It’s about the Journey

There are moments in each and every day when I almost stop right in my tracks because I am reminded I am not living in the moment, that I am not soaking up each fleeting moment as a parent in its full glory.  It is difficult, I know, to relish the insanity of the day instead of being overwhelmed or, at times, frustrated, by it, but we should.  We really, truly should because this whole thing called childhood goes by so quickly – really, in the blink of an eye.  Instead of finding ourselves frustrated by the moments that aren’t going our way, or are taking too long, I hope we can remember that it is NOT about the destination, but it is most certainly about the journey.  The journeys take longer, but also hold in them, the most reward. These journeys in childhood, I believe, are almost always more rewarding than the destination itself.

In my humble opinion, here are some journeys worth relishing:

Bath time
Who knew that a child could sit in a bath and play with five toys – the same five toys every night – until they’ve pruned and then re-plumped again!  There are nights when I simply don’t feel like giving my daughter a bath, because I’m tired or we’re a little off our schedule or – I just don’t want to!  But then I remember how much she flippin’ loves bath time.  She has these two little buckets, one yellow and one orange, with three holes in the bottom.  She’ll fill them both up, then let them drain half out and then dump the rest of the water out over the side of the bathtub (she’s in one of those tubs that sits INSIDE our bath tub – so, you know, not as messy).  She giggles and talks up a storm. I know it won’t always be this fun to get her to take a bath, so in these moments, I’m going to enjoy being half-soaked watching her dump water all over the place.

Play looks so very different for kids of all ages, but the main idea in waiting it out here is to just let them play.  Don’t stop them from playing because they have to change out of their pajamas or you have to get the laundry started or, more likely, you are sort of bored.  As an adult, learning to re-play like a child has been tough for me.  I’m used to having a defined purpose in every thing I do.  My daughter doesn’t have that.  She explores.  Sometimes she explores multiple things at once.  Sometimes that exploring simply looks like looking at something – for what seems like hours on end.  That’s not always so exciting for me.  I don’t want to rush her though, or stop her from this exploring.  When she starts coloring, or painting, or crafting or tide-pooling, things that will be infinitely more enjoyable for me, I want to keep these same expectations; I do not want to rush her through her play.  It won’t be long, I’m sure, until she’d rather be at the mall with friends than playing with the stuffed animal circus on our living room floor.  I’ll take every minute of this time I can get.

Nap time
This one I think might be as much for me as it is for my daughter.  Sometimes naps don’t happen, for a variety of reasons.  I usually end up frustrated if that occurs, and she usually ends up beyond tired and melting down – so, we do like naps and rarely want to rush them.  However, there are times when we have a playdate or an activity or an errand to run and that nap – that pesky little nap – is sort of getting in the way.  Too bad.  That’s what I’ve had to start saying.  “Too bad we can’t make it, it’s nap time” or “Too bad I couldn’t get that done today, she was taking a nap”. Naps are great, for both baby and mama.  About every third day I force myself, no matter how tired or not tired I am, to actually take a nap when my daughter does.  What I notice is that I am recharged.  This is what naps are doing for her – recharging her uber-exploring batteries so that she can wake up, eat, and uber-explore some more.  Don’t rush naps and for the love of all that is important – don’t skip them either!

