Jul 232012
 

When you are a parent, joy comes at the most unexpected (and often needed moments.)  Like when you’ve had a rough day, and your child runs to greet you when you get home.  Or when you are at your wit’s end with her, and she suddenly just gives you a big hug.  Even an expected smile can fill your heart with more joy than you thought possible.

Or like yesterday:  While waiting forever for someone to help us at Babies R Us (don’t even get me started,) out of nowhere my daughter starts booty dancing and then moshing to some random 80’s song playing in the store.  She was dancing so hard that she fell down numerous times, and then picked herself up and started again.  She didn’t even notice my husband and I laughing our asses off nearby.  Her pure joy in dancing was transferred to us both.  Those 3 minutes made my whole weekend and made up for any other annoyances and exasperation that I felt.

I know that it is cliché (like that’s ever stopped me before) but truly, life with kids is about finding joy in the little things.  It is the little moments that make a big life.

Jul 102012
 

After 16 days, 3 countries, 27 hours of flight time with a 14-month-old, 5 hours of total flight time without baby, 12+ hours in a car with baby, 6 bus rides, 2 train rides, innumerable taxis, 2 sleeping pills, 2 all-nighters, countless bottles of wine, 12 gelatos, 4 lbs (a small price to pay), many frustrated screams, many, many nervous laughter outbursts (I tend to laugh at inappropriate times when I am stressed), 1 amazing wedding, 1 week with my husbands lovely family, 0 relaxation and too much laughter to count… I have returned.  And along with a small spare tire around my belly and a couple of crappy souvenirs (sorry family!) I have brought many stories to tell.  But, as I am still exhausted from everything listed above, I will start you out with the following list.

10 THINGS I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION

1.  Discovered that a baby screaming on a plane while all the other passengers are trying to sleep is NOT the end of the world.  As much as I was dying inside at the thought of being “that mom”,  I got over it.  And I am sure that the other passengers did too. Eventually. And even if they didn’t, I will most likely never see any of them again anyway.

2.  Learned the art of the afternoon nap.  Italians are very good at this.  It took me a couple of days and a couple of bottles of wine at lunch to learn, but I finally got the hang of it… just in time to come back to the real-non-napping world.

3.  Walked around in my bikini WITHOUT SUCKING MY STOMACH IN.  Hey, if 82-year-old Italian women with breasts that look like beach balls in a trash bag can rock a bikini with confidence, I sure as hell can too.

4.  Stayed up all night to confirm that, yes, currently there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Norway.  Twice.

Bonus:  No getting up with baby, who was safely with her Grandparents in a different country.  Hallelujah!

5.  Made sand castles on the beach, paddled around with the entire family on a paddle boat with a slide, rented one of those 6 person bicycle-cars where you strap your kids to the front, and partook in other various cliche familial activities I swore I would never do – and had more fun than I have had in a long time.

6.   Gained 4 lbs.  This is only notable because I expected it to be much more considering my daily meal schedule in Italy:

Breakfast:  Americano coffee with latte frio.  Brioche and toast with Nutella.

Lunch:  Salad and grilled vegetables, followed by a first course of pasta or risotto, followed by a second course of meat or fish, followed by a dessert of fruit or gelato.  All washed down with a few glasses of white wine and sparkling water.

Aperitivo:  1-2 drinks made with Aperol, such as a Negroni  (gin, Aperol, and sweet vermouth) or Aperol Spritz (champagne and Aperol)  plus nuts, focaccia, chips or whatever the bar brings to the table.

Dinner:  Another 4 delicious courses, similar to lunch, ending with fruit and dessert.

Walk around town, ending with 2 scoops of gelato. Yum.

See… only gaining 4 lbs is pretty much a miracle.  Maybe I sweat off the rest of the weight on the night the hotel air conditioning broke.  Don’t ask.

7.  Spent hours and hours walking around the small Italian town of Cesenatico in the middle of the night when my jet-lagged and over-excited daughter didn’t want to go to sleep.  AND kicked my flip-flop an impressive distance when a cockroach crawled on my foot during one of these walks.

