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?

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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?

 

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?

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!

Welcome to our Kitchen

I am not a good cook. In fact, I’m a really bad cook. If you think my family is starving (or worse, eating the terrible things I cook), worry not. I married my husband specifically because he is a really good cook. Also, I love him.

Our first date consisted of conversation and a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut. Classy, right? In 8th grade, I earned the one and only ‘F’ of my academic career in home economics. It’s not as bad as you think; mom and dad thought it was funny and I was able to repeat the class (which I had skipped the first time around). When my husband learned this and noticed that I lacked the ability to prepare a meal that was not noodles, he made an effort to get me excited about cooking.

Despite the meals I prepared being considered ‘an insult to food,’ I have always enjoyed watching cooking shows. Cooking shows are great for inducing naps and an excuse for being unproductive around the house. Against his better judgment, my husband started including me in the kitchen and our meal preparations. For fun, we would suit up in aprons and he would provide commentary as though he had his own cooking show. Yes, we are very strict and serious when we cook.

Cooking was no longer a chore, it was a fun activity we did together. It was quality time with a delicious outcome. My role in the kitchen includes preparing noodles (boiling water), making rice (I have the patience to get it just-right), peeling potatoes (I’m more careful with a peeler than my husband), and chopping onions (punishment for my crimes against food). I made all of my own baby food purees and I am also in charge of baking and treat making which I do very well (it’s because I taste as I go).

Better, right?

Because we are so busy, we get into the habit of cooking things that are easy or that we can prepare quickly, thus limiting our menu options. When we acquired ground bison, we decided to try something very different. Very different in the kitchen means we have no idea what we are doing. My husband searched the internet for a recipe and was baffled by the results.

“How is this possible?” he asked. It seemed as though he was speaking to the lap-top, but his question was directed at me. “There are no recipes for ground bison. Doesn’t anyone eat this stuff?”

“Are you sure?” I asked absentmindedly as I peeled potatoes.

“There is absolutely nothing. I don’t get it,” he sighed.

I took a moment to look over his shoulder as my potato peeling production halted. As a nerd, I find it nearly impossible that Google does not find search results for EVERYTHING. There it was; 4 odd results and not one recipe.

“They sell this stuff at the store. What are you supposed to do with it?” I asked as my full attention was redirected from the potatoes to the recipe-search-fail. “You idiot!” I exclaimed in an affectionate manner. “You searched for ground bison receipts!”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s recipes not receipts!”

In all the glory of Star Wars, the student became the master.

Our little-chef has also shown an interest in participating in kitchen activities. He’s really good with an empty bowl and spoon and makes delicious invisible food. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes the new master.

Please VOTE for ME daily!

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.