Posts Tagged ‘ guilt ’

Emmett in Action: Do Boys Ever Slow Down?

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

 

I’ve put it out there that I have the most active mini toddler in the world. He has been since he came out giggling and mischievous 14 months ago. Thank god he’s also the happiest. But I am in a tough stage right now if I’m out and about with them both. Thus my no-guilt revelation this week in hiring help. Here’s a few pics of my little man on the move.

Down the slide in gymnastics:

In Griffith Park biking. We have a great contraption for the kids where they can sit in the front:

Watching the LA Marathon:

About to get scratched by Wayne Sanchez…

First horse ride in Griffith Park:

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Why I Feel No Mom Guilt Right Now…

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I wrote my post this week about having this nagging sense of guilt whenever I leave my kids.  I had some great comments from moms who validated how I feel. Whether right or wrong, it’s nice to know you’re not the only insane one.

Then this morning I think I figured out how to NOT feel guilty: Push yourself to the absolute limit of supermom. Then your psyche won’t f–k with you and throw guilt your way. Instead, it will tell you to flee as soon as the sitter arrives. Don’t look back. Go! Which I did.

Now I am sitting here having my haircut and colored. The gray is out of control. The back looks like a mullet. After this, I am going to get my hooves–the thing most people call feet–pedicured. My hands will get a much-needed manicure. Then my husband and I are going out to dinner and to our favorite massage place. I don’t feel badly at all. The reason? Because when you spend almost all week with your kids, culminating in today’s cluster-f–k you are so ready for a break all guilt goes out the window.

We started the morning off as usual: Up at 6:30. I made eggs for them; Emmett splattered his on the floor. Fia started coloring and Emmett tried to take her crayons. He pulled her hair (his latest thing). She started wailing. This is in addition to the usual 7 head bumps he has from knocking against our table, the face plant that inevitably leads to a bloody lip at least 3 times a week and the screams of agony from them both for taunting the cat to the point of getting scratched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 10, I needed to get out. We live right near Griffith Park that has just about everything. I figured the little train and pony ride would be easier than the massive zoo. We loaded up and drove down the hill.

A lot of it was great. Emmett had his first horse ride. I walked beside him, stepping in horseshit with my flip-flops. 

Then we went to ride the train. The ticket line was a mile long. We waited. And waited. We were getting close when Fia said, “Mama I have to go to the bathroom. I can’t hold it.” Crap. We left the line and ran across the parking lot so she could go pee. I dangled Emmett in one arm so he wouldn’t lick the bathroom floor. The kid is a menace. A cute one, but good god he never stops. He is into everything. This is what it means to have a boy. I had no idea.

After the bathroom Fia decided she wanted something to eat before the train ride. We stood in the longest, most inefficient line run by the Parks and Rec department. We finally got our turn. All she wanted was cheese fries. While they were apparently growing and cutting up the spuds to fry, Fia took off running and did a face plant right on the concrete. Shit. She starts bawling. My sciatica has been acting up. But being supermom, I had no choice. I picked them both up and walked back across the parking lot to the car.  I grabbed the stroller and plopped Fia in. Though Em is the one I really need to chain down.

Throughout this I remained calm. Even chipper. I deserve an Emmy.

We went back to get our food. I sat down and took a bite. The cheese fries were spicy. WTF? The sign didn’t say “spicy cheese fries.” But they are. You know, that fake nacho kind? Maybe they won’t notice. Wrong. “Mama, it’s too spicy!” Fia screamed. Emmett just threw his glob on the sidewalk where it won’t disintegrate for a century (did you know Velveeta can survive a nuclear attack? And that when they make it in the factory it’s a big gray gelatinous rectangle? In case you weren’t sure, the yellow color is fake.)

I’ve been trying to do this Mediterranean diet to keep healthy. Gloppy, goopy fake cheese is definitely not on the list. But what can I do? I sit there slowly licking blobs of cheese off, handing them the fries. It may have been the best part of my day.

Time for  the trains, then home. The ticket line is gone. Thank god. We  go up to the window. “Closed for lunch.”  Cue the wailing. I drag my now overtired, still hungry, hot, injured daughter and son to the car. I sit down as pain shoots through my lower back. I text my sitter. “Can you come tomorrow morning?”

Oh, I broke down and also got an ice cream sandwich. Emmett’s first. What a milestone!

 

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Mom Guilt: Why Do I Have It? How Can I Get Rid Of It?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

When I walk in the door after having a sitter, my mere presence sets Emmett off. He is like a cat that can sense me a mile away. He starts howling. This has happened with the previous nanny, with every sitter…. basically everyone but Phil. Phil is excluded because the same thing happens when he walks in. Emmett wails.

He could be perfectly happy playing or eating, but wham, we walk in and he is suddenly aware that he hasn’t been with mom or dad and starts to cry. Often real tears stream down his little face. I usually walk over to him, pick him up and hug him. “Emmett,” I say, “it’s okay. Mama’s here.”  His crying immediately ceases. He burrows himself into me, his arms down at his sides in a little cocoon. We call it “pod-ing” like he’s a pea going into his pod. I kiss his head. And every sitter says the same thing, “He was fine until he heard/saw you.”

