7 Reasons Not to Hate Me for “7 Things On Mom’s Holiday To-Don’t List”

holidaytodont

I am so blessed and proud that my Huffington Post Parents piece was not only “bigger” news than Kate’s pregnancy yesterday, but that it was– and is still– featured on their homepage today.  The comments, however, are kind of surprising me.  I know, people saying mean things on the internet? Well, I never!!!!  My intent with the post was to poke fun at the pressure parents put on themselves to produce (and yes, PRODUCE– parenting is no different from pulling off The Oscars, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Wheel of Fortune) the Perfect Christmas for their kids.  I, more than anyone I know, am guilty of planning things out in my head one way… only to completely fall apart when things don’t go according to plan.

This happens a lot.

Writing about my personal life has taught me to toughen up and not take too much personally– even though people calling me a lazy mom or suggesting that I drink a lot is pretty personal.  And only half true.  But I know what these people don’t– I’m a great mom, and Mom Who Loves Christmas.  I can prove it!  Would a Bah Humbug Mom go to Home Goods every other day to Ooh and Ahh over the seasonal hand towels and bundle up their daughter for a joyous six-minute stroll through Zoo Lights before the reindeer poop hit the roof?  Here’s the “real story” behind the 7 Things on Mom’s Holiday To-Don’t List.

  1. Bake. No, I’m not hosting a cookie exchange.  Yes, I did make cookies with my mom growing up.  And they were TERRIBLE.  Raw on the inside, burnt on the outside.  My mom is a lot of wonderful things, but she isn’t a baker.  So for me, the meaningful holiday memory is what my mom DIDN’T do– and I love her more for it.  Besides, I made Rice Krispie Treats last weekend, and Posey and I shared one together.  She liked it.  That counts, right?
  2. Make Martha Stewart crafty homemade gifts. I believe that there are lots of folks out there who are making gifts this year.  I also believe there is a .01% chance that you are one of them.
  3. Get a real Christmas tree.  My fake-ass cheap tree looks glorious.  It’s also my cat’s most favorite place on earth to sit beneath.  The baby is too young to care yet, but the cat is seriously at peace under that thing.  I’m also an excellent cat mom.
  4. Remember to light the candles on the first or even second night of HanukkahI looked it up.  Hanukkah starts at sundown this Saturday.  If there is an accident resulting in the baby getting singed, it’s on you.  A good mother doesn’t allow an open flame in their home.
  5. Watch Miracle on 34th StreetWhy would I watch this when the world has given me Blake Shelton’s Not-So-Family Christmas as an option? Why, I ask? (Side note: Yesterday, Beef mused aloud, “I wonder if there is going to be another Michael Buble Christmas special this year?”  A boy can dream.)
  6. Take a seasonal family photo.  Just last week, I got super-mad that we have no professional family portraits with Posey yet.  I saw so many leaf pile shots of my friends’ families frolicking– the kids all smiles, the moms all sassy in new boots– that I demanded my husband book us a session as my Christmas gift.  Then, we took Posey to get her photo with Santa.  I’m not going to say that Santa dropped her, but I’m not going to say that he didn’t.  She squirms a lot.  I think I’m going wait til I have a better guarantee I won’t get super-mad that we spend money on super-bad pictures. (PS– Didn’t people see the picture of us that accompanied the post?)
  7. Mail out holiday cards before December 26th. Fine.  Send me your address.  But I really will have to ask you for it again next year.

And to all of you nice people out there who’ve been writing me kind comments and emails:  Santa is sure to put you on his “nice” list this year! Thank you!

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Grandpa Daycare now enrolling

Now enrolling for the Winter session of Grandpa Daycare! Experienced, professional Grandpa provides the following services:

  • Unlimited allowance of mustache and hair pullingSupervised cartoon-a-thons
  • Nonstop serenading of tunes from above-watched cartoons
  • All You Can Eat Cheerios from a well-worn Ziploc baggie in provider’s coat pocket
  • Constant text updates to parent from flip phone
  • Diaper changing 4-6 times per hour (*dirty diapers not guaranteed to end up in the diaper pail)
  • Wash ‘n Wear Service: Should baby ingest too many prunes and explode through two sets of clothes, Grandpa will spot launder and dry clothes with a hair dryer for no extra fee!
  • Love guaranteed to exceed all previous known measures

Tuition: Provider accepts payment in the form of unlimited toast and bottomless decaf.

Hurry, only one spot open!  All applicants required to be named “Posey.”

 

Diary of a Whiny Kid

I’d like to add an epilogue to yesterday’s post where I looked back with fondness at the easiness of my baby.  My almost 14-month-old is a different story.

