Sometimes in Marriage, You Need to Take One for the Team

It’s not that I don’t love my husband, because I do. And it’s not like I don’t find him attractive, because I mean … that beard and that bod? I dig it. But the thought of having sex six weeks postpartum? Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling it. NOTE: This is the part where you may want to stop reading if you know me (parents and in-laws, I’m looking at you). I never really realized how much hormones could effect a person until I experienced pregnancy and postpartum. My moods (and shall we say sexual prowess?) definitely changed during each time. With my first pregnancy, I was into it. But postpartum? Not so much. With the second, I wasn’t into it during pregnancy but postpartum I was a fan. The third time around though I was just not into it AT ALL. Let’s just say that a good chunk of my pregnancy was a test of patience for my husband — bless him. Having experienced these pregnancy hormone shifts before, though, neither of us were overly concerned. We assumed that things would fall back into a good groove once our baby arrived and everything leveled out. Finally, after nine 10 long months, our baby girl made her debut into this world and we were thrilled. Now things would settle back into place hormonally and sex would surely be good again — and most definitely far less awkward and uncomfortable. So we waited. But as my six-week postpartum check-up approached, I still wasn’t feeling overly enthusiastic about the prospect of a roll in the hay. My husband — ever the gentleman — didn’t push the subject (but he did make a... read more

What I’ve Learned So Far (10 Week Edition)

There are a ton of blog posts out there that gently (and not so gently) offer advice to moms of newborns. We like this one from Liz because she hacks through the nonsense and offers some straightforward down to earth advice for the masses. (And seriously, baby smiles FTW!) 1. I need to have a shower everyday. After having my daughter, Ryley, a daily shower has become an absolute priority in a way it never was before. The first few weeks it felt essential because I felt so physically spent and disgusting thanks to my own bodily fluids post-labor as well as the baby’s. A shower was the only thing that made me feel like a somewhat functional human not covered in spit-up and poop. And now whenever I shower in the morning during the baby’s first nap, I feel like I start my day with a victory. Even if she goes off the rails and refuses to nap again in the crib, at least I managed to fit in one thing entirely for me. I think a new mom needs to do at least one “selfish” thing every day, whether it’s a shower or a glass of wine. And if you really want to multi-task bring the glass (or bottle) of wine into the shower with you. 2. My baby doesn’t like the car. I feel like this is one of those truisms of parenting you always hear, that a car ride will instantly lull a baby, and she will become a sleeping angel the second the wheels start rolling. This may be true for some babies, even... read more

Older Moms Understand The Myth of Perfection

I’m at the McDonald’s outdoor playscape — a place I would never have taken my first child. The junk food! The germs! The consumerism! The GMOs! But after 10 years of parenting and almost 40 years of living, I have developed the perspective that being too idealistic about what I will or won’t expose my kids to is just nonsense. It leads to nothing but stress and unrealistic expectations. I don’t love everything about moving into the “older mom” camp, but letting go of the idea of perfection is definitely a perk of being an older mom that I have fully embraced. So here I am at McDonald’s, letting my 3-year-old drink chocolate milk that’s probably full of hormones and antibiotics that will destroy his ability to have children. But hey, he’s occupied. And they have Wi-Fi here, so I’m one happy camper (smart move on the free Wi-Fi, Mickey D’s). He’s taken to playing with a set of twins who look to be just a little bit younger than him. They “take turns” sliding down the slide, which means that they keep kicking each other in the butt as they scramble to get in their turns, one after the other. It’s cute and endearing, and I’m just happy my kid is out of my hair for a bit. The twins’ mom strikes up some conversation. She asks how old my son is, whether he’s in school, yadda, yadda, yadda. But then she cuts to the chase. “Is he potty trained yet?” Isn’t it funny how you can inquire about the bathroom habits of little humans within 30 seconds... read more

5 Things I Didn’t Know About Pregnancy: A Father’s Perspective

Even though I’m a father of three, each pregnancy has been its own learning experience. I was the youngest in my family, so my wife was the first pregnant woman I’d ever lived with. I felt remarkably unprepared for the whole ordeal, particularly considering that pregnancy is something that’s been around since the dawn of human kind. It feels like I should have known more. Here are a few things I didn’t know about pregnancy. My hope is that it will help enlighten those first-time fathers out there. 1. Pregnant women cry a lot. When Mel was pregnant with our first child, I asked her to water the Christmas tree and she cried. “Don’t you realize how tired I am?” she said. Then she called me a jerk. I’d seen a million movies where a pregnant woman lost control of their emotions, and it was hilarious. But when faced with the real thing, it isn’t that funny. I was 24, and my knee-jerk reaction was to get pissed. But first-time dads, here’s some advice: If faced with this situation, just apologize and water the damn the tree. In fact, apologizing really should be your default. During that first pregnancy, Mel cried because the bank was closed, because the car was low on gas, and because I ate the last string cheese. I hate to say this, but a pregnant woman crying is normal. Pregnancy changes a woman in a lot of ways, and one of them is a new inability to govern her emotions. It took me until our second child to realize that my job as the father... read more

