Category Archives: Growing up

I Look Like Morningside Mom and I Smell Like One Too

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I remember exactly where I was a year ago today. Brow sweaty and tense with insecurity, I was hunched over my old (now passed on) “shitty shitty bang bang ” PC. While I glared at that massive, yellowed monitor, my mind was overwhelmed with writing that simply needed out. I remember rethinking, questioning and toiling over that first blog post. (Groan.) Word by word, out it came. And then the transition moment arrived: I clicked publish. And it was done. My Morningside Mom weblog was born.

It was a girl, awkward and new. Posts stumbled over themselves, too long, too weird, falling flat on their face. She tried to grasp HTML and SEO concepts, but they slipped through her tiny fingers, infuriating her. But little by little, my girl got stronger. Every post became a little more confident. She even found her voice along the way and does a fairly decent job at using her words nicely. She is growing up.

And now look at her. Publishing posts without even a thought, actually entertaining folks in feed readers and jet-setting off to NYC with really nice people.

And one year old!

I am so proud. No I am. I never expected much from this whole thing. Simply a place to put my thoughts when all I did was “mommy” all day. Of course, I am more than a “mommy”. I love my children but a year ago today I felt it was high time I honored myself by speaking my mind a little more often. After all, before I was a mother I was a woman, a thinker, a leader, a wife, a sister, a kid, a women’s college grad, a political junkie, a hard worker, a talker and a friend. And this blog has allowed me to be all of these things once again while I “mommy” within the four walls of my home.

So Happy Birthday little one. You have so much more growing to do but what a change in one year.

Oh and both my blog and my readers should expect a birthday gift from me soon. An almost“grown up” blog deserves to actually look the part. I am working on updating and giving my girl a new look.

Stay posted – we’ll be able to tear the paper off this sucker and see what we got very soon.

10 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Blog love, Growing up, Parenting, Women, Working moms

Everyone Poops: A Father’s Example

If you have small children and you are potty training, perhaps even trying to explain the normalcy of bowel movements, it’s likely then that you have the book “Everyone Poops”. While it guarantees gales of giggles with every read, it also teaches children that everyone and every living thing, well, poops.

It’s really no big deal, right?

Of course with two boys it is no surprise that “Everyone Poops” is a bedtime favorite around here. However. My husband has brought this book to life a bit, and I am sure he is not the only husband who has. My husband likes to add certain sound effects while reading “Everyone Poops”. I have never made said sound effects while reading it myself (yeah, I’m such a lady) but thats ok. My boys will make the sounds for me. With sprays of spit and rattling raspberries, all three of them have become very talented at poop sounds while hopefully learning that yes, in fact, everyone poops. Maybe the youngest will finally be inspired enough to someday put his poop in the potty. Maybe.

In the meantime, here is a quick video I made of my husband and the example he has set for our children with the book “Everyone Poops”. Never underestimate what complexities a father can pass on to his children.

Enjoy. 

4 Comments

Filed under Boys, Children, Fathers, Growing up, Parenting, Potty Training, Silliness, Teaching kids

The Rants and Raves of a Potty Trainer

potty

“Baby. When you feel like your body is telling you there is a pee pee about to come out, you make sure you LISTEN TO YOU BODY. Ok? Ok, honey? Ok? …Ok??”

“C.! Where does pee pee go? Huh??? Where does it go?! You know, you’re so smart. IN THE POTTY, right? Right, C.?? IN THE POTTY!!! YAAAY FOR POTTIES!!! THEY”RE SO COOL!!! …what?”

“Hey hon, remember, you don’t have a Pull Up on. If you feel like a pee pee needs to come out, you need to go put it IN THE POTTY. Ok, baby? That’s all. So easy.”

“Whats your body telling you??? Any pee pee in there?”

“I GOT AN IDEA!!!! How about if you put a pee pee in the potty, I’ll give you a sticker! You can put it on the potty if you want!! What do you think? WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

“Or how about a cookie?”

“….Or one of Mommy’s South Beach bars….?”

“AAHHHHHOHMYGODYOUDIDITYOUPEEPEEDYOUDIDITAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

“Ok, um…. careful, CAREFUL!!!! Don’t spill it… yes you’re a big boy, ok, carefulCAREFULCAREFUL!!!!”