5:00 p.m.: You’re really tired.  Put you down for a nap; screamed like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse got cancelled.  Fed you dinner instead.

7:30: Bedtime.  What an angel!  Right to sleep!  Looks like we won’t be having the kind of night we’ve had all week.

11:59: Wrong.  Stirring.  Put your pacifier back in your mouth.  All quiet.

12:00 a.m.: More stirring.  Put your pacifier back in your mouth.  Again.

12:02: Repeat above.

12:03: All hell breaks loose.  Did someone break in your room and try to murder Minnie Mouse in front of you? Cause that’s how your acting.  Diaper change does nothing to help.

12:06: You shove the bottle Dada tries to give you away.

12:19: Dada and I stand over your crib, cursing you, and asking what we did to deserve this. “This” meaning YOU.

12:20: I figure out it’s karma for writing this. You have done this every night for four nights.  I  am sick for the hundredth time since your birth.  I’m really, really tired. Cat #1 comes in the room and starts meowing at the top of his lungs, because it feels like the right thing to do.

12:26: Wait, do you want to come into our bed? And then,  at 12:27 a.m. on November 29th, 2012, a line was crossed: She came into our bed and stared at the ceiling and twirled her hair like she did this every night. She really owned the space.

12:47: You snuggle up close to me, and I consider that between the pumpkin in my arms, the nice man across from me, and Cat #1 curled up inside the number 4-shape my legs are in, this might be the greatest moment of my life.

12:59: I put you back in bed, and you go to sleep. Peacefully.  Dada and I embrace like it’s 1945 and the War is over.

1:06 a.m.: Cat #2, who sleeps locked in the office because otherwise she wails like she’s a patient at Briarcliff Asylum all night, begins hurling her entire body weight against the door. Over and over.  The loud thud wakes you up, and WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

We start all over.

Marissa Mayer, I Ain’t Mad Atcha

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is getting a lot of flack this week– mostly from the very network of moms that are supposed to be supportive.  You know, that great big nurturing web of womanhood where we all help each other out.  First, they came at her all, “I can’t WAIT to say ‘I told you so'” when she announced she would only take a two-week maternity leave.  And guess what?  After her son was born, that’s exactly what she did.  Now she’s back, and she’s getting more crap than ever.  Why?  Because the very moms who are pissed they can’t say “I told you so” are now practically outside her office with pitchforks and torches because of these words, spoken at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women dinner:

The baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be. I think I’ve been really lucky that way, but I had a very easy, healthy pregnancy.  He’s been easy. So those have been the two really terrific surprises — the kid has been easier, and the job has been fun!

How dare she?!  Who does she think she is!?  She’s demeaning our mom work!  She’s  minimizing the spinning plates act every working mom is one second away from dropping! She is ruining everything, for everyone, forever!

Marissa, what can I say? Haters gonna hate.

When Posey was born, she spent three weeks in the NICU.  This, admittedly, was not easy and would have used up 1/4 of my maternity leave, had I stayed at my job.  My heart broke for the moms I watched rush in and rip their shirts off like Clark Kent around 5 p.m. every day, when I had the luxury of all the time in the world.  They wanted to save their leave for when their babies came home, and that made sense. Now THAT I can’t imagine. Going back to work like four days after birthing.  I walked to J. Crew with my now-sister-in-law to help her try on a wedding dress four days after Po was born, and I seriously wanted a medal.  An engraved, platinum, on-a-red-white-and-blue-ribbon medal.    I wanted to scream from the top of the 900 North Michigan building, “I HAD A BABY FOUR DAYS AGO! AND NOW I’M SHOPPING! I’M AMAZING!” But I didn’t.

Maybe that’s how you feel in your office.  I hope you do.  Know what?  I had an easy baby, too.  She slept a lot.  So I took her out.  Everywhere, basically.  She napped in her car seat in the corner of the pilates studio.  We went out to lunch.  To the doctor.  Target.  And then Target again.  Yes, I know I wasn’t running Yahoo!  But before I was a mom– in fact, for my entire life– people told me that having a baby was the hardest, worst, most exhausting, most head-beating-against-the-wall thing ever.  To the point that I wondered why people did it.  And it turned out IT WASN’T THAT BAD.  But only in the way that The Artist couldn’t be as good as everyone told me.  In the way that Liz & Dick didn’t make we want to gouge my eyeballs out of my face.  Most things aren’t as good or as bad as people tell you.  So Marissa, if you were talking to the same people I was, then no– having a baby IS easier than people told you.

