Wishing & Hoping: for the ‘Big Girls’

I hope that what challenges you at four and five become your greatest strengths as young, strong woman. Women who will make decisions without haste, who view sitting still as the worst possible thing, and saying something you don’t mean (however nice it would be when you take each others’ toothbrush- what is it with taking each other’s toothbrush?), as being untrue to your word. I hope you know how very much your word means, how much it matters.

I hope that you’ll be kind. More than kindness, that your souls will be good: that you’ll recognize right from wrong and know why which is which. I hope that you’ll pick the side that’s right, and know when to stand up to the side that isn’t. I hope you’ll be honest when it matters, though knowing how to tell a lie is should you really need to, isn’t a bad thing to know how to do. I hope you’ll understand this one day.

I wish a few, two or three, or four, really good friends. Lots of friends, Saturday birthday parties in elementary school, summer college trips to Nantucket, late nights that turn into early breakfasts in the city, those too. They’re just as important. But I hope you find that small band of people who you will like and love, and who will like and love you, at eighteen and twenty-one and thirty-one. Because who you are evolves at each interval, in each decade. These people are such a gift. Life is funny, and people change both slowly and swiftly. I hope you learn this in a way that doesn’t hurt.

I hope that you stay fiercely loyal to each other. I watch you together and you take my breath away. Though sometimes it’s in the minutes before someone gets hurt, a knee to the cheekbone, the hug before the headlock, but I watch in awe nonetheless. I watch you together all of the time, at different drop offs, and pickups, at the playground, with the baby, at the beach. Your love of each other is one of the most important things to me. Blood being thick as thieves, is okay with me.

I wish you a love real, strong, fierce and most of all, fun. Should you have your hearts broken, I hope that it’s softly and early, that you find someone who you love and who loves you and who you want to be every single day, and every day after. Because relationships are work. But when it’s worth it, and I hope it always will be, it’s so, so good. I hope we are showing you this.

I hope your senses never fail you, that they surprise you at times. I hope you’ll wish this for yourselves, too. I hope you’ll appreciate the real from the fake. That you’ll be able to spot a good discount, flea market find, vintage ginger jar, have the patience to comb the clearance isles. Knowing what you like, knowing what’s real, knowing what’s of value, in everything: I wish you all of these things.

I wish you babies that sleep. And not for the reason you might think, but those are good reasons, too. I imagine you watching them the way that I watch you all, bathed and cozy and quiet. With clean(ish) house, and maybe even a glass of wine. Definitely, with a glass of wine. I imagine you watching them and studying their features, the way their baby-baby hairs still stick to their forehead, the way their breath fluffs every so often. The way they smell. I wish you this peaceful, grand, terrifying, love that is bigger than anything else in this world.

I wish you all of this.

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Even With The Tan Instagram Filter

Last week New Yorker published the best parenting article I have ever read. I feel comfortable in bestowing such a title upon this article because I am one of those parents that reads an insane a fair amount of parenting articles. This one was different; it touched, in satire, precisely on what makes the job of being a parent so enormous. The infinite amount of parenting advice, schools of thought, and studies that are e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. That shape what we do, our days, how we parent, what we believe in the combined quest to feel like we are doing it ‘right?’ Sometimes the enormity of it overwhelms me. What if myr ‘right’ isn’t the ‘right-right?’ What if my insisting that Piper looks our host in her eyes and says “thank you for having us” backfires? What if not giving Ceci what she asks for until she says “please” means that she could, possibly, be the twelve year old who says “NOW!” to the woman behind the counter, feeling the need to rebel against the 59,112 pleases I insisted she say in the years prior to puberty? Or calling the taxi-driver, “Sir”, or going over the three best parts of our day every night, or tennis lessons, or a list of house-rules on the fridge, or non-organic bananas? These articles, that pop up seemingly out of mid-air, they are everywhere. They make me worry, what if … I am doing it all, wrong?

