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Mommy Zombie

When I was on maternity leave and Grey was a few weeks old, I ran out to the grocery store one morning. The only people grocery shopping during the day in the middle of the week are old people and stay-at-home moms. It was a completely different crowd than I was used to seeing. I watched this mother trying to get her three kids and her groceries into the car. She was in sweats and she was definitely not showered. Her blonde hair was half pulled back, half hanging in her face. She had dark, black circles under her eyes and she may or may not have been crying. She looked like a mommy zombie straight out of a parenthood horror movie. Grey was sleeping quietly in his car seat in my cart. We met eyes and she gave me this look like, “Enjoy it while it lasts. Just wait until you are outnumbered and they are throwing tantrums and hitting each other and screaming in the aisles.” At that moment, I vowed to give myself some time before having more children. Maybe a lot of time. Come to think of it, maybe Grey will be an only child.

So last week, while I was visiting my mother for a few days, we were heading out to meet my sister for lunch. If you have a toddler, you know that attempting to stuff them into their winter gear is a full on fight that lasts at least three rounds: 1) coat that consists of an inner and outer layer, 2) bunchy sleeves and chunky mittens, 3) hat with a Velcro chin strap. She watched and laughed as I challenged Grey to a little winter coat wrestling match.

“What’s crazy,” I mentioned to her, “is by the time he is old enough to put his coat on by himself and be a little but more independent, I’m going to have to start all over with baby #2.”

And do you want to know what her response was?! She said I should just have another baby now. Her ingenious solution to the fact that I was struggling and exhausted was to double my work. Somehow, that just doesn’t add up to me. She continued on to tell me that she had three kids under age five at one time (as if I didn’t know this already…) and that at the time, she figured if she was going to be home with one she might as well be home with three.

A small part of me can understand this logic, but I have to say, I’m just not ready to do that to myself. We are starting to sleep through the night consistently and Grey’s weaning off formula. Thank GOD – that shit is expensive. I’m going to let myself enjoy that for a while before I ruin it by bringing another little bundle of responsibility into this already busy family. And most importantly, I’m totally not ready to give up alcohol and caffeine for another 14 months straight.
And you know what’s even crazier? She’s not the only person to ask when we were planning for a second child or to suggest we give Grey a sibling. First of all, family planning isn’t really a topic I bring up with people. It’s almost like asking a couple who’s been dating for four years when they are getting married. It’s awkward and pressuring. Maybe the way to handle questions that we think are too personal is to give an answer that’s a little too personal. If I was the girlfriend in a long relationship and someone asked me when we were getting married, maybe I’d respond with something like, “Actually, we hate each other. The only reason we are still dating is because we live together but as soon as our lease is up, I’d dumping this douche bag.” Similarly, I’ve been working on a response for the next time someone asks me about baby #2. I think I’ll say, “Ugh, a post-baby body is such a drag. I can’t imagine dealing with leaking breasts, at least six weeks of bleeding, and absolutely zero bladder control again right now. Besides, I really enjoy drinking wine and we’ve finally reestablished a sex life now that Grey is sleeping better, so I think we are going to wait a few more years. ” That should shut them up.

While I love my mother, I am going to have to disregard her suggestion to have another baby right now. I know a lot of people endorse popping them out one after another, but I am adjusting to motherhood slowly. Plus, I’m still having occasional nightmares about the woman I ran into at the grocery store. I need a few more years to forget her haunting face before I can risk becoming a mommy zombie myself….

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Train ‘Em Young

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I figure, if we start training him now, he’ll actually be able to help mow the lawn in about… 10 years.

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Family “Vacation”

Tonight, I got home from “vacation” and I feel like I need a vacation. The family that I nanny for was off this week, so Greyson and I had a few days to ourselves. Unfortunately, Matt had to travel for work, so the baby and I were on our own. I decided to head to my mom’s house for the week for a little relaxing vacation to visit with the family. I learned two things. First of all, visiting with your family is not exactly vacation. (No offense…. I love you guys…. But you’re crazy). Secondly, there is nothing relaxing about traveling with a baby, especially without your husband.

