Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Ok. So here's an embarrassing thing I did tonight.

It was getting late. On a school night. My husband was out of town on business. I was trying to wrangle three small children into their respective beds. We were nearing the finish line. I could see the light.

Dinner done. Bath done. Time for pajamas!

I opened the drawer full of sleepwear. Being that all three girls are roughly the same size, it's a nightly free-for-all, where every kid gets to select an ensemble that matches her mood. It's a fun routine!

Except for tonight. When war broke out.

Over the stuuuuuuupid Minnie Mouse 2-piece schmatte, no less, that no one ever gave a rat's ASS about before this night.

The sound of high-pitched screeching prompted me to spin around, at which point I see my 2-year-old attempting to forcefully strip the garment off my 3-year-old's body, and, as you can imagine, much agitated hollering from both ensued.

I was on my last nerve already.
This was not helping.

I got down on the floor with them. "WHAT ABOUT THIS ONE?... OR THIS ONE?" I begged the 2-year-old, flinging pajamas out of the box to no avail.

"THEN JUST GIVE HER THE PAJAMAS!" I ordered the 3-year-old, pleading at her with my eyes to no avail.

"OK, THEN GIVE HER ONE *HALF* OF THE PAJAMAS!" I countered, and finally hit a somewhat rational chord with my somewhat rational 3-year-old, who stopped howling long enough to remove the pajama pants and hold them out defeatedly to her little sister.

"NO, WANT THE SHIRT TOOOOOO!" wailed the decidedly less rational 2-year-old, face turning beet red and snot and tears consuming her face.

My aggravation was turning into panic.

And so, in a moment of pure desperation, I stood up and announced flatly:


And the 3-year-old, God bless her, recently coveting a bottle of electric pink nail polish in CVS (and mistakenly believing that 5 dollars would buy her 5 nail polishes, I later found out), couldn't get out of the damn pajamas fast enough. The 2-year-old, meanwhile, too amped up to take real pleasure in her victory but still oblivious to the power of the penny, finally stopped crying.

And just like that the crisis was over.
Peace was restored.
I wasn't going to have to run away from home! (tonight.)

So I ask you...

*not* whether it is morally inappropriate to pay off toddlers with cold hard cash (because I already know the answer, and believe me when I tell you I DON'T CARE), but simply...

*WHY* didn't I think of this sooner?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer Slacker.


Still here.

Just took the summer off.

Not because anything terrible happened.

Just because I got lazy, or overheated, or caught up in silly things that seemed important at the time but now I can't remember.

But I think of you!

And I am coming back. Soon. We're just in the middle of a move, and changing schools, and I kinda feel exhausted to my core, even when I have just woken up...

Can't wait to talk to you.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Normal Day.

I have been having a terrible time with my 5-year-old lately.

She seems to be desperately stuck between two worlds: on the one hand, she can carry on a sophisticated conversation about a very mature subject to the point that you forget you're talking to a kid; and on the other hand, she has taken to extremely babyish meltdowns over the most trivial (in my opinion) things (i.e., my telling her that she's taking too long washing her hands and needs to hurry up). Whenever she crumples to the floor, loudly wailing and dramatically quivering her bottom lip, I find myself exploding onto her with frustration. HOW CAN YOU BE SUCH A BIG GIRL AND SUCH A BABY AT THE SAME TIME?

And yet.

Sometimes, when the kids are finally all asleep, and the house is quiet, and I have a minute to reflect on how stressed I was that day, and how many times I caught myself yelling at the kids, and how I at one point resorted to sitting outside on the front steps so that the kids wouldn't see me crying with exasperation.... I realize that I don't really have anything to be upset about at all.

The "problems" of my day are ones that many moms, who find themselves in far, far more dire straits, would kill to have.

I have two friends whose children were recently diagnosed with significant medical problems. Those women have had their worlds turned upside down. I experience their pain, for fleeting moments at a time, through their anguished status updates. And then I go back to pulling my hair out because my three children can't stop tattling on each other for five minutes.

And that's more than a little bit crazy.

So I have been moved to revisit these two little nuggets of wisdom, the first one brought into my life by, if I remember correctly,, and the second, by The video clip is a few minutes long but I don't think you'll regret taking the time. And even if you've seen it before, I find it still makes an impact, even upon repeat viewing.

The next time, then, that I find myself sitting on the doorstep gritting my teeth in what feels like madness, I hope I will remember these messages, and go back inside and hug my kids. 'Cuz even when a normal day absolutely SUCKS, it's still a normal day, and for that I need to be more grateful. xo.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day, I may dig my nails in the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want more than all the world--your return.
-Jean Irion

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guess the Baby Face Couldn't Last Forever...

Well, it finally happened.

I was checking my reflection in the overhead visor of my car today when I spotted it.

My first gray hair. Right near my temple. Glistening in the sunlight. I was tempted to yank it, but I decided to leave it there. Still not sure why. I think it's because I love to torture myself?

Now I know that, for many of you, this is not big news. Some of you have been dealing with gray hairs for a while now, and from you, I don't expect sympathy.

But I am a newcomer to this world of old lady follicles. And it's not a place I'm finding particularly comfortable.

Combine this recent discovery with the other harsh realities I've been dealing with of late:

...the sudden appearance of thin little lines at the corners of my eyes, and across my forehead, that don't go away even in the complete absence of any facial expression...

...the slow but steady erosion of whatever breastesses I once had, a sacrifice not in vain due to their nothing-short-of heroic efforts in feeding 3 children for 3 years, but a crippling blow to my self-image nonetheless...

...and the dogged insistence of my unrestrained belly to keep puffing out to its 3-month pregnant dimensions, regardless of the fact that no further pregnancies are forthcoming.

So here I am, wrinkly, both puffy and flat but in all the wrong places... and now with a gray hair.

If this is what I look like two months short of age 36, I shudder to think how the wheels will have completely fallen off the wagon some thirty years from now! Will I be a raisin with legs??


All recommendations for eye creams, hair dye, and girdles welcome in the comments section below.

Kindly take a moment and help ease my transition into OLD.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Your Kid Sucks. Accordingly, You Suck, Too.

I have a kid finishing up Pre-K this month. (I can hardly believe it's only Pre-K as I write that; the drama lately has been so much more suited to junior high.) And if you've been reading this blog since it's humble beginnings, you already know that this child o' mine had a bit of trouble at the start of the year trying to gain entry into the "cool crowd" of the class. (Again, it's Pre-K, people. Sheesh!)

But as the year progressed, said cool crowd ultimately agreed to associate with her--occasionally-- and within reason. My kid was only invited to one playdate (and we reciprocated with exactly one playdate; I wasn't about to go out of my way to impress these two little snots), and sometimes she would still come home to report that she had been left to play all by herself at recess. For the most part, however, I thought my kid had established a pleasant rapport with the 5-year-old powers that be.

Until last week.

At which time Kid got into the car after school and announced: "[Mean Girl A] and [Mean Girl B] got into big trouble at school today!"

"Why?" say I, silently thrilled by the news.

"Well," Kid continued, a little less enthusiastically, "[Mean Girl A] pushed me off the swings and [Mean Girl B] scratched my arm and both of them were laughing at me so the teacher made them come and apologize and we all had a big group hug."

"I TOLD YOU THOSE KIDS WERE JERKS!" I reflexively sputter, and then wonder if perhaps I could have handled this differently. Oh well.

