Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Dear people who were parents before I was a parent: I’m sorry

 

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Confession time: Before Lily was born, I was a bit judgey toward people with kids who seemed to not always have their shit together 100 percent of the time. Not out loud, necessarily, but I’m sure they could see the judgey look on my judgey little face.

I remember smugly thinking to myself “I’m soooooo glad I am sooooooo god-damn perfect and have sooooo many good habits now, like making home-cooked, certified-organic-and-GMO-free-artisanal meals and exercising 800 times a week and getting 20 hours of sleep a night, which I will obviously keep doing even after I have kids, who will also be perfect and never melt down in the middle of the grocery store because I wouldn’t let them climb the paper towel display! I AM JUST SOOOOO AMAZING AND WILL NEVER NOT HAVE MY SHIT TOGETHER!!!”

Well, ladies and gentlemen,  you heard it here first: I do not, in fact, have my shit together. I recently introduced myself (Allison) as “Lily” and my daughter (Lily) as “Allison.” Last week, I took my toddler to the park with her shoes on the wrong feet, and she noticed before I did. Yesterday, I ate an entire can of olives for lunch. Because I was hungry and tired and, well, they were there.

Here’s the thing. When you become a parent, every last cell in your brain is in some way devoted to making sure you keep your adorable offspring fed and diapered and otherwise alive. Couple that with severe sleep deprivation (which may ease up after the first few months but never really goes away), and what little is left of your “mom brain” is put toward only the most essential tasks, like guzzling coffee in the morning. And, if you’re lucky, not forgetting to brush your teeth afterward.

Other seemingly reasonable tasks — such as responding to a text the same week your friend sent it, remembering to fold laundry within seven days of putting it in the dryer, not getting yogurt on your pants, not remembering you got yogurt on your pants and wearing them again the next day, blogging more than once or twice a year, not wearing your shirt inside out, or knowing the name of that one actor, you know, the one who was in that one movie with that lady from that one show? He has hair and eyes and a mouth, probably? — are relegated to the back burner.

Having been a parent for a year and half now, I understand this. But before, I was Ms. Judgey McJudgerson and basically thought moms and dads just used parenting as a lame excuse for not having their shit together. And for that, I apologize. I now know that we’re all just doing the best we can, and we should give each other — and ourselves — a break.

And, if I could go back in time, rest assured that I would slap that smug, self-righteous look right off my smug, self-righteous face.

Dear Sesame Street: Please stop teaching kids it’s OK to feed wild animals

Not even the squirrels. That's how serious this is, folks.

Not even the squirrels. That’s how serious this is, folks.

Though I know I’m not “supposed to,” every once in a while I break down and let my toddler watch a limited amount of TV, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps my sanity intact on a day that involves multiple meltdowns and outfit changes.

I make myself feel OK about this by putting on Sesame Street, since hey, at least it’s educational! Or so I thought.

Recently we watched an episode in which Elmo and Friend go on a camping trip. Elmo’s incessant need to piercingly narrate every damn thing they do apparently attracts all the woodland creatures within a 12-mile radius, and soon Elmo is inviting them to stay for dinner. Before you know it, a beaver, some turtles, a few raccoons and an entire flock of ducks are on their second helping of dandelion soup in what is clearly the start of their never-ending dependence on humans to provide basic sustenance.

All right. I know some of you might think I’m blowing this out of proportion. They’re not even real animals, for chrissakes. They’re puppets. PUPPETS. And it’s not like every toddler who watched the episode immediately started using Goldfish crackers to coax some new fluffy friends to live in their garage, dooming them to a life of human-fed captivity.

But hear me out. Less than 24 hours after watching this episode, I saw this unfortunate news:

Yellowstone

Think this is mere coincidence? Think again. It’s quite clear Sesame Street is at fault for each and every stupid tourist-wildlife encounter in recorded history.

OK, that’s a mild exaggeration. But sadly, it’s not unusual to hear a lot stories like this in Montana and other Western states, where it seems residents and wildlife intersect more regularly than in other parts of the country. Most of us grew up learning it’s not OK to try to feed or touch the wildlife.

Apparently, some idiot tourists don’t understand that Yellowstone National Park, et al., is not a goddamn petting zoo, and the animals don’t need you to feed them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in order to survive. And that by doing these things, you’re actually risking both your and the animals’ lives.

Obviously, Sesame Street is not solely at fault for people thinking it’s OK to feed and/or touch wild animals. (And I admit, I’m making quite the cognitive leap by even trying to connect these two specific incidents.)

The thing is though, you also can’t only blame the idiots, either. When it comes down to it, most of them just don’t know any better. Where many of these tourists are from, close encounters with actual wildlife happen next to never, and when they do, they actually are in a goddamn petting zoo.

