Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Driving in the C of NY

While I was driving today I noticed several phenomena:

1. I am still the only idiot in NY City who pulls over for emergency vehicles. At this point I'm probably the hazard.

2. I am also the only one in NY City who is scared to honk the horn wherever there is a posted sign with a warning about a fine. I'm certain even the NYPD don't know about those signs.

3. It amazes me every single time I manage to just, just make it through a yellow-turning-red-okay-was-probably-already-red-but-I-can't-stop-now light, and I glance in my rear-view mirror to find that five other cars somehow made it through behind me.

4. There are many New Yorkers who would benefit from a good amount of time spent thinking about their desire to live. And if they find that they have a strong desire to live, they should probably start crossing at corners. And then, only when the little white man is up on the screen.

5. I was so busy thinking, I went five blocks past the street I was meant to turn down and realized that I would have drive another few miles out of the way since two-way streets are almost extinct.


Something else I learned today: you can consider yourself out of shape when your toddler makes a huge show out of huffing and puffing every time she bends down for something. (To all my readers who are pregnant, consider yourself excused; your shape is perfect.)


Had a Motherly Moment today? I did.

"Oh ewww, honey, this chocolate is soooo gross, omigosh I think it's spoiled or something. Totally ew!"

"Mommy, can I have the rest of it anyway? And hey, how come you're eating in your closet and the light is off?"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Other Mothers

Today I brought my 14-month-old with me while I got an eyebrow wax.

She took one look at the stranger touching me and screamed like she was witnessing a murder.

It was pretty sweet, save for the partial deafness that the entire salon was rewarded with. And I feel the need to come clean and confess that while she was bewailing my misfortune I couldn't help but wonder how loud she will scream when she is actually the one getting eyebrows ripped off.

Whenever I worry about my motherlynessless self (break it into syllables if you are having trouble), I instead think about any parenting failures that I witness in others and then I start to feel better about myself. Terrible, I know, but extremely effective.

As an example:

Yesterday we took the kids to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Because it's worth $36 for my big girl to play with blue sand. BLUE sand! I don't know if she's seen sand in any other color but hey, it works! So when we pulled up to the Museum, we noticed another minivan pull up near us. The doors opened and out came two lovely parents. And then a kid. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. Were you counting? In a blur of activity I noticed at least three umbrella strollers being popped open for little itty bitty ones to sit in. I shook my head to clear it, looked back into the van and confirmed my original thought: there was NOT ONE car seat in the car. Anywhere. So to recap: that's 2 adults, 9 kids, 3 of which are too small to be walking around. ZERO car seats, and no possible way that there were more than 8 seats in that van.

So yes, I was horrified and sick by what I saw, but I did mentally add a check to my scoreboard.

Oh, and speaking of the museum. I had to tell a guy off for taking his daughter into the women's restroom. He looked at me like I was insane for even suggesting that his behavior might be inappropriate. What is it with some people? Am I really the only one who thinks it is so completely wrong? (To help ensure that you agree with me I will also let you know that he was in there together with his wife and some other kids, so they could have easily split the task with him waiting outside with some kids while she went in with some and then switch. Furthermore, a huge sign posted outside of the bathroom indicated that there were multiple family restrooms on the second floor of the museum, in the event that a daddy was alone with a little girl. Last, the men's room was next door. He could have taken the little ones with him in there and that would have been ten times more appropriate. Or 20 times. Or 100 times.)

End rant.

Feeling motherly?

Today I told my daughter, "Sunscreen is very complicated. There are complex things about application. Really only a mommy can do it and then a girl can help rub it in after. It says so here on the bottle under directions of usage."

I don't impress her with big words, I distract her.

The Road to Here and There

I have started and stopped this following post so many times that I've lost count. But today, I'm inspired to write.

I was the girl with boundless energy and who was always quick to laugh. I was quick to frustration too, but I wasn't terrible :)

I loved to head projects and be smack in the middle of things. I was organized and boisterous and loved every second of it. All throughout high school, I was on the committee for our annual school weekend away and I always had something busy in the school play, be it as lead actress, choreographing a dance, or heading the entire production.

I volunteered with children who had special needs and I worked on Sundays as well as weekends, in an educational capacity. I took meticulous notes if class was interesting and made innocent trouble when I got bored. I just always needed to be doing something. I loved the feeling of accomplishment.

