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.

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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.

Travelling with Vs travelling without kids

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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.

21 ways small children are like old people

  1. Just like small children think you can’t see them when they close their eyes, old people think you can’t hear them when they fart

closed eyes BW(2)
2. If you mess up their routine, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

3. They like soft foods

4. They like to eat small frequent meals

5. They are always chewing on something even when there’s no food around.

6. They lack impulse control

7. They are often the source of suspicious/unpleasant smells

8. It takes them forever to get ready to go anywhere

9. They talk AT you, not TO you

10. They don’t have all their teeth

11. Their food is either too much, too little, too hot or too cold

12. They accuse other small children/old people of taking their stuff

13. They don’t listen/ can’t hear

14. They are loud

15. They put food they don’t want on your plate (even if it’s half-chewed)

16. They like to bring random items with them wherever they go (because one never knows when one will need a single glove)

17. They are self-entitled

18. When they are done with a telephone conversation they hang-up, no time for good-byes

19. They can get very grumpy, very quickly

20. They fall asleep as soon as they get into the car

21. They go to bed early and wake up before dawn

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.

Turning 40 – what social media taught me about midlife crisis

I recently turned 40 along with many of my friends. This disturbing trend started a couple of years ago and, thanks to social media, I have been witnessing the various ways people deal with their midlife crises.

A great number of them have been fundraising for some race or another for example. I have contributed to a number of good causes (from cancer to autism) for friends’ 10k runs, marathons and triathlons. While I am happy to do it, a part of me wonders if I am effectively financing their midlife crises.

What happened to the good old days? Call me old-fashioned but I think the only person paying for one’s midlife crisis should be their partner. I think mine should pay for my new boobs.

In addition to trying to outrun middle-age (I currently average 40 miles per week), I have identified a few other categories thanks to facebook:

The narcissist
Facilitated by facebook this person has checked into more gyms, restaurants and events in a few months than during their entire social media presence. They may have a new look and are constantly posting pictures of themselves online because they look amazing (because of all that running) and they want the whole world to know. Caption for the pictures and on-line presence should read “fuck you 40! I still got it! (and I am looking for validation)”

The thrill seeker
This person admits to having a “death wish” and will try anything to challenge death from sky-diving and base-jumping to cliff-jumping and body-boarding and a lot of other extreme activities that I know very little about. If you ask me, excessive drinking and smoking would be a much more fun way to challenge death.

In denial
“Life begins at 40” is this person’s favourite mantra. What exactly begins at 40? mammograms and colonoscopies that’s what. I recently received a pretty brochure from my insurance company outlining all the things that could kill me now that I’m 40, all in a nice, easily digestible graph with appealing colours.

So if you ask me “deniers”, if anything begins at 40 it’s not life, it’s a countdown- just ask your doctor.

There are, I’m sure, many other ways people are dealing with entering middle age; more private ways (wink wink) , perhaps somewhat reflective or analytical and even slightly more depressing. Thankfully, those ways are not posted on facebook or twitter very often.

Regardless of the way we each choose to deal with this, however, there is one thing that most middle-age, middle-class people will agree on: at least we can afford better wine.

The mommy bubble, a bubble like any other

bubble

  • I am well versed in princess talk. I can name most, if not all princesses, and I use words like “coronation” and “magic’ almost on a daily basis

 

  • One cold winter day I had an entire conversation via text with someone quoting only lines from the movie “Frozen” (and that was a 38-year-old dad not a 7-year-old girl)

 

  • If I tell someone to let something go I am shocked when they don’t immediately break into song.

 

  • I have used the term “rogue poop” literally on more than one occasion.

 

  • I recognise most theme songs to popular cartoons and I often wonder where the fuck are Dora the Explorer’s parents? I mean that girl is running all over town with a monkey!

 

  • I know that most kids love to play family and argue over who gets to be the mommy – which is the opposite of most adults I know who wish they took a break from “playing family” and especially “playing mommy.”

 

  • I have spent considerable time “looking into” birthday venues and party favours when my own wedding took place at city hall and was followed by small lunch for nine of our closest family members.

 

  • I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom by myself

 

I expect most people to know what I’ve been talking about so far, but I suspect only a small percentage does- maybe 5- 10%?

I am a full-time mom of two children 5 and under. I love it and hate it but have come to accept that this will be my “bubble” for a while, a microcosm in which other moms of small children also reside. Those other moms may be very different than me but they know what I’m talking about and unlike everyone else will not be disgusted by “rogue poop’ incidents. Sharing these things with people outside the” bubble” is, of-course, embarrassing and will only be met with disgust and judgement.

This new bubble that I am in is not really that different to previous bubbles I inhabited. When I worked in science communications, for example, I assumed that everyone knew that the whole MMR controversy was just plain silliness (tragically they don’t) and that all well respected scientists had Rock-Star status for everyone- which (sadly for the scientists) they don’t.

So really, we are not all that different than the guy who watches too much porn. Just like we (the ones who live in the mommy bubble) expect everyone to start singing “do you want to build a snowman” every time it snows the porn guy expects everyone to want to have sex when he walks into a copy room.

He doesn’t know that out of all the people who walk into a copy room only about 3% are there to have sex. 92% are there to make legitimate copies and 5% just want to sit on the copier so they can make copies of their ass.

I wonder what that 5% bubble is like.