Don’t Throw Out The Crib!

Special DIY kinda guest post from the lovely folks at Modernize.com!

By Ty Schmidt

I was the one who said it would never happen to me. I’ll be honest in saying, though, that it didn’t take more than three weeks after I had my first child for it to really sink in. I wanted another baby. After hours of labor and a somewhat complicated delivery a mere matter of days prior, you’d think this would have been the farthest thing from my mind. Yet as I snuggled that tiny little life in my arms, I knew our family wasn’t complete.

Now that we’ve had our second son—a mere 18 months later—I know it for sure. I’m done. My heart is full. So now what? There are all the clothes and the swings and the bouncers and the other things all the mom and baby sites and books deemed necessary. Were they really?

Since our children were closer apart, the purchase of two cribs and changing tables was necessary. The first we found secondhand, and the second we bought new for no other reason than that there wasn’t anything we found resale for the same kind of deal we got the first time. That doesn’t make either set of furniture any less expensive (or meaningful) to us so I’d really like to try and find a few creative uses for them once they are inevitably outgrown by our children. Here are a few ideas I am considering:

A Creative Thought Station. When they were little, they dreamed all kinds of dreams and you wondered what on Earth they could be thinking about while they slept. As they grow up, make the crib into a place where those dreams are processed into creativity by crafting a desk or an easel from the majority of the crib structure.

A Cozy Place. Just because your child is done sleeping in the space doesn’t mean it needs to stop being a comfy place for them. Consider converting your child’s crib into a day bed or futon that you can continue using either in their room or elsewhere in the home. It may even make a nice reading nook depending on where you decide to relocate the piece.

 

Don't throw out the crib once your child outgrows it! Re-purpose it to make it something new and different that your child will love.
Via Modernize.com

An Outdoor Oasis. Reuse the structure in a creative way that isn’t only comfortable, but is attractive and capable of adding curb appeal to your home. If you have a porch (or even if you don’t) the crib makes an excellent starting point for a beautiful swing for the front porch, backyard, or elsewhere outside.

A Portable Play Place. If you add wheels, the crib can be made into a portable structure that can be moved throughout the home (depending on its original size, obviously). Make it into a play kitchen or work bench or whatever kind of space will most efficiently and effectively foster and develop your little one’s interests.

More Than a Table. When it comes to changing tables especially, keep in mind that depending on how quickly the child grows they may be outgrown as early as 12 months. Instead, start off with a piece of furniture that serves multiple purposes. For a lot of people, this is a dresser or other piece of furniture they are using that didn’t start off with the changing table label. That way, when your child outgrows it, you can use it for something completely different, like a dresser or buffet table for your dining room.

For more ideas and inspiration, head to Modernize.com.


Why You Need to Stop Shaming Families For Bottle-Feeding

Today’s piece is a guest post from Clint Edwards of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. You may have seen his work on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post or the Washington Post. He’s making quite a name for himself in the parenting blogosphere and was kind enough to share this piece with me and, by extension, all of you. Please enjoy and follow Clint!

photo credit: bottle V via photopin (license)
photo credit: bottle V via photopin (license)

I listened to an NPR report titled “Breast-Feeding Boosts Chances Of Success, Study In Brazil Finds,” a few days ago on my drive home from work. In it a study was discussed that showed the long-term impact on breastfed children. It found that breastfed babies had higher IQ test scores and ended up becoming more educated and having more earning potential. Much of this depended on how long the child was breastfed (a few months as opposed to a year).

As I listened to the story, I thought about how with each child my wife and I bottle-fed, we felt shamed. I’d pull a bottle out at church and hear “Why aren’t you breastfeeding?” as though it were any of their business. As though I were committing a questionable parenting decision. I’d try to explain our situation: Mel had to go back to work, or she had a health problem, but it seemed like no excuse was good enough. It felt like bottle-feeding was something only bad parents, or lazy parents, or parents that didn’t have grit or stamina or flat out didn’t care about their baby, did. Which I can say from personal experience isn’t accurate. Life gets in the way.

I have three children, and each were breastfed at different amounts depending on where my wife and I were in our lives. Our first child, Tristan, was born while I was a sophomore in college. Mel worked full-time at a hardware store, and I was a full-time student and part-time bartender. Tristan was breastfed for about three weeks, and then Mel had to go back to work. We couldn’t afford for Mel to take more time off from work, especially when we calculated the bills that were racking up because our insurance was horrible.