Now, this swing-pushing-and-arm-scratching sucks in its own right (*especially* when I came to find out that the very next day, my own kid JOINED the Mean Girls in teasing someone ELSE! aargh, classic peer pressure! already!)... but it is particularly uncomfortable in light of the fact that-- geez-- I really liked the mommy of Mean Girl A.


See, I'm incredibly efficient in my dealings with people. You cross me, your whole family has crossed me. You cross my kid, you've crossed me. *Your* kid crosses *my* kid... well, then, it's ON, bitches!

It used to be that Mom of Mean Girl A [MOMGA, henceforth, for ease of reference] and I would pass each other at school pickup and exchange meaningful friendly words. When I had a crisis vis-a-vis the teachers' presents I was supposed to organize, she was the one I trusted for guidance. And when I had to fill in as field trip chaperone, she was the mom I hoped to get paired up with.

But now? Ugh, I can hardly look at the lady without being overcome with emotion.

ANGER: You let your kid hurt my kid!

CONFUSION: Weren't my kid and I good enough friends to you both??


LOSS: You were my favorite mom from the class! I loved you best! And now it's all RUINED!

Query: Am I the only one who is reduced to the maturity of a fellow 5-year-old in this situation? WHY can't I be an adult here, and acknowledge that MOMGA is *not* Mean Girl? It's not like *MOMGA* showed up on the playground and pushed my kid off a swing. Just as it's not *my* fault that, the next day, my kid, for all intents and purposes, bullied some other innocent. And yet...

Am kinda dreading the end-of-year class party on Thursday. I will *literally* be able to make eye contact with only two people in the entire room-- the teacher and my own child-- since half the parents think I screwed up the teacher presents (ah, Class Mom, the great unsung hero of the suburbs! a truly thankless job!), two of the parents are MOMGA/Bs, and at least one of the parents (the mom of the child who MY kid teased!) has every right to give me the stinkeye.

At this rate, I'm as likely to get my ass kicked on the playground as my daughter is.

Mother of the Year strikes again!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No More Teachers, No More Books, No More Peace and Quiet.

A lot of my mommy blogger friends and Facebook friends have been posting about the onset of summer vacation.

A concept that strikes fear into the hearts of many a mother.

Like, if you think *weekends* with three little kids trashing the house are bad, how 'bout a THREE-MONTH WEEKEND.

Now, in fairness, I do send my kids to day camp for a large chunk of the summer. How families cope with summertime in the absence of day camp is truly BEYOND me. And to those parents, I offer you my highest admiration, praise, and sympathy.

But even for a mommy like me, who does get to ship her little ones out the door from 9 until 3 many a-summer's day, I am still experiencing this last week of school as if every child-free hour is ticking down my doom. So what can we do, as moms who would desperately like to maintain some semblance of composure this season, to minimize the pain?

Well, let's break it down.

If you ask me, the problems with no school are: NO STRUCTURE, NOT ENOUGH ACTIVITIES, SIBLING WARS, and STIR CRAZINESS.

Alright, so let's knock each one off one by one.

1) NO STRUCTURE. Ok. What makes the school day manageable is that there's a reliable routine. Get up, get out, do your after school activity (if applicable), come home, watch the minutes on the clock crawl agonizingly towards dinnertime (wait, what?), eat, bathe, sleep.

Alright, so what if we create some kind of reliable routine for non-school days? Like, we need to be dressed by X time, we are going to do a craft at X time, we're going out for lunch at X time, we're going to have quiet time / nap time / study hall (the goal is little NERDS, people) at X time, we're going swimming (UGH, so much effort!) at X time, we're doing board games (bored games) and puzzles until dinner.

Aargh, that sounds good on paper. I just don't know if I can carry it out. The idea of having an "activity schedule" sounds too much like homeschooling. But who are we kidding, whenever the kids are at home for extended periods of time, we moms are on the clock. So hey! we might as well get all the granola props of giving ourselves the title "homeschooler." Bring on the equivalency exams! We are officially crunchy now!

2) NOT ENOUGH ACTIVITIES. Alright, I'm fantastically guilty of spending my husband's hard-earned cash on child-related junk that I hope will buy me some calm in this house. I have an entire cupboard stockpiled with connect-the-dot books, coloring books, just-add-water painting books, paints, canvases, sticker books, etc., etc., etc. Now, there are a few problems with this approach: First, it wastes money that my husband is slaving to earn (I buy almost everything on sale, but still). Second, it SPOILS the kids rotten-- why would they work toward stickers on their good behavior reward charts, when they're being littered with small presents all week long? And third, it creates, I think, an unhealthy reliance on the material stuff. I hereby challenge myself to coming up with more kid activities that don't require me to BUY anything. Especially now that eldest is a very capable reader, I guess I should be writing out (impossible-to-complete) scavenger hunt lists and the like. (Btw, IDEAS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME. Come on, show off what a better parent you are!) Hey, maybe I could tell the eldest she has to teach the 3- and 2-year-old kids to read. *That* would take up some time, cost nothing, *AND* appeal to the mini-dictator in her... :)

3) SIBLING WAR. Another headache for me, quelle surprise. Having 3 girls aged 5, 3, and 2 is the best of times (when they're playing nicely) and the worst of times (when they are battling to the death over a toy that appeals to all 3 of them equally). In fact, the competition between the kids has reached new heights when it comes to the eldest and her books: heaven help us all when she declares, "I will read to the little kids now!" because the inevitable effect is all 3 of them demanding to be the designated reader. (Am very grateful that we discovered the series of monkey books by Jez Alborough-- they are picture books with a few simple words that my 3-year-old is able to read aloud-- they make her feel like she's a contender.) (HERE ALSO: SUGGESTIONS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME for very basic books that the 3-year-old can conquer.)

Ok, so what if I attempted to deal with this tension by giving each of the 3 kids a certain exclusive job that only SHE can do. For example, right now the 3-year-old knows that, after my eldest is off to school and before the little one wakes up, it's her job to take my shopping list around the kitchen and mark off anything that we're running out of (I added little drawings next to each word to help her out). Maybe the eldest could be in charge of organizing the art supplies (ugh, that will keep her busy for all of 2 minutes) and the baby could be in charge of picking up the clothes on the floor (and, when there aren't any, I will throw them all over the floor just to give her something to do) (sounds reasonable). THEN, when I see that war is about to break out, I could happily announce that it's time for all the kids to do their designated jobs. This is admittedly a stupid idea but I will try it. Perhaps I'm underestimating the power of distraction.

4) STIR CRAZINESS. Well, folks, this is your big ticket item right here. The best part about school (other than the education, blah blah blah) is that it gets my kids out of the house, gives them a change of scenery, and allows them to revel in the company of people who are not genetically related to them. During the summer, it's just a WHOLE LOT of family time. Time that is, I think we can all agree, most enjoyable in finite segments that have distinct starting and ending points. So what to do with the prospect of family time that goes on for weeks on end?

Well the obvious answer is to get the kids out of the house. Which means that I may have to tackle my irrational fear of public play areas (those ball pits! GERMS!) and other people's houses (what if their kids had been secretly sick recently? GERMS!) and the public pool (I heard that one kid got warts from the pool! GERMS!) and suck it up.