It’s when I wonder these things, that the enormity of being responsible for every. single. element. of the girls’ well being, their construction, the formation of who they are and who they will become, feels daunting. It overwhelms me. I remember talking with a close friend, with big second-baby-bellies and sleeping first babies in their strollers, when she said,

                “You know, when I was little, I had this idea of growing up and going to school and falling in love, getting married and having                  a baby. But that was it. I never thought to think beyond that.”

                  I didn’t think “Oh really?” or “Not me! I GOT this!” … I thought, “EXACTLY.”

So now, I do think about it. I think about it all of the time: this beautiful life, these beautiful little lives that we are wholly responsible for. And when I think about it enough, it terrifies me. Because the truth is that being a parent, is terrifying. Because this love is so different than anything else I had ever known, anything else I could ever know.

 

And so maybe that’s why I worry, and why I wonder, and why I question myself: why we question ourselves. Because the answer is so far away, and it keeps changing, and it’s so much bigger than we are. It is enormous. Because everything isn’t always amazing: even with the tan Instagram filter. But no one ever talks about that part, and so instead we just read and read and read: best guesses and best guesses and best guesses. The New Yorker article was so wholly refreshing because instead of making me feel the need to ban all gluten and build my own compost, to wash their hair every day or never wash it, to let them paint all over themselves with markers (this, actually happens in our house on an almost daily basis), or make them put the tops on after each marker-stroke- it reaffirmed how overwhelming it can all feel sometimes, how sometimes we need to stop reading, and to trust our guts.

I started writing this blog because I felt like a great deal of the perception parenting was this gigantic fib. That everything about being at home with babies and toddlers seemed like it absolutely had to be all perfect. All the of time. But it’s not. It’s messy and it’s hard, and it’s amazing. It can take your breath away and make your heart swell. All in a span of sixty seconds. 

Memory Aids

I find myself always reminding myself to remember. To remember that Ceci, out of no where, threw herself on Piper in a hug filled with such force that it could have been a tackle … but it wasn’t. To remember that Piper asked me what I was making, and when I replied “Brussel sprouts” she told me “Oh! My goodness! Exciting! Hysterical!” I don’t want to forget even a thousandth of a second. But I do; they go as quickly as they come, as I intercept a tipping YoBaby shake. I want to remember it all, but I can’t.

The events in Sandy Hook, and on the Upper West Side, blocks from the apartment to which we brought Piper home from the hospital, have rendered me speechless. Literally. I can’t talk about them without fighting down, a lump so large it feels like it’s actually all of my insides, rolled into one, in my throat: even two weeks later. I find a selfishness, so real I am ashamed of it, in that the girls are too young to have learned of what transpired from the news or from friends. I can’t imagine explaining what happened to them, as I cannot begin to explain it to myself. I pray that the parents of those children, find peace, that they are able to find anything that gives them even a shread of comfort.

And so, I find myself holding the girls so tightly that yesterday Piper told me, “Ouch Mama, you’re squeezing me!” But I can’t help it. And I find myself consumed by this longing to remember every.single.thing that they do, to hold on to it, and to them.

A few weeks ago, I opened a Gmail account called the(ourlastname)girls@gmail.com and when something happens that I want to remember, I quickly send an email to the inbox. A picture, something they did or said, anything that I’ll want to hold on to. I’ve even gotten Siri in on it- and after she learned how to pronounce my name, she’s been extremely helpful. Because I can’t remember it all and because events like those in the last few weeks are such a tangible reminder to me that my time is best spent on the floor, playing hide and seek, making school-busses out of Fresh Direct boxes and wrapping paper, doing pig-tails, reading Blueberries for Sal, making cookies for Santa- all of it. Knowing that I have a ‘back-up’ for the moments that I want to hold on to, makes me feel a little bit better about all of it- the good, the bad, and the messy and the inexplainable.

Thou Shall Not Lie* (*unless it’s in the name of raising daughters)

“Piper, would you like some milk?” Reed asked our 2 year old, who had climbed on to a stool in the kitchen and sat with her chin perched on her hands.

“Okayyy! Doctors cup?” she requested, her eyes wide in their request, “Please?”

