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One evening, shortly after my last blog post was announced via social media, my dear husband Ned was cruising through his nightly ritual on his smartphone: looking at crap on the Internet. He came across my post and said, “Oh, is this your blog?”

*sigh* yes, Ned that is my blog. The one you’ve only read once before.

And he proceeded to read it. Halfway though, he asked me, “Who is ‘Max’?”

*sigh sigh* I explained to him that was his son’s name-change-to-protect-the-innocent. I then pointed out that I was “Molly” and he was “Ned.”

“Ned? Ned!” he protested. “You named me Ned?” I laughed. He glowered and said, “At the very least you could have named me something that fits. Like Thor or Gunnar.”

Seriously? This from He Who Never Reads My Writing? (Really, I’m okay with that part. It’s a long-standing tradition that none of my family really has an awareness of my published life. It is best, I have learned, that these people just stay out of it.)

So to honor Ned/Thor/Gunnar, and to celebrate Father’s Day, I give you my top ten things that fathers do. (Because, let’s face it, much of what they do falls into the pet peeve category for most moms; and well, we have girlfriends for that sort of talk.)

1.  The Shock of Poop. Ned/Thor/Gunnar gets the bedtime detail, just based on scheduling. I get the majority of diapers and getting Max up and putting him down, so nighttime is it for NTG. I’m usually in the laundry room while the poopy diaper is being ensconced, which is almost always followed by, “Oh dear GOD!” or “Jesus, what is your mother feeding you?” I laugh and laugh. Laugh harder when I then hear, “Max, no! Don’t put your hand there!” Hehehehehe.

One time when Max was just a few months old, we were traveling with him over the holidays. The moment we got to our seats on the plane, I could tell he’d pooped. NTG said he’d take him, and headed off to the airplane bathroom. He got back to our seats, handed me the baby and said, “Woah. That was a five-sheeter.”

2.  It’s Hard Enough Remembering to Feed the Cat. This sounds terrible, I know, but it is an universal dad thing. I have mom friends that leave their husbands detailed lists of what to feed the child, or just make everything themselves. Whenever I am out on the weekend—errands, grocery store, whatever—I will get the call from NTG, or I’ll check in with him, and we have the following conversation:

NTG: So um, I think maybe I should feed him lunch.

Me: Yes, yes. It is 12:30. Lunch is a good idea.

NTG: What do you want me to give him?

Me: *insert boring list of toddler lunch food items*

NTG: Okay. Sounds good, baby, see you later.

I then come home to find out my son ate nuts on the couch with NTG. Or Cheese-Its in the playroom. Or NTG saying, “He ate a bunch of those cheese puffs, but that was about it.”

3.  That’s Mr. Daddy. One of my most favorite things that NTG does: he teaches our son. Tools, putting together shelves, helping set up the big-boy bed. NTG is patiently narrating the entire way, letting Max participate. Laughing every time Max imitates the sound of the drill. It’s awesome.

4.  What Routine? Out to lunch on a Saturday, and Max had inhaled a buttered muffin, a bowl of grapes and a few tablespoons of ketchup via a few dozen French fries. We paid the bill, and were getting ready to go. I reached into the diaper bag and pulled out a wipe, and handed it to Ned/Thor/Gunnar. He looked at the wipe, and then at me, and asked, “What am I doing with this?”

I gave him a blank stare. He said, “Oh …” and proceeded to wipe up our son. I could not stop laughing at him.

5.  Fashion Sense Isn’t Needed at Night. In the morning, I’ll look at my son, who is wearing his “I’m Crabby” pj top with his construction vehicle pj bottoms, and ask NTG: How did this happen? He almost always responds with, “What? I just reach in and grab.” Clearly.

6.  Daddies Hang Out Better Than Anyone. See the image below for evidence. When this is just NTG messing with his smartphone for a half-hour at a time, it makes me crazy. But add the kiddo into the mix, and it’s cute. They’re like peas and carrots, those two.

