Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

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

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

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

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

Do you want to know what I regret? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

drink

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Woman To Remember

It’s funny how life works out. Sometimes something tragic can turn into the biggest blessing. Today marks the 15th Anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. Born in 1921, she would have been 96 today. She lived through the Great Depression and was in her twenties when brave soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. She witnessed the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagaski a year later. 

She raised four children: 3 boys and 1 girl;  as television sets entered American homes, JFK was shot, the first man landed on the moon, and Martin Luther King Jr was killed. She survived the 60’s with teenagers, and was either cool enough (or clueless enough) to let her 17 and 13 year old attend Woodstock. (Her 11yr old begged to go but she said he could go “next year”). 


Reverting back to how a tragic situation can sometimes turn into a blessing is that my Grandmother, Grace Strachan; a young girl in her twenties before all of this, was engaged to one of those brave boys who went to war to defend our country. She was broken hearted I’m sure, when he did not return. This young man, who I do not know by name, changed the course of my life. He gave up his, defending our country and led my grandmother onto a different path. Without this sad course of events, I would not be here. There would be no 4 children to raise, and no one to debate over concerts with in 1969.

My Grandmother graduated from Mt.Holyoke College in 1943. This single fact is amazing. At the time, 3.8% of the American women were college educated. Can you believe that?! Throughout her time in college, until the day she died; she served as Class President. She met and married a college educated Dentist (who had also served in WWII), a decent and sweet man, who swept her off her feet and gave her the new last name of Arnold. From then on, they were Johnnie & Gracie- inseparable.


Despite her college education, my grandmother was a proud housewife, who was happy to stay at home to raise her four children…. and discipline them when they needed it, as well. 

A favorite family story is that when my uncle John was in jr high and Uncle Bob was still in elementary school, they had walked to the Jr High to see a basketball game. On their way home, John & Bob, and a few friends started some mischief with grocery carts at the parking lot of the grocery store. When the cops came all the older boys got away and the little 5th grader Bob got his ass hauled to the Police Department. They called my grandmother, who went right down and without any explanation went right in and smacked the crap out of Bob. When the Chief tried to explain the situation, she asked to use the phone. She called my grandfather who was home with John, who had innocently just walked in the door. My badass grandmother told her husband to tell John to wait for her… and to take his glasses off. She meant business. She promptly went home and clobbered him for leaving his little brother on top of causing mischief. As a mother, she didn’t take any shit. 
We recently found a letter, dated midnight in the winter of 1966, written by my grandmother, after arriving home to a mess in the kitchen.

To the Waldorf! Good for her. As a New Jersey native, she knew where to go, and how to make a point. I’m pretty sure she didn’t find the kitchen in such disarray again.

She taught my mother to be a lady, yet to stand up for herself. My mother is a phenomenal cook and baker; trades she both learned from her parents. As the only girl, my mother had a special bond with my grandmother. I know that to this day, there isn’t a day that goes by that my mom doesn’t think about her, or want to share something with her. My mother is married to a wonderful man. An avid golfer (just like my grandparents), he treats my mother with the respect and affection that she deserves. He takes care of her and is a true gentleman. After a tough marriage with my father, I wish often that my grandparents could see how happy my mom is now. Then again, there is a part of me that knows that they know- cardinals frequent their yard and I have no doubt they are looking down, smiling at how happy my mother is right now.

I met my Grandmother in 1983, the year I was born. The first grandchild, she was over the moon. I think of how much technology has changed since then and now. My children Facetime my mother on a daily basis and we live 10mi apart. In the early 80’s, she was lucky if she got a photograph from time to time. 

As time went by, she watched her family grow, and was not only the mother of four, but grandmother of twelve. Every single one of us were the apple of her eye- even my two cousins who joined our family when we were little and not blood related to us. She adored  us all and we all loved her.

