Category Archives: motherhood

It’s Not Me… it’s You: a Letter to My Children

When my daughter was born six years ago, I sat down and wrote her a letter. A love letter in fact. I talked about how she taught me to love deeply, and unconditionally, and how she was the most precious and amazing gift I could ever ask for.

It’s an amazing feeling when you first become a mother: something about the smell of the new baby, the way they look and feel so perfect sleeping on your shoulder, your out-of-control hormones and the lack of sleep – all these things make you feel like you’re floating (sleep-walking) in some sort of an alternate universe.

The sad thing is that alternate universe soon becomes a reality, and six years and another baby later I am ready to write a different sort of letter:

Dear Children,

Your father and I feel very fortunate you came into our lives. Your smiles and laughter brighten our days and our love for you is so deep and true that it hurts sometimes.

letter pic
You know what else hurts? When you pull my hair when I’m holding you. And when you bite my lips when I ask for a kiss and refuse to let go, when you kick me, or when you throw things directly (and at times deliberately) at my head.

So I am writing this letter as a way to say that you need to give me some space. This has nothing to do with my love for you. Believe me: it’s not me, my dear children, it’s you…

I love you very much and I’m sure you love me too. But perhaps we should start doing some things separately.

Like going to the bathroom. I really don’t need hugs and kisses when I’m in there, and I’ve got the wiping thing down, so no help needed in that area either. Also, I can sort out my own reading material thankyouverymuch – which is not to say that I don’t appreciate flipping through “highlights” magazine or looking for Waldo.

Another thing we can do separately? Sleep. I love your soft cheeks and light snoring in the night.

But dude you kick me! Like all the time! In my side, my stomach and even my face. Also, you sometimes sleep on me. Not by me, or next to me, but actually on me. So when I wake up tired in the morning it is not because stress kept me up all night, worrying about the state of the world, or work, and stuff. No! It was you who kept me up all night. With your kicking and punching and let’s face it, sometimes not so soft snoring.

Traveling with you isn’t so great either. Nor is going to restaurants or shopping. When your father and I seem agitated on the plane or overly apologetic to our servers at restaurants it’s not because of something we did. No, my dear children, it’s you. Nine times out of 10, it’s you!

In closing I would like to reiterate our love for you and commitment to our relationship. We are not looking to make major changes, just need a bit of space.

The important thing to remember is this: It’s not me… it’s you.

Love you!

Returning to work

I got a job.

By that I don’t mean “hey I got a job, you know, cause being a mom is a job”. (I will be keeping that one too, of-course). I mean a paying job, working for “the man” (or is it “the person”).

As of Tuesday morning, I will join the American work-force and contribute to society in more ways than raising two of the world’s most amazing children and possible future Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners (Nobel prize winners don’t need to be potty trained right?)

So as I sit here, enjoying my third glass of wine*, I realize that this is the end of a very important chapter in my life.

So many firsts in the past five years, so many diapers, so many things thrown at my head, so many music and little gym classes, so many healthy, nutritionally balanced meals prepared with love and thrown on the floor in fits of rage. So many hours spent with my kids.

As I look back at my life over the past few years, I can’t help but think of all the things I will miss about being a full-time mom and those that I won’t.

I will miss:

1. Spending a lot of time with my children

2. Being there for first words and first steps and comforting them whenever they get hurt and are upset

3. Cooking for them

4. My long workouts (seriously, I’m going to have to get up before 6am so that I can squeeze in a quick run in the morning!)

5. Midweek hangovers *

6. Living in skinny jeans

7. Living in UGGS in the winter (yes, I know they are ugg-ly but I love them so)

I will not miss:

1. Spending a lot of time with my children

2. Hearing any of the following:

“You’re just a mom?”
o You’re just an a**hole?

“You are doing the most important job in the world”
o Do people use this tone when saying the exact same thing to paediatric oncologists and heart surgeons?

“What do you do all day?”
o Drink, watch soaps and read cosmo. Oh, and take selfies, loads and loads of them. Not bad right?

corinacool

“Isn’t it boring being home with the kids all day?
o Sometimes yes, I imagine it’s the same for you when you’re not flying off to save the world?

“I could never do what you do, I need to work.”
o ……..

3. People thinking I can only discuss topics surrounding child rearing. Dude I’m more informed now about current affairs than ever before! Are you forgetting that I have nothing to do all day?

