An Open Letter to Netflix

netflixMy Dearest Netflix,

First I want to say thank you for seeing me through the many highly productive, wine-fueled television marathons I’ve come to cherish over the past few years. Thanks for catching me up on The Walking Dead when the rest of the world wouldn’t shut up about it. Thanks for introducing me to underappreciated gems like The United States of Tara and Raising Hope. Thanks for being my patch when I was weaning off The Office but couldn’t get Jim and Pam off the brain. Thanks for the parental control options that give me a reason to feel slightly less crappy about the kids binge-watching on their tablets while I get work done. Thanks for filling many a late-night hour with old rom-coms I’d almost forgotten and new ones I won’t publicly admit I’ve watched.

Basically, Netflix, you’re awesome.

You were awesome long before August 4, 2015. But a few days ago, when you announced that you’d be allowing your employees up to a year of unlimited maternity and paternity leave, you brought “awesome” to an unsurpassable level of fucking fantastic-ness.

A year of maternity and paternity leave. A year! Unheard of.

For me, this is a majorly sensitive subject. When I got pregnant with my son unexpectedly at the tender age of 25, just months after getting my first huge promotion, I promptly learned I was ineligible for paid maternity leave from the MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CORPORATION where I worked simply because I hadn’t signed up for short-term disability (because a baby is totally a disability, right?). My story gets uglier, but I won’t get into it. Let’s just say I don’t work there anymore.

My story aside, I’m writing today to simply say a heartfelt thank you, Netflix. And I think I speak for moms and dads everywhere in my praise….

Thank you from the mom who is forced to leave her child in the care of another, merely weeks after giving birth, because she can’t afford not to work.

Thank you from the moms who can’t afford to go back to work at all because child care is so damn expensive.

Thank you from the exhausted parent who often stumbles blearily into work on two hours of sleep after being up all night with a crying infant.

Thank you from the parent who is tired of missing milestone after milestone.

Thank you from the parent who wears guilt everyday like a pair of tired mom jeans.

Thank you from the parent who spends too many extra hours just commuting to work, wasting away precious time that should be spent with family.

Thank you from the parents who have opposite schedules, causing stress on their marriage because they never see each other.

Thank you from the mom who contemplates quitting every morning as she leaves for work.

Thank you from the parent who fights the urge to wake her sleeping children when she comes home at night, just to spend some time together.

Thank you from the mom who wonders how the bills will get paid if she is fired for taking yet another day off to care for her child.

You see, Netflix, although you can’t employ every parent in the nation, we thank you for leading by example. We thank you for setting a precedent, one that should have been in place for decades. We thank you for doing the one thing that other countries around the world already see as a no-brainer.

We thank you for proving what most other companies don’t have the balls, the decency, and the common sense to admit: there is NOTHING more important than family.

Signed,
One Grateful Mama

The Ten Super Moms I’ll Never Be (No Matter How Hard I Try)

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I’m just jumping right in today, as the title basically speaks for itself. Here we go!

