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

 

 

 

Shame On Us: The Impossible Journey of a Working Mother

Let me tell you a story. A story that has me so angry on so many levels that I am not sure I’m going to be able to get this out without writing expletives on every other line, but I’ll try.

Meet Julia. Julia worked her ass off to put herself through business school. She took out a massive amount of student loans and commuted to Boston from her home, 60 miles south, in Rhode Island, every day for her first job.

Her first job was tough. She worked for a Hedge Fund company and the hours were long and the work was intense. She worked harder than she ever had before to prove herself and gave them her all. Her entire first year out of school was spent schlepping around the country for work. Practically living in airports, she was lucky she was dating a nice guy who understood her insane hours. Julia and Tom eventually got married and it took her two years before she realized that her current place of employment wasn’t jiving with her family plans. 

“You Can’t Have a Family” was practically written in their company handbook. Maybe not in ink, but it was made pretty clear by their expectations and the hours she was required to work. As she took a quick look around at the perpetually single and happily married but child-less co-workers who surrounded her, she knew that if she wanted to have children, she would need to change firms.

Julia moved onto greener pastures and found the perfect fit- a firm that was comprised of all women. It was everything she had been looking for: a place filled with strong working women, moms and wives who understood the daily struggle it is to be a woman in a man’s world. When she got pregnant shortly after starting there, they congratulated her and threw her an office baby shower. As her pregnancy progressed and her doctor appointments became more frequent, they understood; they too had been there at one time. She managed to fit her appointments in and made it through the calendar year without one sick day. Julia felt lucky to work in such a great working environment. She continued to pull her weight as a productive member of the team and earned the highest bonus in the company, while simultaneously preparing her home to welcome her much anticipated little bundle of joy. 

 She never slowed down and continued to work hard, even raking in one of the company’s biggest clients the week prior to her due date. Julia fully recognized that she was one of the lucky ones when she began her twelve week paid maternity leave when baby boy  arrived two days early.

Dylan was beautiful, even more perfect than Julia had imagined him being. Julia and Tom spent her maternity leave soaking up squishy baby cuddles and visiting local daycares. They enrolled Dylan in one of the top daycares in their area and Julia prepared to return to work. Twelve weeks flew by in a blink of an eye.

Julia had been back at work for two weeks before she had found herself in the same shoes as many other parents: exhausted from going back to work, continuously pumping and getting little to no sleep. Her immune system was down and she had caught a cold. She shipped Dylan off to her parents and told her boss that she would work from home. By Tuesday afternoon, she had spiked 102 fever and was diagnosed with strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. Julia was forced to take another sick day on Wednesday. She had been back at work for three weeks and had taken 2 sick days back to back , with one day working from home. 

Julia often worked from home prior to having the baby, but somehow, this time was different. Her phone didn’t ring once. No one from her office emailed her. Communication went dead. They were icing her out. Still sick as a dog Thursday morning, she knew something was up and she was going to have to go in to the office.

“We see that you are struggling Julia, and we want to help you out. We love you and we want to make you shine, but you are having a hard time and you are making yourself sick.” Julia’s boss explained, feigning a concerned tone. “We would like you to move to working as a consultant per diem. We have certain expectations of you now that you are mom, and simply put, you aren’t meeting them.”

“I wish someone did this for me, its sooo hard being a working mom. You know how much we love you, and we are doing this for you.” Some bitch, (obviously meant to be in the meeting as a witness) chirped. No one mentioned the fact that they had hired someone else while Julia was on maternity leave. “You will see this move as a gift, not as a punishment.”

“Yes,” Her boss interrupted, “I know this will be a big pay cut, but since you earned such a big raise last year, going per diem shouldn’t effect you so much. Think of all the money you will be saving on daycare now, too! We are doing you a favor.”

For Fuck’s Sake. Were these women for real? Had Julia had a streak of bad luck? Yes. She most certainly had, but she hadn’t even been back at work for 3 full weeks! Not only were they demoting her, but they were selling it to her like they were doing her a fucking favor. Shame on them. Julia sat there in silence, with a pounding headache and a sore throat, as she listened to these women feed her line after line of bullshit. 