4. People assuming that I watch “Desperate Housewives of XXXX”

5. Being called a desperate housewife

So, as I am getting ready to re-enter the work-force, I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can still walk in heels and that I remember what appropriate office banter is.

I know that I will miss my babies, more than they will miss me, and promise to treat all full-time moms with respect and never call them lucky, privileged or bored. Even the ones in uniform.

Everything is about to change but the one thing that won’t is that I will, of-course, continue to whine over wine.

*Michael David wines have been a great friend to me lately.

My top ten mommy confessions

I have a confession to make.

Actually, I have a few confessions to make, but this is not the time or the place for all of them.

Sure, not many people read this blog. But sometimes (or EVERY time when it comes to confessions) it is not so much the size of the audience that matters but its members.

But I digress.

My confessions here are all mom related.

It’s true, most of the time moms float around, yoga-pant-clad, in some sort of love-induced ecstasy.

But there are those rare moments when we have some not so positive thoughts and do some not so positive things. And that’s what makes us human.

Confession number 1: I am a stage mom of sorts

I like to give my almost three year old spicy or really sour foods so that I can see his facial expressions. I often do it more than once because the first time I wasn’t quick enough with the camera.

pickle (2)

Confession number 2: I dream of imagination play…

On days when both kids are home with me I like to play family with them. In this scenario (or should I say fantasy) I am the baby and as the parents they are trying to get me to sleep. I do it because I can lie down, close my eyes and even sleep for a few minutes while getting full credit for playing with them.

Confession number 3: Your laughter can get on my nerves

The sound of children’s laughter, you know the one that someone should bottle, label it happiness and sell around the world? Well, there are times when it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Confession number 4: My children are my “get-out-of-jail-free” card

“I’m so sad we can’t come to XX, but you know how the little one gets when he doesn’t nap”

“Oh, the little one is getting cranky, so sad we won’t get to watch your wedding video, again!”

“I’m so sorry officer! Was I speeding? My kids were screaming in the back and I guess I got a little bit distracted”

Side- bar confession: My cleavage used to be my “get-out-of-jail” card when I would get pulled-over. I figured the kids owe me since they are the ones who ruined it.

Confession number 5: Punishments have an upside

There are nights when my favourite punishment to the kids for misbehaving is “no bedtime story”. Sometimes I almost wish they misbehave so I can get out of having to read to them.

Confession number 6: It’s mine, and I don’t have to share!

I will often hide in the pantry so I can indulge on a piece of chocolate. I do this not because I feel my children will judge me for eating it (I have friends who do that!) but because I want to enjoy it without having to share it with them.

Confession number 7: Daylight savings time = Personal time sucker

As much as I love the summer I hate that it gets dark so late because it makes “shifting” the bedtime routine an hour earlier much more difficult. It’s so much easier to trick them in the winter when it gets dark at 4pm.

Confession number 8: I hate crafts

I think that play-doh is boring. Crafts are boring. Kids’ museums are boring. I have both envy and disdain for those mothers who flutter about sprinkling glitter and planning crafts.

Admitting that doesn’t make me a bad mom. The fact that I find these activities boring and still do them with my kids makes me an awesome mom! How’s that for unconditional love?

Confession number 9: I’m better than my 5 year old!

I have been in more than one argument with my five year-old about how to organise her kitchen. It gives me great joy and a sense of satisfaction when I organise it in a way that makes sense. i.e. ice-cream in the freezer, fruits and vegetables in the fridge, pizza in the oven.

My satisfaction is, of-course, quickly followed by a sense of overwhelming sadness about my life.

fridge cropped

Confession number 10: I have passive-aggressive tendencies

My daughter has beautiful long, curly hair that gets very tangled when wet. Brushing it after she’s been torturing me during her bath makes me smile a little.

Trusting our instincts

My almost three-year-old son was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis about a year and a half ago. It is an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in his joints and if not treated could damage them permanently.

humira1
When my son turned one, just when he started walking I noticed that whenever I tried to put on his left shoe he would cry. To be fair, my son cried a lot. He was a “colicky” baby and is still a “colicky” toddler. I pointed it out to my husband who said he hadn’t noticed it and that the baby cried a lot in general.

A few months after he started walking I noticed that he was still falling a lot. Also, his walk was not as stable as other kids his age. I pointed it out to his paediatrician who said he seemed fine and that a lot of kids take longer to “stabilise”. I also contacted his physical therapist who treated him for torticollis when he was a baby. She too said some kids are just clumsy and it takes them longer to walk without falling.