“Its ok baby. Yup, mommy will pick it up.”

“Ok you can help….. um…. yup, into the potty. Ok LETS WASH HANDS!!! YAY!!!!! …hey… GET BACK HERE!”

“So. Baby? If you have poops, they go in the potty too. Ok?”

“Here, lets put the potty on the PORCH. Fun! And heres a book! Fun!! Just hang out and read your book and if you feel that poop just **PUUUUUSH**…mmmkay? Kay, baby?”

“What? Wheres the poop? Did you put it in…? ….OH! Ok. Well. It was very close, hon. So close. Not too far away at all. Yes, thank you for showing me where it is, now back up.”

“ACKDON’TTOUCHITDON’TTOUCHIT!!!!! …Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. MOMMY just needs to pick it up, ok?”

“Ok, let’s put it IN your little potty right where it belongs, ok? And now we’ll go back to the bathroom and flush it. OK? OK? Because poops go *IN* the pottty. Right??? Right baby?”

“Um… Alright. You can carry the potty. …just… careful? ok?”

“BLAOHHAHHWATCHOUTFOR…. oh baby you tripped. Are you ok? Just stand up! Careful now. Back up, ok? You need your boo-boo bear? Um, ok. Wait here. NO DON’T TOUCH THE MESS.”

“DON’T TOUCH, Mommy cleans up, you sit with your boo boo bear, I got this. …Oh.  …You want to help?

“You get the clorox wipes, *I* get the spray. No baby, I get the spray.”

“Ok, NOW the poop goes in the potty. Bye bye poops! Bye bye! Go ahead and flush… ok… AND DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE ITS TIME TO WASH HANDS SO HELP ME GOD!!! …Yes. You can do it.”

“OK!!!! GOOD JOB BABY!!! …So… how about lets put on your Pull Up for now, ok?”

“And here’s your sticker… and Mommy’s South Beach bar.”

8 Comments

Filed under Children, Growing up, Panicking, Parenting, Potty Training, Teaching kids

Be a Better Parent without Forgeting about Yourself

mompic

This is a post for parents. For mothers and fathers whose lives have done an entire 180 and have landed *splat* face down on the sidewalk since they have had children. After five years of parenting, I consider myself entirely too enlightened about one key factor: the you, the “you” you knew before your kids were left in a bundle on your doorstep, will become a scarce, mythical beast, read only about in fairy tales, lest you corner that old “you”, wrastle it to the ground and trap it in a place you can access on a daily basis.

What am I on about? Parents know. Its the days of wearing old t-shirts because your breasts are leaking constantly. Its cutting your hair because you are tired of having it yanked out a strand at a time. Its crushed crackers in a diaper bag, while all the cute bags slowly fade out of style in your closet. Its Friday nights asleep on the couch while a well intentioned DVD plays in the background. Its the groundhog days filled with time outs, thrown applesauce, nails down the chalk board screams, flushed toys and poopy diaper wrestling. It’s considering your annual trip to your OBGYN “a day out”. It’s never having a private moment in the bathroom. Ever.

Please. To all my brothers and sisters in the trenches of parenthood. Take a look around. When was the last time you went on a date with your partner? When was the last time you wore something “dry clean only”? When was the last time you left the house without diapers, snacks, sippy cups, and an outift change? When was the last time you slept somewhere away from your children and then – gasp – allowed yourself to sleep in past 7am?

It is so very important to remember what makes you happy. Yes, yes. Your happy child makes you happy. So does 8pm when they are (God willing) in bed finally. But what makes YOU tick? Before kids. Did you like to read? (And I don’t mean board books.) Did you have a hobby? Did you see friends often? Did you exercise? Did you have actual leisure time?

Did you?

Do you have any of that stuff now? No??? Go find it. Quick. Hire a sitter, even if it costs money. Figure out a girls night out. Have a friend take the kids for an afternoon. Check the guilt at the door and do something for YOURSELF.

Because if you don’t, you will truly lose yourself and your mind. You will forget who you are. You will actually forget what you truly LIKE to do. All of the sudden, ALL that you know about yourself is being… well… a parent. Take away the kids, and suddenly there is nothing left. Your identity is simply… a mom. Or a dad.

