Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Parenting in Public Is About 75% Nodding And Smiling

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

When you are in a public or semi-public space with your child/ren, people are going to talk to you about those children. And when strangers talk to you in public, they have a tendency to say some really stupid things. Try to remember that 99.99999% of the time they are just talking to you because you are there and their mouths are capable of forming words. I am an expert at having people talk to me because I haven’t yet learned the art of making absolutely no eye contact. Also, my children like strangers (I’m pretty sure they were switched at birth. All of them. Individually.)  So when Grandma Grabbyhands starts petting Caroline’s hair, instead of screaming “STOP TOUCHING ME STRANGE LADY”, Caroline insists on chatting about how she’s four and a half and loves horses and goes to school and one time on the bus her friend Michael threw up right on the floor.

Here is a brief list of things strangers might say to you in public that make you do the slow double blink. Remember, none of these things are personal. They would probably say them to a brick wall if the wall appeared to be listening:

  • Calling your boy a girl or your girl a boy. Your beautiful little girl could be wearing a pink, sparkled, ruffled gown with high heels and full make-up, her long curly hair braided and tied in bows and holding a giant flashing sign that says “I AM A GIRL”…and some lady at the grocery store is still going to say “He’s so sweet, what’s his name?” I promise this is not what is going to send your kids to therapy, so just smile a nod and say “Matilda Jane”. Then you can laugh and point as she struggles to comprehend why you would name your son Matilda. Or maybe don’t laugh and point, just stick with the smiling and nodding.
  • Saying “Wow, you sure have your hands full!” You probably, literally, do not. Most parents I know cannot parent without at least one free hand so we have found a whole list of ways to keep them available: babywearing, carts, strollers, leashes, whatever. This is just stranger-talk for “I see you have some small children in your vicinity”. Non-responses to this comment include: “Yep, children are a blessing”, “I sure do!”, “Really, it’s not so bad” or the perennial favorite: JAZZ HANDS while you nod and smile.
  • Making completely arbitrary comments over your child’s physical attributes that are probably wrong. Someone looks at your child who is in the 3rd percentile for height and says “She’s so tall!” Or they see your 99th percentile in the grocery store and say “What a little peanut!”. These are just words people are saying because they want to make a comment. They might as well  say “She is wearing blue!” or “Your baby has feet!” Unless you are at a medical doctor during a medical doctor appointment and it’s the medical doctor who looks at your very small child and says “What a chub!”, do not react. Nod and smile.
  • Asking you if the baby is sleeping through the night. THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION. They do not care if your baby is sleeping through the night. What they want to do is tell you about their baby or their cousin’s baby or their hairdresser’s nephew’s mailman’s baby who either a) started sleeping through the night at 4 days old, b) still doesn’t sleep through the night at 10 years old, or c) refused to take this stranger’s advice and now their baby is broken. Do not waste your time forming a truthful and accurate answer. They are not listening. Just said “Mostly!” and then nod and smile during what is sure to be a fascinating story.
  • Giving you ridiculous or outdated advice. Again, unless it’s your pediatrician telling you a little Jack Daniels is the perfect cure for teething pain, nod and then smile and then nod some more to disguise the fact that your eyeballs just rolled out of your head. (If it is your pediatrician, may I gently suggest you look for a new one?) These people will insist that they raised children who have survived to adulthood, which means you should do everything they did or your children will diiiiiiiie.


I know it can be really really hard to simply nod and smile all the time. When the people doing these things are inescapable – because you are trapped next to them on a bus or because you live with them – it is incredibly frustrating. But I promise you, 90% of the time they are not being malicious, they are just talking because at some point human beings evolved the ability to speak and they are afraid if they don’t use that ability as much as possible they will lose it.

Nod and smile. Nod and smile.

