Feb 252013
 

A couple of months ago my husband and I had a fight.  Not simply a disagreement. Not an argument. Not even a simple, clean fight.  We had a knockdown, drag-out, say-things-you-will-regret-later kind of fight.  It was an experience that rarely happens, and I am going to do my best to make sure that it never happens again.

The details of what we argued about don’t really matter, but here’s the gist:  he said something that pissed me off and I totally over-reacted (as usual), got defensive (per normal), and got angry (yep, again normal. Sigh.) Again, the details of what he said that triggered all of this don’t really matter, but what I came to realize throughout that very long night is that: truly, it’s not him, it’s me.

I got so upset because something he said touched a very deep vein of insecurity in me. Nearly everyone I know has their insecurities, and I am no exception. I am insecure about many things: the size of my thighs, the shape of my breasts, the nasally sound of my voice. Insecurity is not a new thing to me. But lately I have added a new insecurity to the list. This insecurity has shaken me to my very core, because that is what I am insecure about – My very core.  Not my thighs or my breasts or my belly or my laugh. I am insecure about Me. Mostly because I don’t know who Me is anymore.

Since becoming a mom, I have struggled to define myself outside of that title.  I used to be many things – A writer, a producer, a loving wife, a best friend, a dirty-joke-teller, a great secret-keeper, a full-time foodie and wino, a sometime hip-hop dancer. But when my daughter was born, a new me was born too, and now I often feel as though I have been stripped down to a single thing: Lyla’s mommy.   Believe me, Lyla’s mommy is really great thing to be, but sometimes I feel as though it is just not enough.

Perhaps it is my fault. Since having a baby, I quit my full-time job and now freelance part-time. I have given up most of my hobbies. I see much less of my friends. But these are all choices that I made, and I am not sure that I would make them any differently. My most rewarding job is my daughter. She is also my favorite hobby and my best friend. And that is beautiful. But yet, I still feel lost sometimes.

I used to be full of stories and jokes and opinions.  Now, I often find myself struggling for interesting things to talk about at dinner parties.  My clever anecdotes about potty training, and hilarious stories of Mommy and Me shenanigans can only take me so far.

I used to have an exciting job.  Something I worked very hard at and was very proud of.  Now, when people ask me what I do, I  come up with some sort of vague answer about how I kinda stay home with my daughter and sort of work part-time from home.  It’s as though I feel like neither job is good or exciting enough to warrant anyone’s curiosity.  Instead I steer the conversation towards my husband or a friend or someone whose life is more worthy of examination.

I used to love getting dressed up, carefully planning each outfit the day before. Now, I spend my days in yoga pants and hoodies.  I sometimes go for days without putting on make-up or even washing my hair. This is probably because I can often go For days without seeing another adult besides my husband and the cashier at Trader Joe’s.

Time passes. There are wonderful days and boring days and tough days. My daughter grows bigger and sometimes I feel as though I am growing smaller.  I get further and further away from the person I used to be,  but somehow I don’t get much closer to discovering the person I am now.

Although my fight with my husband was awful, something good came out of it.  It forced me to take a hard look at myself and realize that I need to make some changes.  I need a Mommy Make-over, and not the kind that requires a nip and tuck, or even a new hair-cut. I realized that I need to take care of my newborn self the way that I took care of my newborn daughter.  I need to love and nurture myself, and every once in a while, to put my own needs at the top of the list.

I know that it is February, and now is when people are breaking their New Year’s resolutions, not making them, but I think that any positive change can happen any time you decide to make it happen.  So this year my resolution is this: I am going to spend a lot less time thinking about who I used to be or who I should be, and spend a lot more time discovering who I am.  Who I really am. Right at this moment.  Not the “new and improved, healthier, skinnier, friendlier, better wife, better mother” me.  But just me. Right now. What I REALLY enjoy doing.  What REALLY makes me happy.  Then I am going to spend a lot less time thinking about it, and a lot more time actually doing it. And hopefully once day, when I am old and grey and I have time to think about these things, I will discover that I have always known who I am.  And it has nothing to do with any job I held, or clothes that I wore, or hobby I perfected.  Perhaps it is some complicated equation that has to do with the people I love, added to the experiences I have had, multiplied by the laughs I have shared.   But I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  So for now, I’m going to try to think less and live more.  Talk to me when I’m 80.  By then I should have it all figured out.  Maybe.