Julia had a perfect record working in this company up until this point, and the fact that they escalated things so quickly after her coming back seems a little more than unfair. I have more issue with the fact that they pretended this was in her best interest than the actual fact that they demoted her. They planted the seed in her head that not only was she failing as a new mother, but also as a working mother. If she wasn’t able to handle one baby and work, how was she ever going to think about adding any additional children to her family? Her confidence immediately  plummeted the more they continued to talk. She left the meeting feeling emotionally exhausted, defeated, and like a piece of shit. Her self worth, both as a mother and a working woman had been attacked, and her psyche had been severely screwed with.

I’m all for gender equality, and I am all for having a solid work ethic and what is expected from employees in a professional setting.  All that being said, I question if this conversation would have occurred at all if Julia was a man. I severely doubt it. I have heard story after story of working women being considered a sub-par employee once they have children. I have seen it and lived it. I’ll admit it; It’s almost impossible to give 100% at work and at home. I spend the most time I can during work hours with clients, only to race to pick up my children from pre-school and daycare, make dinner, give baths, read books, cuddle and put them to bed.  Once I pickup the house after everyone has gone to bed, I pull out my lap top and get BACK to work. Ask any of my clients or co-workers. They’ve received an email or finalized documents at 12:35am in the morning from me.

The chips are stacked against us women. I’m not a man-hater, I’m just stating the facts. If Julia was a man, she wouldn’t have been on maternity leave in the first place. This is something that no one can control. Men are simply not equipped by nature to give birth, and therefore, this honor falls on our shoulders. 

 If Julia was a man, she would have not only been the target of such an attack, but I also firmly believe that if the bosses in this scenario were men, such personal issues wouldn’t have been brought into what should have been a business conversation in the first place. 

Fine, you don’t think I’m doing the job I should be? Demote me. Fire me, even. That’s fair. Don’t insult me by telling me you care about me and are doing me a favor. Why do women always feel the need to bring personal issues into business related material?

So, on some level, this story is made worse for me because her bosses are fucking women. They should know better. They should know that it takes some time for adjustment going back to work after having a baby, and getting sick is especially something that you cannot control. 

Julia is a perfect example of all that is wrong with the way the United States views new mothers and maternity leave. I have discussed the Glass Ceiling in previous posts, and this is a prime example of why it is virtually impossible for mothers to excel in the workplace. Working and managing a family, especially living with a newborn is not easy. Julia was set up to fail from the moment her FLMA leave time expired. 12 weeks is not enough time to spend at home with your new baby and adjust to your new “normal”. At 12 weeks old, Dylan had just started to wake up from his “newborn slumber” and was starting to become pretty fun as he became aware of the world around him. He was beginning to respond to Julia and Tom and his social smiles were more frequent now. Parenting had just begun to become more rewarding, and Julia watched as Dylan grew leaps and bounds both mentally and physically as each day went by.  Despite this exciting time, Julia was still exhausted; she was breast feeding and pumping every four hours and Dylan was still waking up three to four times a night. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in months. 

 At 12 weeks, your baby still needs you just as much as the day it was born and yet, some political genius out there thought that 12 short weeks all the time you needed to bond with your child before shipping them off into someone else’s care and heading back to the work force- not to mention that it’s not mandatory for your employer to pay you while you’re on maternity leave. I took the maximum 16 weeks I could when my second baby was born sick. I lost out on a quarter of my salary that year, not to mention the potential commission I lost because I work in sales and missed meeting with clients.

Unless you are blessed with available family, your child will spend their time with a stranger at a daycare, as you get a collective four hours of (non-consecutive) sleep a night and are expected to function like normal human being at work.

Shame on these women, shame on this broken system, and shame on us for allowing this sort of thing to continue in the United States. Turn the news on and all you will hear are politicians preaching about job reform, employment rates, and making sure that our economy grows. It’s never going to happen if we can’t address this glaring issue within our society. THINGS NEED TO CHANGE. We are living in 2017, not 1955. We are drastically behind on the times, and it’s embarrassing. Don’t kid yourself, this issue does not just effect women, it’s effecting everyone. 

