“Anyone who says that sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.”
I spend most of my days teaching my daughter stuff. Important stuff like words, numbers, colors, how to read, how to poopoo in the potty, and how to say “Cheerio mate!” with a British accent. But as much as I teach her, I swear that she teaches me more. Yesterday’s lesson: How to Make Your Day Kick Ass!
You know those nights when you come home after a long, tiring day and just want to flop down on the couch, shovel carbs into your face hole and stare blankly at the TV? Or perhaps you have been home with your kids for an equally long, tiring day and you just want to flop down on the couch, shovel carbs into your face hole and stare blankly at the TV. But instead of some well-deserved couch time you get to do the Evening Scramble because there is dinner to be made, baths to be given, and finicky husbands – I mean children – to feed. You know those nights? Well, that was where I was last night.
It was a Monday, and a Monday after a vacation, at that. My husband had just gotten home from work, tired and hungry. I was scrambling to clean up the aftermath of the natural disaster that is my daughter’s dinner (can I get some FEMA up in here?) while simultaneously making a fabulous dinner – ok a dinner – for my husband and I. My daughter was running around, begging for attention. So, to distract her for the 2.4 minutes I needed to finish cleaning up, I turned on some music. It was Foster The People Pandora if you must know (I’ve had it up to HERE with Elmo singing! Maybe the next Elmo could have a less annoying voice, huh? And perhaps not be a pedophile. ALLEGEDLY**) Anyway, I cranked up the tunes and got back to the Evening Scramble.
A few minutes later I turned around to check on my daughter, and saw that she was dancing. Beautifully, maniacally, joyfully, hand-clappingly, booty-shakingly dancing with all her might. If you have never seen a one-year-old dance, there is truly nothing better in the world. Usually I don’t make a habit of posting many photos or videos of my daughter, because I feel like she deserves some semblance of privacy. Although, for some reason it doesn’t bother me to share her every word, action and fart with the world, but hey, it’s my blog and I will share if I want to. Anyway, I don’t usually share videos, but this video of her dancing is pure happiness, so I feel like it is my duty to share it with the world. Check it out on my Facebook page (and like my page while you are there!) If you can watch this video and not smile, then you are dead inside. Pack your shit and go try out for The Real Housewives.
So last night my daughter was dancing in her amazing way, and as my husband and I stood watching her, she ran over and grabbed our hands and pulled us to the dance floor (aka living room). Yes, the kitchen was still a mess and the dinner was beginning to burn, but when a kid commands you to shake your ass, your ass gets shaken. So we danced. And then we danced some more. At first, I was trying to teach my daughter some dance moves, but she looked at me like I was crazy and kept doing her thing. So instead I let her teach me. I copied HER moves, and man was it fun! And now, in yet another act of kindness, I will teach you.
Step One: Put on some booty-shaking music. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as gets your booty bouncing.
Step Two: Turn it up!
Step Three: Turn it up more!
Step Four: Turn it down already! Do you want to make your child deaf?! What kind of parent are you anyway?
Step Five: Close your eyes. Start to move your body. No one is watching you. No one cares if you are on-beat, in-time, or cool at all. Freeing right?
Step Six: Now that no one is watching you, just relax and let your body take you where it wants to go. Clap your hands, jump up and down, kick your legs, twirl around until you fall down, laugh until you cry.
Step Six: Repeat until your heart is beating out of your chest or the fire alarm goes off… whichever comes first.
We all danced like that for another 20 minutes or so, until it was time to get back to the business of life. You always have to get back to business eventually, that is the way that life works. But when I got back to making my (slightly charred) dinner, I was doing it with a smile on my face and my ass still twitching to the beat. I felt more energized and much happier than if I had flopped down on the couch as I had wanted to. It was a great way to end the day, and I am going to try it as often as possible. And then, when I am done dancing and my heart is doing the samba and my stomach aches from laughter, only then I will flop down on the couch, shovel carbs into my face hole and stare blankly at the TV.
**Don’t sue me Elmo!!
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.
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.
Wedge heels: Almost comfortable.
Movie theaters that let you pour your own butter on your popcorn. Yes!
Stretchy jeans: I refuse to call them jeggings.
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.
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.
Ok, so here’s the post that I was trying to write when my fingers told me that I really wanted to write about something else…
It’s no secret that your life changes drastically when you have a child. Getting pregnant is an investment. You invest 10 months of your time, 100% of your hopes, dreams and fears, plus your body, your personal comfort, and sometimes even your health, knowing (and hoping that everyone who has kids wasn’t lying to you in some F-ed up prank) that everything you put into it will pay off once you are holding that sweet little baby in your arms. And then, of course, you spend the rest of your life investing in this child and hopefully reaping the benefits before the stock market crash that is called the teenage years hits… but I digress.
