30-40 Yr Old Women & Our Lonesome Lives- It’s Not Our Fault

When I was younger, people in their 30’s seemed ancient. Boring. Out of touch. Out of style and I don’t know… MOM LIKE. Maybe it was the 80’s, but if you were a mom then, no one seemed to bat an eye at the gallons of kool aid you were consuming, appeared to pay little attention to waxing their nether regions before hitting the beach, and they just seemed exhausted all the time.

All of a sudden, I’ve found myself the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz, and instead of waking up in Oz, I woke up in my mid-thirties wondering what the hell happened because I had turned into one of those thirty something exhausted moms. Full disclaimer- I have a special bathing suit for those impromptu beach days where I can’t pack all the lunches, beach towels, drinks and bags and then take the time to tend to anything bellow. This bathing suit is nicknamed my “mom suit”. Full coverage. Super sexy.

This girl literally used to be me. Except I was probably double fisting two beers at the time.

Actually let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be hanging out with that dude to the right with the face paint and wig.  WAIT,- wait, I take that back. Wig guy may have been crucial to my beer supply at this point, purchasing cocktails for me, so this scenario is completely possible..but I digress.

{Word of advice to the boys I’m raising who will one day find themselves in this situation: don’t buy a girl a drink unless its a sure thing… 99% of the time, you’ll waste your money on cocktails like this clown shown here  only to be thanked with a handshake while the girl moves onto the guy she’s been eyeing across the bar for the past hour.} I’ve seen it done a million times, and as a poor college student, I confess to this using this stunt once or twice myself  as well. Don’t waste your money on dumb girls, no matter how hot they are. Use it for college text books.  You’ll thank me later in life when you have a lucrative career and a beautiful wife.}

I’ve danced on bar tops. My girlfriends and I have worn backless tee shirts and low-cut jeans and way too much make up with cheap boxed dyed hair.  We’ve gone out to bars with $3 in our pocket and all returned home with a full belly booze.  We were on a first name basis with the police officer at our local bar and would occasionally be able to grab a ride home from him from time to time to save our tired feet from walking the few blocks to our DC apartment, probably peppering him with ridiculous drunk inappropriate questions the entire time.  I’ve had my share of fun.

Truth be told, I actually once got pulled over in front of the most popular bar in college just at closing time for turning right on a red light near the Capitol. It was 3am and I was picking up my friends from the bar after a night of studying. I had no make up on and was literally wearing my pajamas. I completed and successfully passed a sobriety test directly in front of the bar, as every one of my entire college class drunkenly emptied the bar, laughing and pointing.

At this point, this is typically how I feel when I go out. I HAVE TURNED INTO A MOM.

And most nights, I’ve got one foot in the door to this scenario:

What happened to the “cool me”? It’s gotta be in there somewhere. Actually, I know it is.  The problem now, is that I have two adorable little munsters to take care of, and my social life has dwindled down to about the excitement Blanche Devereaux- actually who I am kidding. I’m more of a Dorothy Zbornak.

There’s an epidemic out there. This effects all women in their 30’s. & 40’s  The problem is two-fold.  For those who have children, there seems never to be a free night to escape for a “girls night” or “girls trip”.  On those rare occasions, I’m always worried about drinking too much, because everyone knows that being woken up at 6am by a fueled filled toddler demanding TV, breakfast and to construct a puzzle all before 6:30 am with a hangover is nobody’s party.

I’ve polled my fiends who do not have children, and while they may not be getting a 6am wake up call, they are surrounded by friends who used to be their go-to-gal, who are now consumed with their family and children responsibilities.  It’s a shock,  and leaves both parties feeling very lonely to be honest.  The women with kids feel locked inside their houses, and so do the non parent women, because they’ve lost their friends who they used to go out with.  As  a parent, unfortunately I have to decline a lot of invites simply because I don’t have a sitter, I’m exhausted from working full-time, breaking up toddler fights, dont have enough time to get ready, or may not want to participate in the proposed event.  Dancing at a club until 2am? Girl, first of all, I own 1763 pairs of yoga pants, have nothing to wear and your proposed depart time is typically my bedtime, please dont take it personally!  My financial situation has changed too between diapers, wipes, prescription medication for random “viruses” these kids get and daycare/pre-school tuition, even if I could go, I’d have to sneak my own flask in my purse because this mama cannot afford $12 cocktails.

It’s frustrating; and I can see if from both sides. 

Making new friends is not much easier. I feel like I am on some dating site. I recently messaged a mom I know from daycare and literally said “You seem cool…our kids get along… do you want to hang out sometime?”  Talk about awkward.  This is what my life has come to.

I recently had an old friend call me out of the blue to see what I was up to that evening. She doesn’t have kids, knew my husband had planed a night out and simply said “I’m coming over with a bottle of wine tonight after the kids go to sleep I know you can’t get out of the house but we are going to HANG OUT.”  She had no idea what this meant to me. It was so good catching up with her and having a nice “girl’s night” even if it was at home.

I’m going to start making an effort to make more plans, invite people over and actually DO SOMETHING.  My same girlfriend who came over with wine just talked to me about a weekend away… and I’m seriously considering it.  After years of sitting at home alone, I deserve some alone time WITH OTHER ADULTS.

(Gramma, Gigi, Dear Husband…. any weekend work for you for me to run away for the weekend???) I love my family and children more than anything, but mama needs a much deserved break!Mom Vacation

 

 

 

10 Life Lessons I Want My Children To Learn

PAY ATTENTION. The world has a lot of offer you. From the vast unknown out in the universe to right in your backyard. Your father has lived a very interesting and diverse life. He has so many talents to teach you if you pay attention. He’s an expert carpenter and handyman. He’s my modern-day McGyver and has a lot of tricks up his sleeve that will save you a lot of money down the line before you call a repair man. He will teach you how to install a Wood Stove, chop wood and save your future family thousands of dollars in heating bills down the line. He can fix that squeaking sound on your washing machine and even teach you how to build a deck or an entire house, if you want. He’s done it all. He also holds a degree in Business and History and can teach you in the importance of investing your money wisely, as well as how to learn from the world’s past mistakes so that we don’t repeat history. He has a vast knowledge in hunting, survival skills and raising animals on a farm. As a former police officer, he is an expert marksman and knows all the rules and regulations of the law. Ask him questions. Use him to learn, and pay attention.jeff-working

RESPECT & KINDNESS. Respect and kindness will get you farther in life than you may ever realize. Speak to authority with respect. When I got my license my father’s only advice was to be as respectful as possible to fellow drivers, and especially law enforcement. If you happen to ever get pulled over, you should always use the words “Yes Sir/Ma’am” when addressing a police officer. Same goes with teachers and anyone in an authority position, as well as  anyone are not on personal terms with, especially elders. You’ll be surprised where it gets you. 