 

Travel makes me happy!

Travel makes me happy!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Dec 122012
 
Whoever made up the phrase "sleep like a baby" obviously never had one!

Whoever made up the phrase “sleep like a baby” obviously never had one!

Sometimes I get insomnia. I have always had trouble sleeping, even as a kid, although back then my insomnia dressed itself up as an imaginary friend who would keep me up at nights, pacing around my room and asking tough questions like, “What do you think happens when you die?” and, “Why does Santa hide all the Christmas presents in your parents’ closet?” I guess I had more of an imaginary Barbara Walters. Anyway, the point is that I have always had trouble sleeping, but it has only gotten worse as time goes on. I guess because as I got older, I discovered more things to worry about. (Though I am still up most nights trying to figure out why Santa hid all the Christmas presents in my parents closet!)

Then once I had a child, a solid night of sleep became a distant memory. Now there are numerous lists to make, hundreds of things to prepare for, and gazillions of irrational fears to worry about. It is a wonder that I am not a total zombie. However if you are reading this and there is something that I forgot to do for you or there is something that I did to otherwise piss you off… it’s because I am a zombie.

The past week or so, I have had another bout of insomnia. I either go to bed early, hoping to catch up a bit on sleep, or I stay up late, afraid to even try to fall asleep. Either way, the result is the same:  toss and turn for a few hours, move to the couch, toss and turn, move to the guest bedroom, toss and turn, until finally I drift off into a fitful sleep a few hours before it is time to wake up.  Last night I tried the stay-up late technique. Instead I watched The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Bad idea. You should never watch anything so frightening before trying to sleep. Finally I crawled into bed, exhausted, only to spend another couple of hours tossing and turning, before finally managing to fall asleep around 2:15 am.

Then my daughter woke up crying at 2:30 am.

My daughter is a pretty good sleeper. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, normally all it takes is a little pat on the back and kiss on the forehead, and she is back to dreamland and I am back to sleep and/or tossing/turning/worrying. Last night, however, I gave her a pat and a kiss and then stumbled back to bed, but she did not fall blissfully back to sleep. Instead she cried until I went back into her room. After trying this a few more times with the same result, I decided that perhaps she had insomnia too. I hope that she never has insomnia the way that I do, but sometimes it amazes me how in sync the two of us can be. So, I covered myself up with her little quilt and laid down next to her crib.

She would close her eyes for a few minutes, then peek her head up to make sure that I was still there, smiling at me before putting her head down again. After a while I saw a sweet, chubby, little hand poke through the bars of her crib. So I took it. We held hands like that until she finally drifted off to sleep. And then, amazingly, I did too. I slept for an hour there. The most solid hour of sleep that I have had all week, right there on the cold, hard floor, with my daughter’s soft, warm hand in mine. I finally woke up and went back to my bed. Of course I had a hard time falling asleep again, but this time because I was happy, not worried or stressed.  And I woke up this morning tired, but with a new clarity.

I think that this is exactly what parenting is all about:  Holding your little one’s hands, and then only later realizing that maybe it is they who were really holding your hand.
photo credit: thejbird via photopin cc

Nov 212012
 

I am thankful for those who drink as much as I.

I love me some Thanksgiving. What’s not to love?  Family and friends all gathered together. Delicious food and the ability to eat as much of it as you want without feeling guilty because everyone knows that calories don’t count on holidays. Same thing goes for drinking. Everyone knows that alcoholism doesn’t count on holidays. Plus, how the hell can you cook without wine? Or survive an entire day with aforementioned family without wine (Except for mine, of course. Happy Turkey Day Mom!  Thanks for giving me life!)

Unlike some other holidays lurking around this time of year, Thanksgiving is pretty stress-free (unless, of course, you are dumb generous enough to host.) There’s no gifts to be painstakingly purchased. No gifts to be returned, only to panic when the giver of said gift comes to visit and wonders where are those lovely ceramic figurines with the creepy, giant eyes that follow you everywhere, even your nightmares. There is no planning of a night out awesome enough to close out a great year and make all your Facebook friends jealous. Nope, none of those annoying holiday stresses. Thanksgiving is all about eating and drinking with friends and family and giving thanks for it all. Oh yeah, and I think it is also about Pilgrims, Native Americans and a giant Pumpkin who terrorizes children.  But don’t quote me on that.