I was reassured, but still something didn’t feel right.

Not long after we started noticing that he was walking on his left heel occasionally but not consistently. We could stretch his ankle and there were times that he would walk “normally” but the heel walking was hard to miss. In addition we started noticing that his ankle was now swollen.

Because his heel walking wasn’t consistent we took a video of him so we could show the doctor and went back to the paediatrician. This time they sent us for blood tests right away because the Dr suspected arthritis. He also went for X-rays. Both came back normal.

Next, we were referred to an Orthopaedic surgeon who also suspected arthritis and asked that we try to make an appointment with a paediatric rheumatologist. There are not many of them and the waiting period was going to be three to four months.

Within two weeks of seeing the Orthopaedic surgeon my son’s knee started getting stuck. He was 18 months old at this point and he could not bend his right knee. We went for an MRI, which for a child that small means general anaesthetic. It was a scary experience for all of us. The MRI showed that he had inflammation in his two joints they looked at.

We finally made it to see the rheumatologist. By then my son’s knee was “stuck” and would not straighten and he was almost exclusively walking on his left heel.

The rheumatologist said he had inflammation in both knees, both ankles, his wrists and some of his toes. We were devastated. She ordered a battery of blood tests. Watching my little toddler cry as they are trying to get eight vials of blood out of his little tiny arm was heart-breaking.

The rheumatologist prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory for the next month. It didn’t work. We saw her once a month. It was during one of the early visits that she said that he would need a steroid injection in his knee to try to manage some of the inflammation and help it get “un-stuck”. This meant more general anaesthetic for my little man.

After about two months on the anti-inflammatory, it was clear it wasn’t working. It was time to move on to a “biologic” drug she said. She prescribed ‘Humira’, which is a shot that we have to give him every other week. The concern with this drug was that it could suppress his immune system making it more difficult for his body to fight infections.

It has now been over a year. He still takes the shots but we have seen a huge improvement. He can run, climb stairs and jump, and he is a happy little boy. We also haven’t noticed him getting sick more often than other kids his age, though we have to remain vigilant of infections. Our hope is that in a few months we can start weaning him off the medication.

I am relieved to see him happy and healthy. I feel lucky to live near a major city with a good children’s hospital. We are also very lucky because we can give him ‘ Humira’, an expensive medication that a lot of insurance companies won’t cover.

As mothers we notice things before anyone else does. We know our children better than we know ourselves yet somehow we are willing to let other “consultants” tell us we are wrong, overreacting or overthinking things. I know that I was more confident to defend my instincts when I worked in communications than I am now that I am a mother 24/7. Though I will often say that I “do this for a living” so I know a thing or two.

If this experience with my son has taught me anything it’s that we should trust our instincts. If we think there’s something wrong with our babies we need to be pushy and demanding until we figure out what is happening. And if we’re wrong, and they’re fine, then no-one will be happier than us.

Did I just say that? 20 things I never thought I would hear myself say

As a kid I always said that I would never turn into my mother. She yelled too much, had too many rules and obsessed over healthy nutrition. Little did I know that I was the one who turned her into my mother.

And now, my children have turned me into their mother.

Some of the things I say these days are right out of my mom’s lexicon. Others bemuse and amuse me and some take me by surprise:

1. You will only appreciate me when I am gone.

2. Is that chocolate or poop?

3. Please don’t stick your toe in your brother’s butt.

4. Please don’t lick the door knob.

5. Please don’t lick your brother.

6. That’s a strange colour poop- let me take a picture of it.

7. Did you see that picture of the poop I sent you?

8. Really slept in today- got up at 8.30.

9. Because I said so.

10. Because I know everything.

11. Of course blue is a beautiful colour! Elsa wears blue all the time.

12. Don’t eat that.

13. No, you can’t have a cookie for breakfast (this one only because it points out my hypocrisy as I will often have a cookie for breakfast).

14. Please, get out of the oven.

oven1crop
15. I don’t care what other kids do, I’m not their mommy.

16. How many times do I have to tell you?

17. This is your last chance …

18. I’m being serious. This is really your last chance.

19. OK, I’m going to count to 5 and then…

20. Why are you doing this to me? I gave you everything!

I guess the one thing I know for sure is that I was a much better, more patient parent before I became one.

