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Monday, March 31st, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
People often ask me why I’m so moody. They sometimes automatically attribute it to cancer being my zodiac sign. “All you cancers are so crabby,” they’ll say. But I wish these assumptive people could spend one full day with me, from sunrise to sunset and beyond. I think it would be abundantly clear that my mood swings have far less to do with the path of the sun and far more to do with the path of the son. Let’s break it down.
The way I see it, every single day is an emotional rollercoaster for us parents. And I’m not talking broadly. I’m not saying some days you’re happy about it and some days you’re miserable. I’m saying that we’re all of these things. Every. Single. Day.
It all starts in the morning, of course. Your eyes peel open, and instantly you get your first “feel” of the day: gratefulness. Grateful you’re still alive and grateful you have a child (or more than one child) to care for. You’re almost certainly some kind of tired, but you are alive and not committed to an asylum. Considering the hell parenting can put you through, this is a marked achievement.
But it doesn’t last very long, does it, the gratefulness? In less than five minutes, your children are both awake. Despite your best efforts, they’re grown completely intolerable. One is refusing to eat, while the other is trying to eat an entire sleeve of chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Suddenly, the second feel overcomes you: anger. Before you know it, you’re shouting at them. All you can think of is the look on the face of the school principal as you usher the kids in 15 minutes late, or your boss as you try to tip-toe past her cube at 9:30. It’s hard to believe less than 10 minutes earlier, you were internally beaming about how angelic they were.
As you reluctantly scamper to the front door of your child’s school, a chill comes over you as you can’t help but be reminded of the atrocities that have happened in our nation’s schools over the past few years. Your stomach turns as you leave your precious children in their respective classrooms. You’ve given up control. And you’re feeling fear. For me, this has been the most difficult of the feels to overcome. I likely speak for most parents when I say that, accepting that I can’t always protect my child has potentially been my biggest parental obstacle.
I will obviously never fully understand the sorrow of walking away from my child for the first time after a maternity leave. But I will say that I feel sadness when leaving my children. Every day. Any parent would understand, but when you’re not with them, you feel like you’re missing a part of yourself. It’s like you’ve cut off a body part and left it home while you’ve gone to work. I often sit at my desk, wondering what my boys are doing at exactly that moment. And it’s right around that time when their school emails out a series of photos of them reading a new book, or learning about a musical instrument. I send my kids to Apple Montessori. Yes, it costs more than I’d like and yes, they absolutely love it there. By default, so do I. And it’s in that moment when I start feeling an enormous sense of pride. I see my kids being social far earlier than I ever was a child. I see them expressing a willingness to learn, again, far earlier than I ever did as a child. It almost makes me forget that I was sad to leave them there that same day….or the cost of their tuition bill.
So, you’re feeling awesome again about this whole parenting thing, when you arrive home from work, arms stretched out wide for a hug. Yet, you’re met with indifference. Your child is currently fixated on the plastic covering of a DVD case, and nothing else matters. He callously mutters a dismissive remark, asking you to leave them alone. You’re back to sad again, with an anger kicker. And during dinner, the feels come in full force. You’re proud they’re eating broccoli, you’re angry when they jump out of their chairs and spill their drinks, and you’re certainly grateful that the day is almost over and you’ve made it through the “feels gauntlet.”
Later that night, after the teeth have been brushed and the stories have been read, you’ll tuck them into their cribs or beds. Maybe you’ll even climb in next to them, assuming they’re in at least a toddler bed. Then, that hug that eluded you earlier catches you completely off guard. Your child’s face shoved into your neck and their hand resting peacefully on your chest, something new comes over you: serenity. In that moment, no stress nor worry can steal your high, as you are officially convinced you’re doing a stellar job at being a parent. And you probably are.
