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?

5 Parenting Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

Although I am a working mom, my toughest job is being a mom. Children are complicated and they don’t come with any instructions.

I taught for five years before switching careers in 2008. My students ranged in age from 3 to 14 and the subjects I taught ranged from Montessori to Spanish. Some of the more friendly parents would talk to me about their parenting issues, and I assumed that someday I would be well prepared to handle it. As a teacher, I had to deal with potty fights (use your imagination), wrangled groups of kids on the playground, and helped several children deal with some serious emotions and situations.

This is where I say something like; Oh, how wrong I was.

Working with children has, in no way, prepared me for having a child of my own. I’ve looked to parenting literature, social media forums, and other parents as I struggle to be the best mom that I can be.

When I am in public with my child, I am aware of the stares I get from people who used to be just like me; the people without kids who silently remind themselves that they never want to be a mom like me. There is no right or wrong with parenting, there is just… different. But despite my open mind about parenting, others have strong opinions about how it should be done. Moms come in a lot of varieties; strict, cool, serious, kind, silly, strong, etc. I’m the confused kind of mom.

As parents, we can all agree that nothing is more important than having safe, happy, healthy, and loved children. What we disagree on is how to make all those things happen. I am aware of some things I do as a mom that other parents disagree with. Below is my list of 5 things I should or maybe shouldn’t be doing.

5 Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

What I do: I let my son brush my hair My hair is thick and long, thus taking a very long time to dry even with a blow dryer. My son has been mimicking what he sees others doing and that includes brushing his own hair in an awkward manner his motor skills can’t handle yet. He has his hair brushes, but he really likes to use mine. When I hand my brush over to him, I know it’s gonna be painful for me. Why I do It? We’re bonding; he is trying to take care of me the way that I take care of him. Kind of like the monkeys that pick bugs off of one another. He’s also learning good grooming and controlling the force of his touch (the grabbing-pulling that makes doggies cry when he pets them).

What I Do: I let my son play with my cell phone My husband, mother, and so many others have told me this is a bad idea. Mostly, they think I am teaching him playing with phones is OK and they are afraid for theirs. I have rules though. He can only play with my phone when I offer it to him. If he takes it himself, I take it away. I also require that he only play with my phone under my supervision. I don’t want him eating, trowing, or losing my cell phone. If it looks like he is getting rough, again I take it away. Why I do it? It just makes him happy. More often than not, the only thing he does with my phone is turn it on, turn it off, and smile each and every time he does it.

What I Do: I feed my son food other than fruit and vegetables I was strict on what my child ate during the first year of his life as though I was following a specific recipe to ensure healthy eating habits for life. Now? Not so much. As we added more and more foods to his diet and different textures, I don’t restrict him to fruits, vegetables, and small portions of healthy meats. I have no problem sharing a few bites of cake with him. Why I do it? If he wants to try something I am eating, then why not? It’s my job to teach him how to make healthy choices, not limit his taste buds while he’s growing.

What I Do: I let my son play with things that are not toys Like things with buttons (computers, calculators) newspapers, shoe boxes, and other things you might just throw into the trash. Currently, his favorite toy is a tin box and some ticket stubs. He loves opening and closing the tin box and passing out the tickets one by one to anyone nearby. And like a lot of other children, he also loves cooking with an empty bowl and spoon. Sometimes he even makes ticket soup. Why I do it? This entertains him for HOURS and is made up of a tin box a friend gave him and left over ticket stubs that were garbage. He plays quietly, why wouldn’t I let him play with it?

What I Do: I let my son make a mess Yes, sometimes I watch him dump his toy bins on the floor and mix the organized contents. That same thing some mother’s update their Facebook status about with pictures of the damage their children caused. Why I do it? He’s just having fun and clean up is a game for him. I cheer and praise him when he puts toys back into his toy box or the bins. So instead of telling him NO when he makes a mess, I’m telling him YES when he cleans it up. This positive reinforcement has led to him spontaneously putting things away and another game he likes to play called, pick-up-the-tiny-thing-the-vacuum-missed-and-give-it-to-mommy.

BONUS: I also let my son shower instead of bath (you just try getting him to sit in the tub), I laugh at how cute he looks when he has a tantrum, and I let him get dirty when he plays in the yard.

Do you let your children do something maybe they shouldn’t be doing?