But I can proudly say that I have never said “Don’t make me tell your father!”

Well, not yet anyway.

Enough with the “mommy wars” already

Working moms writing open letters to stay-at-home moms, stay-at-home moms calling what they do work, former stay-at-home moms calling it a privilege and not a job.

Is anyone else tired of the mommy wars? Why are we (mothers) so desperate to convince each-other that our choices are valid; that they’re so lucky or that we’re so lucky.

mommywars
I was a man’s woman most of my life. I enjoyed the friendship of men, their protectiveness and their insights. My male friends were always honest without being judgmental and didn’t have much patience for my insecurities and my need to analyse everything.

Then I became a mother. And I discovered how wonderful female friendships can be. I liked the “sisterhood”. It was nice to talk about relationships and cry with no-one wanting to figure out who needed to be punched. It was nice to talk about how our husbands’ can be ass*&^s sometimes (because they can be) and how we hate how motherhood has changed our bodies (breastfeeding did THAT to our boobs?)

And then I became a full-time mom. Partly by choice, mostly by circumstance: a couple of international moves and then some health issues for my son and here I am, a full-time mother for five years.

And then the sisterhood was not a sisterhood anymore because it became about working mom’s Vs full-time moms.

Trying to balance it all when you are a mother is not easy. Perhaps our guilt, because we feel that we’re either failing ourselves or our children makes us think that we need to keep justifying our choices.

But in doing so, however, we have created these two “camps” and we started telling the other camp how they should feel. And the sisterhood is no more.

Working moms tell me how lucky I am to have this time with my kids. I am in many ways, no question. But there are times when it doesn’t feel like that. It’s tiring when the only way to convince the other person is by yelling at them or putting them in time-out and it hurts when kids throw things at your head, and it’s exhausting when this is your reality – a groundhog day of time-outs, spilled food, yelling and crying.

And no I didn’t feel lucky or fulfilled when my daughter asked a few months back what my job was and when I said “to take care of you and your brother” she said “but what do you do that’s important?” (can I put her in time-out for that?)

So my message to my working mom sisters is when I complain about my kids, or the frustrations of being home all day please don’t tell me I’m lucky. Just listen. The way you listen when I say my husband is an ass**&^e, though he’s really not. Also, don’t tell me “well get a job then” because maybe after taking five years off no-one wants to hire me.

On the other hand, a lot of working moms say they feel judged by us full-time moms because they don’t spend as much time with their kids.

Let me tell you categorically: we are not judging you! We are jealous of you!

We are mostly in awe of you for managing to work, have fulfilling careers and be good mothers. You get to go to meetings and be respected and rarely threaten anyone at the office with time-outs. And then you go home and sit on the floor and play with your kids. You guys are amazing.

I am not speaking for all stay at home moms but most of us envy, admire and respect you and wonder how you do it. I would like to think that you feel the same way about us.

Let’s just accept the fact that people are different. Different lives, different circumstances, different choices.

So I propose this: let’s stop talking about working moms Vs full-time moms and let’s talk about bridging the gender pay gap, better conditions for working moms, more opportunities for full-time moms to return to work, better childcare options and perhaps some work flexibilities for dads (yeah remember them?).

Let us all agree that we are all mothers working hard, making mistakes and figuring things out as we go along. Because we all love our children deeply and unconditionally.

Tips to new parents from an OK mom

I have been a mother for five and a half years and I think I’m OK at it. I am by no means great, but I am also not the worst mom in the world. The way I see it is this: most people think their mom was the best. So unless I mess up royally, chances are my kids will think of me as more than half-way decent. I’ll take that.

Motherhood has had its ups and downs and it has been a wonderful [and frustrating] learning experience. So here are some tips for those of you just starting out, in no particular order.

1. When your child is first born, don’t wear cashmere. Or anything nice that is dry clean only. Newborns spit up a lot.

2. In fact, don’t buy anything nice. They will scratch, spill on, write on [with permanent markers] every single nice piece of furniture that you own.

3. Give up on the idea of having a ‘child-free’ zone in the house. The whole house is theirs. You’re just paying to live there.

messier basement
4. When other parents tell you that their newborn doesn’t cry and sleeps through the night. Don’t believe them! They are lying. [even if they are not what good does it do you to believe them anyway?]

5. There will be times when your own child will feel more like your Nemesis. Don’t hate yourself for it. This does not make you a bad person. It just makes you normal. Also, kids can be real a$%*&s sometimes.