If Mom Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy

The past few months have been challenging. My own frustration, bitterness, and pessimism seems to match our nation’s collective angst. Perhaps the Summer of 2016 could best be called the “Summer of WTF” or the “Summer of Tragedy” or the “Summer of When-Will-This-crapshow-End?” We all seem to be feeling a bit beaten down, frustrated and scared. I hate to admit it, but as grateful as I am for all the joys in my life, I haven’t been very good about feeling grateful or showing gratitude for those joys. I haven’t been a very good wife, mother, or friend. I haven’t been my best self. There have been days when I’m not even sure I’ve been an okay-ish version of myself because I was a downright pain in the ass to be around. And quite frankly, I’ve annoyed myself with my own moodiness and sulking. Some of the reasons for this funk or despair (or whatever you’d call it) are somewhat obvious. The news headlines make me want to scream or weep on a daily basis. Adjusting to our summer schedule was difficult, and certain work projects that I busted my butt on didn’t produce the results I would have liked. An extra 5 pounds (oh, who am I kidding, it’s definitely closer to 10) have permanently attached themselves to my belly, butt, and thighs. And as much as I would like to say that I’ve made peace with this, the truth is, I have not. I want the scale to magically adjust itself without giving up my daily Kit-Kat bars and French fries. As much as I would like to... read more

7 Moms You’ll See In A Group Text

If you have kids in the modern age of parenting, chances are, you’ve participated in at least one group text. Whether it’s coordinating a playdate, a ladies’ night out, or organizing a complicated carpool routine, moms texting takes on a whole new level of hell when you have multiple people expressing opinions. And, often, the group text can make you feel like a prisoner in your own phone. I’ve been in a group text with six of my neighbors for over a year and there are times when I come back to my phone only to find 92 new texts. It can take almost 20 minutes to catch up on all of the conversation twists. Group texts are exhausting. And, what’s worse, now most messaging systems will indicate you’ve left the conversation, thereby alerting the other texters that you, in fact, don’t have time for their craziness. Group texts on your phone are what “Reply All” is to email: a special kind of hell designed to make us crazy. Technology is great, mostly, but the group text is enough to drive a busy mom crazy. If you’ve hung around group texts long enough, you will start to see certain patterns, certain nuances of the participants. Never is that more true than in a group text run by moms arranging carpool. Believe me, I know. Because one point or another, I’ve played all these roles. Let’s examine them, shall we? 1. The Initiator Mom She’s the mom we all love because she’s the one who dutifully remembers that on Wednesdays at 4 p.m., the kids all have to be at soccer practice.... read more

Teachers Share The Most Ridiculous Things Parents Have Ever Said to Them

Teachers share threats, insane requests, and absurd accusations from parents As summer winds down teachers are preparing their classrooms while parents are practicing their happy dance. A Reddit user challenged teachers to share the most ridiculous thing they’ve heard a parent say and more than 4,000 comments came in. Between crafting engaging lesson plans, endless grading, and breaking up fights teachers have a special kind of endurance. Too bad these parents failed to realize that and instead shared these absurd criticisms and requests. On Tests “This girl didn’t study and skipped most of the questions on a test. Mom came in to argue about her daughter’s failing grade and said she should only be graded on the questions she did answer, so therefore should have scored a 100 since the few she chose to answer were correct.” “I had a parent tell me his kid was acting dumb for my benefit and that he is really smart at home.” “My [teacher] mom frequently is forced to let kids retake tests because they didn’t do well on them. Not because the kids have any sort of problem, but because the parents complain that their genius somehow got a failing grade on a test.” On Homework “It’s not your job to teach my son lessons.” “Intellectual property is a real gray area,” one parent said in regard to blatant plagiarism. “‘Caitlyn doesn’t feel like writing. She’ll just say the answers to the work out-loud from now on.’” “My child has anxiety and as such, will not be completing your final project. You will give her an A for the course regardless... read more