“Doctor’s cup?” My husband echoed.

This had been a secret, of sorts, between Piper and me. Until that second.

The Doctors Cup doesn’t actually have doctors on it. It wasn’t a take-home from the doctor’s office, nor did our pediatrician suggest that we purchase that, exact, cup. There is absolutely no correlation between the cup, and any health benefit. It was a gift.

The Doctors Cup is a 16oz Tervis tumbler. With fairies all over it. Piper thinks, because I have told her, that these women, in sweetheart top leotards, with wings, are also doctors: of medicine, of philosophy, of neuroscience- we haven’t gotten that far yet.  And because I am her Mom, and Mother’s should never lie, she believes me.

My stance on fairies, and by association, Barbie’s and Princesses (and now, Strawberry Shortcake, whose head is no less than four times the size of her body) began in college. I had a professor who I so adored, that I tried to take every class she offered: most often courses on gender and cultural studies. They challenged most of what I thought I knew, and changed my view the world.

Ultra feminism is not fiercely in my nature. I was truly, truly, thrilled to move up 18 spots in the alphabet upon marriage and never considered keeping my maiden name or hyphenating. I think chivalry should never die. I love the little half-stand that men do when you come back to the table- and I will forever. I believe that women do need men and that men need women just as much, maybe even more.

So my issue with flying fairies and Barbie’s and princesses, isn’t with wings and it isn’t with Ken and it isn’t with crowns. It’s with the idols and the images, themselves: with the actual image, and the false encoded message that my daughters receive. These women aren’t strong, and they aren’t brave, and they aren’t brilliant; they aren’t really, anything. But they’re everywhere. And that’s not what I want for my daughters: in fact, it’s exactly the opposite. I want everything for them. So I find myself fighting mistrust with mistrust.

As a mother, I am faced with dodging these images with far greater frequency than I had anticipated. I have two older brothers; our house was filled with Legos and Lincoln Logs and Star Wars everything. The only princess that I knew, for a very long time, was Princess Leia. I remember wanting enough hair for two side buns, not enough hair for a prince to climb(I mean, really Rapunzel?) to rescue me from a tower.

I want for my daughters to have options: in their interests, in their passion … for their vitamins. Piper thinks, again, because I have told her, that the princess gummy vitamins, are not for sale. The words just came out of my mouth: “These? No, these are. not. for. sale.” She picked the Cars vitamins, her only other option, instead. She thinks that these will help make her big and strong and fast. But I am okay with this, because Cinderella in her blue dress, and blonde bouffant, will not. I try to offer, albeit by withholding, both sides of the equation.

I’ve turned down three invitations to Princess themed dress-up teas. Three- and she’s just two. I simply say that we can’t make it, and none of the Moms have asked why. One day, likely soon, a friend will invite her, and if she wants to go- she can go. Until then, I will do this for as long as I can, because it seems that once she reaches a certain age, there is only one side for her to fall into, and I want for my daughters to know both sides. I want my daughters to know they have choices, and to have the ability to make them wisely- now, and always.

At the toy store, we buy baby-dolls, and we also buy fire trucks. Fire trucks, in our house are a really, really big deal. We play with both, and she is as tender as she rocks her baby to sleep, as she is ecstatic when a fire truck passes us on our way to Central Park. And this is my goal, for as long as I can do it.

I don’t want for my daughters to want to be fairies. I want them to want to be smart, and interested, and interesting, and knowledgeable about whatever it is that excites them, that inspires them, that challenges them. I want them to appreciate and desire beautiful things because they have well-woven eyes for beauty: in the small and in the grand, in the obvious and in the hidden. I want them to want to know how things work and why they work. If it is make-up, then I want them to look at Bobbi Brown, not to Barbie.  If they love clothing, I want for them to appreciate craftsmanship and good, really good, cashmere, and to be able to tell the authentic from the inauthentic: both in fashion and in life. And so fairies and princesses, are what I’m up against.

So I lied to my daughter. She thinks that the small, flying women with wings are brilliant, and that they fix things, that they make things, people, and the world, better. And for me, as a woman and a mother, that makes this lie okay.

