Alternative Facts

Today I…

Didn’t send my three year old, Ellie, to preschool because I just couldn’t get out of bed to get her ready.

Gave her three time outs, resulting in a loss of privilege for the day.

Forced her to leave a library activity early because her behavior was off the chain.

Fought with her about eating her eggs at both breakfast and lunch because I’m such a bitch that when she didn’t eat them in the morning, I saved them for later.

Snuck a cookie when she wasn’t looking.

Somehow lost the ability to put the baby to sleep, resulting in all kind of screams and wails and fits.

Yelled at a parenting book because the author wasn’t getting to the point fast enough.  I don’t give a hoot about “Janice”, “James” or “Oliver” and how they have to be rocked and cuddled and fed to go to sleep!  My kid is screaming!  Tell me what to dooooo!

Texted my husband at work telling him he could run away with the kids without penalty.

Blinked at my daughter about 10 times after she asked me to play with her, wondering how I could say “hell no” without seeming like I didn’t want to play with her.

And in the midst of this disaster of a day,  Ellie turns to me and says, “Mommy, you’re a good mommy.”

She must be Kellyanne Conway’s daughter, because whatever led her to that conclusion was based on some seriously alternative facts.

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Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, who coined the term ‘alternative facts’

Such is Life

Growing up is like learning.  You approximate as you go, are often farther along the continuum in one area than another, and are benefited by a sense of humor.

I sat typing in my chair at the dining room table.  The one with a clear view down the narrow hallway.  A quick (and literal) flash caught my eye as my daughter dashed from the bathroom, naked from the waist down.

Never a good sign.

I gave it a minute.  I was writing after all.

“Everything ok?”

“Yeah!” she called from her room.

Knowing her copasetic claim was probably a false one, I got up and headed to the bathroom where I was greeted by a puddle next to the Elmo potty.  I sighed.

We should be past this, I thought.

I turned back around to see my daughter looking up at me from the hallway.

“What happened?” I asked.

She thought for a second, tilted her head, and exclaimed, “C’est la vie!”

And she’s right.  Such is life, such is growing up, and such is learning.  Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 10.04.41 PM

The Real Trauma

Change is hard.  For Mama, Papa, and our older daughter.  The baby, however, seems fine with it.

So my three-year old just started a new class at her preschool.

Day one: Excitement at home.  Shy guy at the classroom door, but goes in and gets on with her day.

Day 2: Loud tears at home, quiet tears at school.

Day 3: Wake her up early – she gets dressed, brushes teeth, eats a quick breakfast.  All seems well.  As I’m putting on her shoes, she asks, “Am I going somewhere?”  Apparently not realizing this school thing happens on a fairly regular basis.

“Yes.  You’re going to school.”

“No, Mom, no! I want to stay home with you,” she wails as I strap her in the car seat and my husband whisks her off.  Once at school, she wails some more and refuses to go in the classroom.

Then comes the weekend, when she cries on Friday night about going to school the following week.  Worse, she wakes herself up in the middle of the night with the thought of it.

This school is familiar to her.  She has been going since she was a baby.  Knows a couple of the assistants, most of the kids, only the teacher is new.

It is not as if she has traveled many torturous miles, arrived in an unfamiliar land with strange people speaking unknown words to her.  Been ripped from my arms.  I can’t imagine her trauma if she had.

My daughter will be fine.  I’m not worried about the long-term effects of starting a new school year.  I’m worried about the 500+ children who are still being traumatized because of the initiatives of our country’s callous and careless leaders.  Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, and Kirstjen Nielsen, I’m looking at you.

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Pregnancy PSA

PSA – Don’t ask when she’s due unless you’re at her baby shower.

So there was this (two weeks postpartum):

“Oh, what a cute baby!” says the neighbor, looking my newborn who is currently napping in the arms of my well-toned friend.  We’re in my front yard.  The front yard with two pink ‘Baby Girl’ balloons floating above it.  The front yard she’s presumably seen me waddling through for weeks.

