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.

cupcakes

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.

rince-george

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

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.


 

 

Bah Fucking Humbug  

Christmas is ruined. For the first time since having children, I’m not sending a Christmas card out this year. My mother in-law is devastated. 


I honestly meant to! I would have, except we didn’t have a professional photshoot this year and I simply couldn’t get my 2&3 year old to corporate and look at the freaking camera at the same time; I tried when we visited Santa, I tried impromptu shots and then dressed them up in Santa pjs and attempted a half-assed photo shoot with some Christmas lights and my iPhone. I finally said FUCK IT, this isn’t happening. I’m too tired to put anymore effort into this. Actually, while I’m on a roll using profanity, I can’t wait for 2017 because I don’t know about you, but in all honesty, 2016 fucking blew. 

I’ve been in such a bah humbug mood lately, I actually sent this ridiculous text to my mother the other day:


I actually cursed out a patch of snow on my driveway. 

If you were a beloved celebrity, this year was especially cruel. We lost legends in 2016. David Bowie. Dave Mirra. Harper Lee.  Prince. Morley Safer.  Muhammad Ali. Gene Wilder. Arnold Palmer. Janet Reno. Florence Henderson. Peter Vaughn. …Just to name a few.

Donald Trump is our President Elect and people are legit freaking out. Who in a million years would have fathomed this? Our country has become racially divided and despite having a black president for the past eight years, there has been more racial tension and violence in this country during his tenure since the 1950’s. We are living in scary times. 

Work has been insane. At home, I’m dealing with one child in the midst of the terrible twos and the other is a complete threenager. It’s an emotional rollercoaster; one minute they’re angels and the next it’s WWIII in my house. If you’ve followed my previous blogs, I make no proclamation to have one damn idea how to parent. This is all new. Every phase is new. Let me make this clear: I have no idea what I’m doing. There is pressure on my marriage (because who is in a good mood after fighting two mini terrorists to go to bed for 2hrs each night?) and I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel and run off to a tropical island ALONE and not return.

I’m not going to rehash my issues.  I was thinking about all these celebrities passing and my insignificant issues at home that pretty much anyone who has had young children at some point or are dealing with them now, have and are experiencing the same thing and there’s simply no words to describe dealing with a young family. The pressure to be a perfect parent, the work it takes to maintain your marriage, and oh yeah, I work full time too. I’m pretty sure anyone reading this who has or is currently experiencing this complete debacle of what I like to call “life with little kids” understands. 

As I was sitting at my home work computer tonight at 10:30pm, finishing some things I wasn’t able to complete in the office, something clicked. Maybe it was the Pandora station I was listening to, but I finished my work and got out some greeting cards. I realized I was giving myself some sort of stupid pity party, when in reality, there are so many other people out there that are actually suffering this time of year. 

There are children living in my area that won’t have presents under the tree this year because their parents can’t afford it. There are women (and men) bravely fleeing abusive relationships with their children everyday, going to secluded safe houses. I know friends  who have been trying and trying and then trying some more to get pregnant with out success and feel hopeless. I have friends who have spent more time in the NICU than I did, combined.

I know someone who is dying and in desperate need of a kidney transplant. I know someone else who I grew up with, living out his final days at home with his family, on hospice care. He’s in his 60’s. This is not his time to go. My friend recently said that he is having trouble maintaining faith and is angry with God. This has been a church going gentleman his entire life and yet he’s struggling with his relationship with God during his last days on earth.  I have family members who just lost their mother this past weekend after a long and tough fight against cancer, leaving 2 children, 4 grandchildren and one on the she way who she will never meet. It makes  you question WHY. Why is life not more merciful? It’s not fair.

I made a list. We have toys going to toys for Tots this weekend. One of our toddler beds got donated to a battered woman’s safe home and it gives me great joy to know that some three year old is sleeping in that bed tonight, without fear of his mother or he being beaten. He is safe… and he’s sleeping in our toddler bed. 

My mood suddenly started to change.