  1. Super Healthy Mom – Her kids don’t have a clue what the hell gluten is, but they are terrified of it. She thinks Ronald McDonald is the spawn of Satan, and she’d rather die than be seen holding a Happy Meal. While her grocery bill is quadruple the size of a standard grocery tab, the three-acre, fully organic garden growing in her backyard keeps her away from the wicked, non-locally grown produce items desecrating the aisles of the nearby supermarket. Oh, and GMO’s are sure to be the cause of earth’s apocalypse. She told me so.
  2. Super Workout Mom – We all remember this chick, right? That horrid “what’s your excuse” woman? Shhh, I know, I know. I want to punch her in the face too. Thankfully, not all the Super Workout Moms are as bitchy as she is, but they do all seem to share a knack for making the rest of us feel like giant walking blobs of shit. Somehow, her post-pregnancy body is even better than her pre-pregnancy one. But it makes sense, since she’s a busy one: she lifts 100-pound CrossFit weights with just one pinky finger all weekend long, and she’s training for a 26-mile marathon every other day of the week. She’s got at least twenty pairs of those Lululemon yoga pants, which is good because she doesn’t ever take a day off. I guess I wouldn’t either, if my kids could play handball off my abs.
  3. Super Career Mom – People often ask this mom “HOW do you do it all?” but no one really knows the answer (maybe not even Super Career Mom herself). Somehow she balances a great career with being a great mom. I haven’t much to say about Career Mom, because her mysterious ability to be both a boss at work (literally) and also be a boss at home is seemingly impossible and somewhat mind-boggling. Yet somehow she does it. And she’s got the financial ability to purchase a decent home in 21st century America to show for it. Kudos.
  4. Super Clean House Mom – You know how you turn into a psychotic house-scrubbing maniac every time company is coming over? Well Super Clean House Mom is like that all the time, even without the looming threat of some snarky relative pointing out that the blades on the ceiling fan need to be vacuumed or whatever. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but this OCD mom’s BFF is probably her precious Swiffer Sweeper. Not a single speck of dirt occupies a surface in her home, and her family just seems to KNOW better than to leave their crap all over the place. I’d be impressed, if I weren’t so busy looking at my dusty fan blades.
  5. Super Well-Behaved Kids Mom – Is it positive reinforcement? Negative reinforcement? Is reinforcement even needed, or did she just win some kind of secret parenting lottery which granted her perfectly angelic children? Whatever it is, Super Well-Behaved Kids Mom is doing something right. Her kids clean their room, set the table, get good grades, say “please” and “thank you.” And they’ve NEVER sold one of their birthday gifts to a kindergarten classmate for five dollars (yes, my son did that). These kids are seriously flawless. Come to think of it, there’s actually a 50/50 chance that they’re aliens. If so, then they really need to head back to their home planet, because they’re making the rest of us look bad.
  6. Super PTA Mom – Super PTA Mom wants to change the world, one bake sale at a time. And thank goodness for that, because someone has to deal with all these pesky school politics and holiday fairs. Considering the fact that afternoon dismissal regularly conjures a social paralysis in me that I haven’t experienced since the first day of high school, it’s probably safe to say that not everyone is well-suited for such a job. Hats off to you, PTA Moms. Seriously.
  7. Super Fun Mom – If moms were government organizations, this chick would be the post office. Neither snow, nor hail, nor rain, nor sleet (or however the hell it goes) will keep this determined mama indoors with her kids. She’s at the park, the museum, the movies, the zoo, the amusement park, the NASA Space Station boarding a rocket ship for a family tour of the moon. She is, hands down, THE MOST FUN MOM EVER. The only video games her kids play are the ones where they all dance around the living room together, and I’m pretty sure she only owns a computer for the purpose of researching more fun shit to do. She kind of makes me hate fun.
  8. Super Friend Mom – This mom boasts a pretty impressive lineup of BFF’s, especially for someone at least a decade or two out of college. Her kids’ playdate schedule is booked solid thru next year, and she actually still talks to people ON THE PHONE. Like, just to say hi and stuff. Her stress levels are probably much lower than most because she does “girls night out” at least once a month (gasp!). She’s kind of like an adult reminder that the “popular girl” doesn’t always grow up to be a total loser after all (to the sad disappointment of wallflowers everywhere).
  9. Super Holiday Mom – She has the kids’ Halloween costumes purchased in August, Christmas shopping finished by September, and Easter baskets ready to go in February. She’s always at least one holiday ahead of everyone else. Her outdoor decorations seem to defy the laws of physics, with displays so dazzling they occasionally cause traffic accidents on her street. Her Elf on the Shelf has a more exciting life than most Hollywood celebrities, and every December you find yourself wondering if Super Holiday Mom’s husband is Santa Claus himself.
  10. Super Pregnant Mom – She’s nine months pregnant, wheeling a double stroller through the supermarket with one arm, and pushing a cart full of groceries with the other. To her, the giant round bump in her mid-section is nothing more than a mere mosquito bite. She accomplishes more in her third trimester of pregnancy than some people do in their entire life. It’s almost as though she doesn’t even realize there’s a person living inside her.
  11. Super Not Super At All Mom – I’m none of the above, as you might have guessed. I’ve certainly tried to be all of these moms at one time or another, but I’ve failed pretty epically every single time. It’s okay though. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Super Moms don’t really exist. A Super Mom is only “super” on the surface. Beneath the façade of awesomeness is a regular mom, like you and me, who is just as flawed as everyone else. It’s great to be inspired by her, but try not to be too envious. Super Jealous Mom is not a Super Mom at all. Now excuse me while I go attempt to practice what I preach.

