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Quantity Time vs Quality Time (aka I’m busy – is it time for your nap?)

I thought that being a work-at-home mother would be ideal for everyone: I would get to continue pursuing my career and my little Monkey would get me home all day long… every day.

Did you see Coraline (i.e. the 2009 stop-motion 3D fantasy children’s film)?  In the movie, the main character was an only child stuck with a mother and father who were so busy working from home that every noise she made was a nuisance to them.  She goes into this other (fantasy) world where she has a mother who speaks to her adoringly and bakes her cakes, and a father who writes songs for her on the piano.

I don’t bake.  Well, I’ll do it if I have to.  And my hubby don’t write songs.  But we work from home, and are constantly struggling to keep up with our work deadlines.  The Monkey gets swapped back and forth between us (he in the basement, and me in the living room), depending on the type of work each of us is doing.  Toys adorn both rooms, so no matter where our little 14 month old is, she has tons of stuff to play with.  But it’s when the music is turned on and it’s “baby’s dance party” time, or when we run up and down the two flights of stairs with her, over and over and over and over again, that she is truly in a state of bliss.

She’s got all the quantity time in the world with her mummy and daddy.  But it’s the quality time that’s not always easy to come by.  When I finish my redraft of my script, I can check it off my to do list.  But I can’t check off “play with baby” on my to do list.  When hubby finishes editing photos for an event he shot, he can say, “I’m done” and go have a snack.  But he can’t take Monkey to the park and say “I’m done”, like it’s a task he’ll never have to return to.

So we take breaks.  We put the computers down when she comes to us with a book and we read together.  When she’s got that bored look, we take her up and down the stairs.  When she’s been cooped up inside all day, she gets a trip to the playground.

But sometimes she just has to play on her own.  Sometimes the work has to get done.  And in the end, it’s probably good for her that she does.

If not, well, there’s always therapy.

This is Some Sick Sh*t

I just saw a commercial for a doll who makes dirty diapers.  What’s next?  A toy dog that requires a walk at 5am and a pooper scooper?

In said commercial, a little girl says (in her terrible 9yr old acting voice) “Oh no, her diaper needs to be changed!” And then she goes off to change it.  Where, oh WHERE, is the pleasure in THIS?  I’ll tell you where… it’s in the sick subconscious part of little girls’ minds that tells them that having a baby of their own to take care of is the only fail-safe, guaranteed route to happiness.

Granted, I had a doll when I was a kid who had a hole where here unmentionables would have been, and whenever I put water in her mouth it fell out the bottom end, and it – was – awesome!

I love my daughter.  Taking care of her is the best thing ever.  But changing her diaper?  It makes me feel neither closer to her, nor does it make me feel like more of a woman.  As my friend Jeff, who has two daughters, said when I asked him if he wanted more kids, “No more sh*t.  I’m sick of cleaning sh*t!” And I’m sure he loves his daughters as much as I do mine.

Back to the a-baby-will-complete-you theory…

I was innocently walking with the Monkey through a toy store on the Upper West Side two days ago, perusing the girlie toys on my way to the musical instrument section (yes, my 9 month old is a musical geeeenius) when I suddenly heard, “Hi Mommy”. My child is bright, I’ll have you know, but the girl is not up to quite that level of brilliance yet.  So I looked around… no other child in sight, nor a Mommy to go with it.  Until there, on the shelf behind me, I saw this:

Little Mommy Doll

This creepy little Scandinavian (no offense to the Scandinavians) child was saying hello to me… like I’m the one who bore it… like I’m the one who nurses it… like I’m the one paying for it to go to college!  No.  I won’t have it.  I won’t have some foreign-made piece of plastic wearing a tacky purple ensemble watching me go by with its invasive motion sensor and calling ME Mommy!

And you know, I bet she poops too.

To all those little girls out there, enjoy your fake baby while the fake poopy lasts, and remember that neither the fake baby, nor the fake poopy will complete you as a woman.

But changing a real diaper, with real poopy in it, will certainly strengthen your pain threshold, and for some of us, that’s all we need.

Sleep is for Pussy Cats

Monkey is 9 1/2 months old.  Monkey doesn’t sleep through the night.  Other people think Monkey should be sleeping through the night because “9 1/2 month old babies should be sleeping through the night”, but Monkey doesn’t want to. Mama is tired. Mama has bags under her eyes. Mama is greying much faster now than ever before. Mama’s ready for other peoples to shut the hells up, but most importantly, Mama is ready for a good night sleep.

