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Monday, June 30th, 2014
I feel like I’ve lived a million lives in my one life, though motherhood is hands down my most fulfilling chapter. It’s the chapter that won’t end–it will just expand into more page turns. It’s the chapter that thank god will see me to the end and still leave me wishing for more. Kids are unquenchable and insatiable and while it’s the toughest job, the cliché is true: It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.
I am still amazed that until I turned 39 I didn’t want kids. Hell, even during my pregnancy I spent many a therapy session worried I would love my cat more than my kid. Luckily Mother Nature made that impossible.
But after almost four years of writing here, I am feeling the need for a change. Now Fia is 4 1/2 and Emmett is 2 1/2 and in terms of the early years, I feel like I am over the biggest hurdles: the dilemmas to circumcise, to take antidepressants, to have or not have a night nurse or a nanny, to sleep train (though I do now admit I love to sleep with Fia, especially when Phil is out of town), to do preschool, to travel, to work.
As a writer, you want to stop before your well runs dry. My guest blogger, Joe Deprospero stepped in last year when I was nearly on empty. He wrote posts at least once a week that basically helped keep my blog afloat. He’s been a lot of fun to work with and I’m thankful for his energy and passion as a dad in the “mommy” space. You can continue to find his work under the Parents Perspective banner.
For me, I think it’s time to focus on different writing: I want to finally tackle the memoir of my own childhood. I want to process my own mother’s demons that took her from the most extraordinary mom to the most tragic. I want to explore how I feel about her in relation to my own incredible journey of motherhood. It’s something that at times feels impossible to reconcile. Maybe I can’t. But I need to honor the memories I have and give it the time it deserves to write the book and see where I end up.
What’s been incredible since I began my journey into this unchartered “Mom” territory is that I’ve been able to chronicle so much of it here on my blog. I’ve been able to give a voice to my demons, my dilemmas, and the many revelations that have hit me in the stomach and knocked me to my knees. I’ve also been able to forgive myself for some of my more stupid decisions, simply because you have let me know I’m not alone in my mom-mush brain (I think the worst lapse in judgment was when I bought the $400 of meat from a door-to-door salesman. You all helped me through that since Phil was barely speaking to me).
I have also had to stomach the storm some of my more controversial posts have created. At times my opinions have changed due to what you, my readers, have pointed out. Other times it’s made me angrier for feeling judged and misunderstood. But there’s no denying it helped me realize that when you enter the realm of “mommy blogger” your skin better be thick.
I’ve also realized how amazing this new world is–we all have a voice and have the right to express it. Whether or not I agree with the opinions, it’s clear we are all passionate about our children and the way we are raising them. And that passion comes from a place of deep love and caring.
So thank you readers for pushing me to think beyond my comfort zone, for inspiring me to keep writing, for laughing with me at some of my more ridiculous posts and for being passionate parents who are inevitably raising passionate kids.
You can email me through my website at www.jillcordes.com or on my Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @fearlessmama.
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antidepressants, career, memoir, mommy blogger, motherhood, nanny, night nurse, passionate parenting, sleep train, therapy | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Any preconceived notions I had about raising gender-neutral kids went out the window when I had a boy. While Fia has always been a girl with an adventurous, tomboy spirit, she has also had this soft, ethereal and empathetic way about her. Butterflies land on her. The cat loves her.
Cut to Emmett who any day now is going to fall off this banquette and land on his face. Our first ER visit was last weekend. I’m shocked it took this long.
Em bulldozed into the world with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a pointy elf-like ear, and a grin that said, “Hey, Mama, you ready for me? Because it’s going to be a wild ride.”
(Pictured here with Phil’s mom)
As he grew, his ear lobe straightened out, but his hair became covered in crazy curls (unlike Phil and I, who have straight hair). And the more the curls came in, the wilder he got. At 5 months we called him Thumper because he would thump his legs up and down in the crib or on the changing table, giggling all the while. My pediatrician declared him the most active child she’s ever seen.
He is also about the happiest child ever and does have a side that will sit still and page through books for 20-30 minutes at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reads by 3. He is also super cuddly and sweet. He’s not a hitter or a grabber. But because he’s more curious than a cat (who only has 9 lives), we are on constant deathwatch. The other morning I turned my back for 10 seconds to help Fia. Em was gone. I found him standing on top of the toilet tank pounding at the window. Our house is quickly becoming a prison, where we are the guards and he is the inmate trying to outsmart us in his escape.
This is why we decided as soon as he turned two, we would put him in preschool. We asked ourselves what is he going to enjoy more? Being with a sitter twice a week or running errands with me (he crawled into the dryer at Sears last week)–or in a structured, safe environment where he can learn and play with other kids? The answer is obvious. Of course I had the usual mom guilt–for about 3 seconds.
Today is his first day and I think he is as thrilled as we are. The director has been sending me pictures and text updates, “Emmett is doing fabulous. He sat through circle time beautifully, he ate ALL his oatmeal and is loving yard play with his new friends.”
I, too, am doing fabulous. I’m sitting across the street from his preschool catching up on my life, writing, and breathing a big sigh of relief. The boy is happy and safe. And I’m free. In another 2 hours I’ll be ready to grab him back and kiss those curls. Until then, his new friends and teachers can.
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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