Why Having “Only” One Kid Is Harder Than It Seems

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Recently a very sweet reader commented to me that she only has one kid, but can still really enjoy all the stuff I write about on my blog. ONLY one kid, she said.

My kids are about three years apart, so I had “only” one kid for a while myself, and let me tell you, having one kid is not necessarily easier than having two. It’s probably not even much easier than having a whole litter of ‘em, actually.

Now that I have two kids, a nice chunk of my day is admittedly spent prying my children off of one another, mediating arguments prompted by such pressing matters as whether it’s time to watch Princess Sofia or Scooby Doo and who gets to eat the last package of fruit snacks. But I have to say, in between those annoying moments of fighting, my home is constantly filled with the joyful sounds of children playing together. Frequent fits of giggles and shrieks of laughter, freckled by mischievous moments of quiet scheming, then followed by even more explosive laughter– these are the sweet, sweet sounds of siblings getting along. And to me, they’re some of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear.

I think that if you could bottle the blissful sound of children’s laughter, it might just cure every illness under the sun.

Just to clarify, I’m not implying that having one child will leave you with a dull, laughter-less home. Not at all. Every kid is hilarious in his or her own little way. But we do tip the laughter scale around here a lot more than we used to before my daughter came along.

Particularly for a new parent, caring for “only” one child can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world.  In fact, I was extremely depressed for most of the three years I spent as a mother of one child. The door would close in the morning as my husband headed off to work, and the seemingly endless hours of loneliness would begin. I’d look down at my little guy, and he’d look up at me, his eyes as big as his expectations for the day, and I knew that keeping him content for those long hours was all on me.

It’s a pretty big job, and not an easy one.

Fact: there is really only so much coloring, finger-painting, and shape-sorting you can do before you start to lose your ever-loving mind.

Some moms like to fill their toddler’s schedules with exciting play dates and Gymboree classes. And that’s great. But what about parents who, like I was, are new to their neighborhood and don’t have a ton of mommy friends with whom to set up playdates? And the Gymboree classes? Um, have you seen the pricetag on these freaking classes? I can roll a big ball around and sing The Wheels on the Bus to my kid at home for free, thankyouverymuch.

Another problem I had when my son was an only child was the sharing thing. At home, all of his precious toys were his and his alone. Without the frequent wails of “but it’s MY turn!” from a jealous sibling, sharing was a foreign concept to my little guy. So you can imagine that play dates were a BLAST back then. I’ve always found it an awkward situation when your kid has engaged in a knock-down, drag-out, tug-of-war match with another kid over some shitty toy, and the parents need to step in and encourage the angry toddlers to “take turns” with said shitty toy. Either no one listens and the match rages on until the toy is removed and both children are sulking, or the other kid hands it over and your kid ends up looking like the jerk. Nope, my kid was never the one to hand it over. Not back then, anyway.

So moms of “only” one child, do yourselves a favor and give a little (or a LOT) of credit where it’s due. Raising kids is tricky business, no matter how many you have.  Every type of parenting comes with its own set of challenges- one kid, two kids, ten kids, twins, triplets, whatever.  The bottom line is that you are raising a living, breathing, human being who is depending on YOU to keep him or her thriving and well, 24/7. It’s a big damn responsibility. And I think that, even for those parents raising a whole boatload of kids, we’re all just figuring out this parenting thing as we go.

