When Mom is a Bridesmaid

Mostly, I think I am a grown-up… or at least I pretend to be. There is no definitive criteria for establishing adult-hood and maturity is not automatically granted at the age of 18. Occasionally I’ll have one of those wow-I’m-getting-old moments and by occasionally, I mean all the time.

My best friend of almost 25 years is getting married. Yes, that would make us 21 years young. I am honored to be her bridesmaid and looking forward to the wedding. Although I don’t mind humiliating myself by blogging about life’s embarrassing moments, I won’t humiliate her by mentioning we used to have practice weddings in the library with paper flowers, wedding invitations written on notebook paper, and an aisle we used to walk down near the non-fiction section.

I haven’t been in a wedding since my own and I hadn’t anticipated the challenges of being a bridesmaid and being a mom at the same time.

Ah, how un-fondly I look back on that moment when the bridal shop called to verify my unusual measurements were accurate. Nonetheless, I re-did my measurements to determine whether or not having a baby had turned me into a mis-shapen mutant and it had. I not-so-enthusiastically ordered a larger dress size and was distressed when I tried it on. Snug is not a word that makes women feel beautiful or sexy. Bless the seamstress who promised the next time I try the dress on, my expression will be happier. If that is the case, I might have clothes professionally altered more often just for the pep-talks.

While we were waiting to have the alteration ticket written up, my mother and I were discussing undergarments. Yes, undergarments. My mother suddenly laughed (although I take undergarments very seriously) and I realized my son was standing on the pedestal with a young girl  who was having her prom gown fitted. Flirting already at 15 months… hide your daughters. After I offered an apology only necessary for me, I scooped him up and pondered the logistics of being a bridesmaid and being a mom.

We had a plan at the bridal shower for when he got fussy and I wasn’t able to make him happy without neglecting my bridesmaid duties, but the wedding will be a bigger challenge. I think I can hear some moms telling me to just leave him at home, but my usual childcare options will be AT this wedding and making arrangements is a little more complicated seeing as how we are traveling for the wedding.

And how will I get ready? I have been responsible for getting myself, my husband, and my son ready for the past 15 months. I’m afraid if I’m not there to help they’ll show up with no pants on or else inconveniently late. If the universe ever implodes and time collapses on itself, it is because a mother was not there to get her family ready.

This is another one of those unexpected ways a woman’s life changes after having a baby. No matter what other role I might serve as a bridesmaid, a working woman, or someone trying to wash their car… first and foremost I am a mom now!

What experiences have you had with taking your child to a wedding? Success or embarrassing disaster?  Any tips or tricks for taking your child to celebrate a special occasion?

Tuesday 10: 10 Favorite Photos

Below are 10 of my favorite photos that capture some of the most special moments in my life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let these special photos speak for themselves.

1. When we first met…

2. Celebrating our marriage with family and friends…

3. Baby’s first picture…

4. Our first family photo…

5. Mother and daughter…

6. Little baby goes to Washington…

7. Precious smile…

8. Sisters…

9. That’s my boy…10. I love every, simple, mundane moment…

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

Aside

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

I wanted to share a blog post by Her Bad Mother. She talks about another controversial parenting subject; stay at home dads. She addresses the judgements others make and the complicated way some dads feel about being the parent at home. As I mentioned in the comment I left; We all eat the bacon. It doesn’t matter who brings it home. – Jennifer

This will seem like a statement of the obvious, but still, it bears stating: when we moved to New York City, everything changed.

Everything changed, of course, in the ways that you might expect: we went from living in Canada to living in the United States, we went from living in a very small town to living in a very big city, we went from living in a detached house with a basement and a yard to living in a loft, we went from socialized health care to totally not socialized health care. But it changed in this way, too: we went from being a household in which mom worked in the home and dad worked away from home to the reverse. And that, my friends, has made all the difference, and a difficult difference at that…

Continue reading at Her Bad Mother…

Also, the Co-Sleeping controversy.

2002: Not a Cool Enough Year to Make a Movie About

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but 2002 was like ten years ago. I know, right? If my son had invented time travel, I could take you back to 2002 with me. But alas, he is still working on it. I vaguely remember a few events that occurred in 2002 (who I was dating, where I was working, what I looked like) but mostly it is an intentional and embarrassing blur.

2002 was the year I had my braces taken off. Not the oh-I-didn’t-even-know-you-had-braces kind, the metal-made-radio-signal-disrupting kind. Yes, I graduated college with a mouth full of braces. Without braces in the summer of 2002, I proudly started grad school and work on my Master’s in elementary education.

2002 was the year I had my second to the last boyfriend. My next boyfriend became my husband. Sorry to the first-runner-up. I’d like to tell you you’re better off without me, but I think it’s the other way around.

2002 was also the last year I had with my Mema. Enough said.