However, as much as I love Thanksgiving and think it is important to give thanks, there is one thing about Thanksgiving that I dread:  the moment when all the food sits before you on the table, and instead of allowing you to dig in, the well-intentioned hostess asks everyone to go around the table and say what they are thankful for. Seriously?!  That is the right moment for that?  How about starting the giving of Thanks during the five hours when everyone is eating dip and dry carrots and waiting for the damn turkey to be done?  And why is it so hard to come up with something that I am thankful for at that moment? Perhaps it is because I am dizzy with hunger due to the fact that I starved myself all day to make up for the sick amount of calories I plan to consume. Or perhaps it is because I am drunk as I started drinking at 6 am without eating anything besides the cold, wet stuffing I snuck and ate with my fingers out of sheer desperation. Or perhaps it is simply the pressure of putting a whole year of thankfulness into a few words.  Whatever the reason, when called upon, I usually break out in a cold sweat and blurt out something like: “Iamgratefulformyfamilyandfriendsbecauseilovethemsomuchohyeahandmyhealthandmyfamilyandmyfriendsdidialreadysaythat.”

So, this year I am going to do things differently.  Firstly, I am going to make more of an effort to give thanks all year round.  Secondly, in order to bypass the paralyzing moment of Thanksgiving pressure, I am going to take the time to lay out some things that I am thankful for right here and now.

THIS YEAR I AM THANKFUL FOR:

Everyone who has read this far in the post.  For those of you who stopped reading after the first paragraph or who totally ignored this post: I hope you choke on a turkey bone or gain ten pounds, whichever is worse.  Just kidding.  But to those who read my blog:  THANK YOU!!

My amazing, smart, hilarious, charming daughter.  Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.

My awesome family. I know you think your family is awesome, but my family kicks your family’s ass in my book.  Sorry.

My wonderful friends who support me, challenge me and love me no matter what.

A husband who makes me feel smart and funny, and who still likes to grab my ass.

Having an ass that someone still thinks is worth grabbing.

Girls trips.

Nap times.

Date nights.

Family days.

Push-up bras and Spanx:  Some people call it cheating. I call it branding.

Good red wine.

Cupcakes:  The perfect cake to frosting ratio.

My daughter’s amazing, obnoxious, loud, boisterous laugh.

Mixologists.

Wedge heels: Almost comfortable.

Movie theaters that let you pour your own butter on your popcorn.  Yes!

Skinny lattes.

Stretchy jeans:  I refuse to call them jeggings.

Vacations.

The health of me, my family and my friends.

Baby Tylenol:  Helped my daughter through a lot of crazy fevers this year.

Girls days with just my daughter and I, when I have no work, no chores and nothing to do but be with her.

Pumpkin spice…anything.

And the one thing that I am most thankful for…

Laughter:  Curer of everything that I am NOT thankful for.

So there you have it, My 2012 List of Thankfulness!  Hostesses take note:  this hereby exempts me from the torture of participating in this tradition this year, and possibly for all subsequent years.  So back off and let me eat overcooked turkey, already!  But just because I will not be participating myself, doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching this unfold. As much as I hate doing it myself, I love watching other people sweat at that inevitable moment when the person who goes before them takes the exact thing that they were going to say.  I love that moment!  In fact, you might even say that I am thankful for it.

Nov 142012
 

Babies are the new black.  Seriously, babies are so hot right now.  Everywhere you look (as long as, like me, the only place you get your information is from trashy magazines) celebrities are showing off their cute little baby bumps, parading their children around in tiny clothes that cost ten times what my adult-sized clothes cost, and flaunting their ridiculous baby names (I’m looking at you Uma Thurman!)  But the most annoying thing that celebrity mommies are flaunting these days:  their skinny, toned, stretch-mark free post-baby bodies…just weeks after delivering.  What’s even more annoying is that when questioned about this crime against nature, most of them say that the “weight just came off” or all they did was “breastfeed.”  Seriously?!  If breastfeeding got me abs like Miranda Kerr or an ass like Gisele, I would breastfeed my daughter through college.