I was the first grandchild to meet my grandmother, and the last grandchild to see her before she passed. I was living in Washington DC in college at the time and she stopped by with my grandfather and uncle on their way to Florida. I could tell she wasn’t herself. She barely ate at lunch and seemed out of it. I recall calling my mother after our visit to tell her that I was worried.

They made their way to Florida, and as the story goes, for three nights in a row, while she and my grandfather laid in bed, she made a point to tell him that the past fifty years of her life (yes they had been married 50+ years) had been the best of her life and she loved him more than words would say. She repeated this each evening. She knew the end was coming. She passed on that fourth day, after my grandfather had taken her to get her hair done. It was the right time for her. She died looking fabulous and telling her husband she loved him. She was a gem; a diamond actually. SHE WAS THE BEST.

15 years have flown by, and yet I still feel her presence. She is out there, watching over us all. I know she’s waiting for us. Until then, Gramma, you will forever be in my heart.

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

 

Advice From A 90 Year Old Woman

As you may know, my second job (after being a parent) is an event planner. I met a lovely woman, Dorothy today. She is planning her 90th birthday. What an accomplishment! We discussed her menu and details; most of her guests would be family or friends from the assisted living home she lives in.

As we went through her details, Dorothy mentioned to her daughter that she specifically wanted it written on the invitation “No Gifts”. I chuckled and said “You only turn 90 once, I have a feeling some of your guests may disobey your request.” Her response was shocking to me and quite profound.

“What I’d like more than cards or presents is for people to visit me more or call me. A gift is trivial. At this point, I want to maintain connections with those who I love.”

It made me instantly remember a phone call I received, almost a year to this date. It was a cold winter evening when my husband’s 85yr old Great Aunt called me. I didn’t recognize her phone number so I didn’t answer. She left a message and I called her back immediately, thinking something was wrong. I mean, why else would someone you don’t speak to often call you at 8pm at night? The thing was, she just wanted to talk- she wanted to see how things were and to say hello. She mentioned that she asked a few family members for my phone # and they all said “oh, you can just find her on Facebook.” She replied “I don’t know how the hell to use Facebook and I wanted to TALK to you, so I called you!”

It was sweet. We caught up, and it made me realize it was the first time I used my phone to actually SPEAK with someone and “catch up” with them in longer than I can remember.
What was wrong with this picture? I should have been the one to call HER.

It made me think of my own grandparents.

My Fraternal Great Grandmother made her way through Ellis Island from Ireland and raised five children , all first generation Americans with 100% Irish blood running through their veins. I recently found out through my uncle that her father was a sailor on a merchant ship out of Belfast Ireland. When the ship docked in NYC he jumped ship and was an illegal alien for 7 years before he gained his citizenship. He never returned to Ireland and always carried his citizenship papers on him until he died for fear of being deported back to Ireland. My uncle once asked his grandmother why she never returned to Ireland she replied in her wonderful Irish brogue ” Who’d want to go? There’s nothing there”

So much for the Irish Ministry of Tourism.

My Grammy had a thick New York/ Long Island accent and NO FILTER. At 5′ 10″, she could not only hold her own, she was a fire cracker. My grandfather died in the early 60s, a WWII vet. He left behind a wife and three young children under the age of 13. With no formal college education she became a teacher to support her family.
They never had much but they made it work. She never remarried and was an independent, strong willed woman. She once told my mother after asking why she never re-married that she “was a widow- not stupid!” She was old school- she lived alone for 50+ years and stayed in her house until her death in 2008, hosting card games and befriending the local Catholic priests.

As the neighborhood changed around her, she watched her Irish/Italian bubble evolve and had no qualms mentioning out dated terminology for the new, mostly ethnic people moving in around her (and out of respect I won’t quote her).

She answered the phone not with a simple “hello” but a loud, thick accented “Hi there!” Her favorite line when we would complain about something was “tough toenails- deal with it.”