8.  Sang Itsy-Bitsy Spider in every single accent my husband and I could think of (British, Southern, Gangsta, Spanish, Indian,  Rastafarian, Alien, the list goes on and on…) in a desperate attempt to entertain my daughter after 5 hours in the car.

9.  Saw more peni (is this the plural of penis?) barely concealed in thin spandex speedos in one day than I ever hoped to in an entire lifetime.  I’m still recovering.

10.  Learned to let it go (kind of), take a breath and just laugh when my daughter didn’t behave as I would like.  She was in a new place with new food, new people, new schedule… new everything.  Is it any wonder that she doesn’t want to sit in her high chair for a 2-hour 4-course dinner, stay seated and silent after 9 hours on a plane, or sleep when WE wanted her to even though her body was telling her otherwise?  When I would get really frustrated, I forced myself to take a step back and just laugh.  Usually.  If that didn’t work, there was wine and gelato.

Until next time… Ciao!

Jun 212012
 

A sick husband, a hivey (and thus unsleeping baby), a last-minute job, a non-functioning internet connection, a wild goose chase to fix said non-functioning internet connection, not to mention shopping, laundering, researching, packing, stressing and grooming for a two-week trip with my husband and daughter.  After the week I have had… I need a vacation.  The good news: I have an amazing vacation planned to Italy and Norway.  The bad news: first I have to get there.  On a 15 hour flight, not counting layovers.  With a highly energetic 14-month-old.  Whoever said that it’s “all about the journey” is full of poop. When it comes to traveling with kids, it’s absolutely all about the destination.

Actually I know who said, “It’s all about the journey.”  My husband, last night.  I laughed so hard that I almost shot wine out of my nose.  Of course, he hasn’t spent the last week packing, planning, shopping, researching and stressing about our trip the way that I have. He just throws his stuff in a bag the night before we leave.  It’s not his fault.  I am the one who stresses about such things.  And I would never dream of letting him help shop or pack for our daughter.  This is a degree of control that I cannot relinquish.  It might be stressful, but there is something slightly calming about knowing without any shadow of a doubt that you have 3 changes of clothes, 20 diapers, 30 lbs. of snacks, and 50 lbs. of toys for a single flight.

The prep is done.  Now all that stands in my way is the journey itself.  But I know that if things get hairy, I can just think about the destination… pasta in my belly, wine in my bloodstream, and a smile on my lips as I watch my daughter play with her cousins.  And if that doesn’t work there’s always Xanax.

 

ps.  I will be enjoying my “vacation” for two weeks, and that means a vacation from blogging… you guys are exhausting.  But I am sure to return with loads of stories to regale you with soon.  Ciao!

Jun 082012
 

It has now been a little over a week since my eye surgery, and though everything went perfectly, I am still plagued by headaches, eyeaches, and a vague general tiredness.  I also have to be very careful with my “new” eyes, so it has really limited what I can do.  I have been unable to work, exercise, write, or blog.  I have rarely checked my email, stocked browsed on Facebook, or kicked the usual ass on Words with Friends.  I have also not been allowed to wear make-up, wash my face or really even shower.  Also, because I haven’t been feeling so hot, I have had to turn down various social engagements.  For the past week I have really been able to do little more than take care of my daughter.  And you know what… it’s been fucking awesome.

All of the things that I listed above are things that I actually really enjoy doing.  But having an excuse to NOT do them for an entire week has been such a relief.  I feel more relaxed than I have felt in a really long time. It’s amazing how much time I have when I am not constantly racing off to exercise, work, shower, blog or catch up with friends on Facebook.  I have spent a lot of quality time with my daughter without having to check my phone or email.  I have gotten a lot of errands done that I have been putting off for a while now.  I have logged more than a few hours on my couch watching silly TV.  Yesterday I even… wait for it… sat down and ate lunch.  An entire lunch.  While sitting down.  Can you imagine?! It’s been a while.