MC Apr 13 012

7.  Brute Strength. This is helpful because sometimes kids just want to hug their mommies, or bite them, or hit them or do whatever they want (not what the parent wants), ’cause moms don’t retaliate. Also, some things are just heavy. Having dad around is invaluable, especially in the following situations:

  • Removing a screaming, kicking toddler from a room.
  • Transferring a screaming, kicking toddler from the park to a car seat.
  • Quickly moving a 30-pound kid up a flight of stairs.
  • Pack-muling it through an airport with a stroller, a carryon and a car seat in a protective cover strapped to his back.
  • Holding an infant still for first-time bloodwork, while Mom paces the room. (Dad may cry through this process. It’s allowed.)

8.  Teaching Inappropriate Things. My father was good at this. (He was notorious for teaching babies how to make raspberries.) Sofar, NTG has taught Max how to sing the Hofbräuhaus drinking song: “eins, zwei, g’suffa” (one, two, drink). I ignorantly thought this meant, “one, two, three.” No, now Max sings it, and clinks your glass three times with his sippy cup before he chugs his milk. Max also quite enjoys chanting: “Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!”

Other offensives include: “hubba, hubba, hubba” and “Oh, sexy girlfriend!” From Parenthood, and Sixteen Candles, respectively. At least he’s not taught him, “No more yanky my wanky.” Goodness.

9.  They Love Kid Food. Sometimes I think that Ned/Thor/Gunnar prefers veggie chips and peanut butter toast to the coconut-crusted chicken with mango salsa dinners I prepare for him. Truly, between NTG and Max, I need to buy peanut butter, cheese crackers and Oreos in bulk. Whenever Max is done eating, his father isn’t far behind, snatching up grilled cheese and declaring, “This is delicious!”

10.  They’re Human Jungle Gyms. This also includes scary monsters, hide-and-seek, and wrestling. All code for: Daddies take the abuse. Just this morning I awoke to NTG and Max goofing around in Max’s bedroom. Ned/Thor/Gunnar is lying on the floor, his legs bent and feet firmly planted on the carpet, while Max proceeds to climb up and slide down his legs like NTG is his own personal playset.

I am told this kind of activity comes with a certain risk to man parts, but today, as I watch my boys, I notice NTG is uncomfortably resting his head in his hands. I ask, “Would you like a pillow?” He says yes, and I promptly give him the one off of Max’s big boy bed. NTG happily rests his head for about 30 seconds, until Max suddenly stops playing, stands up, walks over to his father, and yanks the pillow out from under NTG’s head. Max then runs into the other room, and throws the pillow into it, taking it as far away from his daddy as he can. Like, “Bam! That’s where that shit goes!”

I laughed so hard, I cried.

So there you go, NTG. All of the daddy-like things we love about you. Happy Father’s Day.

This is the infamous phrase my dear friend Mandy uttered to me a few years ago, when she was about five months along with her first son. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Max that I finally understood what she was talking about. I’ve written about this before: I didn’t get a cute basketball belly; in fact, it was somewhere after month five that I actually popped out enough to look pregnant. Prior to that, I just looked like I’d been binging for a few months. F-a-t, fat.

By the time I reached the third trimester, the belly comments were rolling in. And not from uncouth, uneducated strangers. No, most of it came from my own family. After sending a pic of our fabulous crib assemblage (around month seven) to friends and family, one of my cousins immediately responded: “Your belly is HUGE!” Sometime in the next month my mom became very concerned about me driving myself to my prenatal appointments, because she thought my belly wouldn’t fit behind the wheel of my car. And then, of course, there were those that participated in our online baby pool, optioning for me to give birth to a 10-pound baby.

This time around, it is not the people that know me that have jumped in on my belly size. It’s random strangers. This time, my belly popped somewhere around month four, and people have clear opinions about it.

Seriously, I’ve now take to answering the question, “When are you due?” with a vague, “This summer,” instead of “August.” Too many women with bug eyes, or “Really?” or “Oh my GOD! You have so much further to go!”

Here’s the basic truth in life: Women in general, do not like being told they’re fat. Pregnant women especially do not like this. And pregnant woman that were rocking an extra 30 pounds before they got pregnant really, really do not need to be reminded of this while shopping for baby clothes. Seriously.