Did breastfeeding do this? I think not.

Alas, for us mere mortals, this is not the reality.  No, my baby weight didn’t exactly fall off as easily as a celebutante’s undies.  And while breastfeeding allegedly burns 500 extra calories per day, when I was breastfeeding I was ravenously hungry and still eating for two:  One for me, and one for an entire football team.  I must admit that looking at celebrities like Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Heidi Klum and Kristen Cavallari (I use the word celebrity loosely) who looked beyond amazing right after having their babies made me feel bad about myself.  I would huff and puff my way through 45 torturous minutes on the elliptical, followed by round after round of lunges and sit-ups, and then look at myself in the mirror hoping to see some instant, radical change.  Hoping that I would like what I saw again.  Then I would dejectedly look down at my saddle bags and pinch my still flabby tummy and wonder what I was doing wrong.  Why was it taking it me so long to get my body back?  Why don’t I look like those celebrities?

Then one day it came to me:  What I was doing wrong was simply not being a celebrity. I wasn’t devoting my life to my figure. I wasn’t working out 4 hours a day, 7 days a week with a $500/hr celebrity trainer. I didn’t have a personal chef or nutritionist or even a meal delivery service. I never looked like a supermodel in the first place.  And all of this is ok because looking good isn’t my job. I don’t have a movie to get in shape for or a modeling gig to slim down for.  I don’t have paparazzi chasing me and magazines pointing out my every flaw. The world isn’t watching my every move, hoping that I will fail. Hoping that I, too, will have cellulite and stretch marks. And thank god for that.  If they were, than I would sure as hell be shelling out for the personal trainer and delivery meals.

I was looking at it all the wrong way. Instead of feeling jealous of how quickly these celebrities were able to whip their bodies back in shape, I should be feeling sorry for them for having to whip their bodies back into shape so quickly.  Now, I know that it is hard to pity a rich, beautiful, famous movie star, but don’t forget that they are moms too. Imagine how stressful it would be if you had 6 weeks to lose the baby weight before your next movie.  Imagine if, on top of having a new baby, you also had to spend hours and hours working out each day because that is your job. Imagine if paparazzi stalked your every move, trying to get an unflattering photo.  Imagine if, a few months after having a baby, people called you the real F word. The worst thing a celebrity, or most women for that matter, can be called: Fat. And not just behind your back, or even to your face, but proclaimed on TV shows and splashed across magazine covers.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy… or even that bitchy, high-and-mighty mom at the baby music class. Well, maybe her.

Us non-celebrities have the luxury of taking the weight off slowly, or maybe not at all.  We have the luxury of exercising when we can, and resting when we can’t.  Of wearing yoga pants and baggy T-shirts day in and day out.  Of eating an entire box of cereal when you can’t sleep after waking up to feed your baby at 3 am (hypothetically.)  We have these luxuries because we live in the real world.  And in the real world, no one would dream of telling you that 6 months is too long to take off the baby weight.  In the real world, no one calls a new mom the F word. And if they do, then F them.

So ladies, give yourself a break if you don’t lose the baby weight, immediately or ever. In the real world these things take time. Stop comparing yourself to models and movie stars or anyone else for that matter.  Every woman has different goals, needs and obstacles. Aim to live healthfully and to feel good about yourself. And please stop using the F word! Don’t use the word “fat” when talking about someone else, and most definitely don’t use it when talking about yourself.  But feel free to use the word Fuck all you want. It’s fucking fun.

Annoying or inspiring?

Here’s an idea: When you see a movie star’s kick-ass post-baby body, let it inspire you instead of shame you. Think of it this way – apparently it really is possible to look completely amazing after having a baby! If I had a trainer/nutritionist/dietician/stopped eating/sold my soul to the devil perhaps I could look that amazing too. But in the meantime, stop letting their amazing bodies make you feel bad about your own. Have I gotten there yet?  Not totally. But I am working hard to stop comparing myself to anyone else, especially movie stars and supermodels.  However, I refuse to stop making fun of their odd baby name choices.  Hey, I’m no saint, and Alicia Silverstone is asking for it by naming an innocent child Bear Blu.