We were anxious new parents, and we’d been told by doctors, family, and friends, about the benefits of breastfeeding, so we considered having her pump at work. However her employer didn’t provide a place to pump outside of the communal break room and the public restroom. Sadly most people think breastfeeding is about as socially acceptable as public urination. Hooking up to a breast pump while her coworkers enjoy a tuna fish sandwich would definitely be unwelcome. So Mel decided it would be better to use formula.

Our second child, Norah, came two years later. Mel was a stay-at-home mom then, but about three months after Norah was born a tumor was found in Mel’s jaw. With several surgeries, x-rays, and painkillers, Mel’s milk wasn’t good anymore, and so, once again, we went back to bottle-feeding.

Aspen, our third, came after I was done with school, in a good job, with good insurance. She is about 10 months old now, and has been breastfed the entire time without incident.

And when I think about my children, how they were fed as babies, and then think about the NPR story, I wonder if bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding is going to cause each one of my children to have large ranges of adult success. And when I think about that, along with all the other factors that go into raising a child, it seems like too much weight is being placed on how a baby is fed.

The fact is life sometimes keeps families from breastfeeding and I wish people would consider that fact.

Near the end of the NPR story was a quote by pediatrician Valerie Flaherman of the University of California in San Francisco. She said this in response to the breastfeeding study, “There’s the potential for people to think if you don’t breastfeed, your baby will be stupid or mentally impaired or something like that. But that’s not true at all. Many other factors influence intelligence and a person’s chances of being successful.”

I think there is a lot of truth in what Flaherman said. Breastfeeding is not the end all, be all, in a child’s health. There are many factors that can make a difference in a child’s successful growth into an adult. And the fact is that if a parent is bottle-feeding a child, it isn’t laziness, ignorance, or negligence, but most likely the result of what it takes to raise a family in 2015. I’m not saying that if you breastfeed your baby that you are doing anything wrong. But what I am saying is that if you are in a position in life where you can breastfeed without life getting in the way, you should feel grateful. And if you see a parent bottle-feeding a child, you should assume that they are doing it for a good reason.

Clint Edwards is the author of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

This is What it Means to Be a Mother

Today’s post is from my blogger BFF Harmony from Modern Mommy Madness. You may remember her from the Scary Mommy Q & A I did a few weeks back. She is by far one of the funniest, most real, honest, transparent people I’ve ever met and this post will make you laugh out loud. Promise. In fact, you may want to stop eating or drinking because you’ll probably spit coffee all over your computer.

harmony

This morning, my arms got stuck over my head as I tried (unsuccessfully) to pull on a sports bra.

I was in a hurry — we were running late as always — and in my rush to get dressed I got stuck. I fought for a few moments before taking a break to consider if it was possible for an adult to give herself nursemaid’s elbow. If it were possible, I’d certainly be the one to do it.

I heard a toddler crying in the hallway as her older brother opened the bedroom door.

“MOMMY? MOMMY? MOMMY!!!!!”

Their voices were muffled by my arms, which were smashed against my ears in a tangle of spandex blend, but I could feel them encroaching on my space. The baby burst in, toddling towards the bathroom counter where my makeup was scattered, and my three-year-old was trying to stand on top of my feet like a baby penguin. I jerked the bra off and took a deep breath.

As I exhaled, he tapped me and said, “Mommy? What are those things on your stomach?”

“Those are called breasts. NOW PLEASE GO PLAY SO I CAN GET DRESSED.”

I wrestled myself into clothes, smeared concealer on my face, and muttered about how much faster I would be able to get ready if they would just go find something to do. My words fell on tiny, deaf ears. They didn’t want to go play. They wanted to stand right beside me. Watching. Asking questions. Digging tiny fingers into sticks of deodorant.

I am in the season of motherhood where I just don’t get the luxury of uninterrupted time to do much of anything and it’s hard. I think those who have passed before me (ahem, grandparents) have blocked out the intense difficulty of it all and just remember the sweetness. Parenting small children is SO HARD THAT THE HARDNESS GETS BLOCKED OUT LATER.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The thing that I try to remember is that this is a season. I repeat to myself, sometimes aloud, that this is not permanent. It’s hard to imagine a time up ahead where I will actually be able to dress myself without people breathing down my neck … but I know it’s coming. Quite frankly, knowing that is what makes today a little easier to handle.

