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Moving to Los Angeles ’ Category
Friday, August 16th, 2013
I know that Betty Friedan brilliantly coined the term The Feminine Mystique. Her book came out at a time when women were voicing their dissatisfaction with simply being moms and housewives. Friedan’s book is often credited with starting the feminist movement.
I also know that Rosie the Riveter sparked an earlier feminist wave in which women worked the factories while the men went off to fight in World War II. It was the first time women in droves truly held jobs outside the home. And liked it.
No, this isn’t a book report.
My revelation is I never realized that being a stay-at-home mom, which I largely am, is a very recent phenomenon. Which is why parts of it feel unnatural to me.
Don’t get me wrong: I love being with my kids. I love the fact that I have such flexibility in my schedule. I had a successful TV career. I don’t want to be a desperate TV person, trying to hold onto a career that is so different now anyway. Good hosting jobs, which actually pay decent and cover interesting topics (i.e.: not reality TV crap) are few and far between. I’m not saying I will never go back to TV–and I do gigs here and there–but I refuse to be clawing to stay in the game. Not to mention the countless auditions it can entail. It’s all so exhausting and often fruitless, it makes me want to barf.
What doesn’t make me nauseous is writing. I picture myself as an author down the road. Or at least trying to be, once the kids are in school full time. That’s one of the reasons I keep doing this blog: to exercise that muscle in my brain. I don’t have the discipline to do it on my own.
But having said that, I can’t escape my type-A personality. Nor can I escape the blueprint of my life. I’ve always been a go-getter. So when I say I love being with my kids, what I mean, besides that blanket statement–is that I love “doing” things with them. Whether it’s adventures to our secret forest, watering the lawn, or baking with Fia, I like teaching them and accomplishing things at the same time. I actually love clean up. It is therapeutic for me to help sort the toys into different categories with them. Strange, I know. But remember, I had hypnotherapy to cure my cleaning compulsion.
What I don’t love is playing Legos. Or dolls. At least for an extended amount of time. Sure, 15 minutes here, 30 minutes (maybe) there…but all day? No way. I would lose my mind. (And thank god Fia doesnt’ like dolls yet. I never did. Maybe she will be like me.)
I went to a new therapist this week. I decided two years without someone to bounce ideas off in a neutral setting was long enough. We sold our Brooklyn apartment last month. We bought a house out here. It was time to put my roots down in California.
The woman I met with seemed, well, for lack of a better word: brilliant. In our first session I gave her a very condensed snapshot of my life. Manic depressive, drug and alcohol addicted mother (now deceased), narcissistic father who, with my step mom, labeled food in our house growing up so we wouldn’t eat the name brand stuff (No relationship with them anymore), two adopted siblings, blah blah blah.
Married, never wanted kids, cool career, traveled the world, then decided to have kids, then pow–best decision ever– and now–my life as a mom.
So here I am telling her how I yearn for my kids when I’m not with them but when I’m with them all day, every day, I realize why I need sitters. It is my paradox.
She then dropped this incredibly enlightening fact into my lap.
“You know that a mom alone with her kids is a new concept, right?”
“No, I don’t. What do you mean?”
“Think about it,” she said. “Before WWII, families were mostly together all day. Moms were doing things with their kids. But not Legos. They were tilling the fields while the kids played nearby. They were cooking the meals with the grandmas and the aunts while the kids were in eyesight or earshot. This whole concept of a big house alone with your kids goes against all of our natural instincts that date back to caveman days/the beginning of time. ”
Well, holy shit. Please hit me over the head with a frying pan. How did I never realize that?
She’s not saying it was easy. But I am guessing most of those moms didn’t feel guilty for their daily accomplishments while their kids played in the fields. Those accomplishments are what helped them literally survive each day.
In modern times it’s basically why the “play date” was invented. But instead of doing/accomplishing stuff, we are just chatting with our mom friends while chasing our kids around the playground. Which isn’t a bad happy medium, but it’s no wonder I don’t feel super accomplished at the end of each day.
She also pointed out that we live in a manic world. And what happens to manics? Having grown up with one, I got an A+.
