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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!

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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.

Yo-Yo Yoga

It’s time for this mommy blog to turn once again to mommy and mommy issues. Yeah, I’m talking about skinny jeans. And my lack of yoga.

I in a quasi-anonymous fashion, I have admitted many embarrassing things on this blog. I am about to do it again. My son was born 20 months ago, my husband and I are talking about another baby, and I am yet to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants. That’s right, I’m hanging on to that last 10 pounds like an … ugh.

I write that, or think that thought, and my blood just begins to boil. Now, it’s not because I have yet to make any progress in the weight loss department. I no longer fit into my “fat” clothes; in fact, most of those clothes make me look like a clown in training. (Picture me, too big pants, a toddler and a diaper bag navigating a crowded Chik-Fil-A parking lot. I’m turning into Justin Bieber.)

So I’m falling outta my fat clothes, and yet my pre-baby clothes are still one, single, out-of-reach size away. I’m a solid 12. I own one item of clothing in this size:

These are my pants. My hole-almost-in-the-crotch pants. I discovered the hole about a month ago, while sitting crossed-legged in a library music class, with twenty other caregivers and children in the room. I have worn them and washed them to the point where they couldn’t handle it any more. They have exploded. (And yes, I have thought about wearing them around the house in emergencies. But, the irritated voices of Clinton Kelly and Stacy London then pop in my ear and stop me.)

Those same famous fashion voices would tell me, “Molly, buy pants that fit your body now.” I know, that seems logical. But … and this sounds whiny … I can’t. My whole tall-shopping-catalog-cost issue is just too much to contemplate it. Plus, I have an entire closet full of beautiful, already-paid-for size 10 clothes.

This entire scene just makes my O positive temp rise. Why can’t I be skinny?! (For that matter, why can’t cigarettes and chocolate chip cookies be good for you?) Really. Some of my mom friends, those naturally tiny, sizes fours (or twos or zeros) don’t even look like they carried a baby. Me getting skinny (in my proportion to a natural-size-four mom) requires either near-starvation or training for a triathlon. What mom has time for this?

On a pretty famous television show about losing weight, there was a theme of not letting excuses get in the way of weight loss. One of these, of course, was I don’t have time to work out. And although that is true, the follow-up was forgotten: I am just too damn tired to work out.

I did an aerobics workout DVD one night, gleefully finishing, showering and collapsing into bed. I thought, “I have found it! Work out at night. It’ll tire me out for sleep, not interrupt what I need to do during the day!” Yeah, that was like, a month ago. Turns out it was a freak accident that I was even awake enough at that hour to do more than roll off the couch.

And beyond the tired factor, between those regular, daily mom activities—participating in a mom’s group, work, husband and house—I don’t get where it is supposed to fit. Yes, when Max is sleeping I could work out. More than likely though, I am doing one of the aforementioned activities instead.

The truth is, I miss my active days, and that freedom to wake up, have some coffee and take off for a walk, or put on my yoga pants and breathe through my stress in a quiet, empty house.

So, besides complaining about it, I’m forcing myself to do something about it. If I want to have another baby, I need to lose the remnants of the last one. My new tactic is to start yoga again, and if I can get it in more than once a week, I’ll be happy. I write this with the qualifier of having done yoga today. Go me! Now I’m ready for a nap.