Without the invention of time travel yet (come on son, mommy’s waiting) it’s easier to look forward than to look behind. As you can imagine, a lot can change in ten years.

2003: My grandmother passed away.

2004: I met my husband.

2005: Moved to Maryland where driving skills are optional when acquiring a driver’s license and was involved in a nasty car accident. Also, I started teaching.

2006: Did we skip 2006? I don’t seem to recall this happening. Yes?

2007: Taught 7th and 8th grade and planned-me-a- wedding.

2008: Married on July 26th. Left teaching to pursue some political opportunities.

2009: Worked and worked some more. Also, moved to Virginia because it’s for lovers.

2010: I got pregnant. Yeah, Virginia really is for lovers.

2011: Birth of my son on January 13th.

Knowing my luck, if I could go back to 2002 and tell myself what would happen in the next 10 years, the flux capacitor in my car would probably get it wrong and I would end up in 1985. And if you have no idea what I am talking about, you are the first person I am sending back to 1985 so you can get yourself some pop culture.

How I Really Feel About Valentine’s Day in 11 Images or Less

The rumors are true; I do have a heart. Here is the story of How I Met Your Father and my special Love Affair with Mr. Darcy. Enjoy and tell someone you love them!

How I Met Your Father

My husband will hate that I’ve shared our story. I love him, but mostly I don’t care if this bothers him or not. It’s my story too. It’s the story of how we met.

When you are in high school, everyone wants to know when you will get your driver’s license.  When you are in college, everyone wants to know what you are majoring in. When you finish college, everyone wants to know where you are working. When you are working, everyone wants to know if you are dating anyone. When you are dating someone, everyone wants to know when you will get married. When you get married, everyone wants to know when you will start making babies. After you make babies, nobody cares about you anymore and their attention rightfully focuses on said babies.

After I finished college I started graduate school and was working full time. So what that means is, I got stuck on the ‘are you dating anyone’ question for a long time.

Eventually, I had heard it enough.

Most 20-something acquaintances were meeting their significant others in bars. I had hoped to meet my significant other in a library. Yes, nerdy but I assumed a library is the type of place where I might increase my odds of meeting a sober and intelligent person. Yeah, no.

Eventually, I looked on-line. Take a moment to gasp as you ponder explaining on-line dating to your grandmother. But after 2 days of searching profiles, I saw a picture that I liked. Yes I know, you don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s how I picked my husband.

In a day we were chatting on-line for hours, in a week we were talking on the phone until the early morning, and in two weeks we were making plans to meet. But the scary thought of meeting him was almost enough to make me say no.

He called me on a Saturday night and told me he really wanted to see if our connection was what we thought it was. Despite the distance between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, we knew it was something special. Don’t get any ideas of a dramatic meet-up on top of the Empire State Building. That stuff is for Tom Hanks (le sigh)!

My husband and I met the following day, September 12, 2004, at the airport. He splurged on a ticket, endured questioning from airport security as to why he was flying on such short notice, and our first date consisted of five hours together (and a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut) before he returned home.

This is where my story does sound like a Tom Hanks movie. The romantic-comedy kind, not the Academy Award winning kind. After my husband left that day, I immediately told my mother that I had met the man I was going to marry. As your roll your eyes at my absolute lovey nonsense, now ponder explaining that to your grandmother. Did I mention she’s feisty?

Finally on July 26, 2008, my husband and I were married. I don’t know what it will be like someday explaining to my children how I met their father. Will on-line dating be a norm or a thing of the past? But most importantly, we did meet.

Life Labeled as a ‘Working Mom’

Hi, it’s me standing on my soap box. Yes… again.

Moms make difficult decisions every day: Should I buy the generic diapers on sale or should I splurge on name brand? Breast or bottle? Is my child crying because he really needs something or is he crying because he’s a little fussy? Despite the unsolicited advice and lectures I have endured regarding my family’s ‘controversial’ decision to co-sleep, the toughest parenting decision I have made is little more complicated and selfish; my decision to be a ‘working mom.’

Being a mom is a super-duper important job! It is both challenging and rewarding. Moms don’t earn a paycheck for their hard-work, but they raise curious babies who become intrigued children who become responsible adults. Moms are responsible for nourishing their children, keeping them safe, and totally loving them! If it sounds difficult and complicated, that’s because it is.

You have my deepest apology for using the clichéd term, ‘working mom’ as you read on (if you kindly choose to do so). Labels should be for jars of baby food, not moms!

Being a working mom has been a difficult experience for me that I underestimated and was not prepared for. Sure I’m always struggling to find time, but what mom isn’t? The issue has been an emotional one that I can no longer blame on hormones.