Like any long-term investment, along the way there are many gains and losses. I always knew that when I had a baby I would be gaining…well… a baby. (I didn’t graduate Cum Laude for nuthin!) I also knew that I would lose a few things. Mostly inconsequential things such as sleep, sanity, working brain cells and hopefully at least 60% of the baby weight. However, over the past year-and-a-half there have been a few losses and gains that I didn’t count on.
My Hair – I had heard a lot of horrifying tales about different physical things that happen to you when you have a baby, but no one ever told me about the hair thing. Besides my boobs, my hair was pretty much the only thing that actually looked better when I was pregnant. My ass may have looked like cottage cheese in a mesh sack, but my hair looked like a “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful” Pantene model. That’s why it was even harder to take when, about six months after having my daughter, it started to fall out. In clumps. And then, to add insult to injury, all these tiny little baby hairs started growing back around my hairline. Now, when I put my hair in a ponytail, I look like a nerdy girl at my Bat mitzvah… you know the frizzy-haired girl with the food in her colored braces. That one. Sigh.
My Time – No surprise here. I knew that this baby thing would be a time-suck, I just didn’t realize that even when she is at daycare or napping, 100% of my time would be devoted to her. Between all the laundry, shopping, worrying, cooking, cleaning, obsessively calling the doctor, worrying, researching the best strollers, car seats, educational toys and preschools to waste, I mean spend, my money on, I now have no time to do all those things for myself.
Sleep – Again, no surprise that I would get less sleep after having baby. However, what I didn’t realize is that when you become a parent, you lose the right to have a good night of sleep ever again. Even though my daughter now sleeps through the night, I do not. Why? Because at the slightest sigh, cough, turn, creak or fart I bolt upright, jamming the monitor to my face to make sure she is still in one piece. I can only imagine what this will be like when she is teenager out with friends. Or a boy!!! Do they make a video teenage monitor?
My mind – dlfkjath[naf’dpijht[pajf’nadl;fjhdonladj. ;atlebtpiebgldnvbdlnd;kla!! That’s how I feel at least 68% of the time.
Vanity – I guess this is not really a surprise either, but I always (disillusionedly) thought that I would be one of the cool moms with great bedhead hair and casual yet stylish clothes. You know, like Jessica Alba. Now I realize that if I was not Jessica Alba before I had a baby, then motherhood certainly won’t turn me into her. Instead I have greasy bedhead hair and casual yet decidedly unstylish clothes. Sue me, I’m tired. Not to mention, ah;bvdo;vnoiwubgvfwnpvopwirjfkm!
My keys, wallet and the ability to match shoes – At any given time, I have only one of the three.
My Boobs – I never had big boobs but at least they were perky. Now they are smaller than ever and somehow still saggy. Well, at least I got a cool blog title out of it.
My identity – Pre-baby I used to be a lot of things: Hotshot producer (at least in my mind), smartass, fun-loving friend, spontaneous wife, wino (ok, I am still a wino), foodie, party-goer, book-reader, dream-chaser. Now, I am pretty much one thing, and one thing only: Lyla’s mommy. Seriously. When I meet other moms at the playground, they ask what my daughter’s name is, but never mine. When I talk with friends, family, and my hubby most of our conversations revolve around Lyla. Most of the time I don’t mind this. She is my favorite topic of conversation. She is my greatest accomplishment. But sometimes I miss… well, me.
Yes, I have lost a lot of things since having a baby. I could actually go on and on with this list, but I will spare you more of the Tale of Two (saggy) Titties. Instead, let’s focus on the gains. First and foremost, I gained a daughter. Nothing on the list of Losses can even compare to how much I have gained from her. However, there are a few more gains that have surprised me.
Friends – Personally I have never been a fan of mommy groups. I just don’t like the idea of forcing myself to be friends with someone just because we have kids who are the same age. We may have that in common, but you wear a scrunchie and so we shall never be friends. However, since having my daughter, two wonderful things have happened: First, I have grown even closer to the friends I already have. I may not talk to them as much, but something about the bonding that happens when you complain about your kids has drawn us closer than ever. I have even grown closer to those friends who don’t have kids. When I see how much they love my daughter it makes me love them even more. The second thing that has is happened is that, despite my mommy prejudices, I have managed to make a few new amazing mommy friends. We came together because we have kids around the same age, but we have stayed together because we generally like one another’s company. I have even “met” some amazing mommies (and daddies) through this blog that I now consider friends. Sometimes there is nothing you need more than for another mommy to tell you that you are not totally failing. I am even beginning to rethink the whole mommy group thing. Do they have mommy wine clubs?!