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Several Truths And One Big Lie About Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I did not have an excellent Mother’s Day. I’m not saying that to make my family feel bad or shame anyone. I’m saying that because there’s a pretty good chance YOU didn’t have an excellent Mother’s Day either and I want you to know you’re not alone. Those perfect, smiling, happy families on Instagram and Twitter probably didn’t have flawless Mother’s Days either. They might have had a very nice day. A spectacular day. But it was not perfect – perfect is the lie. Kids – even kids big enough to understand the concept of Mother’s Day – don’t stop being kids just because it’s the second Sunday in May. Not once has saying “But it’s Mother’s Day!!” to a tantruming child solved the problem. They do not suddenly stop being tired or hungry or frustrated and pull a bouquet of flowers out from behind their back and say “Oh dear mother, I had simply forgotten! Shall I fetch you a coffee or a glass of wine?” If that is your life, Mother’s Day or not, I hate you.

The problem as I see it is that Mother’s Day is supposed to be Special and things that are supposed to be Special just lead to disappointment. That is why women become bridezillas about their One Special  Wedding Day and freak out that every single second doesn’t go according to plan. The pressure of that ONE DAY is just too much. Mother’s Day is the ONE DAY a year we are supposed to be indulged and pampered and appreciated above ALL the other days. Sleeping in and breakfast in bed and champagne brunch and a family picnic and a manicure and a relaxing nap and a romantic dinner date and a thoughtful gift and a homemade card and flowers and a bottle of wine. If you family really loves you, they will do all of that. Except no, they won’t. And even if you don’t really need them to…even if you try really really hard to keep your expectations super low…even if you say “I will be happy if all I get is a card the kids made at school”…it’s hard to stare into the face of social expectations and be OK with not having a perfect day.

I actually would have had a pretty good Sunday if it had just been a Sunday. I got to lie in bed for an extra hour. My husband picked up lunch for all of us. I got to buy and plant flowers with the kids. And we finished the day by having s’mores for dinner on the newly cleaned patio. But I also did laundry and dishes and changed diapers and made decisions (ugh, DECISIONS) and dealt with tantrums and took the kids with me to run errands and bought paper towels. I really didn’t want to have to buy paper towels on Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day. I want to be a dad on a regular Sunday. I’m making generalizations here for the sake of simplicity, but in my social circle moms are almost always the default parent; the one the kids go to first for everything no matter who is closer/more available at that moment. On Mother’s Day, I want to be the dad. The fun parent. I want to say “Everyone jump in the car, we’re getting ice cream!” and not worry about if it’s too close to dinner or if we need to stop at the grocery store later to pick up stuff for school lunch the next day. The fun parent pees alone. The fun parent has time to read a book or a magazine or the back of a cereal box without being interrupted. The fun parent doesn’t always have one ear open for children’s whines or screams or cries or problems or squabbles 24 hours a day. The fun parent says “We’re out of mustard” into the fridge and, magically, mustard appears 24 hours later.

And then MAYBE on Mother’s Day all of us default parents will get a card and a bouquet and a nap not because it’s our One Special Day but because the fun parent wants to do something to acknowledge being a mom is kind of a tough job.

But since I am not a monster, I did in fact enjoy many parts of my Mother’s Day. The big kids – Caroline especially – remembered it was Mother’s Day and reminded me constantly I was supposed to be having The Best Mother’s Day Ever. There were s’mores. And now whenever we sit on the front steps for the bus we can admire the flowers we planted, together.

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She said the plants needed love to grow.

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Just A Mommy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
caroline dressed as a mommy-8

Mommy uniform: Messy bun, cardi, statement necklace, leggings, boots, phone in her purse, camera and of course, her Baby Jesus.


A few weeks ago, my daughter had a career day at school. When I asked her what she wanted to be, I was only half listening, since in my head I was trying to figure out what dress up we could repurpose as “Doctor” or “President” or “Nobel Peace Prize Winner”.

“A MOMMY!” she shouted.

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years now. I wipe tushies and noses and hands. I do laundry, then some more laundry, then do all the laundry again. I take kids to ballet and swim and doctor’s appointments and baby signs and birthday parties. I cut coupons and make lists and menu plans and 12 trips to the grocery store and then still end up serving tacos and spaghetti two nights a week.

I wear a lot of yoga pants.

“Oh,” I said. “A mommy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to be something else AND a mommy?? You don’t have to be JUST a mommy.”