Add to it my own personal issue; I’m 6’3″ for goodness sakes, and have spent most of my teenage years and early twenties having to endure the constant barrage of comments and opinions about my looks and my stature. Whispers from across the room; children yelling out to their moms in the grocery store about the tall lady; men of all shapes and sizes making comments of every color imaginable; well-meaning women telling me “at least your pretty.” I’ve heard it all.

Dammit, I really don’t want to deal with it again, strangers commenting on my body. And certainly not when it has to do with my unborn child.

So I started some archival research. See my evidence below. First pic is me, at 5 ½ months with Max. The second pic is me now, at 6 months pregnant.

Baby Shower 091MC Apr 13 034

So um, what’s the difference? Really. None. I look the same. I know for a fact that I’ve not gained nearly the amount of weight as I did with Max, despite my 30-pound head start. But what does it matter? I’m I a failure as a mother already, because my belly is big? Why are people asking about my due date at all, if they can’t offer a socially polite response of “That’s nice,” or “You must be excited!”

And then on Sunday, Ned and I are at church and we bring up the topic of baptism in a conversation with the pastor. My husband starts explaining that we baptized Max at a church in Florida, which causes a great deal of confusion for said pastor, who assumed that we meant we need to baptize Max. And the next thing I know, I, the woman now 6-months pregnant, am explaining to my pastor that yes indeed, there is a baby in there.

Yeah. I’m not fat, I’m just pregnant!

Oh, how quickly blogging can fall to the wayside, especially when life just sort of explodes into a frenzy. It’s been four months since my last entry. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  1. We’re pregnant.
  2. We’re pregnant and my husband works 10 hours a day.
  3. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, and I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler.
  4. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler, and I’ve taken on way to much freelance work that I can’t possibly ever get done.
  5. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler, I’ve taken on way to much freelance work that I can’t possibly ever get done, and I’m rockin’ through my third cold of this pregnancy.

That’ll kill four months like nobody’s business! My pregnancy has been the biggest time sucker, probably the suckiest thing about being pregnant, in my Gemini-go-getter opinion. This time around, for whatever reason (age, next pregnancy etc.), my tiredness hasn’t gone away, not even at 17 weeks now. Not to mention, my first trimester fell smack-dab over Christmas, and poor Ned being gone from the house twelve hours a day, and working weekends. And he and I got head colds that lasted for weeks. December sucked!

Our other time sucker of this gestational period started around week 13, when spotting sent me to the midwives’ offices for an emergency ultrasound. The results of which were bonus pics of the baby, who is doing just fine, and the news that we’re dealing with placenta previa.

For those of you that do not know what placenta previa is (I didn’t), it’s when the placenta grows over the cervix, either completely or partially. This translates to: If the placenta doesn’t move on its own due to the expanding uterus, little baby has no exit. That can mean bedrest and an eventual c-section for the mom, and possible continued spotting.

For us it means “pelvic rest.” No exercise that raises the heart rate, no lifting heavy objects, no sex.

I’ve got be honest, this has done wonders for the development of my 2 ½ year-old Max. Mommy can’t pick him up much, so he’s learned to climb up the stairs using the railing, or crawl up while Mommy tosses a toy up the stairs for incentive. He rides on my lap and we sing the “Oompa Loompa” song as we scoot down. He’s heard the phrase, “that’s my big boy” so many times he says, “big boy, big boy” now.

Sadly, Ned hasn’t heard any such compliments in so long, it’s getting ridiculous. At 20 weeks we’ll have our big ultrasound, to see if the placenta has moved. But lately, when I’ve gone in for a checkup, his only question to me is, “Did you get a sex pass?”nosexjob

*sigh* No.

The no sex is a terrible thing to do to a pregnant woman. I mean really. Excess hormones. The insanely vivid dreams. Seriously, my dream self is whoring it up every night. My real self is almost ready to put on a habit.

Perhaps this is why I’ve been taking on all that extra work ….

Parental Dating

Oh … romance. What is that?