I grabbed my cards and wrote some traditional & proper hand written notes to some people that deserve to know how much I admire them before their time in this  world expires. Three full pages later, my letter to my hospice friend was complete. I knew that this may be the last time I will be writing to him and I wanted him to know what an impact he made on my life.  My letter to my friend in need of a transplant is now done and everything is ready to be mailed out tomorrow. 

WHY DON’T we do this sooner? Why do we have to wait until someone is dying until we say good bye and let them know how much we care about them? Shame on us. We should be telling everyone we love that we LOVE THEM every freaking chance we get.

If there is anything I’m going to learn this Christmas season, it is going to embrace my family more and try to be more appreciative of what I have. No more bah humbugs. My children and husband deserve better than this- and I deserve to be the best I can be; for them and for me. 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you all

Xo,

Coastal Mama

This Is Me

Who needs an alarm clock when you have two angels to wake you up every day? My guys like to start the morning with a good wrestling match or jumpathon on our bed, usually ending up with my husband and me getting kicked in the face and body slammed on our full bladders. It’s such a peaceful way to rise each morning and we are #soblessed that they wake up with so much energy. It ends with someone demanding to be fed immediately (because it’s obviously been days since we last fed them), and my husband and I kick each other under the covers to remind the other one who’s turn it is to get up with them.

We quietly make our way out to the living room where my two toddlers pleasantly and politely ask for a television show to be put on. They are never demanding, and never try to take the remote into their own hands, even though they have no idea how to use it. I’ve never turned my tv on to find that the last station it was set to was an On Demand purchase option featuring homosexual male pornography (thankfully without any preview pictures). We have complete control of what’s going in our house and that would obviously never happen.

With all the jumping, wrestling, crying and screaming, my nerves are never shot by the time breakfast roles around. You can be sure that you’ll never find me hiding somewhere in a corner from my angels like this, having a temporary mental breakdown before 7:30am.  That would just be silly.

A gourmet breakfast is made to ensure that all five food groups are included.  We encourage creativity during their meal by creating different scenes or animals out of their food while they watch PBS, or they choose their latest favorite classical music composer to listen to. Frozen waffles, French Toast, Oatmeal and anything else that is not 100% organic would be a sin- unless the oatmeal is 100% Irish steel ground with a dash soy milk and possibly one grain of raw sugar, for taste.

A wrestling match occurs post breakfast while we attempt to get both guys dressed. My husband and I consider this our cardio session for the day. We run around the house, all of us half naked, yelling, screaming and being mocked by a 2 and 3 year old as they laugh in our faces and hide in spots where we are too big to pull them out of.  We start out with kind, soft voices that rapidly escalate to yelling and pulling kids out by their legs from under the bed.  It’s a stress-free way to start the day and a great way to get a good work out. By the time my husband pulls out of the driveway with both of them on their way to daycare & preschool, at least 50% of the household has already shed a few tears of frustration, adults included.drag

After getting myself ready, I typically leave my house at pretty much the same time I am supposed to be arriving at work.  Without fail, I get stuck behind a school bus every.single.day. I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to refuel and attempt to feel somewhat human.  I dig my debit card out from under 3 unused pull ups and a few empty food pouches to pay and I’m on my way, arriving to work looking as if I just went through a car wash… but without my car.road-rage-woman-angry-thinkstockphotos-177009355

My work alter-ego kicks in as soon as the caffeine starts to hit my veins and it’s typically smooth sailing all day. My office is like an alternate universe. I get to pee alone! It’s amazing how good it feels to pee without any tiny faces staring at you the entire time; without inquiries from someone to see what’s in the potty before I flush. God Forbid I flush the toilet at home before one of them has had a chance to inspect what is in there.work-blastI’m killer at work; making things happen and it’s probably the one place that I will go all day that I feel as though I know what I’m doing and have some control over. At home, there is always a potential landmine to step on… like I said, take a word of advice: Don’t Ever Flush the Toilet BEFORE Your Two Year Old Can See It!  You may end up consoling said two year old for 45 minutes enduring an epic tantrum because he couldn’t see your poopy.