Sometimes, my children are so beautiful — so wide-eyed and curious and excited for a new day to start — that it hurts. And sometimes, I can’t see the beauty because I have a sports bra wrapped around my face.

That is what it means to be a mother.

You can find more from Harmony on Modern Mommy Madness, Facebook, and Twitter. Go show her some love and tell her I sent you!

Sucking At Everything

Happy Special Post Saturday! I’d like to introduce you to Jennifer–a friend and fellow author in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. Aside from being a great writer and mom, she is also the head honcho over at MomCaveTV. Go check it out! …after reading this, of course.

photo credit: antigavin via photopin cc
photo credit: antigavin via photopin cc

Forget doing it all. I can’t even do SOME of it

I was never great at keeping house or cooking or anything “domestic.” My justification was always that I was too busy working, following my dreams, building a career, etc.

So why on Earth did I think I’d get better at it just because I birthed a baby?

But for some reason, the moment I became a mom, I felt huge pressure to have a clean house, cook (and eat) healthy meals, and be organized.

The shedding geriatric cats that had been my “fur babies” for ten years suddenly became the bane of my existence. Cat hair on the baby! Cat hair on the floor! Cat hair on my clothes!

The take-out meals and Trader Joe’s frozen entrees my husband and I had happily eaten for most of our marriage seemed like unhealthy, cheap shortcuts.

The “stuff” of life in our apartment–shelves full of books, file cabinets of papers, closets of clothing and shoes–all seemed like a huge unorganized, unattackable mess.

For years, my husband and I had been working artists, rarely holding other “survival” jobs. We were proud of the fact that we were frugal, not in debt, and had the freedom to follow our passions. We were very aware that we had made different choices than some of our peers who were better off financially, but not in the career they dreamed of since childhood. But now, with baby in tow, looking over our budget made me feel silly and irresponsible.

I’m doing my best to keep it all together. It feels like I’m constantly cleaning, yet my home is such a mess I’m embarrassed to have people over. We redoubled our efforts to be frugal, working extra hard to keep out of debt, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that our financial choices were naive ones.

This morning I was feeling particularly crappy. I had just gotten my son dressed to go outside and do a bunch of boring errands that I wasn’t looking forward to at all. I had intended to work out for a half hour while my son watched his one TV show of the day, but instead I got mired in work emails. Even though I had run around “straightening” things up, the apartment still needed vacuuming and dusting though I could have sworn I just did that two days ago. My husband was hurrying around himself, getting ready for work and asking for my help. And I completely snapped at him.

How am I supposed to take care of the kid, the house, myself, AND another adult? It just seemed impossible.

Once he got out the door for work (no thanks to a tantrum–both from me and the kid), I corralled my protesting son into the stroller and set out on said boring errands. Whether it was from the fresh air or the movement of the stroller, my son stopped whining long enough for me to think as I walked.

If I wasn’t living a Pinterest-perfect life before becoming a mom, why did I think that adding the extra responsibility of another human being would make all of those things fall into place?

The only person expecting all of those areas of my life to be perfect was…. me. I waited until my thirties to start a family. In the years of adulthood leading up to that decision, I held a vision of my future self as a mother that reality has shown me to be unobtainable. My younger self thought that by the time I became a mom, I would be a “real adult,” that I’d have my shit together.

Well, I don’t. And I’m not sure I ever will. But thank God I didn’t wait to get it together before having my son because I can’t imagine waiting another minute for him to come into my life. I waited long enough. So I guess the cleaning and the gourmet meals and the 401K can wait too.

Jennifer Weedon Palazzo is the creator/writer/and producer of Mom Cave TV, an online network of comedy shows for moms including Slummy Mummy, Double Leche, Blabbermom, and MomCave LIVE. She’s a working actress in NYC who has appeared in films, commercials, and some very off-off Broadway plays. When she’s not writing about the funny side of being a mom (for blogs like Scary Mommy and Mamalode) Jennifer can be found eating Reese’s Cups while furiously bidding on vintage clothing on eBay. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Evan, bandleader of The Hot Sardines and their son. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and her blog.

