Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Enjoy every moment."

I posted this on Facebook this evening:

Which led to me thinking for the umpteenth time about those women (with grown children) you occasionally run into in the grocery store who look at your child(ren) with a wistful smile and then tell you to "enjoy every moment."

For the record, I know how very, very fortunate I am that I get to be the mommy to my son and the little one we're expecting in September.

I am in a position to be able to choose to stay home with my children, and I know that there are other women out there who want to do the same and aren't able to; I realize what a privilege that is.

But I will tell you the truth: some parenting moments are more "have to" than "get to." Like cleaning up vomit. Or dealing with tantrums. Or waking up ridiculously early. Or changing poopy diapers. Overall, I wouldn't trade this job with anyone, but I'd be thrilled to have a pinch hitter or designated barf cleaner every now and again.

So when people tell you to enjoy every moment with your young children, just keep in mind that they themselves definitely didn't. They're looking back with rose-colored glasses at the parenting-of-young-kids experience as a whole. The cuddles, the wet kisses, the enthusiasm, the not being embarrassed to be seen with you in public. Those things are beautiful and wonderful and you should absolutely try to enjoy them as much as you can. But the moments (or days - or weeks) that you don't enjoy? Don't feel bad about them. That's not you being a bad mom; that's you being a human being. Being a good mom doesn't mean that you have to be filled with ecstasy by every single moment you spend with your child. And the more time you waste feeling guilty that you honestly just hate bath time, the less time you have to bask in the moments when your little boy pats your face and says "Mama best lady."

So if you're a little worn out by parenting today, give yourself a break, a pat on the back, and a piece of chocolate. And if you should happen to stumble across a company that has someone on call to clean up vomit 24 hours a day, could you please pass along the phone number? I'd really appreciate it.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Letting My Little Bear Play

A year or two before I had Lucas, a polar bear at the local zoo had a baby. (A polar bear baby. Just so we're clear.) When we visited the zoo after the bear cub was old enough to be out in the main enclosure, everyone was crowding around the viewing window to see him playing with a giant ball in the pool. As the cub played, his mother just paced next to the water. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth; never more than a few feet away from her baby, her eyes never leaving him. Occasionally she would let out a little warning growl - whether to her baby or as a reminder to the crowds to stay away, I'm not sure. While her little cub swam carefree in the water, she was the picture of unwavering maternal attention. At the time, I thought it was adorable. So sweet. So motherly. So full of adoration and maternal instinct.

Now, I identify way too much with that mamma polar bear. And I know that what I was witnessing was not cute. It was not sweet. It was a mom freaking the heck out about the millions of dangers that her little one was being exposed to. Where was the life guard? The life jacket? Why was there no sunscreen available? How deep was the pool, was it warm enough, and when was the last time it was cleaned? Did that kid just sneeze in the direction of her cub without covering his mouth??

My son is two, and almost every day (sometimes every hour) I have to fight the very real urge to be that mom. The mom who sprays a can of Lysol ahead of her as she walks through Walmart with her child. The mom who freaks out because her son waved a kind-of-sharp-looking piece of toast near his eye. The mom who puts a winter hat on her child 11 months out of the year. The mom who (this is true) was planning to have the backyard jungle gym that came with our house torn down because the slide was too steep.

Before I became a mom, I didn't even know that "mama bear" was in me, and now I spend much of my time trying to shush her. "It's good that he's learning to be more independent," I tell her in a soothing voice. "Even if he skins his knee, he's going to be fine. I promise, nobody ever died of hypothermia in 67 degree weather."

Yesterday I took Lucas to an art and music festival. A group called The Wanna Bees (great band for kids, by the way) was playing on stage, and they were encouraging the kids to dance and jump along with the music. At first, Lucas stayed on my lap.
Yes, he has a mustache. Instead of a regular face-painting booth, they had a free mustache booth.
Lucas kept calling it his "mustard."
Then he stood in front of me, watching the band and the other kids. And then he made his way out to the grassy area by the stage where a few of the kids were jumping and dancing along with the performers. Although he was in a safe, enclosed space, he was farther away from me than he has ever been in public before. And I had to quiet my inner polar bear mom more than once: at the sight of him so far away from me for the first time, when the little girl dancing with him accidentally knocked him over and fell on top of him, and then when he knocked them both over again. I suppressed my very strong urge to hover two feet away from him (maybe growling occasionally) and instead sat on the grass and watched him play. He would glance over at me every minute or so, smile and wave, and I would smile my biggest smile and wave back. And then my little boy - who sometimes won't go to people he's known his whole life without repeated urgings and me holding his hand - did something that surprised me. One of the performers asked if some of the kids wanted to come up on stage, and Lucas walked right up there.