We are taking the Baby-Led Weaning, otherwise known as Baby-Led Solids, approach to introducing food to our little one.  We skipped over purees and rice cereal as the typical starters (we do offer some pureed foods now and again) and we allow her to feed herself, either from the options we put in front of her, or what we have on our own plates.  At seven months old, she is successfully eating chicken, ground beef, carrots, avocado, sweet peppers, bananas, nectarines, sweet potato, green beans, mango, and the list goes on.  Mealtimes are messy, using this approach, and they take a lot longer than if I was spoon feeding her. But she is learning so much about food, and taste and texture and dexterity (with that cute little pincer grasp!) and making her own choices, and telling us when she is full or when she wants more.  Before we had our daughter, I could eat a meal in under 10 minutes.  Really, no joke.  I think it comes from my high school days when I had about 30 minutes to eat, socialize and, let’s be honest, finish that Calculus homework!  Forcing myself to slow down because that’s what she needs, has forced me to slow down as well – to enjoy thinking about what we are eating and watching her learn to learn about food. To enjoy spending time with family sharing a meal. Is it messy? Yes? Is it time consuming? A little more, yes.  Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Time Away (the drop off and the pick up)
I mean this, from anywhere really, but I’m specifically thinking of daycare.  As a full-time working mama, usually in the mornings I feel like I am in more of a hurry than I really am, than I really need to be.  If I really stop and think about it, I can typically spend a few extra minutes playing with her at daycare – letting her show me the toys she plays with all day long.  Taking her around the room and looking at the artwork and pictures on the walls.  Helping her play with her little friends, which really consists of sitting up and looking at one another as they each play with their own toys.  When I pick her up, I usually have the same time – I can sit down next to her while she is playing and play along.  I can talk to her about what she did all day…I don’t have to simply drop her off and run out the door or whisk her up and out of the building to head home.  She’s not a busy Type A Mama yet.  She needs time to acclimate to her changes in her surroundings.  Even though she knows daycare now, and she clearly knows us when we pick her up, it’s still a transition and it needs to be slowed down, just a bit, so as not to be jarring for that little brain of hers.

Story time
Charlotte isn’t sitting down for The Velveteen Rabbit or The Little Prince, anytime soon.  And we certainly aren’t even close to the “chapter books” phase.  But, she does like her books.  We read two every night before bed: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear and Goodnight Moon.  She likes to close the books.  She likes to flip the sturdy cardboard pages back and forth.  She enjoys almost everything about reading books except the actual reading of the book.  It doesn’t matter to me.  What matters to me is that she is hearing words, and looking at pictures, and is engaged in these moments of learning even before she goes to sleep every night.  And, to be honest, I love the cuddles on my lap and her little smile every time I say “Boom! Boom! Boom! The Bear will tromp the forest…”

There are others, of course.  Everyone will have their own journeys and experiences to relish.  So, in the end my message is: just do that.  Stop rushing through these moments. Enjoy the journey, the “destination” will come soon enough, I assure you.



That Mom and That Other Mom

Sometimes I wonder what kind of mom I am, and question what kind of mom I want to be. It’s not that I give this a whole lot of thought (though this post suggests otherwise, I realize).  I am happy with the mom I am, most times.  I also have a 7 month old so being her mom has been pretty new to both of us and, I’m happy to report, I do not think I’ve done any serious damage thus far. 🙂 But I do think about being a mom, her mom, and what sort of mom I want to be.  I also think about how, sometimes, my being a person (a woman, a writer, a runner, a scholar) can get lost inside the whole being a mom bit. Sometimes I am happy about that.  Other times I realize that I do not want that to get lost.  Other times still, I look at myself and introspectively wonder how I am as a mom right now. And then there are those other times when  I just sort of want to be That Mom.  You know, other moms.  Moms that feel very much NOT like the mom I am right now.

There are lots of That Moms at swim lessons.  I usually show up to swim lessons in yoga pants that are still too big (but comfy) and my rash guard, on top of my swim suit, with my hair looking decent but pulled back — since I’m still getting in the water with Charlotte at this point and have to deal with the easiest pieces of clothing to get in and out of, in the quickest possible ways.  That Mom is sometimes also wearing yoga pants, but they look much better on her.  Sometimes That Mom is super dolled up, with clearly recently pedicured toes and manicured fingers, fresh mascara and even lip gloss.  I’m lucky if I remembered to brush AND floss my teeth.

The other day there were several That Moms at swim lessons, and I watched them for a long time, sort of in awe of how put together they all were and wondering what the hell their lives were like that they could be that put together.  And, I’ll admit it, I was jealous.  I wanted to look like all those That Moms. I wanted to have what I assume is all the time in the world that those That Moms had that they don’t seem rushed and their hair looks perfect and they looked like they have been working out with a personal trainer several hours a day.  I. Was. Jealous.  Then Charlotte splashed her hands down into the water and soaked me, tousled pulled-back hair and all — and thankfully, brought me to my senses.