And it can happen so quickly. You’re there and then *POOF*, suddenly, you’re gone.

No disrespect of course. Being a parent is an incredible and, yes, noble job. It is an honorable identity to assume, and every parent should claim that title with pride. As my aunt always reminds me, parenting it the hardest job there is. Yeah, you bet your animal crackers it is. And THAT’S exactly why its so easy to loose yourself. There is so much to do while parenting that when you forget about the “you” stuff, the “kid” stuff seeps in and fills in all the cracks. There is always a sippy cup to fill, a puzzle to make, and a nose – or bum – to wipe. Just let someone else do it once in awhile, that’s all. It will still be there when you get back. No one will take the title of “mom” or “dad” away from you. Just be your first name, the name you had before “mom” or “dad”, once and awhile.

Have you still not shaken your parental guilt to consider more time for yourself? Don’t forget that when you are happier, you are a happier – and therefore better – parent. And then theres the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. When you take some time away, you do miss your kids. And upon your return, you and your partner will actually fight for the chance to change a poopy diaper. Seriously, it happens.

And I know the tough times of parenting are fleeting. I am betting my wiser readers who have been parents longer than I have are pleading to me “Oh but enjoy these tough days. Enjoy your child before he grows up. They will be gone in an instant!”

Sadly, I know that. And I fear that. Everyday I bring my 5 year old home from school and I hold him tight tight tight because I can literally feel his mind and body growing in my arms. But that is also my point. They DO grow up so damn fast. And then in an instant, they are off to college. Where does that leave you? If your child went to college today (forget that he or she is a 2 year old toddler) – who would you be right now? How would you identify yourself? What kind of fun would you have with your spouse? Do you know? You need to know. Think about it.

Now please do not assume I actually have this figured out. (Snort.) Honestly? I am writing this post while deeply in the trenches of an extraordinarily all consuming phase of parenting. My husband is just about to begin his season and that will require him to work six days a week, working as late as 10pm. But in the midst of this time, while I raise these wonderful but tough kids of mine and my husband works so that I can take care of these wonderful but tough kids of ours, I am trying to keep track of myself. For instance, I write when I have any time, from my home, with the kids here next to me. While multi-tasking this mommy stuff, I am hoping to piece together some clue so I can be a better (potentially paid) writer “when I grow up”. And I have started running. Insane, right? But I’m into it (I’ll even go before my husband leaves for work) and now dream of finding some way to have my kids watched so I can run a 5K.

Granted, I keep reminding myself to keep my expectations reasonable. Diaper changing, referreeing the rules of sharing and helping with homework is just what I do for now. But dreaming, and clinging stubbornly onto what truly makes me tick, does allow me to be more than just “Mom” – but “Caroline” too.

The picture posted above is of me with my boys. It was taken about a year and a half ago and might be titled “Me as Mommy”. It is one of my favorites as I am caught in a very typical, absolutely wonderful, however all consuming parenting moment.

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Filed under Aging, Boys, Children, Deep thoughts, Family, Fathers, Growing up, Guilt and motherhood, Identity crisis, Marriage, Mothers, Parenting, Reality check

Coming to Terms with the Daughter I Never Had.

No more babies. At least, that’s what my husband and I have decided. It just makes sense. We aren’t young whipper snappers any longer, we both just celebrated our 35th birthdays this summer. We already have two wonderful boys that fill our lives plenty enough, thank you very much. B. and I are finally starting to dream about days without car seats, diapers, naps, and temper tantrums. Days filled with family trips and our two independent boys – and even maybe more time for just him and I. Plus babies cost money, a LOT of money. Another baby means a bigger house, a bigger car, three against two, and no booths at the restaurants. It’s still fairly realistic and affordable to travel with just two children. They can fit in the back of even compact cars (at least, for the next few years). There is no odd man out; they are each other’s best friend. And call me selfish but I’m feeling ready to do more than change diapers and push kids in strollers. Not to mention the fact that I’m too vain to get pregnant yet again (there would be no hope for the pooch then, let me tell you). Seriously, we’re good at a family of four. And how lucky we are.