“They crash,” I said.
“Exactly,” she replied. “Our mood swings are all over the place because we, as a society with technology, are all over the place.”
I’ve written about the Facebook Depression before and how I have largely broken my tech addiction (which has been damn cool). But if you put it all together–the frantic nature of our society, coupled with how we as humans, moms, communities, etc, evolved, it all makes total sense. Depression and anxiety rates have never been higher. It seems so obvious to me now. Not to mention I had kids late in life. It’s different when you’re procreating at 22 and haven’t “lived” yet.
All this to say, I have a new perspective on my mom guilt and the mystique of my emotions as a mom. My paradoxes make sense. They are still here, but with the help of this therapist and some new realizations, I’m hoping to alleviate a lot of it. Or at least comes to terms with why I sometimes feel the way I do. Because this guilt sh-t has got to go. It’s a waste of space in my already crowded brain.
At least for today I have accomplished a lot. I have partially cracked the mom mystique code. And took Fia to get a haircut. It may not be tilling a field, but I’m quite satisfied with myself.
Pic of We Can Do It via Shutterstock
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babysitters, Betty Friedan, feminist movement, Industrial Revolution, mom dates, mom guilt, nanny, play dates, Rosie the Riveter, sahm, stay at home mom, woman's movement, World War II | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.
Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”
Her: “Mama, what’s church?”
Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.
Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding). Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.
My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.
“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.
My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).
I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.
Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service. I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”
But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories. Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–Allah, Buddha, Jesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?
I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.
Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.
I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.
“Well, he died.”
“How did he die?”
“Some bad men killed him.”
“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”
(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)
“Well, not exactly…”
And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…
Pic of church via Shutterstock
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Baptism, Bible stories, children bible stories, episcopal, Episcopalian, priest, religion, stranger danger, Sunday School, teaching Sunday School, toddler church, toddler religion, Tricky People | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Yep, you read correctly. North Carolina’s House and Senate just passed a bill that would allow concealed-gun permit holders to bring weapons on hiking trails, playgrounds and other public recreation areas. Oh, and bars and restaurants too. Just in case you and your spouse want a romantic night out, wear sexy clothes, but wear them under your bulletproof vest.
Wow, drinking and driving don’t mix, but guns and playgrounds do? This whole country is becoming one big, fat contradiction.
The Republican governor is expected to sign the bill. No surprise there.
Now I get to add North Carolina to my list of states that I won’t be visiting.
Let’s see: you can get shot doing downward dog in Utah. Yes, the state allows you to bring guns anywhere. Even yoga class. And in North Carolina, your child could be going down his favorite slide, while adults carrying guns frolic in the sandbox. Now that sounds like a helluva playdate.
What am I missing?
Do these lawmakers not understand what happened in Newtown? Do they not “get” that on average, 28 people are shot to death every day in this country? Are the Republicans and gun rights groups this brain dead? Or is the gun lobby just too powerful?
Sadly, all of the above.
According to NBC News, the provision was “opposed by police chiefs at all 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, who said they feared car break-ins and an increase in gun violence on campus.”
Student government associations also opposed the bill.
So the cops don’t want it. Students don’t either. But a handful of ruthless, arrogant lawmakers are deciding what’s best?
Did you know that Olivia Engel celebrated her birthday last July at a princess tea party? This year she spent it in her grave. She was one of the 22 children slain in Newtown. She would have turned 7 last week.
Thanks to the state of North Carolina, it seems lawmakers just put more children like Olivia in peril.
It’s wrong. Just plain wrong.
Playground and gun pic via Shutterstock
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bulletproof vest, concealed weapons, gun lobby, guns and yoga, guns in bars and restaurants, Newton, North Carolina gun bill, NRA, Republican lawmakers, Sandy Hook Promise, Utah gun laws | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Friday, July 19th, 2013
No, while my kids are living, growing “things,” I’m not turning them into compost. But I was having one of those evenings where my creativity was running low and my anxiety was running high. Part of it is because we bought a house. We also moved all our stuff out from Brooklyn and it’s now sitting in boxes haunting me. These are boxes that I haven’t seen in 2 years so how important could they be? Regardless, every time I look at them I get anxious. I need to go through them. I need to purge. And yet, items come to our door almost daily from my favorite source of sh-t — Amazon Prime. So while I begin to purge, the piles still grow higher.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hoarder. Not even close. I’m not a slob. I’m a neat freak. That’s probably why this clutter drives me more crazy than most. I hit the reset button on myself a few weeks ago. Now I need to do it with my possessions.