Surviving the Holidays According to Scary Mommy Authors (Part 2)

Clock to buy!
Click to buy!

As many of you know by now, I am one of the authors in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays which you can pre-order now. I thought it’d be fun to introduce you to some of the other amazing women who are a part of the book as well. Read on, make friends, and take their advice!

Last week I introduced you to Harmony of Modern Mommy Madness, Alisa of Ice Scream Mama, and Kathryn AKA Foxy Wine Pocket. Today you’ll be meeting Sarah of Housewife Plus, Ali AKA Punkwife, and Abby of Abby the Writer. Read on, make new friends, and take their advice!

Let’s get to know you. What’s your favorite post of yours on Scary Mommy?

Sarah: Ha! A while ago I wrote a SUPER snarky piece about how difficult it is to clean my house with two small and mobile children in tow. I called it How To Clean Your House In 10 Easy Steps. I remember laughing while I was writing and then being nervous when Jill posted it live. I thought, “Oh, my gosh! What if people think I’m such an ass for not being able to clean my house?!” But then the comments started pouring in and it turned out I was NOT alone in this unbelievable feat of mom engineering. It was a fun piece.

Abby: My first is my favorite: 5 Things Your Middle Schooler is Doing Right Now

Ali: I wrote a post called The Lactation Hotline Gone Wrong. Let’s just say it involves an unfortunate experience on my part, and an attempt at explaining to men what breastfeeding feels like – complete  with an analogy of “flaming balls”. I loved the comments, and was especially glad to see that some men found it funny, too.

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

Sarah: You know, until I had kids I really didn’t care much for the holidays because they all meant a day off for me. But now that I have kids I get to experience the holiday’s from an entirely more fun and imaginative perspective. I think my favorite is a toss up between Halloween (because we hand make the costumes) and Christmas because we have invented so many tales and traditions around the virtue of giving. My kids really get excited and that feeling is so contagious!

Abby: Halloween. No one knows I’m self-medicating with sugar because EVERYONE’S DOING IT.

Ali: Ooooh, this one is tough because I am SO the sucker for Halloween, but I’d have to give the “favorite” status to Christmas. So much family, food, friends, festivities…the holidays bring about so many “F” words, don’t they?!

But really, for me there is something so warm about all the craziness that unfolds. I’m also a huge fan of gift-wrapping, so once it’s time to wrap presents I turn into a wannabe Martha Stewart. Sure, an inebriated, covered-in-hot-glue, wine-slugging version of her who’s up way too late sporting really bad hair, but still. I take pride in my wrapping skills.

What’s the best present you ever received?

Sarah: Wow, that’s a tough question! When I was a kid my mom struggled to scrape together enough money to buy me a beautiful violin so that I could play in the school orchestra. I still have it and sometimes my 4YO son plays it, which makes my heart swoon. When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband built me a lovely Shaker style bench so that I could have a place to sit and put my boots on because I was too big and round to bend over. That was touching.

Abby: Not sure what the best present was, but I can’t tell you it WASN’T the elephant garden sculpture made out of dung or the doormat that read “Hi, I’m Mat.”

Ali: For our five year anniversary my husband got me two wooden bangle bracelets, each engraved with GPS coordinates: one with the location of the place we had our first date, and the other with the location of the hospital where our daughter was born. It was such a beautiful and meaningful gift that it made me cry. (And the GPS coordinates were a nice nod to the fact that we had just ended our “Breaking Bad” marathon.)

What’s the best advice to someone with young kids (like me) as to how to survive the holidays?

Sarah: Hmm…well, I can tell you what I tell myself every year around the crazy holiday rush. I always say, “They’re just kids. They just want love. Don’t go nuts.” And that usually helps! It reminds me to focus on the parts of the holiday’s that matter most (for us) and that is mess making, playing, drinking far too much hot chocolate, and reading the same spooky or jolly books overandoverandover again!

Abby: 1. Don’t let extended family bully you into making plans that won’t be best for your kids. 2. Use alcohol liberally. Consume it, cook with it, inject it into the turkey. 3. Remember, one day, you’ll miss this.