I race out of the office everyday in order to get to each separate daycare/preschool facility on time. Pick up at school could be equated to Ground Hog Day. It goes the same way, everyday. Neither child is excited to see me when I arrive, and in fact, it is as if it’s an annoyance that I am there; taking them away from the fun time they are having. I struggle to strap them into their carseats.Crying babyNo one wants to ever “go home” and both demand to “go somewhere fun” after school.  They need their window UP now, or DOWN now… I’m almost always “driving the wrong way”,  someone drops their lunchbox and they neeeeeeed ittttt nowwwwwwwww. Or, one of them is able to reach the other one for a good ole’ slap.  My kids are both strong-willed and physically strong for their age. I have bruises from strapping them into their seats. Yet, I view these bruises as I do my c-section scar- a battle wound that I’m happy to endure for my two darling sweet peas.  It’s always a nice way to unwind after a long day, listening to them both scream the entire way home.

Dinner time is my favorite part of the day. We all sit around the table discussing our favorite parts of the day. My kids LOVE everything I offer them and they’re always eager to help set the table and clean up their toys before dinner.  Since I have so much free time and patience once we arrive home, I like to cook my family a gourmet meal each night and they really enjoy trying new things.  Everything is organically grown in our garden, beef and poultry is from the farm down the road, shipped directly to my home; and I’m sure to make sure everything is steroid and antibiotic free. Whether it’s some new beet recipe, or a new twist on Coq au Vin, both boys dive right in.  Afterwards, I literally have to stop them from applauding me and thanking me for their meal each night.  It’s like they can’t stop praising me for their dinner, it’s almost embarrassing. I do have to say, I secretly enjoy it though. I’d do anything for those little munchkins. familyThey’ve never tasted a hot dog, chicken nugget, boxed mac n’ cheese, pizza bagel or any other disgusting food that some other kids eat. (Disclaimer: I’m totally not judging you if your kids have accidently tried one of these items).  I’m just saying, I’m not even sure I would know where to find them in the grocery store if I tried. Is mac n’ cheese in the pasta section or the cheese section? See, I’m confused already.

Bath time & Bedtime is a tranquil and calm way to end my kid’s day. They play quietly in the bath, singing new songs they’ve heard at school, while ensuring that all of the bathwater stays IN the bath tub.  They’re really good about that. The water stays IN the tub. They never hit each other, splash or dump water over each other’s heads.  They’re like little bath time super stars. They enthusiastically get out when I ask them the first time and putting on pajamas is a piece of cake.  Bedtime takes between two and three hours… that’s normal though, right?   14 books, two pee breaks, “second dinner”, 18 escapes from their bedrooms, screaming, running around naked and two pissed off parents before anyone passes out happens in everyone’s house, right?

By the time my darlings are finally asleep, my husband and I are in such a good mood that we just want to cuddle on the couch together, but we know there is still more to do before we can. We’ve both had a relaxing day and it’s nice to unwind with a glass of wine while we make the children’s lunches together, holding hands. Our bond is stronger than ever, and we haven’t let our children’s terrible two & threenager antics get to us one bit.

WE GOT THIS.

#soblessed #parentingsuperstars

 

 

Entitled Brats or Just a Product of Their Environment?

Why is everything “never enough”? We’re all chasing after that better job, the better deal, the bigger house and more money. The childhood my children are experiencing couldn’t be farther from what I grew up with and I’m not sure if this is a good thing, or if they’re spoiled.

I grew up poor. Like shit poor. We wore second hand clothes and didn’t get new sneakers until atleast one of our toes were poking out of the topWith four children and two parents, we were stuffed inside a 4 floor walk up alcove bedroom apartment  on the Upper East Side of NYC. For those unfamiliar; an alcove bedroom apartment is not a one bedroom- it’s more like one room: 400sq ft to fit our entire family.  Our zip code was, and still is, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. Yet, our apartment was suited towards a single bachelor- not a family of six.  Luckily, our place was rent controlled and my parents were still paying the same amount to rent this place in the 90’s as they were in the late 70’s when my father started renting it.img_0537-3

For the most part of my early childood,my mom was a stay at home mom while my dad worked. I cherished those days with my mom. In the 80’s, there wasn’t much for cable- unless we were stealing it from one of our neighbors (which happened from time to time). We had 13 channels and when Sesame Street wasn’t on,soap operas filled the day. I remember one time someone asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up  and I enthusiastically answered “Amanda from General Hospital!” I think my mom may have died right then and there.