I know this is part of an infant-toddler’s development. But it gets me every time. I have this heart pull. It’s not even conscious. It’s a visceral reaction. I know my kids are in excellent hands when they aren’t with me. Three days a week Fia is in preschool and absolutely loves it. She is really blooming there too.

I know Emmett has loads of fun with our sitters. I honestly don’t believe in the extreme version of attachment parenting–where you’re supposed to be with your kid 24/7 until they’re 3. Or 13. I’m not judging those who do it, but for me, I know exposing my kids to different people, different races, different environments is good for them. So why is it so hard to NOT feel guilty? I wish I knew…

I’ve said before that I think moms with full time jobs in some ways have it better. They have a purpose, whether it’s career aspirations, or providing for their family, etc. I’m in a murky place because I’m freelance and I don’t have a set job. Each time I plan my week I do it in a way that I get enough play time with Em, enough with Fia and enough with both. Then I fill in the gaps with a sitter. But why do I even have to make sure I clock in with my kids?

In November I stopped having a nanny. Now I have about 15 hours a week of help. But the fact that I want to say in the next sentence “but I try and book my sitter while they are napping” is just whacked. It’s like I have to continually justify to myself that I’m not abandoning my kids. I have to make sure people know that “Hey, I’m a good mom. And I’m around.” It’s ridiculous on so many levels.

My sitter Michele is amazing. She was our night nurse for, oh, 7 months. I didn’t feel guilty about that at all, because with Fia, my lack of sleep led to an insanity that wasn’t pretty.  I am terrible without sleep. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. So justifying my night nurse for Emmett was easy. I have no regrets. I was a better mom to everyone. I don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything.

When we didn’t need Michele anymore she offered to babysit during the day. And get this: she has 5 kids. Yes 5. Her oldest is 19. Her youngest are twins Fia’s age: Maci and Cruz (pictured below).

As a veteran mom, Michele is always telling me to stop feeling guilty. She pounds into me that we all need our own time.  I know she is right. But in going to my yoga class this morning, leaving to the cries of Emmett, I felt that usual pull on my heart. It sinks deep into my stomach. Not for long, but it is always there. Should I be doing this? In downward dog I noticed how bad my toes look. Damn, I need a pedicure. I guess I could do one while they nap tomorrow, since I have Michele again, I thought.

I am seriously pissed at myself for thinking this way. I would have slapped myself silly in my pre-kids day if I ever thought I would be like a walking blanket of guilt.

I often ask Michele to bring her twins. They go to daycare most days, but if Fia isn’t in preschool, the three of them have a near perfect chemistry. Plus, instead of saying to Fia, “Michele is coming today!” and her replying, “No mama, I only want you”, (cue the guilt) I can say, “Guess what? Maci and Cruz are coming!” She jumps up and down. “Yay! Yay! No Way! [pause] Ballet” (her new thing with rhyming words). I am reassured she won’t miss me. That I am ok. 

It’s like the rational side of my brain can’t reconcile with the primal side of my being. Logically, I know I need a break. I know it’s okay to go to the store by myself. I know it’s okay to do yoga, get a pedicure, write a blog, and have time to myself. I also know it’s good for my kids on so many levels. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t even consider it. So this is all on me.

So how to get rid of the guilt? Maybe I need to go back to my hypnotist. Or maybe this is just the way it is when you’re a parent… battling conflicting emotions that put your heart and head in the middle.

 

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The Failure Hour: A Must For Every Mom

Friday, September 7th, 2012

I may have come up with my most brilliant idea yet. At the end of the day, between 4:30-6, my mental state falls apart. I am exhausted from schlepping in 100-degree heat, working on my lack-of-career, “pretend play” (read my rant), changing diapers, begging Fia to eat one more piece of turkey, telling Wayne to stop eating her piece of turkey, and on and on and on.

But as all you moms know, the day is far from over. In some ways, the hardest part is setting in.  The dreaded dinner hour (what to make? I have no food), the bath (“No shampoo mama. I don’t want it! No!!!”), and book time.

Sidenote: has anyone tried “reading” Good Dog, Carl to their toddler? Yes, let’s show our child how to fall out of the crib, open a refrigerator, choke on food, poison a dog with chocolate, maim themselves in a laundry shoot, and drown in a fish tank. All without words. It is a hopelessly exhausting book. Not to mention full of stupid ideas.

In short, by this time of the day, I feel like a failure. I’ve failed as a wife (messy house, sh-tty dinner), a mom (Benign Neglect + 2 hours of Sesame Street/Super Why/Sid the Science Kid), and as a person (I swear running shoes, I’ll workout tomorrow).

What better way to get over it than celebrate! Introducing: The Failure Hour.

Bring the babies! Bring the wine! Let’s embrace inadequacy!

The pressure is so great on being the perfect mom, wife, blah blah, we may as well benefit from failing on all fronts.