Her house was always packed with Entenemmans coffee cake, cool whip and fresh NY bagels. She drank mini half cans of Budweiser. She requested no eulogy to be read at her funeral, as she felt that was too self indulgent. She was a strong woman, a pain in the ass at times and I loved her dearly.

My maternal grandparents were what I can only describe as living examples of the American Dream. It was the American Dream! They were happily married for over 50 years and produced four children, 3 boys and 1 girl (my mother).

My grandfather owned a lucrative dentistry practice and my grandmother was happily the quintessential 1950’s housewife, despite the fact that she graduated from a prestigious women’s college herself.  They lived down the street from Martha Stewart (if that gives you any indication of the ideal life they were living) and they truly gave all they had to their children. I have never met two sweeter or kind hearted people in my life.

My grandmother was the type to coordinate and host breakfasts for my uncle’s sports teams prior to games (which could be for upwards of 25 hungry teenage boys!) I recently heard a story where she arranged it so that for one breakfast she had special mugs to be made with each boy’s name and sports number on it, as a keepsake. She loved her children and later on, her grandchildren more than words can say.

My gramma saw the good in people, and sometimes her naïveté worked against her. The funniest story I’ve heard about her was that my teenage uncle was able to convince her to take his 13 year old brother to Woodstock and when the 11 year old complained, she said, “you can go next year!” I’d love to know what happened during that trip!

My grandfather worked hard and played hard. An avid golfer, he was out golfing in the middle of February just a month before he passed. He lived in plaid golfing pants and was quite the chef as well. He “retired” after living in New Jersey to Cape Cod, only to start up a new Dentistry practice once he got bored. If you couldn’t find him at home watching golf, he was out on the course playing it.

My memories of all of my grandparents are fond ones. Sadly, they all have passed. I think often how much my mother’s parents would have loved her new husband: a business man and avid golfer himself… they would have been over the moon to see her with someone who treats her so well.

So, what’s the moral of the story? I’m not sure I have one- if you’ve gotten this far reading, you deserve an A+. If you have elderly loved ones who are still around, consider yourself lucky. Pick up the phone and call them just to say hi. I’m positive you won’t regret it, and you’ll make their day too.

2017: Secrets and Resolutions 

We are here! 2017!  2016 wasn’t SO BAD, but it was difficult- for a lot of us. I have to say that  I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2017.

2016: It all started with a child, a gorilla and a zoo and just went downhill from there. This election year has torn apart the country and sadly, even torn apart friendships. 

My two year old had a second set of ear tubes in earlier last week- he also had his adenoids out. After a rough reaction to the anesthesia, he seemed out of the woods and was back to normal. Fast forward to two days later  where I realized it had been a full 24hours since he had eaten or drank much more than a sip of anything and off to the Emergency Room we went. My husband took my oldest to a college basketball game to keep him busy while I waited in the ER. I emerged six hours later with a prescription that needed to be immediately filled and directions to offer him syringes of water every hour, on the hour overnight, including a new dose of this new medication. I didn’t sleep that evening, and my husband and I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since then.Just chalk it up to #parentlife. 

Our three year old has asthma and every so often has bad attacks that leads to doctor visits and it’s bad enough that we own our own our own hospital grade nebulizer. Of course this had to happen in the middle of the two year old’s recovery and the holidays. 

I’ve always promised to be honest on my blogs, so here’s a secret I’ve never told you: Coastal Mama is certainly NOT PERFECT.  I smoke. Cigarettes. Never in front of my children and I doubt they even know at this age but it haunts me everyday. How can I have a child who is asthmatic and still smoke? I quit with both pregnancies as soon as I peed on those sticks and I never cheated  once which gives me some solace because both kids were born with breathing issues, completely unrelated to this but I would have never been able to forgive myself if I did. All that said, it doesn’t matter because I picked it back up afterwards. I know: it’s stupid. It’s killing me. It’s not good for my kids. But I’m selfish and I am not perfect.  I’m embarrassed. No one in my family smokes, my husband doesn’t and my parents didn’t while I grew up. WHY DID I START? Why do I like it so much??

