Apr 242013
 

Two and a half years ago, while pregnant with my daughter, I started a journal to my unborn child.  I had a lot of questions, fears and emotions (imagine that: an emotional pregnant woman!)  Mostly I just felt like I had a lot to say to this little baby growing inside me, but I felt like a complete a-hole actually walking around talking to her. I have always had a much easier time writing rather than talking, especially when it comes to any subject that registers on an emotional scale of more than .0005. I can barely stutter my way through a difficult face-to-face conversation, but I can bare my soul on paper. That is part of the reason I started this blog in the first place:  I had a lot to say, but was too chicken shit to actually SAY any of it.

So for these reasons, I started a journal to my unborn child.  I have kept up with it since her birth, although not as often as I would like as actually having a child takes up most of my time. However, I hope to continue writing in it and saying all the things that I can never actually say to her until I feel that the time is right to give the journal to her.

A few days ago was my daughter Lyla’s second birthday.  And rather than writing a separate blog post about the immeasurable ways that she has changed my life in the two years since she was born, instead I am going to share with you the entry that I made into my daughter’s journal.

 Dear Lyla,

 A little over two years ago, I was anxiously awaiting your arrival. I was full of questions and fears, and there was so much that I did not know. Now, you are two years old, and I am full of new questions and fears. I am still learning every day, and thank goodness you are a kind and patient teacher. One thing that I have learned in the last two years is how little I knew until the day you came into my life.

 I knew that I would love you, but I didn’t know what this kind of love meant. I had no idea that this depth of love was even possible until you showed me how.

I didn’t know how addicting your smell would be.  

 I knew that you would change my life, but I didn’t know how much you would change me.  You have made me stronger than I ever imagined, more patient than I ever thought possible, and more compassionate than I ever dreamed I could be. You have brought out the best in me, and shown me parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed.  

 I knew that you would make me a better mother, but I didn’t know that you would make me a better daughter, wife, sister and friend. I didn’t know you would make me a better person.

I didn’t know what amazing conversations we would have, even at the age of two.

 I knew you would be my daughter, but I didn’t know you would be my confidant, my partner in crime, my fashion critic, my favorite companion and my best friend.

 I knew that I would have much to teach you, but I didn’t know how much you would teach me.  Every. Single. Day.

I didn’t know such big farts could come out of such a little person. 

I didn’t know that once I became a mom, I could never unbecome one, even if I wanted to just for an hour or two.  I didn’t know that even when you are not there, you are always in my mind and my heart.  

I didn’t know how hard I could laugh.

I didn’t know how much I would worry. Every second. Every minute. Every day.  I also didn’t know how this could possibly be a bittersweet thing. I worry so much because I love you so fiercely. And even though worrying can be exhausting, that kind of love feels good. So I embrace the worrying. I do know that you don’t understand what this means, but I hope that you have your own child someday and then you will know.

Lyla, there is so much that I didn’t know then and that I still don’t know now.  I have made many mistakes over the past two years, and I am sure that I will make so many more before you ever read this.  The one thing I do know is that my love for you somehow grows every day.  I know that you inspire me, amaze me, and make me happier than I ever thought I could be. I know I must be doing ok at this mom thing, because you are the most incredible little person that I have ever met.  Happy birthday my beautiful daughter.  I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mommy

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Apr 102013
 

I never cared too much about cars.  My parents certainly are not car people.  They buy a new car only once the old car has literally begged to be put out of its misery at 200k+ miles. My first car was an old Honda Civic hatchback that my mom drove in the early 80’s. It was cream-colored with upholstery that was shredded and stained from years of driving around toddlers.  I covered the seats with furry seat-covers, plastered clever bumper stickers to the back and drove it to high school with pride. I loved it because it was my car. Mine.

I drove that car into the ground, as 16-year-olds are prone to do, and I was lucky enough that my parents provided me with the second of the used family cars to take to college:  a gold Chevy station wagon. It had been in several accidents, so it wore a black car bra (remember those?!) to conceal the damage and it broke down occasionally (ok, all the time), but it was big enough to fit all of my friends, plus a keg or two of beer in the back.

