Monthly Archives: July 2014

True Life: I have Mommy Brain

When I first became a mom, I wasn’t on board with this whole “Mommy Brain” phenomenon. I thought it was simply another label invented by the patriarchy to demean women who chose motherhood as a path.

Then, I had my second child and started waking up not only to feed a newborn but at the ungodly early morning hour my toddler gets up.

My brain literally fell out of my head. And pieces of it continue to fall out of my ears daily.

Mommy brain is a pretty patriarchal term for a condition that affects all sorts of people: continuous sleep deprivation. See, with my first child, I split nighttime duties with my husband. We were both working full-time, and that was the fairest way to make sure neither of us missed too much sleep.

Also, my first child was a sleeper. Kid slept. Kid STILL sleeps. No sleep training, nothing. She likes herself some sleep.

This second one? Not so much. And since I have been mostly home, and she refuses a bottle, I literally haven’t slept more than four hours at a stretch in eleven months.

And those four hours are generous when they happen.

Which leads me to a day like to today.

Preface: Last night my baby went to bed at 11 (uggghhh) my toddler woke up to pee at 1:30, the baby are at 3ish, the toddler woke up again at 6:15, went back to sleep, and we all got up at 7:30.

After successfully managing my two at the mall while we waited for an oil change, I pick up the car, load the kids in, load the stroller, and start driving home. I glance around for my phone-I can’t see it. It’s probably still in the stroller. I drive on.

Suddenly, the car behind me starts honking and gesturing. I look back and a kindly older man is pointing at my bumper. I loop around and pull over, almost causing an eight car accident. I roll down my window.

“Your phone is on your bumper!” He says.

Sure enough, there was my phone, trapped in my hatchback, sitting on my bumper. Miraculously, it was wedged in such a way it wasn’t broken but it also couldn’t fall out.

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Just another day with mommy brain.

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True Life: I have Mommy Brain

When I first became a mom, I wasn’t on board with this whole “Mommy Brain” phenomenon. I thought it was simply another label invented by the patriarchy to demean women who chose motherhood as a path.

Then, I had my second child and started waking up not only to feed a newborn but at the ungodly early morning hour my toddler gets up.

My brain literally fell out of my head. And pieces of it continue to fall out of my ears daily.

Mommy brain is a pretty patriarchal term for a condition that affects all sorts of people: continuous sleep deprivation. See, with my first child, I split nighttime duties with my husband. We were both working full-time, and that was the fairest way to make sure neither of us missed too much sleep.

Also, my first child was a sleeper. Kid slept. Kid STILL sleeps. No sleep training, nothing. She likes herself some sleep.

This second one? Not so much. And since I have been mostly home, and she refuses a bottle, I literally haven’t slept more than four hours at a stretch in eleven months.

And those four hours are generous when they happen.

Which leads me to a day like to today.

Preface: Last night my baby went to bed at 11 (uggghhh) my toddler woke up to pee at 1:30, the baby are at 3ish, the toddler woke up again at 6:15, went back to sleep, and we all got up at 7:30.

After successfully managing my two at the mall while we waited for an oil change, I pick up the car, load the kids in, load the stroller, and start driving home. I glance around for my phone-I can’t see it. It’s probably still in the stroller. I drive on.

Suddenly, the car behind me starts honking and gesturing. I look back and a kindly older man is pointing at my bumper. I loop around and pull over, almost causing an eight car accident. I roll down my window.

“Your phone is on your bumper!” He says.

Sure enough, there was my phone, trapped in my hatchback, sitting on my bumper. Miraculously, it was wedged in such a way it wasn’t broken but it also couldn’t fall out.

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

Just another day with mommy brain.

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Humor Me

In my generation, raising kids-or should I say “parenting”- has become a very serious endeavor. More times than I can count, what begins as a lighthearted conversation about children takes on weighty importance as each contributor feels the need to stand on a soapbox about “their” topic, be it car seat safety, nursing, or organic food.

We have become so intense about certain issues, and so vehement in campaigning for them, we go overboard with serious emotion even when presented with factual information. Recently, I was attacked in an online discussion (topic: do breastfed babies need water in hot weather) where I stated that “breast milk is mostly water.” Apparently I wasn’t giving human dairy “enough power.”

Ummm, what’s up 10th grade science, if anything on the planet Earth is a liquid, it’s generally “mostly water.” (And for the record, breast milk is 88% water, which in my world is “mostly”).

To all this, I have my own personal philosophy: lighten up. Not because these issues aren’t important. They are. Not because I take things like car seat safety with a grain of salt- I don’t. I mean, I’ve spent the past 3 winters horrifying every old person I come across because my kids aren’t wearing coats in the car.

Humor about my kids, and about raising them, is what gets me through, allows me to enjoy my kids, and reframes the at times crushing inner monologue of guilt, self-doubt, and plain ‘ol exhaustion that comes along with modern parenthood. This is why, after a frustrating day, you’ll hear me say I’m going to drop them at the fire station. Or when the whole breast vs. bottle debate comes up, I’ll remark that my first child might just go to kindergarten despite being fed “the powder.”