This forced “vacation” has been great.  I am totally relaxed, completely at ease, and absolutely bored.  Now, I can’t wait to get to back to the rat race. I need the stress.  I crave the chaos! (Please remind me of this when I am bemoaning the stress and chaos of the future.  Actually, don’t remind me unless you like a good slap in the face. I have a tendency to lash out when I am stressed.)

I have discovered that I like my life as busy, messy and full as possible.   So watch out world… I am rested, determined, inspired, and I can see the shit out of you.

May 312012
 

I know you will be sad to hear it, but this week you will not be receiving your highly anticipated dose of wise witticism in blog form… at least not from me.  Today I am having a minor eye surgery – almost like Cataract surgery (because I am 92 years old) where they implant a lens into my eye –  and I need to rest my eyes for a few days.  In fact, I am really not supposed to be on the computer right now, but lucky for you I have one last insight to impart.

Even though it is a minor surgery, I am terrified.  Way more terrified than I probably should be, and way more terrified than I would have been a few years ago.  Why?  Because if something happens to me… it happens to my daughter too.  And that worries me more than anything. If something went wrong with the surgery (however small the chances) she could grow up without a mom, or with a blind mom, or worst of all… with a hideously ugly mom with a terrible wandering eye.  But we can’t live our lives guided by fear.  And we definitely can’t stop living our lives because we are afraid.  Especially when it comes to our children, because I have a feeling that never goes away.

With that… here’s your quote of the day.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie

May 292012
 

My daughter is just starting to talk, so like every annoying mom, I say each new word slowly and then repeat it a few times while waving the object in question in her face.  Then she looks directly at me and usually says some random baby talk mumbo-jumbo, which I am pretty sure means, “Mom, I am a baby…not an idiot.  Stop waving stupid shit in my face and I promise to say the word when I am ready. Oh and by the way, I hate the Farmer in the Dell just as much as you do.”

May 222012
 

I have a never-ending rotation of children’s songs playing… because even when they are not actually playing they are playing in my head.  Over and over… and over and over and over again.  Have you ever listened to these songs?  Not just mindlessly sung along until you want to blow your brains out, but really listened?  Who the fuck writes these songs?  And what the hell do they mean?

The Farmer in the Dell sounds like a Sunday Afternoon Movie on TLC.  “The Farmer takes the wife.  The wife takes the Child.  The nurse takes the dog.”  Taking them where?  To the Dell?  The Dell sounds like the bottom of a deserted well to me. Kidnapping might be a good subject for a story used to scare your kids into holding your hand in a public place.  Children’s song?  Not so much.

Ring Around the Rosie?  I am pretty sure that I learned somewhere this song is about the Plague.  Regardless, “Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down,”  is never a good way to end anything.

– When It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, it’s bad enough that kid’s recess is ruined by the rain and they have to stay inside and play “Heads Up, 7-Up” (I totally cheated in that game by looking at shoes, btw)  But then we have to scare the kids by telling them about snoring old men who bump their heads and couldn’t get up in the morning.  Even a 5-year-old can decode that riddle and know that the dude is dead.  I wonder how long he laid in bed before someone found him.  Probably a long time if it was raining so hard.

– Dr. Monkey Mom, if your little monkey bumped his head and the doctor’s best advice is “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,”   then get a new doctor.  Or at least a second opinion.  Concussions are no joke.  And for god’s sake, don’t let the rest of the little monkeys keep jumping on the bed and falling off and bumping their heads one by one.  NOT.  GOOD. PARENTING.

What other upbeat, on-message children’s songs am I missing?

May 192012
 

“Dear Lord. The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here’s the deal: You freeze everything the way it is, and I won’t ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal.”

– Homer Simpson

God and I struck the same deal last night…

May 152012
 

I used to love vacation. I still do, but vacation with a baby is not the same as it  used to be.  It’s even more work than just staying home.  On the way home from my “vacation” last week, I started daydreaming about the way that vacations used to be… No work.  No responsibilities. You spend your entire day eating, playing and napping.

That’s when I realized that babies are ALWAYS on the vacation I used to have before I had a baby.

