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A Picture to Inspire Your Daughter

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

My friend Elizabeth sent this to me. It made my day. In case you can’t read it, the small print has the little girl saying, “Skip to the part where the princess climbs to the top of the corporate ladder.”

 

I could have saved my breath in lamenting about the princess culture if I had just seen this. A picture (and short quotation) is worth more than a thousand words. Pass it along!

 

Cartoon is courtesy of the Feb 17, 2014 New Yorker Magazine.

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The Evening Mom Blahs

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

I find that right around 5 pm, when dinner is looming and the kids are typically at their worst, my mentality starts to shrivel. It’s why I founded The Failure Hour 2 years ago, but have been a terrible president as of late. My backyard has remained devoid of girlfriends, toddlers and wine.

Sure, I’ll get one together soon, but my emotions that go along with this time of day have confounded me. It’s not like getting dinner together and sitting down with the family are a bad thing. Sure, the bedtime routine can be tedious, but it can also be fun.

I realized my restlessness and blah-ness are because while many parents switch gears in terms of leaving work and coming home, my gears don’t really switch. I’m not in a boardroom or an office. And no matter what I’m doing–even if my kids are in school–I’m always wearing my mom hat.

From the caption here, I’m not saying I yearn for either side–the working mom or stay-at-home one (though I’m sure the cartoon will provoke outcry).  It’s just that I never have the opportunity to “forget” I’m a mom. Well, except if I’m in Bikram. And dear god, the instructor gets more insufferable each time. The other day she said we could grow an inch by doing a certain pose. Seriously?

I’m not even remotely attempting to have a poor-me, I’m home all day with my kids moment. First, because it’s not true. I’m not home with my kids all day. Fia is in school 5 days a week, Em is in preschool 2 days now and on those days I have a free life to do what I want. Sort of. If you count trips to the grocery store, errands around my area, taking kids to and from school, if I’m lucky a workout (though that’s proved disastrous), meal planning (also semi-disastrous), and, if I’m lucky, a blog post. Thus, the mom hat. I’m not complaining. It’s part of what I signed up for when I slowed down in the career arena and sped up in the mom space.

So I have come up with an experiment to try.

There is a big comfy chair in our living room that we rarely sit on. Around 5 pm, I’m going to sit in it with a cup of tea, a glass of wine–anything that physically tells my brain I am crossing over (not in the John Edward way, of course). I’m going to attempt to sit and do some Sudoku. I know this probably sounds lame, but I need my brain to have some sort of “jolt” to shift gears. It’s a far cry from leaving a boardroom and coming home, but I’m hoping it will train my brain to look forward to 5 pm rather than dread it.

During this time I will unapologetically park my children in front of their favorite show for 30 minutes, which I usually do anyway. I call it our time to regroup.  Fia will sometimes say, “Mama, can we regroup today with Daniel Tiger?” I see nothing wrong with this, especially since any show they watch is educational.

I’m hoping this shift, while not drastic, will be enough to take away the antsy, blah feeling. I will let you know. If anyone can relate and has other ideas, I would love to hear them.

Cartoon of mom via Shutterstock

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Nanny Diaries' Authors on Parenting and Writing
Nanny Diaries' Authors on Parenting and Writing
Nanny Diaries' Authors on Parenting and Writing

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When Do You Let Girls Wear Nail Polish?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

I don’t think I knew what nail polish was when I was 4. But in this world, Fia knows it all too well. Her friends all wear it on their nails and toes. When friends of ours with older girls come over, they sometimes want to paint her nails. Phil took the stance stronger than I did in the beginning. No way, he said. But now as she gets a little older, I’m torn.

I don’t want to give into peer pressure, but what is really the issue here? We all know kids grow up faster than we did. The whole world moves and grows faster. So where do I make my decisions and pick my battles?

The other day a friend of hers from school gave her a gift: a purse and a package of pretty water-based nail polishes. Fia begged us to let her put them on. Phil was adamant. I was waffling. But he glared at me and said, “United front.” I acquiesced.

As Fia stood there streaming tears, I took her aside, in what I suspect will be one of many “let mama work on him” talks. I just didn’t expect it to happen this young.

“Fia, look at me,” I said, out of Phil’s earshot.

She did as her tiny lip trembled. This is going to be really hard to watch when there are real issues at stake besides blue nail polish.

“Stop asking about it tonight. Let me talk to daddy when you go to sleep.”

She protested a bit, then listened and dropped the subject.

Once she was in bed, I approached Phil.

“How about we just let her have it on special occasions?” I suggested.

He hesitantly agreed.

Fia slept with her purse full of her polishes next to her.

The next morning you can guess what her first question was.

I gleefully whispered, “Yes, you can do it today. But only today. Then it will be on special occasions.”

Her face lit up and she wrapped her little arms around me. “Oh thank you mama.”

We quickly got to the task at hand.

She wanted every color on every nail, so I had to explain to her how it’s done. In the end, we had a blue pinkie and some semi-sparkly pink and peach nails. It was so much lighter than I thought it would be. It was basically like glitter with a hint of color. In retrospect, hardly worth the argument against it.

But what is it about these “girly” things that make some of us hesitate? When do you allow short skirts? Makeup?  Is it that society inundates us with how women can “make” themselves beautiful that make parents like us cringe? We know girls and women face tremendous pressure in this regard. But if you push back too much, then does it backfire? What do you gain?