I Don’t Know What Happened to My Brain After Having Kids

I’d like to tell you that I am stronger, smarter, and more savvy after bringing four humans into the world. I’d like to tell you that having kids has done nothing but motivate me to be better, inspire me to reach for the stars, and finally teach me the secrets of being a woman who “has it all.” I’d like to tell you that becoming a mother has simply strengthened my organizational skills, propelling me to become a master scheduler and Queen of the Calendar. But honestly? That would be a lie. Because the truth is, somewhere between peeing on a stick and throwing up in those first few months of having my first kid, I lost my mind. It wasn’t a subtle change, really, when I look back on it. It was dramatic and swift, like a car stopping for a squirrel, tires locking and rubber burning. If I had to trace it back to one moment, I would say that it all started a few months into my first pregnancy, when my husband and I were shopping for some supplies for a tropical getaway. I was simply trying to pick up a bottle of sunscreen, but for some reason, bottles were flying left and right. No matter how hard I tried, I kept dropping every bottle of sunscreen I picked up. It was so ridiculous that my husband just stood there laughing at me, until I finally gave up and moved on to the sunglasses section — where I proceeded to knock over the entire display. I look back at that moment, the confusion I felt wondering what on... read more

Hey, Moms: Don’t Be Afraid to Date Yourself

It wasn’t until my kids were a bit older that I realized I needed to start dating myself again. And I’m not talking about waiting until they were (finally) asleep to delve into that delicious book sitting on my nightstand for months. No, I’m talking about actually doing something where my mind and spirit could get totally lost — something that I’d long forgotten about since having kids. For me, I couldn’t experience this unless I left the house, and sometimes, that meant leaving the house alone. Because let’s face it, sneaking in precious moments of “me time” for yourself is always great, but it just isn’t the same as long as you’re home. You’re looking at that pile of dirty dishes that’s still in the sink; you’re thinking you should really clean that coat closet, or be planning meals for the week. Make no mistake: It’s a challenge to care for our families and put ourselves first every once in a while, especially if you are a mom who works. It’s all too easy to forget that we count, too. But I can tell you this: As soon as I started taking time away for myself, it gave me the clarity I needed. The added bonus? I also became a happier version of myself. Here were some ground rules I set for myself that I think every mom should, too. 1. Even if you only get out once every few months, DO. IT. Everyone needs a little escape from their lives, and parents are no exception. I used to feel like this was a sign of weakness when in fact, it makes you stronger. 2. Let the guilt go. I know it... read more

Embarrassing Moments Are A Parenting Inevitability

When my middle daughter was 1, she had a spectacular diaper blowout at church. It was all up the back of her very new, very cute, church dress. I took her to the restroom, and once I was elbow-deep into cleaning her, I realized I was short on wipes. I ended up using wet toilet paper, which I assure you was quite a challenge to acquire while the kid was half dressed and filthy. It was working though, for the most part, until the power went out. And let me just say that the men’s room with no windows was about as dark as deep space, and my half-naked baby who was still equal parts poopy and wet was as slippery as a butter-coated seal. By the time the lights came back on, we were both a mess, and I ended up taking a walk of parenting shame through the church and out into the van. I was completely embarrassed. But that was far from the only time that I’ve been embarrassed as a parent. Sadly, there’s more. I was at the grocery store once, with a toddler in the cart reaching for anything and everything and two young kids in tow, both begging for candy in the checkout line. I had a full cart of food, and a line of people behind me as I began unloading the cart onto the checkout counter. Once everything was rung up and ready to roll, I realized I’d forgotten my debit card. Suddenly my face was red, my groceries were slowly melting, and it felt like everyone behind me let out a... read more

It’s Official: As A Parent, I’m Practically Useless

As a parent, I have become irrelevant. No, really. Apparently, when I wasn’t looking, my children grew up and they no longer need me. A good thing, I know, but still. See, last week my youngest got his license. Finally! I thought as I sat in Hell’s waiting room at the DMV. No more days broken up by a kid’s schedule. No more trying to finish work, clean the house, run errands and prep dinner during the two hour window between shuttling back and forth to practices or during the surprisingly short block of time between morning drop off and afternoon pick up from school. And, most importantly, no more late night pickups from friends’ houses! Yay! I would finally be able to don my pjs before 10 p.m. and not have to worry about running out in said pjs and being pulled over by a cop who would assume that I had been drinking or that I stole the car simply because I look like a vagrant. No silk robe or adorable short sets for me. No, my choice of sleepwear consists of a ratty old pair of shorts, a faded t-shirt and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt I stole from my brother in high school. Pair that with my drooping sleep-deprived eyelids and my mop of hair and you can understand my fear of being mistaken for a drifter. Those days are over! So imagine my surprise when my son got his license and drove away from me for the first time and my first thought was: Wait! What? Driving you everywhere and bitching about it is my job! Those days are over!... read more

