There Goes The Motherhood.

There’s the usual stink going on about mommybloggers writing about motherhood (and their children) online. Many skeptics feel writing about one’s child is damaging to them. I won’t dispute that claim at all. In fact, I consistently battle with this and have written as much before. I even vowed to quit the mommyblogging part entirely, which I haven’t done. Does this trouble me? Yes, greatly.

So why do I do it?

On the one hand, many of you saved my butt when I was going through postpartum depression (which up until fairly recently I wasn’t able to admit that that’s precisely what I was experiencing). My goal since “getting through all of that” has been to write about motherhood and reach out to others in hopes of paying it forward.

On the other hand, I’m putting my family on display without the consent of my child.

Again, why do I do it?

As silly as it may sound, it really does take a village to raise a child and in our culture that village (or lack thereof) consists of people with full time jobs, people who pay other people to watch their children (whether they want to or not) and then send spies to the playground to make sure they’re “doing it right.” (True story!) For those of us who suddenly lose our village—who can’t take their kids to the playground in winter because it’s too cold and are met with dirty looks from restaurant owners and patrons because we’re seen as a potential nuisance—the communities we discover online are (in some cases) all we have.

I choose to keep doing this—for now—because it makes me feel a little less secluded. I go days and days without using the creative part of my brain—the part I have exercised since before I can remember. I’m not complaining about my new career; I love raising my son. But transitioning from “full time creative person” to “full time mother” has taken a great deal work, work I could not have done alone.

As mothers, we are scrutinized for ignoring our children. As mothers, we are scrutinized for how they behave. We’re scrutinized if we let them watch TV. We’re scrutinized if we don’t breastfeed. We’re scrutinized if we do. We’re scrutinized if they cry in public. We’re scrutinized if they move too slowly. We’re scrutinized if we dote on them. We’re scrutinized if we stay at home. We’re scrutinized if we hire someone to care for them. We’re scrutinized if we homeschool. We’re scrutinized if we send them to private school. We’re scrutinized if we take too long lugging a stroller up the subway steps. We’re scrutinized if we write about them.

What I have come to realize is that there’s always going to be at least one person who is annoyed with how we how we perform each facet of the job.

I once compared becoming a mother with being on house arrest. It’s a drastic statement, indeed. And some people have responded by looking at me like I’m a terrible person for saying as much. But there’s a certain degree of truth to it. And my son has nothing to do with it. (Make sure you read and digest the last line.) The sentiment has everything to do with our culture, the people around me, and my inability to let the nasty looks and disparaging comments roll off my shoulders.

Is writing about our jobs online selfish? Sure. And if you suggest otherwise, I think you should sit down and give it a little more thought. But! I think it’s born out of selflessness, seclusion and frustration. We seek out community wherever we can find it. We look for comfort from other mothers, whether it be right here in our own neighborhood or online. So if you find that you have a problem with mothers writing online—and many people do—how about using that energy to come up with solutions? At the very least, the next time you see a mother dealing with her screaming child, offer her a warm smile.

Do I think writing online is the best way to handle the problem? No, I don’t. (And, yes, I do feel that we as a society have a growing problem.) Is throwing Wellbutrin, Prozac, or Zoloft at a new mother the solution to dealing with her being thrust into alienation? I really, really don’t think so. Becoming a mother shouldn’t be treated as one might treat depression or mental illness (unless, of course, it’s chemistry we’re talking about) and that seems to be the growing trend as of late.

I would much rather live in a society that’s more tolerant of its mothers (especially since we all have one) and easier on its families. And until that happens, I probably won’t be able to shut up about it.

(Murray lovers: TWM will be back either later today or next week, probably later today.)

Craziest Week Ever

This week is likely to turn into the most insane week ever. We’re scheduled to move in seven days. (I have been working on a post for a while regarding the move, but can’t seem to find the time to finish it. In a nutshell, we’re staying in Brooklyn but moving to a less contaminated, easier to use 2 bedroom, two bathroom apartment. It’s a long, long story. I will share it soon.) Toby’s birthday is Thursday and I have not one, but TWO freelance projects to finish up this week. Oh, I’m also a full-time mom, one who has yet to find a local babysitter.