ScaryMommy recently posted “37 Reasons I’m Not Embracing the Moment” and I was reminded of this as I was not embracing this moment, but instead being totally blinded by all those That Moms I was seeing.  And, as I watched my daughter giggle with delight as she splashed away waiting for her turn to be dunked and floated across the water, it just got me thinking – was I ever even going to be That Mom?  I mean, was I even That Mom before I became a mom?  I had to be honest with myself in this moment — No, I wasn’t even That Mom before I became a mother.  I have always been more comfortable in jeans than in a dress.  I didn’t learn how to even properly apply make-up until I was nearly 30, and even then that simply consisted (and still does) of eyeliner,  a very nude colored shadow and mascara — sometimes gloss, if I’m feeling frisky! I wear high heels, but wedges not pumps, not because I walk all sexy in them but because I’m too damn short that none of my pants will fit if I don’t.  I’m not That Mom. Nor will I ever be That Mom. I don’t begrudge any of those That Moms their ability to be beautiful and amazing and all put together, but I’m not going to be able to join their club.  Probably ever.  And I’m going to be totally happy with that, with the mom I am — or the mom I am becoming.

And what kind of mom am I?  I do not know exactly right yet, being that it has only been 7 months.  But, so far, what I’ve realized is this: I have become That Other Mom. The one who can turn any conversation into one that revolves around or refers to her child.  That loves telling stories about how she almost rolls over or giggles to certain songs or splashes in the pool!  Before I was That Other Mom, I was one of those people who didn’t care about all this nonsense.  Now that I’m That Other Mom, all I want to do is find people who do care about all this nonsense.  Let’s be real.  It. Is. Nonsense.  I realize that while I am astoundingly happy being a mama, I was very glad to go back to work so that my world could start to revolve, once again, around things other than my child.  I love her.  I love everything she does and everything about her.  However, I also felt that the professional side of my life, the one that is a good role model for my daughter, was lacking a bit.  I wanted to think that someday my daughter could look her mom and realize that she too, can have it all — work, life, love, family, knowledge, etc. etc. etc.  But you know what, even back at work, I remained That Other Mom.

Not That Mom, mind you, I still do not think I will ever attain that, but I’m a mom.  That Mom and That Other Mom, we are all just mamas doing the best we can at this crazy journey called mommy-hood. It’s a wild ride, one I wouldn’t change for the world…but some fancy, new jeans and pedicure might be nice all the same.

Aw, poor baby…

image (1)
Charlotte illustrating how I’m feeling

I’m going to be whiny here for a bit, just for one post. It’s not my usual M.O. – to be whiny. I’m really not that type of person. But I’m just feeling in a mood, a funk, a little bit of an annoyance with all that is my world right about now (with the exception of Charlotte, who I am over the moon about, even in my whiny state). I’m not in a bad mood, or unhappy, or even sad — don’t get me wrong. Regardless, there will be whining coming up so prepare yourself. It’s about deployments and my life and my life with deployments. If you aren’t in the mood to read a whiny post from me, move on now.  🙂

Here’s the thing. I am over deployment at this point. Here’s the other thing. I can do deployments. I always have been able to. I always can. I don’t enjoy them. I haven’t ever enjoyed them, but I can DO them. And I am and have been doing this one too. It’s been different with a kid, but I’ve been plugging along, right as rain. But, and here’s the whiny kicker part: I don’t want to!! [Insert whiney noise here.]

About three months into the deployment,  I sent my husband an email just for kicks and giggles, so he could kind of see what our day has been like on the regular. I’ve tweaked it here a bit to reflect new developments in our lives (solid foods, daily walks and reading a book before bedtime).