Summer "vacation" (ahahahaha) also means that MOMMY MUST FORCE HERSELF TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE ON A REGULAR BASIS. This is my downfall right here: I get so wrapped up in obsessively entertaining the rugrats, sometimes it doesn't dawn on me that *I* haven't been outdoors with an adult destination (and by this, I mean the supermarket, which is as close to adult entertainment as I dare to imagine) all by myself in days and days and days. Sometimes even a solitary drive around the block is the difference between holding it together and completely losing my sh*t. Somewhere in the house, this reminder should be put up on a plaque-- WARNING: A DRIVE AROUND THE BLOCK MAY CAUSE TEMPORARY SANITY.

So there you are: the solutions to all of your summer woes. Homeschooling... scavenger hunts... designated chores... and separate playdates for both the kiddies and the mommy.

And because I fully expect that all of these suggestions will result in an EPIC FAIL, check back here soon to hear all about how I went ahead and lost my sh*t anyway. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010


There is a blogging challenge going on at Momalom ( The idea is that the authors of that site give a list of topics, and all of us readers are supposed to blog about a certain topic on its designated day; then we go check out the other blogs and comment and generally support each other and the mommy blog community.

I wasn't going to participate in the challenge, not because I don't have the time or the motivation, but because I find it very difficult to write about a subject when I'm not specifically inspired to do so. How could I pen a compelling entry about "Happiness," for example, when I didn't feel anything particularly pressing about being happy that day?

But today's assigned topic is "Lust." I, like a lot of other curious onlookers, I'm guessing, popped over to Momalom to see what smutty, juicy morsels had been offered up.

And to say I was disappointed is an understatement. It's actually more accurate to say that I was a little bit appalled.

I only had time to skim through a handful of posts (see my earlier entry for an explanation as to why I am a little pressed for time / preoccupied today), but of the ones I was able to review, the majority of them were written on the topics of... LUST FOR FOOD! and... LUST FOR CLOTHES! and... LUST FOR CARTOON CHARACTERS! Now honey, forgive me for showing my true trampy colors, but I don't think *cartoons* is what the good lord intended when he came up with the word LUST.

No, kids, he meant LUST-- SEXY LUST, PASSIONATE LUST, WET AND SWEATY LUST. Maybe my fellow moms got understandably confused because, let's be honest, there's not a ton of wet and sweaty lust to be found in the places where we mommies tend to hang out.

But why not just *say* that, then? Why *pretend* that this challenge was asking you to describe your lust for stilettos, sleep, success? (No actual offense intended, of *course*, to anyone who wrote about shoes or cartoons or burritos. I get that we're all just doing the best we can, and some of us don't have the time, the inclination, or the constitution to write about LUST in its Biblical, sweaty sense.)

But girls, I've got the time. I've got the inclination. And I do believe I was *born* for a challenge like this.

See, what *I* think of, when asked to expound upon the topic of "lust," is this: That nervous quivering that takes hold of your loins when you spot the object of your unrequited (but not deterred!) affection. That first kiss that is absolutely ELECTRIFYING, one that you feel all the way down to your toes. That passion that overcomes you, when you *finally* find yourself alone, in a darkened room, embraced in the arms of your desired one-- a passion *so* consuming that your kisses leave bite marks and your fingernails leave scratches.

How long has it been, ladies, since you've scratched up someone's back?

Well I'm not afraid to say it: It's been a damn WHILE, gang!

I've been with my indescribably wonderful, considerate, devoted husband for more than 10 years now. And ok: we don't scratch up each other's backs anymore.

Now we care for sick children in the middle of the night. We stay up late putzing around on our computers, side-by-side. We lay in bed and laugh about funny things that happened to us a decade ago, and revel in the shared history that allows us to do so.

But no, we don't scratch up each other's backs. We're MARRIED, for chrissakes. The reason there's a stereotype about married couples not having sex anymore is because, very often, it's TRUE. And for GOOD REASON. We're busy, we're tired, we're stressed. We're worrying about the money, the house, the kids. We're not TEENAGERS anymore. We're OLD. And we're not on a third date, when you stupidly can't keep your hands off each other, when you devour each other's kisses like you're starving and your beloved's lips are your salvation.

I mean sure, we do have the occasional roll in the hay: civilized, respectful, and highly satisfying. We know the lay of the land, we know what we're supposed to do, we genuinely enjoy those stolen moments we have together.

But would I say we are LUSTING for each other, 10 years in?

No, doll. We're not lusting for each other. Get over it.

What we do have, however, is a million times better:

We love each other. Profoundly. Maturely. Seriously.

And if you think that sounds like the short end of the stick, then I'm going to assume that you've never been in the kind of love I'm talking about. In which case maybe you'd be surprised to hear that real, nuanced, grown-up LOVE-- like the one between two married people who have stuck with each other for many years and plan on sticking together for tens and tens of years more-- totally kicks LUST's ass.

Why? Well, because LUST is soda pop. It's bubbly and it's delicious and it's refreshing and it's really, really yummy.

It's also mostly air.

And it can't sustain you for long.

No, strong families are not built on soda pop, any more than they're built on lust. I'd even go so far as to say that LUST *belongs* on the back-burner of a long-term relationship. In my humble opinion, lust can survive and flourish in one of two environments: (1) a new relationship, where both parties' hormones are in thrilling overdrive and the novelty is absolutely intoxicating; and (2) a dysfunctional relationship, where one party feels inferior, or unfulfilled, or unappreciated, and the dynamic is so imbalanced that the neglected party utterly aches for the kind of affection and attention he or she deserves.

In other words, lust just wouldn't work in a relationship where both people feel loved, and appreciated, and fundamentally desired; and where the sex is, at least as a matter of principle, always available-- not as the hallmark of conquest, but as an expression of that love. After all, there'd be no point in LUSTING for something that's always available to you, now would there?

To this point, I read recently that, per some "scientific" study of brain wave activity, after 10 years together, 90% of couples no longer experience the physiochemical spikes that characterize the first exciting stages of a romantic relationship. (Translation: We don't get turned on just by standing close to each other anymore.)

At first I was bummed out by this article-- I took it to validate my waning libido as an empirical fact. But then, after pondering it for a while, I was encouraged by it: the study asserted that what I was experiencing wasn't unusual, and it also wasn't a harbinger of doom for our relationship. No, it only meant that we were moving from one chapter of our story to the next. And I think *both* of those chapters (the new, thrilling one; and the familiar, comfortable one) have their distinct perks.

So you know what I do these days? I satisfy my lust for LUST in other ways. I sometimes bat my eyelashes at the handsome waiter. I occasionally exchange flirty email messages with guy friends on Facebook. I often read erotica online (preferably gay erotica, not sure why). All of these things get my blood pumping, and they make me feel sexy, and they put racy thoughts into my head again, a space where otherwise only thoughts of milk money and field trips and pediatrician appointments would reside.

And then I take that lust home to my husband. Where I belong.

Her Hummingbird Heart.

I am worried about my little girl's heart.

Not in the puppy love sense. In the anatomy sense.

My rational self keeps saying that that the markedly fast pace, the subtle irregularity, the occasional missed beats in a wonderfully active 3-year-old are nothing to worry about.

My irrational self had me up in her bedroom, on four separate occasions during the night, crouching over her sleeping self with a stethoscope I found in the girls' doctor kit trying desperately to convince myself that I was imagining all these things.

Well, the pediatrician just now confirmed that yes, these things do exist.

But no, they are not a reason to panic.

He is sending us to the cardiologist later this afternoon for follow-up more, he says, for my peace of mind than for any pressing medical reason with my daughter.

But my god, how my own chest hurts today. I feel like my skin has been removed and that even the slightest breeze sends painful currents skimming through my body. The rawness that accompanies a fear for your child's health is a sustained torture like no other.