It’s kind of like when a tourist from Montana, who may or may not write a blog that rhymes with “Thuirrel Proughts,” stops in the middle of the sidewalk in New York City to stare up and take a photo of a skyscraper, because it’s something she doesn’t see every day at home. Doing so is apparently Extremely Annoying to resident New Yorkers (albeit slightly less Life Threatening than sharing a s’more with a wolverine, but I digress.)

Ya know what though? At the time, she just didn’t know any better.

You know what could’ve helped her know better? An episode of Sesame Street in which Big Bird’s country-born cousin Pudgy Pigeon comes for a visit, and someone with a thick Bronx accent yells “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” after she abruptly stops to take a selfie in front of the restaurant from Seinfeld. Then she would’ve known better.

(Or a quick Google search. That probably would’ve done the trick, too.)

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that while the premise of this Sesame Street bit seems innocuous, who knows what seeds it’s already planted in the heads of tiny city-born tots who might try to hug a grizzly bear in Alaska a decade from now. Because according to a beloved children’s program, befriending wild animals and inviting them over for pizza and a sleepover is just a normal part of experiencing the Great Outdoors.

So, in a feeble attempt to counter the damage already done — and with that air of smug self-righteousness you’ve come to expect on Squirrel Thoughts — I’m offering some tips for any potential tourists who still might not know any better:

  1. DO NOT TOUCH THE WILDLIFE.
  2. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.
  3. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BEFRIEND THE WILDLIFE. NO MATTER HOW CUTE AND FLUFFY IT LOOKS. YOU ARE NOT MOTHERFUCKING SNOW WHITE. THE ANIMALS DO NOT WANT TO BE YOUR FRIENDS. THEY WILL MAUL YOU AT THE DROP OF A HAT. OR CHEETO. ESPECIALLY A CHEETO.
  4. ENJOY THE MAJESTIC CREATION THAT IS NATURE FROM A SAFE VIEWING DISTANCE.

I apologize for the stilted Internet yelling, but it’s the only chance I have at drowning out the children’s media behemoth that is Sesame Street.

Also, if you prefer information from legitimate resources, here are few:

Four reasons not to feed wildlife

Wildlife safety in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone visitors place bison calf in SUV; newborn euthanized

(FOR THE RECORD: I realize that other states, even on the East Coast, have wildlife, and that not everyone who visits from those locales are completely oblivous about how to interact with wild animals. I also realize that many of the tourists who commit these transgressions are from other countries, and who knows what kind of access they have to Sesame Street. In turn, I hope anyone offended by this — including but not limited to Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and, especially, Snuffy — realizes that it’s all in good fun. Unless you have tried to caress a mountain goat. Then you should read that shit a few more times.)

 

Let’s be mom-guilt free in 2016

Mom guilt

I’ve only been a mom for about a year, but I’ve managed to pack a decades’ worth of guilt into those 12 months. I’m just talented like that.

If you’re also a mom — or dad, for that matter — I suspect you possess this special talent as well. We’re hardwired for it; we all just want the best for our kiddos, and worry the choices we make now could be slowly turning them into the next Kardashian or Pharma Bro.

Well, in 2016, instead of feeling guilty, let’s put our time and energy toward our many other talents. There are plenty of parents who should feel guilty about the choices they make. (Like this one. And these ones. And definitely the parents of this guy.) But you’re probably not one of them.

Here are the things I’m going to stop feeling guilty about in 2016. Or less guilty about, at least.

Working. I work full time. So does my husband. We like our jobs, and our daughter has never complained about her daycare, which we thoroughly vetted. This is most likely because she can’t talk, but still.

When we go to work, we do not leave her in a cardboard box on the porch, with only a bottle and a package of Pop-Tarts to get her through the day. When you go to work, do you leave your children in a cardboard box on the porch, with only a bottle and a package of Pop-Tarts to get them through the day? No? Well OK, then. I’d say you’re doing a pretty great job at this parenting thing.

(Hey, I never said I set the bar high.)

But seriously, if you feel guilty for not being home with your bambinos all the time, remind yourself of all the things they’re getting exposed to that they might not otherwise: other experiences, people, toys, books, kiddos. And germs. Lots of other germs. But hey, those germs are strengthening their immune system so they’ll get sick less when they start school in a few years. Or so they say.

(Of course, in the midst of working on this post, my sweet girl came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, which she contracted at daycare. So mom guilt might still win out on this one. Again.)

Exercising. Working full-time means I get to spend only a few hours with my little bug on the weekdays, so it’s hard for me to justify doing any additional activities that take away from that time.