 

The Hunger Games: A review by a mother who was reluctant to read it

Do not beware: this review does NOT contain spoilers!

Do you NEVER have time to read anymore? Yeah, me neither. If I did, I don’t even know what I would read. I am so out of touch with books, I’m not even sure they still call them books. Reading a book is a big commitment for me. I not only invest my time, but I also invest a little bit of myself in the characters.

I first encountered The Hunger Games on Twitter. Next, my coworkers were talking about it and sharing copies of the books in the office. Soon Facebook was dominated by status updates that referenced events in The Hunger Games and included many exclamation points.

I thought if it was getting attention like this, it might be a good book and perhaps I should take a look. I went to Google and discovered The Hunger Games was this massive thing I was too old to understand. Like Harry Potter maybe, or Twilight? My first surprise came when I discovered it was a young adult novel. That was hardly what I was expecting considering family, friends, and coworkers (both male and female and mostly older) were recommending the book. Recommending is a weak word; BEGGING better describes their encouragement.

Intrigued that so many adults (who are only young in spirit) were interested in a young adult novel, I read the synopsis (From Amazon):

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

(Do you see the typo in Amazon’s synopsis? It is SCREAMING at me and driving me crazy!)

Alarms were going off in my head. No, no, no! When there are unusual names for people and/or places, that typically suggests it is a genre or topic I won’t enjoy reading about. When I read, I like the creative freedom of imagining it all, but I don’t like to have to think too much. Reading is for enjoyment and I intend for it to relax me, not give me homework to do on the side to understand what is happening to who. Besides, I was expecting something else like another angsty teen drama. I visited the Wikipedia page and did something shameful; I read the entire plot synopsis. Well why not? I’m never gonna read a book like that. I skimmed the entire Wikipedia page in a minute or two, and moved on with my life.

One afternoon I was chatting with my sister about our usual topics these days: my son, zombies, dinosaurs, and bike riding. She mentioned she had just started reading The Hunger Games and I knew it was inevitable now that I would be reading it too. I purchased the book that evening and read to Chapter 3 the following day on the train before I totally stopped for an extended period of time. Several days, a week or two. I didn’t have the time (work-life imbalance) or the patience (who does with a 14 month old running around the house?) to continue reading. I resolved instead to just see the movie… one of these days… maybe.

I met with a former co-worker for coffee the following Thursday. Just before we shared goodbyes, I asked her if she had read The Hunger Games too. She enthusiastically said yes but was kind enough to sympathize with me when I told her I had read the entire Wikipedia page already. I was at work the following day and had some time to read a little more while I took a small break. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps Peeta Mellark, that got my attention. It was very suddenly Hunger Games love at first sight.

I was pissed during our evening commute when my husband was too busy making phone calls to drive. I grumbled behind the wheel and cursed each time traffic slowed me down. Didn’t these people know I had a totally legit reason my time was more valuable than theirs? I was also very snippy-shall-we-say towards my husband. I resented him from taking away a perfectly good opportunity I could be reading undisturbed.

We all know what happens when mom comes home, not that I would have it any other way, but I was feeling selfish with my time. I was patient enough with my son that I only opened my book when he was happily entertained (cross my heart I did not ignore him). Basically, I carried my son in one arm, and my book under the other. Room to room. Everywhere. We. Went.

After he was in bed, I crammed 4 hours of reading time in. Although my husband is a night owl and only requires 5 hours of sleep max., I am usually asleep at the earliest opportunity. I took his breath away when he discovered I was awake at 1:30 am.

On Saturday I considered setting my alarm for an hour earlier than my son’s anticipated wake-up time. But mostly, I did not lose my sanity. I was happy when my husband invited my son and I to tag along to an event he had Saturday afternoon. Long car ride + sleeping baby (no obligations or responsibilities in the car) = TIME TO READ (See how I did multiplication AND addition there?)

I finished the first book before the return trip home and didn’t take the time to assess whether or not I liked it before we made a pit stop so I could get the second book in the trilogy. I think that was the intended effect of the first book.

By Sunday evening, the second book was finished. I am currently DESPERATELY assessing my calendar and looking for time to finish the trilogy.

Have you read The Hunger Games?

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…

When Mom is Sick

I’m sick. The germ kind. This is what happens when the weather is pleasant and my schedule is flexible. As you can imagine, this happens frequently during holidays, vacation, special occasions, and other times that have the potential for enjoyment. For this cough and cold I have, I blame my sister.