So the lack of dating for most parents can be the result of several factors. Time is usually a huge one, and finding a night to go out in and of itself can be a challenge. Then there is finding a sitter, plotting and planning for your child to be fed/bathed/rocked while you and the other parent are absent. For some parents, you may even weigh the financial setback of a date night. Between dinner, drinks, movie, show, whatever … and paying a babysitter … it seems easier to order pizza and cough up the five bucks for pay-per-view.

But, my mom was visiting from Ohio and stayed for a whole week, so Saturday night, it felt like we had the time. Ned and I talked about it and thought we’d have a relaxing dinner, go see a movie … things we don’t really do anymore.

So the movie was a challenge, not really much that we were dying to see, and what we did really want to see wasn’t release until the following weekend. But we settled on Cloud Atlas, and dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant. I was ready for a cocktail, heels and a nice bag-o-popcorn.

As I’m putting on makeup and Ned gets out of the shower he says, “Do you really have your heart set on seeing a movie?”

Oh boy, here it comes. He doesn’t plan the date, but now here is a new, bigger, more appealing idea. He wants to drive to a little town over in West Virginia, which has a German restaurant that we really like (goodbye, gnocci) and then hit up one of the other little places in the quaint college town for a drink.

I say okay. I’m trying to be agreeable.

So with no movie to make, I finish drying my hair, put on my face and we head out. It is a half-hour drive, one I rarely enjoy. A windy, hilly country road equals a nauseated Molly. So Ned takes care to drive slowly for me, and we get to the Bavarian restaurant around 7:00 p.m. A huge tent is set up on the property (which doubles as an inn), and we walk up to the pub entrance. It’s closed. We find our way to the main entrance to discover that the only way we’re eating weisswurst is if we crash the wedding that is taking place there. The entire establishment is reserved for the private party.

So we head off to the nearby town and quickly find a cute-looking French bistro. We head in and are asked if we have a reservation. My husband tells the hostess, “No.” She proceeds to tell him that the restaurant is full for the evening. Ned asks, “You mean you have no tables available for the entire night?” She confirms in a voice that says, “Duh. That’s what I just said.”

So we head out, find another restaurant, Italian. Again, we’re asked if we have a reservation. Again no. The hostess walks away from us and returns a millisecond later to say she can seat us at 9:00 p.m. Ned checks his watch. It’s 7:30. Not one seat available out of the dozen at the bar.

We put our name in and leave to wander the streets again, and after ten more minutes in the 40-degree cold, we’re no closer to finding another restaurant. The options for food aren’t great. We’re in a teeny town in the middle of nowhere, civilization is at least another forty-five minutes away. It’s now 7:45 p.m. I’m trying not to curse under my breath. Had we stuck to our original plan, we’d be having dessert and heading to the theater by now.

As we pile back in the car, we spot one last restaurant, and I hop out. They have a beef wellington special and a full bar. Sold. We are ushered in to a dark and dated space, but after a drink we’re feeling better. And just when our date night seems to be salvaged …  the food comes. Oh, boy. Stale bread. A “pizzette” that is nothing more than dough and cheese. The worst beef wellington I’ve ever tasted, which managed to be soggy (pastry) and dry (beef), with mushrooms that still tasted of the earth they grew in. Ned’s food was cold, and the ravioli’s on his plate were clearly created in a factory, not a gourmet kitchen. It was one of the most awful meals we’d ever had.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

I mean, really, what are the chances? Of changing plans at the last minute, one restaurant totally shutting down for one client and two others not leaving tables open for walk-in guests? On the one night we had chosen for a date, the last night my mom would be with us? Holy shit.

Ned tried to save face by taking us to our local coffee house for a drink and dessert. I ate a sugar cookie and drank a chai; but the sweet ending didn’t seem to fit. We hadn’t had a satisfying first or second course.

The upside is, now we owe each other a real date. Sometime before we run out of Saturdays in 2012.

Halloween Love

I love Halloween. The planning, the decorations, the costumes. The candy. In our household, we go for all things witches (me) and pirates (Ned). The Maximillion hasn’t quite hit a theme yet, even though this was his third Halloween.