This energy served me well when I finished high school and went on to do program coordinating for a nonprofit in California, and then when I moved to New York and began to work in a local school. After I got married, my husband used to tease me about not being able to sleep in and jumping out of bed the instant that I woke up. When I got pregnant, I was slightly lazier, but still energetic. During the summer that I was pregnant, I worked in a preschool camp that required a 1.5 hour commute to Connecticut each morning (and then back in the afternoon) and it didn't phase me.

When delivery day finally came around, I remember that at one point during labor, I told the midwife that I did not need such a long break between pushes. She and my doula laughed and said, "Now is not the time to be an overachiever." But that was me. Seven weeks after my daughter was born, I went back to my job of teaching in the afternoons. When she turned nine months old, I enrolled in college for evening classes. It was hard- balancing everything, but there was a crazy type of adrenaline that came with it as well. I didn't stop when I became pregnant with my second child and continued my rigorous schedule: Mommy in the morning with my toddler at home, teacher in the afternoon, and student in the evening. I didn't think anything could stop me.

I was wrong.

My second daughter was born on May 25th, a rainy Friday afternoon. A holiday (Shavuot) was set to begin on Saturday night so once sunset hit on Friday, we would be in for a three day stretch of no electricity, phones, driving, etc. I didn't want to be in the hospital alone and so I left 7 hours later. I was throwing up but I didn't let the nurses see because I was so scared that they would make me stay.

I didn't stop pushing myself. When the holiday was over, my husband returned to work and I was home with the newborn and my 2.5 year old. It was tiring, but my frustration level was at an all new low and I was getting very agitated with myself. I was used to pushing myself, so why wasn't this working now?!

A wonderful organization sent me a delicious fresh breakfast every morning for the first couple of weeks. My sister came over with her three-month-old baby to help entertain my big girl and to be there for me. My husband was supportive and amazing and didn't stop for a second when he came home. Still, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and found myself reduced to tears in minutes.

Visitors would urge me to sleep while they were there, to sleep while the baby was sleeping, to sleep whenever I could. They didn't know that sometimes I just couldn't sleep.

There were nights that I would lay awake for hours, sobbing until I was too exhausted to cry anymore, angry that I couldn't fall asleep. There were days that I couldn't nap, even when I tried. And there were times, especially when people came over to relieve me, that I wanted to stay awake. I wanted to be with other people and feel normal. Alone in my room, in bed, all I could think about was how little I accomplished and how much time I was wasting.

When the end of June rolled around, my big girl started camp. I was a bundle of nerves. She had never been to school, as she has always been at home with me. I felt like I should have been able to care for her at home along with my baby. I also knew that I was being a horrible mother and that she was getting the brunt of my anger at home and that she would be much happier away from me. Looking back now, I see that I was thinking terrible things about myself that were unwarranted. My daughter was going to camp because she was 2.5 years old and she would have a great time! I had just had a baby and wasn't going to be able to entertain her and take her out, camp was normal!

Now that it was just me and the baby at home, I was sure everything would finally fall into place. I reasoned that I simply must have been too overwhelmed caring for them both and that now I would be the energetic and efficient mother that I planned to be.

Again, I was wrong.

The days were worse. I was a mess. When my baby didn't sleep, I would scream at her. Through my tears, I would beg her to be quiet, beg her not to cry, call her names, wish she was gone. I never thought about hurting her and I used that as my measuring stick. I said to myself that if I ever feel like throwing her, I'll know that this is PPD. But if that's not happening, this is just me being an absolute failure.

At my 6-week appointment, I waited expectantly for the midwife to ask me about how I was coping. I went to a team of several midwives and it happened that the one I saw that day, was one that I had only ever seen once before. I am sorely disappointed that the practice doesn't focus on scheduling the 6-week appointment with a more familiar midwife for the patient, as I was too uncomfortable to bring up my feelings with someone that I barely knew. She did ask the routine questions but cut me off with a check on her sheet even before I had finished articulating my thoughts. Thing is? If she would have known me at all, she would have recognized right away that I was so quiet, pensive, anxious, and just extremely out of character.