And for the record, I worked my ass off (literally) and I did lose the baby weight. I don’t look like Gisele or Jessica Alba, or even Jessica Simpson for that matter, but I do look like a pretty damn good version of myself. Now, most days I feel happy with the way I look, and on the days that I don’t, there’s always Spanx. Just ask any celebrity.

Oct 092012
 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a solid post, and to those of you who plan your life and all major decisions around my blog posts, I sincerely apologize. To the rest of you aka all of you, I apologize as well. As you may have gathered from my mostly short yet bitter posts over the past few weeks, I have had a bit going on. My daughter got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which was an agonizing week of high fevers and Contagion-style quarantine. She was recovered for approximately two days before she spent a night throwing up for reasons unknown, and then miraculously recovered again for about a week. She then got Erythema Multiforme related to the HFMD virus, which caused even higher fevers and horrible hive-like lesions and sores all over her little body, including the inside of her mouth. Fun for the whole family! After a week of that madness, she recovered for a day – just long enough for us to overconfidently decide to celebrate with a weekend getaway. On the first day of the vacation she got a nasty cold complete with, yes, a high fever.

Needless to say, it has been a tough month.  Definitely the toughest month since my daughter was born.  And it feels like maybe the toughest month since I was born.  I have had some hard times in my life, though admittedly not as hard as many.  I have had my fair share of illnesses, surgeries and hospital stays.  Somehow though, it seems more difficult to take when it is happening to my daughter rather than directly to me.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad.  There have been some great moments when she is feeling better and all seems right in the world.  I have learned a lot of lessons.  I have gained a bit (ok, a teeny, tiny bit) of patience.  I have discovered that I can be stronger than I ever thought I could be.  However, I have been working so hard to be a good mom that I haven’t had much time to be a good… anything else.

I haven’t had much time to be a good friend. Many a phone call, text and email has gone unreturned in the past month.  And when I do manage to find the time to chat with my friends, it’s mostly just to vent.  I end up talking so much about what’s going on in my life, that I rarely ask what’s going on in theirs.  Jerk!

I haven’t been a good worker.  I have turned down a lot of work simply because I just can’t take care of my daughter and take care of work too.  I had a choice to make, and as a freelancer, I was in the position to make it, so I chose my daughter.  I wouldn’t change those decisions, but it doesn’t exactly make me the most reliable person to hire.

I haven’t been a good homemaker.  Not that I usually excel in this arena, but my usually feeble attempts at cooking, cleaning and hosting have gotten beyond pathetic – we’re talking frozen dinners/baby stuff covering every surface of the house/turning my underwear inside out so I don’t have to do laundry – pathetic.

I most definitely haven’t been a good wife.  When I am stressed, sad and angry at life, or even when I am frustrated with my daughter, I have to take it out on someone.  I obviously can’t take it out on my daughter and I don’t have life’s email or phone number, so the back-up choice has been my husband.  Fortunately I picked a partner who doesn’t usually feel the need to take his frustrations out on anyone, but who understands me enough to know that I do.  And so he lets me.  Usually.

And out of everyone, the person I have treated the worst is myself.  I have stopped exercising, managed to take stress-eating to whole new level of disgusting, and some days have decided to forgo even the most basic levels of general hygiene (I guess I should apologize to my husband for that one too.)  And as a general warning to anyone who encounters me on the street, I am prone to break down in tears for no reason, and just as likely to start muttering to myself in a scream-whisper.  Oh yeah, and there’s a strong chance that I will be wearing a dirty bathrobe.  At first I thought I might be pregnant.  Now, I realize that I have slowly been losing my mind.

I am a half step away from ribbon roll earrings and rollers in public. Next stop: Eating my own hair.

But things are looking up.  My daughter is finally recovering from the latest installment of Outbreak 2012, hopefully this time for longer than a day or two.  So, there will be no more excuses.  No more of the selfish friend who only talks about herself.  No more of the wife whose husband is slightly afraid he will wake up in the middle of the night to find her standing over him with a butter knife.  No more main-lining red wine/coffee/entire sleeves of Oreos.  No more half-assed work.  No more depressing blogs (for now). No more messy house…Ok, ok. Who I am kidding? I have a toddler.  The house will always be messy.  Deal with it… or you may wake up to find me standing over you with a butter knife.

