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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
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Emmett is 18 months. He’s a super active and happy baby. He absolutely loves going to the playground–not only to slide, but to also be around other kids his age. He is definitely a people person. But the thing I’ve found with my second child is that I don’t reach out to moms who have kids his age. I formed my close mom friendships when I had Fia and I actually don’t want to seek out new ones. I love the ones I have. And the person I’m closest with lives nearby. So we always pal around, either with our kids or without.
The other reason I don’t go on more mom playdates with Emmett is I’m often working around both their schedules. She goes to school 3 times a week, so there is pick up and drop off. He naps in the afternoons. On Monday mornings I take Fia to gymnastics. On Wednesday mornings I take Em (this is the class with the neglectful nanny). In other words, I’m juggling too much to have dedicated playdates with Emmett. Plus, this fall it gets even more hectic because Fia is switching to Montessori. Which is a whole other dilemma.
Nevertheless, I have sitters a few days a week for a few hours. When he turns 2, as much as I love my sitters, I think he might enjoy being with kids his own age. Fia’s current preschool allows total flexibility in terms of days and hours. I could enroll him for as few as 2 mornings a week. My pediatrician says she recommends some form of socialization for tots, starting between 18 months and 2 years. Granted, he gets a lot of socialization and stimulation from Fia and her friends. He’s not sitting in a corner all day. But this would be in a semi-structured environment.
It’s a no brainer right? Except, for some ludicrous reason, I have guilt. As in, shouldn’t I be with him? Phil says absolutely not. Do what’s best for him and me. And this is a guy who didn’t go to any preschool– his mom waited until he was 5 for Kindergarten. He’s perfectly social and well adjusted. (Well, sort of.) But I think it was a different time back then. I think there were more stay-at-home moms and preschool was more like daycare. Because the reality is, I’m not with Em every hour of every day anyway. And the reality is he would enjoy it. And I would get my breather.
I guess it’s the perception I’m worried about. I felt judged when I enrolled Fia at 2 years old for 2 mornings a week (though I was hugely pregnant so that alone should have given me a free pass). Judgment by whom, I’m not sure. I just remember over-explaining it to anyone who asked. Which is also stupid since I generally don’t give a sh-t what others think of me.
At any rate, I’m curious to hear from the moms–especially those like me who don’t work full time outside the house, but need a break a few times a week. At this age, do you prefer sitters or preschool? And why? Pros? Cons? Fill me in.
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babysitter, daycare, judgmental moms, mom friends, nanny, play dates, preschool, sitters, socialization, toddler playground, toddler socialization | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Okay, I know I’m not talking world peace here. And I know there are plenty of clueless parents and caretakers who commit far more egregious acts. But I have to vent about this one nanny who drives me crazy at Emmett’s gymnastics class.
First of all, it’s a “baby and me” class. Which means you have to be with your kid the whole time. It’s for tiny tots. Em and I have a blast—he runs from the rings to the mats to the trampoline while I dash behind making sure he doesn’t smash his face or break his nose. Or run into another tot and smash their face and break their nose. The first 15 minutes are free play. Then it’s trampoline time.
One by one each child gets on the trampoline while the caretakers/parents and kids sit on the sidelines and clap an ABC song. It’s not even as annoying as it sounds (unlike music class). It ends with a seat drop and a high-five to Coach Sam. If your kid doesn’t want to sit and wait his/her turn, you just take them to play on the other 51 things available. In other words, participation is not required. However, being present is.
The coach is really good about telling kids who invariably jump out of turn to, “sit down and wait or go play somewhere else.” Parents/nannies are generally really good about jumping in and making sure their kid isn’t being disruptive. Except for “Purple Shirt” nanny. That’s what I will call her. Because today I went to take a picture of Emmett on the trampoline and she ended up in my picture. You can’t see it because I cropped it (though I did debate…), but she is standing there on her phone. The girl is to the right of Emmett jumping up and down.
Notice the other kids are sitting down, waiting for “popcorn.” That’s when the coach bounces them up and down together. You have to be sitting for it. But is this girl? Of course not. Is her nanny telling her to? Nope. She’s too busy doing something incredibly important on her phone. Maybe she’s CIA? Though I doubt it.
From the very first time I saw this woman, she wandered aimlessly on the mat, eyes glued to her iPhone while her then 2-year-old charge ran wild. Before I knew which parents/caretakers went with which kid, I wondered if this tot was here by herself. Which I knew wasn’t possible. But literally the little girl would be on one end and the nanny would be at the other (and it’s a real gym, used for gymnasts. It’s big). That was 6 months ago and it’s never changed.
It continues to astound me that this woman has a job taking care of a kid. I cringe to think what she’s like on the playground. It would be pretty easy to abduct a child when your nose is buried in your phone.
On the trampoline the girl repeatedly kept jumping up and down out of turn. Coach Sam had to keep stopping the other kids to say, “Charlie, sit down. Charlie, sit down or go play,” as Purple Shirt did nothing. Nada. Every other adult holds their child so they can’t just randomly jump out of sequence. Not Purple Shirt. She doesn’t even sit with the kid. She just sits there half smiling, eyes half glazed from looking at her phone, and waits for the coach to get up and physically remove the girl. If I didn’t know better I would think she was blind, deaf, and dumb. Luckily, the coach is very patient and gentle about it, but I can tell even he is annoyed.
Here’s the kicker: when Coach Sam told the girl to go play somewhere else, she did. She jumped off and went running. And Purple Shirt? She stayed at the trampoline with her back to the girl. Head down, eyes on the phone. Maybe she is a spy and solving world peace. But something tells me her phone is just much more important than her job. I can’t imagine the parents are aware. If they were, how could they tolerate this?
And remember: this happens Every. Single. Week. It’s sad and annoying all in one.
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bad nanny, caretaker, gymnastics class, nanny, nanny on cell phone, nanny on iPhone, nanny texting, neglect, neglectful nanny | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, The Sitter Chronicles
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
You know how I feel about the whole EC–Elimination Communication movement. As in potty training your kid from the moment they are born and going to weekly support groups that revolve around talking sh-t. Um, no. Not happening.
So I had to dive into the discussion stemming from an article in Gothamist about publicly defecating. On purpose. We’re not talking about a homeless person down on their luck either.
The snapshot is of a little boy on one of those porta potties for kids. He is sitting on it outside, at, ya ready for this? A cafe. Specifically Pier 1 cafe that overlooks the Hudson River. Diners eat while he poops. I have never….
Now I know kids have little bladders and if you are in a park without a bathroom or something, having one of those porta potties can be handy. Especially because you can keep it in your car and your kid can use it. In Your Car. In Private. But at a restaurant? Where there is a bathroom?
The nanny was apparently with the kid. But honestly, this must fall on the parents. I can only assume they made her take this thing everywhere. I am also making the assumption that they are entitled and uptight. Because this is what the latest breed of entitled, uptight parents do. I can just hear it, “We can’t let anything interrupt little Johnny’s poo.”
I mean, come on you guys, tell me you agree on this. Tell me this is extreme parenting at the sh-ttiest level.
Please note: Parents changed the comments section on all the blogs and you can only post a comment via Facebook. Scroll down to the end of this post and you will see the Facebook icon. Thanks!
Pic of boy via Shutterstock
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elimination communication, kid porta potty, nanny, porta potties, toddler pooping, Upper West Side | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
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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babysitter, exhaustion, guilt, hyperactive, mom guilt, nanny, playdate, potty training, stress, toddler boys, zoo | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips