Posts Tagged ‘advice’

A Letter To Myself To Be Read On Bad Days

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Dear Suzanne,

Hey. Hi There. How are you? Your hair looks nice like that. And you’ve definitely lost weight so don’t get discouraged, but also don’t forget to eat dessert sometimes because you’re kind of awful when you don’t get dessert.

In case you’re already wondering what this is about, it’s not the letter version of repeating affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning (because I know you never remember to do that – it makes you feel silly). This is a letter to remind you of how awesome your life is on the days when you can’t do anything besides throw some crackers at the kids and hide in the bathroom until your husband comes home.

Today, Evan woke you up by climbing into bed and giving you hugs. Then he played on the iPad while you dozed and checked email and put off starting the day as long as possible.

That right there – the first 20 minutes of your whole day – should be more than enough to make you realize how lucky you are. Your son is healthy. He slept in his own room last night. He is able to climb. He is able to hug you. You have a bed. You have a room that is a pleasant temperature. You have an iPad. You have an iPhone. Your daughter slept in her own room. She is healthy. She is always excited to see you, even if you make her wait while you get dressed. You do not have to rush out the door for work. You can wake up at 7 am, and at 7:15 decide today is a beach day or a zoo day or a baking day or a library day or a stay-at-home day. Billions – literally, BILLIONS – wish they had a life like that.

Every single day for you is like a weekend for most people. You can shop or get coffee or work out or lie around doing nothing. Your bank account has money in it you did not have to earn but you get to spend. THINK ABOUT THAT. Yes, you are working in a zillion different ways at all hours of the day and night and yes your work as a wife and mother is important but in this country, at this time, that work is worth zero actual dollars. Too bad Target doesn’t accept blood, sweat, tears or poop. You have plenty of those.

Your biggest problem this week is that you double-booked your plans for Tuesday – you promised one friend you would meet her at the Seaport and another that you would be her event photographer at a party for your kids and all your kids’ friends. Oh noes! Your life is SO HARD, but only if by hard you mean “really really freaking awesome.”

Parenting a child is a challenge, and some days it’s a really challenging challenge and some days it feels like a challenge that will never ever end but always remember: IT WILL. Be glad the bad days end but remember the good ones do too. Today will end, tomorrow will end, your children’s youth will end. It will end and you will wonder why you didn’t enjoy more of it.

So go ahead, have a bad day. Feel sorry for your plight as an over-worked, over-stressed, under-appreciated mom. Count the minutes until you can pour a glass of wine or collapse into bed. Everyone’s allowed to have bad days. But when you wake up tomorrow with a snuggly ginger playing Angry Birds and a day of nothing but fun ahead of you, stop feeling bad and start appreciating how great your life is.


Past Suzanne

p.s. Don’t forget to eat the strawberry freezer jam. You tend to forget stuff you put in the downstairs fridge. Speaking of which, it’s probably time to throw out the egg nog.

Hit Me With Your Best…Parenting Book

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Today I’m stuck home with a busted car and a baby trying to bust some new teeth through her poor swollen gums and I feel like busting out the vodka to go in my third cup of coffee.

(The car people just called. They think the huge electrical freakout happening to my minivan has been caused by…coins. In my radio. One guess who’s responsible. I…have no words.)

The upside to being home is I don’t have to fight with the toddler. Because the fighting? Is driving me insane. And the not listening. And the running away. And the tantrums. I spend too many hours a day with all my muscles tensed in anticipation of the fight I know is coming any second. I am exhausted before he even DOES anything wrong. My current methods of dealing with the poor behavior are time outs he doesn’t care about, making idle threats, hissing through my teeth, counting to three and then counting to three again and then counting to three again, picking him up and dragging him out of Target, ignoring while I die of shame and bribery.

I’m not even going to pretend I know what I’m doing anymore.

Since I seem to have lost my copy of How Exactly To Parent Your Child So They Always Act Perfectly But Don’t End Up Needing Therapy (I’ve heard people from certain internet message boards get a copy right after they give birth)(Or maybe the childless people are hoarding all the copies – based on their internet comments they certainly THINK they know everything), I think it’s time to put my Amazon Prime membership to use and order up a big stack of parenting books. I am open to suggestions. All suggestions. YOUR suggestions.

