Posts Tagged ‘ mom guilt ’

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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Delia Ephron Says You Can Have It All

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

We all have moments in our day when we have peace and calm, right?  Mine usually comes after I pop my Lexapro in the morning or sip my wine at night. Okay, I’m kidding. Those who read my post know I’m neither a drug addict nor an alcoholic, though I sometimes aspire to be–especially when Emmett pulls Fia’s hair, coming away with fistfuls. She in turn clubs him over the head with Big Bird. Cue the wails and tears. It’s not fun. A lot of parenting isn’t fun. And yet, yet, it feels like the greatest thing I’ve done with my life.

I was a world traveler before. I was a TV host. I was a reporter. I never wanted kids. I never wanted to be tied down to anything or anyone other than my husband who was equally anti-kid. Then we reversed course and had a baby. Then another. For me, I define my life as the person I was before I had kids and the person I became after. It is a line in the sand and even though my memories and experiences pre-kids made me who I am, the line post-kids is by far my favorite. This time is like no other. Sometimes I want to just bottle it so on a gloomy day I can open up my bottle and breathe these moments back.

My friend Delia Ephron recently wrote an article in which she talks about how you CAN have it all. In moments. No, you can’t have it all, all the time. Unless you are on drugs. Then you think you are having it all until you end up in the psych ward or on Skid Row.

For her, finding that perfect moment in the day is walking into a bakery. I believe she has walked into every bakery in New York City at least 17 times. The other night she emailed me about her stress level. The reason I knew she was stressed? She said she was on her 8th chocolate chip cookie. But I know that within her stress she had some perfect moments when she crunched down on the chocolate or sank into the doughy part.

Anyway, her article really touched a nerve in me since I constantly struggle with my mom guilt. Am I doing it right? Am I spending enough time with my kids? If I only get a sitter while they nap does that make me a better parent because then I’m with them during their waking hours? If I put Emmett in preschool for a few hours when he is 2, am I selfish? The spinning in my head can drive me mad. Just this week I posted something about my brain turning to mush, but still vowing to practice more gratitude. 

But my struggles aren’t unique or rare. As Delia says in her article it’s, “depressingly American.”

She has a new book coming out that I know all my readers will love. I may be biased, but it’s not just me. It got a glowing review by The New York Times. No easy feat. The book is a humorous and heartfelt memoir, but unlike traditional memoirs, it is broken up into short chapters that you can read in snippets at the end of your day or while waiting for a doctor appointment.

I told her it was the perfect “tired mom” book because I would get in bed and read one chapter each night. It touches on all sorts of aspects so there really is something for everyone: from losing her famous sister Nora, to her alcoholic mother (one of the reasons I think we are such kindred spirits), to her love of bakeries (the article above was adapted from the book), and much more.

Between her article and book, I began to look for my own moments of grace. I realized they are everywhere. When Emmett first wakes up and just burrows into me, his warm body tucked into mine; when Fia wraps her small arms tightly around me and says, “You’re my best Mama,” and at night, when they are sleeping–I tiptoe into their rooms. I touch Emmett’s soft curls. They frame his face like a cherub. I lay my hand on Fia’s heart and feel it beating. These are nightly rituals where I know I have it all. Then I crawl into my own bed and open up a book. Last week it was Delia’s. As I settled in, the house was safe and still.

She wrote: “Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind. Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.”

I’m lucky I have so many moments. And that I have friends like her to remind me of them.

Her book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Independent Bookstores. I will also say it makes a great gift for your best mom friend!

From the New York Times Book Review:

“The book builds in gravity and heft to finish gorgeously…“Sister Mother Husband Dog” is a valentine, sometimes frilly but more memorably about love, loss and all that is irreplaceabe.”

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The Mom Mystique

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?”

Huh?

“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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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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