Max’s first Halloween, he was a monkey. I found a suit in a catalog and couldn’t resist it. Since he was not yet two months old, I bought the smallest size they had, which was listed as 6 – 18 months. It was so huge, he probably could have worn it for his second Halloween. It also was covered in this synthetic fur, and thank god I put a onesie on under it, because when I took him out of it he and I were covered in brown fibers; his sweaty (Florida Halloween, people) hands were clenching fists of it. That Halloween ended in a shower.

But darn it, that kid was so stinkin’ cute. I think part of the fun was Ned and I giggling hysterically while we were dressing him, ’cause of course he was just cruising along with it; and dressing him in this silly/cute costume left us drunk with power.

The next Halloween, he was a cowboy. My mom bought him a button down shirt that reminded me of the boys in Oklahoma, so I searched the Internet for cowboy boots and a hat. Two days before Halloween, I couldn’t find the hat, and my practice runs to get my now 14-month-old into cowboy boots was a mess. The night of trick-or-treat it was 85 degrees and humid as hell (again, Florida Halloween). Max wasn’t walking much on his own, so I carried him to a dozen houses, the last of which was a neighbor who gave Max a sucker. We arrived home sweaty and sticky with blue-flavored drool. Yeah, that Halloween ended in another shower.

This Halloween Max was a biker. Oma bought him a no-foolin’, toddler-size leather jacket when he was just a year and we’ve been waiting for him to fit into it. My aunt found him this crazy, mowhawk skull winter hat, and I found him some a@#$-kickin’ shoes at the resale store. (Seriously, he loved those. Couldn’t get him outta them.)

There are moments as a mom when you fall in love with your kids again, and this night was one of ’em. We only got one “trick or treat!” out of him, but he ran up and down the street like a trooper, all tucked up in our 40-degree Halloween night, rockin his superstar outfit. He had little boys handing him candy, he tried to bite a few all wrapped up, he ate Pez from a pumpkin dispenser like he’d been doin’ it all his life.

We got him home, chilled, while he played with a glow light someone had handed out, and stomped around the kitchen in his tough-guy shoes. I thought, “Oh, I love him so much it’s impossible to not smother him in kisses.” Really, I don’t know if it’s a mother/son thing, but sometimes at random moments … clomping around the hardwood floors and waving a glow light, having fits of laughter … my heart just feels like it’s going to explode. I want that joyful face to fill every moment of every day.

To top off our night, it finally was time for candy, and I gave him his first Reece’s peanut butter cup, he took one bite, giggled … and shoved the rest in his mouth.

Now, if only we could get his momma to stop shoving pb cups into her mouth!

I’m a terrible blogger.

You know when you get so busy—so very, very busy that you just have to sit back and laugh, because it’s such a very long, twisty line of tasks and goals that never seems to end? Goals that are totally out of reach, (like finding time to put out the Fall decorations before we get to cleaning the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner), deadlines that seem impossible to meet.

That would be me.

My life right now reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from I Don’t Know How She Does It, when Kate is “distressing pies” at two a.m., trying to make it look like she had the time to pull off home baked goods for her children’s coral concert.

Okay, so technically I’m not distressing mince pies at two in the morning, and my son is not yet school aged, so I need not worry about that middle-of-the-night baking quite yet. (Although I have four rotting bananas that will NOT become bread in the near future.) My life isn’t that crazy. But I do know that list-making mentality that gets us supermoms into trouble every time. I actually can feel myself ticking things off my list: Bananas? Garbage.

And now that I’ve caught up on all my deadlines, and returned all of my emails, I’m at that point when my list of things-to-catch-up-on is so long, I’m overwhelmed by what to do first. (Well, that’s kind of a lie. Clearly, finishing this blog won.)

In the midst of this, I’ve had that moment of other terribleness: I’m a terrible parent. Really. Life is so busy that it feels at times I’m not doing an adequate job at parenting my child. Case in point: Monday is storytime at the library in our little town, and Max, quite cranky from the molar teething, seems soothed when I give him something to drink. But happily swigging, he runs up to an older boy, about three, and before I know it, I’m watching Max bite this boy’s shirt.