While my particular blend of humor (sarcasm, extra dry) isn’t for everyone, I do think every parent would benefit from a laugh or two. Need somewhere to start? Honest Toddler is a good for a giggle any day of the week. For those of you who are more hardcore snark, and not easily offended, Scary Mommy can’t be beat.

What better way to teach our precious snowflakes to enjoy life than showing how laughter-just like composting-begins at home.

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Free Play: The Working Parent’s Conundrum

This summer appears to be overloaded with articles about how kids need a rest from structure and need to just play. From this blog on Scary Mommy to this article in The Atlantic, parents are being cajoled into dropping camp, swimming lessons, and Russian Math this summer and letting their kids roam free.

But here’s the catch: who is watching these kids roam free? Last I checked, most kids have one or two parents/caregivers that work at least some, if not most, of the time, outside the home.

I see this as yet another way to heap guilt on the working parent.

I want nothing more than my kids to have unstructured playtime outside. Or inside. As I am barely working this summer, and my kids go to Nonna-care (read: my mom) as opposed to daycare, my kids will have loads of time to “just play.”

In other words, in order to have this, someone has to be HOME. While many daycare centers and camps have “free time,” and “free play,” it is simply not the culture in mainstream childcare to drop your kids off and pay money to people who simply make sure your child checks in regularly and eats something. When a nanny or a babysitter is hired, free play may happen more often, but even then, the culture is to demand something of the caretaker of your children. As in, most people I know would be BENT if their nanny told their charges “go play outside,” and then watched General Hospital. If you’re going to shell out for childcare, generally you want that person to DO something for your kids.

Hence where the guilt comes in. We are supposed to give our kids unstructured free time, but leaving children home alone to roam when they are young is also not a possibility for the working person. The solution? Camps. Classes. Daycare. Why? While helicopter parenting and a zillion classes aren’t the answer, leaving, say, a five and seven year old home alone to “go play” while their grown-ups work 40+ hours per week is also not a possibility.

As my own kids grow older, and my (and their father’s) need to work more or less changes with time, I’m going to have to struggle with this as well. This summer, since I’m around, I’ll simply fight the urge to go retro on them and smoke some Pall Malls, slather myself in baby oil and tan while they go play.

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Surrounded by Love

I’ve spent most of the past year home with my two kids engaging in the work of motherhood. After going back to work when my oldest was 12 weeks old, it was both a difficult decision and a no-brainer to give up my job for one that was flexible and part-time in preparation to become a mom of 2.

As I gear up for another change in working status, (more to come
on that) there has been one piece of my experience that I did not expect that has totally, completely taken my breath away.

At the risk of sounding overly sanguine, I did not even begin to anticipate the effect it would have on my life to spend my days surrounded by love. That is the true gift I have received being with my girls this year. Despite the tears, tantrums, pee on the floor, and unidentifiable rashes, there was also a near constant stream of hugs, kisses, tickles, snuggles, and little arms wrapped around me.

I was in a difficult place in my life a year ago, and I feel that this experience has had the same effect on me that The Whos from Whoville had on the Grinch after he stole their Christmas. Being surrounded by love has been strengthening, healing, empowering. My heart has grown and exploded its previous boundaries.

For this, I am grateful.

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And it’s been awhile…

It feels like yesterday, but it’s been awhile. Almost four months, actually, since I’ve posted.

I realized in starting this post that it is because this is simply my pace right now, of getting things done.

I’m in a spot where I’m not pushing myself, and I’m also not making excuses as much. Excuses, for me, are driven by guilt. Guilt of not meeting expectations, of things coming out “less than” and of not fulfilling a self-created obligation.

Where I left off, this past winter, at the end of the polar vortex, was a place where my kids were continually sick, it was continually snowing, and life felt like it had come to a stand still.

Then I realized-this just IS. I can’t help that my babies have a multitude of illnesses; that it’s negative a zillion degrees. Things are just moving in this way.

And then, of course, we fell into the “Frozen” machine and poof! There goes the last few months of my life.

With this increasing slowness in the pace of my life, the little people who currently occupy my time have become rounder characters, filling the spaces where I used to “get stuff done.”

I’ve worked a lot of things out over the last few months as well. I struggle with self-disclosure, as I have, in the past (I’ve been blogging on and off for twelve years!) self-edited poorly, and overexposed. While I’m hardly a person of note whose life will end up in the tabloids, there are still things that need to be carefully considered before they are talked about. I write what is on my mind, as opposed to a carefully curated set of topics, so when what’s on my mind isn’t postable…well, four months go by.

But I’ve been itching lately, to post, to re-enter this forum, to communicate with all of you who take the time to read my musings.

Geez, that sounds a little overly precious.

So anyway, when I’m not chasing my kids, (the younger one now crawls like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings Movies) I’ve got some stuff to say!

TTFL, peeps.

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