Category Archives: kids

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.

The road trip

car1

People laughed when we told them we were driving from Chicago to South Carolina for our summer vacation.

“Your kids can stay in the car for that many hours?” they said.

“We’ll be fine,” we said, “we are going to take our time to get there, have a couple of overnight stops. It will be an adventure.”

And an adventure it was. (There’s a lot of yelling and throwing in adventures right?)

Besides, as Constantinos Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of my people, said: it’s not Ithaca but the journey to Ithaca that matters. (Especially if Ithaca is a beach in South Carolina- if you ask me!)

We had it all figured out:

– We planned to drive about 6 to 7 hours the first two days leaving us only 2 to 3 hours on the last day.

– Our route was pre-mapped with enough stops for bathroom and play breaks and we were staying at hotels with a pool so the kids could have some fun after spending most of the day strapped in their car seats.

– We had enough snacks for 3 hour stretches within reach of both children and emergency snacks (lollipops and candy) in the front.

– We went on an itunes shopping spree the night before, buying them all the shows they love, ensuring hours of entertainment.

– We got each of them Bluetooth headphones so they could watch their shows without annoying each-other and most importantly us.

So on Saturday morning, and only one hour behind schedule ,we got into our car and headed south. The music was good, the kids were watching their iPads; we were excited and optimistic about the future.

One hour later….

– The boy tried and dismissed all of the snacks.

– Took his headphones off and threw them on the floor at least seven times.

– Was tired of watching his iPad.

– And we were stuck in traffic on the Interstate just outside of Chicago.

I started to think that maybe this was a mistake, a 16 hour long mistake, each way….

the road trip
But then something wonderful happened. The boy fell asleep… for two hours. And like many children before him he was re-set after the nap.

The trip got better. He had his moments of “frustration” and my daughter did ask “how many more minutes until we get there?” more than just a couple of times.

Sure, there were times when we wished that, like a taxi, our car had a divider so that we could open a little window, quickly throw some snacks at the kids and close it to get back to some adult conversation. But we enjoyed the time together anyway. The route was beautiful for the most part and Satellite radio kept us entertained.

It was also an educational experience for all of us:

– We saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and drove through an Indian Reservation.

– On our way back we spent some time in Savannah and explored the beautiful southern city, admired the Spanish moss trees that line every street and visited a beautiful historic cemetery with haunting statues.

– We learned that bugs have not evolved enough to stay off the high-way and my windshield at times looked like the site of a massacre.

– My daughter finally learned the right words to the song “Milkshake,” by Kelis, and no longer says “my milkshake is bad but it’s better than yours.”

– We discovered the song “Lonely women make good lovers” on one of the many (you guessed it) country stations that SiriusXM has to offer.

– We ate fried pickles, which taste just like regular pickles only they are really bad for you.

– Turns out my husband can say things like “don’t make me stop this car” and keep a straight face.

So would we do it again? Ask again in six to eight months.

Of lice and curls

There are some things that are considered “rites of passage” when raising kids. For example, the other day I sent the kids to play in the basement and my son came upstairs with full make-up on because his older sister decided to “style” him.

This is not uncommon and a lot of friends say they have experienced similar scenarios. In fact, I remember doing this to at least one of my brothers and according to my mother-in-law my sister-in-law did to my husband. Sorry babe- if anyone doubts your manhood I refer them to: husbands, the cars they drive and the balls they carry.

A few weeks ago, I encountered a new “rite of passage” as a parent:

My daughter came home with lice.

Similar to a tragedy, I dealt with it in four distinct stages:

1. Denial:
There must be a reason she’s scratching her head so much. Maybe the heat? She’s sweating? Maybe she has a rash? Dandruff?

2. Anger:
Seriously? Lice!? Who gave her lice? I need a name and I will hunt them down with a fine toothed comb!

3. Depression:
Why? Why? Why do these things always happen to me?

4. Acceptance:
Google: “my child has lice” and learn all there is to know about the subject. (gotta love webMD). Then I go to the drugstore for shampoo and sprays and a special comb and get to work.

5. Itching:
Can anyone ever utter the word lice and not immediately start to itch all over? Pavlov’s bell had nothing on the word “lice” (and people say I never use my Psychology degree!)

So I put all the stuffed animals and throw pillows in plastic bags and put them away. (Lice cannot survive more than 24 hours away from the human scalp). I vacuumed everything, twice, and was prepared for the daily laundry of her sheets, clothes and towels.

But all this was, of-course, nothing compared to the main task at hand: To kill the lice.

The instructions were simple. All I had to do was put the lotion in her hair and then comb through to get rid of all those itchy bugs. Simple enough.