I will continue to tell myself that it's nothing, that everything is fine. But at the same time, I look at my 3 children, and I ponder all of the millions and millions of misfortunes that could potentially befall them, and I wonder how many more agonizing days like this are still in our future.

And I'm not entirely sure my heart can take it.

* * * * * *

UPDATE: The EKG was normal at the cardiologist's, and I have been instructed not to worry anymore. Ha.
In the meantime, I am breathing a massive sigh of relief, and thanking everyone for the profoundly kind words of support. xo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010



I finally got around to adding a "blogroll" on the left. Please check out these other fantastic blogs when you have a minute.

On that same note, I'd love to build a larger audience for Mommy Wants A Drink (more readers means more posts from me; I cannot bear the thought of letting people down). So if you have your own blog, and would be kind enough to add a link to *my* site, then please let me know and-- provided your site doesn't advocate the abuse of puppy dogs or something like that-- I'd be happy to return the favor.

May our blogs go forth and prosper. And in doing so, save the sanity of us all. xo.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Can You Say "Santa Claus" With a Straight Face? Thank Goodness I'm Jewish and Don't Have to Try.

I am existing in this very short window of time where I am the mother of a one-, a three-, and a five-year-old (the eldest turned five at the end of April and the youngest turns two in a couple of days). Today I took my kids to see a Barney Live! show.

What was cool was observing how the three-year-old was so completely in the zone. She was the perfect audience member at the *perfect* age.

The one-year-old (it seems unfair to call her that, considering how grown-up she tries to be and how close she is to two, but bear with me for the purpose of the illustration) was a little too young: she was attentive and quiet throughout but slightly more interested in the rainbow flashing lightstick I purchased for her on the way in. The five-year-old was trying her best *not* to be enjoying herself; being mostly convinced that what she's seeing "isn't real," she subtly stopped whenever she caught herself singing along. (If she had had a cell phone, you can bet she would have been forcing herself to text message through the whole thing so as to minimize the temptation.)

But the three-year-old... ah, sweet innocent youth. I loved the way her eyes lit up when Barney appeared on the stage... and how she nearly jumped out of her seat every time the first few notes of a recognizable song began to play... and how she enthusiastically called out to the characters whenever audience participation was requested. It was far more enjoyable to watch her than to watch the highly annoying purple dinosaur lumbering back and forth across the stage. (Side note: I tried my best to find a photograph online of the guys who have voiced Barney-- Bob West and Dean Wendt-- but came up with nothing. I have morbid curiosity; can you help?)

As we were leaving the auditorium, the eldest daughter turned to me and asked, point-blank, and with the tone of a cynical teenager, "All that stuff was fake, right, Mom?" And oh, how the internal struggle was set off once again! I AM INCAPABLE OF LYING TO THE CHILDREN, even when it's all in the name of fun.

"Shhh!" I dismissively replied, gesturing conspiratorily towards the little kids and then quickly changing the subject. Dodge and weave! Dodge and weave! For me this has always been the most palatable approach:

When my mom died, and my eldest asked where Nana is now, I said, "I honestly don't know." (She then went behind my back and asked my dad that same question; he later told me, "I panicked! I said, 'New Jersey'!")

When she wondered aloud how babies get out of their mommies' tummies, I calmly explained that some women have zippers in their bellies that can be opened up for just that purpose and then closed again. (I even flashed her my c-section scar so she wouldn't think I was bluffing and ask someone else.) (as we know she has a tendency to do.)

And when that same child grilled me about the logistical feasibility of the tooth fairy, I simply answered her question with another question: "Well you like MONEY, don't you??"

This is all well and good... but it's also kind of a bummer. Because you're only three years old once!, and when else in your life could you possibly co-exist in a world with things like actual fairies and talking dinosaurs? (I'll sidestep the inevitable sh*tstorm that would befall me if I went on to include "God" and/or "Heaven" on this list.)

Fortunately for my girls, they have their grandfather. An irresistibly charismatic man who has zero qualms about telling innocuous lies to the kids.

As a happy result, we have domesticated "purple worms" that live in our backyard, magical potions that cure any imaginable injury or illness, and special occasion chocolate ice cream that can be safely consumed at night despite Mommy's assurances that sugar right before bed causes nightmares. (Hey! Look at me! I just found a lie that I'm capable of telling my kids!) (Then again, it's hardly a fun lie, so I assume I don't get credit.)

I'm truly grateful for my dad's influence in this regard. Because I really *want* the girls to believe in Barney! (Just as I honestly *want* them to believe in heaven, etc., etc.) Life should have as much magic and joy as possible, damn it, and I suck for not being able to tell the whimsical tales with a straight face.
Bad, honest, Mommy!

Then again... it just occurred to me... maybe I *haven't* screwed up their only opportunity to experience talking dinosaurs? I guess in college there's always drugs. ;)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Personal Assistants Need Not Apply.

Ok, so maybe I am in the practice of reposting comments to the blog; I'm about to do it again.

I've come here today to pen the third and final installment in the Debbie Downer Chronicles: rounding out the unhappy pair of Ineptitude and Shame is... (drumroll please)


Yes, gang, my SAHM-ity is currently plagued by this lovely triumvirate: ineptitude, shame, and guilt. In fact, the guilt is probably the baddest beast of them all.

Guilt?, you say. Over not actively using your legal education? Over not knowing how to cook? Over allowing someone else to clean your toilets?

No. Those things make me feel guilty for rare nanoseconds, and then I just scarf down some dark chocolate (I've got secret stashes all over the kitchen for the sole purpose of emotional eating) and that frivolous guilt magically disappears.

Rather, I have Starbucks guilt.

Guilt which has been thrown into a harsh and unflattering spotlight by another noteworthy suggestion from the comments section. I give you, in reply to my "Shame" post, this excerpt from my new friend Anonymom:

"have you considered hiring a personal assistant? or could your housekeeper help with the errands/repairs/etc so you can have some time to wash your hair/trim your nails/see a doctor/get a massage (imagine?!?!)/get your head straight? i have a friend (no kids) who doesn't work and has a cleaning woman and 2 assistants. this, as you can imagine, is infuriating and completely beyond my comprehension. but you're in a different position! she found her assistants on craigslist. you can hire someone to free you up for 3-4 hours just a few days a week. apparently there are many retired/unemployed women who don't have to work but would like to make a little money on the side. maybe something to consider."

For those who know me personally, and know of my current living situation, I'll pause a moment for you to stop laughing and collect yourselves.

For those who don't know me personally, suffice it to say that my housekeeper is, in essence, the best personal assistant in the world. I mean, ok, she doesn't actually do my errands for me (she doesn't have a car), but the fact that I can comfortably leave my kids in her care at any time of day or night means that I effectively have all the freedom in the world.

It's what I do with that freedom that is causing me grief.

And it more or less all comes down to Starbucks.

In the community where I live, it's as if Starbucks is a land populated solely by women. Women without kids on them, but who all appear to be of childbearing age. Women who are often decked out in tennis attire (and not just the ornamental kind, either). Women who come in groups, women who sit alone, women who are smiling and chatting in the middle of the morning and who appear to be ACTUALLY ENJOYING THEIR CUPS OF COFFEE.

And this, I tell you, makes me extremely uncomfortable.

It's a lot like I feel about religion: I WISH I could believe in God! I WISH I felt the way religious people do!
I WISH I could get that goopy mushy feeling from prayer and trust that everything is gonna be okay!