But every once in awhile, I hear a small voice inside making a little racket. And as we come up to September – 6 years since I conceived my first born and 3 years since I conceived my second – I can’t help but think that THIS would be the time if we were to try for a third. Because you know what that little voice inside my head keeps whispering?

“You never had a daughter.”

I always wanted a daughter. Like so many women (women like me who are only 10 year old girls playing dress up in 35 year old clothing), I think back to the days when I planned for my daughter. I kept diaries and swore that my daughter would be able to understand that what she was feeling was what her mother went through too. I used to brush the hair of my dolls and imagine having a daughter’s hair to brush. I always loved ponytails, with the little bobble elastics, one on each side of her head, hair swinging to and fro.

I know. This sounds ridiculous. It really does. Because here’s the thing. What IS my longing for a daughter really about? Is it for giving T. and C. the little sister they always wanted? Hardly. Is it because we need more women in this world? Eh, women are cool, but that’s not why.

Having a daughter is ALL about me.

When I was first planning for a family, I wanted a little girl that I could dress up in white tights with the frills in the back over the diapers. I wanted a little girl with cute bows in her hair and fluffy dresses. I wanted a little girl so I could re-familiarize myself with the Barbie section of Toys R Us again. I wanted a little girl to go to chick flicks with. To shop with. To talk about boys and read diaries and get pedicures.

Isn’t this outrageous? But I’m on a roll, I can’t stop now.

I wanted a little girl to show my scrapbooks to because I KNOW she would care. I wanted a little girl to gab about first boyfriends and share Nancy Drew books with. I wanted a little girl so I could show her my wedding gown and maybe hope she’d even like it or maybe even (dare to dream) wear it someday. I wanted a little girl to pass on the cool hand-made Thai dresses of my mother’s, that I wore and she could wear. I wanted a little girl to explain that O.B. tampons work soooo much better than Tampax, and then be able to get her a hot cup of tea when she had cramps. I wanted a little girl who might discover the wonder and excitement of the same women’s college I went to. I wanted a little girl to call me first when she got engaged and then keep me by her side for support as she planned her wedding. I wanted a little girl that I could help with through a pregnancy and be there when she was pushing because she HAD to have me there, I would have been her best friend!

I wanted a little girl so I could see myself come back around again.

I wanted a little girl because I was selfish.

So there you have it.

And are those good enough reasons to play with the odds, try for another baby and hope for a girl? Um… you’ve got to be kidding me, a resounding: NO!

Because all of that falala and frippery I’ve listed above is NOT what parenting is about. Its what *I* wanted in a parent-child relationship. But even if I had had a girl, whose to say she would have given a rat’s ass about Barbies? And whose to say my sons won’t adore and appreciate my scrapbooks after all?

Parents so often push their dreams and hopes onto their children. Our children should do what we did. They should do it better. And then they shouldn’t do what we did at all, why haven’t they learned from our mistakes?

My sons have taught me to look for so much more in parenting. While I have a brother and I was well versed in such boy obsessions as Star Wars, fishing, and Lego’s growing up – having two sons has offered me a clean slate of sorts. I’m not a boy. I had no expectations for how mother-son relationship would go. I never pretended my dolls were boys and I honestly didn’t spend hours dressing my dolls in basic Ts and khaki shorts. Having a boy was nothing I expected and everything I should have ever hoped for.

And so, now as a parent of two boys, I have learned what parenting is really about. Not outfits, toys and lecturing to them about what I did as a child. But its rather about sleeping upright in bed with your feverish baby, its about catching your son as he leaps into the pool, its about hearing him love to read, its about the same turkey sandwich everyday and demands of “snuggews (snuggles) on the couwk(couch)”. And love, this endless reserve of  it; no matter what their choices, I’ve got their back. Heck, one of them could decide he DOES want to wear those cute stockings with the ruffles after all. Knock yourself out, kid. Whatever you want to do.

But I would publicly like to warn my sons now. Someday, a long long time from now in a galaxy far far away, if they do chose to marry and do chose to have a family and if one of those grandchildren of mine is a girl… oh, heads up. The scrapbooks, the diaries, and those hand-made Thai dresses will be resurrected out of moth balls and thrust upon that sweet little girl. The poor thing. Just you wait and see.