As you cautiously close the bedroom door behind you, a Batman sticker still stuck to your cheek, knee sore from when you rammed it into the sofa leg while wrestling, the final feel of the day hits you. Despite every struggle (some seeming insurmountable), you rest assured that you’re persevering and raising one hell of a kid. Defiantly standing strong against the anger and sadness, you’re left with an undeniable feeling of joy. And that’s ultimately what drives me to be the best version of myself every day – to reach the final “feel” as my head hits the pillow.
Cheers to all you parents out there, whether you related to this piece or not.
Check out the debut of my new video blog titled “Parental Guidance” when you get a chance! In this edition, I take questions submitted to me via iPhone and answer them on video. Come on, everyone, see if my face matches my writing!
Feel free to add a comment below and add your very own “daily feels.”
Is your parenting style more attachment or positive? Take our quiz and find out.
* “Question Mark” photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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anger, apple montessori, emotions, feelings, grateful, joy, parental guidance, parenthood, parenting, pride, sadness, serenity | Categories:
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
I’ve said it before: I need better coping skills. I am almost embarrassed to reveal the absurdity of my latest freak-out. But here goes:
We went on a last minute, mini-vacation to Sequoia State Park a couple weeks ago. We had a great time. As we were heading home, we stopped at this cute playground for Fia to run before sitting in the cramped car (this time we took the direct route versus our disastrous, vomit-induced one).
Phil was playing with Fia while I breastfed Emmett. I walked over and Phil says, “Do you think she’s running funny?”
I gasped. “What? What do you mean?”
“Don’t freak out,” he said through terse lips. “Jesus, can I not even have a conversation with you?”
Clearly, my anxiety has been an issue before.
I took a breath, “You’re right, I’m sorry. Let me watch her run.”
She starts to run and her legs start hobbling. She keeps falling down. They looked like rubber. So guess what I do? I FREAK THE F–K OUT.
“Oh my god, Phil, Phil,” I pleaded. “Oh my god. What is going on?”
He looked at me concerned, because he was obviously concerned too. But I could tell he was also worried about me. Or sick of me. He has said time and again to get a grip. He says I can’t react with such panic–for all of our sakes. I know he’s right.
Trembling, I got down on her level and took her shoes off. I seemed to remember thinking last week the sneakers were getting tight. She took off barefoot. Her gait was perfect.
In the 10 seconds it took to figure this out, here’s where my head went:
On our mini-vaco. These are not the shoes in question, btw.
She has a neurological disorder. A virus. It is fast progressing and eating away at her nerves. We have to rush to LA to Children’s Hospital. Something life-threatening is wrong with my daughter. If anything happens to her I will not survive. I love her too much.
Basically I had an internal panic attack. I say internal, because I did manage to hold it together in front of Fia, mostly because I was so afraid Phil would forever hate me. And of course, I don’t want to scare my kid. I know all too well from my upbringing what it’s like to have a weak, hand-wringing (then drunk, devoid of coping skills) parent. It’s probably where all this anxiety comes from.
But seriously, in less than a millisecond, my mind goes to the worst possible place. Is that a mom thing or a sign of deep neurosis? My friend Kirsten wrote a beautiful piece I posted on the art of letting go. But I justify (in my warped brain) that this is different–this is about tragedy befalling my children.
Phil was really pissed off. And I don’t blame him. What I kept telling him was I don’t like feeling this way either. My visceral reaction truly scares me. It’s like my wires explode in my body and code red starts to ring. Then, because my body has basically been in fight-or-flight mode, it doesn’t just dissipate. It lingers. And on this day, it sat in the car for our 3-hour drive home, casting a pall on the once-boisterous mood.
If the scenario hadn’t filled me with such anxiety and dread, it would have been comical, ie: bad parenting moment: Our little girl has outgrown her shoes and mama freaked.
I spoke at length to Peter, my hypnotherapist. We did some really deep work in trying to get my brain to stop this pattern. Old habits die hard. It will take work on my part. But I have no choice.
This sh-t has got to stop.