Over the next few weeks, I called my husband home more times than I care to remember. Sometimes I was too embarrassed to call and I would lay on the floor near the baby's crib, crying nearly as loudly as she was. I would beg him to read my mind and come home. Eventually I would succumb and send him a text. He couldn't know how much I had tried to withstand on my own before reaching out to him, and I would often become unreasonably hurt when he wouldn't immediately understand me. It's embarrassing to think about this now!

One day, about ten weeks postpartum, I had a fantasy that I would mysteriously fall into a 6-month coma and get a break from my parenting responsibilities. It seemed like the best solution. No deaths, nothing irreversible. My in-laws or my parents would surely come in to help and my big girl would be fine just as soon as I woke up. I knew that I was thinking bad, bad thoughts but it really was appealing.

At that moment, I confirmed with myself what I had already been suspecting: I definitely had Postpartum Depression. Still, though, nothing changed. I told my husband about the coma dream and I knew how uneasy he was, but he didn't say anything about PPD. I knew it in my heart but I wasn't going to say anything because if I did, how would anyone know that I didn't just make everything up?

Growing up, we always had to have 'proof' that we were sick or else any feelings of being 'unwell' didn't count. I am sure my parents were just trying to weed out the fakers (who doesn't try to play hooky one time or another?) but this translated into a huge obstacle at a really tough time in my life. I was desperately waiting for someone else to suggest that I had PPD so that it wouldn't have come from me and that would make it more 'real'.

Meanwhile, my husband was simply trying to find the right way of telling me without making me completely reject the idea. He had no way of knowing that I was waiting for him to bring it up. In the end, I so desperately wanted to feel better, I finally mentioned that I was worried that I might have PPD. My husband was extremely supportive and encouraged me to reach out for help.

At first, I tried to call SPARKS, an organization that offers services to women who are suffering from PPD and other issues. The first time I gathered the courage to call, I was put on hold. I hung up after seven long minutes of waiting. It was a while until I gathered enough courage to call again. This time, I was directed to a confidential voice mail. I left a message, but it's been a year now and no one has ever called me back.

(Don't worry, I didn't wait all year for that call.) I soon got in touch with a family friend who is also a therapist. She tried to help me naturally as I was against the idea of medication. We soon realized that it simply wasn't enough and I was too anxious to work through it this way. She suggested that I call a doctor nearby and schedule an appointment. As soon as I made the decision to do that, knowing full well that I would be starting medication, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I suddenly felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I started on a low dose of Zoloft, some vitamins, and instructions to start adding in exercise every day. For the first couple of weeks, I also went on some heavy duty (awesome!!) sleeping pills just so that I would be able to sleep at night until the Zoloft kicked in and the anxiety would dissipate.

I knew that I was going to be okay.

Finally, I was right.

It wasn't a smooth course. There were ups and there were downs. And then even downer downs. But as I began to take care of myself and allow myself to be constructive with this new sense of ease, I began to get better.

My baby is 14 months old now and I have been off of medication since the middle of May. Some days are still hard and sometimes, my emotions seem overwhelming but I've learned a lot about myself this past year and I am getting the hang of it. I can get out of the house with both kids by myself (might seem silly to some but a huge accomplishment for me) and best of all, I am laughing again. I started this blog because I like to laugh at myself and am so thankful that I can still do that.

I'm not perfect yet, and I should continue therapy to learn better ways of managing my stress, but I'll get there.

Because I truly am a Supermom.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winter in July

Last night's motherly lie:

"Sweetie, oh my goodness let me smell your hair! Yikes! It smells like a banana. QUICK! Into the bath!!"


So it was sixty-something degrees when we stepped outside this morning. My daughter clapped her hands in delight and said, "Yay, it's winter!! That means my birthday is soon, Mommy!" If you think I gently let her down, you really don't know me at all. I marveled at the joy of her birthday that is in reality five months away while simultaneously creating a list of topics to bring up in order to avoid planning a party that second. Luckily for us her school bus arrived just then and so far she hasn't remembered that it was winter today. 

Special shout out to my baby who practiced her flawless rendition of fake coughing while we were on our jog this morning. I got the evil eye from one too many little old ladies and then had a stomach-ache the rest of the day. I'm pretty sure someone there was cursing me for my negligent parenting.

And that's a questionable set of words anyway. If you are being negligent, how can you say that you are parenting? I'm gonna save this question for when I am trying to fall asleep tonight. I think I'll have a conclusion by tomorrow morning's shower.