(Who, incidentally, would probably be *thrilled* to hear that I was sitting in Starbucks in the middle of the day drinking a latte in peace. But that's beside the point.)

You see, the dilemma is not that I need a personal assistant to free up some time for me to devote to myself. The dilemma is that I have *plenty* of time for myself, in theory... I just can't bring myself to enjoy it. Hence the guilt.

You know what would be AMAZING? If my average weekday morning looked like this:

9 am - drop kids at school.

9 - 10 am - go to gym, run on treadmill, lift weights.

10 - 11 am - shower (with shampoo *and* conditioner instead of a utilitarian 2-in-1! unheard of!), get dressed, properly dry and flatiron hair, and apply a little makeup. (ahaha, I know, this is where it starts to sound ridiculous) (no, who are we kidding, it sounded ridiculous at the gym part)

11 am - 11:30 am - grab items at grocery store.

11:30 am - 12:25 pm - sit at Starbucks, read newspaper, sip latte. (Alternative scenario: Sit out by the pool, weather permitting, read book.)

12:30 pm - first child pickup; begin afternoon feeling rested and centered and calm.

The only problem with executing this plan?


I mean, my husband is a guy who would *kill* to get to the gym more than once or twice a week. He hasn't physically sat down to read the newspaper since 1998. The only times I've ever seen him sitting poolside with a book were on the two short vacations we've had in the past 5 years. And he works, *intensely*-- oh, I don't
know-- maybe 16 hours a day.

So how unspeakably COLD would it be for me to plop myself down on a chaise lounge and thumb through a book at 11 am? Or get a manicure, for no particular reason? Or take a tennis lesson, just for the purpose of bettering myself? (I do, admittedly, take the occasional power nap mid-morning. But they only last 10 minutes and I justify them on the basis that I am preserving my physical health when I am feeling run down.)

In other words, I may not actually *have* a high-stress, high-income job right now... but for some crazy reason
I FEEL COMPELLED TO SUFFER AS IF I DID. Otherwise I think I'd feel like a freeloader, a barnacle, a disgrace to my radical feminist beliefs.

Which only goes to illustrate how seemingly hellbent I am on sabotaging this whole SAHM experiment. Cuz really, if played correctly, this SAHM thing is a CRAZY GREAT GIG. Relatively free mornings, relatively free nights, and only really heavy lifting in the afternoons and evenings. And yet, here I am, perpetually rushing around in the malls while the kids are at school, searching in vain for that perfect birthday present / school project supply / show-and-tell item... running myself undeniably *ragged* just so that, when my darling husband drags himself through the door at 10 pm, we can COMMISERATE about how hard *both* of our days were. So that he won't feel like he's pulling all the weight alone. (So that he won't wise up and realize that I am-- by definition?-- taking advantage of our situation, just by virtue of the fact that I am not working in an office while he is??)

My resigned conclusion: either I am The World's Most Empathetic Wife, or I am The World's Most Enthusiastic Glutton for Punishment. You make the call.

Meanwhile, I'm off to the party store: the goody bag bubbles I bought don't properly match the goody bags.
And in the highly twisted parallel universe where I reside, these things matter. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ah, The Shame.

So I'm not in the practice of reposting comments to my blog entries (though if I were, I would repost and give a huge thank you to "Anonymom," who sent me such a lovely Mother's Day greeting that the warm fuzzies are still rattling around in my brain, I don't know you but I love you), but today I have to make one exception.

Yesterday I posted about how this SAHM thing is making me feel like I'm cracking up. That the sound of crying and whining and general toddlerhood is giving me a permanent headache. That I need to figure out a new outlook on life, and quick.

I received the following comment, from Anonymous, in reply:

"based on your last few posts, it does sound to me like you are reconsidering your choice to be a SAHM. worth thinking about more... there are lots of interesting things you might do (apart from law) that would still allow you to be a great mom."

And for the rest of the day, I was absolutely gutted.

Now, lest Anonymous feel put on the spot and never comment again, let me say that I WORSHIP the people who leave comments on my blog... your wisdom *inspires* me (again, I'm talking to you, Anonymous who took her kid's pacifiers away and "feels like an asshole every day since")... and your heartfelt encouragement *moves* me (Anonymom, Al, hk, ASL, etc., etc., etc.). I hope that my responding to your comment, Anonymous, in no way discourages you from expressing your opinions here in the future. Because without you guys, I am just talking to a keyboard.

But yes, I heard that comment replaying in my head for hours. "Based on your last few posts... does sound to me... reconsidering your choice to be a SAHM..." Now you ask-- why, exactly, did this comment throw me for such a loop? Well, I think it's because:

(1) I was horrified by the notion that my last few posts have come across as so blatantly negative. I mean, yes, I wrote about how I sometimes feel like an idiot... and that I'm wasting my education... and that I have no life outside of the kids and that the kids are making me mental. (Wow, other than "negative" there's really no other way to spin those sentiments, is there.) But to me... those posts were nothing more than benign venting against what I thought was the obvious backdrop of I LOVE BEING A STAY AT HOME MOM. (Again, upon reflection I can see how that message was lost to my readers.) I love being a SAHM *not* because of what *I* get out of it (headaches, aggravation, self-doubt, you know the rest), but because of what I *hope* my children are getting out of it. I love it because I love them, DESPERATELY, and because-- just as with breastfeeding-- whether it ultimately turns out to be "the best" thing for my children, it certainly can't hurt them. I think.

(2) The comment made me feel like a huge SAHM failure. As in-- what if "Anonymous" is a perfectly happy SAHM? Someone who doesn't get frazzled by the sound of 3 small children trying to out-shout each other, someone who takes legitimate pride in the cleanliness of her house, someone who feels content and fulfilled by the SAHM experience and never second-guesses the choices she's made? For her-- this mythical SAHM heroine I've imagined-- to tell me, "Hmmm, sounds like this gig isn't for you anymore"... well, I felt incredible shame. Like, why can she do the SAHM thing with such ease, while I am over here doing it with immense struggle?

(3) Even if Anonymous is right... and it *is* time for me to abandon ship (see how I look at it as a matter of abandoning my post? my CHILDREN?) and go back to work... I have no idea how that would work, logistically. In fact, every day as I pull up to the school for 2:30 pickup and observe a flood of parents coming through the doors to collect their children, I think to myself, "Don't any of these people have jobs? And who would collect their children if they did?"

The general structure of my weekday, currently, looks like this:

8:30 - drive the two small children to school.

9 - noon - ERRANDS, GROCERY STORE, etc.

12:15 - pick up youngest child from school.

1:30 - pick up middle child from school.

2:30 - pick up eldest child from school.

3 - 5 - drive various children to various after school activities (i.e., ballet, swimming, theater, gymnastics).

So my question is, if both my husband and I were working, WHO WOULD DO ALL THIS MOM TAXI STUFF? Seriously. I'm asking. How do working moms do it? Is the idea to hire a nanny who could do all this driving for me? (And on that note, do you know how nervous I get at the prospect of letting someone else drive my children in a car? CAR ACCIDENTS, people! I worry about them!)

and finally

(4) I hardly have a handle on my life as it is... and this is WITHOUT a job. The list of Things I Should Be Doing Right Now Instead of Blogging includes, but is certainly not limited to:

- sew up the hole in eldest daughter's school uniform (got caught on a nail or something)
- wrap gift for child's birthday party we are attending this afternoon
- register new cat's microchip
- call grandmother
- send MANY, MANY overdue wedding and baby presents
- schedule children's dentist appointments
- fill prescription to remedy my month-long cough
- wash hair

Notice how the personal hygiene doesn't even *occur* to me until item #8? Do I sound to you like a person who is ready to reenter the workforce??