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Filed under Children, daughters, Family, Growing up, Parenting, Reality check, Self-analysis, sons, Teaching kids

Turning 35 and Getting Over It.

A few days ago, I turned 35 and for some reason it seems to be a bit of a milestone.  35. 5 years from 30, 5 years from 40. When I turned 30, I hardly noticed. I was deep in the trenches of tending to a newborn.  A “milk making, diaper changing, ever baby holding, never sleeping” machine. I hardly noticed it was summer, let alone that I had turned 30. It seems that since I have had children, my aging, my progress forward, my evolution in any way has kind of come to a screeching halt. And that’s been ok actually. I have been able to pretend I am still 29, the age I was when T. was born. I have almost let myself believe that everything is just at a stand-still, waiting for me to come back into the game when the coast is clear and the baby gates are down.

But here we have it – I have turned 35, and I am not so sure the game is exactly waiting around. Age is happening to me, whether I like it or not. Weight has redistributed itself – things around the back have seemed to have sucked through my body and deposited themselves on the front. Except for the top portion of my front, which actually WAS sucked away -thanks to my two boys- and I’m left with gaping, “been there done that”, A cups. I’ve got some white hairs, sun damage has become more apparent, I’ve got a bunion for cripes sakes, and I can’t focus up close when I read quite as well as I used to.

The other true indication that my life is really not stopped in place waiting for my return is the fact that my children are growing up. Nothing demonstrates the passing of time more clearly than children growing before your very eyes. 5 years have gone by since I have become a mother and turned 30, and my growing children (just add water, the Chia Child that grows…. Cha-cha-cha-cha- chia!!!) have made sure I don’t live in denial about that fact.

So yup, as so many do, I have grumped my way into 35, responding with a groan when someone wishes me well. Clearly, I am feeling sorry for myself. But, ugh though. This self pity crap is really annoying, and you know I am not the only one who does it. Why can’t we accept this inevitable aging process and the milestones that come with it?  

So to change it up, and slap some sense into myself, I think this might be a good time to take stock. I think to make myself feel better and actually celebrate this mark of 35 years, I need to list all that is good about this age.  So read along as I try really reeeeeally hard to make myself feel better and remark on what a fabulous half full glass 35 actually is.

·         I can finally just relax into my own body. It is what it is. The genes are laid down, the babies have been born and left it as so. I should be good to it, appreciate it, throw pride to the wind and wear that bikini after all, accepting that what I got is what I got.

·         By now, I have to know something. I have to have enough life experience that I can safely feel some confidence about having a clue about how the world goes ‘round. And if someone asks for it, my advice could maybe possibly hold some water.

·         Being carded at 35 is a compliment. It really is. That 18 year old kid asking for my I.D. truly makes my day. 35 probably doesn’t look as old as I think it does.

·         In my twenties, I was in a frenzy of getting engaged, planning a wedding, being married, and then trying and succeeding at having babies before my child-bearing years were over. And now, (throw some confetti in the air) I’ve done it! I got that covered. Now it’s time to figure out the next steps without that crazy pressure over my head.

·         Years ago, before children, I hated to be alone. It seemed pointless and lonely and too quiet. Now, I cherish some time alone. To remember the old me, think my own thoughts, make my own choices. Granted, I still don’t want to fly solo for too too long, mind you, but the time alone I do get, I savor and cherish.

·         At 35, all radio stations are my musical oyster. The soft rock station plays songs I actually know (honestly, it’s not THAT bad). The oldies station plays my favorite tunes from high school. I still know top 40. I still jam out to R&B (I don’t care how ridiculous this white suburbia mom probably looks). Classic rock rocks, even if it doesn’t seem THAT classic. And when I am running up to the store without the kids, I’ll even blast the alternative rock station and swear I still do “get it”.

·         White hairs on blond women can be written off as “highlights”. At least I’D like to think so.

·         I don’t care what “What Not to Wear” says, at 35, I still feel like I can buy fun t-shirts in the Jr. Section and get away with it.

·         Laugh lines just mean you’ve been happy. And when you smile, well those laugh lines just make you look happier.