The Monkey sleeps

Hubby is in Florida shooting weddings, while I’m in NYC visiting my parents.  And though I came here partially so my parents could help me out with Monkey, they’re busy people, and no I’m not about to ask them to lend a hand at 4 am.  As I’ve stated before, I’m not one for letting her “cry it out”.  Not my thing.  Perfectly fine for others to do it, but it doesn’t work for me.  This, however, could possibly be the culprit in my lack of sleep.  So I’ve found a sort of middle ground since arriving in NY four days ago.  Here’s the new plan, while in my parents’ house, and with no help from Hubby:

  1. Nurse baby to sleep (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s a bad idea)
  2. Put her in crib (careful, careful, or you gotta do the whole thing over again)
  3. Go to bed (maybe try to watch The Daily Show with the volume just high enough to hear Jon’s chuckles)
  4. When Monkey wakes 2-3 hours later, let her cry for 5 minutes (she was actually able to calm herself back to sleep a couple of times, YES!)
  5. If crying persists, taking Monkey into bed and feed her.  (STAY AWAKE.)  When Monkey falls back to sleep, return her to crib.  DO NOT LET HER STAY IN THE BED THE REST OF THE NIGHT.
  6. Do the same thing over again next time she wakes up.

But let’s throw a new variable into the mix: Monkey has a cold.

Sick and crying Halloween baby

Her yucky cold that she’s had since we arrived here on Halloween has not done wonders for her sleeping, as she coughs and sneezes herself awake frequently. But last night, though still desperately wanting to follow my 6-step plan, I had to give into the cold…

Steps 1-3 worked wonderfully.  I even got to talk to Hubby on the phone for a few minutes.  But at 2:30 am, the magic ended.  I allowed her to cry for five minutes, and every minute, or so, she’d wind down and it seemed as though she had drifted back to sleep.  But after an encouragingly long moment of silence came the bellowing: the howling sobs of a truly unhappy baby.  I went to her, knowing the plan was crumbling beneath my wobbling feet.

I picked her up and found that she had not only spat up all over her jammies, but her face was covered in snot.  It was the most pathetic sight I hadn’t imagined.

I carefully pulled off the jammies (trying oh so hard not to spread the white goo anywhere else!) and took a number of tissues to her face.  Once dried off, and now wearing only a diaper, I rolled up in the bed covers with her and waited patiently for her to fall back to sleep.  It took an hour and a half.  And it was wonderful.

Whatever plans I have for sleep-training, or whatever all the opinionated judgies have to say about how much a 9 1/2 month old should be sleeping, last night was when my Monkey was allowed to call the shots.

I held my little girl all night, and we kept each other warm.  That is, until I accidentally spilled cold water all over when I fell asleep with my glass on my stomach, but that’s for one of her therapy sessions in the future.

How to Buy a Child’s Love

Loving someone else’s baby can be, at times, unrewarding.  You don’t see them every day, so they sometimes have difficulty remembering you… they’re babies, so they don’t think about you when you’re gone, wondering how you are and what you’re doing… and you’re not the only person who comes to visit, so they’re left with a number of smiling faces who all want to shower love on them.

What should you do to make yourself feel better?  BUY THEM PRESENTS!!

toys buy a baby's love

And don’t just buy them presents, but continually ask the baby’s parents how said child is enjoying their present.  Every time you come over, be sure to look for the present, so you can play with it with Baby.

And be sure to take it personally when Baby gives as little of a cr*p about your present as they do every other expensive thing they have.  After all, Monkey enjoys pulling DVDs out of the shelves more than any other toy she has.

Just don’t let the baby’s affection for you define who you are for that 20 minutes.  She’s a baby.  She didn’t know who her parents were until she was a few months old… don’t be disappointed if she loves the guy at Barnes & Noble more than you.  Besides, he never got her a present.

What kind of horrible mother are you??

On our best days, we’re the Claire Huxtable of parenting.  But on your worst…

Take the poll: Which of these TV/Film mamas are you (at your worst)?


For those who don’t know some of these ladies, here’s a cheat sheet:

Maggie Gyllenhaal – so obsessed with organic parenting that she runs at the sight of a stroller for fear that it would mean she was “pushing her child away from her”

Maggie Gyllenhaal - Away We Go

Joan Crawford – so strict that she’s got her daughter cleaning the bathroom floor at 2am (of course, let’s ignore the beating part)

Joan Crawford - Mommy Dearest

Harriet Olesen – so enamored of her children that they could do no wrong… but she ends up raising horribly spoiled brats

Harriet Oleson - Little House on the Prairie

Lucille Bluth – so selfish that everything she does is for herself (even when she pins her kids against one another)

Lucille Bluth - Arrested Development

Drive-thru’s: the back alley of poor eating habits

Big Mac and Fries

When I’m hankering for that Quarter Pounder, or the crispy chicken sandwich, or maybe even a Whopper, all of my desire to indulge in one of those scrumptious menu items is quickly smashed as soon as I walk into the restaurant. Entering a McDonalds makes me feel like the worst part of America: the gluttonous, indulgent, unimaginative, unhealthy, and downright gross part. No matter how cute my clothes are, how well my hair is done, or the sass in my step, my self-stock plummets the moment I walk through those doors.