Ali: Well, shit, you got me here. I have no clue because I’m right there along with you, and I only have one at the moment! I’m hoping someone has a nugget of wisdom for you that can help me, too, so I’ll just stalk your blog and pray you get a better answer from someone else for both of our sake. But if I had to pretend to have any business giving advice? I’d say embrace the crazy. Because as crazy as it gets, the ride is easier – and usually more fun – when you take a ride along with the current rather than fight against it.

If you liked what these awesome ladies had to say, be sure to check out Sarah, Ali, and Abby on their blogs and don’t forget to find more survival tips in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays! A portion of the proceeds go towards the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project which puts Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of families who really need it.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Surviving the Holidays According to Scary Mommy Authors (Part 1)

Clock to buy!
Click to buy!

As many of you know by now, I am one of the authors in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays which you can pre-order now. I thought it’d be fun to introduce you to some of the other amazing women who are a part of the book as well. Read on, make friends, and take their advice!

Today you’ll be meeting Harmony of Modern Mommy Madness, Alisa of Ice Scream Mama, and Kathryn AKA Foxy Wine Pocket. Check out their sites and make some new friends!

Let’s get to know you. What’s your favorite post you’ve had on Scary Mommy?

Harmony: That’s easy! I wrote a piece titled The Worst That Could Happen Is Nothing Could Happen. Writing that essay and getting it published on Scary Mommy empowered me to keep pushing myself, and I’ve learned that saying “YES!” to opportunities that kinda freak me out is the best way for me to live. I’m going to be 35 in December, I’m developing crow’s feet, and my boobs will never look any better than they do right this moment (unless I go under the knife, which is unlikely). It’s high time I pull it together and get over my fears, you know? We’re not getting any younger. Seize the day.

Alisa: 13 Reasons I’m Done Having Kids because it’s funny and did the best of all my essays, but my sentimental winner is Growing Up which got the least amount of play but makes me kind of cry.

Foxy: Why I’ll Never Have Another Brazilian Again. It was ridiculous and fun, and a lot of women laughed with me and related to the story. That sh*t’s painful! Although I do think the entire Esthetician industry hated me after that post. 😉

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

Harmony: Christmas is my favorite holiday and the reasons are too many to list, but I’ll give you my Top 5 Reasons Why Christmas Is Awesome:

1. Elves. I’m semi-obsessed.
2. The smell of pine.
3. Alabama Christmas Album, circa 1985. I grew up listening to it every year (in the form of a tape in a tape deck) and I have an unexplained affinity for it.
4. Kleinpeter eggnog.
5. Mistletoe … although my husband always grows a lumberjack beard in the winter (we live in Louisiana, so his reasoning is unclear) so I don’t love it as much as I COULD LOVE IT. Hint, hint, Robbie Hobbs.

Alisa: My favorite holiday is All Of Them. Anytime we are all together as a big wild crazy family is perfect.

Foxy: Thanksgiving, without a doubt. I get to sit around with people that I adore (and some other people too), eat delicious food, and drink too much wine. (And then drink some more wine.) All of this while being thankful for loved ones, food, and wine. What’s not to love about this holiday? We even sing Thanksgiving carols to celebrate this fabulous holiday. I wrote the lyrics myself so you can be sure they are horrible.

What’s the best present you ever received?

Harmony: The best present I ever received was from my husband a few years ago when we were totally broke. We scrounged up enough money to buy the kids a few gifts, and we had about $20 each left over to buy each other something. I don’t even remember now what I gave him. All I remember is that he put so much thought into what he gave me. He bought me a full-length mirror because we had just moved and I was without one for months and months — just the fact that he noticed that I was missing my old one was so incredibly touching and out of character. I love that flimsy Walmart mirror. I’ll keep it until the day I die.

Alisa: The best present I ever received is was a giant cardboard box filled with every junky sugar crap cereal I loved from my husband before he was my husband.

Foxy: My husband once gave me a giant collection of John Hughes movies. It was incredibly thoughtful, and truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I can watch Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off forever.

What’s your best advice to someone with young kids (like me) for surviving the holidays?

Harmony: Young kids and the holidays. It’s a bipolar blend of magic and misery and I don’t really know how best to manage it except to keep it as simple as you possibly can. We streamline EVERYTHING. Oh, and wine. I do a lot of that. A LOT.