So far I’ve got “Unconditional Parenting” – recommended by my friend Robyn – on the crunchy, hippie, new-agey end. And I don’t plan to send Evan out back to cut his own switch, so I won’t need Grandpa’s imaginary book “This Is Going To Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You”. But I figure the more books I read the more likely I am to find something that sounds like a) I (we) can do it and b) might work on MY kid. Or maybe my brain will explode. But at this point that feeling inevitable.

Tattoo Too

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

It’s that time again, when I commemorate pushing a baby out of my hoo-hah by permanently scarring my skin in ways that will shock and appall at least 75% of my family! Wooo!!

Only this time I have NO idea what I’m going to get in Caroline’s honor. With Baby Evan,  had a concept I loved and some styles in mind before I turned to the internet for suggestions. This time I’m adrift in a sea of maybe possibly good ideas but more likely terrible ugly ideas.

Idea #1 – Caroline is a December baby, and her middle name is Noelle because she was due December 26th (and born December 19th). So maybe something wintery/Christmasy? But I don’t really want Santa Claus or red and green or a big giant candy cane, so it needs to be SUBTLY Christmasy. Bells? Flowers? Snowflakes?

Idea #2 -Some sort of “Sweet Caroline” reference. We sing that song a lot around here, but what kind of tattoo does it inspire? Musical notes? Song lyrics? A portrait of Neil Diamond? (NO) The Red Sox B? (DOUBLE NO)

Idea #3 and the one that might be stretching it the most – One of the reasons I love the name Caroline is because I went to school/got married in South Carolina (hence the palmetto tattoo I already have). When I was a kid, we used to play “Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Carolina” on my grandma’s player piano and dance around the basement. The lyrics mention morning glories, which would match my two other flower tattoos pretty well and could be beautiful – but there are a LOT of not pretty morning glory tattoos online plus it’s REALLY stretching for the connection.

I DON’T KNOW. I may be more casual about tattoos than someone getting there very first one, but I am still aware that they are PERMANENT and I SHOULD NOT get something inked on my body that I don’t truly love.

I also don’t know where I’m going to put whatever I come up with. I’m long past the have-to-be-able-to-hide-them stage of tattoos, but Little Evan’s is pretty small and I don’t was anyone to think I love Caroline more because her tribute is my whole arm. Not that I’m REALLY going to do my whole arm, Mom, so you can stop hyperventilating now.

So, to sum up, HALP.

p.s. I’ve been pinning stuff on my tattoo inspiration board, but I don’t want to be the person who gets an exact copy of someone else’s tattoo so they’re only good as vague ideas. Especially because they’re mostly bird tattoos and I cannot find any way to make a cool bird tattoo fit for Caroline. BUMMER.

On Leaving My Children

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

This isn’t a post about going to BlogHer (although I AM leaving to GO to BlogHer so if you’re as annoyed at all the conference talk as I was last year you can skip it – or just go read that post). This is about whether or not leaving my kids – especially Caroline – with my husband for three days is something I can handle. I also apologize if this is the bazillionth time you’ve heard me talk about this, because I’ve been word-vomiting all over everyone for weeks anytime any subject even remotely related comes up.

I asked for similar last year and got lots of reassurance that going to a bridal shower without my 15 month old didn’t make me a terrible mother. Then a month later I left him again for The Creative Connection Conference…and again he survived. Since then, I’ve even managed to leave him in the care of other people who are not his father (although never for a weekend) and he’s a total champ about it.

But that first time I left? Little Evan was 15 months and done nursing. Caroline is going to be just short of 8 months old and still totally addicted to the boob. So addicted, in fact, that besides the one bottle she took at a few weeks old (when I foolishly declared “Yah! She takes a bottle!” and then stopped offering them. Idiot, party of one) she gets all her milk straight from the tap. I have tried every suggestion the internet has for bottle/cup/spoon/sippy feeding but I think the only thing that’s going to work is me being completely unavailable and her being extremely hungry. So I just have to…leave. And let E deal with it. Or find some poor sap and pay them a bucketload of money to do it for us.

I suspect there is going to be the kind of crazy inconsolable screaming that makes parents genuinely those their minds, and although E is a little less sensitive to it than I am I cannot help but feel like the world’s biggest jerk for (sort of) intentionally creating that situation. What if she screams the WHOLE TIME? What if she never does take a bottle? What if she gets so dehydrated she makes herself ill and E has to take her to the ER and the doctor says “Oh, did your wife die?” and E says “No she went to San Diego to talk about blogging and party” and I end up on Dateline as the Worst Mother In The World?