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anxiety, Children's Hospital, depression, emotions, feet, gait, hand-wringing, mom freakout, nerves, nervous, neurological, panic, panic attack, running, running funny, Sequoia State Park, shoes | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
The other day the dryer repair man came to our house. I looked down at him on our floor as he pried open the bottom. He was a short fellow, with small hands and no wedding ring. I walked away and burst into tears. Phil came in at that moment.
“What’s wrong? Is the baby okay?” he asked, alarmed.
“Everything is fine,” I said in a hushed tone.
“Then what’s wrong??”
“The dryer man,” I said. “He doesn’t have a wedding ring. What if he is all alone? What if he has no family?”
Phil looked at me, trying to make sense of what I was getting at. Did I know this man from somewhere else? Was he my long lost best friend or something? In other words: What-The-F–k?
I have a hard time explaining how I’m feeling right now, but as abnormal as it sounds, this is all perfectly normal. It’s what hormones and a new baby does to many of moms. My fellow blogger Berit wrote about how many times she’s burst into tears lately. It gives me great comfort not to be alone in my weepy sea of rational–and irrational–emotions.
Emmett is 22 days old. But in so many ways, I feel like he’s always been part of me. The sheer magnitude of love I feel for him and Fi becomes daunting at times. How can my heart stay intact with these two perfect creatures?
This past fall, I wrote about driving home from the hospital with Fia and passing Ground Zero. The reality of bringing a life into the world crashed down on me then. This time is no different. In fact, it may be worse, because now I have two fragile eggs to keep close. Three if you count Phil. Four if you count Wayne.
“What if the dryer guy doesn’t wear a wedding ring because he repairs dryers all day?” Phil said, trying to inject logic into the mind of a neurotic person. Which is like trying to reason with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Excellent point,” I said, laughing through my tears. “Ignore me. I’m just fragile right now.”
Instead, he hugged me. Then I crawled into bed with Emmett, smelling his skin, his hair, his essence….and took a nap.
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Monday, November 7th, 2011
I just started crying. It came out of nowhere. It was bound to happen. You can’t go through moving your entire family across the country while pregnant, leaving your base of mom friends and a totally different way of living without expecting some sort of emotional toll.
Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to move to LA. I was sick of apartment living, having no yard, strolling everywhere (as in subways, sidewalks, sometimes up to 6 miles a day). New York City is an exhausting place to raise a baby. Now I have a car, a house and a yard. But I feel devoid of my mom posse. Or any sort of routine for me and Fi.
I know it takes time. I know I’m social enough and I will connect with people. I know Fia will get her sleep back under control and we’ll get into our groove. But right now, at this moment, it just feels daunting.
I also realize that since I left home for college 20+ years ago, I’ve never lived in a house for any extended period of time. I’ve always lived in the center of a city. Even if that city was Omaha. Or Sioux Falls. I almost feel like I’m impersonating someone. Is this new lifestyle “me?” At 40+ years old, what if I don’t adjust? I know it sounds crazy, and there are much bigger problems, like world peace and the Eurozone to worry about, but it’s just how I’m feeling at the moment.
I have 3 months to get this all down before the new baby comes. That is plenty of time. And this is my first real day without the chaos of a move or company (my in-laws were here for 10 days and so I had constant daycare and people around me). So I need to go with it.
I have a playdate set up with a mom friend I knew from a few years back. She’s coming over tomorrow with her daughter who is Fia’s age. So hopefully I’ll feel a bit more grounded. But the bottom line: change is hard. But also fun. I am looking forward to feeling the fun part soon.
Photo: Woman with Crossed Arms by Picasso.
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a car, a yard, emotional, emotions, house, living in a house, moving, moving to LA, new baby, playdate, pregnancy, pregnant | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
December 2, 2010
I’m sitting here surfing websites looking at a desk for myself, a stocking for Fia, where Ulaanbaatar is located…. basically anything to distract me from thinking about what’s coming up.
I’m not an overly sentimental person. The other day I went to toss out some of my husband’s old t-shirts. He stopped me.
“You know those are from when I was a kid.”
“So?” I replied.