I may have gotten myself in over my head. Cross your fingers for me, Internet.

The good news is we’re moving out of the highly toxic area of Greenpoint and into the wallet-raping Williamsburg area. But hey, we’ll have a view, a washing machine AND a dishwasher. (The article above is from the NYT and it’s a little disturbing.)

If I make it through this week in one piece and without the use sedatives, I will reward myself with another piece of chocolate covered carrot cake from Fabiane’s, which may sound truly disgusting, but is actually quite delectable. I have been craving it every day since we met.

Curious George: A Bad Role Model For Our Children.

I don’t usually go around blaming outside influences for my child’s behavior. I promised myself years before becoming a mother that I wouldn’t become that mother. But this time I simply can’t hold back. Curious George must be stopped.

I’m annoyed that he hides behind a guise of curiosity. I don’t see a curious monkey, I see a stupid monkey, one that teaches our children it’s OK to be ignorant, bigoted, cruel and irresponsible.

It’s even worse because a lot of children really like bananas and I think sometimes (for them especially) the line between “Human” and “Monkey” is blurred and so they start acting like monkeys. And if this is going to be the case—with the bananas and all—I think we need a more educated monkey for our children.

It’s time that mothers everywhere come together and put an end to Curious George. We need to collectively stomp our designer shoes and scream that we’ve had enough. (Gather up the nannies too, we need all the help we can get!)

No more George!

Exhibit A: George acts carelessly and dangerously.

When asked what George rides around his room, we are told he rides a ball. (See below.)

My son will most definitely give this a try if given the chance. And whenever he falls off said ball, we’ll have George to thank for it. Does this mean I can’t go out and buy him a large ball? Thanks, George. He’s a boy. All boys need their balls.

Exhibit B: George hangs out with strange men.

Who is the “Man In The Yellow Hat”? Does this man have a name? He shows up twice out of the four Curious George books I own. George gets into a blue car with him, he even lets this man talk him into going to the moon. (Is that a euphemism?)

And he wears knickers. NEVER trust a man in knickers!!!!!!!

And while we’re on the subject of strange men, who is Professor Wiseman? I think I heard that name used on a recent episode of “Law and Order SVU”. Got news for you, creeps, adding “Professor” to the front of your name isn’t not going to make me (or anyone else for that matter) trust you.

While on the playground, please be on the lookout for any strange men wearing yellow hats and knickers. It’s a perfect disguise, one our kids have come to trust. This is just like the media letting terrorists know exactly where to find our least secure targets.

Curious George is a terrorist to our children.

Exhibit C: George is a pusher.

I don’t know about you, but this mother DOES NOT let her child eat cake or sugar of any kind. Curious George keeps cake around the house and that sets a terrible example. When I read that part to my son, I immediately had to explain what “cake” is. “What’s cake, mommy?” Naturally, I lied and told him that “cake” is fish food.

Lying is OK if it’s about God, sugar or sex.

Also, who uses cake to catch fish? An idiot! That’s who!

Exhibit D: George (an animal) is guilty of animal cruelty.

This one really kicks me in the cottontail. In one of the books, George is curious about holding a bunny, so George just takes a bunny from the bunny cage. (Poorly raised?) Naturally, the bunny runs off “like a shot!” (Pro gun?) And in order to find the bunny, George looks to its mother. He doesn’t ask the mommy bunny for help, instead he ties a string around the mother bunny’s neck!!!! What is this, Guantanamo bay for bunnies? (Terrorist?)

I have already sent an email to PETA. I have asked them to suggest that if this is going to continue—the printing of such dangerous literature—all future editions remove the bit about the string.

Exhibit E: Friends of Curious George think monkeys are more useful than women

Apparently this particular space organization was too busy hiring monkeys to hire any women.

Are women dumber than monkeys? NOT THIS WOMAN! Unite with me, mommybloggers. Curious George hates women, prefers strange men, condones sugar, and takes advantage of helpless animals. Please help me in my fight against George.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 70)

Murray has been out of his mind for over a week. And by out of his mind I mean he’s acting like a kitten again. At first we were surprised by the apparent sudden burst of energy. Where had it come from and why?