Life was different back then. The 80’s could be considered practically an alternative universe compared to what we live in now. Neither of my parents smoked cigarettes, yet we probably owned 6 ashtrays in our house for when one of their smoking friends would come over. I remember enthusiastically  making ashtray after ashtray for my non-smoking parents in pottery class and begging them to use it when their friends came over.

I  vividly remember Nancy Reagan’s War on Drugs initiative and every other commercial reminding me how my brain was, and what it was ON DRUGS

img_0539

Getting around with four children in tow in the city isn’t the easiest. We had to go everywhere together- the grocery store, the laundry mat, the playground. We walked everywhere. If someone was napping, we either waited for them to wake up, or had to wake them up to come with us. It was normal. I’m still not sure how my mother did it.

I’ve witnessed schizophrenic homeless people yelling at me, men openly peeing in the subway station, creeps offering me a “ride home” and straight up whackos without even blinking an eye.

At the age of 9, I was babysitting all three siblings while my mom worked a part time afternoon job and by the age of ten, I was taking the cross town bus alone to dance classes. There was a program run my the famous Jacques d’Aboise that recruited  “inner city kids” to dance. I was a fully functioning, independent 10yr old, roaming the city like it was no big deal without a cell phone.  That’s how city kids are raised- they grow up faster and independent.

Race and ethnicity wasn’t an issue in my tiny world. My neighborhood friends were comprised of everything from Black, White, Pakistani, Yugoslavian, Russian, Irish and Italian. That’s the beauty of a city. You don’t see race. You just know there are “good people” and “bad people” you should avoid. It didn’t matter; if you were part of the neighborhood, you were part of the crew.

This stuck with me. I went to college in DC, which contrary to what many may think, is mainly comprised of white college students or low income black people. (Let me let you in on a little secret- many of the wealthy senators and majority of the politicians live in Virginia or Maryland). Anyway, I was cruising around in my mint green banged up Ford Taurus with my roommate, who was from rural NJ. It was spring and my windows were down.

We came to a stop light and I pulled up to this BMW filled with local black guys. One of them looked over and said “Hey Brittany? Where you heading?”

(Background: this  was the early 2000’s when Brittany Spears was popular, I had box bottle beach blonde hair and whether I was at the grocery store or here in this situation next to this BMW, I can’t count how many times black people would stop me to tell me I looked like Brittany Spears… pretty much any of my friends who were blonde obviously made them Brittany lookalikes too.)

As my rooomate slunk deeper and deeper into her seat. They continued teasing “Little rich girl going to the mall to spend daddy’s money, Brittany?”

I laughed and just politely replied “Do you see what kind of car I’m driving? YOU should me taking ME to the mall… and  by the way, did anyone ever tell you that you look exactly like Eddie Murphy?” (My roommate was literally looking for some way to jump out of the car at this point).

The guys just all laughed. “You’re tough shit, Ms.Spears.” And with that the light turned green and and we both sped off.

Back in the city, growing up, we met and saw more celebrities than I can count. Before his big White Bronco escapade, we hung out with OJ Simpson on an afternoon at the park and my brother raced his son all the way home. (It should be noted that my brother won by the way 😉) Mike Tyson, Al Roker and Angela Landsbury all lived in my neighborhood; just to name a few.  Katie Couric is in one of our home videos. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City lived in my neighborhood, but I guess that kind of doesn’t count.  Extra dork points go to me because out of all of them, seeing Ms.Landsbury thrilled me the most because I spent hours watching Murder She Wrote with my Grammy. 

