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Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
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.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I’ve been a parent for over four years now, and I have to say, I know very little about how this whole thing works. I felt the same way about calculus* in high school. I was certainly exposed to it a great deal, was tested on it regularly, etc. But if someone asked me what calculus was today, I’d pretend I just got a phone call and run away. Parenthood is just as mysterious and just as impossible to truly “master.” Despite this, there are still plenty of people out there who think they know how to handle being a parent (even though they aren’t one). And it’s about time someone wrote down the most common offenders, as these non-parents and their assumptions have been left unchallenged for long enough.
For one, they all seem to think getting a babysitter is easy and no big deal. “Hey, you wanna come out for drinks tonight? You can get a babysitter, right?” Sure, let me troll Craigslist for a few minutes. I’m sure the right fit will pop up pretty quickly. Are you out of your mind? Leaving my kids with anybody is a challenge. Especially with the atrocities that have occurred during the past couple of years while a babysitter or nanny has been in charge of a child. I’m surprised I even trust family most days, let alone some 13-year-old handing out business cards in front of a 711. And even if I did hire a babysitter, I would then have to hire a security guard to watch the babysitter, then another security guard to keep an eye on the first security guard. It’s a sordid mess, really.
Another assumption they make is that I’ve got my life completely figured out now that I have kids. Most parents are probably laughing at that one right now. Please don’t ever assume anyone in your life who’s married with kids has all their sh*t together. There’s no “Do you have your sh*t together” test that we take before conceiving children. Right, Kim Kardashian?
Something that’s often joked about is the misery parents go through as they are forced to endure dreadful kid-friendly television shows like Barney. And I think it’s a bit exaggerated. Frankly, between the mass appeal of Sesame Street and adult-accessible Pixar films like the Toy Story franchise, I end up enjoying my kids’ favorite shows more than my own! Thankfully, programming for kids has come a long way in the past decade, become exponentially more tolerable for parents. I’m even guilty of watching far after my sons have drifted to sleep.
A major misconception is the belief that bearing children reduces the ability to partake in fun activities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, we were going to invite you, but then we remembered you had kids.” I didn’t become a kid, I simply raise them! And I need alcohol now more than ever. Please don’t forget that I’m thirsty. I can’t promise I can make everything, but what I can promise is that when I do make it out, I’m still exactly the same person I was before parenthood. Just a really, really exhausted version of him.
Speaking of being tired, people seem to think that, once a child reaches the tender age of six-weeks-old that they start sleeping through the night until they’re 100. Not always true. In fact, in most cases I’ve experienced or heard, children go through phases where they’ll sleep 11 hours straight without provocation, then out of seemingly nowhere will be up three times a night for days in a row. This whole “sleeping like a baby” line is a farce. Babies don’t sleep like babies. They sleep like strung out college students cramming for a final exam.
Do you have a friend who doesn’t have kids who you feel doesn’t truly “get” you anymore? Share this blog with them for some middle ground. They might be resentful that you did, but at least you’ll make your point, which is the point, right?
Feel free to add a comment below and join the conversation!
* I never actually took calculus in high school. I only made it as far as algebra and decided math that complicated was a waste of time. And also because my grades in all forms of math were pretty terrible.
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711, alcohol, babysitter, barney, calculus, craigslist, kim kardashian, math, nannies, parenting, pixar, Sesame Street, toy story | Categories:
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Our New Blog Picture
We have a new name! No, not of Emmett or Fia, but of my blog. While we loved Of Fi I Sing, Emmett was excluded. Plus, with two kids I am entering a new phase of my life. As my blog has evolved, we realized my outlook is more than just focusing (and obsessing) on Fia. Motherhood is so all-encompassing and takes on almost all aspects of my life. We wanted the title to reflect that more. Plus, I didn’t want my boy to need (more) major therapy later on for feeling left out.
So after some massive brainstorming sessions in which I thought my computer Thesaurus was going to fire me, we came up with this new one. Introducing:
Fearless Feisty Mama: Candid and Comical Confessions of a Slightly Obsessive Mom
I’m really excited about it. I think it conveys more of my tone and style. We decided on “Fearless” because I’m not afraid to share my story. Whether it be the death of my drug- addicted mom, my decision to stay on antidepressants when pregnant, or my ugly vag issue, I tend to speak my mind and give an open and honest opinion.
We came up with “Feisty,” not only because I love alliteration, but in many ways it is my attitude towards parenting issues. From my annoyance at my babysitters for constantly losing sh-t, to the people who pay their nannies six-figures (ridiculous!), to my adamant stance on sleep training (do it!).
With my new name, we have a new look! My friend Jilly Wendell is an amazing photographer. She was kind enough to come over to our chaos and take a zillion pictures, hoping to get one without Emmett barfing, Fia screaming and me grimacing through a forced smile–though that is probably more realistic of our current state.
