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6 Things I have either purchased or am doing to make life with baby easier

The one item I bought this week that is making life with baby easier is….

The Tangle Teezer brush. Amazing hair tool for all hair types and all family members. Effortlessly and painlessly sorts out the tangles in K’s thick, wavy hair. No tears. This brush, in fact, produces the opposite effect–that of a soothing scalp massage. And the one I have is sparkly and purple and looks like this:

Adorable, no? Oh, and it seems to help with grown-up hair shed. Or maybe that’s just my imagination, a place I don’t mind living in these days.

Five Things I am doing this week to make life with baby easier:

1. Laying out all of my clothes on Sunday. Ironing everything on Sunday. Celebrating this smartest-thing-I-ever did with a glass of wine.

2. Grocery shopping with K. Holding active discussions with her about all the food (Ooh a pineapple)! You have no idea how much interest a pineapple can generate until you’ve reimagined it through a toddler’s eyes. Letting her hold the bananas and pasta. Ignoring when she throws bananas and pasta on the floor. Ignoring when she asks, over and over, for the doggy. That isn’t a doggy, it’s Tony Tiger and cereal makers are evil and the answer is no. Regardless, shopping has become a miniature outing that we both enjoy.

3. Reading a book if I want to instead of ignoring my intellectual needs. I’m modeling good behavior. And K is more apt to sit quietly with a book after watching me.

4. Exercising with my Ballet Beautiful workout DVDs instead of ignoring my physical needs. The first few times I dared push aside the coffee table to perform a bridge she collapsed onto my legs and stomach to make the nonsense stop. My advice is to just push through. Get kiddie used to understand he or she shares this space with you and that mommy deserves low blood pressure and shapely calves.

5. Making meals we can all eat, thus limiting the amount of time I have to spend in a hot kitchen and reducing the stupid number of pots that must be washed. Hubby doesn’t like spinach in the soup? Call it escarole. He wont know the difference. Can’t imagine feeding baby broccoli rabe? Mush it with beans. Swirl it into pastina with a dash of Parmesan cheese to cut the bitterness. We are busy women and busy women will not make pot roast, chicken fingers, pasta with butter, and cereal for a three-person family. Oh, hell no.

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Dear Mom, this is what I wish I could’ve written in my Mother’s Day card to you

As I write this I am sitting in my doctor’s waiting room nursing something that could be strep, a common cold, or the bubonic plague. You have selflessly driven to brooklyn from Queens to watch K, even though you have to work in the afternoon and this is a giant hassle for you, and despite the fact that you have been sniffling for days and have not once vocalized your own discomfort. Before I took off for the doc, you were sitting on the floor next to K, watching her place “Princess” on the Little People potty, over and over again. There you were, asking me if I wanted to pick up the ingredients to make chicken soup and offering to whip it up for me instead of rushing back to your home the minute I return so that you could, you know, live your life.

Yesterday on Mother’s Day I gave you a beautiful card and I wrote some sweet sentiments inside. The usual. Thank you. You are the best mom. You have shown me how to be a good mom to my daughter. The card took me five minutes to write (that morning) and, though I mean everything I penned, those words neither created a warm sensation within me, nor made me pause and reflect.

And that was wrong of me. Because there are things you should really know. There are multi-layered thoughts that actually race through my mind when I think about you late at night. When I let myself go to that ugly place where I imagine your death and realize that, at 64, you could have 30 more years or five. These are the facts about you that inspire me. That make me proud. That make me feel pity for you. That break my heart:

1. You never joined the other women when they cleaned up after Christmas dinner. You, like them, are Italian American. You, like them, learned your place in this world. Yet you, unlike any of them, refused to sit at the women’s table. Refused to leave meat on on your plate. Poured a second and third glass of wine. And then sauntered off to the men’s table and, without asking, plopped down next to Uncle Nick to play cards. You assumed the role of dealer. Blue and red chips accumulated in front of you. You didn’t bother to organize them into neat piles.

2. Your parents didn’t feel college was for girls. You always believed things would have been different if you were Jewish. Jewish parents encouraged their daughters to get a college degree, or at the very least, to sit in a college classroom for two years so they could marry a more respectable man. You would have been a lawyer. You tried to go back a few years ago. You attended classes for two semesters and quit with a 4.0 GPA. Why did you really give up?

3. I’ve tortured you through the years with cutting remarks about how you were never around. Yes, it hurt me when you weren’t there. But if I focused as much on the memory I have of you making me Stelline pastina with melted cheese when I was sick, of lying next to me in bed to watch The Muppet Show, of sitting by the radiator on snowy mornings while you made us fresh juice and oatmeal, of playing beauty shop with me and letting me brush your hair (thicker than mine, oily, darker, with deep red highlights…during this game you taught me the word “auburn” and this new unusual sounding trait made me wish my hair would change into something with an exotic name, something other than “brown.”)–if I focused on these memories instead of how often you were absent I would realize your need to look for fulfillment outside of the house (because one can only play beauty parlor with a four-year-old while watching All My Children for so long) wasn’t unusual or sinful. It didn’t have anything to do with your love for me. I would realize you were there as much as you weren’t and that our ideas about people, and especially about our mothers, are 30 percent fact and 70 percent emotion and resentment. I would confront the realization that forgiveness is not my strongest quality and that I expect you to be a Madonna, while I hold no such expectations for myself.

No Mother’s Day card could hold all these thoughts. And there are more. Decades of thoughts. I’m waiting for the day when I have the courage to spill over.

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Two things I’ve learned after 5 years of marriage

In honor of our 5 year anniversary (and because I despise sentimental posts), I will list two things I was told about marriage that scared me to death but turned out to be totally false:

1. It’s difficult to be married. It’s actually super easy and amazing–learning to budget money with a partner is what’s difficult.