I Gave This Whole “Self-Care” Thing a Whirl and Here’s How It Went

Self-care is important and “me time” is a must — especially when you have kids. At least, that’s the message that seems to be playing like a broken record these days. (Just give a quick scroll through your Facebook feed, and you’re bound to stumble upon an article or two that mentions it.) But as a mom of two toddlers, carving out a window of time just for myself isn’t exactly at the top of my list. As a working parent, it’s hard enough finding time to set up a play date or squeeze in a date night (that actually happens) without just adding more stress to my already-hectic schedule. However, the past few months have left me seriously reconsidering the importance of self-care. Maybe it was the fact that I kept getting sick (over and over again) that made me think the universe was trying to give me a sign; or, maybe I really had read one too many self-care articles, after all. Whatever the case, I began to wonder: Was I really doing enough to take care of myself? Enter, The Experiment: I decided it was time to get onboard with this whole “Me Time” thing (or at least try), once a week for one month. It wouldn’t be easy, but I promised myself I’d commit to the cause. Week 1: I picked up a book and actually read it. Image Source: Ambrosia Brody                                                         I I initially planned to meet friends for dinner and drinks as a throwback to the Friday nights before bedtimes dictated... read more

I Am So Over the Babymoon

Of course, a baby moon isn’t logistically or financially possible of everyone. But for those of you who are considering it, please heed Ali’s hilarious warnings: it’s not always what the glossy magazine photos depict. (Maybe this just makes me feel better because I didn’t get one. 🙂 Picture it: you and your husband toasting the Golden Trimester and your impending parenthood by taking a luxurious jaunt to the tropics. You will bask in the glorious sunshine by a crystal-green ocean, a virgin mojito in hand and a masseuse rubbing coconut oil on your baby bump. I’ve had two kids and two babymoons, neither of which involved coconut oil rub-downs. Unlike a honeymoon, which signified the start of our new life together, the babymoon just reminded us of what our life would no longer be like. If I were to have a third child (I said “if”- don’t get any ideas, Mom!), I would ditch the babymoon altogether, because I am so over it. Here are a few romantic illusions that were shattered upon arrival: 1.) This babymoon will be my last hurrah before the baby comes. The Plan: a spa day, followed by a relaxing stroll through town, a fancy romantic dinner, and then a show or movie. We would cuddle by the fireplace in our B&B, sleep until 10am, and then enjoy the delicious home-cooked breakfast downstairs. The Reality: The local spa did not offer prenatal treatments. The “relaxing stroll” became an “awkward waddle with frequent bathroom breaks.” Throughout dinner I alternated between staring wistfully at the other patrons sipping wine, and hightailing it to the bathroom.... read more

What The Pressure Of Parenting Really Looks Like On A Marriage

I got home from work at 6, and I was exhausted. I didn’t really want to do anything but soak in the tub for a while, and take a moment to clear my head. I walked through the front door, and Mel, my wife, unloaded. She told me about how Tristan, our 7-year-old, hadn’t cleared the table for dinner or started his homework. She told me how Aspen, our 4-month-old, had blown out her diaper twice that day and refused to take a nap, and how Norah, our 5-year-old, had done little but throw one fit after another. This was about two years ago, and at the time Mel was a stay-at-home mom and a part-time student. She was in blue jeans and a striped T-shirt, her brown hair pulled back. She was stirring something on the stove, and on her hip was Aspen, who was crying and wearing nothing but a diaper. The house was a storm of toys and unfolded laundry. The bags under her eyes, her makeup-less face, her sagging right hip, her slumped sounders, everything about Mel said weary. She’d had a long day. But so had I. At the time, I worked at a university as an academic counselor in a program that served under-represented students. A friend once described my job as the “social work of higher education,” and I think that was a good assessment. One of my students had been arrested the night before. He was facing felony charges, so I’d spent a good amount of time chatting with university legal services trying to help make sense of the situation. Trying... read more