Alisa: Relax and just let them run in circles and not eat, or only eat dessert. Whatever. It’s a day with family. Enjoy it. And of course drink your wine. And eat your ice cream.

Foxy: Kids ruin everything (I’m kidding … mostly), and holidays are no exception. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Let go of whatever your idea of perfection is and just enjoy what happens. I’ve had a baby scream throughout an entire Thanksgiving meal. We’ve had the flu on Christmas. We’ve gone to bed at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Just roll with it, enjoy a bottle of wine, and the love of your family.

If you liked what these awesome ladies had to say, be sure to check out Harmony, Alisa, and Foxy on their blogs and don’t forget to find more survival tips in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays! A portion of the proceeds go towards the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project which puts Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of families who really need it.

I’ll have a few more authors to share with you next week!

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The Parental Purse

I’m starting a new series of Saturday posts highlighting fellow co-authors in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. Did you know I was in a book? I am! And this fine lady is in there with me. You may know Rita from her blog Fighting Off Frumpy or her viral post 10 Things Moms of Boys Must Do which has received over 2 MILLION shares on Scary Mommy. She is hilarious and I hope you like her as much as I do.

photo credit: philipyk via photopin cc
photo credit: philipyk via photopin cc

Before I had kids, the contents of my purse were pretty standard. Tampons, lip gloss, a mirror, extra hair ties, tissues, ibuprofen – you know, the usual. Point is, whatever was in there, it was all for me. I was schlepping around my own stuff, not acting as a pack mule for someone else. And I didn’t realize at the time how glorious that was.

Now, four kids later, my purse looks like a miniature hoarder has taken up residence inside. I still stash the regular items in there because it’s still, you know, MY purse. But it has been largely overrun by a tsunami of kid-related junk. Every time I reach in for something I need, there’s a high probability I’ll end up retrieving things that are only in there because of my children. Things like …

Coupons. Prior to parenthood, when I had much more disposable income, I was all, “Coupons, schmoupons! Who needs ‘em?” But then I paid full price for diapers and got a serious attitude adjustment. Now my purse is full of coupons for everything from Pull-Ups to pizza. (Unfortunately, most of them are expired because I always forget I have them until it’s too late.)

Toys. I started carrying a couple of Hot Wheels around with me as a distraction for my boys when we’d have to wait somewhere. Apparently in kidspeak this translates into “Hey, Mom is willing to haul around every small toy we own!” I’ve got superhero figurines and random kids’ meal toys and a bunch of things from those little gumball-type machines. I once found Batman lodged by the arm in my (lidless, crumb-laden) Chap-Stick.

Leftovers. Speaking of crumbs, I’d be set if I were ever stranded with nothing but my purse. Thanks to half-eaten granola bars, open packages of almonds, and beaten-up baggies of crushed Goldfish crackers, there’s a layer of crumbs at the bottom thick enough to sustain a small country. I just love getting crap under my nails when I’m searching for something, don’t you?

Paperwork. I’m forever tucking papers into my purse “to deal with when I get home.” Only that time never seems to come (probably because when I do get home, I’m trying to coax four children into the house). So I’ve got a filing-cabinet’s worth of flyers from school, handouts from the pediatrician’s office, appointment slips, receipts, old birthday party invitations … essentially, things I thought were important enough to save at one point, but that are now obsolete and just taking up valuable space.

Everybody’s trash. Have you ever noticed that when your kids need to throw something away, there are like zero garbage cans within a ten-mile vicinity? Who needs one anyway when Mom is toting around a portable trash receptacle, right? Snotty Kleenexes. Used baby wipes (used to wipe hands and faces, I mean, not butts – I do occasionally draw the line at what goes into my purse). Licked suckers. Random wrappers. Chewed gum. Old Band-Aids. They’re all chilling in there, ensuring that anything clean gets doused in a generous coating of germs. Because is it really a Mom purse if it isn’t festering with bacteria?

I wish I could reclaim my purse space as my own, but I’ve got to admit: though it weighs roughly two hundred pounds (and my carrying shoulder looks like it belongs on Popeye’s body), there’s something to be said for always being prepared. I can handle a snot emergency or a skinned knee right on the spot. Besides, my mom-purse is the perfect accessory.