Respect women. Always remember that “No” means “No”. Alternatively, don’t let anyone force into doing something you don’t want to do either. The first time you meet your girlfriend’s parents, make sure to offer a strong handshake, look them in the eye, and call them Sir, Ma’am or Mr. & Mrs. Wait until they correct you and invite you to call them by their personal name. Until then, stick with the formal Mr.& Mrs.  The first time I met your grandparents, they immediately stopped me in my tracks and said “Oh please, don’t be silly, call us Bev & Lou.”  Your father, on the other hand, is still calling my father Mr.Devaney, because even after ten years, he has never offered your father to call him by anything else. Life is funny. People are funny. You’ll figure out what makes people tick by using these respectful tricks, and in turn, gain their respect.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Even though you should be respectful to law enforcement, my father reminded me that it is your right to not give consent to let them to search your car. You have the right to refuse.  This may end you up in more trouble down the line, but you do have the right to refuse.  Your dad can help clarify this for you.  You also have the right to say no to anything at anytime to something that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you find a time where someone is doing something or speaking to you in a way that makes you feel weird, you can say NO. It’s OK. I make this promise to you…you will never get in trouble for saying no to something you don’t feel is right. Your father and I will have your back no matter what.  When you get older, and find yourself in a situation that suddenly becomes too much, I give you full authority to use me as a scapegoat. “No, I can’t smoke that pot with you… my mom will drug test me.” Make me the bad guy, I don’t care.  Then call me, and I’ll be happy to play whatever “mean mom” role you need me to play in front of your friends to get you out of that situation… I don’t care if it’s 3 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning.  I have your back. The teenage years are tough; this way you can save some face, get out of a bad situation and blame me.  (I have a secret to tell you… I don’t give a shit if your friends like me… especially any so-called friends trying to make you do something that you don’t want to do.)  While on this topic, Here is a tiny little tip… I was a teenager once as well… and my underage drug and alcohol detection skills are KILLER. Don’t believe me? Try me. Don’t forget this. Oh yea, and your dad was a cop… if you think my detection skills are on par… he is the King. I wouldn’t test us.

FAMILY LOYALTY. Your family should always be top priority; whether you are 10 years old or 56. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.  At the end, all you will have will be your family by your side. Treat them well, and they will treat you well. Stand up for your siblings. Protect your siblings. Watch out for each other in life, in school and later on in life. You will need each other at different times in life. Be there for each other, without question.  Visit family members in the hospital, send cards of encouragement and make an effort to call your parents and grandparents. One day, you will meet someone who you fall deeply in love with and decide to spend the rest of your life with. Treat them with respect and treat them kindly. They will be your best friend, your ally, and will most likely be there for you during the most difficult and elating moments of your life. Don’t spend more time working than with your family.  Your children won’t remember the times you weren’t home, but they will remember those bedtime stories you read to them, the snuggles, the hugs and the words of encouragement you offer them.  Genuinely apologize when you mess up; really mean it, and make an attempt not to do it again.  Be good to your family… even when it is hard to be. Disagreements will come and go, but the cornerstone of all relationships and family is LOVE. Always bring it back to love.

LOVE.  This is simple. Do what you love, find someone you love, act out of love, and love will come back to you. When you’re married one day, a simple act of love may be helping your spouse wash the dishes. It’s as easy as that.  I’m jumping the gun a little, and before I get away with myself , when the time comes, I’ll share some mama knowledge with you… the cliché saying “Happy Wife, Happy Life” is true. Learn to cook. I will teach you. Learn to do your own laundry. I will teach you that too… ask your wife if she needs anything from time to time. THIS, my friends is the secret to a happy marriage. Appreciating each other and helping each other out with acts of love. Do this, and you’re golden.  You will thank me one day for these words of advice.

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SELF AWARENESS. Throughout your life, you are going to continually change. I am watching my little boys play with logos, dinosaurs and trucks right now.  In a few years, you will be onto new interests… then you’ll become a teenager and have an entirely new set of interests. I look at myself, and almost don’t recognize the person I was in college. (My wise cracking sarcastic attitude was and will always remain with me), but I have little interest in the life I lived then than I do now.  It’s alright to change.  Just make sure you stay true to yourself.  Deeply ingrained in you are a set of morals and values that will lead you in the right direction. Listen to those voices, deep down inside and make sure that regardless of what your interests may be at the time, you are always following the right path.

SAFETY. I don’t have much to say in this area. This topic is complex because you are so young now, but you are growing up so quickly.  For now, don’t run in parking lots without holding my hand. Cars can’t see your tiny chubby bum and I’d hate to see something bad happen.  As you get older, protect yourself. I’m going to leave most of the Birds and the Bees to your father later on… but I’ll be on the other side of the door to make sure to interject if I feel the need to. CAR SAFETY.  This is hilarious, seeing how I am quite possibly the worst driver in the world, but actually, none of my safety tips have to do when the car is even in motion.  Maybe it’s my city upbringing, maybe it’s the fact that I am a female and girls are told these things more often than boys, or maybe I’ve seen too may mob movies…. but here is the low down with the car.  When out at a mall or shopping place, I instinctively always try to park as close to the door as possible. Your father assumes this is because I am lazy. Contrary to what he thinks, it’s a ingrained defensive mechanism within me. When you return to your car, you don’t have to walk with a million bags in your hand, in a dark mall parking lot, distracted, trying to find your car.  Exit the store, look around for any shady characters and get to your car as soon as possible.  Don’t text, don’t get distracted and pay attention. Now here is where my city girl and female upbringing is really going to sound a bit crazy. Use your common sense. Before entering the car, check the back seats. Check under the car, get in, and lock the doors. Like I’ve said, I’ve seen too many mobster movies to NOT check the backseat of my car before getting in. (I’ve also been diagnosed with Anxiety and OCD, so this may have something to do with my car routine haha)- regardless… listen to your mama and just do it please.godfather-goodfellas-scarface-560