You see, then, how Anonymous's comment got me a little worked up. Not because she said anything wrong or offensive in *any* imaginable way... but because she called me out on my own bullsh*t.

Therefore, thanks to Anonymous's clear insight, I've decided it's time to put up or shut up. Either I need to make peace with my SAHM status or I need to give it up. Either I need to recapture the joy of this job or I need to look for joy in another job. Because life is short... and because a miserable mom can't be better for the kids than a cheerful nanny. (*Not* that I'm miserable!)

You know, until yesterday I think I never appreciated how truly fraught with emotion the decision to go back to work must be.

Moms who have already done it: I salute you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On The Brink.

It wasn't a good morning.

And not because it started off with me tripping up the marble staircase as I was running to respond to a daughter's summon, followed by my dropping a dining room chair on my foot a few minutes later.

No, it wasn't a good morning because I fear that my children are turning me into a loony person. A crazy-bag-lady-type who talks to herself. That wild-eyed Navi woman from Avatar when she first sees the Marine guy and hisses at him.

It occurred to me today, as some child or other wailed "mommeeeee" for what felt like the 18th time in an hour, that the sound of kids crying must be like Chinese water torture. In the beginning (the first few months... years) you think, this isn't so bad. But then, when you turn around and realize that just over 5 years have passed, and that more or less EVERY SINGLE DAY of those 5 years has been littered with the sound of crying / whining / screaming (the only exceptions being the cumulative 7 days of vacation that my husband and I took, and the 4 glorious weekend trips that I managed to take all alone), it dawns on you that you have absolutely lost your marbles and didn't even notice it.

My threshold for tantrums has become dangerously low. And this is not a good thing when I have a child turning 2 next week. But whereas a few years ago, I could hear the tantrum launching and be able to talk myself into a zen-like calm which would enable me to respond rationally... now, as soon as I see some child of mine screwing up her face into that horrible visage of impending noise, I feel my blood pressure zooming up towards the heavens. My fuse is insanely short. My voice is always on the verge of hollering at someone. My headache is never far away.

In other words, I feel like I'm on the brink of cracking up.

The answer is not to spend less time with my kids... it can't be... because I already ship them off to school for several hours a day. That should be enough time for me to center myself, right? And the answer can't be to get help with the kids... because I have help with the kids. And the answer can't be to get more sleep... because, surprisingly, I have been forcing myself to go to bed earlier these days. (Note: The answer may very well be EAT HEALTHIER! and GET SOME EXERCISE!, but I am too upset to want to hear that right now. I am venting. The point is not to make things better. Being constructive takes away all the fun.)

Sometimes I wonder if all the INCREDIBLE luxuries that my husband has bestowed upon me in an express effort to make me happy (namely, a housekeeper who cleans and even helps with dinners) (I know, I know, you have every right to DESPISE me for having a housekeeper, but if it makes you hate me any less, please understand that she's only temporary; we are not a "housekeeper" kind of family under regular circumstances) have actually worked against me. Is it possible that I would feel *less* crazy if I was busier... with the house, the laundry, the food? Does the fact that I have no major obligations *other* than the care and entertainment of my 3 small children allow their moment-to-moment drama to take on disproportionately major significance in my world? Would I care less about someone screaming, "Mommeeeee! The baby hit meeee!" if I was paying attention to a burning pot roast or a singing iron or a leaky mop? (see how, even in my imagination, I'm no good at housewivery?)

I honestly don't know the answer. I mean, it seems counterintuitive that more work would equal less stress... but maybe I don't have enough on my plate, and so the little things seem like big things? Maybe, just as "the work expands to fill the time," kid-related aggravation expands to fill the space where legitimate aggravation usually resides? Maybe if I had more high-quality stress (yes, folks, I've gotten to the point where I rate my stress) in the place of empty stress (like calories), I'd at least feel more productive at the end of the day?

Maybe I need to... gasp... go back to work??

(But how could I justify that decision to the 1-year-old, when her eldest sister got to have me home until she started kindergarten? Don't I have to give each child equal time? Otherwise don't I risk scarring one or all of them for life?)

Ah, I'm sorry for unloading all of this onto you. You, who probably *does* have a pot on the stove and a pile of laundry that needs folding. You, who is probably cursing me *and* my temporary housekeeper. Which you have every right to do. I guess I'm just telling you all this in the hopes of triggering some epiphany. So far what I've learned about my situation is this:

1. I don't exercise.

2. I don't eat healthily.

3. I don't have anything going on in my life, really, outside of the kids.

4. I *want* to spend time with them-- I honestly do!-- but I often find myself getting overly worked up over their (entirely age-appropriate, as the main culprits are 1 and 3 years old) misbehavior.

5. I want to make things better.

Ok. So, having reread this list, I'm now going to end this blog post and go cook myself an egg. That's healthy, right? And then I'm going to take some Advil to get rid of this headache.

And then I'm going to take the clothes off the treadmill.

That's enough self-improvement for one day. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Post Script from the Idiot.

Post Script to my recent entry that SAHMotherhood is making me a moron.

Note: this is not going to be a retraction. While some of my other entries could very much have benefitted from a mandatory cooling-off period (hello, bit I wrote about how I've stalked my exes on facebook, my husband really enjoyed you), this entry wasn't one of them. I stand by everything I wrote about being a SAHM, harsh as it may have come across (I'm talking to you, 3 people who voted "You Suck!" in the corresponding blog poll).

No, what I wanted to say is this. I may be a bit embarrassed by my "job" as a SAH mom on occasion, and I may worry that being a SAHM is turning my mind into mush...

but I am hella good at my job.

So what if, as we speak, my husband is sitting on the sofa reviewing important, small-fonted documents pertaining to an international negotiation, while I am on the floor painstakingly wrapping 15 small presents so that each of my 3 daughters will have a cheerful little surprise to wake up to on each of the 5 mornings my husband and I will be traveling next week. So what if the pre-K teacher gently suggested this morning that perhaps my eldest daughter is bringing in *too* many fun little show-and-tell related items to share with the other kids in the class (today, for example, per the week's theme of "Spheres and Cones" I sent her in with a jar of perfectly round marichino cherries and a box of empty ice cream cones). So what if my former neighbor once exclaimed to me, in the midst of a text war over something entirely unrelated, that she is "sick of making excuses for [me] to the other moms" (referring to my habit of bumming around in the sand pit with the kids while 99% of the other parents sit in the cafe area, sipping mid-afternoon lattes and half-heartedly looking on).