Armed with a fine toothed comb I was ready for the challenge:

“It’s on you bi*&es! I am taking you down!”

For two nights both the girl and I spent over an hour in her bathroom combing through her long curly hair. By day three I thought we were done.

I called her school to inform them of our infestation and they suggested that I bring her in. They would check her and if she was clear she could stay. She was not. They found a nit in her hair and sent us away.

Talk about the walk of shame!

So I then cycled through the stages of anger and depression again which were now followed by desperation: “this will never end! We will all get it and we will be the lice family: friendless and itchy.”

But then someone reminded me that I now live in America: The land of outsourcing (and the free of-course). Cue the music…

The land that invented dog-walkers, house-sitters, life-coaches and most importantly lice salons! God bless America. (I hope non-American readers can see the sarcasm here and American ones don’t see too much of it.)

The one near us is appropriately called Nit-pickers. At $90 per hour it was by no means cheap but it was so worth it. They just combed through her hair over and over again until they got rid of every louse and every nit that was hiding in there.

The professional nit-picker said that it was just a mild infestation and if I combed through her hair for another three days she should be lice and nit free. And she was. (Professional nit-picker …. So many possible jokes… so little time/limited word-count …for years I’ve just been an amateur nit-picker?)

Thankfully no-one else in the family got infested and we can now look back at it (and not laugh or even smile of-course) as a rite of passage.

But because this is not one I want to experience again I will be dipping my kids in tea tree oil before they go to school for the rest of their lives. (tip: lice don’t like the smell)

Now my head itches.

How to ruin a bridal shower

Take your young kids to it.

The end.

Really. That is all you have to do.

Sure, this is the way to ruin many events. In fact, the title of this short story could change to:

How to ruin a five course meal,

or

How to ruin your city vacation,

or

How to ruin your honeymoon,

or

How to ruin a heist.

But my most recent experience was at a bridal shower. So here is that story:

A few weeks ago I decided to take the kids to Philadelphia to visit my cousins. Before booking our flights, I checked if the dates worked for them. They said yes.

Unfortunately, for all involved, they hadn’t realised that they had a bridal shower to attend that same weekend. But they said:

“Bring your kids! We’re bringing ours. It’s fine, really. It will be fairly casual”

The house of the parents of the bride, who were hosting the event, was about 30 minutes from my cousin’s house. So, of-course, my two and half year old fell asleep five minutes before we got there.

Parents of toddlers know what this means. What do you do? Do you wake the beast or let him sleep hoping that he will wake up refreshed and happy. It’s like the other “Sophie’s choice”.

I went for door number two. So, as my cousin took her kids and my five-year-old daughter in, I sat in the car while the little man slept. I read the newspapers and checked facebook (how awesome are smartphones by the way? Imagine waiting or breastfeeding without one? Oh the horror!) and after about an hour I thought he should be rested enough. So I woke him up.

WRONG! Sometimes I think I’m an amateur. Honestly.

The shower “theme” was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” We were about to turn it into “Dinner for Schmucks.”

The champagne was blue, the food excellent and the servers attentive.

The boy was cranky and whiney and hungry and insisted on sitting on my lap the whole time. (I can’t resist the predictable joke here that there was more whine coming out of the boy’s mouth than wine going into mine).

So, I sat at a table and gave him endless amounts of bread while holding the table-cloth hoping that he wouldn’t pull on it. To do this, of-course, I had to keep putting my blue champagne down, which meant that the attentive servers assumed I was finished and they would take it away. Couldn’t they see the pain in my eyes and my desperate attempts to numb it?

blue champs
After the boy was done whining and throwing crumbs everywhere someone suggested that all the kids go to the basement where they could play.

A few minutes went by so I thought I would check on them. I find the boy playing with a model Porsche car. Note that the father of the bride is a car collector. Both actual cars: Ferrari, i8, Bentley, Aston Martin, Porsche, to name just a few as well as model cars. In a moment of panic I checked with him that it’s OK and he said yes of-course. OK then, I thought to myself, maybe this won’t be too bad. The boy will play with the car, we will eat some cake, and be on our way with most of our dignity intact.

Again, what am I? an amateur?

So we went up for cake. The cake, a beautiful fondant cake shaped like a Tiffany’s box was sitting proudly on a table surrounded by chocolates and other delicious deserts. All the kids, of-course, were admiring this appetising attraction.

As the kids were playing, my daughter tried to reach for something and fell flat on the beautiful cake. The beautiful “breakfast at Tiffany’s” cake now looked more like “murder at Tiffany’s” with an outline of a 5-year-old girl’s body on it.

I wondered if perhaps it was time to go. I should have taken the hint when everyone kept telling me, “it’s OK if you want to leave, really”
They cut and served the cake, which was still delicious, and I thought OK- not bad. If anything this would make an amusing anecdote in a few days. And then the boy walked up to me.