Flexible Measuring Cups

The Best Non-Baby, Baby Things

The first time that I walked into Buy Buy Baby, six-months pregnant, I had a panic attack: a pregnant, petite panic attack. There was just SO MUCH there. I was so out of my element and hormonal and overwhelmed. I felt this rush of feeling like I needing everything and knew nothing about what I was buying. … Continue reading

A Confession: Alone Time

I have a confession to make. Yesterday I desperately needed a “me” day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had some true alone time, and Sunday, after sitting in the bathroom, on the side of the tub (though I briefly considered laying down in the tub) with the lights off for five minutes, I decided that Monday morning I would cook for the girls for the first half of the week, and leave to “sneak” some alone time when my sitter arrived at 10. I gave her money for ice-cream (sometimes, it is the only way to get Piper home from the playground; it seems lately we negotiate more vigorously than the House of Parliament), put on make-up and a dress, and headed out the door.

I got a manicure and a pedicure in a pink so bright that if ESSIE didn’t name it “Malibu Barbie” – they should reconsider. I bumped into a friend at Ricky’s (a store that is as effective as therapy for me) and headed to Atlantic Grill for lunch … all.by.myself.

Here comes the confession.

Atlantic Grill is shaped a bit like an uneven horseshoe. The hostess walked me through the restaurant, around two bends … and stopped, three (narrow) tables down from a Mom, her Mom and two small children, maybe 4 and 2. I asked her, with apology and anxiety overtaking my face, if I could sit further down. I felt the need to blabber explain, in a whisper so quiet she should have expected a big, big secret, that I had my own two, currently sleeping, babies at home … and I just wanted a little time to myself.

She didn’t get it. So I kept going. ‘I’m just here for a little lunch,’ I offered, desperate for her to understand, and just incase she thought I was looking for a yoga class, or a sample sale.

I followed her down the rest of the horseshoe, where she led me to a perfectly quaint and quiet table against the window. “Enjoy your lunch.” she said- which she must say to everyone, even to the five other women eating alone, likely doing the exact same thing that I was. I truly felt badly, for not just wanting a small break from my children, but from anyone on the Upper East Side’s children.

I’ve ‘blogged’ before about how you’re often told to take time for yourself and how, in reality, it is very difficult to actually do, to actually execute. Yesterday I took four hours, and they were incredible. It is very easy, for me, to be consumed, in the best ways possible, by everything that is intrinsic to the day-to-day of motherhood and, to forget what made me ‘me’ before all of this amazement.

Yesterday was a rare treat, and when I got home from lunch, after a trip to the frame shop and grocery store … I was a better me, and I was a better Mom. The girls and I had THE BEST afternoon. We went to the playground, we walked the dog, and we ate dinner together. They splashed in the tub and Piper made Ceci giggle endlessly, which made Piper giggle endlessly, and this went on for minutes and minutes … that at one point I found myself stopping myself to savor that very moment, something I do a lot of lately.

We can often use so much energy on our children and on our “homes” that we dip into our reserves. Every now and then, it’s important to fill ourselves back up, because this way everyone wins.

Two Under Two: Tub Tips

We are big on routines in our house. Three bites into dinner, daily, Piper looks up and says “tubby-tubby?” It is one of her favorite parts of the day … and on some days (the messier) it is a mental maker for me, that bedtime is on the horizon. Once Ceci was about 4 weeks, I began to bathe the girls at the same time. It made the tub even more fun for Piper, and made that time of my day (which we refer to as ‘rush hour’) much easier. I thought my routine may be helpful for new Moms of two.

