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?

 

Tuesday 10: 10 things I would want on a deserted island

Below is my must-have list, should I ever encounter a deserted island. I am assuming there will be food and water sources available if I know where to look and/or how to acquire it.

To be clear, it is a deserted island not a dessert island. In that case, the only item I would require is a spoon.

1. Big Gun: Not necessarily for shooting at anything in particular, just for piece of mind. When a twig snaps in the middle of the night, I’d feel much better after firing a few random shots to spook the twig away. Also, if the Hunger Games should ever happen, I got dibs on a big gun.

2. A Man: I’m not very knowledgeable about physics, but I think there is something called Fabio’s Law that says; when on a deserted island, must have a tan muscle man. I’d like to amend that law to say; must have a nerdy man with glasses. My nerd can build fires with lenses, make a stand mixer out of a coconut husk, and know the friendly edibles. Oh, and by nerd here, I mean my husband. My husband is Bear Grylls.

3. A Volleyball: Things are much less deserted on an island when you have a companion made out of a volleyball.

4. Tent: I like sleeping outdoors but I have a minimal standard. A tent is very necessary for keeping mosquitoes away from me at night and making me feel a little more secure under a dome of waterproof fabric.

5. Fire: There is a reason fire is so important for survival. It provides warmth, light, a valuable cooking tool, and peace of mind. Also, when my nerd makes me a shower out of bamboo, I gotta have hot water.

6. My Goody Brush: There is one hairbrush on this earth that can get through my thick hair without causing breakage or pain. It took me 25 years to find the perfect brush and there is no way I am leaving it behind.

7. Blank paper: I don’t need to take books or reading material with me; I love writing my own. Blank sheets of paper open up endless possibilities.

8. Sunscreen: I have had sun poisoning each and every time I have visited the beach.

9. Electronic Device: I need to be able to tweet about what’s happening on the deserted island of course and pinning my bamboo and grapevine DIY projects.. Also doubles as a flashlight, a camera, and a way to communicate regularly with Amy @ It’s 10:02 Again.

10. My son: He is EVERYTHING to me! And, he comes with a dinosaur.

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What or who would you take on a desert island with you?

Spring Ambitions

I’m not a winter-girl. If you’ve ever held my icy hand, you might understand why not. I don’t mind November and getting cozy in a different wardrobe, but the excitement quickly fades and I complain endlessly about how much I hate sweaters, scarves, and boots. Not sure if this is the type of thing I need to apologize for these days, but please don’t find my seasonal stereotypes offensive. Christmas is enough to distract me in December, but on the 26th I impatiently wait for spring.

I must be part grizzly, because I set my alarm clock to springtime. I awaken from my hibernation in March and have an urge to do what I am so reluctant to do in the winter; GO OUT AND DO STUFF. In the winter my errands are a chore, in the springtime they are an excellent reason to get out of the house and find something else to do. My energy level skyrockets and being busy when the season changes is less negative than it is in the colder months.

My enthusiasm for Spring doesn’t seem to be motivating me through my to-do list. We all know that no amount of enthusiasm can give you more hours in the day. Already this spring, my Saturdays and Sundays become Mondays and I feel robbed of my weekends. Every Friday in the office, we all discuss our weekend plans. On Monday we discuss what we actually did. As you can imagine, my to-do list and my I-did list look nothing alike. It’s the difference between fantasy and reality. It’s the difference between marrying Luke Skywalker and marrying a man who puts his t-shirts on backwards.

I welcomed Spring with a standard cold; no dramatic fever or vomiting, just enough to make me feel miserable and bitchy for 6+ days. Now that I am feeling like my usual awful self, I am contemplating my current reason for being bitchy. Today I will blame it on Monday. Passing the cold on to my son, mother, and husband didn’t help.

