Friday, December 30, 2011


Oh, Whac-a-Mole. That cute little game at carnivals and ChuckECheese (aka the reason wine and earplugs were invented) often pops into my head when I'm trying to wrangle my little Italian jumping beans into their car seats, beds, or straight jackets strollers.

I have always prided myself on being a fabulous multi-tasker. I could read a book, talk on the phone, plan this week's dinner menu and make a mental grocery list, all while running on the treadmill. Backwards, in heels. Of course, that was all in the BC (before children) era. These days I'm lucky if I can pour bowl of cereal, and remember to breathe at the same time.

I'm sure that every mom since the beginning of time, has wished she had three more arms, two more eyes (for the back of her head, of course) and a brain that hasn't been taken over by the theme song to "Yo Gabba Gabba." Feeding the dog, while pouring (and spilling) chocolate milk, sweeping the kitchen floor for the third time in an hour, and trying to say more than 5 words to my husband in a row without hearing "MAAAAAAAAMMMMAAAA" is pretty much impossible. No matter what I do, no matter how many lists I make and how organized I think I am, it all goes out the window most days. Most nights, I am still loading the dishwasher and wiping the crumbs from dinner off the kitchen table at 9:30 pm.

It's not just my Cinderella chores that keep me twitching and pacing 24/7...the wonderful world of technology has added a whole new chapter to my To Do list. Many days, my iPhone might has well be duct-taped to my hand. Many hours are spent texting sarcastic remarks and observations to my mommy partner-in-crime, updating my Facebook with inappropriate Elf pictures and rocking the highest score in Arcade Basketball.

I had thought I was doing a pretty good job juggling everything- kids, work, chores, hubby, texting, swimsuit modeling, until last week. I was steam mopping the living room, and gabbing on the phone, while my little bambinos were sitting on the couch, enjoying everyone's favorite oval headed super cool exploradora. My little man kept saying "Mama, come sit. Mama, come sit" to which I kept replying "In a minute, buddy!" ( If I was a Fisher Price Mommy doll and you pressed my belly button to make me talk, that would definitely be one of my top three phrases, along with "I love you" and "Stop touching your pippy!")

Anyhoo, there I was, multitasking my ever-expanding hiney off, when my wise little three year old, walked over to me, grabbed my mop and my arm and said, "Mama, stop and come sit with me now." My first impulse was to shake him off and repeat my favorite phrase in Dora's native tongue (uno momento, por favor!)and then it hit me. My little man was telling me to slow down, sit down and stop mopping/chatting/planning my days away. So I did. I have to admit, after about 30 seconds of sitting, I heard my phone go off, and I used a whole week's worth of self control not to check it. I remembered that I hadn't made a list of ingredients I needed for Christmas cookies, but I fought the urge not to run to the kitchen for paper and a pen. I realized that my children watching me constantly running around like the Energizer Bunny on crack isn't good parenting. All work and no play makes ANY mama a cranky, cranky gal.Quieting my mind and body, and just vegging out with my babies on the couch, doesn't sound like a tough task, but I know you will all agree that it is way harder than it sounds. Then again, nothing worth having comes easy...and it was worth each and every snugglicious moment.

Here's to a relaxing 2012...well, a girl can dream, right? Cheers!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Green-Eyed Momster

Jealousy. Envy. Dirty looks. No, I'm not talking about last week's episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I'm talking about the classic epic as Sparta vs. Athens, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Me vs. My Hair...the Working Moms VS. Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHM's...see?? They even get a cute acronym!!)

From my snarky remark, you can most probably guess which side I am on. For the past five years, I have been a working mom. There have been good days, bad days, and days when I feel like swimming across the Nile River or being Charlie Sheen's agent would be a treat compared to the mental/physical/emotional rut I was in.

Now, I should say, that I kinda play both sides of this game. Yes, I am a working mom (WM? nah, just doesn't have the same ring...), but I'm certainly not the workingest mom on the block. I teach middle school, which means although my day starts early, I am home by 3:00 most days. Some working mamas are just grabbing their afternoon pick-me-up espressos on their way to their fifth meeting of the day at that time.