I’ll post some of the others this Friday.
Also, you may notice some of the older posts have images missing. And there are a few technical difficulties we are sorting out in changing my blog title. So bear with us and keep coming back. You guys help feed my creative soul.
Blog photo courtesy of Jilly Wendell Photography
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babysitter, Candid, comical, drug addiction, Fearless, Feisty, Ferber, jilly wendell, nannies, nanny, new blog, new posts, old posts, photography, pictures, posts, sitters, sleep training, taking antidepressants when pregnant, toddler pictures, ugly vagina | Categories:
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Full Disclosure: I paid in excess of 4K to give my cat, Wayne Sanchez a vagina (the whole story is here). But that was to save his life. When it comes to my kids, and yes, I do consider Wayne one of my children, I spare no expense.
However, I was a bit dismayed at this article in the New York Times Magazine. The reporter wrote about the high-priced nanny culture–in which some caregivers get 6-figure salaries, penthouse apartments, beach houses, etc. to take care of other peoples babies.
Don’t get me wrong: I have a full-time nanny myself. I love her. Even though I don’t have a full time 9-6 job, I make no apology for going this route. But I don’t love my kids any less for paying her a fair, market-based salary. I mean, your kid can still have an accident (god forbid). They still tantrum. They poop and they pee and their diapers get changed the same way. And hopefully if you have someone good, they laugh just as hard, dance just as much and sing just as beautifully. So what is the difference here? I think it lies in this part of the reporter’s story, i.e.:
…And then there’s social climbing. “A lot of families, especially new money, are really concerned about their children getting close to other very affluent children,” Greenhouse says. “How do they do that? They find a superstar nanny who already has lots of contacts, lots of other nanny friends who work with other high profile families.” There are the intangibles too. “I’m working with a phenomenal Caribbean nanny right now,” Greenhouse says. “She is drop-dead beautiful. Her presentation is such that you’re proud to have her by your children’s side at the most high-profile events.”
I get that your nanny is helping to raise your child and there is no price tag to put on that. But I can’t help feeling like some of the elite who do this are trying to buy their way into proper parenting. Or perhaps buy their way out. Maybe it makes them feel less guilty and more justified in having the help if they are paying them top dollar? And what are their children to them anyway? An accessory?
This whole obsession in our culture with appearance and money is, to use the word again, GROSS. I can’t watch shows like Real Housewives for this very reason–even if it is just escapism television. People who are that out of touch with the rest of the world don’t interest me. Unless it’s to write a blog.
The one person I am happy for in all this is the nanny– though you could pay her half that amount and give the rest to a kick ass charity–and she’d still be making more than most people. I’m just saying…
One of the nanny’s mentioned came from a poor family in South America. It sounds like she was able to better her entire family’s life–including buying her mother a house and her sister a car. I hope her employers are sleeping better at night.
But come on rich-parents-who-hire-6 figure-nannies–don’t jack up the price and think you’re a better parent. Or that your kid will turn out “better”. Or that your family is more “ideal”. Plus, if enough people pay mucho bucks, you hurt the market for the rest of us “little” people.
Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Author’s Note: Join me every Tuesday or Wednesday for “Moving Mid Pregnancy,” to read about my ongoing search for a new “everything” (from nannies to mom friends to health providers) while pregnant and living in a new city.
Okay, am I just jinxed with sitters or what?
I’m here in LA, trying to get settled. Top of my list: Fia’s care. I found a great preschool thing for her from 9-noon Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I also want some afternoon help, as well as evening help so Phil and I can have a few date nights before baby comes.
My plan is once Little Leroy (working title, not his name) comes, that part-time person can become almost full time. That way I’ll have the flexibility to still do things with Fia separately, baby separately, work freelance, etc. So what I’m really looking for is a nanny. Someone who totally gets the routine, knows the drill without asking, CLEANS UP, etc. (though in light of my sitter controversy, I PROMISE to pack my own diaper bag).
I’ve put out emails on a listserv here for moms to find someone. (I also signed up for sittercity and care.com as well. In one day I got 50 emails and was so overwhelmed I shut it down. I just couldn’t deal).
The first nanny who came showed up 45 minutes late. Here’s how it went:
Doorbell rings. Niceties exchanged.
Me: “Did you have a hard time finding the place?”
Her: “No, not at all.”
Me: “Oh, because I thought we said 2 pm???”
Her: (shrugs nonchalantly): “I got stuck behind a funeral procession.”
Okay, I am not dissing a funeral. But to act so cavalier? I went up to Phil’s office and broke into tears. I know, get a grip, but I went through a lot of angst with sitters in NYC, especially at the end when a new sitter came 30-45 minutes late every time. It is so frustrating. And I just need things to fall into place right now. I just don’t think starting off with the late factor is going to work.