Matt’s flight out was scheduled for 6:00am Monday, so I figured Greyson and I would head off to my mom’s sometime mid-morning. I didn’t want to plan too meticulously so that I wouldn’t be stressed about getting out of the house at any particular time. We’d get up, take our time, and go. It sounded simple enough…

I literally started getting ready when Grey woke up around 5:45am. The next thing I can remember is sitting behind the driver’s wheel, sweating and cursing. What the hell just happened? It’s 10:00am – Seriously? Where did the last four hours just go? It was a blur. It would take way too much time to tell you the details of what went down during that four hours but I’ll try to give you a shortened version. It went something like this: me running sprints through my house, throwing clothes around, dragging suitcases through the snow, herding Greyson and the dog into the car, wiping tears (both my own and the baby’s). It’s a miracle that we made it out of the house. Finally, the dog was dropped off at the vet and Grey was resting in his car seat. I was on the thruway. I was also ready to fall asleep at the wheel. THIS is “vacation?”

Staying with my mom while my husband was out of town sounded like a really good idea. I wouldn’t be alone all week and I’d have someone to help me with the baby. What I forgot about when I made these plans is that while my mother is amazing and loving, she is mostly insane. In a good way. I have a baby who is extremely scared of most people, but he absolutely loves this woman. For good reason, obviously. I mean, she makes wild faces and funny noises. She’s completely embarrassing in public. She talks way too loud when she’s on the phone. She stomps around in her New Balance sneakers and yells at her dog when she barks too much. I mean, she’s hilarious. What’s not to love? The only way I can explain her is over-the-top extreme and usually close to overdosing on Diet Pepsi.  She’s the kind of mother who is generous to the point where if you mentioned you liked her coat, she’d remove it and insist you take it. I’m pretty sure I have never seen her eat an entire meal, but she has a kitchen full of food and will force you to eat as much as possible and take the leftovers home. I spent three days at her house and gained four pounds. Thanks, mom. But all in all, I know she’d do anything for me. Spending three days with her was the precise combination of wonderful and exhausting.

Besides trying to pack the 123,890 items a child needs while on vacation and enduring the madness that is my mother, I realized that another challenge of traveling is spending time in other peoples’ houses. Houses that are not baby-proofed. Looking back, like most foolish first time parents, I remember saying that I wouldn’t let our home become overcome by toys when Greyson was mobile. I remember saying that I wasn’t going to get rid of every dangerous thing in the house – I would simply teach him not to touch it. Well, let me give it to you straight. When your kid starts getting into everything, you will plant toys all over your house to try to distract him opening the doors of the fireplace and pulling picture frames off your shelves. You will lock everything possible –cabinets, toilets. You will move the garbage can into the pantry. Maybe you will even replace your coffee table with a play mat. If you are like me, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep your kid from trashing the place. Unfortunately, when you go to other people’s homes, they are not prepared for the kind of damage that a 25lb one year old can do in a very short amount of time. At my mother’s house, Grey emptied every single one of her kitchen cabinets about 47 times. He managed to put teeth marks in the wood on her piano. He even took a shit on her bathroom floor before tubby time. When we walked into my dad’s house, Grey immediately went straight for the fire burning in the fireplace, managed to get stuck in the Chihuahua’s dog crate, and shredded every magazine on the coffee table. A toddler can ruin things in your house that you didn’t even know you owned. It’s impressive, really. After chasing Grey around other people’s houses for several days, I was ready to get back to our baby-proofed place.

While my week was extremely busy and a little bit stressful, I have to say that it was awesome to be able to spend some quality time with the fam. As we headed back home, Grey slept peacefully in his car seat. Apparently all the action tired him out as well. Next time I go to visit my family, I will remember that the most relaxing part of vacation will be the quiet drive home.

 

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Junk in the Trunk

 

Junk in the Trunk... Literally.

Junk in the Trunk… Literally.

