Monday, April 28, 2014

The Day the New Toy Ran Away From Home

Do you ever have a day with no plans and the kids are home, and you think, oh, won't it be nice to stay home and relax with the children? And then you realize that although it feels like 57 days have passed, it is only noon, and you have an entire lifetime to survive before bedtime?

You could take the children to a museum or something, but perhaps you are lazy and tired, and not in the mood for other people. Or maybe you're sick or hurt your big toe or don't want to fill the car up with gas and the tank is empty.

But then you remember that the reason you had children was to do all those fun things you loved best about childhood or maybe never got to do. Things like roller coasters, water slides, and buying expensive toys.  It occurs to you that you are finally the grown up, and you can decide to do any one of those things right now.

Except, of course, for that whole leaving the house and hurt toe and being around other people part, which leaves really only one feasible option: buying the kids a toy you always wanted and never got when you were young.  After all, you probably need laundry detergent or toilet paper or something else essential and should go to the store anyway.

It may take some convincing to get the kids to choose the toy you want, because they foolishly think this toy buying is all about them, but if you persist, you can get the toy you want, and that's a good thing. I mean, it's your money, right?

So you buy the amazing toy and take it home, and ignore the directions that say it is for ages 12 and up and open it and put in batteries and let the children use your toy.  And it is perfect and good.  Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the fabulous toy is a remote control quad copter that hovers and flies around the living room like a mini alien. 

So what if the directions say it is for indoor use only? It's beautiful out. You can sit on the porch and watch the children play with the Awesome New Toy, which they do.  The children are laughing, the sun is shining, and the quad copter is going higher and higher and…

down the street
over two apartment buildings
and out of sight.

Run! Chase the delightful new toy that is running away from home!

You and the kids turn the corner and it is gone. It's not in the parking lot, or the grass, or the street.

You ask a neighbor carrying boxes into her house if she saw it, and she says, no, but there's a wild bunny over there.   Great, but unless the bunny can fly and be controlled with a hand held device while doing so, it is completely irrelevant.

Perhaps at this point you ask the tiny child to wiggle the remote so perhaps the toy will make whirring sounds.  Nothing.

You cross the street to the giant chasm  on the other side.  not a ravine, but a full-fledged gorge ringed with a cliff.  A steep cliff, with a sharp vertical drop off and jagged rocks.  And there, less than a foot from the edge, is your brand new toy.  And it's whirring and about to take off again.

Cheat death? Abandon the toy? Get someone else to retrieve it?

The latter, obviously. You can't lose that toy and you can't let the children watch you fall to your death, and luckily a Hero has appeared that is willing to put their life on the line and save the beloved new toy.

Which from now on, stays in the house.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Seven Nicest Things My Ex Said to Me

Image: San Diego Zoo

We have been a two-household family for six years. I don't like the negativity of "broken home" because we have found our groove and while it's a different parenting style, I don't think it's necessarily broken.The children have two houses, not one broken one. 

In fact, we parent extremely well together even though we don't reside in the same house. I thought instead of listing advice on how to co-parent after divorce, I'll just give you seven examples of solid proof that it can be done.

The 7 Nicest Things My Ex Said to Me:

1.  If you ever are on the ledge and can't go on, you can call me. I may hate you, but the children need both a mother and a father.

2. You were right to leave. We would never have worked. I now hate other people more than I hate you. 

3. If you want the kids to listen to you, you have to give them the look of death.  What you do is look at them like you are going to rip their heads off, and really focus on wanting to rip their heads off. Then they won't talk back to you. 

4.  I trust your judgement that anyone you have around the children is a good person. All I care about is if the kids like them. 

5. If they won't listen to you, call me. I will come over and back you up. No way those kids get to disrespect you.

6. Sure, I'll take the kids when you are at your residency for school. No problem.

7. Is it OK if I go on vacation that long with the boys? I know you really miss them when they are gone. 

In short, he might not have been the right guy for me, but he definitely is the right father for my kids.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Awkward Memories of the Adult are Visited Upon their Children

Apparently all those weird things unique to your childhood can not be escaped.  You get to relive all those awkward moments a second time through your children. 