What You’ll Need with You/Prep:* 
A Small-er infant Bath-tub (one that leaves roughly half of the bath-tub open)
Fun bath toys for the big sister/brother
A Small Cup (We used the smallest of these … which are great for the bath and kitchen)
Bouncer Seat w/in arms reach (or Bumbo/Exersaucer, if your 2nd baby is over the bouncer)
Baby’s PJs
Baby and Toddler Towels
Adult Towel (for the floor)
Baby’s Diaper & Diaper products
Lotion

We have the Safety 1st Space Saver folding tub. We love this tub. Here’s what I would do: from the highchair, I’d take off Piper’s clothes and let her run “Nuuuuuuuuie!” to the bathroom door. This gave me enough time to undress Ceci, and follow. I would then fill the tiny-folding infant tub with water, IN the bath-tub, while Piper threw herself climbed in ‘back’ of the ‘big’ tub. When the tiny-tub was full, I pulled it away from the direct stream of water, put Ceci inside, and give her the ‘first’ bath, while Piper played next to her, in the ‘big’ tub. I would even have a small cup for Piper to ‘help’. Once Ceci was bathed, which usually took about 2minutes, I would pull her out, wrap her in her towel, and place her on a folded adult towel, on the floor. I would then lotion, diaper and PJ (yes, I made all 3 of those nouns into verbs!) Ceci, and place her in the bouncer seat, while I gave the ‘second’ bath to Piper. Once Pipe was done, we ‘raced’ from the bathroom to put on our PJs, and play with Ceci- who was washed, warm and waiting for us in the bouncer.

It looked like this:

P & C

Doing it this way may not be that much faster than 2 separate baths, but my girls are so close in age that I couldn’t leave Piper alone while I bathed Ceci, and the first (and only) time that I tried to bathe Ceci first … Piper threw herself climbed in with all of her clothes on and said “SPASH!!!!” Now that Ceci is older, I bathe them both in the big-tub together. It is such fun for everyone that some days I literally have to uncurl Piper’s pruned fingers from the edge of the tub to put on her “jimmies!”

*I tried to make sure that I always had everything I would need in the bathroom, before starting dinner.

Tips: Two Under Two

Two of my closest friends  have welcomed their second babies in the past five weeks. They both have toddlers, 16 and 20 months old, and they are both incredible friends and Moms. I had forgotten just how incredibly tiny a newborn baby is, just how gentle their cries sound and how they seem to fit so perfectly in your arms. I had also forgotten much of the struggles of the first few weeks, having 2 so very under 2. I found myself doling out some tips, that I hope may be universally helpful:

1. Soaring Expectations? Lower them. Then lower them a little more.
Doing the above does not, will not, and cannot: make you a lesser mother or wife. There were days when Ceci was first born that my biggest personal goals were to be up, dressed in non-black-yoga-pants with brushed teeth and mascara-ed eyelashes. If I had done this by 10am: I was Julie Andrews in Mary Popins AND The Sound of Music. The girls were fed, clean, happy, bathed and had slept: the day was a success. In those first few weeks, much becomes relative, and healthy, happy, fed, bathed and sleeping ARE the sings of success. Keep this in mind- even if it’s 11am and you’re talking to your doorman, simultaneously trying to remember if you’ve brushed your teeth.

2. List It All
Making lists has always been a HUGE tool for me in terms of organization that always helps quell my often-teeming anxiety that I have 1,000 things to do or that I should be doing. I am a huge list maker and crossing each ‘to do’ off is something I often consider a small victory. Me VS. Thank You Notes Me VS. the post office to buy stamps for yet to be written thank-you notes etc. I am also the only person under 65 who still keeps a paper planner- the back of which is filled with pages of crossed off to-dos. Your brain is now required to remember everything about a newborn, on little sleep, while running after and taking care of a toddler and functioning as an operative human being. In those first few weeks, it may be easier to learn Sanskrit. There is no way you can remember everything: so write it down.

3. Not Guilty
I am not sure if it’s a Catholic thing, but I felt immensely, immensely guilty in the first few months of Ceci’s life, that I literally and physically could not give her the one-on-one  e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g  that I gave to Piper. Your heart seems to double instantly at the knowledge of and sight of your second child: but you cannot physically do everything you did the first time, the second time. This guilt seems to be universally shared with most Moms of 2 that I know. Just knowing that I wasn’t alone with this feeling, provided me with a sliver of a sense of comfort. For us, at around 4 months I began feeling an incredible sense of happiness that my daughters had each other as sisters, which assuaged and later outweighed, my feeling of guilt. I felt badly that Piper had not had this extra life that poured love and projected bliss at her mere presence, when she was the same age. Instead of feeling that Ceci received only 50% of me, it’s as though she has 100% more, through her sister.