After some more ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and my murmuring ‘thank you’ at her praise of the baby, she turns to me and says, “And I see something going on there!” her index finger wagging at my belly, “When are you due?”

Did I mention the ‘Baby Girl’ balloons and the fact that she’s lived by me for many more than 9 months?

And this week (12 weeks postpartum):

I am signing in at my local exercise class.  The kind of class with class managers.  Who say hello and more often than not know your name.  Your business.  The place where again, as I was huge, the instructors called out modifications for me.

And she says,

“Now, when are you due?”

“I’m not due.  I’m done.”

A nervous giggle from the class manager beside her.  The obligatory, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’

And the part where I have to be gracious even as the blood is screaming toward my face.

For many reasons – most worse than just stubborn belly fat – don’t ask a woman about pregnancy. Not where, when, why, how or, God forbid, who.  Just let her be her.

Hives on Hiatus

I’ve been known to get a little nervous about things – hives and shingles kind of nervous (see this post when I gave my baby the chicken pox).  I’ve gotten hives from no less than leading the annual staff meeting everyone hates, going on the first vacation with my baby, and having a difficult conversation with a colleague.  And let me tell you, being two and a half months postpartum doesn’t exactly chill a person out.

But I’m working on it.  Here’s what helps.

Listeners.  The mom anxieties are the most paralyzing.  Author Elizabeth Stone once said, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  Amen, sister.  Thoughts of traveling with the kids does it for me.  Also, flashes of horror they’ll likely never encounter (alligators, mountain lions, careening off a bridge) leap into my brain at random times. When I talk to my sister about my kid anxiety, the tightness in my chest eases.  She gets it.  Reminds me to breathe and pray.  Breathe and pray.

Gardening. Ripping shit up and eventually making it prettier than you found it really feels amazing.  My backyard has never looked so good.

Accomplishing something.  This one gets me because moms, especially those with little babies, should feel free to relax.  They should be able to do exactly as they want any damn time they please.  And if relaxing feels good, do it, do it, do it!  But, truth be told, for most moms I know, it’s not built into us.  It feels better to get shit done. Not emptying-the-dishwasher kind of shit.  That day to day stuff is lame.  But working with your hands to create something. Two days ago, I chased that sense of accomplishment by rearranging my daughter’s room.  Demolished it just so a couple hours later I could high five myself.  After all, the messy bookshelf was out of the line of sight and the stuffed animals were all in the same basket. A win. The accomplishments don’t have to be big, they just has to be there.

Laughing. My elder daughter is funny.  Crack me up funny.  My husband can tickle my funny bone too.  And baby girl just choked out her first laugh today, so I’m sure she’ll fit right in around here.

Turns out my family, the ones I worry about most, bring me the tears-streaming-down-my-face laughter.  They’re the best anti-anxiety medication I got.

Four Things

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“Mom, I need you to do four things,” proclaimed my three year old daughter as I tucked her in for the seventh time that night.

She continued, “I need you to get me a milk and water, tell me a story, rub my back and tummy, and sing me a song.”

That’s six things you little rascal, I thought.

Bedtime is always the first thing to go when we have some sort of change.  Vacation?  Bedtime ruined for a week.  Big girl bed?  Bedtime ruined for a month.  New baby?  Bedtime destroyed possibly forever.

But seeing as it was about 9:45, I finally had a plan, “Ok. When it’s quiet in here for 10 minutes, I’ll come back and do those four things.”

“Ok,” she agreed.

As you might expect, she was fast asleep before those 10 minutes were over.  And I relaxed on the couch with my husband and a glass of wine before my eyelids demanded to close.  Bliss.

Fast forward to 1:30 in the morning.  I snuggled back into my pillow, drifting off to sleep after a midnight feeding.

Suddenly, “Mom! Mom!” I threw back the covers and stumbled into my daughter’s room.  Incredulous and with odd middle-of-the-night clarity, she calmly stated, “You didn’t do the four things.”