BE A LEADER. Don’t be a follower.Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and speak your mind. This doesn’t mean to bully people into believing your ideas, but offer them.   Don’t feel pressured to the “coolest kid”… I’ve learned after many years in High School and College that many of the “cool kids” later in life end up to be deadbeat balding men. Be your own person, a good role model, try your hardest at everything you do, and I promise you will succeed.  Believe in yourself.

REMEMBER THAT MOM & DAD HAD A LIFE BEFORE YOU. You are without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to us, but we weren’t the boring old parents you see now. We were silly, crazy and always had a good time.unnamed

It’s important for us to spend time together…alone; to go on dates together and spend quality time with each other. The stronger our marriage is, the stronger our family will be. And remember….we always come home after a night out… and the first thing we do is go into your rooms and kiss you goodnight. We both love you from the bottom of our hearts.

DON’T EVER FORGET HOW MUCH WE LOVE YOU. We absolutely love you from here to the moon and the back…. and we always will.moon

 

Blood Makes You Related. Loyalty Makes You Family

A tiny 6lb 12oz baby girl was born on a clear and cold winter night in January of 1983 on the Upper East side of Manhattan.  She wasn’t named until 3 days later, and was simply “Baby Girl” for the first 72 hours of her life. When it was time to leave the hospital, her father arranged a limo to pick up his wife and first child, enjoying a drive through Central Park on the way home to their 400sq ft walk up apartment building. Eventually, the tiny baby was named Alyson, and thus… this was my entrance into the world.

158 miles North, at the same time, in a small town of Rhode Island;  an 11yr old boy was in his pajamas,  with his twin sister and younger sister by his side, probably getting ready for bed and to watch The A-Team babaracus

Little did anyone know that this little boy and this newborn girl would grow up, go on a blind date and eventually decide to spend the rest of their lives together. 

I don’t remember the limo ride home, or much of my first or second year of life; but by the time my younger sister was born 22 months later, there was no limo waiting outside the hospital to bring her home.  Our family’s financial situation was not the best, and my mother, who had just given birth; walked home from the hospital in the blustery November wind, with her second baby in her arms…. back into the tiny 400sq ft walk up apartment, most likely with a cranky toddler to greet her.

My younger brother was born three years later, only to be followed by my youngest sister in 1990. No limo was there to greet them either, and as our family grew, our apartment remained the same size, and our tiny bank account remained the same as well.  If our apartment could be considered small, our bank account was minuscule. There was a while where we didn’t even own a phone.  The stress seemed to weigh heavy on my father, but my mother kept us together, shielding us from any stress she bore from raising four children and an increasingly anxious and unhappy husband.  We were on on food stamps at one point, and my entire public elementary school meals were free thanks to low income breakfast & lunch programs.  None of the children seemed to notice any of this going on, and I think if you ask anyone one of us, we’d say that we had a fantastic childhood.  As I got older and could see things from a more mature vantage point, I realized how difficult this life must have been for my parents, and I vowed to myself that I was going to live very differently  once I grew up.

Despite that limo ride, I was never my father’s favorite child. This was apparent, if not to my siblings, it certainly was to me. My parent’s didn’t get along, and maybe he saw too much of my mother in me. Maybe he thought he was helping me by pushing me too hard. Maybe it was his upbringing.  I really don’t know why, but I was different. I remember being scolded by him at a young age because my sister was having difficultly reading. He angrily said “This is your fault. If you would let her watch more Sesame Street like you had the opportunity to, she would be farther ahead.”  I was probably six years old.  He was dead serious.  Another time, I brought home a test as the same time my sister did one day… mine was scored a 98%. He looked at it and eyed me with a look of disgust “Where did the other 2 points go?”  That was it.  My sister had a piece of homework with a 75% on it, and I vividly remember him praising her for working so hard and doing such a great job. This all seemed normal to me.

 I was one of three students on the “Distinguished Honor Roll” one semester senior year of high school.  One of the other recipients was Valedictorian of our class. I had stellar grades and was set up to get into any college I wanted. I was a very good student but most definitely not a math wiz.  Math is my demise. At the last minute, he demanded I use my Elective Class (which could have been art, gym or home economics) and take Pre-Calculus, or else he would refuse to pay for my college education. I failed it- for the first time in my educational career, I failed a class. I failed that entire semester. As I applied for colleges, I added in my state college, which of course was my back up, and coincidentally, the first school I heard back from… denied.  Turns out they don’t accept anyone who fails a class senior year, regardless of the class or my academic standing. In retrospect, I never understood him, and I guess I never will. 

I recently found a box with old letters and photos in my basement that I had saved.  As I went through it, I found quite a hilarious and yet sweet letter I had written my father when he was on a business trip one time. I had asked for a typewriter for my 10th birthday (I’m not sure what 10 year old asks for this, but maybe a bit of foreshadowing seeing as I am sitting here writing now). I also don’t know where my parents got the money to pay for it.  Either way, this letter showed me the innocent child I was at that time and it also shockingly reminded me of the great affection I had for my father during this time of my life.  I was always trying to impress him, to be better for him.  Being as this is dated a week after my birthday, I can assume this was my fist “formal letter” I wrote.letter

I wonder how that we went from where that letter was to where we are now.  20 years later, I ran into my dad at a bar a just few months ago.  I have seen just a handful of times in the past 15 years and talked to him about the same amount of times… and we live 10 miles apart.  I let him walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and he visited both of my babies in the hospital the day they were each born.  Since then, I have spent a few years in therapy and have seen him with one of the kids once of twice. He sees them so infrequently, he can’t even tell them apart and called my son the wrong name when we ran into him at the pharmacy one time.   He doesn’t call, he doesn’t ask to come see the children, and he isn’t interested in what is going on in my life. Have I done something wrong?  Am I not the child in this situation?? I am not going to beg someone to come see his grandchildren if they are not interested.