4. Deliverable? Then Have it Delivered!
I footnoted, in a previous post, the ease of Fresh Direct’s unlimted delivery pass. This has been a HUGE time (and $$$) saver for us. The ability to NOT go to the grocery store is incredibly helpful in my house. The same is extended to Diapers.com (often free next-day shipping) and my favorite: Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. We have diapers, wipes and diaper genie refills delivered every six weeks. I never run out, or have to worry about running out: plus, I think Amazon takes off 15% for every item that ‘opts-in’ to this service.  We became such frequent Seamless web customers of EJs during the first few weeks of Ceci’s life that I swear their Tuesday deliveryman wanted to high-five or create a secret handshake. There is nothing in New York that cannot be delivered- don’t forget this!

5. Take Five Minutes for Yourself
It seems like there is always a ‘Mom Correspondent’ on The Today Show or a parenting blog, toting the need to take time for yourself. “A Spa Weekend!” or “Cycle through the Alps!” Really?! While I agree with this theory immensely: I think it is often much easier to recommend than to execute. Start slowly: try to take five minutes for yourself. Take a bath with this month’s Vanity Fair or last week’s New Yorker, walk the dog and pick up an iced-coffee, get a quick-dry manicure. Get away for long enough to breathe and think about something other than the next feeding or what your toddler will have for her next meal. Don’t empty the dish-washer: though probably a necessity, I have never found this to be relaxing, or enjoyable.

6. Sign Up for Breaking News Alerts
Trust me on this one. I cannot remember the last time I had the time to breeze with leisure through the NY Times. If it wasn’t for the news alerts that pop-up on my iphone, I would have been (and may very well still be) embarrassingly out of touch with world events. A quick reminder that there is an actual functioning world, that you are an active member of, going on around you is important.

7. It Gets Easier
It does. I can’t pinpoint when, or why, or how: but it does get easier. The baby sleeps a four-hour stretch … and then does so during the right four hours (as exiting as 10pm-2am seemed the first time). Then it’s 5, then 6, then 7. You wake up and realize you may not need to order (see no. 4) a third tube of under-eye concealer, or that it’s gorgeous out and a stroll to Starbucks for coffee, and a banana for your toddler while your baby sleeps in the Baby Bjorn is the perfect activity. And on your way home you’ll think “this was easy, maybe we’ll do it again tomorrow.” And you will.

xxM

Sick Days: At home, not at play.

I wrote, in my first long post, about the beauty in Mom Friends. I realized though, that I left out one ‘type’ of Mom-Friend: the best friend that you have from your ‘real-life’ who is also a Mom. I have one of these. Literally: 1. I am immensely lucky to have her in my life for 1,000,000 reasons- but for the privilege (and fun) of being on this journey with her, I am also immensely grateful. She is not only a great Mom, she is A LOT of fun. She understands dirty hair days (thank god for blonde bobby-pins), and how dressing up for date-night with two sleeping babies, a glass of wine in hand, the dog walked and babysitter about to arrive, actually feels a little bit like getting ready for prom-  (which we did together: twice), just decades later. I have learned SO much from E (and Piper has been the recipient of some amazing hand-me-downs), so when she called to tell me the following story, I had really, really hoped to have some good advice:

She had taken her 4year old and almost 2year-old to a new, open-gym for toddlers, filled with everything both a 4year old and an almost 2year old could ever want to play with, under the same roof, at the same time (almost impossible to find). It was their second time there, and they loved it. Once everyone’s coats and shoes were off, and both her son and daughter were in the big ball pit she noticed two brothers, with hacking- terrible, terrible coughs, making their way into the gym. She said they sounded like two cars breaking down. Oh, and there had been four confirmed cases of Whooping Cough in the state (and Rhode Island is small, and windy!). She asked their Grandmother, who had brought them, if they were okay, concerned initially with their general health. Their Grandmother said they were fine, and brushed her off.