Then again, let’s think of what “easy” means to you.  You are running a Fortune 500 company.  Face it, most people– moms or not– can’t do that.  You are also 37 years old.  So you are most likely a lot more driven than most people.  Your version of “easy” is not the same as most peoples’.  It’s a semantics thing.  I couldn’t do what you did, so I didn’t.  To each their own.

So back off, Judgy Moms.  You’re being hypocritical.  Stop casting Mayer as the Chris Brown opposite your Jenny Johnson in your parenting play.  She’s entitled to say it’s easy if, in fact, it is for her.

But let’s all check in with her again when Macallister hits six months– ’cause once those little buggers start staying awake longer, all bets are off.

Diapers for Hurricane Sandy Babies

What a great idea!  Diapers.com and its partner sites are making it easy to donate essentials to those in need on the East Coast.  Considering how paralyzed I feel when I go out without a pacifier in my diaper bag, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be without diapers and formula… or for that matter, cat food and litter.

Make a donation towards baby, pet or household items that are so badly needed right now by clicking here.

That’s one online shopping cart I feel great about checking out.

Trick-Or-Treating Treat

Lately, I’ve been craving the flavors of fall– but not the calories.  Sunday, we took Posey to a Halloween parade, and here’s the pre-winter warmer I invented to fill our travel mugs with.

Chai-Spiced Cider

Voila! A decaf non-dairy treat for 65 calories, instead of a 300-calorie Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.

Stay warm trick or treating!

The Mom Gets in the Picture on the Picture Box

Did you read the Huffington Post‘s smash-hit post by Allison Tate, The Mom Gets in the Picture?

I admit it– I’ve alway been self-critical of myself in photos, and now with a baby, I want every snapshot of us to be picture-perfect, so Posey will see what a pretty mama I was when I am old and gray and Botoxed.  So, pretty much next year. Plus, I am the family photographer.  It’s rare that Beef offers to take over so I can get in a shot or two.

Now’s your chance to let the world see you and your kids in all your “take me as I am” glory: The Katie (Couric) Show is looking for viewers to submit their photos for an upcoming show.  Submit your photo here, and don’t dally– the show tapes later this week!

I even clicked past the photoshopped ones to send in something more real. And NOT the kind of photo where I show it around because I look good, but Posey’s making a weird face.

Is reality liberating?

 

The Story of When You Were Born…

…begins one year ago today.

On October 2nd, 2011, I woke up feeling kind of blah.  Sort of tired, sort of sore, sort of out of sorts.  If I’d had it my way, I would have stayed in bed all day.  But I couldn’t.  I had to get up and get my new blue striped dress and Spanx maternity tights on, because it was a special day… my baby shower!

That morning, the most important girls in my life were throwing me a party: Emily, Jackie, Aunt Jennifer (who flew in from California), Meg, Mari, Ariel and both your grandmas.  We were having a fancy ladies’ brunch at a restaurant in Lincoln Square called Fork.  Dada told me to get it together and get going, so I did.  I’d gotten my nails done a pretty shade of orange the day before and had sweat like a pig through the whole appointment. It was weird.

The shower was so beautiful.  Everyone I loved– and that already loved you– was there.  We had some French toast that knocked my socks off and opened up a huge pile of gifts. I drank a ton of coffee.  Again, I sweat the whole time.  It was pretty gross.

Dada came at the end to say hello and to bring all the gifts home.  It was barely our home, because we’d just moved in a month before.  I organized the gifts a bit, but mostly I just shoved them in your crib (with no mattress yet), because I had plenty of time to organize them– you weren’t due for another 40 days.

I was so exhausted.  I felt kind of sick.  I thought perhaps I’d drank too much coffee, so maybe I was dehydrated.  I laid on the couch, started writing my thank you notes, and had some of the left over pulled pork from the dinner I’d made for Jennifer and Grandma and Grandpa K. the night before.  We watched a movie about an alien called Paul.  It was dumb.  Dada told me to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

Dada always falls asleep in five seconds.  I don’t.  I laid next to him and felt a little splish-splash.  I had to pee.  I didn’t want to wake Dada up, so I went to the bathroom in the dark without turning the light on.  Back to bed. Another drip.  Had to pee again.  Had to pee a couple more times. And then… a funny feeling.  What was that?  I turned on the light in the bathroom, and I knew something wasn’t right.

I woke Dada up, and we decided to call the doctor.  I could tell she was asleep, but she told me to go the hospital. Dada sighed.  Since I’m so over-dramatic, we knew we’d have at least one false alarm, and it seemed this was it.  What should we bring?  I didn’t have a bag packed.  That didn’t seem to matter, since neither of us thought there was any chance This Was It.  I fed the cats in case we were gone a long time.  I was worried about coming back at 2 in the morning and looking for parking in our new neighborhood.   The doctor had told me to eat before we left the house, but I was so nervous that I couldn’t.

