Oct 152014
 

Dear Momma who wrote the subtly titled, “Dear Stay-At-Home-Moms, Please Shut Up.“,

So many things crossed my mind when I read this.

So. Many. Things.

First the good:

1) At least you said “Please”.

And now… the rest:

While I agree with the sentiment that EVERYONE should be grateful for their blessings, what I take offense to is the notion that Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHMs) should “shut their friggin’ pie holes.”  I am a mom who, by choice, quit my full-time job to stay home with my children, but who, also by choice, sometimes sends my kids to daycare so I can do freelance work… not because I have to, but because I WANT to.  I guess you would call me a SAHM, but I don’t know why we need titles. I am a mom.  I love being home with my amazing children. However, I have also been known to complain about said amazing children.  And I’m sorry, Momma, if that gives you a bad rap, but I have never been one to shut my friggin’ pie-hole, and I sure as hell am not going to start now. So here’s my piehole’s worth…

Being a parent is a blessing, but it is also a job. Some would even say it’s a dream job. The pay aint much and the hours are long, but it has a an unimaginable bonus structure. But here’s the deal: Every single person I know – even those with dream jobs – complain from time to time. Long hours, ridiculous clients, tough bosses, annoying coworkers, or even just run-of-the-mill mental or physical exhaustion. No one I know is totally immune to the siren’s call of a good old-fashioned bitch sesh. Do you know why this is? Because hard work is… well… hard. And sometimes bitching just feels good. It’s a God-given right for every person to be able to bitch now and then. Well, I don’t know if God actually gave us that right, but I am pretty sure it is written in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or the owner/operator manual or something. Anyway, if complaining isn’t a right, it should be. So, just because a SAHM or SAHD doesn’t get paid in actual dollars or have an actual boss – other than a tyrant toddler – does he or she also forfeit the right to bitch about his or her job? I think not.

Just because a parent complains about their exhausting days or unruly children, doesn’t mean they love their job or their children any less.  It means that they are human. It means that their job is tough sometimes.  It could mean that they need a hand or possibly just an ear. Telling other moms to shut up about their frustrations is just another example of the Mean Mom syndrome that plagues our playgrounds, mommy groups and internet boards. And, with baby blues and postpartum depression running rampant, it’s more than just mean – it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

Momma, I love my children more than I could ever put into words.  I am grateful for every milestone I can witness, every boo-boo I can kiss and dirty butt I can wipe. Ok, I could actually live without the butt-wiping, but still.  I know that there are many parents who wish they could be home with their children, who cannot.  I also know that there are many parents who stay home with their children, who long to go back to work, but cannot. But most of all, I know that whether you work outside the home or inside the home with your children, we parents are all working double time.  There is no break from parenthood. There is no rest. There is no perfect balance. There is only doing the best we can.  And while we go into parenthood knowing this, it doesn’t make it any easier. This journey called parenthood is the most amazing journey life has to offer, but sometimes the road is bumpy. Sometimes it even seems impossible. That’s why we need to help and support one another, not tear each other down, and certainly not shut each other up.

So Momma, the next time a friend knocks at your door with her “greasy hair and caffeine withdrawals”, instead of telling her to “just be content or quit your whining” maybe you could try listening. Maybe you could offer some help, or just some sympathy. Or maybe you could offer up some pie for her friggin’ pie-hole. Pie always makes me feel better.

Just a suggestion.

With respect,

Courtney

shut up

 

photo credit: LaVladina via photopin cc

Nov 192013
 

Fact:  When you are home with two kids, on the relatively small chance that the planets align and you can get both of them to sleep at once, there is time enough to pick exactly two things to do with this rare sliver of “alone time”. This list consists of the following leisure activities:

1) Eat lunch

2) Shower

3) Shave while showering

4) Nap (ha)

5) Exercise (double ha)

6) Fold laundry

7) Check email OR blog OR work

Today I arrogantly attempted to circumvent these rules by showering (without shaving which I am sure that both my husband and ObGyn will appreciate) and then typing this blog WHILE eating. Genius right? Except now I have salad dressing all over my laptop. And by salad dressing, I mean pizza sauce.

I would expand more on this topic but now my baby is crying, which means that my daughter will soon be crying. Did I mention I also have pizza sauce – I mean salad dressing – all over my shirt? Damn. I should have picked laundry.