He broke the model car. The model Porsche, which the father of the bride had apparently owned for 22 years was now broken.

It was definitely time to go.

I apologised for the cake and the car and the crumbs on the kitchen floor that could probably feed all the pigeons on Trafalgar square and suggested to my cousin that perhaps it’s time to leave.

But it was time to open the presents.

My cousin sat centre stage next to the beautiful bride to be, helping her open the presents. The children, all six of them, joined the “ceremony.”
My son quickly hopped on a revolving chair as all the kids took turns spinning him around while he was grabbing anything within reach. Crystal on coffee tables, ladies’ long hair… you name it. If he could reach it, he grabbed it.

I signal my cousin that it’s really time to go (I think most people there agreed- tip: eye rolling is usually a good indicator). I grabbed my son’s leg as he was trying to make a getaway and dragged him across the floor all the way to the front door. I thin k we may have left one of his shoes there and we definitely left some of our dignity. What is more, our presence there did more to promote birth control and or abstinence than any sex-ed class ever could.

No-one was having any babies for a while after that. In fact, I think people even used condoms when sexting… just to be on the safe side.

We got into the car and sped away as if we are escaping a bank robbery or a great heist (if bank robbers ever use a minivan as their escape car). As we looked at the clock we realised that we had been there for an hour and a half.

What felt like the longest afternoon of my life, lasted less than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” the movie.

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.

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.

Travelling with Vs travelling without kids

passportb&w

Last week, for the first time in five and a half years I took a flight without kids. Holy shit it’s different! And by different, I mean better…. Much, much better.

First, I should clarify that since the birth of my daughter five and a half years ago I have been on more flights that I can remember, some as long as 17 hours and others as short as two hours. So flying without kids was a cause of celebration in and of itself. The fact that I was going to San Francisco, one of my favourite cities, where I would spend 3 days with my husband just walking around, drinking [a lot of] nice wine and eating nice food was really an added bonus.

So here are the main differences between traveling with and traveling without our beautiful bundles of joy.

Arriving at the airport

With kids

You arrive at the airport at least 2 to 3 hours earlier.  Go through security where you have to open and taste all of the liquid foods you are bringing on board; try to fit the stroller through the scanner and convince the children to let go of their dolls/stuffed animals so they can go through as well. Then, you run around the airport frantically looking for a semi-nutritious meal to give the kids before you get on the plane. The kids, of-course, don’t eat any of it so all you’ve done was spend $15 on a ham and cheese sandwich no one wants.

Without kids

You arrive about an hour before, check-in and leisurely go through the security line. If you have time you grab a coffee or a drink while reading your book and waiting to board.

Bag of tricks

With kids

You bring at least 20 lollipops for take-off and landing and other major crises, granola bars, crackers, candy, drinks, toys, iPads, headphones, crayons, colouring books, stickers extra clothes, wipes, and diapers, because you need to be prepared for every possibility.  Of-course, chances are you still forgot something.

Without kids

You bring a book and a bottle of water.

Other passengers

With kids

You board the plane carrying one of them on your hip, one or two bags of tricks (depending on the length of the journey) and yelling at the other one to move because there are people behind her. You can see the fear in everyone’s eyes as you near them and the relief as you walk past their seat. Some avoid eye contact even, as if you are wild animals and you will not go near them if you don’t feel challenged. And then, as you approach your seat you see the panic in everyone’s eyes. Yes they may try to disguise it with nervous smiles. But their eyes say it all.

For the next X hours you smile nervously at those around you while apologising for the car and food that is thrown at their head, the toy thrown under their seat that they have to pick up 20 times, and the screaming and the crying (and not just the children’s). Eventually, you land exhausted, with wrappers of candy and crumbs all over the floor and apologise one last time to everyone in the seats in front , next to and behind you. They say politely “they weren’t that bad,” and the really nice people  say “we’ve all been there dear.” But you can see the relief in their eyes and even some candy stuck in their hair from one of the many battles during the flight.

Without kids

You smile politely at the person next to you, chat for a few minutes and open your book. The only time you apologise to them is if they have an aisle seat and you need to go to the bathroom.

Arriving at destination

With kids

At the very least, you arrive exhausted and a little broken, wondering what [the fuck] you were thinking doing this with kids and dreading the flight back home. Worst case scenario (and I am speaking from personal experience) you have been puked and/or pooped on, you have no clean clothes for yourself because you didn’t think of that possibility when packing the bag of tricks.

Without kids

You arrive refreshed and excited for the vacation. Your only problem is that you finished your book on the flight here. But you can buy a new one at the airport on the way back.