As I walked into the bar that evening, I immediately saw all 6’4′ of him, sitting at the bar with a cowboy hat on, sipping on a beer and talking to the bartender, who was coincidentally my brother. As soon as I saw him, I tried to turn around and leave but it was too late. He had already seen my friend and I. I said hello, sat down next to him and excused myself to go to the restroom. Upon my return he was finishing up a story which sounded like a run down of my siblings and what they were up to and how proud he was of them. I caught the end of one of my sister’s stories and he actually used the word “Impressed” and “Proud”.  Now that I was back at the bar, he stopped, chuckled and then started a sentence that began “And now we come to Alyson… let me tell you what her problem is….”  He went on for an hour.  How I had disappointed him, turned into someone else, was a bad mother and was leaving my children in care of strangers at daycare while I went to work and went on and on… and on.  I walked out of that bar that evening and vowed NEVER TO SPEAK TO HIM AGAIN.  I don’t need that sort of negativity in my life. My father is welcome to see my children anytime he wants. I would never stop him from creating a relationship with them.  The thing is, he’s never asked once.

WHAT IS FAMILY? I’ll tell you what family is.  Family doesn’t mean blood related.  You may be my father, but you aren’t my dad.  Family is your tribe.  Your friends and family, your spouse, those who treat you with the respect you deserve and raise you up instead of tearing you down.  I don’t have many friends, but those I do, I cherish. These are the people who will love you no matter what… and won’t throw your mistakes in your face later on.  I am grateful everyday to have married into such a wonderful, loving family.  Not everyone has that, and I feel privileged to know and be related to such wonderful people.  My mother has married a great guy who serves as a wonderful role model for my children as Grandfather.

I decided to drop all the drama a long time ago, to surround myself with only positive people and to stand up to anyone who is putting me down. I don’t owe anyone anything. I need to take care of ME.  I am my own best advocate. It’s taken me thirty years to figure it out…. but ask me now where those other two points went, and I’ll tell you exactly where you can put them.

No Mas, bitches.

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Who Is Actually In Charge?

My three-year old very seriously told me this morning that he essentially could live on his own with his two-year old brother, if I’d only just let him.

I woke up to a button nose covered in frosting whispering in my ear “We just ate alllllll of the cupcakes except for one.”  He was quite impressed with himself and said it as if he was boasting.  “Did you hear what he just said??” I whined to my husband as I sheepishly rolled over and got out of bed.  Once in the kitchen, I realized that my button nosed child had not been lying. He and his two-year old brother had, in fact eaten all of the cupcakes I had pushed back way on the counter, covered up inside a plastic grocery bag.  A chair was pushed up against the  kitchen counter and before my eyes laid the practically empty cupcake container and a frosting covered pair of kitchen shears and chopped up Valentine’s Day construction paper hearts.

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I was pissed. I am not a “health nut” by any means, but I make a point of not having any cookies, or anything too sugar filled around my house for the kids to snack on.  I offer fruit, cheese or crackers as snacks for the most part.  Do you want to know the truth? Yes, I care about their health, their teeth and their eating habits; but mainly, it is for my own sanity. They are already maniacs sober… add some sugar to the mix and I have two hyped up Tasmanian Devils. It had been Valentine’s Day so when I saw the mini cupcakes at the grocery store earlier in the week, I decided to spoil them and put one in their lunchbox a treat. BAD DECISION.

I didn’t even yell.  We all sat down and had an impromptu family meeting. I explained that they had broken a few rules:

  1. They knew those cupcakes were off-limits. I had told them that the evening prior.
  2. They knew that they aren’t allowed to reach up onto the kitchen counters; the stove could be on, there could be knives out, or something could fall on them.
  3. They knew they are absolutely not allowed to use “grown-up” scissors.

I winced as I reminded them that Mommy & Daddy were IN CHARGE, not them. I always feel ridiculous saying this.  Margaret Thatcher said “Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”  We obviously weren’t.

Once I was done lecturing, my three-year old piped up and very seriously took the stage:

“I have a problem solving solution. If you buy us some kid scissors, we wouldn’t have to use the grown up ones” (OK kid, good point).  “Annnnnd if you buy us a kitchen, we could put it in my room and then we don’t have to eat all your food because we would have our own.” (Ummmm, OK….) He continued… “AND you can buy the kitchen on a day we don’t have school so we can pick it out. AND if you buy us a house, we can put the house in my room, put the kitchen in the house and use our kid scissors in there.” His little brother had little to add but nodded his head enthusiastically agreeing. My husband and I just looked at each other trying not to laugh.  Essentially, if we bought them all this stuff, they could just live on their own, in his room, without our help and the could eat their own cupcakes (presumably that we buy them, because we bought the kitchen and the house, right?) anytime they wanted and cut up paper all night with their mini scissors, in the little house that they live in. All I could think of was Shit, this parenting thing is hard.

This is Hard. 

That’s what I was thinking during labor. When my babies were in the NICU. When I was unsuccessfully trying to breastfeed. When I had a colicky baby who screamed all day. When I was barely surviving on 3 hours of sleep during those newborn weeks and then living on 2-4 hours of sleep back at work full-time. When my babies became mobile and suddenly the house appeared to be filled with danger at every turn. When my social life dwindled down to nothing because I was too tired to do anything and too many people at home needed me. While I sat through toddler speech therapy, while I waited for my baby to come out of surgery, read fifteen bedtime stories in a row and when I kissed each boo boo; I thought This Is Hard. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on this parenting thing, each child gets a little bit older, and the next stage presents me with a different challenge.

As soon as that fat little bundle of baby squish pops out, it is numero uno. You want to take a nap? Nope, baby is hungry again. You’d like to shower alone? Nope, your cling on two-year old needs to be in there with you, or he’s going to die. They each have their own little personality, which surprisingly starts to show up pretty early on. Intrinsically, they run the show.