We got to the hospital at midnight.  We knew where to go, because we’d taken our birthing class at Northwestern Hospital just the week before.  They’d given us a tour.  All the other couples there seemed prepared.  They had duffel bags, suitcases, pillows.  I could hear them checking in.  “How far along are you?” “40 weeks.” “39 weeks.” “41 weeks.” I was only 34 1/2.  And I just knew you weren’t very big yet, even though the doctor had told me I was fine.

When the nurse came to check me, she said, “I think your water broke.”  I was sure it hadn’t.  There was no gush like on TV.  She took out a swab and said if it turned blue, that meant it was amniotic fluid.  It didn’t turn blue.  She said sometimes it doesn’t work, so she wanted to send a test to the lab.

We waited almost two hours.  A student doctor came in to scan you and see if you were upside down, the way you were supposed to be.  She asked me all these questions that I didn’t know the answers to, because it wasn’t time to know them yet.  We told her that we didn’t even know if I was in labor.  “Oh,” she said.  I think she knew before we did.

When the nurse returned a little after 2 a.m., she said: “You’re having this baby today.”

It didn’t sink in.  There was no way.  We weren’t ready.  YOU weren’t ready.  But I was glad my nails were done.

While we waited for them to move us to my room, I called Granma to tell her.  She was leaving for Outdoor Ed that morning, so I hadn’t called her to even tell her what was going on earlier, because I assumed nothing was going on.  She didn’t believe me when I told her.

The next 15 hours were kind of a blur.  They set us up in a room.  They gave me medicine to make my contractions start.  Water started gushing out.  A doctor came to explain to us that when you were born, they’d need to immediately take you to the NICU because you were premature.  No one seemed alarmed, but they were saying a lot of stuff we didn’t understand, and that was scary.

Something I DO remember is this:  At some point, Dada and I were standing in the bathroom, hugging.  We were scared.  I was hungry and not allowed to eat.  I was starting to hurt.  Everything was happening so fast, and everything just felt more.  We hugged some more, and I said, “Someday, this will all just be part of the story of the day she was born.”

Dada slept on the pull-out bed in the room, but I couldn’t.  I just keep staring at the little incubator bed that was next to mine.  The one that was all ready for you.  The bed was ready, but I didn’t know if I was.  They gave me my epidural around 7 in the morning.  At some point, Emily came to visit.  Granma and Granpa got there.  Granpa and Dada went home to get me my things and to check the kitties.  I don’t remember the order of things.

I do remember that I told my parents what your name was going to be.  They didn’t quite get it at the time.

The day dragged on and on.  I texted and emailed a lot.  I wasn’t allowed out of bed.  I was starving.  But no matter how much time passed, I wasn’t dilating.  Finally, things started to move quickly, and by 5pm, you were ready.  We kicked Granma, Granpa and Unka Joey out of the room, and the doctor said it was time.  Dada was on the phone registering up with the cord blood bank.  He barely hung up in time.

Dr. Tam told me most first-time mothers have to push one to two hours.  I knew you’d be out faster than that.  We started, and I asked them to bring a mirror in so we could watch.  Dada was right next to me.  I pushed a couple more times, and we could see your head.  I was told to stop– the NICU doctors weren’t there yet!  Finally, about six more people came to the room.  All their pagers were beeping.  I told them they were rude.  The doctor explained the beepers were telling them to come here– the beeps were for me.  Oops.

In the movies, they show women having babies as an awful experience.  I loved it.  I loved pushing.  Maybe that was because at only 25 minutes in, out you came.  Dada was videotaping, but his finger was over the camera for a lot of it.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.

You were so small.  And you were mine.

I wish I could remember more about this moment.  I more just picture the pictures, because that’s what I’ve seen.  I know I held you, because we have it on tape.  They whisked you away to the other side of the room to check you out.  Three pounds, thirteen ounces.  That scared us.  You were so small.  And you were ours.

I got to hold you again, and then they had to take you to the NICU.  They wheeled you out, and I know Granma, Granpa and Joey saw you in the hallway.  You stared at them with your big black eyes.  You took Granma’s breath away.

I didn’t get to see you again for almost three hours.  In that time, I ate a sandwich and some fruit the nurse brought.  I texted people that you were here and roughly the size of a Subway Sandwich.  Uncle Daryl came to visit.  He was technically your first visitor, just as he was for me when I was born 33 years earlier.