A new career – Pre-baby I had a great job as a producer. I made good money, I worked a lot of hours, and most of the time I really liked the work. However, I always dreamed about going back to writing. Writing is my love. It is the only thing in my life that I do because I have to do it. I am not myself if I go very long without putting pen to paper (my preferred form) or fingers to the keyboard. But I was scared. Freelancing is tough. I knew it and my boss reaffirmed it when I tried to quit the first time. (Long story short: I chickened out and worked there for another year.) But once I found out I was having a baby, the money seemed a lot less important than the time I would miss with my daughter by working those long hours. I finally had the courage to quit my job and start freelancing. I make less money but have never been happier. Except when my computer breaks and I can’t call IT to fix it. Then, I curse my freelance status and stress-eat.
A really weird belly button – I never cared much about my belly button. I never liked it, I never hated it… until I had a baby and was left with this weird one. Now, I have an irrational disgust for mine. It is stretched out and kind of saggy. And I have stretch marks inside of it. And that misguided belly button ring that I got on spring break when I was 17 has come back to haunt me, ten-fold. You were right, mom!
A new outlook – Since becoming a mom my priorities have definitely changed. My daughter is the center of my universe, as she should be. But besides my priorities, my whole outlook has changed. Little annoying things don’t matter as much, and little amazing things matter so much more. I may have less of an identity, but I have become more of a person.
The ability to say wise things like, “You just don’t know what it is to be a mom until you are one.” – I always got annoyed when people would say this before I was a mom. Now I am a mom. And now I can say that being a mom is the most amazing thing in the world. Earth-shatteringly, mind-bendingly, pants-peeingly amazing. So amazing that no amount of losses could ever tip the scale. So amazing that I just can’t tell you how amazing it is until you are a parent and you find out for yourself. Yes, I can now say this kind of thing and then smile with self-satisfaction, just like those other annoying moms. And damn, it feels good!
photo credit: Clint Chilcott via photopin cc
Yesterday I woke up on the wrong side of the crib… I mean bed. It was just one of those days where nothing seems to go right. Here’s how it started:
Wake up to a beautiful day. For some reason this annoys me (not sure if it is the waking up or the beautiful day that did it.) Walk to coffee shop for the perfect combo of sugar and caffeine that will put things right. After waiting in line for 10 min, discover that the coffee shop doesn’t have lids for my to go coffees – which wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t have to walk a half mile with a coffee in each hand. Oh yeah, and if I was even half as graceful as a drunk three-year-old. Begin to feel face flush with annoyance, but wave it off. Go to another coffee shop that has lids but not the sugary latte I wanted. Pout a bit. Discover Facebook has stopped working on my phone. Pout more. Erase Facebook and attempt to redownload. Discover that before I can download Facebook again, I need to update my phone’s software. Take deep breath. Learn that before I can update my phone, I need to update my iTunes. Engage yoga/labor breathing. Find out that before I can update my iTunes I need to deauthorize my other computers and reauthorize my laptop. Aggressively chug cup of coffee. Burn throat but pretend not to notice. Discover that I can’t reauthorize my laptop because my disc is out of space.
Take deep breath. Doesn’t work. Inhale cinnamon toast. Choke on cinnamon. Repeat. Twice. Attempt to make space on laptop by removing pictures and movies onto a hard drive. Spend one hour doing this. Finally realize that in doing this, my pictures are now a mess on the hard drive without any kind of order, labeling or anything that would enable me to find any picture ever. Pick up laptop. Smash it on desk like a guitarist on stage at a rock show. Just kidding. But think hard about picking up laptop and smashing it on my desk like a guitarist on stage at a rock show. Instead text husband an angry tantrum text about how I wish technology would die and huff around the house, cleaning up by throwing things (gently) into their places. Man, I really showed those teddy bears!
The rest of the day continued on like this, with everything going a little wrong and with me totally overreacting and throwing a temper tantrum like a toddler.
When it was time to go pick up my actual toddler, I was delighted to discover that she was also in a foul mood. She didn’t want to come inside, but she didn’t want stay outside either. She didn’t want to sit in her high chair, but when I set her back down she was pissed too. She didn’t know what she wanted and nothing could make her happy. She was impossible. And I know exactly how she felt. Even though dealing with a cranky baby was the last thing I wanted to do when I was busy being a cranky baby myself, it made me smile how alike we are sometimes.