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I feel like right now at this stage of the game, I am simultaneously running a marathon combined with some sort of insane obstacle course; all while trying to dodge someone who has a BB gun and spectacular aim.

Our family is composed of a concoction of what I can only describe as bonkers right now. Jerry Seinfeld hit the nail on the head when he said “Having a two-year old is like having a blender without a lid”. Throw in a Threenager, which, in case you didn’t know is described as “A person of the age of 3, who possesses the attitude, demeanor and general angst of a teenager”, add two tired parents who work full-time and you get US… the typical American family.

My two are so close in age and now almost the same height that there is not one time that I’m  asked if they are twins when I take them out in public together.  I always smile and say “No, but Almost Irish Twins” At thirteen months apart, it’s always been difficult to handle them because one was always a baby while the other one toddled around; both with different needs. Now, we’ve hit a distinct point where it’s a whole different ball game. Similar in size, they can swap clothes, punches and hugs.  They egg each other on and it’s become us vs. them.  Emotions run high in the house. In the course of 10 minutes, there could be screaming, laughing, crying, hugs, hitting, time outs, smiles and of course, lots of farts (which are hilarrrrrrrrious).

Let me give you a quick breakdown:

Symptoms of The Terrible Twos Include:

  • A lot of “I do it myself!” To the point where they will actually undo what was just done by you so they can do it themselves. “Their way” is always painfully slow and repetitive.  A tremendous amount of patience is required by the parent. (Pass the wine, please).
  • Potty training that doesn’t always go the way you want it to.  Tonight, my two-year old refused to wear anything but underwear, but also refused to use the toilet. To the point of fighting me when I brought him into the bathroom, or gave up and tried to just put a diaper on him.  (He kept the underwear on and I’ve got a load of laundry going right now if you are wondering how that turned out)
  • Screaming “You’re blocking the TV!” as you are literally in the middle of picking up their toys from the floor.
  • Occasional coloring on the wall, table and anything that isn’t paper.
  • Complete meltdowns over the most minute things.  Things to meltdown about may include but are not subject to “He put his socks on before I did!”, “There is a commercial on!”, “He took that piece of food I threw on the floor 10 minutes ago and said I didn’t want!”

How to know when you have a Threenager:

  • They honestly think they are smarter than you are.
  • They’re always one step ahead of you.  They are cunning, conniving and smart.
  • They remember something you said four months ago and try to hold you to it.
  • They sulk when they don’t get their way,need their “alone time”, and demand their “privacy”.
  • They are expert negotiators.
  • They have enough verbal capacity to try to convince you to do something for them, using logic.  It’s like being in a preschool court room everyday.
  • They know how to use an iphone or ipad better than the average adult.

The unique combination of having both personalities in the house at the same time has proven harder than all of the stages that has come before this.  The sleepless nights, the crying babies, the breastfeeding; and yet, I intrinsically know that it is only going to get more difficult from here.  For the time being, I’m going to try to focus on the positive- the times they are getting along and the special and unbreakable bond they are creating with each other.  My husband and I will survive… we’re just going to have to make sure our liquor cabinet is stocked to be able to get through it all.

img_6212

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

“Regrets, I’ve had a few; But then again, too few to mention.  I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way”

Sorry, Mr.Sinatra, but I call Bullshit. We’ve ALL had regrets, and probably enough to fill a entire notebook with.  I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and still enjoy him to this day, but this verse is complete crap. Either he is too pompous to admit the “few regrets” he’s had in life, or he’s just a jerk. I think it’s the former…. and possibly the later too.  I say that in the most loving way, because I truly am a Frank Sinatra fan.  I like him so much that for a High School video project, I did a five minute documentary on him. He is an icon.sinatra

Good looking, he had an amazing voice, stage presence, and impeccable sense of style. Not to mention the bluest eyes that made many woman swoon; gaining him the nick name of “Ol’ Blue Eyes”. Once the curtains closed however, he had a turbulent life behind the scenes. Married four times, he was openly  known to have numerous extra marital affairs, attachments to the Mob, and mood swings that often led to violence. It’s rumored that the FBI had an ongoing investigation on him for five decades, starting in the 1940s due to his Mob connections and close relationship with JFK. Despite all that, Sinatra did not, in fact write the words to this song, Paul Anka did… but I still can’t help chuckling when that verse comes up.

I have to start this conversation with the fact that I consider myself a Leader, not a Follower.  I typically do not make decisions based on what others think of me, and I don’t consider myself to be a sheep in the herd.  I speak my mind (which as at times gotten me in hot water at work in meetings with superiors), but I say what mean, and I mean what I say.  That much is true, and that is the true me.

Do you want to know what I regret? 

I regret my Tramp Stamp Tattoo. Urban Dictionary describes this as: A tattoo above a woman’s ass crack.”Her pants were so low cut, you could see her tramp stamp.”

There, I said it.I regret this tattoo. At the wise age of 18, I spent a total of 35 seconds picking it out in a book  in a downtown tattoo parlor in a Washington DC.  The thing has no meaning to me whatsoever and I’m gonna be stuck with it for the rest of my life. I went with my best girlfriends.  The guy who did it looked like Fred Durst, from Limp Bizkit and better known for screaming “I did it all for the nookie!” in the late 90’s. (I’m so desperately wishing I could insert an eye roll emoji here, but I can’t).  