From the station wagon, I upgraded to a gently used Geo Prizm, which I was thrilled to have, mostly because it was red.  Then a few years later, I moved from Colorado to California to seek my fortune in a white 1993 Oldsmobile that I bought the day that I left town because it had a few key characteristics besides its stunning good looks: it was over 10 years old but only had 20,000 miles and cost just $4,000.  This was probably because  it was previously owned by a little old lady, who drove it only to the beauty parlor to get her hair “done” once a week, until the day that she mixed up the gas pedal with the brake and rolled through a farmer’s market going 60 mph, where luckily no one was hurt but her licence was wisely taken away and the car sat in her garage until one of her asshole children needed money and sold it.  This is all hypothetical by the way, but hopefully you get the picture that the car was not really my dream car.  I doubt it was even the hypothetical old lady’s dream car.

But as much as can laugh about my string of “hoopties”, as my friends called all of them, none of these cars ever bothered me much – except when they were broken down. However, after a few years of cringing ever-so-slightly when I had to valet the Oldsmobile next to the Ferraris and Maseratis that populate the LA freeways the same way that Civics and Subarus populate the Denver ones, I finally decided to upgrade my car.  I had a steady job then.  A job that actually looked like a promising career.  I celebrated this by buying the first car that I had ever picked out myself:  a used BMW 3 Series sedan.  It was 5  years old but looked brand new, and black on black.  I had searched for months, done endless research and test-driven tons of cars before I finally settled on this beauty. I was proud to drive it, not because it was a shiny BMW, but because it was mine. It was my choice, based on nothing but desire (and the price being under $20,000).

I proudly drove that car for five years.  Even after the birth of my daughter, I refused to give it up.  I didn’t care that her stroller took up the entire trunk, so that when I went grocery shopping I had to pack the bags around my daughter in the backseat. I didn’t care that my back was sore from constantly ducking so far down to get her into her car seat, or that my once-clean black leather seats were now covered with a fine Cheerio dust.  I didn’t care because, on those rare occasions that I was driving in my car alone, I could still crank up my tunes, roll down the windows and zip between cars with my hair whipping out the window. Ok, who I am kidding?  I could sit in LA bumper-to-bumper traffic with the windows rolled up so no crackheads could harass me, and feel pretty damn cool while I did it. I could feel, just for a moment, like I was a young, single girl without a care in the world.

But recently we started thinking about Baby #2, and it became increasingly apparent that my cute little car would have to be replaced. Replaced with what?  A Mommy-Mobile, of course.  What else?

For someone who doesn’t care much about cars, this was much harder than I thought it would be. After endless research into safety-tests, cost comparisons, online reviews from other Mommy-Mobile drivers, and test drives we settled on the Mazda CX-9. It is actually a really great car. It seats 7. It has a third row that easily folds down to create ample trunk space for strollers and groceries and stray homeless people. It sits up high, so getting my daughter in and out is so much easier now. It links up to my phone through bluetooth, so I can easily play “Wheels On The Bus” through Pandora when my daughter gets cranky. It is shiny and new – actually the first new car that I have ever had. It is everything any mom could dream of. And all of these reasons explain why it drives my husband batshit crazy that I don’t really like it.

I know, I know.  Boohoo. Poor me with my shiny, beautiful, new car.  Cue the tiny violins. The thing is that it doesn’t really matter what the car it.  It’s not really about the car at all, it is what it represents to me.  My husband doesn’t get it.  He drives the family car on the weekends, and then hops into his sporty convertible to head to work with the top down every day. He gets to pretend for a minute that he could drop everything and cruise across the border into Mexico with his friends at a moment’s notice.  He gets to blast his music and drive fast and pretend that he is young and wild and free… even if it is only for 15 minutes on his way to work.

For me there is no pretending.  Even if my daughter is not in the car, she is still there.  She is in the giant car seat in my rear view mirror, the crushed Cheerios on the floor, the stroller in the back, the toys scattered on the passenger seat, and the Goldfish crackers stashed in my console. Even when I drive by myself, I jam out to Dora the Explorer radio because I usually can’t figure out how to change the station on my fancy bluetooth radio. There is just no mistaking a Mommy-Mobile when you see one, and there is no pretending that you are anything other than a Mommy when you drive one.  It doesn’t matter how nice the car is.  It doesn’t matter that I picked out the colors and trim. It is not my car. It is a car borrowed from my parents. It is a car we rented on vacation.  It is a car that I mixed up at the grocery store and took from some other mommy, who now has my cute little car. It is not mine.  I didn’t pick it out. Life did.