I scold him, remove him, and he happily goes on his way, sippy cup in hand.

Then, after a rousing rendition of “The Train Welcome Song,” Max, standing a good five feet away from me, turns towards a young girl, not quite two, named Abby. And like a switch was flipped in his little tooth-achy head, he goes after her. It feels like a slow motion horror scene: Max and his giant teeth, heading straight for little Abby’s shoulder.

Imagine this coming straight at ya!

Luckily for Abby, she was standing right in front of her mother, who stops my son and tells him, “No biting.” I then reach him as he goes for a second attempt. I’m mortified, Abby is crying and we are leaving. Fast.

I get a now very quiet Max home, I sense that he senses I am p-i-s-s-e-d. I do what any mother should do in this situation: I leave him in the playroom, call my own mother and cry.

Now, the biting thing up until this point has been limited to me and Ned. On a few other occasions where he’s opened up and bared those giant teeth to another child it’s usually been a fighting-over-a-toy thing. He’s never done it unprovoked.

It all comes spilling out to my mom. My child is the kid in school that bites. No one will want to bring their kid over to our house ever again. I’m never going to be able to take him back to the library, and face those moms. Abby’s horrified face is going to haunt me. Not to mention, the new pediatrician wants Max to be evaluated because he’s not saying sentences yet. Doesn’t “green gourd” count?

I’m fighting that stay-at-home-working-mom thing. I cannot not work, and because I do, Max’s social life is limited to a few things a week. Dammit that one of the two days this week he’s getting out to play with others, he tries to eat them instead.

And maybe it’s me. Maybe if I spent less time working and more time trying to get him to communicate with us, he wouldn’t try to do it with his teeth. I have no answers. I am merely venting. See? I’m a terrible blogger.

Toddler Vs. Hormones

Women are no strangers to the hormonal changes: we go through them monthly, when we’re pregnant, even through menopause. Lately it’s been a roller coaster around here; I’ve ditched the birth control in hopes of having another baby (eek!), and thus turned into an estrogen monster.

My body doesn’t do well with medication. Rather, just as little goes a long way and I tend to react pretty strongly when I stop taking said meds. Same goes for birth control … it’s like my body has saved up all of the vicious PMS symptoms that the pill tends to ease and the moment my ovaries get the all clear, its hormone’s-a-ragin’.

Mix that up with a toddler and … yeah, I’m saying it: here comes t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Case in point: I take Max to storytime at the library nearly every week. Twice now we’ve had to either leave early, or not go in at all due to his determination (re: tantrums). This past Monday, we get in the room fine and he is content to play with the lock and the handle of the door to the children’s room. Until we shut it. The entire class is treated to a cacophony of his cries for a few moments until I pick him up and distract him with the window blinds.

We then try to sit down and sing a rousing rendition of “Open Shut Them,” but to no avail. Max is on his back in the middle of the room, still crying. The librarian says, “Oh Maxwell, what is wrong now?” And I reply, “He’s still mad about the door.”

I do get him up and not crying. Go me, I am Supermom.

And then he sees the fire extinguisher.

Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser.

Here’s the thing that drives me crazy about every children’s library: When they offer classes for babies, toddlers and the like, why on earth are the rooms in which the classes meet not baby proofed? There always are open closets, cabinets without latches, outlets without covers and darn it, fire alarms and extinguishers a mere three feet from the floor. I mean, duh.

So there’s my Max, going after the hose of the fire extinguisher, and every time I grab him, he lets out a protest yell. I finally stand in front of the object of his affection to stop him, and he yells, grabs my leg, and tries to bite me through my jeans.

Now I’m sure the other moms and kids have had enough of his antics, but I am beyond pissed. I give him the futile, “Don’t bite mommy!” grab him, the diaper bag and make our exit. He of course, is protesting leaving now, and I’m angrily whispering, “I can’t take you anywhere!” I’m fairly certain the librarians overheard me.