2. Kids ruin your romance. Nope. Electronic devices and apathy ruin your romance.

I’m no expert, but I’m happy to have learned two things in five years.

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What the hell are you going to do when your daughter asks about thigh gaps?

Last night my husband informed me that I have a thigh gap.

“A what? What the hell is that?” (frantically feeling up my thighs)

“A thigh gap. All the girls want one. I just read about it.”

“Let me guess. New York Times Style section?”

“No. But everywhere else.”

He’s right. A quick Google search for “thigh gap” yielded about 10,000,000 results, including countless Tumblr accounts that serve as “thinspiration” for girls who want to gaze at photos of Victoria’s Secret angels and ordinary teens with long, coltish legs and post remarks about how their fat asses will never stick to a diet long enough to earn those legs.

For those of you who are as clueless as I am when it comes to the desires and pursuits of anyone under 25, let me fill you in on the ugly details: a thigh gap is just what is sounds like—a space between the inner thighs that most prominently shows when one stands still. Beyonce, one of the most beautiful women on the planet, has had her legs photoshopped to achieve the look, while one gorgeous 20-something coworker informed me that a thigh gap was “an unfortunate thing” that she “unfortunately wanted bad.”

To achieve this gap you must either be a recovering anorexic who eats healthfully and exercises but takes little joy in food and will forever be a bore at restaurants (ding, ding, ding, I win that prize), an actual active anorexic, or a naturally slender person barely out of her teens.

And yet young women are starving themselves in order to achieve this latest (and most bizarre) sign of female perfection.

As mothers of young girls, isn’t it enough that we can anticipate the heartache our daughters will experience when they don’t get the boobs they so desperately want? Or when they can fill a DD bra at age 13 and want to hide the boobs everyone else so desperately wants? We already expect that there will be stupid diets at 16 and that, at age 17, she will pull her skirt down and almost rip the hemline because she wants to hide her “fat thighs.” She will either abhor her belly and pull at it or reveal her belly every chance she gets because she hates her breasts and wants to compensate for them.

It is going to be a trial, for sure.

And now we have to worry about fucking thigh gaps.

And why? Because adult women like me won’t order dessert at restaurants. Because adult women I work with spend $400 on Isagenix to lose 10 pounds and then believe no one wants to speak with them because we are all jealous they lost weight (reality: we don’t want to speak with you because all you talk about is Isagenix).

Can we please all man up, read a newspaper, and talk about anything—anything outside of ourselves? At this point, I would even take something as trivial as Tebow or your many, many sexual pursuits.

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Discipline tips for wussy moms

According to this article published in Redbook, the average toddler hears the word “no” 400 times a day. If the average toddler spent more time with me, she/he would hear things like, “Let’s not do that” and “Don’t you want to do this instead of that?” Total wussy mom. I want a respectful, amazing child, but man do I have to work through my whole aversion to discipline.

I’m going to be a good American girl and blame this on my own mommy. Any toddler who spent as much time with my mother as my K does would hear 400 “no’s” in addition to all of the following:

* “Don’t fall down, gonna get a boo-boo!”

* “Be careful!”

* “Watch how you sit in that chair!”

* “Don’t run!”

* “You’re going to trip on the rug if you walk that fast.”

* “You’re going to get a splinter if you don’t put on your shoes.”

* “Brrrr…it’s cold, where’s your hat? Did mommy forget to put you in an undershirt?” (It’s 60 degrees outside)

I feel I have to pepper each of these rants with the obligatory–Holy crap, my mother is saving my life by watching K while I work. Which is true. She is.

But our parenting styles differ greatly and I’m trying to find painless ways to recommend to her that she not fill K’s head with morbid ideas about the countless dangers pervasive in our universe. Do I really want K to grow up and, like me, imagine she has 8 forms of cancer on the basis that “something around her waist area” hurts?

I heard the word “no” regularly as a child. Every answer to every question was “no.” Do I think it screwed me up? Probably not. Do I think it’s odd when parents refuse to ever say “no,” as if it’s a dirty, shameful word? Yes, a little. Regardless, I would much rather maintain a positive home environment, and I am wondering lately if it would be enough to subtly model some of these Redbook suggestions in the hopes that my mother will catch on? Or do I have to have an uncomfortable talk with her–the mere thought of which makes me want to slap myself because (as I mentioned before) she is saving my life by watching K..?

I will paraphrase Redbook’s suggestions on how to discipline children without saying “no:”

1. Instead of saying “no, you can’t so this,” explain why the action shouldn’t be done (example: “We only eat dessert after dinner so that we don’t fill up.”) By the way, do you love my wussy way of saying “we” instead of “you?” It’s a teaching trick I use to make my 8th graders think I am on their side…

2. When your child misbehaves, explain your feelings to him/her. (Example: “It hurts mommy’s feelings when you purposely rip up her term paper. Mommy is going to grad school to make your life better–if it were up to her she’d be drawing in a whopping $4 an hour to write professionally. Don’t make mommy feel bad.”)

3. Provide choices. If your child is doing something you don’t like–such as dragging a blue crayon across a white wall, as K did last night–offer him/her the option of either sitting at the table with her crayons, or–I’m thinking, I’m thinking, what could be more fun than coloring a wall?–I’ll get back to you on that one.

4. Show, don’t tell. Here’s one suggestion that makes sense to me. Instead of saying, “Don’t kick mommy in the tummy when she’s changing you,” take her little hands and pat them gently against your tummy. Show him/her what you want instead of shouting about what you don’t want.

5. Develop a mean voice and look. My husband is the master at this. I’m still working on not laughing every time K does something ridiculous.

Overall, I have some issues with numbers 1 and 2, like 3 and 4, and can’t master #5.

Feel free to send your wussy mom discipline tips my way!