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 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??
photo credit: Avard Woolaver 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 062012
 

The other day my daughter, Lyla, and I were at Starbucks fueling my caffeine and sugar addictions, when suddenly Lyla starts pointing out the window and saying, “Mama! Mama!” She was so excited, but for the life of me I could not figure out what she was pointing at. She’s only 18 months old, so often our communication is akin to platform flip-flops: confusing at best.

First I tried the “What do you see out there?” tactic. Airplane? – No.  Doggie? – No. Homeless person pushing a shopping cart that you think has a baby inside? – No, No, No!  So I switched tactics.  Perhaps she is wondering where her dad is.  Sometimes she gets our names confused. And in her defense, I had just finished working out and was sweaty and more than a little manly looking. So I said, “No honey, Mama is right here.  Papi is at work, but we will see him later tonight.”  She looked at me like I was an idiot (is it possible to be embarrassed in front of your one-year-old?) and began pointing even more emphatically out the window. “Mama! Mama!”

Lyla was starting to get frustrated, and I was starting to get desperate.  So I picked her up and walked to the window saying, “Show me what you are talking about, honey.” But when we got to the window, instead of pointing outside, she began pointing to the Starbucks logo on the window.  “Mama!” she said with a smile.  For a moment I looked between the logo and my daughter in pure puzzlement.  Yes, I do drink enough coffee for her to equate me with the beverage, however, usually it is not from Starbucks.  “Mama!”  she said again, pointing at the logo then stroking my hair.  I had never really looked at the logo before, so I studied it for a minute.  Suddenly it hit me, she thinks the logo is a picture of me.  So I said, “Oh!  This looks like me?  This looks like mama?”  And she smiled like the sun and said, “Yeah!” so happy that I had finally stopped being a total idiot and understood what she was trying to tell me.

It’s actually not a bad compliment.  The Starbucks logo is based on a 16th century Norse woodcut of a mermaid or Siren to go with Seattle’s nautical roots.  (I looked this up, I don’t actually know this much useless Starbucks information.  Just other kinds of useless information.)  Starbucks chick is kind of a babe. This is solid proof that to your children, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.  So I was happy. However, I think my daughter will be sorely disappointed that I am not actually Mrs. Starbucks when she is filling out those loan applications for college.  Maybe I will just tell her that I drank away our fortune.

 

Have you ever noticed what a babe the Starbucks chick is?

Does Starbucks owe me image royalties? Or at least free coffee?

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 102012
 

Since becoming a parent 16 months ago, I have done many things that I thought I would NEVER do.  I have nonchalantly wiped my daughter’s poop from my forehead, licked a kleenex and then used it to wipe her face, picked up a cracker that she threw on the floor and then gave it back to her to eat (hey, it was the last one!), let her run around with a watermelon-stained shirt for hours because I was too tired to change it and knew it would only get dirty again, and let myself run around in a vomit-stained shirt for hours because I was too tired to change it and knew it would only get dirty again… just to name a few NEVERs.

Although I have learned to never say never, the truth is that before becoming a parent, I have never been so tired.  I have never been so ungroomed, disorganized, forgetful, weepy, or tired… did I mention tired?  I have never gone so long without seeing or at least talking to many of my friends.  I have never gone so long without seeing an adult-sized human.  I have never gone so long without getting my hair highlighted, shaving my legs, putting on make-up or even showering.  I have never gone so long while sleeping so little.  That is the truth.

But I have never, ever laughed so much, loved so hard, or felt so happy.  And somehow (in a way that I think you have to be a parent to understand) this love and laughter far outweighs a little vomit and sleep deprivation.

The truth about parenting is that it is a math equation that doesn’t add up, but somehow works anyway.

Laughter… a serious side-effect of parenting.

photo credit: Loyal O.A.K. via photo pin cc

Sep 062012
 
Pink Sherbet Photography / Free Photos

Happiness is… my daughter waking up and immediately wanting to start a dance party.  7 am might be a bit early for dancing in your house, but not in mine!  After a couple of nights of my own insomnia and a few rough nights for my teething daughter (including this mornings 4 am original wake-up call) I was dragging ass this am, sure that it was going to be a rough day.  But my daughter’s sweet smile and booty shaking to “Call Me Maybe” (her choice, but how could I argue?) turned the whole day around for me.  Now I am in a great mood and in turn having a great day.

Lesson:  Start your day with a smile and a little bump n’ grind, and never have a bad day again.