4:45am – Wake up and take a shower
5:00 – 5:45am – Breastfeed Charlotte
5:45 – 6:15am – Finish getting ready for work
6:15 -6:20am – Change Charlotte’s Diaper
6:20 – 6:25am – Get her in her carseat
6:25 – 6:30am – Get the bottles out of the fridge, load up my work bag and her daycare bag, and take those plus the her in the carseat down to the car
6:35am – hopefully heading down the alley to daycare
6:50am – Arrive at daycare
6:50 – 7:05am – Get Charlotte settled into daycare.  Depending on my morning meeting schedule, we play for a few minutes – longer if I don’t have to be in for a meeting.
7:25am – Arrive at work
8:30am – 8:50am – Pump for bottles for the next day
11:30 – 11:50am – Pump for bottles for the next day
2:40 – 3:00pm – Pump for bottles for the next day
4:00 – leave work to get Charlotte (this is rushing out at the end of the day)
4:20ish – Arrive at daycare, get the kiddo and all her gear from the day
4:45ish – Arrive at home
4:45 – 5:00pm get Charlotte upstairs, throw bottles in cooler in fridge, change her diaper, play for a bit
5:00 – 5:30 – Take an evening walk, either in the carrier or in the stroller
5:30 – 6:00 – Get Charlotte’s solid food dinner ready
6:00 – 6:10pm Clean up Charlotte’s dinner and get bath stuff ready
6:10 – 6:30pm – Charlotte bath, diaper and into PJs
6:30 – 6:55pm – Breastfeed Charlotte, typically to sleep (fingers crossed!)
7:00 pm – Put Charlotte down into crib
7:15 – 7:20pm – put some chicken and veggies into tinfoil and into oven
7:20 – 7:30pm – Put away all bath stuff and clean up Charlotte’s dinner stuff
7:30 – 7:45pm – Prepare and label bottles for tomorrow
7:45 – 8:00pm – Prepare and freeze remaining milk in 4.5 oz bags
8:00 – 8:15pm – Wash all bottles and pump accessories from the day
8:15 – 8:20pm – Get pump accessories and empty bottles ready for tomorrow
8:20 – 8:30pm – Get my clothes and bag ready for the morning
8:30pm – Take food out of oven
8:30 – 8:40pm – Sometimes take out trash, sometimes run or empty dishwasher, sometimes take some frozen cookie dough (lactation cookies) out of freezer, sometimes do a load of laundry
8:40 – 9:00pm – eat
9:00 – 9:45pm – Breastfeed (a lovely time called “twilight feeding”) Charlotte again and change her diaper before going back to bed
9:45  – Sometimes go to bed, sometimes take a bath, sometimes watch a TV show from bed.

*Somewhere between 2am and 3am – feed Charlotte once more or go in and soothe her if she’s just fussy but not hungry

**This changes a bit on M/W when we have swim lessons from 4:30-5…then I leave work a bit early, we get there by 4:10 and I change then I change her and all the rest sort of takes a 45 minute shift backwards, she doesn’t get a bath (she’s been in chlorine, she’s clean!) and I typically don’t get a real meal…more like a flatbread or naan if I’m lucky — if not, some bread and cheese and yogurt! ;

It’s THIS face that makes all of it worth it, on a daily basis!

I know other people have it even harder.  Other women have more than one child. Other women are truly single parents all the time, not just for 8 months. And, yes, there are those of you out there who will say “well, you knew what you were getting when…” a) you married a sailor or b) you had a child or c) both. And yes, yes I did.  I knew full well what I was getting in both instances. And, no matter how hard life has been or how many insane curveballs life has thrown my way (and there have been some doozies, let me tell ya!), I have accepted this life as the life I want to be living.  I would not change a thing.  Not. One. Single. Thing.


That does NOT mean this isn’t really hard and that I have to enjoy every stinking minute of it and not feel exhausted and just “over it”.  I didn’t sign up to not have feelings about my experience. And so, I’m having feelings. This is me having feelings. And it’s my blog dammit, so I’m expressing those feelings. Venting if you will. Whining, if you must!

I’m just tired. I’m tired of not having my best friend, my husband around to laugh with about how effing insane life is, but how truly, inexplicably rewarding it also is. I’m tired of having to feel like an octopus out of water — my eight arms in constant motion but feeling like I cannot catch a breath. I’m just tired. And no, I wouldn’t change anything (I mean, other than having my husband home, that I’d change in an instant!) and I’m not complaining, because complaining means I’m unhappy about my lot in life.  I’m not unhappy.

Just tired.

And whiny.

And sick to death of eating chicken!