·         As I raise two children, at least I know that one day, I have left this world with something really really good. That alone kind of negates any said bitching and moaning about my age.

·         35 is ONLY 35.

Now for those of you smug folks who are 5, 10, 20 years my senior and are currently rolling their eyes at my pathetic little mid-life crisis (which I am constructively trying to reconcile with a harmless little blog post, mind you), just remember you were 35 too once. We all go through milestones and experience them in our own particular self-indulgent way.

Ok then. Now that I have accepted that I am the ripe, wise and proud age of 35, maybe I can stand my ground and really show how I have gotten a clue in future years. Each year forward, I want to try very hard not to dwell (“try” being the key word) on the “getting old” bit. Really, enough already, it’s just annoying. I need to get over it and keep taking stock and celebrating those achievements – big or small. And more to the point, I need to get fired up about what I still have yet to tackle, discover, celebrate and enjoy. My boys are growing up and a bit more independent – let’s get on with it, there is so much to do!

And finally, my dearest friend also reminded me that the day we are born isn’t meant for bemoaning our white hairs and droopy body parts. Remember, we were born this day. We have come into the world, done some cool stuff, made our world better in whatever large or small way and people have loved us for it. Our friends want to cheer us on and we should accept that love, light some birthday candles and get on with the party. So, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. May I get plastered you baaa…d girl, happy birthday to me. Cheers!

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Filed under Aging, Birthdays, Growing up, Identity crisis, Self-analysis

Blogging for Boobies

Breast cancer is an absolute reality in my family. My maternal grandmother had a mastectomy and a lumpectomy. My mother had a malignant tumor and lumpectomy when I was in college. Her sister had the same not far after her and I am fairly sure she has had more occurrences since then, although they may have been benign. My maternal grandfather’s sister also had a malignant lump. All of these women found their lumps when they were post menopausal. In the next generation, there are four women – myself and my three cousins. None of us are post menopausal. None of us have had any brushes with breast cancer – yet. But we know there is a ticking time bomb amongst us. It seems as if it is just a matter of time.

So today I had my annual gynecology exam. A thrilling day, no doubt. Gotta love those scratchy paper robes and the cold lubricating gel. Ew. But I am religious about going. I also had a cervical cancer scare before T. was born. So pap away, Dr. I have no reservations.

After the exam was over, the Dr. and I got on the topic of breast cancer. I am 35 in a month. (…dramatic pause… 35. Older-than-35 ladies, please don’t be annoyed when I say this but 35 seems like a gateway to “old”. 40 is just years away. What the hell! Ok, I’m over it.) I already had a baseline mammogram before C. was born. All was well. He said we could probably wait until I was 40 (gulp) before we did one again. But he was very adamant about the next bit of advice: “Do your breast exams.”

And you know what? I haven’t been. I know, I know! Its like playing Russian roulette – what am I, nuts? Nah, just clearly in denial. Breast cancer is for old women who don’t get their period. Not me. Not a… 35 year old. Uh oh.

So seeing my face, the Dr. told me a little story. And I want to share it with you all. He told me about a 41 year old patient this past March who got her mammogram, and it was clear. In April, during a self breast exam, she felt a lump. By the end of that month, she was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. It was early but she probably saved her own life. Think about it – for a lump to show up so fast (also taking into account that mammograms are by NO means perfect) – well, it’s a real lesson for me. I MUST check my boobies. Once a month. When? He said after your period. Or a good reminder is the day you start your first pill pack. So, this is my resolution to myself, heading into 35 in almost a month to the day. I WILL CHECK MY BOOBIES. And if you got ’em, you should too.

Another point about this. Did you notice how unsure I was about my family’s history at the start of this post? Interestingly, one of my cousins (the daughter of my aunt who had breast cancer) just happens to be in Florida for a conference and is coming for dinner on Saturday. I have decided to hassle her for her family’s entire breast cancer history. And I will get together mine. My plan is to collect it all and compose some sort of document that we four of cousins can share. Its time to buck up.

B.R.E.A.S.T. C.A.N.C.E.R. , dude. Its not just for old ladies, anymore. It’s for people like me.

9 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Breast cancer, Dr. Visits, Family, Growing up, Health