I finally started my Rosetta Stone Spanish program today...and so I confidently say to you, adios!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On Bullying

Yesterday my big girl came home and said to me, "Mommy, when I was on the bus someone told me GET OUT OF THAT SEAT but don't worry, I didn't listen and I didn't hurt back, I just used my voice and I didn't even cry at all."

Today she said, "Stupid baby! That's what they said to me on the bus today. And so I ran away to a different seat."

She said they pushed her on her clothes. She pointed one finger into her chest to demonstrate.

Shes turns four in December. She's still my baby. And this just breaks me.

I am feeling so many different things right now, I don't even know where to begin.

I feel helpless. Livid. Indignant. Protective.

And heartache. Mostly heartache.

I want to go on the bus with her every single day and protect her from the mean girls. I want to hold her hand and walk down every street next to her. I want to sit with her, play with her, eat with her, laugh with her and never walk away. I don't want anyone to hurt her.

But I know that I can't do all that.

I told her that what the other girls did was not nice. I told her that it was not the right thing for them to do. I told her how proud her Tatty and I am that she doesn't say these things to other girls. I told her that we love her and that we are going to help her take care of this problem.

Tomorrow I will tell her that I am speaking to the camp director and bus monitor. They are going to help her. If anyone says something mean to her, she should loudly say, "THAT IS NOT OKAY," and tell the morah what is going on.

It is my responsibility to prepare her mentally for this big world and to teach her how to stand up for herself. I've never been so uncertain in my life.


A heavy post but it's a heavy load to carry. Of course, I am no perfect mother, and I did slip in a motherly lie or two today.

"No we can't take out the new blocks now because your little sister doesn't play nicely with them. I'll have to teach her how and then we can try another day."

Don't judge me, the blocks were packed away.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Bucket List

There are things that I like to do. Things that I have done in the past. Things that I have not been able to repeat since having kids. Things I would really like to do again.

So here is my Bucket List of Repetitions:

1. Finish an entire cup of coffee in one sitting. (Just once. That's all I'm asking.)

2. Go to the bathroom without letting anyone know that's where I'm headed. (Mommy?! Mommy where are you? It's been 37 seconds and I'm all alone!)

3. Eat a meal or snack without sharing. (And without having to lock myself in my bedroom to avoid sharing.)

4. Take a shower without having to call out, "Just two more minutes, honey! Mommy is coming right out!"
(What is it with Mommies trying to do things without company?)

5. Put on makeup without a toddler makeup artist scrutinizing my every move. (That is such a funny color Mommy!)

6. Get dressed without having to match anybody. (And in ten years I will be the one blamed for dressing us all the same...)

7. Fall into bed without having to first check for potential hazards. (Such as fake bagels, toy cars, baby dolls, real crackers.)

8. Go ten consecutive minutes without answering a why question. (Why is you doing that? Why are we going there? Why is she eating that? Why is he wearing that? Why is he crossing the street if the light is red? WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME?!)

9. Not schedule my day around nap times. (Think I could do this one already? Clearly you have not met my daughter. She stars as the monster in Life Sans Naps.)

10. Eat whatever I want and not gain an inch. Or two. Or five. (Wishful thinking, I know.)

Of course, I have to make the disclaimer that I love love love my kids...these are the best days of my life...all the other cliches.

It's true. I really do.

Oh and my motherly lie for today:

"Mommy, how come you said sh*ste?? That's a funny word!"

Help. Wasn't she in the family room two seconds ago? How did she get here so quickly?

"Silly, silly goose!!! I said SPLIIIICE! Cuz when something falls that's what you say. You say oh spliiiiice! Splice means that something falls. Isn't that funny?"

Monday, July 15, 2013

On Judging Others

This morning I signed into Facebook when I was supposed to be doing homework. I didn't plan on judging but some statuses were like a magnet to my inner-arbitrator. What's a girl gonna do?

Some Facebook statuses, both past and present, that have got my head spinning.

"Does anyone have the number to --- Salon?" If you're on Facebook, you can probably find Google. 

"My kid fell and is not responding. What do I do???" The way I see it, you've got two choices: Nap or ER. Choose wisely.

"How many ounces are in a full cup?" This sure is tricky. I think I will probably need a picture of the cup. You know, to see exactly how full it is. Two points for optimism though.

"What should I feed my two month old who is not satisfied after nursing?" Well, is he a pizza person or more burgers?