After 6 weeks of maternity leave, I was back to work in March of 2011. Was I ready? Not at all! Although six weeks sounded like a vacation before maternity leave began, when you actually have a newborn, six weeks is no time at all. I have since encouraged other working moms to take extended leave if possible, unpaid or not. Yes, where maternity leave is concerned I offer my unsolicited opinion to other moms.

So why be a working mom? For some, it’s not a choice. As a first time mom, this was one of the first decisions I had to make in which I had to put my own feelings second to doing what was best for my family. I’ll be honest, it was a tough lesson to learn. I was, and still am, very selfish about my child. I want to spend every possible moment with him (and what mom doesn’t).

But there were other reasons for returning to work as well and I only have myself to blame. I have worked very hard to get where I am today (shout out to the working girls!). Opportunities in my field are limited and highly competitive; leaving meant the likelihood that I would never be able to return to the position I am in today. I had to ask myself if I was ok with that, and my honest answer was no.

You may have noticed I seem to be contradicting myself. Yes I am. But I did say this was difficult. Honestly, after nearly a year of being a working mom, it hasn’t really gotten any easier and I still struggle with the same emotions. I can’t possibly describe how much it hurts when another mom says something like, “Oh, I can’t imagine being away from my children all day.’ Yeah, pretty much sucks as much as the guilt you just dumped on me.

So why do it?

It’s a combination of doing it for the good of the family and doing it for myself professionally. So far, being a working mom has been the right thing to do, despite the challenges.

When my son is not with me, he has been exclusively in the care of family members who devote 115% of their time, attention, and love to him.  Not only do I save a small fortune in child care (we’re talking more than $1000 a month per child in the DC area) but my son is with the same people who raised me. Mostly, I think I turned out ok and my son will too.

His reaction each evening when I get home from work also dispels my irrational fear that my baby will forget who I am and love me less because I am not with him 24/7. Babies understand families and love a lot better than we give them credit for. Added bonus that perhaps me being a working mom can someday be a teachable moment for him.

Emotionally, it is fortunate for me that my husband and I commute together and meet for lunch each day. Most people don’t think of traffic as quality time together, but we make the most of it. It’s also nice to talk about the stressful parts of our day before we take our stress home with us. We leave our stress stuck somewhere in traffic and give our son the better parts of our days.

I have no immediate plans for leaving work. Things are good and we like ‘good.’ Although my family intends to remain on its present course for the time being, we are open to re-evaluating things when the situation warrants other consideration. If I have learned anything about how quickly children grow and develop, it has prepared me for the very real reality that I will begin homeschooling soon enough and the label of ‘working mom’ will someday have a different meaning for me.

Month in Review: January 2012

January was an exciting and productive second month for Mommy Huh. Although slightly less impressive than watching a baby grow, watching a blog grow and develop can be a rewarding experience.

What has Mommy Huh been doing?

In January, Mommy Huh started pinning. I even have two special boards which highlight my easy DIY Projects and simple Style Tips for the Working Mom that I have highlighted in my blog posts.

Mommy Huh also welcomed its first guest blogger, Erin Houg. Erin’s Function for Production articles highlight simplicity and tips to get your family and home organized.

Mommy DIY is also a new feature on Mommy Huh that highlights simple projects that aren’t just for over-achieving moms.

Finally, I have been participating in the SITS Girls, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I have been working with some awesome ladies (Angie, Tricia, Amy, Briana, Amanda) on a few assignments to improve the quality of my writing, interaction with readers, and ways to engage.

I thank you all for an exciting second month and look forward to growing with you in the future.

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Top 10 Baby Myths

I was the first of my family and friends to have a baby last year during the baby boom. Cousins were pregnant, co-workers were pregnant, friends were pregnant, even famous people who are significantly older than me were pregnant. I began to suspect babies aren’t really made the way my mother told me. I think sometimes you can get pregnant from drinking water.

Mother & Baby

Facebook status updates were dominated by pregnancy announcements, OB-GYN appointment updates (3cm, holla!), it’s a girl/boy, and eventually something like OMG GET THIS BABY OUT! But there was nothing better than the ‘Our baby arrived yesterday weighing in at so many pounds so many ounces. Mother and baby are doing well.’

In my first post, I described the importance of talking to other moms as I prepared for baby. But as the first to deliver last year, I had other pregnancy newcomers asking me for advice, guidance, and honesty about what really happens.

One mom shared a motherhood secret that I always share with other moms: People will always tell you how to parent, but just parent the way YOU want to!

Is your mind blown?

But along with the good advice, there were a lot of myths.

Top 10 Baby Myths

(In no particular order)

1. Drink raspberry herbal tea to induce labor: Didn’t work for me and my frequent urination became more frequent (and urgent) urination. On a happy note, this was a delicious myth.