Although for the record, I do NOT want a whole boatload of kids.

Doin’ My Working Mom Thang

If you’ve stopped by my blog in the past few weeks, you might have heard crickets chirping in place of the usual 1500+ words on what’s been pissing me off lately.  I promise I haven’t decided to call it a day on my little writing adventure.  Nor have I been vacationing in the Caribbean, in case you were wondering (and also don’t know me at all).

The truth is that I’ve crossed over to the other side, folks.  I’m going back to work.

As much fun as being a stay-at-home-mom has been (at times), I think it’s time for a change.  Those of you familiar with the six things I’m too broke to do will understand that I’ve simply come to a point where I’ve seen one Magic Kingdom picture too many.

So I’ve accepted a position at a wonderful company that allows its employees to maintain a flexible schedule in order to more easily balance time between work and family.  I feel extremely blessed to have stumbled upon such an amazing opportunity.  To my new boss, if you’re reading this:  you’re seriously awesome.  I really appreciate you giving this mama a chance.  And I swear I’m not just saying that because, well, you’re my boss and stuff.

Now that I’m doing my working mom thing (which I still kind of can’t even believe), I’ve been understandably distracted.  I started work about a week ago and my mind has been going a mile a minute ever since.  So, being the open book I am, I figured I’d share some of my (in the moment) first-week thoughts with you, in case you’re wondering how the transition is going.

  • Holy crap, I’m in an office.  There are only adults present.  And people are doing work—quietly. There are permanent markers and breakable picture frames very visibly displayed on desks barely two feet off the floor.   Nobody is crying, or whining, or asking for orange juice, or biting anyone.  I thought places like this only existed on TV.
  • Not only did I shower and do my hair this morning, but I also put on MAKEUP.  And then?  I put on pants.  No, not SWEATpants.  Real pants.  Pants!
  • I wonder what Big M is doing with Little D right now.  I hope they’re playing together.  No, wait.  I kind of hope she’s driving him crazy.   What do you do all day, my ass.
  • This is a lot different than my first day at my last big new job.  Last time, I went out afterward to celebrate with friends and drinks at the bar.  This time, I went food shopping afterward, then celebrated with an early bedtime and some herbal tea.  I’m a real wild woman in my 30’s.
  • What happens if my son’s school calls my phone and I don’t hear it?  Last time they called, it was to tell me that someone had hurled on him (yes, that happened).  Will he have to sit in a pool of some other kid’s upchuck until I finally look at my phone next time?  I better take it off of vibrate.  Not that people are vomiting on him left and right, but just in case…
  • How is it possible to miss my kids so much all day long, and then come home and still find myself anxiously awaiting their bedtime?  What kind of crap is that? Go away, mom guilt!
  • Pretty soon I’ll be less broke than I am now.  Woohoo!  I’m going to Disney World!  Which we’ve already established.  So…
  • I really need to update my blog.  My thousands of adoring readers must be wondering where I’ve been.  Ha!  Couldn’t even type that with a straight face.
  • This doesn’t actually feel real yet. I feel like I should be home right now, knee deep in dirty diapers and Doc McStuffins.
  •  I’m just gonna go ahead and say it.  I’m proud of myself.  It’s been tough saying goodbye to my babies every day, but I need to do this for me and for them too.  It would be great if I could just stay home with them, but this scraping-by thing is kinda bullshit.  So yea, I’m about to grab this working mom thing by the short-and-curlies and rock it out.  Go me.  Insert happy face here.

Slippers Vs. Stilettos: The Working Mom/Stay-At-Home-Mom Feud

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There’s a war going on out there, ladies, and it ain’t a pretty one.  Moms– awesome women who should always be united on the sippy cup front, who should stand together as one in all of the trials and tribulations of motherhood —are currently battling it out in a bitter feud so controversial that I almost didn’t want to weigh in.  Almost.