"I feel like I have zerooooo control over my kids. Somebody HELP!" Two words: GET OFF THE COMPUTER. Oh really, that was five words? How marvelous of you to notice. 

"Does anyone know what time the buses from ---- School will be dropping the kids off on Brooklyn Ave?" Gee, there it went, right past your door. Bet you're wishing you had actually PICKED UP THE PHONE AND CALLED THE SCHOOL. 

"Does anyone know if there is usually parking available in front of ---- Store?" Yes, I know. But I'm not telling you because I'm about to leave the house to go to that very same place!

"Can anyone guide me on how to make ashes?" Out of what? Your house? If you mean how to make ashes out of paper, take a deep breath, and think about it. Let me know if anything comes to mind.  

And finally...

"Does anyone know if it's supposed to rain today?" Does it really matter now that you are drowning in your own stupidity?

Like I said, I wasn't actually planning on judging others. It just happened.

Daughterly Lies

"Mommy, what are you eating?"

Quickly attempt to swallow the evidence, "What?"


"I'm not eating anything, Chaya, look."

"Yeah but you WAS eating something, I saw that you were chewing!"

"Oh, you saw I was chewing? Chewing is so fun, right? Chomp, chomp, chomp. What else chews? Oh monkeys chew! You like monkeys, right?"

Silence. Then,

"I want what you were eating."

So today started out like most mornings where I thought I could sneak a muffin into my esophagus without the Chew Police noticing. I forgot my plan to tell her that I was eating raw meat or something. She never asks me to share that.

As I've started keeping this blog I noticed that my little one is a pretty good truth enhancer, too. Yesterday her little sister was eating sunscreen (in my defense, it's 100% natural and pollution free) and I grabbed the bottle away from her. Baby didn't like that much and so she activated her vocals. Big sister laughed gleefully and exclaimed, "Oh LOOK Mommy, she's CRYING!" (In her defense, it was novel to see the baby in trouble instead of her.) But I'm a good mother. So I said,

"Yes, she is crying. She's sad because Mommy took away the sunscreen. Does it make you happy when she cries?"

Enthusiastic nods.

Crap. I can't stop now, can I? Why didn't I think this whole thing through? 

Stern voice. "Why does it make you happy when she cries?"

"BECAUSE," she explains for the benefit of those dumb enough not to understand on their own, "If I would also start crying, she would just get more upset. So I'm laughing."

Yeah. Right.

I guess we know for sure that she's mine :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

An Important Interview

Oops, 7 months later and I'm still in the single digit posts. Motherhood is unpredictable, what can I say?

I don't know if I was ever planning to come back here and write but a friend of mine recently mentioned that if I enjoy writing I should just go ahead and do that. I'm thankful that she mentioned it; I hadn't realized how much fun writing is. (Ha, my poor students)

A while ago, another friend on a forum recommended interviewing your kids. I had an absolute blast with my older daughter (the baby has an extensive vocabulary, my little genius, but she prefers not to sit and answer questions for more than a minute). 

So this is Chaya, 3 (nuh uh! I'm threeinahalf!!!)

What is the meaning of life? Eyes on Morah (her teacher) to look where you're going, then you go where you're looking. (You know, that's pretty deep)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A mommy. (Suck up)

What makes you happy? Flowers. (Uh huh)

What would you buy if you had a lot of money? String cheese. (Maybe I should have asked her after a meal) 

What are you afraid of? Noooothing. (Duly noted)

What's a funny/silly word? When you make a funny face. (Evasive yet related to the topic. I smell a future in politics) 

What's the best thing in the world? Hashem (God). (I'm taking credit)

What's the worst thing in the world? King Paraoh (you know, the evil guy from the Prince of Egypt). (Truth)

What makes you angry? Nothing. Only King Paraoh is angry when he tries to drink (you remember the blood, right?). 

What makes you sad? When someone hurts me. (Kinda wanna set some kids straight)

What's your favorite toy? A stroller. (Ha, wait till you need one that costs $500+)

Who do you love? Mommy and Tatty. (Awww)

What is the hardest thing to do? Listen to somebody. (I get it)

What's the easiest thing to do? Listen to somebody. (Wait, what?) 

What is the meaning of love? That we don't stay in our bed for the whole night. (HOW??? How is that love?!)