 

Even before having a child, the only place I’d describe myself as organized, punctual, and put-together would be a job interview. Let me try to explain. I’m a little bit of a procrastinator – what can I say, I work best under pressure. While I am not perpetually late, I am usually a few minutes behind schedule. I like things to be clean and sterilized, but I don’t mind a mess. I won’t leave the sink full of dirty dishes, but I don’t care if every coffee cup I own is sitting in the drying rack. I hate when my floors are dirty, but I don’t give a damn if Greyson’s toys are all over the place. I will do all the laundry, but I’d never fold a single shirt if I could avoid it. What’s the point of putting all your laundry away when you can just grab a pair of jeans from the clean laundry basket? I like to prioritize my time. I’m just saving myself the extra step of moving clean crap from one place to another.

Clearly, having a baby did not improve my messy ways. I’m the kind of mother that while I always have everything I need in the diaper bag, it’s just shoved in there in no particular order. I once met this mom that had all of her stuff in Tupperware containers and plastic bags in her diaper bag. Everything was in the proper zipped compartments. Even the bottles had labels that she had custom ordered online, which I bought, I will confess. I’m trying! I want to be organized….but when it comes down to it, it’s just too much work to keep up this crazy compulsive facade.

Fortunately and unfortunately, my husband is the exact opposite of me. He’s not so much into the sterilizing, but he likes everything to be in it’s place. I’m not sure if he’s ever cleaned a toilet, but he can line up Greyson’s toys by size and color with his eyes closed. I swear, this man can wash, iron, and fold clothing as if he owned a laundromat and a dry cleaner in a former life. We really try to respect each others preferences, but I can’t say we haven’t had a “discussion” or two on this topic in the past. And so, because I believe in give and take, I really try to make an effort to pick up after myself around the house. I no longer throw my clothes on the floor or leave piles of miscellaneous stuff on the stairs rather than just taking it up right away. BUT, with that being said…..

Have you ever noticed the phenomenon where the teacher says your child is perfectly behaved and polite at school, yet the minute you get home it’s like they become a possessed, wild, back-talking maniac? At your parent-teacher conferences, you have to make sure she was talking about the right kid – did she say quiet and respectful? Because at home, your child is an animal.

I truly believe this happens because everyone needs a venue to let loose. You can only behave for so long until you have to let go a little bit. Its unrealistic to expect children to behave all the time – and the same goes for mothers. This brings us to my “junk in the trunk.”

For my husband’s sake, I try to keep some order in our house. But in the one place that is totally my own – my car – I can let my junk hang out. Coffee cups, plastic bags, receipts, loose change, and clothes, that is. You name it, I have it in my car. My backseat is like a hoarder’s dream. There is just tons of random crap laying around that I am too lazy to throw out or bring inside. There is literally so much stuff in my car that I could unload it onto the lawn and host a yard sale. One time, I was turning in a leased car and instead of using that as an excuse to clean it out, I just moved all the shit into the new car right there at the dealership. You should have seen the look on the salesman face. It’s alsmot like I didn’t want to get rid of the mess. I secretly look forward to jumping into my four door home where no one tells me that my stuff should be organized into perfectly labeled totes that stack nicely in the trunk.

While some days, I wish I had it in me to be the overly prepared and always punctual mom, I’ve decided that being perfect would be really boring. I totally love that my house is so organized (thanks to my husband), but I will always have a special place in my heart for the junk in my trunk.

 

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Shopping for Essentials: Diapers and Beer

Good thing both these items fit into my cart, otherwise I'd be forced to ditch the diapers.

Good thing both these items fit into my cart, otherwise I’d be forced to ditch the diapers.

 

 

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Hallmark Hell

Not be to negative, but I’m just going to say that whether you are married, dating, or single, Valentine’s Day is fraud. I mean, seriously, what the hell is the history behind Valentine’s Day? Is it bad to admit that I don’t know? I just considered Googling it, but realized that I don’t care. It’s a holiday that Hallmark created solely because sales dipped after Christmas and the next major event is Mother’s Day. They needed something to keep the company afloat from January to May. The overall outcome of Valentine’s Day is single women feeling depressed that they aren’t married and married women feeling depressed that their husbands wasted $80 on half-dead, grocery store roses that they picked up on their way home from work. If they remembered at all, that is. And if you need any more of reason to hate the holiday, I will mention that grown women don’t like stuffed animals and conversation hearts don’t even taste good. So there.