No, screw all those latte-sipping people. I am a million billion times better at my present job than I ever was at my "real" job. I take my children's happiness and well-being (mostly, happiness) VERY. SERIOUSLY. Yes I spoil them with presents ("What's the point of doing Chanukah?" my husband teased me last year as I was setting up the menorah. "In this house it's Chanukah 365 days a year." Sure I get a little shaky at the thought of going away on a mini-vacation without them in a few days, because there is absolutely NO WAY that I could transcribe all of the valuable information in my head into a single packet of information for my babysitting father to review (and annotate, and ask intelligent follow-up questions on, if he knows what's good for him) (there WILL be a test before I leave for the airport). And true, I hardly ever experience an actual deep, restful sleep-- nor have I for the past 5 years now-- because half of my brain is always, *always* tuned into the nearly imperceptible coughs and murmurs and rare but critical "Mommy?"s coming forth from the baby monitors in the middle of the night.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, there are some days when I look in the mirror and am disappointed by what I see-- a person who looks more like an underslept teenager than a 35-year-old woman, a person who wonders why she became an attorney when she knew all along that being a SAHM was truly what she wanted, a person who eyes her husband with maybe a little jealousy in the morning as he is pulling on his fancy work clothes. But there are other days-- today is one of them-- where I think that, if my occupation were an actual paid position, I'd be on the damn cover of Forbes magazine. Every year. I hold my mothering to an extraordinarily high standard, and you know what? Who cares if I don't get written up with all "Exceeds Expectations" on an annual review. (Though I'm so proud of *you,* Stallion/Love-God/ Honey!) I don't need any person of authority to tell me that I am doing an awesome job and that I am raising the bar and that I "add value":

In my office, I *AM* the freaking value, baby.

So yay for Mommy. Today I am holding my head up high.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's In My Bag.

I think this is how grown-ups play Tag.

I have been "tagged" by my old friend college Kathryn at the lovely marburyvmadisonave to reveal the contents of my bag.

And so, in the spirit of the game, I've emptied my purse and taken a photo of the contents. Here's what we've got:

(1) wallet. Actual Coach, as opposed to the knockoff stuff I usually have on me. Then again, I got this wallet off ebay, so maybe the label's integrity has already been irreparably compromised by virtue of that inelegant transaction.

(2) phone. You can't see it, but that's a mini replica of Adam Lambert's Rolling Stone cover as my phone charm. You wanna make something of it? I'm fiercely loyal to my teen idols. (wait, what, I'm not a teen? and neither is he?)

(3) camera. Have three. Keep one on me at all times. (Would take photos with the iPhone my husband gave me, but I loaned it to my dad, who seemed to be getting much more pleasure out of it. I like my camera. And my phone. Separate entities. Thank you.)

(4) sanitizer. Am a hypochondriac.

(5) tissues. Have three young kids.

(6) cough drops. Can't get rid of this cough, had it for a couple weeks. Was fine with it until a neighbor just told me that her husband's lingering cough ended up as pneumonia. Thank you for that, neighbor.

(7) headache pills. See #5.

(8) Bonjela. My stress over our upcoming vacation without the rugrats has caused me to develop a canker sore on the inside of my lip. Hey, you asked.

(9) lip balm. Am obsessed with it. Read somewhere that chronic use of lip balm causes lips to stop developing their own moisture. Can confirm that, as I would sooner put cooking oil on my lips at night, before going to sleep without anything on them.

(10) pacifier. I HATE PACIFIERS. But am too much of a p*ssy to take them away.

(11) barrettes. From a recent kid party. Nice goody bag item, no?

(12) pipe cleaners. Needed to carry 11 large treat bags into school yesterday for daughter's in-class birthday celebration. (Official party over weekend was spa-themed and girl-only; didn't want boys to feel left out and/or uninvite daughter from future birthday celebrations out of spite.) Used pipe cleaners to bundle bags for ease of transport.

(13) Pooh wrapper from cake plates at said in-class celebration. Not sure why the wrappers got to come home after the party. Also not sure why, after taking this photo a minute ago, I put this obvious garbage back *into* my purse.

(14) camera memory card. Purchased in anticipation of upcoming vacation, see #8.

(15) ballet slippers. Stashed in there for 1-year-old who accompanies older sisters to their ballet class and sometimes goes bananas if she, too, is not ballerina-attired.

(16) Barbie shoes. Evidence of dropping off real live Barbie doll at bakery a week ago where she was then incorporated into a real live cake for weekend birthday celebration. (Baker took the doll but gave me back the dress and shoes. Dress has since been returned to the doll, shoes remain confiscated as a potential choking hazard.)

(17) USB stick. From when I printed personalized photo party invitations at Kinko's. Loving me some more ebay purchases. (Nine dollars for the .jpg design is a bargain, you should check it out.)

(18) yo-yo. Distributed, for reasons unknown to me, at 3-year-old's after school sports class. Took it away when she wasn't looking, so as to avoid the inevitable mind-melting frustration that necessarily accompanies a 3-year-old trying to operate a yo-yo.

(19) mini-DVD tape. Spare for birthday party.

(20) child's sequin ring (which is, incidentally, too big to fit any child I've ever known). From Claire's. Where all of my husband's disposable income ends up. Hey, if he didn't want 3 little girls, he should have delivered me some Y chromosomes.

Ok, so what have we learned here. That I'm a hoarder, I guess. That I'm into cameras. And that, apparently, sanitizer doesn't work.

Your turn, Mama of the brilliant theelmowallpaper! xo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dodging the ER Bullet.

I had a kid emergency the other day.

Not a life-or-death kid emergency, THANKFULLY. Just a minor emergency. But an emergency nonetheless: my 3-year-old dislocated her elbow.

(By the way that's *not* an x-ray of her actual elbow above; however, now that I've seen that photo I think my post-traumatic stress disorder has just kicked in again.)

My daughter has a "history" of this injury-- 2 times before-- and both previous times had landed us in a hospital emergency room. But the elbow had been fine for long over a year now, so we assumed that the joint had firmed up just as the pediatrician told us it would by around age 4. In other words, we got careless and stopped thinking about it and stopped putting people on notice about it.

I wasn't there when it happened. And my husband was traveling in another country. Here is the text of the email I sent him later that night, modified only insofar as the names have been changed to initials ("S" is our 4-year-old and "M" is our 3-year-old and "I" is M's friend).

* * * * * * * * *


First, let me say that M is fine. But we had a little crisis today.

Both S and M were invited to playdates this afternoon. So I brought M to I's house and S to A's house and headed to the mall to return a dress and the kids' library books. I was testing out long-range camera lenses in the store you recommended when my phone rang. I answered and could hardly hear I's mom over the sound of M wailing. I's mom said that M had gotten hurt, something about her arm, and I said oh my god it's her elbow put her on the phone, but when she put M on the phone all I heard was horrible sobbing and gasping. I must have caused a scene in the store yelling into the phone, "M can you hear me?? M can you speak??" It was very scary because I was at least 15 minutes away and I knew that M was losing her mind. I started running out of the store, calling my dad and asking him if he had access to a car to go pick M up but he didn't, so now my dad was a wreck. I drove home like a lunatic and pulled up just as I's mom was in the driveway laying M in my dad's arms. I pulled up on the sidewalk and saw the limp arm and the kid's beet red tear streaked face and my heart just broke. I knew the elbow was dislocated and I knew that I had learned (in theory) how to fix it in my first aid class last year but my brain didn't feel like it was functioning and I was so, so terrified of doing it wrong and putting the kid into agony. I held her in my arms on the driveway until she stopped wailing, as she was obviously much calmer just having me with her (not great for my comfort level re: leaving for our upcoming vacation, but anyway), and I asked if she wanted me to fix her arm or let the nurse do it. (I had already called the ER on my way home to tell them we were coming.) She was sobbing that she wouldn't get in the car. I was about to attempt to fix it myself when I chickened out cuz she was already in so much pain, it seemed. But she got hysterical when I tried to get her to the car. So, with my dad there for moral support (actually, he was begging me to tell him how to do it, but I didn't know how to explain it; I just thought I had it somewhere in my head, and knew what the end position of the arm had to be), I sat in front of her, turned her arm palm-up (against her wailing), and brought her hand to her shoulder (while holding the joint with my other hand). I thought I heard it click back into place, but now she was wailing so loudly that I started to second-guess myself. I went to put her in the car to the ER but then decided that no, I was sure I heard it go back in. So I repositioned it again just to be sure, and this time it was clear that the elbow was back in the joint and the kid was just freaked. So I took her inside and got her set up on the sofa in the office and my dad ran out to get ice cream and apple juice boxes (per M's request) but she was still refusing to move her arm. That is, until I suggested that she paint my face. At which point she took her injured arm, picked up the face paints, and happily scribbled all over me. The end.