The thing that kills me more than the embarrassment of Max’s behavior is the embarrassment of my behavior. I’m the adult. I should know better. And it’s the failure that whatever I did—reprimand, soothe, deny—went completely ignored by my son. Why is it when our children misbehave does it seem that everyone else’s children listen and respond to their parents?

I don’t know if there is an answer to this, since my mom polling indicates that all moms have been there. In the meantime, I wonder how long we’ll stay away from the library this time ….

Ah, to boob, or not to boob ….

There’s been quite a spree of in-your-face images of breastfeeding as of late, and it’s made me curious as to what is up with the guerilla breastfeeding agenda. I know, I know, I tend to push the “whatever is best for your family” slogan when it comes to motherhood. And I’m about to do it again. Kinda.

First we’ve got the hot button “Mother’s Milk” article from Time magazine (May 2012), and really, I should say, the image is more of the hot button than the article itself. Or is it the headline?

I get that the image is intended to be provocative. I get that attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding well after the first year. I even get that in some way, these images were intent to promote breastfeeding, via starting a more explosive conversation than “Are you going to breastfeed?” But, “Are you mom enough?” Please. Jamie Lynne Grumet (mother on the cover) is not any better at motherhood than me, or you or the next hundred yous.

In contrast to the Time cover photo, the other controversy, found in the image of Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna nursing in uniform, was not intentional according to Echegoyen-McCabe, who told NPR that the images were not meant to become an Internet sensation. The photographs seem to promote breastfeeding, taken of moms in all kinds of situations, and the uniforms merely a way to show that military moms too breastfeed. And yet. Here we are with comments on what is and isn’t appropriate in a uniform. (Re: Showing your breasts is a no-no.)

Brynja Sigurdardottir/Courtesy Terran Echegoyen-McCabe

In my circle of moms, aka friends that all started having kids at the same time, deciding to nurse our newborns was kind of a no-brainer. Yet I have several friends and mom acquaintances that have genuinely tried to nurse and for a myriad of reasons—baby’s tongue thrusting, going back to work full time and not being able to pump enough, babies not gaining enough weight—they quit.

The strange thing to me, about the moms that had to switch to formula, is the majority of them felt the need to keep explaining their rational behind the switch. As if there really is a lording Court of Motherhood transferred from Kate Reddy’s imagination into the real world.

There’s not.

There’s not. The truth is, pretty much every mom I’ve ever met “gets” it. Really. Which is why I take offense to the concept that mothers that do not parent their children via Bill Sears philosophy (me), or breastfeed their children until they’re six, or spend all hours of the day (and night) with their children makes them better parents. It doesn’t.

On the other side of the coin, I’m a total proponent of breastfeeding. And all of this hububalloo, is taking away from supporting moms that may be struggling with breastfeeding. Or ones that don’t want to consider it at all. This whole concept of raising awareness about breastfeeding shouldn’t be about getting the rest of the non-nursing world to start a cheer every time a mom unsnaps her bra. It should be about educating moms about getting started, and encouraging them to continue even when it’s tough.

As for acceptance when it comes to nursing in public, I say eff the haters. In the moment, say a crowded holiday airport, when your baby is hungry and needs to nurse, you’re going to do what is best for your child. And a little flash of skin never hurt anybody.

Mommy Bodies

It is 6:45 p.m., the night before my cousin’s wedding. We are getting ready to attend the rehearsal dinner at 7:30 p.m., and I already have tried on and rejected two outfit options for the night, for legitimate reasons. I look a polka-dot and/or flower-stitched stuffed sausage in either outfit. Dammit.

No kids, this is not a picture of me.

I am now desperately trying to squeeze on a full-body piece of shapewear, in an attempt to smooth out my insanely puffy midsection, which to my eyes now resembles my first trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, I am trying not to sink into a full-on hormonal meltdown.

The post-baby mommy body varies for woman to woman. For me, it has fluctuated. I have Eh, I Don’t Care days, or I’m Getting Better, Allllmost Fit Into Those Jeans days. Sometimes it’s Dammit, Shouldn’t of Had The Cake nights or Why I Am I Still So Fat mornings in front of the mirror. At any rate, I am like most post-baby moms: Way too hard on myself about shaping up my body.