Part of me realizes there is nothing FAIR about being a parent. Someone is always going to feel like they are doing MORE, and in general we take turns being that person. But this isn’t about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher. This is about – forgive me if this seems a little overdramatic, I am feeling VERY OVERDRAMATIC – intentionally making Caroline miserable, ruining a baby’s sense of security and happiness and leaving my responsibilities with someone else.

(And hundreds of working moms just decided to slap me right in my face if they see it at BlogHer. Please understand that is NOT what I mean. I’m worried because I am upsetting my own personal status quo for what is basically a girl’s weekend, not making a general sweeping statement about leaving babies for any reason.)

I suppose I could bring her. Lots of people bring their babies. It’s not unheard of. Since all of my roommates are moms -plus one of my roommates is pregnant and one is leaving her own nursing baby at home – I’m sure they would understand. She’s an incredibly easy going baby (BESIDES THE BOTTLE THING) and loves people and would probably have a great time distracting me from the sessions and making me whip my boob out in front of all my blogging idols.

So there it is. I don’t WANT to bring my baby to BlogHer. I’ve been looking forward to this mommy-gets-a-break time for more than 2 years and nothing would ruin that faster than 20 hours of travel time in 4 days with a baby in tow. I want to wear real bras that hold my chest up and dresses and high heels. I want to have TWO glasses of wine and not feel like I’m abusing my child. I want to be awake at 2 am because I WANT TO BE, not because a baby needs me.

That sounds SO SELFISH, right? What kind of mother thinks that? It’s not Caroline’s fault she loves me and needs me, she’s a freakin’ BABY. And like my husband keeps pointing out, BlogHer will be there next year. This is not my LAST CHANCE IN THE WORLD to go have fun with my interwebs friends. But at this point it’s too late to not go at all without being out a big chunk of change and letting down at least one person I was looking forward to meeting in person.

I would never have even bought a ticket if I knew Caroline was going to be just as stubborn about the bottles as her brother. But now it’s down to the wire and I’m so stressed about it I am literally making myself sick.

Seriously, what do I do?

Apples and Oranges

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

I keep coming back to the post I wrote complaining how much I hate parenting advice because…well…I can’t seem to stop asking for and giving parenting advice. After a few weeks to think about it, I’ve realized my problem isn’t so much that people give advice – even if it is preachy, annoying, unsolicited and unwanted – it’s that a huge percentage of the time the advice is not at all helpful. It’s hard enough to go through a difficult stage with a baby, but it’s extra depressing when you hear “Oh we had the same x problem and after we did y it went away!” over and over…only to have it do absolutely nothing for your child. It can be especially difficult if the thing you need advice about is how to get more sleep. It may also lead to totally unnecessary mom-style panicky OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BABY WHY DOES SHE HATE THIS THING EVERY OTHER BABY LOVES thoughts when the answer is, truly, NOTHING is wrong with your baby. She’s a person. All people are different and like very different things. I mean, I really hate basketball but there are millions of people who practically worship it. There are plenty of fans for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Yankees. A huge percentage of the country actually thinks Sarah Palin is genuine and charming. There are no explanations for these things.

Even my own kids, who are only 20 months apart, are light-years apart when it comes to their likes and dislikes.

Things Caroline loves that Evan disliked or didn’t care about:

– Sleeping

– Lying down and looking at things dangling over her

– Rolling

– Taggies (those blankets with the little bits of ribbon on them)

– Bouncing (as opposed to the vibrating feature on the seat)

– Swinging (as opposed to the gliding option on the swing)

– My singing

– Chewing on things

– Her feet

– Watching the people on TV

– White noise

– Toys meant for infants

Things Evan loved that Caroline dislikes or doesn’t care about:

– Being worn (saddest realization EVER for this carrier addicted mama – I’m hoping when she’s a little older she’ll learn to like it)

– The dog

– Swaddles

– Nursing every 30 minutes

…and I can’t think of anything else, because a) It was a long time ago and b) Evan liked a LOT less stuff. He was a much more difficult baby just in general – another major difference that can’t be changed or cured with any sort of advice. And that list is just the stuff I’ve noticed during Caroline’s first 4 months. I can’t even imagine how different they’ll continue to be as she gets a personality and hits more milestones.

So, there, THAT’S my advice on advice.