But I need to run. Not to lose weight or fit into my jeans — those are just bonuses. I need to run so my crazy doesn’t catch up with me. I suffer from severe bouts of anxiety, and if I don’t take care of myself, it rears its ugly head and takes me down with it.

So, sometimes I let Lily stay at daycare later so I can get my run in right after work, before I get home where I’ll talk myself out of it. Or I leave her with her dad early on a Sunday morning so I can spend a few extra miles earning those endorphins that help keep my anxiety at bay.

Is there something in your life that keeps the crazy from catching up with you? Then make time for it. As long as it’s not something along the lines of, say, juggling knives. We both know that won’t end well.

Knife juggling child

Well, apparently some parents let their kids juggle knives. They should probably feel a little guilty about that.

Supplementing. And straight-up bottle-feeding, for that matter. I’m definitely a proponent of breastfeeding (when circumstances allow) and plan to continue nursing my kiddo until she’s ready to wean.

But we moms sure can get a bit shamey about this topic, can’t we? Millions of babies who didn’t drink a drop of breast milk have grown up to be well-adjusted, productive members of society. In fact, many of them even have jobs, donate to charity and let people with only a few items cut in front of them in line at the grocery store. Some of them also grew up to be Internet trolls. But it had nothing to do with whether they were breast- or formula-fed.

My milk production dipped severely around six months, and despite increasing the frequency of pumping sessions, drinking some nasty tea that tasted like rotten licorice and eating oatmeal until it came out my ears, my supply never increased much. So you know what? We started supplementing with formula. And you know what? Our daughter is happy, healthy and gets enough to eat. Otherwise, she wouldn’t.

And, while I don’t mean to brag … at only 11 months, our kiddo was already playing peek-a-boo at a 12-month-old level.

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Formula baby

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NOT. PUMPING. I have pumped, at least twice, if not three times, daily, five days a week, since March. Since I work two half-time positions in different offices at a university, I have to haul the stupid pump back and forth to work each day (if I don’t forget to bring it entirely), and schlep it across campus when I switch jobs at lunch. Half the time, I forget some parts or milk in one office and have to rush back to get them once I realize it. All this for a measly five ounces a day, at this point.

So, at the end of the year, I am done. DONE. And if you see a pump floating down the river, it’s definitely because I threw mine in it.

Sleeping in. JK haha lolz! That doesn’t happen. But if it ever does, you can sure as hell bet I’m not going to feel guilty about it.

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What else should be on this list? I’m positive I’ve left out some major mom-guilt triggers, possibly because they’re buried so deep in my subconscious, I don’t even know I feel guilty about them. Yet.

Need a cure for insomnia? You should Have a Baby™!

Do you have trouble falling asleep night after night?

Does your mind start to race as soon as your head hits the pillow, no matter how tired you are?

Are the Ambien-induced hallucinations finally starting to freak you out?

Well, we here at Squirrel Thoughts Industries have finally discovered the secret to falling asleep quickly and easily: Have a Baby™!

Our patented Have a Baby™ technology will leave you so physically and mentally exhausted, your brain will have no choice but to shut down and drift off into sweet, sweet slumber mere minutes after you collapse into bed.

Under no circumstances will you wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed while using Have a Baby™ — you’ll get far less sleep than before, actually. But hey, at least you won’t lie awake all night worrying about it!

TiredParents

Have a Baby™ will allow you to fall asleep anywhere, anytime! [Image source: UberHumor.com]

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Side effects of Have a Baby™ may include:

  • Miniature human dependent on you for survival infiltrating your home
  • Taking a quick nap while nursing miniature human dependent on you for survival
  • Waking up two to 3 billion times per night
  • Taking a quick nap in the shower and/or on the bathmat in front of the shower
  • Pulling a Costanza at work by napping under your desk*
  • Taking a quick nap on your way to the office coffee pot after you wake up from your nap under your desk
  • Rapidly falling into REM sleep, which may cause weird dreams that involve Billy from Family Circus chasing you through your high school
  • Taking a quick nap during the therapy you need after dreaming that Billy from Family Circus was chasing you through your high school
  • Decreased effectiveness once baby starts sleeping through the night** because OH GOD IS SHE STILL BREATHING?!!?!
  • Taking a quick nap while blogginZZZZZZZZZZZZdifjadsre;s e
  • Heart exploding due to overflow of love and affection every time miniature human dependent on you for survival smiles or coos at you
My personal miniature human dependent on me for survival

My personal miniature human dependent on me for survival

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*If my boss is reading this: I haven’t actually done this. I’ve only seriously considered it.
**Not that we know what that’s like.
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