"Mama, why do Nana and Grandma have pictures of naked people hugging in the bathroom?" Tiny Pants asked me when I took him to go potty in my parents' house. 

Edited for readers who have little eyes over their shoulder

Well, there's an interesting question. Although he's not yet four feet tall, apparently Tiny Pants can bend that neck of his all the way up above the tile to view the vintage, slightly pornographic art.

They are cool pictures, in all honesty.  They are the kind of thing I might gravitate towards myself, but I am also aware that my boys are of an age that notice things like naked women, and I knew exactly how they felt. When I grew up, my house was filled with naked statues.  After much discussion and begging and being lectured to about art, my parents finally took away the statues when I was somewhere in my teens, long after I had to answer my friends' awkward questions. 

"well, it's a kind of art," I started to explain.  "Like statues in the museum."  I wasn't entirely sure this would work, but it sounded more understandable than a lecture on feminism and beauty and owning your own sexuality.

Luckily Big Pants walked by and interrupted me. "It's just art. Lots of artists do naked people."  Never have I been as glad of an eavesdropping brother as I was right then. Tiny Pants just said, "Okay."

Yes, it is erotic art, which is slightly different from classic nudes, but I decided not to go into a history lesson. My parents no longer have children regularly visiting their house, and I don't expect them to change their decorating for me. Still, I'm tempted to bring some small bandaids with me next time we go to visit for emergency nipple hiding. Then again,perhaps the kids will benefit from having slightly weird grandparents who like vintage nudes.  I'm sure they will like to visit that bathroom a lot in their teen years. 

Either way, I'll work on getting smoother with my answers before our next visit. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In Which Big Pants Rats Me Out

My First Relationship After Separation: 

My Ex and I had couldn't file our divorce until the end of the tax year, but I didn't wait that long to start dating. I did wait until after our separation agreement was filed to aggressively seek out a relationship though.

My first relationship was with a very nice guy we'll call…what's a good fake name? Pasquale. Because I've never met a Pasquale in real life. Pasquale and I would see each other when neither of us had kids and talk on the phone in between.  His kids were older than mine, and he was firm about not introducing me until some unspecified time in the future, but we did meet each other's parents.

I didn't want my kids to get attached to someone until I was sure they would stay around. But I also didn't want to fall in love with someone who my kids hated, or who was bad with children.  I figured better to know sooner rather than later if they couldn't cut the mustard.

When is the right time to introduce a boyfriend to your kids?  I think it changes as they get older and wiser, but in my case, I underestimated the wiser part.  I had a three year old and a six month old baby. They had no clue about any sort of grown up relationship dynamics, so I could have a subtle meet and greet. I was sly.

Or so I thought, until I got this message from my Ex:

EX:  I'd appreciate if you wouldn't bring your boyfriends around the kids until you have been dating at least two years.

ME:  Wait, what? Boyfriend?

OK, so I did have a boyfriend, and he had been to the house, but only in a gathering of a bunch of people. I was sure I had never been within three feet of Pasquale the whole time. 

EX: I heard you had a party and "Mama's boyfriend Pasquale was there."  

ME: (in head) EEEK! How did Big Pants know he was my boyfriend? He was only three!/!?

Little beastie ratted me out to Daddy. Kid was more astute than I thought. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'm a Mom and I Date. There, I said it.

I haven't written much about dating on  When I started the blog, I made the decision not to be the kind of site that is interesting only because it is a train wreck.  I am aware that everything online lives forever, and my kids might someday read this. Besides, Only-Train-Wreck-Mama is too long to type.

This is not my chosen theme, but it is hypnotic
image: wikimedia

If you want to see my dirty laundry, you have to come to my basement and navigate the hockey equipment and boxes of old toys to do so.  You have to risk tripping over things and bashing your head in on the low hanging pipes -- only then will I show you the my sorted piles of intimacy.  An unearned photograph will never do.

