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.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations | Tags: daycare, full time help, guilt, guilty, infant, milestone, milestone monday, milestones, mom guilt, nanny, newborn, night nurse, playdate, quality time, sahm, Sesame Street, Super Why, tv, working moms
Friday, August 3rd, 2012
From almost birth, Fia spent the first 18 months with her friend Teddy. I wrote about how Courtney (Teddy’s mom) and I first connected back in Brooklyn, bonding over
tortured writer husbands, sleep deprivation, and baby barf. When I moved to LA, she was the only person I cried over when saying goodbye.
Fast forward to July. In a crazy twist of fate, Courtney’s husband’s TV show got picked up and they moved to LA. I couldn’t believe my luck. Naturally, they found a house 2 miles away from us. Teddy will go to Fia’s preschool. Courtney’s main priority was being close to me. We are now seasoned screenwriter wives (Courtney is basically a “TV widow”) and know what the long hours entail.
Side note: We joke that it’s like being married to the Secretary of State. They can be called at all hours and often have to hop on planes or go into a studio at a moments notice. In fact, I never even wrote about this, but Phil had to leave me a day after Emmett was born and crank out a script for 2 days with a figurative gun to his head. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t have a name for so long. It’s not world peace on the line, but in Hollywood they think it is. Or at least the drama seems just as great.
Anyway, back to memory. Courtney and I wondered if our babies—now toddlers—would remember each other. A third of their life had passed since they had been together.
I told Fia that Teddy was coming over. I asked if she remembered him. “Yes, and Courtney too,” she said. I wondered if that was just a good guess? Or if she had heard me saying Courtney’s name?
She was so excited about Teddy’s arrival she sat on the front steps waiting for him. Out of the car he came. They ran up to each other and hugged. I swear it was a scene from “Sweet Home Alabama,” where Reese Witherspoon sees her childhood love Josh Lucas. That is, if Reese and Josh were toddlers.
It really did seem like Fia and Teddy remembered each other. Is that possible? They’ve been apart from 18 months to 2 years 7 months. According to an article in Parents, the answer is yes and no. And gets too complex for this blog, though it’s interesting, like, ie.. left-handers seem to remember earlier than right-handers.
On a non-scientific note though, this got me thinking what my earliest memory is/was. I have fuzzy/hazy memories of scenes. And I remember distinctly at the age of 7 having a near nervous breakdown when I thought a snapping turtle was after me in a lake. But specific memories? Not so much.
Do any of you have a memory bank back to those toddler years? I know the first few years shape us immensely. Knowing you were safe and loved are factors that affect you the rest of your life. But the memories themselves seem hard to conjure up. At least for me. Will be curious on your thoughts.
At Preschool Together
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read | Tags: animal practice, hollywood, memories, memory, memory lane, mom friends, movies, nbc, preschool, screenwriters, Secretary of State, toddler memories, tv
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
We haven’t had television for a week. Internet is about to be disconnected. I feel like Laura Ingalls. Or, since we have running water and electricity, perhaps a better analogy is a squatter. We’ve been camping out in a nearly empty apartment for days now.
The upside to this is without the televison, I think we are starting to break the Sesame Street Addiction. Usually we put her in her high chair to eat and she immediately says “Waatchhh” (heavy emphasis on the “ch”.) I point to the spot where the TV was and say, “Baby, there isn’t a TV there anymore.” Now Fia runs a tough bargain. She knows I’m telling her the truth, but still doesn’t like it, so she starts to fake wail, as if I’m strangling Ernie before her very eyes. This is where my circus performance kicks in (just wrote about it). I’ll try anything to distract her and I’m finding usually it works. The price I pay is sheer exhaustion from it all. But I think this is good. She can’t always associate eating with Elmo, right?
There was a recent study just published about allowing children under 2 watch TV. The American Academy of Pediatricians has stated that no benefits have been found. Maybe that’s true. Maybe Fia would have learned to count to 12 (in English and Spanish) and recite the ABC song from us reading more books to her. But she has learned those things from her fuzzy furry friends like Elmo and Oscar. And I don’t begrudge them, or myself for it. Sometimes I need a break. Or the easy way out. Call me a weak mom. Or a realistic one.
This doesn’t mean I’m proud of her TV addiction, especially when it comes to mealtimes. But I don’t think I’m causing life long problems either. Sometimes the path of least resistance makes sense. To a point.
We have to stay in a hotel for a few nights in LA while our house is getting ready. I know she’ll see the tv and try and hold out for Sesame. But I’m going to try my best to stick to my guns. And once we’re in the new house, I plan on feeding her as much as possible outside in her highchair. I am hoping all the scenery that nature provides will trump her favorite furry friends. Stay tuned!
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read | Tags: eating, food, food dilemma, internet addiction, moving, moving to LA, sesame, Sesame Street, sesame street addiction, television, tv, tv addiction
Friday, June 17th, 2011
Okay, what the f–k is the deal with Elmo?
I’ve put on television before. Besides our mutual love of Lee Goldberg, she really has shown no interest in it. But then, a few weeks ago, I decided to put on Sesame Street. Within seconds I had a full-fledged addict on my hands. I used to have to drag her outside to get away from Wayne Sanchez. She became obsessed with his tail and he in turn, became obsessed with using his claws….on her. Now I have to leave because of that furry red thing. She’ll stand there pointing, begging for me to turn on the TV. She’ll whine, then wail, then flop on the floor kicking. I try to distract her with books, toys, even Wayne. Nothing works. Not only that, but now every word in her vocabulary is replaced with that annoying four letter one. She just learned “elbow.” I kept hoping she was just practicing that. But who points to a turned off TV, shrieks and flails because of a body part?
Now if this were a character created by Disney, I would absolutely insist there is some sort of creepy conspiracy. However, it’s PBS. Nevertheless, there are surely conspiracy theorists out there who think Elmo is programmed deep inside the US government to make our children, well, I don’t know. Something. Because this addiction is just downright weird.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Must Read | Tags: addiction, addiction to television. toddler addiction, baby, Big Bird, characters, conspiracy, Disney, eat, eating, Elmo, Intervention, Lee Goldberg, New York Times, Sesame Street, Sesame Street characters, television, time, toddler, tv, tv addiction