“So, I want Fia to wear them someday.”
“You aren’t sentimental about anything,” he said, exasperated.
This same conversation occurred when I threw out some old journals and letters I had written to friends in college (not to date myself, but that was before we had email).
“Don’t you want to keep that stuff?” he said.
“Why would I?” was my reply.
So I find myself in new, unfamiliar, and even frightening territory as the clock ticks towards Thursday, Dec 2.
That’s when Fia turns ONE.
Why is this milestone so hard for me to grasp?
Is it because she gave me the hardest 4 months of my life, followed by the best 8?
Is it because I yearn for her like I’ve never yearned for anything?
Is it because I can’t even remember what life was like before her?
I’m used to being decisive, answering questions, taking action. And now, I find myself completely stumped.
Then there are the cravings. I crave her warm little body. I crave her snorts. Her laughs. Her hugs. Her smile.
I crave her essence and spirit.
It hits in a deep and primal way.
It is both gut wrenching and magical.
And no matter how much she satiates me, I crave her more. I want—and try—to eat her up. Yet I’m never full.
Maybe on this Thursday I stuff myself silly.
I watch how in awe she is of herself when standing on her own two feet. Alone. And how proud she is when taking those first steps. Without my help. It’s a glimpse of what will become and I love it. I’m her biggest cheerleader. And yet, I can’t help but feel, well, sentimental. Sigh. And teary. Double sigh/sob.
Fia stands alone
What troubles me is time seems to slip away so fast and there’s nothing I can do about it. There are no boulders or dams big enough to stop the clock…and why should there be? This is life. The last thing I want to be is indulgent. I know how good I have it. I know how fortunate I am. How blessed. But this is my reality and how I feel. I can’t help myself.
Maybe this Thursday is about acceptance. And embracing what is. That just one year ago this lovely creature was born into my world. When they put her in my arms I whispered, I know you. And now I realize I always have. And always will.
This baby girl—this almost 1-year-old—is showing me the time of my life. Who am I to ask time to stand still when I’m having the time of my life? I gotta buckle up and enjoy the ride. And I do. Small sob. And I will. Smaller sigh. Bigger Smile.
Happy Birthday, Baby.
I asked a couple of my other mom friends whose babies are also turning 1 how they felt about this landmark. Here are their responses. Once again, their words comfort me and let me know I’m not in this journey alone.
To be honest I hate that Gracen is turning 1. I’m feeling very scared that time is moving so quickly; that even when I’m exhausted and need a break she is still the most important thing/person in my world. I keep thinking that when she’s 1 and 2 and older and older I will become less and less able to snuggle her and kiss her and keep her all to myself. What’s that called? Selfish I guess? Turning 1 feels so much bigger than 11 months; it feels like she’s not going to be a baby anymore and that’s hard because whenever I pictured myself with kids I always pictured a baby…so I haven’t written the rest of the story you know? Like what does 1 look like? What should I expect?
I’m happy that she’s made it to this day, I’m just sad that she’ll lose her baby face, her baby ways, her ability to remain perfect and innocent. Now I have to discipline her, worry if she’s learning at the correct rate, get her into a preschool. I think it’s hard because now I have to parent instead of just snuggling and making sure she doesn’t eat the plants. Which of course means as she grows and changes so will our relationship.
People tell me that it keeps getting better, and I don’t doubt that but I’ll miss my baby as a baby and I’m really glad I got to see all of her first moments because time just won’t stop and wait for me to emotionally catch up.
I thought I was handling the milestone very well. Overall, it’s really getting better every day as he gets older and more independent and more fun. I am excited to see him get bigger and start talking and expressing himself. But last night after I put Teddy to bed I started bawling to Brian about how someday Teddy would leave me (like, to go to college in 18 years) and how I could not handle that.
Then I said, “We have to have another one. I’m too obsessed with Teddy, I need to spread it out more,” which of course freaked him out. Clearly I am not as cool about the whole thing as I thought I was and that surprises me.
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