* * * * * * * * *

There is no funny punchline to this story. I share it with you only because I'd like to encourage you to take a pediatric first aid class if you can. At the time, I wasn't sure I was retaining the information (a lot is covered in a short amount of time), but my experience the other day goes to show that the stuff does stick, even if you're hazy on the details. That first aid class I took allowed me to quickly take away my daughter's pain, and it spared both of us a traumatizing trip to the emergency room. And one day, heaven forbid, maybe it would help me when faced with an even bigger emergency.

Now go thump on the chest of a featureless dummy! You can tell them I sent you. xo.

p.s. Upon reflection, am very embarrassed that I addressed my supremely macho husband as "Honey" in the above message. Terminating use of that emasculating nickname, effective immediately. From here onward, will refer to him in correspondence only as "Stallion" and/or "Love God." Apologies all around.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ode to Unemployment.

I know what I’m supposed to say here.

I’m supposed to say that being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is the hardest but most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’m supposed to say that I don’t at all feel like my education was wasted, because my law degree is part of what makes me such an effective and insightful parent. I’m supposed to say that it’s great knowing that I have my credentials to fall back on, or go back to, if and when I ever decide for whatever reason that my time as a SAHM is coming to an end.

But screw that. I was never one to toe the line and I don’t see any point in starting now.

The truths are these:

(1) I love, love, love being a SAHM, on many, many levels; and I am obsessively devoted to my three extraordinary, scrumptious little girls. Being a SAHM was something I always wanted for myself and for my family, and I feel tremendously fortunate that my husband’s job allows me the privilege. Full stop. But being a SAHM certainly does not give me that same sense of accomplishment that I gained from, say, taking a witness deposition. Rather, with SAHM-ness, the experience is much more “Thank God I survived today” as opposed to “Look at what I got done today!” There are no obvious benchmarks, no productivity markers, no end-of-year bonuses. I mean, sure, I take huuuuuuuuge satisfaction in my four-year-old’s ability to read books at a six-year-old level, and I am enooooooooormously proud of how exceptionally well-adjusted all three of my daughters are in social situations. But on a typical day-to-day basis, I have nothing tangible to SHOW for my considerable time and effort. Or, the tangible things that I *do* have to show for them are, frankly, INANE. (See, i.e., the gigantic paper Easter bunny that I, as “class mom,” was required to construct for my daughter’s school Easter celebration.) (And our family does not even celebrate Easter.)

Now lest you be fooled into thinking that I actually *enjoyed* the five years I spent working as an attorney, let me quickly disabuse you of that notion: for the most part I despised it. Going to law school was never my idea (thank you, overbearing parents), and to placate them I intentionally only applied to the three highest-tier law schools I thought I had zero chance of getting into (thank you also, Ivy League, for lowering your standards so as to accommodate little ol’ me). I spent just about every day as an associate doing the absolute MINIMUM I could do to avoid a billable-hour apocalypse, while at the same time charming the pants off every partner (not literally) (but I never rule anything out; there’s no such thing as a normative morality) so that he/she would not notice that I was only barely doing the job. So no, it isn’t the work that I miss—it’s just the quantifiable nature of the work that I miss. My husband closes deals. I just deal.

(2) I am 99% positive that being a SAHM is a gigantic, embarrassing, ethically objectionable (per my own, non-normative moral code) waste of my education. I have a freaking top notch pedigree, for crying out loud. The reality is not lost on me that there are people on this earth who would do anything—ANYTHING—to secure a seat at either of the Ivy League schools I attended. People who have remarkable resumes by age 17, astronomical SAT scores, tear-jerking sob stories. And yet, for reasons forever unknown to me, I was given those seats. So that I could get my world news from Perez Hilton. And visit my Facebook profile an average of twenty times a day.

Hey, I’m not saying that there isn’t an advantage to being intelligent. There are, honestly, a bunch of really good parenting decisions I’ve made (teaching my kids basic sign language at 12 months of age, for one, which gave them the invaluable gift of self-expression while not stunting their speech development) that I believe can be directly attributed to my willingness to seek out and critically process information. But good lord was it really necessary that I take out several HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars in student loans (all of which are still relatively intact; hello, minimum monthly payments!) and become an attorney (took and passed the bar in 4 different states!) just so that once in a blue moon I could enlighten my Mommy and Me class with some obscure reference to the theories of Piaget?

Nope, I’m wasting my education, I’m pretty darn sure of it. And I have massive guilt about it, too. Maybe law schools should make every female candidate sign an oath (worthless, admittedly, other than for its effectiveness in propagating said guilt) vowing upon admission that she will continue to practice law after giving birth instead of just sitting back and letting her smarts atrophy while all the male associates move robotically down the assembly line toward partnership?

(3) I am not at all convinced that I could go back to lawyering, even if I had the desire. Not because of any psychological or emotional hang-ups, mind you (ask me, on a bad day with the girls, like when one of them has just spent 45 minutes screaming directly into my eyeballs for no intelligible reason, whether I would work for FREE and the answer would be yes), but because I have the sneaking suspicion I have turned into a certifiable idiot. Too many episodes of The Wiggles, perhaps; but the idea of having to sell myself in a job interview as a dependable, functional adult absolutely makes me cringe. Now as you’ll recall, I was never a rising star in my law firm to begin with; but before having kids, at least on paper I was as competent as the other associates of my year. At this point, however, I—having zero poker face—fear that I’d immediately blurt out: “Treat me as if I just graduated from law school yesterday. A really crappy law school. In fact, treat me as if you’re only hiring me as a favor to my dad. And speak slowly. I’m new to this planet.”

Ahhh, this bums me out. All of the above bums me out. Because I worked hella hard to get those Ivy League degrees (don’t you just bet Michelle Obama and I had eerily similar days today?), and now I take my toddlers to the playgym in the middle of the workweek right alongside a bunch of women who never really bothered applying themselves to school at all. (Note: I actually have no idea what those other women do; they could be astrophysicists for all I know; it just makes me feel better about myself in a very juvenile way if I think of them as intellectually inferior middle school dropouts.)

And if you want to take this to a really existential level of crisis, riddle me this: By virtue of the fact that I have given birth to only daughters, haven’t I only condemned the whole pointless cycle to start all over again? I mean, I plan to lean on them academically just as my parents leaned on me (what? it’s my God-given right to repeat all the parenting mistakes my own mom and dad made)… only so that they, too, will ultimately discard their hard-earned law/medical/graduate degrees in order to stay home and breed with the rest of the middle school drop-outs?

So there you are. I am a very smart person who is very much in debt because of some very prestigious degrees that become more and more obsolete with every passing day.

Feel better about YOUR life choices yet? J