15 Confessions from a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Cherries

This morning, there are too many tragic headlines to count in our country– but the most imminent problem here in Chicago is all the rain and mass flooding. Highways are shut down, roads are flooded, flights are cancelled, a sinkhole just swallowed up three cars, trains are delayed. A lot of people are having a dilly of a time getting to work….but not me.

My commute from the bedroom to the living room went just fine. My breakfast meeting agenda of waffles and apple juice went over well with its attendee, and the rain was a non-issue. My bathrobe didn’t even get wet.

There is so much debate over who works harder: the SAHM or the Works-Outside-the- Home Mom. I won’t say for one second that I don’t work my butt off day in and day out. But would I prefer to be dragging my butt into an office everyday? HELL NO. And that’s the truth.

I am not saying my life is easy. Not at all. But not having to deal with a commute every morning is just one of the perks I retain in my life these days. And while some moms might not agree– or think I’m trivializing what those of us who stay home do all day– I’d like to run down a few of the other benefits I enjoy. And yes, I mean ENJOY– and don’t take for granted.

  • I finally had time to re-train my hair. As in, I don’t have to wash it every day anymore.
  • Got one “good” outfit? Me, too. And I can wear it four days in a row.
  • Omelettes for breakfast. Or homemade waffles. Or whatever. There’s time.
  • If my daughter is up all night, I don’t have to stress about being exhausted the next day. I mean, I AM exhausted, but it doesn’t affect meetings or deadlines.
  • Better control over my health: No stress-bagel binges, monthly birthday cakes, and the gym is now a place I WANT to go because it’s a reason to get out of the house.
  • I can stay up late watching TV.
  • I appreciate time with my husband more. I look forward to him coming home form work every day like a puppy.
  • We eat together as a couple now. When I worked full-time, I was rarely home for dinner. That’s important.
  • I can schedule doctor and/or hair appointments whenever. Tuesday at 1? Sure. Thursday at 10:30? I’ll be there. Total flexibility makes life so much easier.
  • Shopping during a weekday is peaceful. No crowded stores. No long lines. Having Trader Joe’s all to yourself is practically a luxury spa treatment. Was I supposed to rub my face with that lamb vindaloo sample? Cause I did.
  • I’ve diversified my friend group. A new schedule means meeting and spending time with people like me, and it’s opened me up to some great new or strengthened relationships.
  • Because I have such a supportive family, I’ve been able to explore new career paths and goals that were always just a dream for me. And…
  • I’m closer with my family, who I never had enough time for before.
  • I know my daughter better than anybody else. I’ve been with her almost every single day of her life, and no one can ever take that away from me. However, I was not there to see her take her first steps… because she hasn’t yet. PLEASE JUST WALK, KID!

I’m lucky, and now more than ever– I’ve been counting my many blessings every day.

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A Mom’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

cupid

5:52 a.m. Awaken to breakfast in bed. How is there literally more Cheerios than there are grains of sand at the beach under your covers?

5:57 a.m. Change Cupid’s diaper. How did Cheerios get in there, too?

6:22 a.m. Give your honey a valentine. Draw a heart around the Post-It note you left next to his keys that says, “Remember to call your mother back re: goiter surgery. Buy cat litter.”

9:16 a.m. Indulge in a sweet treat. Play the Is It Chocolate… Or Poop? Game, Valentine’s Edition! (Hint: Poop isn’t heart-shaped. Usually.)

10:46 a.m. Remember to Flirt! When you pass those three post-college dudes buying bulk toilet paper and their first Swiffer at Target, suck in your stomach until you feel your bellybutton wrap around your spine.

High Noon: Crack open a bottle of the good stuff. This isn’t a clever play on words for something parenting-related.

5:01 p.m. Go dancing! The tango? Naaaahhhh. Your Hot Dog Dance would make Julianne Hough beg for Toodles.

6:44 p.m. Savor a romantic dinner. Those Fish McBites aren’t going to try themselves.

6:48 p.m. Bust out your special lingerie… not the ratty nursing bra you still wear daily, even though you stopped breastfeeding two years ago. Wear the new nursing bra with the tags still on it.

8:06 p.m. Retire to the boudoir for another threesome… your third one this week. Hopefully, the tiny person in the middle doesn’t steal all the covers this time. Hey, is that a Cheerio?

Mommy Must-Have: Cool Socks

Image

Socks, you say? Yes. In my pre-baby days, I owned two varieties: thick, white ‘n ratty gym pairs, and manmade material brown and block work lady pairs. 

When Posey was a few months old, we started a music class together. Here’s the thing I never thought of– and nobody told me. At most mom/baby events (classes, story times, indoor play cafes), there are strict no-shoe policies. It makes sense to keep the floors clean when our little bugaboos are crawling around on them. 