Unfortunately, I feel peer-pressured to participate. So, this afternoon, I realized that I had nothing planned and only about two hours until my husband got home from work to cook something up. It was too late in the game to send something to his office, so I’d have to come up with something else. I figured I’d swing in to the grocery store on the way home and pick up a nice heart-felt card and some cookies to leave out for him in the morning before work. Simple, but thoughtful. I pulled into the parking lot and searched for a spot. It was oddly crowded for a Wednesday evening. I should have known, right then and there, the shit show that I was about to endure. However, in previous years, I would have been more prepared for events like this and wouldn’t be trying to throw something together last minute. During my third lap around the lot, I seriously considered taking advantage of the “Expectant Mother Parking Spot.” I was wearing a bulky coat. I could pull it off. I have a baby with me – isn’t that reason enough to let me park two feet from the door? Enjoy it while it lasts, pregnant ladies. Once you pop the kid out, you can say goodbye to any special treatment.

I ended up parking about three miles from the door. I hauled Greyson inside with me and headed straight for cards. I was greeted by Hallmark Hell. Every husband in the universe was jam packed in that aisle. I was literally the only woman – not to mention the only person with a baby – in that aisle. I looked like such a slacker-wife, standing among all these last-minute men browsing through cheesy cards. The only thing worse than cheesy cards is picked-over cheesy cards. And on top of all of that, I had an impatient one-year-old screaming and reaching for the tacky teddy bears that I despise so much. I stood there, pushing the cart back and forth, yelling “vroooom” to Greyson to keep him occupied while trying to read a few cards and choose something meaningful. I got a lot of dirty looks from the men around me – since I was clearly in their way – and I had to hold my tongue from telling them that maybe they should try taking their kids out alone more often. I grabbed a card without reading it and made my way for the door.

When I got home, unloaded the car, and got Grey inside, I took a deep breath. Shopping with a child should be considered an Olympic sport. I finally took a second to read the card that I had grabbed and realized that it was covered in conversation hearts that all said “Love you.”  After all that, I picked a card featuring the candies that don’t even taste good. Maybe next year, I’ll go all out and buy the tacky teddy bear, too.

 

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You Know You Want To…..

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Birthday Suit

Nothing better than having your birthday dinner in your birthday suit.

Nothing better than having your birthday dinner in your birthday suit.

 

 

 

Bittersweet Birthday

In February of 2010, I would have described myself as a career-driven woman. I was working as the Curriculum Specialist for two locations of a Children’s Center in our area. I felt like I was finding a groove in my career, working in a managerial position and making decent money. I was interviewing for a promotion to become the Center Director of a new location that was set to open later in 2010. I was finally reaching a respectable point in my career and it felt good. I was also a newly-wed, six months into marriage. My husband and I were selfish – not in a negative way – but we didn’t have children and we were indulging in things that childless people do. Like going out, smoking cigarettes, and spending money on nice dinners and expensive cab rides home from the city after too many cocktails at trendy bars. My hobbies in 2010 included sleeping in on the weekends and running. My husband and I were training for a half-marathon in our spare time (somewhere between the drinking and the smoking… impressive, now that I think about it….) And we definitely took all of that free time for granted.

In February of 2011, I had been in my new position as Center Director for six months. It was going well, but it was definitely more responsibility than I had expected. I was working late in the evenings hosting staff meetings and center events. I was taking work home on the weekends to catch up. It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it. My husband and I had been married for a year and a half and we were hoping for a baby. In February of 2011, I took the first pregnancy test that I actually hoped was positive. Now that is a mind-blowing moment. You spend the majority of your adolescence trying to avoid pregnancy and then all of a sudden you are hoping for the opposite. Kind of. I remember taking that test and waiting FOREVER (which was actually two minutes) for the result. It was negative. I was disappointed. And relieved. I wanted to have a family but I wasn’t totally ready. Thank God for a few months of negative tests to ease into the idea of a baby.