Motivation frequently evades me. Even on my best days, I am easily distracted and unable to… oh, look… Pinterest! If you clicked on Pinterest, you are just as easily distracted as I am. When I am not feeling well, it is even more difficult to find the motivation to complete my daily tasks such as getting out of bed, leaving the house, and showing up at work. Further, I am struggling to compensate for the hour of sleep I just lost to Daylight Savings Time.

The world must go on, but I’m a non-believer. I believe it should stop until I am physically able to continue. Unfortunately, spouses and children do not recognize when mom is not feeling well. Their needs increase as does their own irritability. It is frustrating to the families of sick moms that their needs and requests are not top priority because mom: 1. Does not feel well and cannot fulfill their request 2. Is putting her health and wellness before mundane issues 3. Is not capable are caring about family nonsense. Families are always important, of course. However, so are moms.

It has been a year since I was sick. Last time I was sick, I enjoyed 3 weeks of a sinus infection and was unable to treat aggressively due to nursing. By enjoyed I mean I was miserable. Currently, I am only on day 3 of an unidentifiable cold and cough. I suspect this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. We all know how households fail to function properly when mom is sick. Imagine a world of moms with cough and colds. Zombie apocalypse.

My husband is concerned for me… or at least he is afraid I am turning into a zombie with a runny nose and an incoherent attitude. Whilst I coughed for an hour and a half last night at 3 am-ish, he asked me if I was ok. What he means is “You are keeping me awake. You should go somewhere and do something about that cough.” He’s probably right, but a medication induced sleep makes it impossible to find the energy to climb out of bed. I’d rather just lay in bed and cough (and complain about it the following day).

Zombie or not, I managed to brush my hair and show up at work. I certainly hope zombie isn’t contagious. Although I am suffering a sensitivity to sunlight and happiness, I’m holding on to humanity as best I can.

What happens to your household when mom is sick? Share your stories in the comments!

Looking Good: Pregnant and Pospartum Bellies

Why, oh why, is it such a big deal when a pregnant woman poses nude?

Although I don’t have time for reading magazines (unless I need a distraction in a waiting room), I check out the cover to know all that I need to know about which celebrities are getting a divorce, which celebrities I have never heard of, and which celebrities made a million dollars selling their baby’s first photo. Although I am a prude about being sexy, magazine covers are not shy about selling what sells; sex. If it’s not a celebrity baby’s first photo on the cover, you can bet it is a sexy celebrity showing some skin. Combine the two and you get a pregnant celebrity posing nude.

I was 11 years old when Demi Moore posed on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. Let me do the math for you, I’m gonna be 32 this year. I didn’t understand ‘pregnancy’ back then and thought it was gross. I hoped that when I had children, there would be another way to do it that wouldn’t involve a big round belly. Big round bellies were for Santa Clause.

During the first 7 months of my pregnancy, I looked bloated like I usually do. I was relieved when my belly got bigger and I no longer had to endure stares from people trying to determine if I was pregnant or not. If you’ve got an Etsy shop, perhaps you could make a t-shirt that takes the guess work out of it; This isn’t a belly full of Doritos, I have a person growing inside of me.

I gained 35 pounds during pregnancy and it was all belly. Big belly. BIG belly. It was like an uneven shelf and I used it as such. When I was sitting behind by desk, I had to slide my chair back further as pregnancy progressed. I realized something wonderful was happening.

I DON’T HAVE TO SUCK MY STOMACH IN!

Whenever I posed for pictures, I could turn to the side and let my belly stick out. Whenever I wore a form fitting fabrics, I didn’t need to wear a jacket to cover my belly. Whenever I wore pants my belly could just hang over the top. Oh, glory! There was no more pretending to be a smaller size I wasn’t. I was pregnant and proud!

My boobs went from big to biggerer and I have no idea what my legs looked like down there. Also big I think. I eventually lost track of my belly button too. Gone! Things were just big. This was my body and I was growing a baby! YAY!

Dramatic re-enactment of what my cover might have looked like. Does my face look model-moody or just moody?

Alas, magazines did not offer me compensation for posing nude during my pregnancy. If they had, I would have enthusiastically accepted. I have never in my life been so proud of my body. So confident in my shape. The ‘pregnancy glow’ must be caused by confidence and comfort in the curvy shape that results from growing people.