Oct 082012
 

I swear that being a parent is the craziest roller coaster in the world.

My daughter is sick yet again, for the third week out of four weeks. This time with a nasty cold and again with a fever hitting above 104. She was up at midnight night crying inconsolably. Probably because she was tired but couldn’t sleep, scared because she couldn’t breathe, and angry because Mama couldn’t fix it. She was screaming and crying, and I was crying because I couldn’t help her. And I was tired because I haven’t once slept through the night in the past month.  And it was midnight. And I was thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

Then, morning came. And the sun was shining. And my daughter woke up feeling a bit better. And she hugged me tight and said “Lub you” in her little, hoarse, stuffy-nosed voice. And I thought, “I don’t know what I ever did before this.”


photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

Oct 012012
 

My daughter is sick, yet again.  Fever spiked up to 105.7 last night.  Hives covering her entire body including her face, and it makes me want to weep every time I look at her.  No sleep for many nights due to fever and hives.  One car with a busted transmission even though it only has 60,000 miles.  The other car I used to sideswipe a parked car in the street in front of the doctor’s office today.  Hey, my sick daughter was crying in the back and did I mention I am tired.

All I can say is that life is being a real dick right now. So if I don’t return phone calls or clean my house, or if I polish off an entire bags of chips in one sitting (hypothetically of course) or yell at inanimate objects (also hypothetically)… don’t blame me, blame life.

Sep 302012
 

My husband has pretty good fashion sense (he is Italian after all) but he is also a dad, and I am pretty sure that before they give you your Daddy license, they have to make sure that you own a pair of Crocs. How else could you explain the prevalence of this hideously ugly rubber footwear among men who are old enough to know better?  Anyway, so Daddy has a pair of Crocs that he wears around the house and to do yard work.  Today, we were outside in the garden, and then decided to take a short walk around the hood.  Halfway down the street my daughter stops in her tracks, points down at daddy’s shoes and says, “UH OH!”  My sentiments exactly, honey.

Just say no to Crocs. It’s for your own safety.

Sep 182012
 

I just wanted to let you all know that Lyla is recovered and seems to be back to normal…well,  as normal as a one-year-old can be.  Mostly I wanted to thank you all for your concern, well-wishes, thoughts and messages, as well as the sharing of your own personal stories, experiences and worries.  It meant a lot and reading them helped me get through a LONG week.

But Lyla is recovered and back to confusing and terrifying me in new ways and I am done stressing about this illness… and on to stressing about everything else.

Thank You!

Sep 132012
 

On the crazy up-and-down, round-and-round carousal that is parenthood, of course a fun and laughter-filled weekend with friends and family would be followed by illness.  I found out yesterday that my daughter has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.  Huh?  Although many people, me included, would I argue that I have a perpetual case of Foot-in-Mouth Disease, I had never heard of HFMD until yesterday.  It sounds pretty damn gross, but it actually sounds much worse than it is. It is a viral illness with the primary symptoms being blister-like sores all over the body but concentrated around the hands, feet and mouth… ok that is pretty gross… and a high fever.  And when I say high, I am talking Snoop Dogg hotboxing with Willie Nelson high – my daughter hit 104.5 last night.  The good news is that the fever does come down with medicine, as well as scream-and-cry inducing cool baths; the bad news is that it doesn’t seem like good news at 3 am when her fever has shot back through the roof.

There is nothing worse than when your child is sick.  It is not just how horrible you feel for them, but how totally helpless it makes you feel.   You can have a medicine cabinet stocked full of anything your child might need, you can have your doctor on speed-dial, you can read books, websites, medical-journals, mommy blogs, and doctor advice sites.  You can prepare for the worst, but nothing can prepare you for IT – for that feeling that nothing is really in your hands.  Not even your child’s life.  And nothing can prepare you for how insignificant that makes you feel.

I wonder if it ever goes away –  the worry, the heartache, the pain of watching your children suffer without being able to do anything. I think not.  I guess I hope not… I wonder what it would mean if it did.