… For my minivan.

You can find more from Rita at Fighting Off Frumpy, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays! A portion of the sales go towards the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project which helps put Thanksgiving meals on the tables of families who need them the most. And it’s a funny book. And I’m in a book!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Rita Templeton is a writer and mom to four lively, imaginative little boys. She lives in Davenport, Iowa, where she maintains her sanity by blogging at Fighting off Frumpy (and occasionally locking herself in her closet with a box of cookies). Come say hi on Twitter @fightingfrumpy, Instagram, and Facebook. – See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/author/rita-templeton/#sthash.cPGGUjHB.dpuf

What No One Told Me: I Turned Into My Dad?

photo credit: scribbletaylor via photopin cc
photo credit: scribbletaylor

Recently I learned my friend Melissa is a fellow blogger and she is hilarious. I jumped at the chance to have her write something for me so here’s a special Monday treat for all of you. Enjoy!

When Toni asked if I’d contribute to her “What No One Told Me” series, I was super excited because I’m a fan of TBTL and One Bad Mother (two podcasts she frequents!), but was also at a loss because I had already covered the holy trinity of topics: pregnancy, labor, and poop. I figured if I waited a couple of days, something unexpected would happen. I have a 2-year-old, and at least once a week something surprising comes up. I mean, it wouldn’t be something I didn’t expect if I was expecting it, right?

Like Domino’s pizza, the unexpected arrived on time and with the same amount of guilt.

My relationship with my mother is really frayed. In fact, currently the singular tenet of being successful as a parent boils down to not turning out like her, which is admittedly an awful thing to say. No parent wants to hear that, and no kid wants to feel like that, but there it is. There is the obvious exclusionary “I Hate My Life” and “I Hate You” puberty clauses of ages 12 to 18, which are totally normal, totally dreaded, and totally expected. I deserve and embrace the day my teenage daughter slams a door in my face because it’s a rite of passage that I will not be denied.

I assure you that this post really isn’t about that at all. It’s instead about how nature abhors a vacuum. This week, I had the realization that vacuums are great, but sometimes they suck.

Here’s what I didn’t expect. In the desperation of not turning into my mom, I have somehow turned into my dad. This is especially unfortunate because I have two x-chromosomes, and scream in just that pitch when I see a spider across the room. Aside from that, I’m a lady in possibly the vaguest sense of the word. I’m from rural Maine, I hold the spitting-for-distance record at my high school, and I taught a guy at a tattoo parlor how to jump a car.

Yeah, gents, I’m taken. I’m sure my beloved is super excited to hear that he married my father, with boobs and better hair.

Not only have I turned out like my dad, but in all the ways that I endlessly mocked him for in past years. He was in the military, is still a cop, and reenacted the Revolutionary War for fun. I have … well, fond isn’t the right word…. memories of my dad cleaning his Brown Bess in front of potential dates when I was in high school. He would make his own bullets while “talking” with boys I’d bring over. I honestly didn’t think that this was odd behavior until the boyfriends stopped coming around. I didn’t have many friends until I found theatre, and maybe my West Point Shooting Instructor father hanging around in knickers and guns might have had a little something to do with that.

I always made fun of him for outfits like this, which as his kid was my birthright and duty. As a human, was also my right – because, seriously! My dad wore wool knickers, for fun, in public.

I tease because I love. These guys helped raise me, and later taught me a lot about holding my liquor, but it was hard to explain to people as a teenager that hanging out “at The Fort” really wasn’t code.
I tease because I love. These guys helped raise me, and later taught me a lot about holding my liquor, but it was hard to explain to people as a teenager that hanging out “at The Fort” really wasn’t code.

So color me surprised when the activity I fell in love with in college required me to wear this sexy number:

As it turns out, hanging around bayonets and knickers all my life must have had an effect. That’s me with the red bandana and fencing gear in 2003, my last year of college.
As it turns out, hanging around bayonets and knickers all my life must have had an effect. That’s me with the red bandana and fencing gear in 2003, my last year of college.