A couple times a week at the allotted hour, we moms gather at my house, drink wine, and watch our kids get even filthier. Sometimes we feed them dinner; so at least one thing is checked off our evening list. As the sun sets and we sit around laughing, the rest of the night seems so much more manageable. Even bearable.

Maybe I’ll make this a national organization. Let me know if you’re game to start a chapter in your area. It’s easy. BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby–and bottle. Of wine, that is).

Founding Members of The Failure Hour

Occasionally a husband or two will join in. But they have to have at least one kid in arms to participate.

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(My) Milestone Monday: No More Mommy Guilt! I Refuse It

Monday, August 13th, 2012

 

Last weekend Phil was away. I don’t have help on the weekends. I was by myself with both babies.

Here’s the scene:

Up at 6 a.m. Throw Emmett on the boob. Park Fia in front of Super Why.  Make coffee. Get Fia breakfast. Switch to Sesame Street. Let Emmett roll around on the carpet while I supervise and sip coffee (2 minutes of quality time). Feed cat. Emmett poops. Explosively. Put Fia in her high chair with a coloring book and bathe Emmett. Then feed him again. Fia starts to whine for eggs. Put Emmett in the swing and make eggs.  Plop eggs in front of Fia. Emmett starts to fuss. Pick him up. He poops again…a crazy amount. I am covered. In sh-t. I keep Fia locked in her high chair and give Emmett a sink bath. Put him back in swing, go change my clothes. Fia is finished. Begins to throw crayons. I am so happy she earned herself a time out, because for those 2 minutes I take my Lexapro, my Wellbutrin, and debate a shot of tequila.

I look at the clock. It is 7:30. Well f–k me.

At that moment, standing in my kitchen, dripping with sweat and both babies screaming, I had a complete and utter revelation. NO MORE GUILT.  Divine Intervention of the Non-Guilty Mom spoke to me.

I’m totally going to “out” myself here. I have full-time help and a part-time job. Not even. I’m a freelancer. I even have a night nurse a few times a week. It was almost every night in the beginning (I’d pump and bring her the bottle.) With Fia, I lost my mind with lack of sleep. It was so stressful for all those around me; I decided with Emmett I would do things differently. I would take my therapist’s advice and throw money at the problem. Lots of it. I could have sustained a village in Africa. Maybe two. Instead, I’ve sustained my mental health. And my marriage.

Up until now I’ve been afraid to fully confess. I’ve been nervous about the backlash from moms who will say I’m indulgent, that I’m not taking care of my kids, or even the “extremists” saying, “Why did you have kids if you’re not going to raise them?” Because here’s the thing: I am raising them and I now know I am doing a far better job with hired help than I could ever do on my own.

I shouldn’t have to justify this, but before I go further here’s why I have a full-time nanny: with Cleo in my life, I can pick and choose which child I want to be with. I can get quality time with both. That is key. But, I can also go to the bank, the grocery store, the nail salon and get a massage, all without carting a kid around. I can pay bills without sticking Fia in front of the TV. And blog. Added bonus: Cleo sometimes cooks for us. I still feel like I have zero time and I practically have a staff. Yet I often battle the demons of guilt. Shouldn’t I just plow through this on my own and be with my kids every hour that I can?

First of all, carting my kids to the store isn’t quality time. But now I think holding down the fort alone with your kids isn’t quality time either. For me, it was about keeping them alive. It was S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L.

Yet, my battle is constant: When I’m not with them, I feel like I should be. When I am with them at my house with the to-do list staring me in the face, I think of everything else I have to do.

While I’m at it, here’s another confession: I don’t love to “play.” As in, sit on the floor and build blocks or have a tea party.  I love watching Fia play though. I like to see the creative way she invents characters or stacks things. But pretending to pour tea over and over again? Honestly? I get bored.

So what I’ve done is carve out specific mornings and afternoons that Fia and I “do” things. We ride the kiddie train near our house, go on playdates to waterparks, museums, whatever. But usually it’s somewhere outside of the house. To me, that’s where I find my quality time with her.

Granted, throughout my solo-parenting day, we did have 9 more minutes of pure fun at home.  Fia and I were watering the lawn and she took the hose and squirted me. A mini water battle ensued. We chased each other around laughing. Emmett was taking one of his 20-minute cat naps (which is about all I ever get). “Ahh, see I’m doing it,” I thought to myself. “This is what the full-time moms get.” But then she fell, screamed for a Band-Aid, Emmett woke up arching his back (ready to release 11 more fart bubbles), and the moment was gone.

So why do I feel guilty for having help? Without it, I wouldn’t have quality time. Or maybe I would for a mere 11 minutes per day. Hardly enough to justify the guilt.

Sometimes I envy the full-time working moms because they can totally justify their nannies or  daycare. Other times I envy the SAHMs (Stay-At-Home-Moms) who I picture doing this in an orderly way.  I think I fall in this in-between area and perhaps that is where my guilt comes from. Or used to come from.

But ever since my revelation last weekend, I am trying to stop second-guessing how I raise my kids and just feel lucky I have this luxury.

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