Ok, so now my tale of woe is done.  For those of you who want to punch me in the boob for complaining about such a thing as a nice new car when there are real problems in the world like war, hunger, and personalized license plates – go ahead, I totally deserve it. The truth is that I actually do kind of like my car.  I don’t want to like it, but I do. But as much as I like it, it will never be mine. I guess that’s because it is a grown-up car and I still have a bit of growing up to do.

Even a kid knows better than to ride in a Mommy-Mobile!

Even a kid knows better than to ride in a Mommy-Mobile!

photo credit: K. Praslowicz – kpraslowicz.com via photopin cc

 

Apr 042013
 

Nobody is perfect.  Anyone who has ever read this blog can attest to the fact that I am not even close. However, it seems to be some unspoken mommy code that when in public, one must cling to the appearance of parental perfection. But I am no actress (I can’t even fake an orgasm, just ask my college boyfriend) and all this pretending is just exhausting. So today I am just going to put it all out there and confess a few of my Parenting Sins – heinous crimes so terrible that parents are never supposed to reveal them for fear of being ostracized from playgrounds and Mommy and Me Yoga groups everywhere.

Judgy Judgerson’s out there:  Rejoice.  You are going to have a field day with this one.  But for the rest of you who are a) actual parents b) live in the real world and c) are tired of trying to pretend you are perfect, I hope this comes as a relief to know that you aren’t the only “horrible parent” out there.  If these sins send me to Parenting Purgatory, so be it. I’ll be there eating non-organic, sugar laden-junk food and watching reality TV, if any other parents care to join.

So without further ado, here are 7 of my Deadly Parenting Sins.  Judge away!

1)  I sometimes let Dora the Explorer babysit my daughter while I work, make dinner or just take a little break from the rigors of hostage-style negotiations with a toddler.

2)  You know how kids throw food on the floor and when you are in public you tell them that it’s yucky and then make a big show of throwing it away?  When I am in the privacy of my own home, I sometimes dust it off and give it back. Especially if it is a valuable (as in: last) snack. 5 second rule, right?

3)  I lose my patience all the time. I sometimes have to leave the room so I don’t explode. Sometimes I explode anyway. I am working on it.

4)  I laugh when my daughter repeats curse words or says other inappropriate phrases.  My daughter used to say fuck instead of fork and I would think of any excuse to get her to say fork.  “Lyla, what do you use to eat your pasta?  A what?  What was that?” Hey, it’s funny. Sue me.

5)  Some days I count the minutes until nap time or bed time.  I love spending time with my daughter, but I also like eating, showering and peeing – none of which I can do while she is awake.  Without question, my two favorite times of the day are when she wakes up and when she goes to sleep. 

6)  I can get a bit lazy with meals.  Here’s the deal:  I buy organic everything. I cram fruit and vegetables down her throat.  I make sure that she gets all her food groups every day.  But most days, by the time we get to dinner, I am tired. I also know that I have to cook another dinner for my husband and I. So my daughter eats a variation of the following things most nights:  pasta with tomato sauce and some kind of vegetables, pasta with cheese sauce and some kind of vegetable or baked chicken nuggets with sweet potato fries.  Throw in the occasional quesadilla, sandwich or leftovers from Mommy and Daddy’s dinner and that pretty sums it up. This actually sounds like a delicious menu to me. I think she’s pretty damn lucky!

7) When it comes to clothing, sometimes my daughter’s comfort is slightly less important than the adorableness of a particular outfit.  Hey, looking good isn’t always easy. Let’s just say that I am preparing her for the high heels and Spanx that will more than likely be in her uncomfortable future. And don’t even get me started on bikini waxes.

So there you go, my 7 Deadly Parenting Sins.  Sure, there are more than 7, but these are the just the few that I have already committed today.  See you in purgatory.  I’ll be the one with the baker’s dozen of Sprinkles cupcakes, a bottle of Cabernet and huge damn smile.