Then, it happened. Before she could blink, the boys had now joined her son and daughter in the ball pit and one of the boys, coughed UP (use your imagination) and it landed on her son’s hand. She took both kids, cleaned them immediately with sanitizer wipes and warm water, put their coats on and left. Immediately.

I have NEVER heard her flustered- ever. When she told me the story that night, she was literally whispering when she got to the end. Like it was too gross to relive fully out loud. I had no advice for her. I was mortified, and slightly queasy.

So here was the question: what responsibility does a business have to protect against sick kids, getting healthy kids, sick? And, more importantly, what responsibility do we, as parents, have to keep our sick kids from getting healthy kids, sick? The only reason I love Gymboree is because they have an unlimited make-up policy.  I think that the responsibility is solely ours as parents, and I think that as ‘patrons’ we should expect that our babies are safe, both physically, and from an autoimmune perspective. It’s simple: if your child is sick, stay at home. If Piper has a drippy nose, or a slight-slight temp, we stay home. It is so simple to me. I’ve you’ve been reading this blog for a bit- you’ve realized that we are fearful of fevers … BUT- I would be so horrified if I knowingly got anyone else’s child sick. Classes and play-passes are expensive, so I understand the argument of of ‘waste-not’: but I also understand the perspective of ‘want not’- and I do not want your child’s germs, becoming my child’s germs.

This winter, I had a get together at our apartment with a few Moms and their babies, when one of the moms said, as nonchalantly, as announcing that they had smocked, vintage, toddler Lilly on GILT, that her child’s (who was, at that minute, playing with P) temperature had just broken the previous night- after spiking at 104, could I believe it? My head sort of jerked forward on my neck (think: turtle) and I felt my entire face tighten, and my eyes pop slightly from their sockets. I really wanted to say: “No! Go home! Right now! Here- take lunch, to-go!” I couldn’t believe, that knowing our experience with fevers, my friend would bring her child to our house, to be around my child, and their friends. Which is why I think it’s our responsibility as parents, first and foremost.

Are you wondering what happened with my friend? She was credited for her play pass, but not before sending an incredibly polite email to the owner, and a following up phone call … or two. She simply retold her experience and asked what their policy was towards clearly sick children, coming to play. Their answer: they didn’t have one.  My answer: they shouldn’t have to, it should be our job. They haven’t been back: even with the credited pass, and guarantee of two exhausted toddlers and a quiet, sleepy, drive home.

The Befores and the Afters

My husband was quoted on the front page of the Money and Business section of the Wall Street Journal last Wednesday. It was a big day in our house. I felt immensely proud of him- both personally, and for him professionally. He was very cool about it; he is very cool about most things (which is great, and balances out my tendency toward sudden, and teeming, reaction excitement), but it was clear that this was a huge cross off, of his professional ‘to-do’ list. Coincidentally, last Wednesday was also the first day that the girls took their mid-day naps at.the.same.time. In.the.same.room. For.Two.Hours. It felt like I had been quoted on the front page of The SUPERMOM Times. The day, for the four of us, was an utter success.

I’ve written about how much of life seems to be broken into two categories for me, the ‘before’ the girls and the ‘after’. A successful day, ‘before’ may have been a client meeting that went exceptionally well, a new client, or praise on a project at work. Now, it’s so much more open ended. It’s a completed post on this blog, or two sleeping babies, or a really clean and tidy apartment. ‘Tidy and toyless’ and ‘success’ can now feel one in the same. Last night it was Piper’s completion of the ABCs and her own self-applause after the finale: “net tieme woont ou ing wit meeeee!” that made me feel like I’d mentored a Grammy-winning, Poet Laureate, and when she said “Bess, ou, Riley” to her friend’s little sister, post-sneeze … I was Emily Post. This morning when Ceci got up and all fours and rocked back and forth, I felt like Tracy Anderson, having trained her form to six-month perfection. My definition of, and perspective of, most all things, before and after, seems to be evolving, all of the time:

A Woman Lunching, Alone
Before:
 Oh, that’s sort of … sad. Maybe she’s a tourist, or new in town, or has no friends. Or bad breath.
After: She has babies at home and just wants twenty minutes to herself, to think, to organize and to eat. Amen, Sister- order an appetizer.