But boy, do I love me some fast food! Oh yes, it appeals to the unclassy side of me, the impatient side of me, the this-is-gonna-make-me-feel-so-much-better (but only for a short while) side of me. The solution to my lifelong dilemma?

The drive-thru!

Drive-thru

What an excellent way to get your 20 piece chicken McNuggets and have only one person but you know the truth!  It appeals to the sneaky side of me that doesn’t want anyone knowing the naughty things I do.

I’m an honest person, mind you.  I don’t steal, I don’t cheat, and I save the lying only to little white lies to save people’s feelings. But when I’m chowing down on my #5 extra value meal, I’d rather no one be the wiser, except for the lovely man or woman at that friendly drive-up window to the left of my seat.

Call me a coward, call me shady… but don’t call me late for a run to the McDonald’s drive-thru!

You should get a job – then you’d have money!

Ah yes, the obvious has once again reared it’s ugly head.  For those who work x-o’clock AM to y-o’clock PM, Monday to Friday, these words don’t mean much to your current situation.  But if you’re a paycheck-to-paycheck freelancer (like us), or out of work entirely, this Captain Obvious statement may be all too familiar.

Captain Obvious

I overheard a conversation between my husband and his father in the other room.  Hubby was telling him how we’ve done the calculations, and we know how much longer we can live on the x amount of dollars we have, in anticipation of the next gig, which is yet to be determined.  My academia-prize-winning, probably-genius astro-physicist of a father-in-law said, “You should get a job – then you’d have money.”  Fortunately, my hubby is no slouch with comebacks, so he gave him the appropriate, “Oh really?  Why didn’t I think of that??”

On a related note, let me tell you about my favorite game.  It’s called, “How much would I have to pay you?”  Here’s how it goes: one person says to another “How much would I have to pay you to… [fill in the blank].”  Usually endings to the question include “run into 7-11, naked, barking like a dog” or “steal a police car and drive it home, while blasting Ramblin’ Man through the loud speaker”.  Then the other person responds, “$15,000” or “$10”, or whatever they think the task is worth.  Of course, the game goes no further than that – this is not “Truth or Dare”…  I mean, I’m a mother after all!  I went to private school!  I’m from a good family!  However, everyone’s got their price.  Or do they?

People’s monetary estimations depend on, in my opinion, one of four factors:

  1. Their morals
  2. Their embarrassment threshold
  3. Their previous criminal record
  4. And yes… the size of their wallet

People have surprised me with their answers to such questions – you can get to know a person’s character on a different level in playing this game.  My father, for example, whom I would have thought wouldn’t have even wanted to play the game at all, answered my question about jumping into the East River and swimming to the nearest boat with, “Well, I’d be arrested… humiliated, and consequently fired, so I’d say…” though I don’t remember his price.  Good for him!

Well, we played the game the other day with someone far less adventurous than I even thought my father was.  She’s the first person I’ve met who did-not-have-a-price.  “What?” I thought.  “Not even for that??”  We even lessened the threat of the task by making it something that would be a mere embarrassment, and not threaten her police record, or her health.  “How much would I have to pay you to walk out of a restaurant bathroom with your pants around your ankles, look down, and say ‘Oops, I forgot!’ and pull them back up?  $100?  $1,000?  $10,000,000?”  Nothing.  I didn’t know whether to respect her more for her high moral standards, or resent her for not wanting the money, at least to give me a few thousand (I mean, c’mon, we could all use it).

Strapped for cash

The point is not that I would have done it for $4,000, or that hubby would’ve done it for $500, but that life costs money these days, and life ain’t cheap.  Our credit card debt alone would require something like stealing a police car with Ramblin’ Man playing.  “Oh so this is a debt issue?” She asked.  “No”, I replied.  “This is a money issue, and we don’t have a whole lot of it, and Monkey needs to go to college in 18 yrs, I think I need a filling in one of my teeth, hubby needs new glasses, and damnit, mama needs a new pair of shoes!”

The reality is that we do have x amount of dollars for y amount of time, and that time ain’t up yet.  But if you asked me how much I’d do something mildly embarrassing, a little illegal, and slightly immoral?  I’d say, “our-credit-card-debt-our-mortgage-our-bills-and-a-smidgen-extra-for-some-new-shoes dollars.”


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