It is a shame that only hours after giving birth, I was wondering why my stomach didn’t look much smaller than it was when there was still a baby in there. It made me sad that when I left the hospital my shirt was tighter and my maternity pants were still very necessary.

A postpartum celebrity posing nude before the personal trainers and chefs get them back into shape would be a nice reality to show on a magazine cover. Pregnant bellies are wonderful, but what happens to our bodies after babies are born is equally as dramatic. But ‘reality’ means something very different when a celebrity is marketing or exploiting themselves. It would be nice to see a celebrity stepping forward to showcase a sagging belly, swollen breasts, and a sleep deprived facial expression. They would have the enthusiastic support of this mommy!

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All the Sloppy Ladies

Ladies, and only ladies, I am talking dirty to you. I am gonna talk about big-girl potties. Get the giggles out now because I am serious about this issue.

I know a lot of women (myself certainly not included) who brag about their cleanliness and organization. You probably know them too. They’re the ones reorganizing their pantries, sterilizing their refrigerators, and scrubbing floor tiles with a toothbrush before 7 am. They post this on Facebook too and usually ask for intervention (Oh, somebody stop me! Kitchen junk drawer next then using a q-tip to clean kitchen counters!!!).

Le sigh.

I have never understood this over-achieving behavior. Does coffee do this? Insomnia? Insanity? Motherhood? Whatever the cause, I most definitely don’t have this problem. Yeah, you should see the layers of yuck in my vegetable crisper.

After a visit to the restroom yesterday afternoon, I was bothered and confused. Stall #1 was unusable because of an obvious-colored stain on the seat. Stall #2 was unusable because of fluid on the seat. Stall #3 and #4 were unusable because the previous occupants did not flush after exiting. I utilized stall #5 when I convinced myself it was not a bio-hazard and never bothered looking at stall #6.

Using the restroom in public is one of the few times I can do so alone. No audience looking over me, asking questions, or dysfunction without my presence. Yes, the public restroom is like my Narnia; a way to escape for a moment. Unfortunately, I can’t touch anything in my Narnia for fear of unidentified germs. Also, I have been visited by the occasional stranger who thinks my feet behind the stall door are just an illusion and that the toilet is actually unoccupied. Nope. Hi, it’s me.

But what is most disturbing of all is the mess, mess, mess. I don’t know about all of you ladies, but I put used toilet paper IN the toilet… not on or beside it. Additionally, I flush after use as a courtesy to other potty patrons. Just because we all know what kind of business happens in the bathroom, doesn’t mean we need to see it.

How does this happen? I understand some public restrooms are not serviced regularly, but in my office building they are serviced 3-5 times a day (service log is posted by the door and I our restroom and someone is in there cleaning almost constantly. How is it possible that the restroom is constantly destroyed with toilet paper and other ‘mess.’ Mom’s, you know how it feels to clean up after someone else. How do you think the people feel cleaning up the public restrooms? If it is necessary for me to discuss the awful things I have seen in the restroom with others, then it must be REALLY bad.

Who is doing this? Women, that’s who! More specifically, I suspect that it is those women who complete their chores before 7 am. Perhaps their standard of cleanliness causes freakishly high levels of stress and they unleash in the public restroom tossing toilet paper here and there and other unmentionable items.

Is this filth acceptable in your home? Is this how you treat your bathrooms? I don’t know any moms that encourage their children to pee on the floor or don’t complain when they have to clean up after their husbands. So why behave so badly in public? It’s appalling.

And let’s find a happy balance, not extremes! Used toilet paper belongs in a toilet. However, toilets have a capacity limit when it may become necessary to flush. I am no scientist, but I don’t think adding more toilet paper on top of toilet paper will unclog a toilet or make it more cleanly for usage. Also, piles of clean toilet paper do not hide piles of dirty toilet paper underneath. Nice try though.

Ladies, I will defend you to the best of my ability when I hear a man assuming a bad driver is a woman, but your behavior in public restrooms is appalling. If I could hold it and wait, I would. but my bladder isn’t what it used to be before I had kids. For moms everywhere, the public restroom may be their only opportunity to go to the bathroom alone (although this is about as likely as finding a Golden Ticket in your candy bar). Keep it clean!

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