Here’s the thing though. She is a baby. I am not. Usually. She’s one and a half. I am thirty… well, ya know, old enough to know better. I am not a slave to my emotions. I have the power to turn my mood around. I just chose not too. I chose to let myself sulk and wallow in my bad mood and spend the day in a long-term temper tantrum. But then my husband came home with cupcakes and slightly frightened eyes and a patient smile. He spoke gently and coddled me, just like he does with our daughter when she is being outrageous. And you know what… it felt pretty good. I have to be an adult most of the time, but I guess every now and then I just need to be a baby. So, realizing this, I took my bottle (of wine) like a good little girl and went to bed.
And today I am an adult again. Damn.
I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing something funny. Something witty and clever and far, far, far away from the emotional and slightly sad tone my blog has taken as of late. I starting typing a blog about losses and gains – about funny things that you gain and lose after having a baby. Inconsequential things… like your mind. However, the more I started thinking about losses, the more I started thinking about loss. And, as so often happens when I am writing these blogs, my fingers began to take me somewhere that I didn’t know I wanted to go. My husband says that he learns so much about me by reading my blog, and I have to say that in writing it, I learn so much about myself. So screw funny. It’s over-rated anyway. (But stay tuned next week for the revival of my usual biting wit and thinly veiled sarcasm. Probably.)
I have had loss on my mind lately. Last weekend my husband found out that one of his good friends’ wives passed away. It was cancer. It was quick. It was devastating. I personally had only met her once as they live in London, but she was a beautiful and kind woman. She was also a wonderful mother to her two young children. Her youngest is the same age as my daughter. When we heard the news over the weekend, my heart ached for my husband’s friend who was left without a wife and especially for those two young girls who were left without a mother. But I also ached for this young, vibrant mother who will not get the chance to see her children grow up.
As I said before, I didn’t know her very well. But in the short time we spent together, I was struck by how much she reminded me of me. She was about my age. She loved her family. She loved to have fun. She loved to laugh. She loved life. We were both pregnant when we met, although she already had one daughter. She was wise and experienced and she graciously answered all of my (many, many) questions about babies and about motherhood. Since then, I expect that the past year-and-a-half since her daughter was born was a lot like mine: sleepless nights, blissful moments, more laughter than she ever thought possible. I am sure that she spent many hours marveling at the perfection of her daughter’s face and imagining the possibilities of her daughter’s future, much the way that I have.
Then she woke up one day, just like any other day, but on this day she had a headache. She woke up with plans and hopes and dreams, just like any other day, but she didn’t know that this particular day would be her last. She didn’t know that she would never get to see her children grow up, get married, or have children of their own. She didn’t know that she would never again get to marvel at the beauty of her daughter’s face or get the chance to discover who her daughters will become.
She reminded me a lot of me, and I think that’s why I felt the loss so greatly, even though I barely knew her. If it could happen to someone like her, then it could certainly happen to someone like me. None of us know which day will be our last. And as sad as this thought makes me, it is also a reminder of how wonderfully precious life is. A wise somebody once said that we should, “Live every day like it is our last.” And while I do think this is sound advice, I also think it is a bit too sad for my taste. It is hard to think of our last days without feeling a bit melancholy, and I don’t want to live every day like that.
Instead, I am going to try to live every day as if it is my first. Like a child. Full of the magic and wonder and true appreciation that comes from experiencing everything for the first time. Without the fear and regret we learn as we get older and “wiser”, and without the ambivalence that often comes with age. The world is full of amazing things and people and moments that, as adults, we often fail to recognize or even see.
My daughter’s new word is “Wow!” A bird in the sky gets a heartfelt “Wow!”; fitting the right puzzle pieces together gets a “Wow!”; seeing a dog on the street gets a “Wow!”; even my stepping out of the shower naked got a “Wow!” (It’s been a while since that happened, but I will try not to let it go to my head.) A bite of cheesecake, a big splash in the bath, my funky neon green nails, a great song, a perfect hi-five… all of these are deemed “Wow!” worthy by my daughter. And they are. Each and every day is full of these simple Wow! moments if we are young and wise enough to recognize them.
And while I hope that I have many, many (many, many, many, many) more Wow! moments left before my last day, I am going to try to live them all like they are my first.
photo credit: Frederic Mancosu via photopin cc
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
– Marilyn Monroe
I don’t have much in common with this tragic, lovely lady, but I do have some of her flaws. And I have some flaws all my own. Thank goodness I found someone who not only can handle me, but loves being my handler.
In relationships, learn to let go of the little things and look at the big picture. You will be a lot happier!
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.”