Like mine, Julia’s  entire family’s income changed overnight, adding stress to her and her husband, and with the increased costs a child presents to their family, you can bet your bottom dollar they are going to be contributing less to the economy. The single guy working at the local restaurant that Julia and Tom frequent is now going to be out a few extra dollars since they won’t be in as often. The owner of that restaurant has lost two customers for the time being, and the person who supplies that restaurant’s produce has just received a slightly smaller order for this week. You may not think that this effects you, but it does. It trickles down to everyone. For being the most “powerful country in the world”, it’s deplorable that we haven’t figured out a better way to handle maternity leave and working mothers in a better way.

Let’s do something to change this. Start with Julia’s story and be inspired. Don’t let this happen to your family or someone you know, but the sad reality is that it probably already has.

And simply because I didn’t get to use enough profanity as I had hoped to in this point, let me close with offering those two ladies a big FUCK YOU on behalf of Julia and all the other working mothers and families out there.

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

 

Evolution

I believe that we are all always a work in progress. Who I am today is not who I thought I would’ve ended up being 25 years ago … and I’m sure in 25 years, I’ll be saying the same thing. We’re always evolving. At seven years old, I thought I’d be Punky Brewster.Punky lived in a city, wore the coolest clothes and had a happy disposition, despite her parents abandoning her and moving into an apartment with an old man. I considered asking my parents to change my name to Punky many times but decided I didn’t have the wardrobe to pull off the pull Punky effect and let it go.

Around this same time I had a mild (ok massive) obsession with Macgyver.

Good ole’ Mac was on every Monday night and you can bet I did NOT miss an episode. Possibly my first adolescent crush (without me even realizing at the time), but more importantly, Macgyver knew how to do EVERYTHING. He had genius level intellect and as a secret agent, and could literally save himself and “Macgyver” himself out of an impossible situation with a single paperclip. His name alone is not only considered a verb but a noun now.

v. 1. To use ingenuity to fix or remedy a problem using only the tools available at hand. 2. To jury-rig 

n. Someone who can regularly cobble together solutions to problems using only the tools available at hand.

Simply, he was the coolest guy around… and for you die-hard fans, you’d know his real name is Angus.

In junior high, I probably most identified with Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell.

I’d love to say I was Kelly Kapowski, but I had just moved from NYC to a small coastal town in little Rhode Island and was the new kid in town. I was certainly not the most popular, but I had a lot of friends. I considered myself to be middle of the road and friendly with most everyone. Jessie was super studious and somewhat dorky. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow her fashion sense, as I spent most of 7th & 8th grade wearing orange lipstick and 90’s grunge flannel shirts, worshiping  Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains & Nirvana, but my work ethic at school and her goody two shoes attitude most closely resembled Jessie, despite my musical interests.

In high school, I idolized the movie Reality Bites and thought about how my life would turn out after I graduated high school and college. Life seemed so complicated but free. The best scene out of this movie is the end, with the best U2 song in existence in my opinion (All I want is You).  I would have used this song as my wedding song. But it was simply way too long. Ethan Hawk had the greasiest hair, was a grunge looser and yet I couldn’t help falling in love with him.

College was filled with a weekly roommate screening of Sex and the City

I identified with every character in some way or form. Carrie Bradshaw, being the main character, was the obvious choice to connect with. She was fashionable, living a somewhat fabulous life in NYC but she wasn’t perfect. She cheated on good guys (when she broke up with Aiden, my heart literally broke). Looking back, she was incredibly selfish for her age while simultaneously being a hopeless romantic, and she spoke to every woman of my generation. Life isn’t perfect, but despite all the drama going on in that series, the main point was that friends should come first and don’t diss them for some douche bag guy. I’ve made that mistake a few times more than I’d like to admit and have regretted it tremendously.

My latest idol has been this chick.

Claire Underwood from House of Cards is one Badass Bitch. She knows what she wants and she gets it. She isn’t the most likable character at times but she has an agenda and you have to respect that. She takes no bullshit. She gets shit done.  She’s also scary though. In real life, I respect the “real” Robin Wright over her character (You can read more if you click on her  link)- she is beautiful, intelligent and she’s one of the few examples lately of the short list of women who have broken the glass ceiling. She recently re-negotiated her contract to be paid the same as her costar, Kevin Spacy.  (Plus, her haircut is amazing; something I’d never be able to pull off.)

To quote:

“It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in ‘House of Cards,’” said Wright, who had been talking about the problem of equal pay for women more generally.

“I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” Wright said with her trademark blinding-white grin. “And they did.”

Good for her.