Date Night
Before: Somewhere fun, fancy, and below 14th street. Recently reviewed in the NYT or raved about from friends, with dishes drizzled with truffle oil and a reservation at 10pm. Phones off and away. A regular treat.
After: Somewhere delicious, with really good wine. A $15 butternut squash soup now needs to be worth a $15/hr babysitter. Not ‘too’ far from our apartment (direct subway or easy taxi ride). My phone on the table until the babysitters’ “they’re both asleep!” text chimes. A regular necessity.

Two Best Minutes of My Day
Before: Walking in from work, taking off my heels/gym shoes, pouring a glass of wine.
After: The girls’ cheeks after their afternoon naps. They are warm and soft and rosy, for what seems like exactly one hundred and twenty seconds. (This may or may not have had anything to do with Piper taking two naps until 20months.)

A Long Shower
Before: A daily given: Work, dinner, TV, shower: lotion, hair blown dry, matching, cute and cozy pjs.
After: Liquid gold. Any shower exceeding 3minutes is truly a gift from the Gods! I even paid our sitter for an extra hour this week to take the girls for a walk so I could take a long shower, without my favorite two small voices chirping outside. Piper will tell you “Mommm-y. Daddy shour” and I’ll ask “What does he need?” to which she replies “P-I-RACY!” and runs to the bathroom door. “Daddy! Piracy! Piracy!”

Math
Before: A minutely part of my 9-5
After: Math?

Dry Shampoo
Before: An oxy-moron
After: A well kept, maternal, secret

Saturday Mornings:
Before:
 Up when our bodies were perfectly finished sleeping, in the park with Charley, coffees and tennis ball in hand. Expiration: 9am, when dogs’ leashes need to be on.
After: Up at 6:10. On the dot. No alarm necessary (daylight savings has nothing on PEC). Begun with “Mooooonin’ Mom-mmmmy!” Everyone in our bed with beverages (R and me: coffee in tumblers, Pipe- milk, Ceci- bottle) watching Seasame Street OnDemand in ‘jimmes’. Charley, curled at the bottom of the bed.

Toddlers Who Watched TV
Before: A cop-out. (We’ve all seen that NYT article)
After: A life saver. The golden hour facilitator that gets a pregnant Mom from 4pm-5pm. A Mom of 2’s only ability to feed 1 and occupy the other.

Under Eye Concealer and Coffee
Before:
 Good to have for a hung.over Friday at work
After: Second to survival, only to water

Mom and Baby, mid-tantrum, at Whole Foods*
Before: “That woman has no control over her child!”
After: You must really, really need those bananas. And I’m not judging you. At all. Not even a little. I am just secretly hoping that tantrum isn’t contagious, because I really need these bananas, too.

There are so many ‘afters’ that are so much better than the ‘befores’, and a few that I sometimes wish I’d appreciated a bit more (the shower, the option of a spontaneous date-night). I know there are things now that I will want to have appreciated more, later. I may be the only Mom who misses the middle.of.the.night feedings: rocking Ceci back to sleep, and looking out onto 72nd Street. In this sleepless city- it always seemed like we were the only ones awake- like the hour and a half, and all of Gotham city, were ours and only ours. I know these ‘categories’ will only continue, and only keep changing, and that, successful days or not, it’s all a huge and tremendous part of this journey.

*Wholly Unrelated: one of THE BEST pieces of advice I have for Moms of 2 is to buy the Fresh Direct unlimited delivery pass. Attempting a NYC grocery store with a double stroller is like driving an Escalade backwards on Lombard Street in San Francisco! We order groceries every Sunday, so that we begin the week with 100% of what we need to have in the house.