Two days later another nanny comes. I am looking for someone bilingual. I want them to speak mostly Spanish to Fia (and new baby). They also must have a current driver’s license and clean driving record. Whomever I pick, I will do a background check on before sealing any deal.
She arrives right on time. I am hopeful. The mom who recommended her really thought she fit all my criteria. She is upbeat. Fia seems to enjoy her from the get-go. She used to be a housekeeper, so I know she will clean up.
We talk rates. We settle on something for starters that I know is a little higher than what the last mom was paying her. I don’t mind. I’m looking for someone long-term.
We walk into the kitchen. That’s when she says it. “How much you pay in rent?”
I feel myself tense up. I am taken aback. Huh? What? I don’t even ask my best friend that question. Let alone a stranger who I may employ.
“This is a big house,” she says.
I stutter and stammer, then in typical me-form, overexplain. I tell her we’re subletting our place in NYC, and then give her a figure that isn’t accurate. Her English isn’t perfect and as I ramble, I can tell she probably isn’t understanding most of what I say. Which could be good or bad. Granted, there is a cultural barrier here. Maybe this is just one of those things that she didn’t know was inappropriate to ask. But still…. I don’t want someone thinking that we’re people who could afford the moon, etc., based on the different lives we both lead. Or be too interested in my finances.
The rest of her time went smooth, except when Fia fell and bit down on the inside of her lower lip, screaming and bleeding. I could tell she felt really badly. She said Fia just took a step and fell while in her room. I know accidents happen, and that could just as easily have happened on my watch. I think.
I have had her back twice now and so far, there is no other awkward questions. Fia seems to really like her. I am interviewing one more person this weekend and then making my decision.
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Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
I have a job. Actually several. One is this blog. Another is in television. In addition, there’s my job of being a parent. And a wife. And taking care of Wayne Sanchez.
Yet, when it comes to the “professional” jobs, why do I feel judgment from “the other side?” I’m talking about the SAHM (Stay At Home Moms). Not all obviously, but enough to warrant a post on the topic.
On a typical week, I work 40+ hours at my professional jobs. I have sitters for 15 of those hours. Could I have them more? Absolutely. But I like to maximize my time with Fia. I grab other hours during her naptime and at night. In other words, I am just like many of you. Juggling, wearing many hats and trying to find that balance. Yet you can see how quickly I was fed to the wolves at the mere suggestion that perhaps a sitter has faults. And rather than addressing that, I got attacked by a bunch of you for not being with my child all 168 hours of the week.
Why were so many of the comments directed to the fact that I have a sitter? And that I don’t define my life solely based on the birth of my child? Here are some examples:
“…If she actually did it [take care of her child] day in and day out, I’m sure she would consider it a job.”
Oooh, ouch. You can read more of Part 2 to see what I said about that.
“There is always taking care of your own kids…”
“Since it would seem that you just want to fuss about it, sounds like the mom thing may not be your “bag” either.”
But this is my favorite:
“I honestly don’t think anyone should have a “parenting blog” unless they are a stay-at-home-mom/dad. Because only then can they make an entire blog about the day to day life of their kids and what it’s actually like.”
When did this SAHM get so entitled that it is her way or the highway? And that the only perspective on parenthood is from someone who doesn’t work outside the house? Granted this was an extreme comment, but it begs the question: is Parenthood a dictatorship? Is only one person’s parenting style worth hearing? I don’t think so. There are thousands of ways to parent, all with their good and bad points.
In the 200 comments that were posted on this blog and facebook, I never saw one “professional” working woman criticizing the fact that I have a sitter (because frankly, that wasn’t the point of the blog). Yet, there is clearly some bitterness, judgment, maybe resentment?? in some of these comments. And this isn’t the only place. I hear it on playgrounds, in coffee shops, and as you can see–all over the Internet.
I admit, I have it good. I fall between the SAHM and Working Mom. But there are plenty of others who have to work far more taxing hours outside the home. Some by choice, others because they need to feed and clothe their children. And guess what my friends who do it by choice say? It makes them a better MOM. That’s right. It is their way of getting balance and perspective, and space to breathe.
Trust me, I sometimes think that my mom friends who have full time nannies are missing out. And they are on some level. But what might they be gaining in return? And teaching their kids about life? Independence? Not to mention the financial contribution to their household. There’s also self-esteem and confidence to consider.
I guess what I really want to know is why is there such a debate between us? Aren’t we moms members of the biggest club in the world? Aren’t we supposed to be the biggest cheerleaders for each other? Why do we ridicule, judge and jump so quickly to conclusions?
When I had Fia, I made a decision to have help. I knew I would still need a creative outlet. And I guarantee I’m a better parent because of it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
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babysitter, balance, judgment, judgmental moms, nannies, nanny, outside the home, parenting, parenting blog, professional, professional job, sahm, sitter, stay at home mom, working mom, working woman | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read