So on my first day of my first class, I removed my shoes to reveal my old white gym socks, and I was shamed. Shamed, I tell you. Every other mom had cutie patooties: stripes, argyle, animals, polka dots… you name it. The next day, I went on a sock run at Target. 

Last week, I met a friend at the Kookaburra Play Cafe. In preparation, I slipped on pair of gray and purple polka dotties. Good thing, because the Lincoln Park moms were sporting all kinds of fancy feet. Neon. NEON, I TELL YOU! And who did I spot in the corner of the cafe? A new mom, cradling her teeny infant, her feet clad in ratty white gym socks.

When you know better, you do better. Go invest in some playdate socks. 

 

 

The Groupon I’ve Waited Her Entire Life For

There is a hole in my soul in the shape of a professional family portrait.

When Posey hit the three-month mark, the six-month mark, her first birthday… I let each milestone pass without commemorating it with a classic “playing around in leaves” or “swinging child by the hands” or “fun day in the park” or “matching turtlenecks” photo shoot. But I wanted to. If we are friends on Facebook– and you have a child– there is a 100% chance that I have stared longingly at your family album, googled the photographer and spent hours browsing their portfolio. But I haven’t pulled the trigger. I haven’t found that special someone who I feel confident will get that magic shot where one or all of is not making this face:

And then, I stumbled across this deal on Groupon today. Whaaaaaaat? An in-studio session with a world-renowned portrait artist who’s shot Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and this Mellencamp album cover, for crying out loud?

YES, PLEASE. THIS IS THE MAN FOR THE JOB. Pretty sure he’ll be able to get one where Beef’s eyes aren’t closed. This is like buying a Groupon for Richard Lewis to craft you your own tailor-made joke about your own personal insecurities. Which, Groupon, would be a pretty kick-ass offer.

So what should we wear for the big shoot? Bolo ties, or no bolo ties?

How to Fly With a Toddler In Your Lap

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

Hmm… shall we back up a wee bit?

Posey’s first flight was over the summer, when we schlepped her all the way to London. At the time, it seemed like the Hardest Thing Any Parent Has Ever Done Ever. Looking back at the circumstances, she was a non-crawling sack of potatoes who slept almost the entire time in a SPECIAL BED ATTACHED TO THE WALL, kind of like those sleep chambers in Aliens:

Piece of crumpet.

Flash forward the moment we decide to take her to California. And not just anywhere! Let’s make it a Grand Tour, shall we? San Diego! Orange County! Santa Monica! Pasadena! Brigadoon!  After all, we did okay on the last trip, right?  The one when we stayed in a gorgeous home with great friends who also had a baby and an extra set of all the stuff that comes with a baby?  That went smashingly!

This trip, we have to pack a car seat.  And a pack and play.  And a stroller.  And her mobile, because there is only one song on the planet earth she will fall asleep to.  And this trip, the Squiggliest Baby On Earth has to sit in “our” laps for four hours and nineteen minutes.

So here’s how “we” did it:

Step 1: Ask your parents to get up at 5 a.m. and come with TWO CARS to fit your luggage and yourselves comfortably.

Step 2: Oversleep and try to get past the fact that you are flying to the land of movie stars with hair that hasn’t been washed in two days.  Two days in a row that you worked out and then didn’t shower, because that’s why the alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. on the phone with no juice left.

Things To Check as Baggage:

  • Car Seat: My pediatrician recommended bringing our own car seat. After all, you don’t know where those rental car ones have been, although my first guess is probably in the back seat of a rental car.  Luckily, they make a special bag for the occasion, which I was able to borrow from a friend during a Big Trip to the Suburbs.  It was a lifesaver.  Car seats can be checked for free on United, so stuff that sucker full. Diapers, wipes, and the things that always takes up too much room in the suitcase so thusly I never bring them on vacation: running shoes.  Maybe I hate this car seat bag.
  • Pack and Play: Perhaps you remember my fondness for Ziploc baggies? They make one big enough to protect an entire foldable crib!!!!!!!

Things To Carry On:

  • Stroller: Get a gate check ticket and ride that thing to the plane door.
  • The Mom Tote: Wait, yours isn’t an oversized pink L.L. Bean customized “Oprah’s Book Club” tote bag circa the East of Eden re-launch, 2003? That’s weird. Mine sat in my closet for a decade– and finally, it was Big Pink Tote’s time to shine.  I spent a week stocking it with the following essentials:
  • Laptop
  • DVDs for laptop (Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street*)
  • Tiny child headphones I went to a special store for
  • Pre-chewed Board book, Posey’s fave
  • Talking Minnie Mouse, Posey’s other fave
  • Little plastic blocks to clackity-clack together, Posey’s other-other fave
  • 3 boxes of Horizon shelf-stable milk**
  • An entire tube of puffs
  • 3 baby food pouches
  • Enough wipes for the entire plane
  • A day’s worth of diapers
  • Baby B’Air toddler vest (Really? Really.)
  • 2 Cliff Bars, Gum & Goldfish***
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bottled water

*I bought this to prepare her for the Sesame-land at Sea World, but instead I got a whole lotta Erykah Badu. I’m pretty sure there’s no Badu World. 