Anyway, Fred Durst look-alike tattoo dude most certainly overcharged for the work he did, but we were too dumb to know at the time that we were being ripped off. I borrowed half of what it cost from my best friend at the time, who, 15 years later; just like me, is still sporting a very similar tramp stamp on her backside as well. It’s not the fact that it is a tattoo, or what it looks like… I like tattoos.  It’s the fact that the lower back tattoo was a fad, and I fell into the trap. For the first time in my life, I chose to do something to “be cool”, and that is not who I am. I don’t regret my other tattoo I have gotten since because it has meaning to me and my family; but this particular one stings.  It was the “in” thing to do and I made the decision because I thought it would make me more interesting, intriguing, mysterious or badass, I don’t know…. something. But what I didn’t realize at that time was that I didn’t need to prove any of that, because I was already all those things.  My tacky tramp stamp didn’t make me any cooler. Now, I must put a disclaimer in here that at the time, my friends and I were  skinny, hot 18 year olds who frequently went out, wearing backless shirts, belly shirts and tight jeans, always carrying our fake ID’s in the back pocket, so at the time, the thing didn’t look too bad…  Today, at age 34, after two children, I can tell you honestly that I most definitely do not look like that, nor wear those types of clothes anymore.  The most viewings my lower back tattoo gets these days is when I’m bent over picking up a load of laundry, toys from the floor, or doing some other source of house work. Awesome.no-ragrets

 The silver lining to this story is that I can say is that I went for a lower back tattoo and not an arm band (also highly popular during this time). Or, it could have been worse, this guy above certainly has NO RAGRETS.

I regret deciding to smoke my first cigarette.  Nobody talked me into it. I did it because I was curious. I didn’t feel like I needed to do it to “feel cool”, or join the “in crowd”, I genuinely wanted to just try it. Thousands upon thousands of wasted dollars later and the incredible damage I’ve done to my body since starting smoking is unthinkable. No one forced me to do it. I have no one to blame but myself for this one.

I regret drinking vodka before a school dance when I was a teenager. Almost 20 years later, I can still not stand the smell or taste of it. I didn’t even make into the school gym, where the dance was being held, before I was whisked away to the Principal’s office.  The next day, my parents were angry, disappointed and confused. My mom kept asking me who “talked me into this bad decision?!” All I could say was “no one”. I decided, with my own free will that I wanted to do this. I wasn’t peer pressured. I made the conscious choice to make this bad decision. I don’t know if this made her feel better, or worse.  As a parent now, it would actually make me feel worse. I’d like to think of my little children being angels, and someone force-feeding them vodka, instead of them leading the pack.  As I said before, I was never a follower… that vodka decision was all mine.

drink

I was selfish. Neither the smoking or this drinking incident even made me consider at the time how this would effect other’s views on my family. My mother was on the School Committee at the time and her full time job was and still is, working with the State and Town to obtain grants for funding and collaborating with the local police to try to curb underage drinking and smoking and promote positive campaigns and programs.She must have been mortified.  None of this occurred to me until later in life.  I’m sorry, mom.

I graduated 14th in my high school class. I took AP Classes all through my senior year and had a pretty stellar academic record. I was on the Honor Roll and the National Honor Society, and this little drinking incident was the only blemish on my record. It was suggested by my Guidance Counselor that this is what I should focus on for my written portion of my college applications… how bad decisions lead to consequences and what I had learned from this incident. Not my first choice of topic to write about, considering that I was bringing more attention to this one day during my entire High School career, instead of focusing on my academic successes and work ethic.  Do I regret drinking that vodka? Hell Yes.

I regret interrupting my husband while he was in the middle of proposing to me.  We were at a beautiful lighthouse overlooking the ocean. At first, I didn’t realize what was going on, and about half way through, I figured it out. My palms got sweaty, my chest started burning up and I got so nervous that I interrupted him and blurted out “Hey! Do you think they still use that basketball court connected to that lighthouse over there?” The poor guy ignored me and kept going.point-judith-lighthouse-full-moon

I’m such an idiot.I have classic “insert foot in mouth” disease, and throughout our relationship he has learned that all he has to do to now get my attention is give me a glare from across the room if I start to let my mouth get away from me. He knows me well.

Finally, I regret not focusing on trying to be a better person everyday. This is sort of a fake regret, because it’s something that is a work in progress. I have to remind myself to practice more patience with my children, my husband, family and everyone I interact with on a daily basis. To offer help more to those who need it before they ask. To genuinely keep it in the back of my mind to be the best person I can be.  If I have that goal in the forefront of my mind, I can do anything, with no regrets. 

The one thing I can agree with Mr.Sinatra on in that song is that no matter what, I did it my way, and continue to do so.

 

Toddlers: Such a Blessing

I’m a mom of two toddler boys and my life consists of going to work everyday and breaking up WWE fights the remainder of the time.  Whenever I do get a chance to go out, please excuse my awkwardness. I never know what to say when people ask what my hobbies are.  I am a mom… I enjoy trips to the bathroom alone and silence… and sadly, not much else.

I consider myself an intelligent person. I have a college degree and a professional job that requires a great amount of multitasking, juggling client details and ensuring that each event I plan goes off without a hitch, all while handling events equating to multi millions of dollars each year.  Yet,  there are relatively simple things that cannot seem to accomplish at home.

We own a nice flat screen television. For the life of me, I cannot teach my toddler that the TV is not a touch screen. No matter how many times I explain, they are children of the 21st century and treat everything as if it is an iPad.  The amount of fingerprints I clean off our television set is innumerable.

I’ve decided that there are certain types of toddlers…  yours may fall into one or all of these categories.  If they don’t, please contact me directly, so that I can learn your secrets.

TYPES OF TODDLERS YOU MAY BE LIVING WITH

♦THE NEGOTIATOR & MASTER MASTER MANIPULATOR♦

One of the more savvy of the toddler clan, and typically the first born; they never miss a chance to counter the deal you have presented to them. You announce that there is “One more TV show, and then it’s bedtime.” Immediately, without skipping a beat, they reply:

“Five. Five shows before bed.”…. “I said one. One more show.” … “Four. We need four more shows before bed.”… “That’s not happening. I said one.” …. “Four shows!!!! WE NEED FOUR SHOWS!!!”   …. “Fine, two shows and that’s it.”  TODDLER: 1 PARENT: 0

♦THE FINICKY EATER & THE BOTTOMLESS PIT♦

This includes a variable number of toddler eaters.  At one point or another, they all go through this stage.  The Finicky One:  One day, they’re in love with grilled cheese, the next day, it’s thrown from their plate in disgust. How dare you serve them something they enjoyed just 24 hours previously!

