Feb 112015
 

Hi Strangers! It’s been a long time, I know. I’m sorry about that. As much as I love this blog and all the support from everyone who reads it, I have a new baby with whom I’ve been spending a lot of time. Yes, I finally did it: I’m writing a novel. I hope someday you will all get to read it. I really hope that some of you will enjoy reading it even half as much as I have been enjoying writing it. I have a lot of dreams for this little book, but these dreams seem like a far off place that maybe I will get to travel to someday. So for now, I just write and dream.

But I did have to dust off the old blog because there is question that has been plaguing me, and I thought that it might be a question you have had too. So, as I like to do when I have a question that needs answering or a wonder that needs wondering, I decided to write about it with the hopes that maybe we can all figure it out together. So here goes…

What kind of mom am I?

It’s something I have definitely thought about it in the past, especially when I was a brand-spanking-new mom. Now as a wizened – although not wise – mother of two, I thought that I had pretty much come to terms with who I am. But lately, this old question has once again reared its ugly, insecure head.

See, I know what kind of mom I am not.

Despite my deepest wishes, I am not Crafty Mama. Crafty Mama subscribes to parenting magazines and frequents Pinterest to discover how to make awesomely adorable little crafts out of egg cartons and old magazine and used condoms… or whatever. I, personally, am quite pleased with myself when I buy those $3 holiday craft kids from Target and let my kids go to work sticking them together, only to have them fall apart five minutes later. I desperately wish I was Crafty Mama. But Crafty Mama, I am not.

I am not Chefy Mama either. Chefy Mama straps matching aprons on herself and her children and bakes delicious cookies from scratch, teaching her children how to clarify butter (that’s a thing, right?) with flour on their noses and smiles on all of their faces. Chefy Mama makes her own baby food, and macaroni and cheese from scratch, and then bakes gluten-free, applesauce-sweetened muffins for dessert. I am a mama who make macaroni from a box and cakes from a mix and gets semi-annoyed at all the mess. I wish I was Chefy Mama, but I am not.

I really wish I was Cultured Mama. Cultured Mama takes her children to modern art museums and classical concerts, and only lets them watch TV in French and discusses world news with her three-year-old over a perfect prepared quiche. I am a mama who takes my kids to museums when I find a Groupon, and who occasionally turns on classical music when I remember, because I read somewhere that it’s supposed to be good for them. I am not definitely not Cultured Mama. I wish I was.

I’m also not Cool As a Cucumber Mama, who let’s her kids explore the world without hovering. Cool As A Cucumber Mama lets her kids eat food off the floor and run around with runny noses and climb to the top of the monkey bars. Cool As A Cucumber Mama knows that germs and dirty faces won’t kill her children, and most importantly, she doesn’t care what people think. I am a mama who has eased up this second time around, but who is still terrified of what her kids will do when she is not watching, and even more scared of what people will think of her parenting skills if she is not watching. I wish I was Cool As A Cucumber Mama because life would be so much effing easier. But alas, I am not.

So, like I said, I know what kind of parent I am not.  I have even come to accept this about myself. But on the long, dark days when my kids are annoying me and I have no patience and I am almost too tired to microwave a TV dinner, the thought that keeps buzzing around my head is: If I am none of these kinds of moms… then exactly what kind of mom am I? And if I am NO kind of mom, then maybe that means that I’m not a good mom.

I guess I am the kind of mom who just muddles through and is happy that everyone makes it out alive. I am the kind of mom who loves her kids fiercely but is terrified that love is just not enough. I’m a mom who is convinced that her kids deserve more: they deserve freshly baked cookies and interesting crafts and a mom who isn’t afraid of anything at all.

But then there are good days. Days when I sit around the table with my kids laughing and eating freshly baked cornbread. Cornbread that came from a box, but that I made with my daughter at my side and my son on hip. Cornbread that we stirred together with my big hand over their little ones, and when I let my daughter crack the egg and she got shells in the batter, instead of getting even a little mad, I just fished them out and smiled at her and said that I like my cornbread crunchy anyway. On those good days I am able to convince myself that maybe I’m not Chefy Mama, but perhaps I’m not doing so badly after all. On those days I think that maybe I am not Cultured Mama or Crafty Mama or anything close to Perfect Mama, but that’s ok because I am Their Mama. And Their Mama can be someone who teaches them that they don’t have to be perfect to be good. That they may never fit into the mold of what they or anyone else thinks that they should be, but that they are still exactly who they should be. Maybe Their Mama can show them that great love and good intentions are enough.

Maybe, just maybe, great love and good intentions really are enough. Maybe.

Chefy Mama's lunch
photo credit: Sesame Street Ernie and rubber ducky snack lunch in Lunchbots box via photopin (license)

Dec 192013
 

I’m writing this post from my phone. Typing on the little tiny screen with one hand. My left hand.  My right hand is immovable and my right arm is falling asleep. My right boob is out. It is dripping milk and the milk is running down my side. And I can’t wipe it. And still I type. Why? Because I want to remember this. And I want you to, too. (except for maybe the part about my right boob.)

I just finished nursing my little boy and now he is asleep, splayed out on my chest like a rag doll.  My first thought was, “He’s sleeping!! Put him down and go work/launder/clean/pack/shower/eat/caffeinate while you can!”  I have a freelance job and a lot of work to do before we leave tomorrow for vacation. Oh yeah, and we leave tomorrow for vacation, which means I have three people to wash clothes, pack and stress out for. I am busy. Really busy.

But outside it is raining and cold.  And I am warm.  And I have one of the great loves of my life asleep on my chest. And it is peaceful. And good. And so I reminded myself to take this moment to soak it in. Yes, I am busy. I am always busy. But he is not busy. He has nothing he would rather do than lay on my chest and snuggle. And it won’t last long. Soon he WILL be busy. Most of the time, he will be too busy for me. And the sad part is that is precisely when I will stop being so busy. And I will spend my newly acquired freetime dreaming of the days that he snuggled on my chest like a warm piece of heaven. So for now, I will soak it in. I will be busy later.