** These don’t count as liquid, so you can bring them through security as long as you consent to a pat down. Got that? Juice box = pat down. 

***So when Beef asks, “What do we have to eat?” there is food. And when he asks, “Do we have gum?” the answer is “yes.”

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Dramatic re-enactment. But I was wearing those same jeans.

Our seats are in the very last row.  The kind that don’t recline back. Middle and window. Sweatpants on the aisle looks hungover and ready to nap. Posey starts to freak. I distract her with the board book and Hemisphere Magazine and the barf bag for just long enough until the momentum of take-off catches her fancy, at which point a bottle gets shoved into her maw to protect her ears from popping.  Once we’re up and see two girls go to the bathroom, we ask Sweatpants if we can get out to go change her already twelve-ton diaper. Two Mr. Meanie flight attendants to tell us to sit back down. Sweatpants lets us back in. The fleeciness of his pants makes him agile like a serpent. The seatbelt light dings off.  This time, Mr. Meanie says, “You know there’s no changing table on board this aircraft.” No prob. We change her in our seats and leave a little parting gift on board when we leave.  (For the return trip, I doubled up on diapers.  It worked; she survived.)

Back in our row, the Giant Business Man in front of me reclines his seat into Posey’s face. I don’t stop her from kicking the seat back for hours, because if it bothered him, he is welcome to move into the empty seat next to him that he’s using to keep his coat and newspaper. Strapped into her red vest that somehow makes me feel safer and better about life in general, Posey watches two and a half hours of Mickey Mouse until she falls asleep on my chest for the first time in about a year.  At first, it feels nice.  And then, she feels like a hot lava rock in my lap and I pray that the wet I feel is my sweat and not her pee. Beef enjoys watching Bradley Cooper pay the steepest of steep prices to pay in The Words.

Bad Writer!

Bad Writer!

When it’s time to land, my little traveler gets mad that there’s no Mickey to watch, so talking Minnie will have to do. And she does.

I wrestle with her down the aisle as we wait to de-plane from forty rows back, and I’m relieved to reunite with our stroller, which I’m pleased to say looks like it had a truly excellent time visiting the coal mine.

January 20th, 2013. 11:05 a.m.  San Diego International Airport.

“Well, that was easy,” Beef said, “because we prepared.”

A Toothbrush

I have to be sad on here one more time.  I am still grieving for those parents.  I keep thinking about how heartbreaking mundane tasks around the house must be now as they find reminders in the usual places.   Like, what happens when they find their child’s dirty laundry in the hamper?  A pair of shoes by the door, a favorite box of cereal in the cupboard?  What about their little toothbrushes on the sink?

I wrote a reaction piece for the HuffPo, and you can read it here.  This Christmas, I’m counting my blessings and filing away each new memory with supreme gratitude.

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!

Christmas Gifts for Stay-At-Home Moms

I recently posted Posey’s Wishlist.  And now… here are a few things that could solve my (superficial) problems this holiday season.  Something to think about for the stay at home mom on your list this year.

I’m Tired.

  • Oprah gave away these delightful Tempur-Pedic Cloud Supreme beds to heroic military spouses on her Favorite Things show.  I ooh’ed and ah’ed so much that Beef asked if it was worth him enlisting.  Maybe.
  • If that’s not in the budget, might I suggest My Pillow? I watched the infomercial last month and fell in love.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to drift off into ZZZland thinking of this guy’s face?

(It’s important for me to note here that Posey sleeps through the night like a champ.  But the cat does not.)

I Look Bad.

  • Not getting dressed to go to an office every day means that some days my face slips through the cracks that are, strangely enough, now on my face.  That’s where the Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette comes into play.  Once the salesperson at Sephora told me she loved her original Naked Palette so much that she brought it to China. I didn’t buy it, because I wasn’t going to China, and all the blue didn’t appeal to me.  But this one? 12 pretty eye shades.  One for each day of Christmas! (And their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are the best.)

I’m One-Third of a S.I.F.