In February 2012, I was pregnant. Very pregnant and very large. In general, I would have described myself as slow and tired. I can remember vividly that the challenging part of my day was walking my heavy and lopsided self from my office chair to the bathroom and back. I was still working long hours and hoping that the activity would put me into labor to end this insane ordeal. I missed being one person. I missed drinking coffee. I missed seeing my feet. I couldn’t wait to meet my son. I remember my last day at work like it was yesterday. I worked a full day and headed home around 5:30. I felt like I was having chest pains all day. When I got home, I vomited twice. I was convinced I had the stomach flu. FYI – when you are 40 weeks pregnant and vomiting, you are in labor. It’s not the stomach flu. When Greyson finally arrived two days later, I knew things were about to change. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to leave him and go back to work. I was overwhelmed, but I knew that I loved him.

February 2013. I cannot believe that my baby is turning one tomorrow and it feels so bittersweet. He’s not even a baby anymore. He’s walking and talking. He’s like a small person with little opinions and preferences. It’s incredible how much a baby changes in one year. And as for myself – I am a completely different person. It’s amazing how much I have changed in one year as well. Three years ago, I was striving to advance in my career in education and I spent the majority of my time at work. Nowadays, I’d describe myself as a mother and a writer. I spend my time playing with toys, changing diapers, and then blogging about it. And I love it. Motherhood is more challenging, more tiring, and more rewarding than any other career I could have ever imagined. Tonight, I will throw myself a little birthday party to celebrate the fact that I have survived the first year of parenting. Cheers to that. Now, we have the terrible twos and toddler tantrums to look forward to…

 

 

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Mommy needs a nap.

Someone once told me, when you are exhausted, you should sleep when the baby sleeps. Considering it’s been a hellish week, Matt’s been traveling and Grey has been up at 4:45am every day , I thought I’d give that a whirl this afternoon. Here’s what went through my head as I laid there, feeling guilty for not being productive:

This couch is uncomfortable. I wish I had a pillow. And a blanket. It’s cold in here. I wonder if I should turn the heat up. I wonder if the baby is cold. I am going to grab a blanket. (30 seconds pass…) I’m still cold. I need another blanket. OK. That’s better. I wonder how long the baby will sleep. Is it worth to keep trying to fall asleep? Ooo – what’s that on TV? Oh, that looks like a good episode. I should remember to DVR that. Oh yeah, the DVR list is full. I should delete some shows. I should be watching my shows right now so that I can delete them. I should turn the TV off so that I can fall asleep. What was that noise? The washer? Shit. I have to switch the laundry. I should do that so it’s dry when I wake up so that I can get it folded before hubby gets home. Nah. Too warm under these blankets to get up. The neighbor’s dog is barking. Surprise, surprise. That is totally going to wake the baby. Is that my stomach growling? When was the last time I ate today? I’m hungry. I should go eat lunch before the baby gets up. There is literally no food in the house though. I should go grocery shopping this afternoon. Actually, the weather is supposed to get pretty bad this afternoon. I wonder if our sitter is going to cancel tonight if the weather gets bad. I hope we have enough diapers and formula in the house in case the weather gets really bad. I should put on the weather channel or check the news online. Hmm, while I’m online, I should peek at Twitter quickly. And my e-mail. I think I hear the baby rolling around. Where is the monitor? Battery is dying. I should plug it in so I can hear him. I’m pretty thirsty. I need a sip of water. I have to pee. I should just hold it. If I get up, I’m going to wake him up. OMG. Is that the neighbor’s dog, again?? For God’s sake, let that damn dog inside. Shit, it’s already 1:30. He’s going to be up any time now. This is so pointless to try to nap. I probably shouldn’t have had that large coffee this morning and I’d be able to sleep right now. Maybe if I didn’t have that last glass of wine last night I wouldn’t be so tired. Nah. I’d still be tired. I hope the baby starts sleeping through the night again soon. I need a full night’s sleep so badly. I really need a nap. I wish I could nap. I can’t sleep. I should get up. Does this happen to everyone? I should write a blog about this before the baby gets up.

So what have I learned this afternoon? Trying to nap while the baby naps is stressful and a major waste of precious alone time. It’d be way more enjoyable to watch my shows on the DVR list so I that can delete them. That was on my to-do list, right? See – I am getting things done already. Oh yeah, and maybe I’ll fold that load of laundry during the commercial breaks so I can tell my husband I was productive. More coffee, anyone?

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