After they moved me to another room, it was time.  I was still weak and had been awake for about 36 hours straight, so I got pushed in a wheelchair.  We all went down together to see you.  You were all cleaned up and had on a little pink hat with a bow.  A nurse had drawn you a sign in crayon that said, “Josephine.”

You were so small.  You were so perfect.  And after waiting for you for my whole life, you were finally here… and all mine.

For the next three weeks, you lived in the NICU.  Dada and I went home after two days, and it made us so sad to leave you.  Every day, I would get there around 9 and spend the day with you.  We’d talk and cuddle and eat and sleep.  I loved changing your diaper.  They weighed every single one.  When you ate 17 milliliters, Dad (who would come after work) and I would jump for joy.  We burped you with two fingers.  We put you inside our shirts to stay warm.  One day, we showed up and you were wearing a shirt.  They dressed you in little donated outfits.  You moved rooms twice.  We had views of the lake.  We had lots of visitors.  Emily would come during work.  Uncle Greg would take the bus, and I would yell at him for not washing his hands before he touched you.  Grandma and Grandpa Kozak came often.  But the days dragged on, and I was sick of  microwaving my lunch in the sad train depot of a waiting room with another dad who never talked to me once and had a little girl named Delilah.

You gained weight and lost weight.  Sometimes, your heart rate would drop really low.  That’s why you had to stay.  You had to keep it regular for five days in a row.  We held our breath every time.  Once, they called at 10 at night to say it had dropped again.  I was so tired that I didn’t have the strength to drive myself there. Unka Joey picked me up and came to see you with me.

There were so many nice nurses there taking care of you.  Our favorite was named Kim.  They taught us how to feed you, how to burp you, how to swaddle you, how to give you a bath.  We even took a CPR class there.

On October 24th, it was time to take you home.  I dressed you in a lime green suit with a cupcake on it.  We put you in your orange car seat.  We had a Posey Parade Caravan followed by a Barnaby’s pizza party (at Dada’s request).

Off we drove.  I sat in the back seat with you.  In that car seat, you were so small. And you were all mine.

And now, it’s October 2nd again.  The leaves are turning, and when I go outside, the air smells just the way it did a year ago on those 20 mornings I would get in my car and drive to the hospital.  I think for the rest of my life, the smell of summer turning into fall will remind me of You Being Born.

Happy first birthday, Pie.  Thank you for the best year of my life… not only because you were a part of it, but because you give me the strength and inspiration every day to do things I’ve always dreamed of.

I love you.

Love, Mama

…But You Will.

Two things on TV made me openly weep in the last two days.

This morning, I saw a commercial for Dreft. Unless you have a baby, most likely you don’t know what that is, so I’ll tell you. Someone figured out how to market a laundry detergent specifically for baby clothes, and it’s like 10 times more expensive than any other detergent. But I used it religiously for months, because IT’S RECOMMENDED BY PEDIATRICIANS. So the commercial. It said:

“You have a child forever, but you only have a baby for one year.”

I only have 13 days left of that year. So I lost it.  But ultimately, Dreft should be crying, because Posey switched to All Free & Clear half a babyhood ago.

And then there’s Glee.

I’m behind, so I just watched the season premiere yesterday.  If you watch the show, you may share my sentiment that the best character by far is Kurt’s Dad. Kurt’s Dad is the Midwestern, Salt o’ the Earth, Car Shop-Owning Guys’ Guy who happens to be the single father of a gay son. And he couldn’t be prouder. In the episode, he encourages Kurt to follow his dreams to New York City, where he’s sure to find more people like him– people not afraid to be different. Kurt’s scared, but his dad reassures him that At the airport, Kurt tells his father, “I’ll miss you, Dad.” His father responds, “You can always come home.” Kurt exits car. Kurt’s dad says to himself…

“But you won’t.”

Ohmygod. I just started crying again TYPING it. I watched this while Posey stood beaming at me from her “play yard” (read: brightly colored cage). For now, I literally have her locked up under my watch. And yes, she falls over and bumps her head a lot on my watch. But she’s all mine, and we’re together every single day. And I know it won’t be like this forever, because while you have a child forever, you only have a baby for One Year.

 

 

 

First pictures of Bill & Giuliana’s Baby Boy!

Presenting Edward Duke Rancic!

Life  & Style has the exclusive with the proud new parents. Having gone through IVF at the same time they did (and even consulting with their Chicago doctor, Dr. Brian Kaplan at FCI), I was so thrilled to hear their wish was granted via a surrogate. Congrats to the whole family! Hope to have a Edward ‘n Posey playdate soon at their Chicago eatery, RPM Italian! Do they have highchairs?