My dad is the only guy I know that inherited a dog-sledding team without really knowing a lick about dogs, sledding, or dogsledding. His friend, Jack, trained his whole life to run the hardest race in the world. When he finished the race in the 90’s, he gave my dad 10 dogs, left town for Florida, and was never heard from again. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

When I got off the school bus to find every kid’s dream in our backyard, it didn’t occur to me at all that most kids have to beg for one dog, let alone a pack of Alaskan huskies. Knowing that, it’s obvious that my vocation didn’t come out of left field. Now I sit as the Co-Training Director of the oldest AKC obedience club in the country. I really wanted to be a barista, because free coffee is awesome, but I guess that just wasn’t going to happen.

Perhaps the most striking similarity between my dad and I, aside from Irish whiskey during The Church Of Football Sunday (the quantity depends on victory or defeat), goes back to how we handle medical care. As a kid, we lived 50 minutes from the nearest doctor or hospital. Though we all survived childhood, I’m still shocked that we did.

When I was 6, I slipped on a roller skate and catapulted fist-first, Superman style, through a window. A piece of glass sliced the inside of my wrist across the veins. 30 years later, it still makes for awkward conversation with pretty much every medical professional I’ve ever consulted with. (“Sure. You fell through a window.”) Dad ran the injury under cold water, instructed my grandmother to give me ibuprofen for pain, change the bandages daily, and “look out for anything that could be a sign of tetanus.”

When I was attacked by the family dog, the answer wasn’t “let’s get her checked out and put her on antibiotics!” Instead, it was “put peroxide on it, keep it elevated and take three ibuprofen.”

Every sprain, every bump, and every fever had the same prescription: Lay on the couch, watch the Price is Right, and take 3 ibuprofen. It’s a good thing that I’m Irish, because otherwise I don’t think my liver would have genetically been able to handle all of those NSAIDs.

He really wasn’t being neglectful. If you lived where we did, and had kids as precocious as we were, you just had to patch ‘em up as best as possible and anything short of a through-and-through wound was just dealt with. If the symptoms worsened, or something fell off that shouldn’t, then we would go to the doctor. So, unsurprisingly, my first reaction to most medical scenarios is to wait it out.

This week, when my daughter had a fever for two days, my husband wanted to call the doctor. Thinking that this was just a fever and it would run its course, I scoffed and put off calling. When he came home that night, I said “nothing a little ibuprofen and Sesame Street can’t fix.” He insisted we call the pediatrician, which I did, grudgingly. They suggested I bring the baby in the next day if her fever continued.

The fever continued.

I called the doctor and was surprised, nay, SHOCKED, that they wanted me to bring her in for a fever. She wasn’t dehydrated, she was a little lethargic, but she wasn’t feeling good. I thought they were thinking “yeah, that mom, she’s one of those moms.” I didn’t want to be the mom always bringing her kid for every little sniffle and cough. I wasn’t raised like that. I thought anything short of coughing up blood or a missing limb would be frowned upon.

They ran some tests (to rule things out).

They found the cause of her illness.

Strep.

I’m an asshole.

There isn’t enough PBS to cure Strep! What was I thinking not calling the doctor? And then it totally hit me – I did what I knew. I decided to wait until her symptoms got worse or a secondary symptom arose. Just because my husband said to call earlier than I would have does not indicate that I wouldn’t have eventually called. We just happened to figure out what the issue was before it was really obvious, and hopefully before either of us contracted it. The jury is still out on that

Sometimes it’s just a cold, sometimes it’s something more serious, and sometimes you just have to put on your big girl knickers and admit you were wrong.

So thanks to my dad for all the stories. I still tell the funniest story about cell phone miscommunication of which my dad is a pivotal player. Dad might not have done the best medically, but he did teach me how to pick a good partner: one who drives a stick shift, and supports his family with hard work; one who will support his wife to follow her bliss….and one who will actually call the doctor if something is medically concerning. Our daughter is very lucky indeed to have a caring dad and a flighty mom. Imagine the stories she will tell some day!

Uh oh. What’s that tickle in my throat? Motherfu….

Melissa’s most recent discovery is that (at least at this stage) raising dogs and raising toddlers are unnervingly similar. http://didntexpectthat.wordpress.com/ is her pregnancy blog; and http://letterstolittle.wordpress.com/ are letters to her daughter. http://muttstuff.blogspot.com is her dog blog, if you’re into that sort of thing.