You know how sometimes you live with someone for a while and they put on weight and you put on weight and neither one of you notices until one day you’re looking through some old photographs and you think, Wow! We’ve gotten fat together!

Or how about whenever you live with someone and you’re looking at a video taken a year earlier and you think to yourself, You’re growing up way too fast, little man! Slow down!

You know how that happens?

“I thought he was just growing up.” Toby had said.

It was a while ago (a long while) that I came home to find the remainder of a chewed up nipple from one of Em’s Born Free bottles. I am not sure why I didn’t immediately panic. I think it’s because this has happened a few times before. Murray eats everything, and up until two weeks ago he’s always worked it out. Nine times out of ten he doesn’t actually swallow whatever it is he’s chewed up. (Take the stethoscope, for example.)

But this last time he wasn’t able to work it out. Instead, he became increasingly sicker. He became more and more lethargic. He didn’t particularly want to play as much. He wasn’t running around as he once had. His energy level had been decreasing slowly over time, the process took long enough that we hadn’t really noticed.

For for too long, Murray felt unwell and I should have noticed. I should have assumed he had eaten the pieces. I should have taken him in for an x-ray just to make sure.

But I didn’t.

And he became sicker and whenever the change in personality failed to let us know, his body took over.

Think what you will about my denial regarding Murray’s condition. I’ve thought it and I deserve it. I think the Catholic girl in me craves the purgatory actually. But that’s not the worst part about all of this. The worst part is how we so readily and easily rationalized the change in his behavior.

“I thought he was growing up too.”

When did “growing up” become synonymous with joyless and lethargic? When did “growing up” come to mean giving up on everything that makes oneself (and others) happy? At what point during my 35 years did I agree to such nonsense?

I think I finally figured out why I’m so attached to Murray: he consistently humbles me. He chisels away at all the adult, grumpy shit. Murray’s youthful demeanor makes me feel younger as well. And while my adoration for him may be a little self-fulfilling, I certainly don’t think it will hurt anyone.

It’s mighty great having him back but I wish I’d never let it him go.

(Starring: Murray and Emory. Song by: Tom Waits – “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”)

Edited to add: Upon rereading this post (and a couple of email), I realize now that it may come off a little more serious than I had intended. It lacks the tone of my voice, without that, it reads like a real downer. My apologies!

Gattaca: We're Not Far Off

The New York Times reported over the weekend that there’s a 149 dollar test for children to determine if they have the sports gene.

My initial thought was, Awesome! We should see what it says about Emory! like we’d be getting a reading from a 15-dollar, storefront fortune teller. After I thought about it a bit more, the idea began to make me very uneasy. I’m asking way too many questions of the “what if? variety.

Can we be trusted with this information? Will it bring more good to the world than bad? Because I’m just not sure.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 69)

Murray seems to be healing nicely. The Pepcid and prescription “belly coater” he was given seems to be working wonders for his appetite. The vomiting has stopped entirely. Things are good in Murrayville. (Thank goodness.) But we’re not in the clear just yet. After his belly heals, we have to then take him back to the doctor and put him on a lifelong diet, which won’t be fun because this little man loves to eat. But he’ll most likely have belly issues for his entire life.

Em has been sick as well. And today I finally decided (after two weeks and three nights of little to no sleep) that it was time to take him to the doctor. My guess has been that he has a common cold, but what if I turned out to be wrong and he was actually suffering from something worse? I would never forgive myself and we all know that motherhood is fueled by guilt—love is a given—it’s the guilt part that we don’t often talk about because admitting we do something out of guilt makes us feel guilty because, well, doing something out of guilt is actually selfish, right? And being selfish makes you a bad mother.

(I’m sorry, have I gone off topic? This is what happens when someone is sleep deprived, guilty and unable to stop her child from coughing long enough so he can get a good night’s rest. It’s also what happens when someone is rundown. While level crazy may be high today, I reckon I’ll be back to a relative normal tomorrow.)

Where was I?