What I didn't know was that because I don't mention dating here, a lot of people think I haven't been doing it, and I certainly never meant to mislead people.  Besides, some of those train-wreck stories are funny in hindsight, and now that I am past the immediate horror of living through them I can mine them for material.

Who knew this love match wouldn't end well? Image: OddStuffMagazine

However, there is an unspoken bias of married moms against dating.  I have been lucky in that I haven't gotten much judgy mom stuff for being a single mother. I've gotten some, but most people find a way  to hide their discomfort in my presence.  


(Yes, I am finally getting to the point. If you have drifted off into the land of Too Long, Didn't Read,  now is the time to pay attention.)

While I can talk quite openly about parenting and single parenting and monster children that you love and want to kill at the same time with almost every mother I know, once I mention the word "Boyfriend" or "Date" the conversation falls silent.


Oh.  I didn't realize you actually dated. 

You can often see the fellow mom take a step or two back.  Eye contact falls to their shoes. After a few of these awkward conversations I stopped bringing it up.    

Apparently it's OK to leave your husband, but only if you plan to devote every waking moment to your children to compensate for the disaster you have caused.  My divorce record is proof of my inability to make good decisions in many people's eyes. There is no expectation of growth.

Perhaps people would feel better if I were a celibate mother devoted to my children, but I'm not sure it's best for the kids, and I know for sure that it is not best for me. I want my children to go out and live their lives without guilt over Poor Mama home all alone. They don't need the pressure of being my constant companions. I never want them to feel reluctance about going on a sleepover party because Mama might be lonely.

Children develop their views on relationships by watching the grown ups in their lives.  Some parents are good role models, some are bad ones, but children learn from both equally. They learn nothing in a vacuum.  I don't want my children to think all mothers must give up their entire lives when they procreate. 

That's not to say that I have brought many people around my kids over the last six years. Dating as a parent is complicated and children are fragile. It's not something to take lightly, and therefore I think it should be discussed and blogged about.  Besides, some of those stories are kind of funny. And we all like funny, right?


Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Post: 10 Things A Mom Who Has Been Up All Night Doesn't Want To Hear

I have felt like this. Image: hdwallpaper

I asked my dear friend Sally to guest post today, because I am lazy and have nothing interesting to say this week.  I figure seeing as she isn't sleeping, she has plenty of time to write my blog for me. See what a great friend I am?  She is seriously an awesome person and a fine writer.  You can follow her at SuckAtHomeMom.

10 Things A Mom Who Has Been Up All Night Doesn't Want To Hear

Rose is a tough sleeper.  Some nights, if I'm super, super lucky, she gives me a five hour stretch of sleep.  Most nights she wakes every two to three hours.  Some nights she just.won't.sleep.

I've tried soothing baths, feeding late, feeding early, changing her foods, letting her cry, not letting her cry, physical exercise, a soothing routine...and pretty much nothing has worked.  I have been without a good night's sleep for about a year and a half (including the last 3 months of pregnancy, which were pretty uncomfortable for sleep.)

Keeping in mind that I'm short on sleep, exhausted mentally and physically, there are a few things that are JUST not helpful to hear!  Oh, you can say them if you want my steely glare or perhaps the silent treatment, but otherwise, please, friends and relatives, keep them to yourselves!

Here are my top ten things that a sleepless momma doesn't want to hear:

1.  You look tired.
You know, I know I'm tired, and I'm sure I'm looking harsh, but my self esteem is already suffering (why can't I get this baby to sleep? What am I doing wrong??), so pointing out the baggage I'm carrying under my eyes or the drool on the corner of my mouth certainly doesn't help that.

2.  Oh, Was the baby awake last night?
The baby is awake EVERY NIGHT.  If you know me at all, you know my baby is awake every night (as evidenced by the aforementioned bags and drool.)  Pointing out that you slept right through the night is only going to fuel my feelings of jealousy for all you sleep-through-the-nighters. 

3.  You know she'll sleep better if you...(insert random advice.)
Please know that after 15 months of her not sleeping, I have researched the Internet, talked to the doctor, talked to other moms, and tried it all.  Yes, EVEN THAT (insert random weird internet sleep fad here.)