I flinched when I said it. The words floated out of my mouth and hung right in front of my face where I thought about how it was a stupid thing to say. I know better.

Being a mom isn’t just keeping children alive – although some days that is all I seem to manage. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we have to raise them up and impart everything we know into their empty heads. We are turning small squishy lumps of need into tiny humans who then turn into actual real humans and grow up to be, well, everything. We teach patience because one day they’ll need it while discovering the gene that cures cancer. We teach kindness because one day they might build hospitals for villages in need. We teach the alphabet so they can write the great American novel. We clean up a zillion finger paint messes so they can become great artists. Someone right now is wiping the butt of a future president.

I want Caroline to know that she has the option to be whatever she wants when she grows up, especially right now when she’s capable of dreaming about future careers without worrying about their practicality. I remember telling my mother I was going to be a ballerina marine biologist and her saying “That is a great idea”. I want her to find a passion and explore it and love it and then change her mind. I want her to change her mind a million and one times before she actually finds a career. I want her to reach for the stars…or the bottom of the sea…or the top of a mountain…or wherever it is that super successful and happy people reach. Because as cliche as it sounds, I only want her to be happy.

I don’t want anyone to ever tell my daughter she HAS to be a mother or that she can ONLY be a mother, but if she wants to be a mother – even if she wants to be JUST a mommy – then I would be very, very proud of her.

When she came home from career day, I asked her what her friends dressed up as. “Logan was a motorcycle guy!” she explained, “And all the girls were princesses!”

So maybe Mommy is a bold choice for a 4 year old after all.

And hey, I must make being a mommy look like a lot of fun if it’s something she’s looking forward to. Although it might just be because she wants to be the boss.

caroline dressed as a mommy

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A Highly Scientific Classification Of Yoga Pants

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

This classification system the result of many years of expert study. I have a Masters Degree in Yoga Pants.

Tier One: Fancy

These yoga pants are real pants. You can wear them to school pick up and Target without hesitation and may briefly consider wearing them to work/church/date night too. They are still black and have no holes or bleach stains. They fit without giving you a terrible muffin top and are not see through. When you wear these pants you are saying: “I appreciate both comfort and fashion. I may be a busy moden woman but I still make time to take care of myself!”

Tier Two: Acceptable

Your Tier Two yoga pants are probably from Old Navy. They still fit but might have fuzzies from where your thighs rub together or a small hole in the cuff. These are the pants you are mostly likely to wear if you were to actually do yoga. You wear them for running errands but only after thinking “Maybe I should put on some jeans” (you do not put on jeans). When you wear these pants you are saying: “I was just running in to this store for a second on my way to spin class because we were all out the organic mac and cheese cups.”

Tier Three: Poor

These yoga pants are reserved for at home days. They might technically be pajamas but no one can prove that. They are the pants you wore yesterday and are still wearing today. You only wear them with long shirts because they fall down a lot – not because you lost weight from all that yoga but because the elastic is all stretched out. They aren’t really black anymore. When you wear these pants you are saying: “I totally forgot we had ballet class this morning.  I was just going to clean the bathroom.”

Tier Four: Cannot Even

All your other pants are in the actual wash. Not the laundry – you pulled these out of the laundry – but soaking wet in the washing machine. Yes, you do know there’s a hole in the crotch and spaghetti sauce on the leg and they’re dragging on the ground. THANKS for point that out. But your kid told you ten minutes ago that tomorrow is 100 day at school so you have to go find 100 f**king beads or something because otherwise he’s going to insist on bringing 100 Legos and God knows those things aren’t cheap and no way are you letting him lose that one little grey piece he absolutely CANNOT finnish Batman’s spaceship without because then you will NEVER hear the END OF IT so how about you just let me worry about my pants until I can get home and open a bottle of wine??? When you wear these pants you are saying: “I HAVE GIVEN UP ON EVERYTHING DON’T TALK TO ME.”

Other Guidelines: Pants can be demoted but not promoted, although you can mend holes on seams to give Tier Two pants a fighting chance.