Today I took Emory in for a sick visit to the doctor. But not before having a major breakthrough where crazy is concerned. I’m so sleep deprived, I actually considered taking Murray along with us. Why? Because Emory kept him company last week, so Murray would naturally want to return the favor, right? I mean, that’s what brothers do, right? They make their siblings feel better when they’re down or sick. I had the cat carrier in my hand when I realized how completely and totally insane I was being. Who brings a cat to a pediatrician’s office? Apparently, I’m a few steps away from becoming that person and I’m not even sure that person exists yet, I’m not sure that person has yet been defined. But leave it to me to define that person.

Anyway, I talked myself away from entering crazyville and went to the pediatrician without our shaved cat.

The doctor confirmed my thoughts: Emory has a cold and a nasty cough to go along with it. Other than slathering a vapor rub on his feet, chest and tummy, there’s nothing much I can do for him. So I packed everything back into the car and we headed home.

That’s when something spectacular took place.

The second I removed Emory’s jacket, and the moment we walked through the door, he toddled over to the armchair where Murray napped and climbed up next to him. And he spoke clearly, concisely and with syllables (not the English variety, mind you) and told Murray everything he had missed.

Naturally, I ran for the camera. (I so wish I had audio too!)

I hope our pediatrician is open to the idea of welcoming pets as binkies.

And brothers.

The Little Things Parents Wonder About

Em has one pair of gloves and they don’t really fit him. We’re definitely going to have to invest in a few more pairs immediately. On Saturday this became very clear. Tobyjoe and Em were out for a walk and TJ couldn’t find Emory’s gloves (not that they fit him anyway) so he put his adult-sized mittens on Em’s tiny hands. As they were walking through Williamsburg, a passing stranger whispered to her friend, “That baby has giant hands.”

Three days earlier I took part in a discussion on the playground about gloves and how difficult it is convincing them to put (and keep) them on. We all just kind of shrugged about it, unable to come up with a solution.

While on a playdate this morning, the question came up again. My friend asked, “What do you do whenever you’re at the playground? They can’t very well climb stuff in them, can they?”

What do you do with these little guys in winter? It’s really hard to climb stuff while wearing gloves and it’s certainly cold—cold enough to turn their bony fingers into tiny human icicles. What to do?

As of late, I’ve been kind of winging it, but I bet there’s something out there—some type of product—that makes everything better.

And while I’m on the subject of products, let’s talk squirters. (Incidentally, do NOT type that word into a Google Web search. Ugh.) I have a bunch for Em to use at bath time and I try and make sure and squeeze the water out after each use. But recently I noticed that the yellow lizard was growing funk. I pinched it and the funk moved around. Disgusting, right?

Naturally, he’s gone.

What do people do with these things? Do they bleach them? Do you not use them for this very reason? Is there something I’m missing when it comes to keeping them funk-free? If I have to clean these things every time he uses them, they’re going to end up becoming land critters.

And last but not least, there is one product that has helped us out a lot lately. We picked up a couple bib crumb catchers recently and boy have they helped cut down on laundry!

But stick with the flimsy, softer materials. We bought a couple of the harder plastic Baby Bjorn bibs and he hated it, refused to wear it. I think the hard plastic attachment was the culprit. (Also, they’re not cheap!)

However, they seem to have excellent reviews on Amazon, so maybe it’s just us.

Please feel free to rant and rave about any products you’ve discovered (or cool tricks) in the comments sections.

Studies Show, Studies Meant To Stress New Mothers Out

CNN is reporting about a study released out of London today stating that babies that face away from their parents in a stroller are less likely to talk, laugh and speak with their parents.

The study included 20 babies. They were pushed by their parents for 1 mile. Half of that mile was spent facing outward, the other half, inward.

I can’t help but shake my head at this one. Did they take in consideration the amount of time each parent spends with his or her child when they aren’t out walking with a stroller? Does a baby whose parents work full time and is cared for by a nanny talk to his or her parents less than a baby who spends his or her days with one (or both) of his or her parents? (I’m not suggesting one is better than the other, I’m suggesting that there are dozens of other factors involved here.) Does the position of the baby in a stroller really have anything to do with how a child communicates with his or her parents? Wouldn’t a child have to spend hours per day in a stroller for this to really matter?