One of the items that arrived from Amazon last night was a compost bin. We have a pile of compost on our rental property but the landlord wants it in a bin. Makes sense. We have raccoons, possums, squirrels, and roof rats all vying to be part of our family. More food in the yard only attracts the party. The compost bin was this huge, hard plastic mesh. It had 5 plastic clips that I believe are to hold it together. There were no directions. Not even a small sheet of paper. So I guessed.
While the kids played I figured I’d at least tackle and take this compost bin off my list. So I rolled it out, snapped it together, and set it up proudly.
“Look what Mama just did!” I shouted with glee. (BTW–just by putting something together can feel like a huge accomplishment and mood lifter.)
Emmett and Fia came running as if I just opened an ice cream stand.
“Mama, let us go in!” Fia screamed with excitement. Emmett just jumped up and down smiling with no real clue what was going on. Except that it was something exhilarating. Such is the world of tots. It doesn’t take much….
So, I put them in. They proceeded to play in there for at least 30 minutes. They had me go count to ten and then come find them. In the same spot. In a contained compost bin. Over and over and over. When I had run out of energy to say for the 17th time, “Hmmm, I wonder where Emmett and Fia are?” we switched to another game: throwing all the toys in the bin. Then taking them out.
By then, it was time for bed. Or at least the beginning of the bedtime routine.
Any good tips on what you’ve spontaneously turned into toys?
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Friday, July 12th, 2013
I’ve never been so excited to get a mammogram. Not because it’s at all fun. Not because I want to get it over with due to my-hypochondia-that-makes-my-head-spin-at-night-over-the-alleged-tumors-growing-in-my-body-that-will-leave-my-kids-motherless. No, I was excited because I got to be in the car for 15 minutes. Alone. Then in the waiting room for 15 minutes. Alone. I was actually hoping they were running late. I brought the paper just in case. Then I had another 15 minute drive home. Alone.
It’s the same reason I love getting stuck in traffic in Los Angeles–which is not hard to do. But only if I’m alone.
It’s my time. I can listen to NPR, not Elmo. I can talk on the phone, not scream at my kids to stop screaming. I don’t have to keep them awake with my own terrible vocal chords by botching Old MacDonald so they won’t fall asleep and screw me on the afternoon nap.
I know every parent can relate to what I’m saying so my words are nothing new. In fact, my friend and fellow blogger Jill Simonian has started to take naps in her car. She took a video of how it’s done. I’ve done it once myself and it felt great.
But back to my boobs. I had to wait 7-months after breastfeeding to get this routine mammogram done. And while I know I’m all over the place here–and I wrote recently about the sad state of my boobs–I actually do have a question. I seem to still have a tingling sensation at times. I wouldn’t call it a sharp pain, or even the “letdown” but it comes and goes, mostly in my left boob. The technician thought that was fairly common. Is it?
Do any of you who have stopped breastfeeding for a while still experience a tingling feeling intermittently throughout the day? Because if not, it is one more thing for me to spin over.
Maybe this is too much information. But in light of the Holly McNish video poem–which I hope you all have watched–I figure I may as well start an adult discussion about boobs that is more meaningful than a tacky billboard full of them (if you’re confused as to what I’m referencing, watch the link above).
Now, if my mammogram comes back with problems, I will eat this post. All of it. Until then, I’m standing by my delightful mammogram excursion.
Pic of mammogram machine via Shutterstock
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boobs, breast cancer, breastfeeding, Breastfeeding Poem, breasts, Holly McNish, letdown, mammogram, nursing, routine mammogram, tingling sensation, traffic | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving Mid Pregnancy, Moving to Los Angeles, Newborn Care