Today,my children are two and three years old and can work an iPhone or iPad more efficiently than many adults. They request tv shows “on demand” and know the difference between “Netflix”and what shows they want on there. For the most part, besides a few hand me downs, they wear new clothes that I buy for them online for each season. They go out to eat at restaurants with us at least a few times a month and can name all of the local taverns within a 20mi radius and know if there is wi-fi there or not. They each have their own portable DVD player for long car trips. I had to endure COMMERCIALS! Can you believe it?! There were no DVRs and fast forward buttons for tv back then.

I’m nervous to let them in our yard alone-even though we live on an acre of land on a private street and I have a big bay window to watch them the entire time. You can bet your bottom dollar they aren’t going to have a 9 year old babysitter- EVER.

It makes me wonder if I’m raising privileged individuals, or simply just living in different times and a different environment. My kids don’t have the option to walk or take public transportation somewhere across town as easily as I did. I have money- if they want something, it will most likely be under the Christmas tree this year.

All I know is that they are certainly growing up completely differently than I did. And while I may have had no money and we literally lived in top of each other in that tiny appartnent, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am who I am because of my childood. My experiences have made me who I am and I can only hope to pass  that independance and confidence I gained living that way to them. They will not grow up entitled brats, but the world has changed and they certainly are afforded many more opportunities than I was…

But isn’t that the point? You always want to provide your kids with the best possible life that you can give them. My mom gave me the best, and she had the least. It’s not about money. Ultimately, it’s just about love. And I’m gonna love the crap out of these two little guys.

 

A Day In The Life

Why is it that husbands do the most helpful things at the worst fucking times? I was simultaneously cleaning up from dinner, packing daycare lunches and trying to convince two toddlers to brush their teeth when my dear husband declared that the freezer had been “running for three days”. He absolutely couldn’t take it anymore, and  apparently needed to fix it right then and there.  It was 7pm (also known as bedtime) and I didn’t even realize that a freezer could “run”- but what do I know? 

I watched silently as he started to take frozen food products out and place them on the back deck. I watched as he pulled out his screw driver and took off the entire front door of the freezer. I watched as screw after screw came off of that thing; and before I knew it, he had the entire freezer dismantled and was using my blow dryer to speed up the defrosting process so he could remove the back panel.  The clock ticked away and as time ate deeper and deeper into bedtime, my blood pressure rose. There was no way either kid was going to bed with this damn blow dryer blasting.

  
It didn’t surprise me that both of my boys were immediately interested in what he was doing and crowded over him as he did his handy work. I shushed them away, taking my attention away from cleaning the kitchen and packing their lunches. The entire thing was obnoxious and I was definitely annoyed. 

At that moment, I looked over to the fridge and saw a photo from our wedding day- we were both smiling brightly, without a care in a world. Our innocent smirks pissed me off.  It was at that point that I realized that I feel like I am always annoyed at something, and as I peered into the eyes of a happy, skinny-bitch bride on her wedding day, I wondered just how I had turned into a tired, jaded shell of my former self. 

12:45am Unravel myself from my warm, comfortable covers and sleepwalk into the littlest one’s bedroom to retrieve his lost pacifier that he’s crying about. Return to bed.

2:45am Search under 3yr old’s bed for lost sippy cup, give up hope, refill new cup in kitchen, hand to toddler and return to bed.

3am Listen to husband snore. Finally go back to sleep. 

5:30am Retrieve the littlest one’s pacifier again. Pray he goes back to sleep and isn’t up for the day. Lie in bed for 10 minutes contemplating if I should just get up or not. Finally fall back asleep after trying to block out sounds of 3yr old and husband snoring this time. 

6:15am 3yr old hops into bed, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to start the day. Attempt to get him to fall back asleep in our bed. Fail miserably. Get kicked in the back, elbowed in the face and finally body slammed by 3yr old before getting up because littlest one is awake anyway, and shocker- can’t find his pacifier.

6:30am Put 3yr old on potty to pee. It’s been a whole week without diapers and I’m really proud of him.

6:45am Make breakfast, wrangle clothes on both boys, put away clean dishes from night before.