May 082012
 

The main reason that I started this blog was to say all the things that you are not supposed to say about parenthood. Like, “Hey, being a mom isn’t all smiles and rainbows.  It can be shitty sometimes (literally) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.” Or “Sometimes I fantasize about just one night ALL. BY. MYSELF.” Or “I love my daughter but sometimes she makes me so crazy I want to scream.”  I believe that the things that no one ever says about parenthood are the things that people most need to hear.  Not to scare people or dissuade them from having kids, but to let people know that if they feel this way they are not crazy or horrible people… or even worse, horrible parents.

Motherhood can be very isolating.  A new mother spends most of her time inside the confines of her house caring for her new baby, and that is just the beginning. As a new mom, you often feel isolated from your friends who don’t have kids because their lives are now so different from your own. For example, they actually get to sleep for longer than 45 minutes in a row, shower regularly, and put a cohesive thought together.  During those first few months it’s hard to find something in common with someone who doesn’t smell like baby spit-up.  It’s understandable.  But sometimes you even feel isolated from your friends who do have kids. They seem to do it so effortlessly that you are sure that they will think ill of you if you reveal your own fears and frustrations.  You also can feel isolated from your partner because he doesn’t understand what you are going through. How could he?  He’s not gestating what feels like the spawn of Pele.  His body hasn’t undergone an extreme, and mostly unpleasant, transformation (except for the sympathy weight he may or may not have gained due to a pregnant wife who may or may not have forced him to eat at places like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.  Sorry honey.)  He doesn’t wake up every two hours to let a small human suckle his nipple until it bleeds – and if he does, think about finding a new partner.  To a mother, especially a new one, it can seem like no one in the world could possibly understand the way you are feeling… and it can make you feel very alone.

The worst part is that often the people who should be supporting you, the ones who DO understand what you are going through – the moms – are the ones who can make you feel the worst.  We hear a lot about the bullying of kids. We see movies about mean girls. But what about Mean Moms?

You know the type (especially if you live in LA).  They prance around the parks, the coffee shops, and the Mommy and Me classes with their perfect hair, perfect make-up, clothes that are somehow free of spit-up and shoes that actually match (not just the outfit, but each other… a near impossible feat on 2 hours of sleep.)  They talk about their kids as though they are perfect and about motherhood as though it is easiest thing in the world. They look at you with judgement in their eyes if you so much as hint that you are tired, frustrated, scared or otherwise human.

Mean Moms don’t necessarily SAY anything mean.  Often it’s more about what they don’t say.  Like the fact that her baby woke up 12 times last night, and damn, is she tired.  (Instead, she enjoys every extra minute she gets to spend with her daughter, even if it’s at 3 AM. ) Or the fact that she is worried that her 15-month-old hasn’t said his first word yet.  (Talking is so 2011.  She is working on signing. All the celebrities are doing it.)  Or that she is having trouble losing that last 10 lbs of baby weight. (It’s actually 10 lbs. of pure muscle from her personal training sessions!)  Or that she wishes her perfect husband took more interest in their new baby. (He’s working really hard to pay for that expensive stroller.)

I could go on and on, but instead I am just going to say this – Ladies, stop it with the Mean Mom act.  Leave it for the teeny-boppers, who don’t yet know any better.  Stop trying to pretend that you have everything figured out, that life is perfect, and that you are perfect.  Reach out to other women, or men, who seem like they need help.  And if you need help, ask for it.  Many people don’t realize that you could possibly feel alone while spending 24 hours a day with a new baby, but the truth is that you can feel more alone than you ever have before.  Tell a friend and let her help you, even if all you need is an ear. (But if this friend offers to help with dirty diapers or laundry… marry this friend and don’t look back.) But the most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You are not the only one feeling hopeless or clueless or nameless.  You are not the only one who sometimes can’t remember why they thought this whole parenting thing was a good idea.  I promise that you are not the only one.  And I promise it will get better.  And if you spot a Mean Mom, let me know, and I promise to kick her ass.  At least, in my mind.  I am a total badass in my mind.