My blog has often taken on the confessionary tone of a lock-and-key diary when it comes to my mommy body, and exercise, and those still-hanging-on baby pounds. And frankly, it’s exhausting. Some weeks are awesome, I have time on my hands to yoga, or curse at Bob Harper while doing a workout DVD. Some weeks I want to eat Oreos. Or consume nothing but ice tea and lettuce all day.

But darn it, I wish I could find some acceptance of my body.

The issue with squeezing into black Lycra before putting on a rehearsal dinner dress is that the act is so damn embarrassing. I want to look hot again. And get a few cat calls. Max is almost two. Isn’t it too late to use the baby excuse for being overweight?

So as I laid my head down Thursday night, I sent a little something into the Universe, so I at least could continue walking around with my head held higher, no matter what type of water retention tricks my body was planning for the next day.

That morning, while easing into my first cup of coffee, I saw this segment on GMA.

Turns out, there is a movement out there to help us learn to accept our mommy bodies. Although the piece does focus a bit on the celeb angle (I didn’t have a “celebrity body” before Max, I’m not aiming for one now), it does teach an important lesson: Kids became the priority. Life changes. Time is precious. Being healthy is more important than a beach body. And that’s okay.

To check out CT Working Moms and their goddess gallery that inspired this story, visit http://ctworkingmoms.com/goddess-gallery/

It is four thirty in the afternoon, and I am breaking apart peanut butter sandwich crackers and placing the pieces next to my son’s head as he’s lying on the floor, pushing a car back and forth. He reaches immediately for the snack and pops it in his mouth. I smile and walk away, inside doing a mental cartwheel. Yes!

They say that when trying to lose weight, it is not about sticking to a diet, but rather, taking on a healthy eating lifestyle. When you are trying to gain weight, it is the same concept. Except instead of grilled meats and salads life becomes a blur of cheese, dried fruit, peanut butter bread toast cookies, Pediasure, butter and heavy cream.

It’s no joke. We buy a pound of butter every week. Haagen-Dazs ice cream, woman’s most verboten food, is now always in my freezer. I’m making pudding, cookies, muffins, and adding chocolate chips to everything. And yes folks, I’m seeing a nutritionist.

Beside the mental roadblock of what Max is eating, there is the added stressor of getting him, once again, to eat anything. In another twist of parenthood, we have learned that two-year molars do not wait to appear after a baby’s second birthday. Max is teething in full force, which means we’re back to squishing berries, crushing cereal and smooshing bread. Don’t even get me started on the scraping lunch into our booster seat or tossing bowls onto the floor.

On the whole, I am trying to stick to my mantra of keep calm and carry on. But some days, when Max is sitting at dinner, smashing up his green beans with his forefinger and completely ignoring the grilled cheese I’ve made him, it takes everything in me not to try and just stuff it down his throat. Especially when I’m calculating the day’s calories in my head: ½ slice peanut butter toast, ¼ cup of milk, five Cheese Its, ¼ pear ….

Ned will catch my eye and say, “It’s okay. He drank half of his milk.” All I can do is shake my head and say, “It’s not enough.”

So I step it up a notch. I do things that I never thought I would be doing in my relatively clean, normal adult life. My coffee table now holds remnants of peanut butter crackers, raisins, and a cup of milk 24/7. I chase Max around the house with pieces of buttery, syrupy waffle so he’ll take another bite after breakfast. When I put him in the car seat, I don’t hand him a toy, he gets a snack bowl and a sippy cup of milk spiked with cream. After dinner he gets pudding, or cookies, or ice cream and every night, he’s carrying a Pediasure up to bed with him.

And yet. It still doesn’t feel like enough. I mean, I can could offer him brownies every half hour for an entire day. But if he doesn’t eat them, what else can I do?

I have another week before we weigh in again, and I’m seriously contemplating buying a scale so I can see if we’re on track yet. In the meantime, I will contemplate dinner, and pray my menu hits one of the foods Max has approved to eat today.