Bleary eyed, I knocked off my tasks one by one.

Touché little bit. Touché.

A World of Change

A million big and little things have happened since last I wrote (with so much to write about, how do I fall out of writing?).

Let’s recap the past year:

The country is going to shit.

I got pregnant and had daughter #2.

Ok, so maybe its just two big things, not a million.  And maybe what’s wrapped up in those two things aren’t little, instead, they are pieces.  Millions of pieces to those two whoppers.  That’s what I’d like to write about again.  Children ripped from their parents, baby coos, gardening, feminism, bedtime stories, etc.  No biggie.

Fifty Seven Pieces of Plastic Food

My little family of three fumbled through our first year of daycare last year, every night carefully scrubbing bottles and nipples and teeny breast pump pieces.  Remembering the crib sheets, the back up clothes, and bottles of milk so my child wouldn’t starve.  The pump and cooler in their flowery bag were my constant companions.

Then there were the volunteer hours  – often taking home loads of snot crusted bibs and blankies to wash. Summer was well deserved.

Ah, the start of year two.  No more weekly googling ‘how long can breast milk last?’ No more leaving one of those teeny breast pump pieces at home and having to ask my assistant principal to borrow hers before I burst.

But the volunteer hours?  They just keep coming.

This weekend my husband and I found ourselves washing what had to be about fifty seven pieces of plastic food – broccoli, baguettes, some very realistic red peppers – then carefully squeezing the excess water out of each and every one of them.


Someday, when she stumbles in past curfew and swears up and down that she hates us and will never go to college, I’ll wish for the simple days of fifty seven pieces of plastic food.

Fearful Unease

Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong democrat.  Raised to believe the government’s job is to support all of its people, regardless of class, race, or gender.  I’m also a feminist.  Raised to believe I am worthy of making my own choices in life.

The pundits claim there’s no excitement for Hillary’s candidacy.  I don’t think it’s a lack of excitement they’re witnessing.  I believe it to be a fearful unease of what is happening around us that is keeping us quiet.

This I know is true.

I am raising my daughter in a world in which a major political party calls a racist misogynist their candidate.  With members who use lewd jokes to mock the female candidate for president.  A party that has abandoned its core principles because winning is everything.

I might have to raise my daughter in a world in which her president dismisses her gender. A president who rates her body on a scale of 1-10. A president who reinforces the notion that her only purpose in life is to pleasure a man.

I might have to raise my daughter in a world in which her president calls whole countries of people ‘rapists and murderers’.  A president who mocks the disabled.  A president who uses his platform to stoke the flames of racism.

This I also know is true.

When she pads down the hall this morning in her fleece pjs, we’re going to start the day with our favorite chant – Hil-la-ry!

Ellie and I will not be kept quiet.

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I don’t want to be the kind of mom who…

Shortly after becoming a mom, my insecurities about keeping this little Monchhichi alive hit with full force.  Those insecurities also came with a side of feeling judged at every turn.  And then I realized I felt like a different ‘kind of mom’ depending on who was doing the judging.

Around those who were more carefree about safety, I felt like an uptight fuddy duddy when I said the 9yo wasn’t aloud to carry the baby around the room.

Around those who felt babies should always be bundled up, I felt loosey goosey and neglectful when I had her in just a onesie and socks.

And from society the judgements changed with time. I heard, ‘Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Breastfeed!  Wait, she’s one?  Stop Breastfeeding!  Stop Breastfeeding!’

Lamenting this with my sister (mother of two) one day, I started to say, “I don’t want to be the kind of mom who…”  She stopped me right there.

“You’re not the kind of mom who.  You’re you.  With a kid.  Just be you.  With a kid.”

So that’s what I’m doing.  Oh sure, I’m still insecure about whether or not I’m making the right choices for my daughter, but I’ll be damned if I’ll make my decisions based on the judgements of others.

And most def, I will no longer use the ‘kind of mom’ phrase to judge other moms.  I’ll let the childless do that for us.

Thank you Carolyn.