2. Breastfeeding is natural and your body will know what to do: Sort of true. I was misled with this one. My body and baby knew what to do but I certainly didn’t. I expected to wake up one morning and be a breastfeeding expert but it just doesn’t happen that way.

3. When you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two: Technically yes, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat double the portions. It’s nothing more than increasing your calorie intake. Have to admit, I still used it as an excuse when I wanted second helpings.

4. Weather and lunar phases cause women to go into labor: Every time someone mentioned a full moon or snowstorm approaching last winter, I had my hospital bag ready. But no amount of gravitational pull or barometric pressure started my labor.

5. Don’t cut the baby’s hair until they are 1 year old: I’m calling my mom out on this one. She mentioned it casually last year and I have been afraid to cut his hair ever since. (Note: Baby is now 1 year old and I have myself to blame for not cutting his hair yet)

6. Pregnant women are clumsier: No, I’m mostly just clumsy all the time.

7. Treat for stretch marks BEFORE you get them: I always intended to prevent stretch marks, but never really did anything about it. But no stretch marks on me! Only thing on my belly is a pretty little scar where I had my c-section.

8. Have sex to induce labor: If you can mange with a large belly and aching back, give it a try. Once baby arrives, your sleep deprivation and hormones could make it difficult.

9. Walk to induce labor: I would call this one mostly true. My strongest contractions were always after or during my daily walks.

10. Heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will born with lots of hair: So not true. I have been treated for severe heartburn since my early 20′s and my baby was born with nothing more than a little fuzz.

I am no medical expert, just a first-time mom sharing what didn’t work for me personally. It is important to remember that no two pregnancies, babies, or moms are alike. Keep that in mind when cross your cousin of the Christmas card list because the herbal tea didn’t work for you.

What myths and superstitions did or didn’t work for you?

My Love Affair with Mr. Darcy

I remember that afternoon at the office water cooler. Two of my co-workers were discussing their summer reading lists. I jumped in to the conversation by admitting I couldn’t remember the last time I had read a book and I was curious if they had any recommendations.

When I was growing up, if I didn’t have a Barbie in my hand, I had a book. Yes, I was that kid. It started with an encyclopedia of dinosaurs followed by the Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Valley High, and Michael Crichton. As an adult, I never saw much appeal in self help, non-fiction, and the other trendy titles I usually saw my demographic reading. In fact, I question whether or not they were only pretending to read; intending for some other adult to notice and start a conversation that would make them feel like a better person for reading whatever it was that they were pretending to read.

My co-workers suggested a book I had heard of many times before, but had never actually read: Pride and Prejudice.

“How have you NEVER read that?” they questioned. They were giggling and talking about their favorite parts without giving away the story. I didn’t like being judged unfavorably by them and grabbed a copy before my rail commute home. I was a work-zombie and all zombies conform. I wanted to be able to participate in the water cooler conversations, not be the grumpy old woman shouting for quiet in the office.

I read the first paragraph three or four times. The language was a tough pill to swallow. It was obviously written at a time before we started using words like LOL to express what Jane Austen might have described with the word follies. After the second paragraph and then the third, I made progress and adjusted to the language.

Just as my rail commute was coming to an end, I met a man who changed my life. As though I was in that room when Mr. Bingley and his party arrived, my heart fluttered at the mention of Mr. Darcy. There wasn’t a lengthy description or an illustration, but he had an attitude I was inevitably attracted to. After all, we always want what we can’t have.

I was thinking about Mr. Darcy all evening, and wondered when I might have the opportunity to meet him again. I tucked myself into bed early and continued reading. It was getting late and time for a bookmark (like the kind of bookmark you put between pages) when I read one of the most incredible things ever written.

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

“I love you too!” I wanted to declare my own love for Mr. Darcy in return, or at least scream like I had for New Kids on the Block all those years ago (I think today girls are screaming for Beiber, but I’m not really sure what that is).

Within a day I had finished Pride and Prejudice. My love for Mr. Darcy motivated me to find and make time. I always hated that lonely feeling of closing the back cover of a book and returning to reality. I hated leaving my Darcy.

I did what everyone does these days with good books, and looked for film versions. But even Colin FIrth couldn’t replace my Mr. Darcy.  My Mr. Darcy is super human and for me alone. No mortal actor could portray him.

I can’t remember the last time a book had such a lasting impact on me. It might be silly of me, but I absolutely am in love with Mr. Darcy or at least the idea of him.

I thought I was loosing my mind when I started to notice similarities between my husband and Mr. Darcy as I attempted to make him real. I was always proud to announce to my husband when he reminded me of Mr. Darcy.

But then I realized I was wrong. I understood how and why I could fall in love with a character who wasn’t real.

My husband wasn’t like Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy was like my husband.

I hadn’t fallen in love with a name and a character in a book, I had fallen in love with a real man long before I ever met Fitzwilliam Darcy.