s Disney, because they always have only two pieces to wash. You’re welcome, if you didn’t know that little tidbit of info already.

2. Books/Toys/DVD’s – This is another one I don’t see enough of. The mom-to-be will receive at least five of those little play mats or gyms or whatever Fisher Price is calling them these days, but the baby will probably spend fifteen total minutes laying like a blob on the floor and staring blankly up at the spinning octopus light or flapping butterfly wings before space in the house gets tight and the useless things end up in storage for the next kid to never use. Save the $75 they audaciously charge for a glorified floor mat and buy some Little Einstein toys that the baby will actually enjoy playing with eventually.

Books are great too. It might shock you because I rarely give myself an ounce of credit as a decent parent, but I am a huge advocate of introducing books as early as possible. My baby shower for Little D was actually book-themed. I’m kind of a book nerd. Well, I was before I had kids (and this blog) and had time to read, as well as the ability to get through a whole page without falling asleep immediately. But I think books are straight up awesome and kids should always have a bunch of them at home. I definitely don’t read to my kids as often as I should (and there goes my parenting credit), but I do know that it’s pretty helpful when you do.

Oh, and DVD’s also make really good gifts. I love me some Laurie Berkner, she is the true baby whisperer. If you’ve never heard of her and have a baby around that occasionally needs some shutting up, check her out. She’s like musical Benadryl for babies.

3. Baby Wipes – Diapers are a no-no, but baby wipes are a yes-yes. I’m not telling you to go gift-wrap a box of baby wipes or anything, but if you do I can promise that your gift will be more useful than about 80% of the other shit the mom-to-be will get at her shower. Just add the wipes to your gift or toss them in the wishing well. Or screw it, buy a giant box at Costco and wrap it up after all. She won’t be disappointed. It’s impossible to have too many baby wipes; see here for more of my thoughts on that.

4. Quality Thermometer – This is another underrated item that will be used over and over again for years to come. No mom should ever be without a really great thermometer. Kids are germy little virus-transmitters who get sick like a hundred times per year. If the thermometer on the registry is not the best model in the store, go ahead and buy her the better one anyway. She can just return the shitty one. In my experience, crappy thermometers are always breaking or giving the wrong temperature when you really need them to be accurate. Mom-to-be will thank you someday when her kid’s head feels so hot you could bake a casserole on it.

5. Pajamas – I am one pajama-lovin’ mama. I’m a firm believer that pajamas are always a perfect gift for anybody, young or old. And babies? Are in pajamas ALL THE TIME. I mean, if it were socially acceptable to walk around in footie pajamas, wouldn’t you wear them all the time too? Sure, it’s fun to dress the baby up in one of her 2,000 adorable outfits just to run to the pharmacy for more diaper cream and Diet Coke, but those pj’s are just going right back on within ten minutes of coming home. Basically, pajamas are cheaper than regular clothes and will be used wayyyyy more; it’s a total win-win.

So there you have it, my baby gift do’s and don’ts list. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I missed something? Are pissed because you gave me a handmade baby blanket once? Leave a comment and let me know!