The Bottomless Pit: Snacks are required ALL OF THE TIME. Literally, every twenty minutes, snacks are demanded.  It doesn’t matter if you just served them a three course breakfast, gourmet lunch, or seven course dinner.  Dinner will be half way done and they will already be requesting a “snack”.  God help you when they are old enough to figure out how to open up the fridge. Our freezer is on the bottom of our refrigerator, and I have found my two year old eating frozen fish sticks in the middle of the kitchen floor at 5:30am in the morning. The other day, I found him polishing off an ENTIRE bag of butterscotch baking chips he found in the freezer at 7am.  When I threw the bag away, he asked when breakfast was going to be served.

♦THE CHAMELEON♦

The Chameleon is the type of toddler who changes personality based on whose company they are in.  Of course, at home, their true, wild selves are revealed.  Screaming, jumping on the couches and beds, plain old craziness. They’re always the worst with their parents.   Bring your child into the bank and have a stranger say hello to them, and they will immediately turn into the shyest child youll meet.  Anytime I have dropped off one of my children at any of their grandparent’s house, I get nothing but stellar reports: “What a well behaved child! He was so funny! He played so well alone!”  I almost want to ask them if they’re sure actually have MY child in their care and haven’t brought home the wrong kid from the playgroud.

THE POTTY TRAINER

This one is a tough one. When first had infants, I was truly disgusted to see what came out of that tiny body.  I was not prepared for the toddler years.  By the time they are toddlers, they are essentially eating the same solid food as you are.  Those diapers are a true joy to change, and I swear that the amount of poop that comes out of these little guys are more than I have ever seen in my career using the toilet. They say girls potty train earlier than boys, I am not sure, but I knew it took a full year of trying to convince my three year old to stop the diapers.  The two year old is on his way, but not 100% there yet.  Either way, there is a process that needs to be followed.   You’ll find yourself asking sixteen times a day “Do you have to use the potty?” You’ll also find yourself saying things that you’ll never have thought would exit your mouth in your life. I have sat my two year old on the toilet and coached him to repeat after me: “Poopy, I am in charge of you, I am the boss- not you. Go in the potty, poopy.” It’s hilarious to hear your two year old repeat these words and you’ll spend countless hours sitting in your bathroom, attempting to use ESP to WILL THOSE POOPIES to come out.  For boys, peeing is a different story. Getting them to pee on the toilet is the easy part…. Aiming,  not so much.

A full container of bleach wipes sits in our bathroom specifically for the use of wiping up toddler pee every single day.  When they are standing, it’s not so bad… If they have to sit, you can occasionally look forward to a five foot spray across your entire bathroom.  I was not prepared for this.

♦THE “I CAN DO IT MYSELF PHASE”♦

One of the most frustrating stages of all of them is when your child decides that he can “do it himself” This applies to everything. We will be running late for something, place my two year old in his car seat and all hell will break loose. “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!”  I must patiently wait for him to climb all the way back down out of his seat, navigate OUT of the car, back onto the driveway and then start the entire process again. This can take upwards of three minutes-which may seem insignificant to you, but if you’ve ever experienced it, it feels like THREE HOURS.  Same goes with my previous mention of him helping himself to anything he can find in the freezer, and denying any help you may offer.   Would you like help putting that shirt on? “NO. I CAN DO IT MYSELF”… backwards and after a four minute struggle that you don’t have in the morning when you are trying to get out the door.  The “I CAN DO IT MYSELF” may possibly be the one that tests your patience the most.


 

 

Parents: Tell Everyone Else to STFU

I’ve got some Mommy Issues.  Issues with other parents, and issues with some strangers out there.  There are important things going on in the world right now politically, globally, nationally and right in your backyard that need actual attention. The amount of bitching I’ve seen about the following issues makes me question what kind of people I’m coexisting with in this world.

There’s quite a few things that people are complaining about in real life and online that need to stop. 

BREAST FEEDING IN PUBLIC 

img_2097For all of you against public breast feeding, I’m going to throw you a bone and assume that we can agree that these children at least need to eat. They are human, after all. So we can agree that they do have to eat… you just don’t want to see it. Your suggestion of making it private is not only insulting, but pretty ridiculous. Many of these mothers and their children are being socially pressured into feeding their child in places like public bathrooms.img_2100Have you spent any time in a public bathroom lately? And if so, how long did you want to just “hang out in there” for the 25-40 minutes it may take a mother to feed her baby? Next time you pick up your own lunch, I suggest you take your meal to the nearest public restroom  and soak up the lovely stench and atmosphere it offers you while you eat…. then tell me how you feel about it.

Is there something about women’s breast that offends you? I hate to burst your bubble; but whatever creation story you believe in whether it be religious or evolutionary; I can tell you that the breast was made for one thing and one thing only: to feed our young. It is the media and our own selves who have sensationalized mammary glands into sexual pieces of anatomy.  Any issue you may have with public breastfeeding is your issue, not anyone else’s.

Also, News flash, there is a 99.99% chance that the woman you’re seeing feed in public looks like the lady on the right here… I have yet to see Miss. Porn star to the left whipping out her boobs in public to feed her child.  The typical mother is tired, disheveled, overwhelmed and has a hungry, crying baby looking for nourishment.  img_2104That being said, if you do ever see the lady on the left out in public breast feeding… contact me ASAP. I am honestly curious as to how this would even work.

MOMMY SHAMING
Now that I’ve stated my pro stance on breast feeding, I do have to admit I have one small issue.

It’s the simple quote “Breast Is Best”.  This three word sentence offends me more than I can explain. I see fellow moms and mom friends use the hashtag #breastisbest while proudly displaying their breastfeeding on social media.  There are a multitude of studies showing that breast milk is the absolute best option for your child.  Some studies have quoted that it protects against diseases and allergies, lowers the risk of SIDS and obesity, infants are less stressed, and I’ve even read that it heightens children’s IQ.