I met my husband after college. He is 11yrs older than me; and in a former life while I was watching all these TV shows, he was riding his motorcycle all around the country. He’s seen more than I have. He earned a business degree and has 10 times the amount of financial knowledge than I do. He is an intelligent man.  Talk to him for five minutes and he’ll prove my point. He is a former State Trooper and comes from a wonderful family. He was a single bachelor with no one to be responsible for but himself.  Once I showed up on the scene, I changed that. Our kids have changed us the most-today,  we see little of our old lifestyle that we used to live. We’re mostly ok with that- one day they’ll be gone and we will miss this time in their lives.

I doubt my husband has ever watched Saved by the Bell, Sex and the City or Punky Brewster– yet we make it work. We come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives on life in general. There are times that we’re not on the same page about things. We’ve both brought past baggage into this relationship; but hasn’t everyone?

Since having children, while I’d love to say I’m Claire Underwood or Carrie Bradshaw, I’ve developed into a crazy mix of MOM.

Bev from Meet the Goldbergs, idolizes her children- to the point of over suffocating them. I’m not that mom, but at the same time. I’d do anything for them. They are my life and while they drive me insane sometimes, my love for them has never wavered.

I’m glad I never turned into Punky Brewster or any of those other idols I held dear in my younger years. I’m still a little sad I never married Macgyver, but if you’ve seen a recent picture of him lately, You’d probably be ok with losing good ole’ Mac as well. I’m married to my the love of my life, and coincidentally- he is somewhat of his own Macgyver. Physically, he can fix almost anything out of nothing and mentally, he challenges me to be a better person everyday.

For now, I’ll be smothering those babies I have, because at the end of the day; family is all that we have left, and is all that is important.

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

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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.

 

She

I am fierce. I am strong. I am a woman and you better not fuck with me.

I am the little girl who you never really let be a little girl. You expected too much, cared too little, and let me figure things out on my own the hard way- more often than you should have. I’m the same girl who grew up quickly and left you in the dust the first chance I had. You taught me a lot. The most important lesson I learned from you was to be anything but you and to make sure that I show my own children that I love them unconditionally with every breath that I take. They do not, and will not have the same experiences that I did. I will give my kids more than you ever gave to me, and it isn’t going to cost me a penny. 

I’m the friend who was young and stupid. I put boyfriends on a higher pedestal than my friends and wasted a lot of time with the wrong guys. I lost a lot of loyal girlfriends who were better to me than I was to them.

I am that girl you talked down to. I’m the one you lied to, the one you pretended to love and the one you threw away. I’m the one who is better off now that you aren’t in my life anymore. I am a stronger and wiser person for those experiences. 

I’m the one who picked up some bad habits along the way.  I got rid of some, kept others, and have come to peace with living with the last bits for the time being. I’m a work in progress. I feed my kids better food than I feed myself, put their needs ahead of mine, go to bed too late, have an infinite love of wine and spend too much time worrying about things that are beyond my control. 

I am a happy person. I am loved by my family and friends and I have a kickass, handsome husband. He isn’t perfect, but far from perfect am I, and he seems to love me anyway. I hit the jackpot.   

I am angry. I am loud, annoying, hormonal and obnoxious. I am passionate, relentless, raging and primal. I love with all that I have.  I stand up for myself, and I am an advocate for those who do not have a voice of their own. I have made it my mission to do all that I can do to leave this world a better place than when I entered it. 

I’m the one who has been told that I’m lucky enough to own a  #womancard. My entire life, I’ve been told to dress appropriately, to smile, to keep my mouth shut. I have been expected to be lady in the streets and a freak between the sheets. I’ve been forced to spend an arm and a leg on tampons, maxi pads, make-up and hair removal products all while being made to be a magician and make a dollar bill out of .79 cents. 

I am She.

Who is She?  She is a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a spouse and a partner. She is single and she is divorced. She is a friend, coworker, aunt, niece and the chick standing next to you in line at the grocery store.  She is me. She is you.  She is exhausted and she is scared. She is doing the best damn job she can right now and deserves your respect. She is a sexy motherfucker.  She gives her all and expects nothing less in return; and she deserves it, and so much more.

Everyday She plays the role of Superwoman and no one even notices. Give your girl a high five next time you see her. She deserves it.