If you have never visited Washington, D.C. in the springtime, DON’T EVER! I will be forced to hate you if you dare visit D.C. in March to April when we have Cherry Blossoms and parents who think they are clever and original for being their kids to D.C. for spring break. Yes, I am that bitch who ruined your beautiful family photo in front of the Capitol because I walked right through it. And despite the fact that I might be going to the same place you are asking me directions for, I will tell you I don’t know how to get there and walk away.

Also making me miserable this Spring is grass. I love boasting to others in D.C. about our 1 acre yard. I also love bitching about our 1 acre yard when we have neighbors who competitively mow their lawn to see who can have the shortest grass. I think our neighbors have stopped judging our tall grass, because they are nosy enough to notice that nobody is home during the weekdays and the weekends are usually raining. If you are good with numbers, we cut our grass 1 time for every 6 times they mow theirs. #TeachableMoment

After miraculously managing to survive on 4 hours of sleep each night to read 2 entire books, my husband has gotten me the 3rd book in the Hunger Games series. Easy read, but not when you are the mother to an over-achieving 1 year old who wants to get a head start on his terrible two’s. Reading books is like a drug; I shouldn’t be doing it because I don’t have the time, but once I start, it is hard to stop.  I’d like to jump into Game of Thrones next… that is like me getting a good stretch after I wake up from a nap and saying I might try out for the Olympics.

I have a long to-do list, but I am sure you do too. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I always have Spring ambitions. Eventually, I’ll be realistic.

But now is not that time.

Now is the time for enjoying new possibilities and complaining about my failure to manage my time effectively.

How do you feel about Spring? Fresh start or just more to do?

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!

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!

Please vote for Mommy Huh daily… and from your smart phones too!

Getting Work and Life More in Balance

Blogging is greater than just writing. It is about conversation and interaction. If bloggers didn’t want a response or reaction to their posts, they might use a pen and paper to record their thoughts and keep them private. But here I am; an open book.

After Work-Life Imbalance was Freshly Pressed, a productive conversation about work and family occurred. Some shared their personal experiences, others shared advice and encouragement. I would be a fool if I neglected to recognize what I was learning from their comments. I would also be greedy if I didn’t share their wisdom with others.

I wanted to highlight a few comments from different perspectives and with different backgrounds than my own. Recognizing that no two stories are alike, but that they are equally relevant, is important as we all journey to be better bloggers, parents, and people.

Flav_Holman: I think my life went completely off balance 5 years ago when I had my daughter. Never to go back to the way it was again :)

ASuburbanLife: I wish I could find the person who coined the term “work life balance” and kick him. The definition of balance is “a state of equilibrium or equipoise; EQUAL distribution of weight, amount, etc.” or “to be EQUAL or proportionate” (my emphasis in all caps). When you are a working parent of young children there is no balance! I prefer “work family juggle” (juggle = to hold, catch, carry, or balance precariously; almost drop and then catch hold again!).

emmahevezi: you need to concentrate on what you are doing well not on what other people appear to be doing or how you compare to other people.

Life’s amazing journey: There’s a chance that the work/family-life balance is a myth. I think that it’s easier to take work and family as it comes separately – work for these hours, family for the other hours.

kramerjen: I don’t think anyone really has it figured out.

kcburk: Work 8 hours. Get 3 with your kids before bed time. That’s an even trade right!?

krafte: From the other side: I had a stay at home mom, and while she was always there, as I got older, she was STILL always there. It ended up being hurtful both to me, and to her, I think.

divaofdelicious: I hated to work my butt off just pay $$$ for someone else to do what I wanted to do…raise my kids.

oilandgarlic: I’ve written about this topic numerous times. I think flexiblity is more important than the mythic work/life balance, as there is always an imbalance of sorts!

Ruby Bagga: When at home, just try to spend quality time with him and the house work gets neglected. Its a never ending vicious circle.

Thank you to everyone who has been participating in the Work-Life Imbalance discussion. You are more than welcome to share your thoughts or additional comments below.

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