Beef coined this term to stand for “Single-Income Family.”  Staying at home is a blessing that means I get to spend every day taking care of my sweet baby and making waffles with the waffle iron more mornings than not, but it also means not doing everything the way maybe I used to.  So don’t get her something practical.  Get her something nice.  Cause, you know, she’s nice.

  • Boots!  This weekend, I used a pair of pliers to repair the jagged metal zipper that probably will give me Lock Jaw one day on my almost decade-old Target boots.  They’re fixed, and they’re fine.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.  Before I quit my job, I was on Year Three of The Hunt for New Boots. My options are limited because I’m cursed with super-skinny calves. Hey, people who got here by Googling “boots for skinny narrow calves?” Try these Calvin Klein Herminas.  I didn’t get a chance to before the new world S.I.F. order.

 

  • Yes, I know that getting a gift certificate to my hair salon or nail place is kind of like handing over an envelope of cash.  But it would be a nice gesture to say, “Hey, Wonderful Wife– you deserve it!”
  • An envelope of cash.  Just kidding.  The second-best part of Christmas is knowing someone cares enough about you to think of something thoughtful.  SO BE THOUGHTFUL. What’s the first-best part? That’s easy.

 

10 More Types of Moms on Facebook

Part two of my last HuffPo piece.  Read it here!  For those of you coming here via the HuffPost mobile app, it seems the content (which is a chart) isn’t visible on mobile devices. So I’m posting the text below!

 10 More Types of Moms on Facebook

I heard ya, loud and clear!  Seems I left quite a few of us off The 10 Types of Moms on Facebook.  Thanks to your responses, I added to the list.  Think we can get to 100

1. The Blue Ribbon Mom: How will the world know her children are prodigies unless she endlessly boasts about them?

Typical Status: “Phillip took 1st place in the pre-K talent show with his dead-on impression of Sir Anthony Hopkins doing Hamlet while riding backwards on a horse!  SO PROUD!”

2. The Au Naturale Mom: She would never judge you for getting your kids vaccinated.  She’s too busy washing her cloth diapers in the river and after photographing her kids in a field of sunflowers. (Note: NOT in an Anne Geddes kind of way)

Typical Status: “Anyone got any good placenta recipes? I’m so sick of the one I usually make.”

3. The Potty Training Mom: What’s that sound?  I think I just heard a plop and a tinkle in my news feed!

Typical Status: “Charlie made a #2 in the potty today!  Three cheers for his clean underpants!”

4. The Mommyjacker: How does she do it?  How does she manage to make every single one of your status updates into something about her kids?  On a totally unrelated side note, Liam Neeson is such a badass in Taken 2 as a former CIA agent!:

Comment: “Little Eleanor hasn’t “taken” one, two OR three naps today!  Does Liam Neeson have any current experience as a CIO (cry it out) agent?” (*Note: This joke was funnier when I wrote it– a month ago.  So imagine this is something witty and Argo-related)

5. The Paranoid Mom: Not a picture, not an update, not a personal bit of anything.  After all, basically everyone is out to get her and her kids– she saw that segment on the news about cyberstalking.

Typical Status: “Nice weather we’re having today! Might rain, though.”

6. The Show Me the Money Mom: Girl Scout cookies. Popcorn. Wrapping Paper. Her kids are selling it all, and lucky for you, you can pay her in cash at her next Stella & Dot jewelry party!

Typical Status: “Libby’s school is raising money for their French Riviera trip! Help her reach her goal of $36,000 by buying Neil Lane diamond chip cookie dough.”

7. The Hangover Mom: No, not that kind of hangover.  I mean a baby hangover.  This mom can’t let go… no matter how old her kids get.

Typical Status: “Look how adorable 40-year-old Betty looks on her first day of being Miss Big Girl Bank Vice President!” (Note: She always seems to forget to update her status about Little “Mr. Big Boy Correctional Institution” Jimmy.)

8. The Just Rejoined Civilization Mom: Her kids are finally grown and out of the house.  Welcome back to the world, my friend.  There’s so much you’ve missed.

Typical Status: “OMG! You guys have to watch this– I can’t stop crying!” (Note: “This” refers to a link to Susan Boyle’s original audition clip from Britain’s Got Talent.)

9. The Means Well Mom: No matter how many times you send her the link to Snopes proving it’s a hoax, she won’t stop posting fantastical claims about online privacy changes and household items allegedly made with asbestos and/or dynamite.

Typical Status: “Warning! New study proves (insert name of the only food your kid will eat) contains non FDA-approved levels of arsenic and human hair!”

10. The Aspirational Mom: Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I click through every one of her photo albums, admire her perfect teeth, laugh out loud at the hilarious thing her kid said today…. and wish I was her.  Shhh. Our secret.

Typical Status: “Liz Kozak, please stop Facebook stalking me.”