I am not disagreeing with any of these claims, but guess what? Some of us mothers aren’t able to supply our babies with breast milk. For one reason or another, due to medical reasons or preference, breast feeding doesn’t work for some of us.  For those of us who cannot breastfeed, we have had to turn to exclusively pumping or taking out a separate mortgage to pay for formula. Are you aware how much formula costs?  Believe me, when my baby is crying in the middle of the night, it would be much easier for me to snuggle up to him and soothe him with my own nipple.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that option… I had to endure listening to a wailing child in one arm, while I prepared and warmed up a formula made bottle.  I’ve pumped, and I get it: if you’ve ever cried over “spilled milk”, so have I.  If the baby spits up or you spill a bottle, hours of hard work pumping goes down the drain. When your child spits up formula, or you spill it, it is similar… it’s like seeing dollar bills fly out the window.

While Breast MAY be Best, it is offensive to some to see other mothers say this, as if we “bottle mommies” are subpar. Please do us the favor of stop using this sentence. It’s hurtful and makes us feel inadequate as mothers. Mother to Mother, please adopt this new slogan:fed-is-best

On the topic of Mommy Shaming, we honestly need to come together as parents and respect each other’s decisions when it comes to raising our own children. You want to raise your child without screen time or TV? Go for it. You want to serve your child a strict vegan organic diet? Be my guest. Please just don’t raise an eyebrow when my child is watching Paw Patrol, while eating a heated up frozen waffle for breakfast, as I get ready for work. Let’s all agree that we are trying our best to do survive and raise respectful, productive members of society, however we get there.

Speaking of feeding my kids waffles while I get ready for work:  Working Mothers vs. Stay at Home Mothers. I am a working mother. It is tough as shit. I feel like I can never get enough done and there is never enough time in the day.  In regards to Stay at Home Mothers, HOW DO YOU DO IT?!  I was raised by a stay at home mom, who had four children in a tiny apartment and I have great memories from this time in my life.  In retrospect, she was probably going insane, however, if she was, she never let on to any of us. I always imagined I would do the same, stay at home, living a blissful life with my children while my husband worked.  I’d have a clean house and dinner on the table each evening when he returned from work and we would all sit happily eating, discussing our day. I have two children and barely survived this past holiday week while they were off from school.  My house looks like a bomb blew up and I am pretty sure my kids ate frozen fish sticks, hot dogs and frozen pizza for many of their meals.

I give Stay at Home Mothers all the credit in the world.  You guys are saints. While it is hard juggling work and home life for me, I am not sure I could hack it. For one, my family needs a duel income to survive. It is not possible for one of us to stay home with the children. Secondly, contrary to what I thought life would be with children prior to having them, I am not sure I could maintain my sanity being with them 24 hours a day.  I’d lose it for sure.

I was recently verbally attacked (and yes, I am using the word “attacked”) by a member of my own family for being a working mother. I’m not naming names, but if you’ve followed previous blogs, you may have a guess at who this person is.  Regardless, I ran into this person unexpectedly one evening and it was unavoidable to say hello and sit down to talk.  We were in a bar, so I expected a bullshit  “what’s new” yada yada conversation.

Many things were discussed over the hour I was forced to speak with him, including how disappointed he was in me and what a great disservice I was doing my family by working. According to him, my children are supposedly suffering being stuck with strangers all day, and I am not living up to his standards as to what a mother and wife should be, by his interpretation of how life goes.  I should be catering to my husband more and not putting so much stress on him; having him to drop off the kids in the morning and expecting him to participate in an active 50/50 parenting partnership. A chilled cocktail should be waiting for my husband upon his return from work, and a homemade dinner should be awaiting on the table.  He made it clear that in my house, my husband should be the King, my children should be my Princes and I, essentially their Housemaid and Cook; all the while keeping a smile on my face.

The way I was living my life was simply not to his approval. Sorry bud, this isn’t the 1950’s.  (I should mention that he is currently divorced, sitting at a bar alone during this conversation, which only proves how far his life expectations and attitude has gotten him).   This, from a man who taught “auto mechanics for women” during college, you’d think he would appear to be somewhat more liberated.  Apparently not.  I’m pretty sure he was describing the life that he wanted while married, because there was sure as hell no cocktail waiting for him when he returned from work each day.  I believe the best way to describe that scenario was that he came home, ate a prepared dinner, and went to “nap” in bed while my mother continued to do the rest: aka cleaning up, bedtimes, making lunches, etc.   But I digress.

1950

I explained that in this economy; for our family in particular, it was not possible for us to live off of one income and continue to live the lifestyle that we want to live.  Furthermore, our children were not with strangers all day, but cared for by responsible adults that they have cultivated a deep bond and relationship with, and whom my husband and I trust. During their time in daycare and preschool, they have learned more social skills and gained more educational content than I could ever provide for them at home.  My three year old was writing his own name within a week of starting preschool, and three months later, I can dictate a Thank You note to him, assist with the spelling, and he can basically write an entire letter to an adult with minimal assistance.

I made sure to mention to my bar guest that he deserved no explanation for how my husband and I chose to live our lives and raise our children, and if anything, I was actively attempting to do anything in my power NOT to raise my children like he did.  I kept the conversation light on my end, but essentially wanted to punch him in the gut, instead of giving him a good bye hug at the end of the night.  The only good part that came out of that conversation was that he paid my bar tab. If you ask me, he owed me at least that after what he said.  It was that evening that I decided that I wouldn’t be having any more conversations with him- he isn’t worth my time and hasn’t a shit clue as to what my life is like.

For what it’s worth, I hope you don’t have assholes in your life like this one. Keep on movin’ on mama, do what’s best for you and your family and have NO REGRETS.  Do not let other people’s opinions and choices make you feel guilty or any less of the parent you are.  Only you know what works for you and your children. If you want to openly breast feed in the middle of the fanciest restaurant in your town, do it.  If you want to pack a bottle of formula, do it.  If you want to co-sleep with your children, do it.  Trust your gut and don’t listen to anyone out there telling you that you aren’t doing the best possible job you can.  At the end of the day, if you and your kids are alive, you’ve succeed.

It’s an exhausting, often thankless job, but remember PARENTS:

YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB.

Tell everyone else to STFU.

xo,

Coastal Mama