Dad’s Aren’t Special

Ok, so don’t get me wrong.  Dad’s are great!  And, I know that my husband cannot wait for anything more than to get home from his deployment and BE a daddy to our little one. But, I have noticed a disturbing trend lately and I just couldn’t sit on this anymore. It might be that I’m more sensitive to this because my daughter’s dad isn’t able to be here and I’m doing the job of two parents, but honestly, I think I might feel the exact same if he had been here this entire 7 months so far.

Parenting is parenting and should not be defined or glorified with roles delineated based on gender (with the obvious exception of breastfeeding, but dad’s CAN feed a baby too…)

My two recent points of contention:

On July 9th, AdWeek posted this commercial  with the headline: “Thailand Does It Again With an Ad That Will Leave You Bawling Like This Baby Grab some tissues and your phone charger”

The ad, for those that haven’t gone and watched it yet, basically illustrates the following: A dad is looking over his daughter crying in her crib.  Panicked, he calls mom who seems to be at the grocery store.  He says “What do I do??”.  Mom’s first guess: baby is hungry — dad cutely feels his chest with that “I don’t have boobs” goofy look.  Ok. Fine. Cute.  Then mom has an idea to play peek-a-boo over the phone.  Then, after this, dad — with a look that is somewhere between pain, fear and the trepidation of a 14 year old who has to change a diaper for the first time — reaches down and, wait for it…PICKS UP HIS CHILD. The baby stops crying almost immediately as mom watches on through an iChat or some version of video chat and tears up.  The look dad gives his daughter in this video is the same look that I saw on my husband on the day our daughter was born and every, single, day (numbered as they were before he deployed) of her first weeks of life: a look comingled between awe and love.  The tagline at the end of the ad is “technology can never replace love”.  True enough.  But, I have to ask, would people be fawning over this if the roles had been reveresed and MOM was the one “freaking out” and then picking up her baby.  No, I think not. I have to admit, sadly, that people would be up in arms and saying things like “what kind of mother does that?” and “why doesn’t that mom just pick her baby up?”  It wouldn’t be a “Grab the Tissues” spot.  This is parenting folks.  Dad’s have to figure out how to console and sooth their babies the same way that moms do, every day, all day long.

Ok, so next: In the August 2014 issue of Parent magazine, there was a little blurb about how a 37 year-old father was traveling on an airplane with his two children ages 4 and 5. The article, which was admittedly also making a little fun of this situation, stated that the flight attendants “made sure [the father] and his boys…could watch nonstop movies and have free first-class dinners” because they knew “it’s hard to bring kids on a five hour flight [and she] wanted him to have the best experience possible.” (20). Um, seriously?  I have been on eight different flights – BY MYSELF – with my daughter as a 3 month and then 6 month old and have seen at least three different mothers in my travels – also solo – with their kids who have gotten…wait for it…No Special Treatment.

But hey, let’s just assume dad here is doing something very special and needs all the help he can get.


Dad’s ARE NOT SPECIAL!  I mean, not any MORE special than Mom’s.  Parenting is a two person job and each of those two people should be able and willing to do ALL of the things required of them as parents.  Doing the job of a parent doesn’t make you special, wether you are the Mama or the Daddy. These stories and examples are sending a message that I am uncomfortable with.  They are sending a message about gender and norms and roles that I think does a disservice to parents of BOTH genders.  Gendered norms that are antiquated and that I had hoped were disappearing (sadly, I realize this is not yet the case…). They are sending the message that dad’s, doing what parents just do, are doing something special.  I have to think that MOST dad’s do not think of themselves as doing anything special or out-of-the-ordinary when they are just simply being a parent – a good parent, don’t get me wrong – but a parent…just like mom.

I know that dad’s like Daddy Doin’ Work ( and The Daddy Diaries ( go about their daily daddy-duties simply as “parent duties” that sometimes are specific to dad, but also sometimes not.  They are being parents. They aren’t, as most dad’s aren’t, asking for special treatment. I hope that most dad’s aren’t anyway and I hope that our media world can more closely examine the message that they send when they put one parent up on a pedestal for doing what they should be doing to begin with – being good parents.

NOTE: I would have, I believe, the same reaction to media that glorifies moms for these same things…as I said, I don’t want any parent praised for doing the job of being good parents, particularly when gender is defining those roles.