Maybe 2017 will be my year to come to my senses and stop. Maybe it won’t: It’s been 20 years of this now, and I’m ashamed. I’m a closet smoker. 

Now that you know my secret, are there any secrets you’re willing to admit to yourself that you want to give up for the New Year? We all have our demons; lose weight, be less judgmental, smoking too much weed, cut down on alcohol intake, have more patience,  love more. SHOW love more. If there something you’ve been waiting on to do, do it. You want to propose to your girlfriend? Do it before it’s too late. You want to leave a dangerous relationship? Do it. You deserve to be treated the best, and if you’re receiving anything less, let it go.

There were a lot of highlights in 2016: I had friends give birth and announce pregnancies. Job promotions and the simplest of all; living a life that you’re happy with and proud to be living.

I’m no expert, but if you’re living a life that makes you happy, do all you can to hang on to that. Nothing is guaranteed in this world: health, money, happiness. You, and you alone are in charge of your destiny. 

Happy 2017, my friends- make this the best year yet!

Xo,

Coastal Mama

Throwing Modesty Out the Window: Things No One Tells You Before and After You Give Birth

Congratulations! You’re pregnant? 

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SHRED OF MODESTY YOU HAD.

I was two weeks overdue with my first child and took a week off prior to my due date (in case he was early) and ended up sitting around for three weeks as a hormonal mess. 

I kept wondering if this baby was ever going to come out of me. Finally, the day before I was about to be induced, I went into labor. I waited nine hours before actually going to the hospital. 

One of the fun parts of labor they don’t tell you about is that your stomach muscles are contracting so much, you’ll probably end up shitting yourself at some point. Everyone is so worried about doing it while pushing the baby out, no one thinks to worry about what happens before the baby comes out. As soon as I arrived, the nurse gave me a hospital gown to change into and I headed to the bathroom. The toilet seat was obviously made for a NBA basketball player and was way too high. I hoisted myself up onto the seat and was sitting there, buck naked, 8,000 months pregnant, feet dangling 5 inches from the floor, literally going to the bathroom when the nurse casually came in to have a little “chat” with me. It was as if this was completely normal. I was a gigantic  naked, fat whale, having a complete coversation with a stranger while I was actually pooping at the same time. There were literally audible sounds coming from the bathroom that neither came from her or my mouth. She didn’t seem the least bit phased, and as I sat there in all my beluga whale glory, I answered her questions . I walked out of that bathroom in my cotton hospital gown and knew in that instant that any privacy I was used to was soon to change, very quickly. 

For the last nine months, as my belly grew,  I had been having external and internal exams by my OBGYN.  It’s like your yearly OB exam on crack- a super pleasant experience where as a bonus you get to weigh in every.single.time– reminding you that size 4 dress in your closet will forever haunt you as what could be considered “your former self, before children.”  You might as well use that tiny piece of fabric as a burp cloth, because your fat ass isn’t going to fit into it again for a loooooong time; if ever.

During the holiday season while I was out shopping, I was asked by no fewer than five strangers if I was “due any day now” or “carrying twins.” I was 3 months away from my due date at that point and my only answer was that I was carrying an enormous beast in my belly- but thanks for asking anyway.

I had come to the point where I just wanted to wear a tee shirt that said: 

“Yes, I am pregnant. No, I’m not having twins. It is a boy. We do not have a name picked out and if you even try to go near my belly with your grubby hand I will back hand you… have a great day!”

I started growing out of my maternity clothes and refused to buy new ones because I was just so sick of wearing them in the first place. I’d sit in weekly board meetings with my staff, 2 inches of my bare belly hanging out of my shirt, in spandex and wearing slippers because my feet were so swollen. I had given up. 