Being a teacher also means I have snow days, holiday breaks throughout the school year, and of course, that coveted 10 week summer vacation. I know I have the best of both worlds, and to top it off? I heart my job. Like if you covered it with bacon and whipped cream and it was delivered to my front door by Matt Damon, I couldn't love it anymore. I work in a great building, with amazing colleagues, who happen to also be some of my best friends, and I truly enjoy teaching and interacting with my gaggle of sixth-graders every day.

I also have another advantage, in that my mom (who actually used to also work at my school), retired from her position when Bella was born so she could babysit for us while I worked. I know how blessed I am to have this advantage...I've never had to leave a crying baby at daycare, or a teething toddler at a sitter's house. (Honestly, I'm pretty sure that my kids are in better hands with Grammy, than they are with me. My mom, a veteran SAHM herself, raised four productive members of society. Me? I've raised two insane pups who take a daily dosage of anti-anxiety medication, and some really brown house plants.)

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, despite all of these amazing accomodations, being a working mommy still bites. Missing the first day of school, class parties, first steps, and all of those milestones sucks monkey toes. And what's worse than missing those sweet moments? THE GUILT. MOMMY GUILT is the worst variety of guilt available. If it was possible to bottle the insane amount of guilt that me and my fellow working mamas feel on a daily basis, I could market it to the US Government as a weapon of mass destruction. The A-bomb has nothing on us.

What's almost as bad as 'the guilt', is the perpetual feeling of playing catch-up. As my mommy partner-in-crime always puts it, it's like we are constantly treading water, just trying not to drown in the ocean of tasks that all have to be done like, NOW. Or even worse, 5 minutes ago. Multi-tasking doesn't even start to describe the day...grading spelling tests, while breading chicken cutlets, nursing your six month old and helping your Kindergartner with her homework is an EASY afternoon.

OK. Enough woe-is-me. There is a bright side. Like I said, I do love my job, for which I am so grateful. I have the benefit playing dress-up everyday, wearing heels, baubles and cute sweater dresses for an entire 8 hours without the threat of having smashed banana smeared across my boobs, or sitting in a puddle of apple juice. I get to bring home da bacon and live very comfortably in a two-salary household. Eating lunch and having a half hour of uninterrupted adult conversation each day is also a major perk. To most SAHM's, that probably seems as unattainable as scampering up Mount Everest or watching an entire episode of Jersey Shore without seeing Snookie's hoo-haa at least three times.

Back to the aforementioned war...over the past five years I have been a resident of the nervous hospital United Nations of Mommyland, I have encountered "the look" many times. It started when my mommy accomplice and I spent the 12 weeks of our maternity leave at a New Moms support group, and Mommy and Me yoga classes. Here we are, all new to the neighborhood of stretch marks and sleep deprivation, and we were front and center in the Mommy Court, being judged. "Oh, you're going back to work? Ooohhhh." "Who's going to watch your baby?" Well, we were thinking that the dogs were old enough to babysit- Mugsy is 7? That's 49 in dog years! He's more than qualified.

And I won't claim innocence. Us working madres are pretty judgemental when it comes to the SAHM crowd too. We expect them to be Martha Stewart/Gwyneth/Donna Reed hybrids, with sparkling clean houses, organic meals and crafty projects done each day. They have allll day, don't they?? Yes, they have all day, unless your darling two year old decides that he is NOT getting dressed in anything except rubber rain boots and a tiara today. They have all day, until your 18 month old decides to fingerpaint your leather couches with mac and cheese. They have all the time in the world unless your 4 year old stomps a BJ's size bag of Pirate's Booty into your brand new living room area rug. SAHM's need to multi-task as much or even more than the working mamas do...and they have to do it for longer periods of time, each day, with no breaks or relief in sight. Like I said, I get to be a SAHM every summer, and it is both wonderful and exhausting, and usually by 3:00 in the afternoon, I am counting the seconds to when my husband is going to walk through the front door.