6. When dishing out punishments BE VERY CAREFUL. If you are going to take away TV, iPad or other electronics use think twice before doing so on a Saturday. That is punishing yourself because you will be responsible for the kids’ entertainment for the entire weekend.

7. Always keep lollipops in your bag. They will be your best friend and can be used as bribes and rewards and will make flights, shopping trips and long car rides possible.

8. Do not make ridiculous promises to yourself like: you will not yell at your children, you will not be one of THOSE moms/dads, or you will never say “you will appreciate me when I’m gone”. Hate to break it to you. You will.

9. There will be days when you will start counting down to bedtime at 2pm.

10. Little kids cry a lot. Fell and hurt her knee? Cries. You won’t let him drink bath water? Cries. You are not a bad parent if you ignore the crying over the bath water.

11. Accept the fact that you will never enjoy a dessert in your children’s presence ever again. They will try it, eat it all, spit it out. Anything to keep you from enjoying it.

12. Other things you will not be able to enjoy in their presence include: reading a book, having a glass of wine, having a nice dinner, watching the news, having your first cup of coffee in the morning, talking on the phone.

13. Always bring wipes.

14. Always bring snacks.

15. Everyone is an expert/consultant: random person on the street will tell you to put a hat on the baby because he’s cold. Strangers in stores will tell you that your baby is crying because she’s hungry. Your mother or mother-in-law will say that you’re holding the newborn wrong. Don’t fight it. Just smile and nod.

16. Be prepared to break some of your own rules. Sure no sugary treats before lunch is a very reasonable rule to have. But if you are out trying to finish shopping for the week, and your toddler is bored and cranky and is about to throw the eggs on the floor give him a cookie. It’s not the end of the world.

17. In fact, most things are not the end of the world. Always keep that in mind.

You’re welcome.

Corina and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day is a great book and very popular in our household.

While reading it to my kids the other night I wondered how it would read if it was written about a whiney mom instead of a whiney kid so I thought I would give it a shot:

My husband and I had too much wine last night and, of-course, the boy woke up at 5 am. He usually wakes up at 8.

The boy and I came quietly downstairs to let the husband and girl sleep. Within 10 minutes he threw his breakfast on the floor to protest something, I spilled my coffee all over the sofa and he threw his toy car at my head while I was changing his diaper.

I think I need stitches.

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day.

When the girl woke up, she and the boy had an argument over the ipad. The boy, eager to end the argument took the ipad and, as if in slow motion, threw it on the hard tile of the kitchen floor.

He just stood there victorious, like a football player who just scored the winning touchdown. I was definitely on the losing team.

With the ipad dead, am I now responsible for entertaining the children?

I think I’ll move to Australia. The wine there is very good.

My ipod died while I was running (yes I still use an ipod). I can’t run without music and I was in the zone too. I had to stop running. I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds overnight. How is that even possible?

I went to the dentist for a cleaning and she said I needed a root canal and I should try to schedule it as soon as possible. How much free time do these people think I have?

I said no worries; I will find a new dentist in Australia.

I picked up the girl from school and her homework was a project that no 5 year-old can do. I wish her teachers would stop giving me homework. I want to complain but I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.

Both kids dumped all their snacks in my car and fought over a stupid old toy that has probably been unnoticed in the car for six months.

florence drawing2
I told them I was having a bad day. They didn’t care.

At the supermarket the boy threw a full-blown tantrum and everyone was staring and judging. Clearly there were no parents there.

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day.

At bath time they both acted as if they were possessed, because that is part of EVERY child’s s job description; and they got me soaked and I am cold because I live in Chicago and it has been snowing for months. It doesn’t snow in Australia, right?

At bedtime they wanted to read 3 stories and none of them were stories that I like and were way too long. Apparently they are too old for Goodnight Moon. But I like Goodnight Moon and love the old lady whispering hush. I bet kids in Australia do as well.

After being tormented for what felt like an eternity (or 45 agonizing minutes) I kissed their beautiful faces and came downstairs happy that this terrible, horrible no good very bad day was finally over and opened a bottle of Clarendon Hills –an Australian wine because market research is key before one moves to a new country.

I sighed and told the husband that this was just a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. He smiled sympathetically.

After I finished my first glass of wine I started looking at the kids’ pictures on my phone – they are pretty cute.

I guess I could take them with me to Australia.