7am Get in shower. Spend three glorious moments alone before littlest one barges in and demands to join me.

7:30am Late for work. Littlest one is running around naked.

7:45am Pack school bags, Kiss everyone goodbye and get a toddler sized jelly filled hug, leaving a stain on my blouse. 

7:50am Attempt to wash out stain in bathroom sink. Successful. No time for drying, get in car with wet shirt.

8:30am-1pm Be professional. Answer 102 emails, phone calls and client meetings.

1pm Have adult conversation with pretty, younger and much more energetic co-worker. Attempt to feign sympathy as she complains about her friend who is vacationing in Paris and just dropped $6k on a new Chanel bag. It was the same one pretty co-worker wanted when she was there this past fall, but just in a different color.  Look down at my own $40 Kohls purse and remember how happy I was  that I had a gift card because I had just shelled out $2k for the month’s daycare tuition bill. 

2:15pm Realize I haven’t eaten lunch. It’s too late now- retrieve a shitty Luna bar from my desk that tastes like cardboard. Pretend it’s a snickers.

3:56pm Stupidly answer the phone at work. Supposed to leave in 4minutes to pick up kids but get caught in 15min business conversation. 

4:10pm Get in car. Have approx 35 minutes to drive the 45minutes it takes to get to daycare. Speed a little on the highway. 

4:20pm Freebird comes on the radio. Turn it up, roll down the windows and sing off-tune as loud as I can for the entire duration of the 8minute song. 

4:28pm New song comes on the radio- decide not to change the volume and continue blasting music entire way to daycare.

4:46pm Pull into daycare. Only 1minute late.  Realize it’s jammed packed with cars. Attempt to parallel park. Do a shitty job. Realize music is still blasting and fellow parents are giving me weird looks as The Beastie Boys blare from my car. Turn down music. Decide not to fix crappy parking job and fellow daycare father makes a joke at my expert parking as I walk in.

4:50pm Best part of the day- Greeted enthusiastically by both mini maniacs that I call my own. Huge hugs followed by immediate whining that they want a snack, want to go somewhere fun, don’t want to go home and by all means do not want to get into the car. Too bad. We’re not going anywhere fun and we are going home. Bribe children to get into carseats with stale crackers and promises of fun activities when we arrive home.

4:52pm Both kids have successfully taken off their shoes and socks in the back seat. 

5:10pm Arrive home. Experience de ja vu as both boys burst into tears when they realize daddy isn’t there. Whhhhhhy is he at work? Where is his truck? How come he isn’t here NOW?! Promise he will be home soon. Both calm down and an entire new meltdown starts as they both demand to be the first one taken out of their carseats. I wonder how long it is until bedtime. 

5:15pm-7pm It’s a whirlwind of Play-doh, crayons, markers and books peppered with them fighting over the same toy, laughing, beating each other up, and laughing some more. I clean out lunchboxes, start dinner and start making lunches for the next day. Daddy comes home and both kids are so happy to see him you’d think the President of the United States has walked in the door. I’m happy to see him too. Bathtime and pjs happen. I do not sit down once. Husband is exhausted from working outside all day. He doesn’t get to sit down either. 

7pm Husband chooses to tackle the freezer issue.

7:30pm Littlest one goes to bed. Hair dryer is still blasting.

8pm Freezer is fixed. Screw is missing. Husband is pissed. Littlest one is blamed, and while we’re both lying on the kitchen floor with flashlights looking under cupboards for the missing screw, husband and I argue over whether or not we think littlest one possibly ate the screw. 

8:15pm Screw is never found. Husband has no choice but to put the whole thing back together, sans screw. New, annoying rattling sound comes from freezer because it’s missing the screw. 

8:20pm 3yr old goes to bed.

8:30pm Finish lunches, try to unwind by suggesting movie on Amazon Prime. It’s a murder mystery set in England and when we turn it on we realize we can’t understand one word being said because everyone is talking so fast in an accent. Spend 25minutes arguing, trying to turn on the closed captions while trying to read lips and figure out what’s going on.