When I took Fia to school that morning she ran up to her teachers and proudly showed off her nails along with the purse full of polish.   After the ooo-ing and awww-ing subsided, she handed me the purse, picked up her “work” (she’s in Montessori) and went back to being the 4-year old that she is.

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Why Exercise Is Not Shaping Up For Me

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

This year I decided to make some New Year’s resolutions I could keep. It included running and yoga a few times a week. On the second week, my resolutions went out the window due to an epic 5 days of illness by my petri dish children. But I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I got back on track and, because I’m a person of extremes, (probably one gene away from being manic like my late mother), I signed up for Bikram yoga.

Bikram is yoga in a 105-degree carpeted room (gross) with 31 other near-naked adults (gross again), where you hold eagle and 25 other poses for a minute. I did Bikram in my pre-kid life and decided maybe it was the fastest way to get limber and in shape again, despite the cult-like feel. The real selling point was the fact that it was across from Emmett’s preschool and it is an hour-long class (as opposed to 90 minutes, which is typical) that ends right at pick-up time.  I could leave just before the final part of the class: the odd guttural breathing that Bikram addicts swear by. Picture a raccoon in heat. With rabies. That’s what it sounds like.

“Just be sure and do the breathing in your car so you get all the benefits of your Bikram,” said the overly chirpy but hard-core instructor. Yep, got it. Not happening.

I took my first class there and I’ve never heard someone rattle on like this woman. Seems like each particular pose “cures cancer, releases toxins, drains glands, prevents arthritis, helps anxiety, alleviates depression, helps insomnia and cures chronic pain.”  This, despite making me feel the opposite. The place smells like a typical Bikram studio of old sweat and super bugs. They claim their carpet is anti-microbial but I know I’m getting MRSA/a staph infection. However, I’m soldiering on because I bought a $45 unlimited pass for the month and I want to get my money’s worth.

Having said that, I don’t think it does much for my stomach muscles, even though it supposedly does “everything.” Here’s the problem with my belly: Most women have boobs that protrude further out than their stomach. When their shirts hang down, they hang from the furthest point out on the boob. I’ve never had big boobs, but since having kids, mine have gone inward. Concave. So instead my shirts going out and over my stomach, my stomach sticks out further than my boobs, making the shirt cling and me look like a tree trunk that cross-pollinated with a pear. Phil and my brother both tell me it’s my posture that makes my stomach stick out–and that’s partially true too. I decided I should try mat-based Pilates for posture and core strength. It goes along with yoga, right?

I showed up to an environment that was so sterile and quiet I almost missed the chirping Bikram instructor. It felt devoid of fun. Even the cult-like Bikram people have a sort of vibe that does give you some energy. Not this. We began class at 9:05 sharp. A bit later I looked at the clock, hoping we were halfway done. It was only 9:12. Time was standing more still than it does when I’m playing make believe with my kids. We used a round Pilates gadget that is supposed to help with your workout. Kind of like a tension band. Or a freestyle guillotine. I didn’t jive with this object and it didn’t jive with me. It kept falling over my head and onto my shoulders. In the stillness of the others, I sensed I was making a scene. I wanted to leave, but there were only 3 of us. Given my dirt obsession, the only thing I excelled at was cleaning the mat at the end. (Yesterday I went around the house with a razor blade and goo-gone and scraped/cleaned every drawer handle and doorknob. Time for hypnotherapy again.)

Running has always been my go-to. I haven’t gotten totally back into it since my marathon days, but it almost always clears my mind. I get grounded when I feel my feet hit the pavement rhythmically. I don’t have to rely on anyone but myself. And therein lies the problem with my latest run. We took the kids to Fia’s soccer lesson on Sunday in Griffith Park. I decided to go for a run while Phil watched Emmett. I told him I’d be back in 25 minutes. I got lost and ended up at the Los Angeles Zoo–which doesn’t tell you much if you’re not from here. But suffice it to say, my 2.5 mile run turned into 5. When I realized I had missed my turn on the path leading back, I debated cutting through the golf course that separated me from my route. But when I saw the lone coyote roaming around, I figured I risked getting rabies and/or hit by a golf ball. I stuck to the path until it wound me around to the zoo, then headed back to soccer. I showed up dirty and starving.

“I spaced out and missed my turn,” I said, panting to Phil.

“I figured something like that happened,” he replied unfazed. The dude knows me.

We took the kids to the merry-go-round (right next to the soccer field) where I ate a pound of nachos with fake cheese and slurped down a diet Coke. We drove home where I collapsed in bed for 2 hours. Phil just shook his head.

I’m not sure what is happening but my “easy and attainable” New Year’s resolutions are not turning out as I expected. Not sure where to go from here…

 

Exercise equipment via Shutterstock

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Why I Made The Right Parenting Decision

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

It feels so good when you know you made the right call as a parent. That’s how I feel about our decision to start Emmett in preschool 2 days a week. I already think he’s calmer. He is so stimulated there that he seems to have gotten some wild energy out of his system. The teachers tell me he loves to follow the rules, play with other kids, and share. I really think kids need–and crave–structure, other kids, boundaries, etc.

When I was debating on sending him, I had to ask myself what is in his best interest? If you let the guilt trip and judgment from others influence you, you’re doomed as a parent. I want to do what’s best for my kid. And if I happen to benefit as well, ie: getting 2 days to myself, then it’s just an added bonus.

So here’s to following the mom instinct–and being guilt free to boot.

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