The working mom verses the stay-at-home-mom thing.  You know all about it, girls.  It’s a major source of tension between mamas these days.  From sisters to best friends, to strangers, to people who are closer on Facebook than they’ll ever be in real life, we are ALL guilty of it.  Whichever end of the rope you find yourself on, you can just go ahead and admit to having the occasional feelings of jealousy, animosity, resentment, and even actual anger for the other side at some point or another.  And it’s totally normal– it’s human nature.  The grass is always greener on the other side, right?  It’s hard not to sometimes wonder how that lush, green grass would look on your own weedy, toy-littered front lawn.

But before we allow this petty rivalry to continue, we should probably take a few steps in each other’s shoes for a moment just to see what life is like in the slippers—or stilettos – of the women we are often too quick to judge.

The stay-at-home mom has probably found herself on the business end of a nervous breakdown at least once or twice, brought on by a potentially lethal combination of neither seeing nor speaking to another adult for several weeks at a time and the 24/7, nonstop, earsplitting shrieks of a colicky infant all day and all night.  She is home ALL THE TIME, she hasn’t showered in days or worn anything but pajamas for a month, and all she hears from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes back to sleep is “mommy she’s hitting me,” and “mommy I want more juice,” and “mommy I peed on the couch again.” And if she sees ONE more fucking episode of Dora, she’s going to take that horrible, singing map and stick it so far up Swiper’s ass that he won’t be swiping anything again for a long, long time.  Yes, it’s a pretty lonely, exasperating life.

The working mom, on the other hand, is eternally plagued with stress and guilt.  There are assholes everywhere she goes trying to make her feel bad for doing something as basic as GOING TO WORK EVERYDAY, as though we live in some kind of utopian society where one measly income could effortlessly provide any family with everything they need.  And it’s not like there is some mathematical equation for balancing home and work and everything in between.  It’s not like she ENJOYS coming home to a messy house, the kids needing homework help at 8p.m.,then having to fold laundry until 11p.m., then waking up at the buttcrack of dawn the next day to chop vegetables for the stupid crockpot, so she is literally making everyone’s breakfast, lunch, AND dinner at the same time, and then sitting in rush hour traffic or next to some smelly person on the train for over an hour just to get to work and have some dickhead boss up her ass all day, making sure she isn’t Instagramming pictures of her kids instead of getting work done.  Does that sound fun to anyone?

I, myself, am actually kind of a work-at-home-mom these days, as I do freelance writing in between refilling juice cups and cleaning pee off the couch.  The amount of money I make doing it is practically laughable, but I can use all the help I can get with bills and writing experience, so I do it.  When I started, I thought that working from home was going to be the best of both worlds.  I can work but I don’t need to find a babysitter!  How awesome, right?  Um, not quite.  My daughter literally climbs on my head whenever I attempt to get work done, my son is always on my laptop playing computer games when I need to use it, and I usually have to wait until everyone is sound asleep to get anything remotely productive done, often finishing my work just a couple of hours before the kids will be awake.    

So you see, we need to understand that we are ALL amazing women, and we’re just striving to do the best we can with the hand that life has dealt to us.  If you are familiar with me and my blog, you know that I’m rarely serious about anything.  But I take this seriously because I am so incredibly tired of seeing women tear each other down over something that doesn’t even need to be an issue.  I don’t go to “work” every day, but so what?  Sometimes I’m happy about it, other times not at all.  But that’s my life, my decision, and no one’s business but my own.  The same goes for each and every one of you in the decision you have made for yourselves.

And as frustrating as the working-from-home gig can be, it’s allowed me to see things from the other perspective.  It’s given me a chance to see how stressful, exhausting, frustrating, debilitating, and downright miserable ALL of these situations can be.  But it’s also proven what I’ve known to be true all along:  that being a mom is insanely difficult, no matter what you do for a living.  It doesn’t matter if you have a job, a career, a business to run, a house to run, or maybe some hectic, hybrid version of it all.  Because, at the end of the day, there’s a good chance that the hardest thing you will EVER do is something that we are all doing— raising children.

Can’t we all at least agree on that?