In this world, there are “hot” pregnant ladies and then there are…. the rest of us. My wedding photographer begged me to take maternity pictures to commemorate this time. I should have done it at 3 months along- because that was pretty much the only time I looked like a “hot pregnant lady”

By the time my first child decided to make an entrance into this word, I had been in labor for 31 hours and my 10lb pork roll child was born via emergency c-section because his fat head couldn’t fit for a regular vaginal delivery. My delivery was documented in a previous post so I won’t go over that again, but this was the first time I really valued how incredible modern medicine is. I counted my blessings because if this had been 100+ years ago, I probably wouldn’t have lived through that delivery, and neither would my child. Without that c-section, he was not coming out.

There were quite a few post-partum moments that my modesty just flew out the window again. The first time my nurse took out my catheter so I could pee normally, she insisted it was her job to  “monitor me”. At this point I couldn’t give two shits about what was happening, so I sat on the toilet, I watched her squat down in front of me and spray warm water onto my nether regions. I swear, if I could have kissed this lady, I would have. Nurses deserve a lot more credit for what they do. After carrying a gigantic human inside of me, EVERYTHING was swollen. As this nurse helped me out, I almost cried because it felt so good. There needs to be a tip jar in your hospital room. 

Four glorious months later of living with a colicky, screaming baby, I found myself miraculously pregnant again. We had talked about having more children, but certainly not this soon. I always joke that I got pregnant with my second baby alone. My husband had gone out for the night with friends and I decided to drink and entire bottle of wine alone to celebrate my child  finally sleeping through the night. My husband came home as I was throwing the bottle in the recycling bin, and the rest is history. 

I ended up having two c-sections,13 months apart. My second c-section was planned. For months, I hadn’t been able to see my feet, never mind anything else below my gigantic belly.  I had an infant to take care of, while waddling around pregnant with my second child and maintaining my lady parts was last on my list of priorities. As I was being prepped for surgery, the nurse asked if a student doctor could shave the area of the surgery site. I was in a good mood and replied “Sure, as long as she brought a weed whacker with her. ” My husband almost fell off the chair in embarrassment. I was a million months pregnant at this point and was happy at least someone was taking care of what I had been neglecting down there for so long.

I started some new medication earlier this summer and one of the side effects is weight gain. It had been 2.5 years since having my last baby and I remember wailing to my doctor “but I just lost all my baby weight!!!!” 

He assured me this medication caused the least amount of weight gain… and to some extent he was right- my ass stayed the same, my face stayed the same and my legs and arms look fine. Those lovely  extra few pounds have taken up shop in my gut and I look essentially early first trimester pregnant. I’ve been asked 4 times over the past 2 months if I’m expecting baby #3, resulting in a meltdown in my office one day that startled every one of my co-workers, including the Vice President of my company, who just stood there, wide eyed.  Like a crazy lady, I randomly screamed  “Attention! I have an important message for you all!  In case you’re wondering- I AM NOT PREGANT- THERE IS NO BABY IN HERE, just FAT, most likely caused by wine and hard ciders that I use to nurse myself to sleep each night, so spread the news, THERE IS NO FREAKING BABY IN THERE, suckers!” 

Once you’ve had kids, apparently these are the things you have to yell in your office to get the point across. I’m pretty sure no one talked to me for the rest of the day in fear I may bite their heads off.

Bottom line. Prepare for the unexpected. Prepare to be embarrassed, but know that no one else is. They’re professionals and see this stuff all the time. Having a baby changes things; I’m just glad I was married before going through all of this, because I knew my husband was bound to me, even after seeing what he saw, he legally couldn’t run away.

Prepare yourself to feel your heart burst with something that is unexplainable; a love that you never knew existed until you see those little eyes looking up at you and you realize you made this tiny human.

Once you get over the initial endorphin high, If you want to talk REAL FUN, we can discuss post-partum adult diapers and the dreaded first post partum poop sometime. I’ve got some great stories.

Until next time,

Coastal Mama 😘