And if we’re talking strollers, why not take it a step further. Are babies that face the rear of a car also stressed out? Does that mean suburban babies are likely to feel more stressed out than city babies because they spend more time in a car?

I am not asking these questions because I want answers. I’m also not suggesting that the study offended me. What I would like to suggest is that we start analyzing the information we’re given and what we then choose to do with it. This study leaves me asking too many questions. It’s my opinion that this is more in line with what mommybloggers should be getting worked up over.

Lastly, I wonder if the study was funded by Stokke. heh

There was another study done as well. It compared babies being worn by their parents vs. babies that face outward in a stroller and the babies that were worn by their parents were able to recite Infinite Jest at 15 months while those facing out in a stroller were banging hookers and dealing cocaine.

My Unfiltered Thoughts About The Motrin Hubbub

Like with most things that take place in the blogosphere, I came late to the Motringate scandal. I’m always late (if I manage to get there at all). After reading several not so nice blog posts (and Twitters) about it, I expected to see something horribly offensive. Instead? I wasn’t offended at all by this ad, not even the slightest bit offended. I actually asked someone if I had seen the wrong ad. Surely, I had missed something.


It appears that some folks were upset because they felt that Motrin was belittling the act of wearing a baby. The whole fiasco was like something Dr. Suess would write about, only without all the rhyming and butter.

I think I was more offended that Motrin took the ad down in response to the backlash. It’s my opinion (and it won’t be a popular one) that what they said about wraps and baby-wearing has truth to it. Sure, they made some generalizations, but every advertiser does that. It’s their job to annoy us that way. I guess the difference this time is that they stepped on the toes of mommybloggers. (Do not mess with mommybloggers. Sometimes they lash out at you and bring their friends along. They have been known to kick below the belt and under the bra. I actually fear some mommybloggers, to be perfectly honest.)

To further alienate myself, I think that many mothers do buy wraps to look like a certain type of mother. I honestly believe that many mothers (especially women who research the hell out of their pregnancy and their baby-rearing days) treat buying a wrap like any other adornment. I’m not suggesting that means wearing your baby is something people do without any benefits. I don’t think Motrin was suggesting that either. But I think it is trendy right now. Buying a wrap is like purchasing a car; moms want the one that most represents their personality and lifestyle, without losing the security, safety and functionality. And if you don’t think people think this way, you’re being naive. Furthermore, if what I’ve written offends you, ask yourself why. (And then count to ten before sending me any hate mail. Also read this.)

I’m sick of this apparent readiness to lash out at other mothers who don’t function under the same belief system as a majority. I grew tired of this crowd mentality back when I was still pregnant and it just keeps getting worse and worse. If it’s not about breast feeding, it’s about vaccines. If it’s not about organic vs. not organic, it’s about whether or not you turned your car seat around too early. If it’s not about soy vs. whole milk, it’s about feeding babies meat or raising them vegetarian. If it’s not about that, it’s about whether or not some advertiser was “belittling mothers” by suggesting babywearing is trendy. I don’t know what’s going to be next, but I do know with this group there’s always going to be a next.

I was given three wraps and bought two of my own more before realizing that the utilitarian Bjorn was more my style (and my baby’s as well. He was always a face-out baby, no way he would have liked the wrap). That doesn’t mean I didn’t secretly wish that I could use one of those kangaroo type slings. Wrap-wearing mothers always make me think yoga instructor, hippie, or crunchy mom and I love a little crunch to my ladies. Plus, a wrap would have done a much better job at keeping Emory warm, but he just wasn’t having it.

I think that many mothers really do think a lot about the type of wrap they’re going to wear and what it says about them. The function of it is obvious—it’s meant to carry your baby. But that doesn’t mean its form and design needs to be an afterthought. Even the companies who make (and sell) these wraps are well aware of our thought process that goes into purchasing one and our desire to look and feel a certain way.

One woman donated a wrap to me and said, “This is what all the celebrities are seen wearing in all the magazines, but I couldn’t ever figure it out.” (I never did either.)

Is wearing your baby trendy? You betcha. Is wearing your baby in something trendy a bad thing? I personally don’t think so. Is stating as much? Apparently so.