The Ugly Days of Parenting

I put my all three of my kids to bed an hour before their scheduled bedtime tonight. It was one of “those days” where nothing seemed to go the way it was supposed to go and all of my children were out to not only get each other, but take me down in the process, too. By the time dinner was over, I was officially over all the arguing, the whining, and the crying, so I just decided to get all three ready for bed and asleep. Magically, each of them was out like a light within 15 minutes flat, which basically never happens. We don’t have these days often, but when we do, they beat me down. As I sit here writing now, I’m in my living room with a glass of wine beside me, listening to the sound of my son’s sound machine humming upstairs. I don’t want to hear anything other than the thoughts in my own head. And at this point, I’d tune those out too, if I could. Today was one of those days that I questioned whether or not I could keep it together. We leave for a month-long vacation this Friday, so my stress level is already pretty high trying to prep for that. Without trying to stress the kids out too, I tried my best to turn my laundry list of errands into tiny little “adventures” for them. But, surprise: it backfired. Big time. With every new store that I walked into, at least one or more of my children threw a tantrum. We left the restaurant we ate lunch in after breaking one bowl and spilling... read more

Things I Learned In School That Do And Don’t Apply To Parenting

“Well, that was a waste of an education.” I’ve heard it from people. I’ve thought it myself. I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in graphic and website design. I had a fun run doing just that for six years, and then two more years after I had my first child. Is my particular education lucrative to staying home? Not really. I rarely use my degree skills — unless you count designing photo books and birth announcements — which I never really did. So, technically, I don’t use those skills for my day-to-day activities. It’s not too often my kids need a brand style guide or animated banner ads designed for their website. No one needs logos or business cards, just water, some crackers, and 47 band-aids for a teeny, tiny cut that may or may not even be there. Now, classes I took in high school — those are a totally different story. Sure, I was required to take classes I didn’t want to take, questioning their relevance, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?” Now, three kids and 20-plus years later, it’s all finally making some sense. These are the classes that turned out to be useful for parenting: Basic Math: Also known as creating and following a budget. You can’t do this if you don’t know basic math. Even if you’re like me, and all you can do is count on your fingers, it still counts. I have no issues standing in the grocery store counting on my fingers the amount of money I’ll have leftover if I buy that roasted tenderloin for dinner —... read more

10 Things I Would Trade For 3 Hours Of Sleep

I never knew what tired was until I became a mother. Really down in your bones, down to the core tired, is a whole different animal. That kind of tired makes me say things I don’t mean (OK, I really do mean them, but pretend not to so I don’t seem evil). Some days I am so tired, I literally close my eyes while standing in the line at the grocery store or — wait for it — while I’m stopped at a red light. Um, yeah, not the safest. I get that. But I’ve only been jolted awake by honking horns once or twice and don’t do it when the kids are in the car. These days, I would trade almost anything for more sleep, so I’ve put together a list. I’m running a little thin on big ticket items to trade, but there are some sweet deals to be had here. DM me for where and when to make the exchange. These won’t last and are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. 10. Shampoo for a month (like I’m really going to have the chance to use it anyway). 9. My hot black stilettos. Lord knows those days are over. 8. Food for the whole day. Really, I can sustain myself on gummy vitamins and water if I could just close my eyes. 7. Sex for a month. See No. 10. 6. All contact with the outside world for a week. Who needs the outside world when you have InTouch magazine? 5. Facebook for a week. I could use some time off from seeing all the people I know looking all groomed, in... read more

20 Things I’ve Accidentally Done To My Kids

The clumsy side of parenting is another one of those fun little things the What to Expect books do not cover. There is no chapter covering the proximity of children. You know, how your toddler will follow you so close that if you stop abruptly, they will ricochet off your ass. Clumsy things. Accidental incidents. They create an immeasurable amount of mom guilt that doesn’t always go away — even when it’s long in the past, no one is hurt, and it’s funny. Things like… 1. Knocking my toddler over with my gigantic 9-month belly and not realizing she is near me because I hadn’t even seen my feet since week 32. 2. Cutting the corner too early and accidentally hitting my infant child’s head on the door frame. (It took most of the first year with my first child to realize that the space you have to enter and exit a doorway is much greater when you become a parent). 3. An accidental uppercut to the face when my hand slipped trying to unbutton a stubborn snap on her pajamas, popping her in the chin. 4. Cutting little nails too short — more than once, even with tiny nail clippers. But in my defense, clipping infant and toddler fingernails is like trying to catch a shrimp with greasy bare hands. It’s a total body activity where their bedroom becomes a wrestling ring. 5. Successfully catching spit-up in the burp rag by accidentally deflecting it back into my newborn’s face — who sat there with a white face, blinking and dripping. 6. Accidentally dropping a bottle of lotion on my son’s face. (Veteran parenting tip and common sense... read more