There is a subclass for maternity yoga pants, which begin at Tier One but are automatically moved to Tier Three at 2 weeks post partum.

You cannot own too many pairs of yoga pants.


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New Mom Advice: Get A Thing

Monday, September 15th, 2014

When I was pregnant with Evan oh those many moons ago, I first discovered blogging. I mean, I “discovered” it the same way Columbus “discovered” America, since there was already an entire world of people who were like “Nice going, you found this big giant thing that’s been here for a long ass time”. But for me, it was all new and exciting. I wrote words on the internet. Then I moved up to pictures. I found other people’s words and pictures. I blogged and blogged and talked about blogging and read articles on blogging and read actual blogs and when I found one I liked I’d stalk their archives back to the birth of their children and I know more about some of those people than I do about my own siblings’ lives.

Blogging was My Thing.

My Thing kept me connected to people when I was too tired to get off the couch. It gave me something to think about when I couldn’t think about my crying baby any more. I learned the shorthand and the big players and the culture and made friends who I still talk to literally every single day. The internet connected us but I’ve now hugged them in person and slept on their couches and can’t wait to see them again.

If I could give pregnant women one piece of actual, helpful, universal advice, it is to get A Thing.

Obviously your baby will be Your Thing, but there is a lot of busywork with babies. You are up with them in the middle of the night, you are trapped on the couch feeding them, you are so so so tired you can’t even sleep. You need A Thing you can read about and think about and learn about and talk about. Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to find other people who share Your Thing and also want to obsess about it, so you’ll never run out of ways to waste your time. Even if Your Thing is something you can’t really do as much as you’d like, you can still obsess about it online. Like running. There are about fifty zillion ways to learn about running that don’t actually involve running.

Here is a brief list of Things you might try: blogging, photography, baby wearing, cloth diapers, knitting, crocheting, breastfeeding, scrapbooking, gardening, knitting, couponing, crafting, cooking, conspiracy theories, tv, computer games, video games, puzzles, art, eBay, Etsy, painting, sewing, puzzles, running, paleo, cross fit, hair, make-up, monthly subscription services, fashion, YouTube, nail polish.

Any of Those Things have a million deeper levels and sub-levels. Not just cloth diapers, custom-made WAHM diaper covers. Not just Etsy, handmade baby moccasins. Not just running, long distance marathon training. Find a Facebook group or forum about Your Thing and dive in. Don’t worry, you will never know more about your thing than ANYONE else, so just start somewhere.

Most Things are going to cost you a lot of money. Even if they seem cheap and harmless now, there is a collectible version or a new version or a fancier version or an exclusive version and you WILL want it and you WILL find yourself spending what previously would have been a crazy amount of money on it.

Try to find a way to get involved in Your Thing in real life too. Meet-ups, conferences, swaps, or even just one friend you can have coffee with. But even if you just have internet friends from Your Thing, they will easily become real friends (just not in-person all the time friends).

You can have more than one Thing at a time, but it’s best to focus on one and then let it become less intense while you move to another. I still tweet, but Twitter isn’t my go-to Thing. I can still knit, but I don’t hunt down a babysitter to go to the weekly knitting group. Photography will always be A Thing (your thing can often lead to an actual business), but the forums aren’t holding my interest they way they used to.

Clearly blogging is something I still love and do regularly (well, semi-regularly) but it is not longer my thing. Currently, My Thing is woven wraps for baby wearing. For real. I’m just now discovering baby wearing goes far beyond the Moby and the Ergo. Waaaaaaaay beyond. Insanely beyond. I’ve joined four different Facebook groups and formed a real-life wrap group that meets every other Friday (which was easy to do, thanks to mama friends I met through Stroller Strides, which was My Thing a few years go). I can browse the Facebook swap group any time of day or up at night with the baby and there’s new stuff to look at that I can google and learn about fiber content and warp and weft and brands and makers. It’s INSANELY boring to anyone who doesn’t care but right now I can’t get enough.

So tell me what’s Your Thing? Just don’t make it too interesting, I don’t have time for much more.


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