4.  It's a short span of time in your life, and she'll eventually sleep through the night. 
I'm here to tell you, it's not a short span of time.  It's eons, eternity, and the less I sleep the longer it seems.

5.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  You get to enjoy that time you have alone together.  👀
I get to have alone time all day long with her if I want.  I'd like to have some alone time with my pillow, tyvm.

6.  I read that breastfed babies sleep less.  What if you switch to formula? 
Yeah, because I've endured 15 months of sleeplessness, mastitis, and niplash because formula is an option for me.  Don't get me wrong--I don't have a problem with mom's using formula---I used it with my first two---but Rose is allergic to dairy (and soy formula is very expensive and smells gross.)

7.  Why don't you want to GO somewhere?! (This is from Punkgirl & Happyboy, who want to get up at the crack of dawn on the weekend and GOOOO somewhere.)

8.  I think she sleeps worse when "we" do THIS. 
This is obviously Coffeeguy.  I don't wake Coffeeguy in the middle of the night, because he has to get up and go out to work every morning, and at least my baggy eyes and drool are mostly confined to home, so I take on the task of getting up with Rose. While I appreciate that he's only trying to help, most of the time when I get back into bed he's snoring, so this negates any right of his to tell me when she sleeps worse or better.

10.  Yeah.  I know...I skipped 9.  Didn't I just tell you I'm sleep deprived? 

10.  (Again) Why don't you take a nap during the day?
I.  I just.  Are you..?  She takes a two hour nap at 12.  It's just enough time to get a cup of HOT tea, load the dishwasher, MAYBE take a shower, and upload these pithy writings to my blog.  

Suck At Home Mom is a writer, mother, and former educator.  She lives in the Northeast with her coffee-loving husband, two non-conformist Tweens, and a tyrannical baby. She has studied Anthropology and Early Education, and her writing has been published on The Good Men Project and featured on BlogHer. She is currently writing a novel and blogging about her attempts to keep her sanity after leaving the workforce, taking up breastfeeding, and managing the kids at SuckAtHomeMom.

Originally published on BlogHer

Thursday, April 10, 2014

You CAN Be a Pin Up Girl!

I recently bought a fabulous dress.  It hides my flaws and accentuates my assets. And it's blue.  It's everything a dress should be.

I realized that some of you might not know about my favorite website, or one of them, anyway.

This is why I love them:

1. 1950's styles were designed for women who had curves.  I don't mean just hourglass shapes, I mean hips and thighs and bellies, too.  Their dresses are cut to enhance real women's bodies.  Who doesn't look good in an A-line? Who doesn't want a wiggle dress that holds in their jiggly bits?

2. Speaking of real women, almost all of their dresses come in plus sizes as well as non-plus sizes.  But here's what's unique -- they use real plus size models, not size 10 girls.  Their larger sizes are shown on larger women, and they aren't afraid to look sexy, either.

The Monica Dress

3. Pinup Girls Clothing customer service is outstanding.  If you call the phone number, a person answers who actually wears the dresses.  They can give you helpful information, and you don't have to go through an endless automated system to talk to someone.

4. Their clothing is all Made in America.  When was the last time you saw that?

5. They credit their photographers and models right on their website and provide links to their websites. It's like they actually support each other and try to help each other out.  How odd. 

Now, looking at their website, you may feel like the prices are a little higher than you are used to paying, but if you think about how much you spend on almost-fabulous-but-not-quite dresses that you wear once and never wear again, it really is worth it.  The older I get, the more I want fewer clothes that make me feel like a movie star, as opposed to twice as many dresses that don't quite cut the mustard. 

Of course, they have sales, too. Lots of 'em. There's even one going on now.

I have a bathing suit from them I am not ashamed to wear in public and I am 40 years old. You can't put a dollar value on that.

I own this. You can own it here

I now have a dress that transformed me into the head-turner my father said I would never be. I am so happy about it I had to create an unsolicited blog just to rave about this website. They are truly a fantastic resource every woman should know about.