Please feel free to share your Parenting Sins with me.  No judgement here.  Just a “cheers!” with my wineglass and a knowing smile.

Cheers to "bad parenting"!!

Cheers to “bad parenting”!!

photo credit: Photogdan.com. Faving? Read the profile please. via photopin cc

 

Mar 192013
 

Thank You

 

For the last two weeks my daughter has been sick.  A high fever, double ear infection, mucus in her lungs and fever blisters in her mouth. And, of course, I am sick too. If it is actually possible not to get whichever illness your child has, I haven’t found a way.  I guess I could stop kissing and snuggling her when she needs it most.  I guess I could refuse to hold her in my arms while she whimpers in pain and coughs in my face.  But to me, that’s not possible.  Maybe I could get a gas mask. But that is a slippery slope, and suddenly you are wearing a doctor’s mask and gloves in the airport, opening doors with your elbow while you chug Airborne from a camelpak.

Needless to say, it has been a rough couple of weeks.  A solid night’s sleep has eluded me for longer than I care to think about.  Many a night has been spent on the floor next to my daughter’s bed, or in the chair in her room, or with her snoring and kicking me all night in my bed.  But the other night, as a lay next to my twitching daughter, rubbing her tiny back in circles, I was reminded of the many nights when I was little and sick and my mom laid with me in my bed, rubbing my back. I remembered how, in those moments, it was the only thing that seemed to make me feel better.  I remembered the way that even when I was in college, when I got sick I wished my mom was there to rub my back and make me feel better.  Somehow a smelly frat guy drunkenly rubbing my back didn’t have quite the same effect.

I started thinking about all the sacrifices that parents make for their children, and all the sacrifices my parents made for me.  Rubbing backs until your hand feels like it will fall off, wiping noses with your shirt (gross but true), risking illness to make your child feel better for even an instant, wiping butts for what must feel like an eternity, driving mini-vans even though you swore you never would… the list goes on and on.  And I have to say that for all the sacrifices that parents make, parenthood is a thankless job.  No one gives you a medal, or even notices the things you do. Certainly not your children.

However, it may be a thankless job, but it certainly is one that pays you back tenfold.  You may not get a “thank you” but you do get a smiling, happy child. You may not get a trophy, but you get to see your babies grow up to be the amazing people you knew they could be.  You may not get any kind of acknowledgement –  in fact, you may even get tears and screams and tantrums in exchange for the all the sacrifices you make – but you also get the love that fills your heart so full that there is not enough room for the screams and tears to stay very long.

And while no thanks is expected, a little thank you here and there might be nice… especially when it is 3 am and you are sleeping on your daughter’s cold, hard, floor. Again.  So parents, here you go:

To all the parents out there:  THANK YOU.

Thank you for doing all that you do to keep your children happy, healthy and safe.  I see you at the grocery store, struggling with your screaming child and keeping your cool anyway. I see you at the park, playing with your children instead of tapping away at your phone. I see you reading books instead of letting them zone out in front of the TV at night.  I see you fighting to get vegetables in their bellies instead of Cheetos, even though it would be so much easier to just give them what they want.  I see you at work, looking like a zombie because you were up all night with a sick child. I see you all. I appreciate you.  Thank You.

And now the most important Thank You I could say, one that I should have said long ago, but never knew how…

To My Mom and Dad,

Thank you for comforting me when I was sick and for rescuing me from imaginary monsters at 3 am. For listening to all my stories, laughing at all my jokes (mostly about poop and pee), and cheering me on at all my sports games.  Thank you for giving up your social life so that you could shuttle me around to every sport, activity and party my little heart desired.  Thank you for snooping through my stuff and getting into my business, even when I screamed and said I hated you.  Thank you for protecting me from myself. Thank you for telling me every day that you loved me.  And for letting me follow my heart and move to California, even though it must have been so hard to let me go.  Thank you for hoping that I didn’t have to come back, while kind of hoping that I did.  Thank you for a million more things that are far too numerous to type.  And most of all, thank you for never telling me about all these amazing things you did for me, but instead letting me figure it out on my own.  I love you.

And to everyone who has read this far… thank YOU.

Now, where’s my medal??
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