There are no winners in this war, no right or wrong. You always want what you can't have, and the most destructive thing we can do is to judge another mom, because 99.9% of us are doing the best we can, with what we have. The most important thing is that our babies grow up to be happy, well-adjusted little people, who won't have to invest too much of their future salaries in psychotherapy.

My New Year's resolution this year is to be a 'half glass full' kinda gal (as long as that glass is mine, and it's half full of Pinot) and appreciate what I have. Green isn't my color anyway...

Friday, December 9, 2011

He sees you when you're sleeping...

No, not your creepy neighbor or stalker ex-boyfriend...I'm talking about the big man in red- Santa Claus. This time of year, I name-drop Santa about as often as Lindsey Lohan calls her attorney. My mini-mes are at a perfect age for the Christmas hype, and all of the lies magic that goes along with it.

Now, Santa is very busy getting ready for the 25th, churning out Barbie dolls and iPods, negotiating contracts with the Elf Union, and promising Mrs. Claus a new Louis Vuitton if she would just bake him one more dozen of her Red Bull-laced gingerbread men cookies. To help him out sort out his naughties and nicies, Santa has sent a slightly spooky and very cute little elf down to live with many of us. "Elf on a Shelf" is an awesome idea, thought of by a mother/daughter team who created a little helper who goes to live with families during the Christmas season to make sure that everyone is on their tip-top behavior. The kit comes with a book that tells the story of how your elf is a magical little guy who must never be touched by children, and who travels to the North Pole each evening to report back to Santa whether or not you were nice to your parents, ate all your veggies, bit your sister, etc.

This is our 3rd Christmas with our elf. Bella named him "Finn" which I think is a pretty elf-tastic name. Finn just made his grand reappearance this week at our house, and so far he is working wonders, God bless his strange little soul. The highlight of our morning is Finn-finding...that sneaky little elf has been found sneak-attacking Spiderman, hoarding chocolate chip cookies, and joy riding under the Christmas tree with two blonde bimbos Barbies in a pink Corvette.

I know Finn is a temporary fix to my little monsters' affinity for non-sharing and mess making, but in this oh-so-stressful holly jolly season, unless Supernanny is coming to the 12590 sometime soon, I'll gladly take all the help I can get.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's my Luca's party, and I'll Cry if I Want to...

Today my baby is three years old, and I am a weepy, weepy mess. I've cried at least 4 times today, and it's only 10:23 am. I'm hoping I'm not the only mama who goes into a brief depression on her childrens' birthdays, but I just have a really tough time with the passage of time and my babies growing up. I know my little man is only turning 3, and can't even zipper his own coat, but in my mind, he might as well be applying to colleges tomorrow and leaving me to get married to some blonde named Tina who can't cook or clean and won't remind him to call his mother on her birthday. I just need time to sloooooooow the heck down.

99% of me knows I am being ridiculous and selfish, but there's that really loud 1% (those damn 1%s!) that has pretty much taken over my brain for a few hours. That one percent does have a valid point to make though. As moms, we tend to complain about certain things to our husbands, fellow mommies, co-workers, Stop&Shop cashiers, Salvation Army Santas at the mall, etc...You were up all night with a baby that refused to be detached from your hip. You spent 2 exhausting hours at Picture People jumping up and down, sweating, trying to get your little monsters angels to smile for THE picture for the Christmas cards. This week you've spent more time in your car driving to soccer, dance, religion, cheerleading and yukule lessons than you've spent in your own house.

That 1% that is making me sob like a 10 year old at a Justin Bieber concert is an awesome reminder that although time isn't going to slow down, we should. It reminds me to remember the whole 'stop to smell the roses' cliche (or in this case, 'stop to smell the diaper/hamper/strange smell that just won't leave your car'). Time is going to keep going at it's regular ol' pace, but the more we slow down and just 'live in the now', the more we will get out of it. Easier said than done, especially when it's 3 am, you are holding a screaming howler monkey, but remember that those tough moments will pass just as quickly as the good ones, so cherish them all...even the smelly and yell-y ones.

Happy birthday, to my little buddy...xoxo