8:55pm After beating up the remote control and scouring the Internet, realize that Amazon Prime Video does not in fact support Closed Captions. Give up on movie and turn it off.

9pm Freezer is still rattling.

9:30pm Decide to go to bed, annoyed.

10pm Littlest one wakes up. 

He’s looking for his pacifier.

I See You

I see you. I see you pushing the boundaries. I see you doing that thing one.more.time after I tell you not to, and I see your side glance to me as you do it, begging my reaction. You’re driving me insane. I loose my cool with you more often than I should, and I’m sorry, but I’m tired. I’m so tired, sweet boy. You’re making me tired; but I guess that’s your job. You have so much energy, but my exhaustion isn’t a good excuse. You deserve more. I should be on my game all the time when I’m with you.

I see you growing before my eyes. I see you learn something new every day. I’m amazed. You are a sponge. You pick up on all of the small details in life that I take for granted. You question. You question often. All day, every day, all I hear are questions. You process new information and you grow; not only physically, but mentally. And I can see your mind working, like gears in a clock… You are always soaking up new information, new experiences, figuring life out moment by moment. You’re smart. No, you’re brilliant. (You’re my kid, why wouldn’t you be?) It’s becoming more difficult to shield you from the scary things in this world. You are asking too many questions. It’s overwhelming but enthralling all the same.

You remind me of myself. All of the time. Sometimes that’s awesome, and sometimes it’s not. Looking at you is like looking into a mirror and you reflect all my good qualities and also my flaws. You’re impatient. You’re a know it all. You are bossy. All qualities that you’ve inherited from me.  You’re also quick witted- and I love that about you. You’re also quick to forgive and forget. Your father might not agree that I’m capable of this, but this is a quality of mine that I’m both proud of and irritated by. It’s hard for me to hold a grudge. I’ve become soft in my old age. Honestly, I think it’s a  personality trait you should hang on to. Life is short. Don’t waste your time being angry.

You remind me of your father. You’re stubborn. You snore. You know how to get what you want in life and you know which of my buttons to push. You’re also smart. You’re really smart. You’re mechanically inclined and you’re kind. I’m madly in love with you and you drive me crazy at the same time. You are your dad.

I think about you all day and then when I get home from work all I think about is when I can get a break. You are tiring.

I see you push your brother when you’re frustrated. This makes me mad. I see you get upset when I yell at you to be gentler with your brother, and I can see that sometimes you are genuinely confused. You’re trying to figure out your emotions and it’s hard for me to remember that sometimes.  I need to be easier on you. I also feel the need to knock some sense into you half the time. You’re very confusing.

I see you laughing. You laugh all the time. You laugh about silly things and I envy your innocence. I want you to stay this way forever. I want a world where my biggest problems are whether my mom is making me put on a pair of pajamas that match, or if my little brother is hoarding all of the good matchbox cars.

I see you growing up in a world that scares me. I have this overwhelming need to shield you from all of the evil and negativity that exists out there, yet there’s a part of me that knows I shouldn’t, and that you need to know that  there are things that you need to beware of if you’re going to be able to survive. I just haven’t figured out how to talk to you about any of it yet. I’m not looking forward to any of these conversations.

I see you growing into a capable young boy that I’m proud of. You aren’t perfect, but there isn’t anyone on this earth who is. You’re pretty damn perfect in my eyes.  You are special. I want you to remember that. More than anything, I want you to carry with you the values that your dad and I have tried to instill in you. You matter. You have a voice. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anyone make you feel less of a person than you are. Be kind.  Be respectful. Be brave. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Help others in need. Be a good person. Be nice to your brother; because one day, he is all you’re going to have. Push yourself and do your best- and don’t accept anything less. You are perfect the way you are.

To my almost three year old, I have big dreams for you. My requests are simple: Please stop growing up so fast, and always remember that Mommy loves you. You make me question my own being and my decisions on a daily basis but you are all worth it. Remember that- YOU ARE WORTH IT. I love you to the moon and back.

edge