As silly as it might sound, I felt so proud of him. And maybe a little teary (dang pregnancy hormones.) He stood up there calmly and clapped his hands at all the right times (ok, so he was supposed to be pretending to hammer, but he's two. It's close enough.)

It made me glad that I'd silenced my inner mama bear long enough to let my little cub be brave and have a fun new experience. It even made the temper tantrum that he threw when he had to come down worth it... almost. So in the future, I'm going to make a more concerted effort to back off ever so slightly while my son explores his world. I even agreed to keep the slide (see? I'm growing.)

But if you ever run into me at the zoo and you see me exchange a long look with one of the polar bears, don't be surprised. It's just that we have this kind of unspoken connection. She totally gets me.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

All the times I was never famous

Sometime in November, I was just hanging out, thinking normal mommy thoughts (like "Is it almost bedtime?") and saying normal mommy things (like "No, Lucas, don't put your shoes in the garbage.") when I got an alert on my phone that I had an email. It was from someone at a major news website that I guarantee you've heard of, unless you're my husband.

The email asked me if I wanted to participate in a live parenting panel discussion on their site. My internal reaction pretty much went like this: "Oh my gosh! I'm famous! Wait. Is this a scam? They probably sent this to the wrong person. Do they know my blog isn't hugely popular? What if they think I'm an expert in parenting and then they find out that I let my kid play with garbage?? Oh my gosh. I'M FAMOUS!!!" And then I tried to breathe like a normal person while I said to Dan, "Um, so... you've heard of (Name of ridiculously famous news site,) right?" and Dan said, "No." So that deflated my rapidly expanding ego back to its normal size.

They wanted me to participate either the next day or sometime in the future, and I sent back a really professional-sounding email that said something like, "Um. I'm babysitting my friend's toddler tomorrow. Can I do it another time?" And then they didn't answer my email. And I thought, "Augh! I blew my chance at my fifteen minutes of fame!" although actually the parenting panel lasts twenty minutes, so that made it extra disappointing - even more disappointing than that time I wasn't a Japanese television sensation. So then I watched part of the show they wanted me to be on and then emailed them again to let them know I really, really wanted to be on it. Because, you know, nothing says "I'm professional and eloquent" quite like obvious desperation. And then.... absolutely nothing happened.

Then in April, I got an email from someone at a huge marketing firm that was interested in syndicating some of my blog posts for some major brand websites, and I was like, "Oh my gosh! I'M FAMOUS FOR REAL THIS TIME!!" I had a long phone interview with a really nice guy, and the whole thing sounded extremely promising, but then when he asked how often I post, I told him, and he said that most of the websites they represent want to work with bloggers who post more frequently, but that maybe it would still work. I was supposed to get some kind of syndication and licensing paperwork to sign, but... it didn't come. So I emailed him a follow-up email the next day... and again a few days later. And... nothing.

Then a few days before Mother's Day, I got an email from a reporter for another large news website asking if she could interview me for a piece she was writing about modern stay-at-home moms. Naturally, I thought, "I AM DEFINITELY, SERIOUSLY FAMOUS FOR REAL THIS TIME!!" She interviewed me, (and she was very sweet,) and she said that the article would be published on Mother's Day and she'd email me when it was up. And then Mother's Day came and went. I checked the site obsessively, and... no me. What appears to have happened is that one of the other moms she interviewed had a much more human interest-y (what? That's a word now.) life story than the rest of us did, so she did an article that was just about that mom instead.

So a few weeks ago, I submitted a post to a website called Scary Mommy, which has over 287,000 fans on Facebook and gets more than 10 million pageviews a month. And Jill, the mom behind Scary Mommy, responded within half an hour to say that she loved the post and that it was perfect for her site and that she'd publish it on May 27. To which I thought, "I'll believe it when I see it." Because, come on guys, I may not learn quickly, but I learn eventually.

But this morning, MY POST WAS ON SCARY MOMMY! Ahhh!! It's a post about things you really need to do before you have your first child, and it's already been shared over 10,000 times on Facebook (I may have been stalking it all morning like a giant weirdo.)

I'm not sure if I want to read any of the comments because I'm sure there will be negative ones, and I don't want any rain on my parade. (There's got to be at least one that says, "What was up with that random quotation mark in the middle of nowhere? And how did you manage to get the name wrong for the book What to Expect When You're Expecting?" Answer: I don't know!! But it will haunt me forever. Sigh.)

So, now that I've totally been published on the internet, you're welcome to bring your laptop or smart phone over, and I'll gladly autograph the screen for you. We famous people like to give back to society.

(For the record, "famous" is defined as "18 whole new likes on your blog's Facebook page in one day," right? Just checking...)

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