Jun 042013
 

Ok. Forgive me, oh worshippers of biting humor and sarcasm, because things are about to get all touchy-feely for a moment.  What can I say…I’m pregnant.  Kitty litter commercials make me get all weepy these days.

I’ve had a couple tough weeks, pregnancy-wise. Nothing serious. Some minor problems and small concerns, but when your future progeny is the subject of such problems and concerns, it feels like it is serious. Besides that, I have had a roller coaster of near-dibilitating emotions. I am sure that I will write more on this later, but I basically spent a day or two feeling really sad for absolutely no reason… other than the fact that my hormones are raging more than a pimply faced teenager at a 7th grade dance.

Anyway, like every normal human on this planet, I have had some bad days.  And you know what got me through?? Love.

My husband’s love and care and understanding, even when I am crying on the bathroom floor for no apparent reason, other than the fact that he asked me what he could do to make me feel better and I burst into tears because there was nothing to be done except hope that the next day I would feel normal.

My friends’ love. Chatting on the phone with a friend and making plans for her upcoming visit. Just looking forward to spending time with her and her family has gotten me through some sad and scared moments.

Skyping with two friends the other night and just laughing my ass off, as I as lay in bed, so tired and sad that I had gone to bed at 8:30. Laughing with them made me feel so much better than the oblivion of sleep.

Every conversation I have with a few other friends who are also pregnant, remind me that I am not alone in some of the things I am going through.

My parents’ love. When I was feeling really scared yesterday about what I would do in a certain situation, just hearing my mom’s voice made me feel better.  And the fact that she offered to jump on a plane to come help me, made all my fears start to disappear.

My family’s love.  Talking to my brother on the phone about serious things one minute and hilarious things the next, made me so grateful I have him and reassured me that having baby #2 is the best gift that I could ever give my daughter.

Seeing my aunt and uncle and cousin this weekend and feeling how much they love my daughter made me so happy that I have them nearby. Their offers of help, without me even having to even ask, made me realize how lucky I am to have family close to me, even though my parents are far.

And most of all, what gets me through every tough time, is my daughter’s love. Although she sometimes drives me crazy with her toddler ways, she always snaps me out of a funk with a joke or a hug. She reminds me how beautiful life is and how lucky I am. She reminds me that everything will work out just fine.

And for all the other millions of acts of love that my friends and family and even strangers give to me daily, that are far too numerous to write here, I am truly grateful.

To quote some brilliant philosopher, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.” It is true.

Thanks for reading.  We will return to your regularly scheduled sarcasm shortly.

hands
photo credit: rogiro via photopin cc

May 132013
 

Happy Mothers Day to the best Mommy in the world… Me!  Just kidding.  But wouldn’t that be funny if I said that?  Ok, let’s start again.

Happy Mother’s Day to the best Mom in the world.  Mine!  I know everybody says that, especially on a day like today, and I am sure that in many cases it is true.  I certainly hope that every mom is the best possible mom to their own children. My mom certainly has held up her end of that deal. She has always been the most loving, supportive and fun mother that I could ever ask for. I hope that I have done my part as her daughter to show her the gratitude and respect that she deserves every single day of the year, not just on Mother’s Day. God knows that after raising me she has earned it.

I love you Mom and am eternally grateful for the life you have given me and the person you have made me… every single day.

Love this lady!!

Love this lady!!

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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Mar 142013
 

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” 

~Louise Erdich, The Painted Drum

I think this explains perfectly the wonderful, painful journey of parenthood.  For nothing fills your soul, breaks your heart and swallows you up more than being a parent.

 

Apple Tree of Life

Apple Tree of Life

photo credit: Mez Love via photopin cc

Feb 252013
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Travel makes me happy!

Travel makes me happy!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Feb 142013
 

 

Get ready for my blog to touch you like you've never been touched before. Wait, that sounded weird...

Get ready for my blog to touch you like you’ve never been touched before. Wait, that sounded weird…

Hi all.  Welcome to the new and improved version of The Good, The Bad and The Saggy!  It has a new look but it will still have the same Good, Bad, and Saggy style you have come to know and love.  Or perhaps that you slightly recognize and barely tolerate… but still.  Whether you have read my blog before or this is your first time, I have a Valentine’s gift and promise for you:  I vow to touch you like you’ve never been touched before.  That’s what I do. I touch people. Lots of people.

For a long time now I have wanted to recreate my blog in a way that is easier to find and to navigate. But, as you may have realized by now, I am not so handy on this thing that we call the computer.  I can use Word. I can email. I can find hilarious photos of animals dressed as humans on Google. And that’s about it. Fortunately for me, I have a good friend who is great at this kind of stuff, and he offered to take the time out of his busy life to help me build this new site.  And by help me, I mean that he did the whole damn thing.  He is an amazing dad, blogger and person who I aspire to be more like… except the whole dad thing.  No offense to dads, but I am fine with being a mom.  However, it would be cool to have a penis. Just for like a day. To pee standing up, and watch it flop around when I dance around naked. That would be cool for a day. But then I would go back to being a mom/woman.  Anyway, I digress… he is amazing.  Check out his wonderful blog and get inspired.

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If you have time, feel free to browse around my new blog and check it some of my posts.  If you like what you see and want to see more, you can follow me by email, as well on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. (I’ve somehow grasped the basics of this whole social media thing.) See you soon! I have much to say and now I have a whole new blog to say it!

ps. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Yes, YOU!  And even you… sort of.

 

photo credit: ~Aphrodite 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