Monthly Archives: May 2011

Match Dot Mom

Back in my swingin’ single days, I used to spend all week waiting for the weekend to kick off with Friday night happy hour. Although I think it really should be called happy hours since many weeks I found myself still lugging my work bag around town at 1am on a Friday night. As a mommy now, obviously things have changed. But I still look forward to Fridays, but mostly because that’s the day I meet with my French mommy group. It’s a far cry from the happy hours I used to have, but it still is one of my happiest hour and a halfs every week.

But finding the right mommy group is hardly easy, as many of my mommy friends can attest. In fact, when I think about it, it’s kind of like dating all over again.

The ideal is to find a group of educated women who have laid-back personalities and a sense of humor, varied but complementary interests,  keep to a similar schedule, live relatively close to you, and, of course, have (at least) a kid around the same age as yours. It’s a tall order by any standards. I’m not sure I had as many requirements when looking for my last boyfriend. (Thank god my husband found me first.)

But where do mommies go to meet other mommies? The options are somewhat finite:

But let’s get real… chances are you’re looking for a mommy group because you don’t work at the moment, don’t go to church (or at least aren’t active in the community), don’t get to the gym as often as you’d like to admit, don’t have time for volunteer activities, and don’t want to shell out anywhere near $70/month for a membership to a baby club. And if you had friends with babies who lived in your neighborhood, you’d already be hanging out with them.

I lucked out and found a mommy group on the Internet, through http://www.meetup.com. (I totally get why people Internet date now and would admittedly be going down that road if I was single, as it’s an efficient and economical way to meet people.) I had to give on some of the said requirements–I drive roughly 40 minutes (although it’s probably less than 10 miles from my house) to get there–but the French connection outweighed the distance.

I think I lucked out, too, in that I’m sort of an inaugural member of the group. I found out about the group and was able to show up for the first meeting, and that likely made all the difference. It’s so much easier to try something new when everyone is new at it. I definitely think it would be much harder to jump into a very established group.

With that said, I always look forward to seeing if there are any new people at our weekly meetings and even if it’s a bit awkward and forced, I feel like my group’s organizers really try to make everyone feel welcome. But I can tell almost immediately who is never going to come back. In our group’s case, it’s usually someone who realizes the second she walks into the room that her French language skills maybe aren’t as good as she remembered them being in college.

But even as one of the regulars, more or less, I still find myself trying way harder than usual to have these women like me. I literally get up a half hour early, so I can spend extra time on my hair and make-up. I also spend an abnormally long time (for me) deciding what I’m going to wear; I always feel like I want to look fresh and chic and not the strung out and underdone that I usually am. I even stress a little over what baby is going to wear.

That’s when I know this is so like dating. Only minus the drinks and the free dinner.

And perhaps that’s why I find mommy groups, at least the one I’m in, a little awkward. Basically we sit around and watch each others’ kids play and make small talk about breastfeeding, nap schedules, and our husbands’ jobs. We don’t even have coffee or donuts, which makes me think that maybe I should bring some next time. Then again, everyone is currently thin, so maybe that wouldn’t go over so well, if it became a regular thing.

Maybe this whole blind-date, first-date feeling lasts for so long when getting to know other mommies because everyone sort of knows that they either (a) would never have crossed paths or (b) never become friends, if there weren’t babies in the picture. That fact is just sort of the Barney in the room. No wonder so many of my mommy friends who have tried some mommy groups have never gone back to them; that’s kind of a hard thing to get over if the chemistry just isn’t right. And seriously, when you have an infant, who has time to make an effort to spend time with women they don’t necessarily like?

But for as awkward as it can be during some of our meetings, I’m so glad that I’ve stuck with the group. Of course, I love getting the chance to practice my French, but every week, I get to know the women, at least the regulars, a little better and I like them not just a little but a lot more every week.

I just hope they feel the same way about me. I don’t want to have to try to pick up another mommy group any time soon.

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Filed under babies, bilingual baby, child development, daily life, foreign language, infants, mom style, mommy care, moms, parenting, play time

When Your Kid Quits You Cold Turkey

Baby is going to turn one next week. It’s definitely cause for celebration, but part of me has been wishing it wouldn’t come so soon. I’ve been doing okay as a baby momma, but I don’t know about a toddler momma.

Aside from the bittersweet-ness of such milestones and my somewhat irrational fear of being unable to handle the challenges of a toddler, one of the things that I’ve been stressing about in hitting the 12-month mark is what to do about breastfeeding. Stop or keep going?

I never really pictured myself as a breastfeeding mommy. And I’d venture a guess that most of my family and friends are still shocked that I’ve lasted this long. I started out just wanting to make it to three months. Then three became six, six became nine, and all of a sudden I’m at the end of the year and still breastfeeding.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking more and more that I’m done. Not to mention that my husband is pretty much just weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding any longer; at 9 months, he thought baby looked too big and strangely out of place in my arms for a feeding. But more than that, I’ve been feeling like I want a little bit more of my life back. I’m tired of staying up an extra half hour at night (or worse, getting up a half hour early) to pump, traveling with a cooler, and always feeling self-conscious when nursing in public.

But I was also feeling a little sad and perhaps even guilty about stopping. Breastfeeding is not only such a healthy thing for the baby, but it’s such a special bond between baby and mommy. Nursing forces you to take the time to slow down and hold your baby close. And you can’t do that without always seeing your baby for the special little jewel that he (or she) is.

Turns out my anxiety over this was perhaps a little overblown because for as much as I was weighing my choices, I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Last Friday baby up and decided he didn’t want to nurse and that was it. Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Dropped like a bad habit. For however many ways there are to say it, he was over me.

I’m not going to lie. My feelings were hurt.

I couldn’t believe that this was the end of breastfeeding road for baby and me. I tried for two days after that to get baby to nurse–unsuccessfully as it turned out. Baby was not going back on his decision no matter how tired, hungry, or upset he got in those two days. (I have to admit I admire his conviction.)

Maybe part of him knew that I was feeling ready, so he just decided to make things easy for me. I like thinking that, that we have been so in synch with each other that we were actually growing and changing together. But it’s also hard not to view it as a critical first step in his independence.

I keep thinking about something I read somewhere recently about how parental love is the only relationship where loving means growing apart rather than together. I wish I knew the exact quote because it’s so true. Being a parent means loving your kid enough to give them the skills and strength to go out and do their own thing. How simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking is that irony?

And that’s why I can still manage to shed a couple of tears over the fact that I’m no longer a breastfeeding mommy, even though I was ready to quit in the first place.

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Filed under babies, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, daily life, emotions, feeding, first year, formula, infants, lactation, moms, nursing, parenting

Happiness Is a Sleeping Baby

The newest baby book for parents

Funny that I was already working on a post on the topic of baby sleep habits when the book “Go the F— To Sleep” became the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon.com yesterday. It’s essentially an R-rated parody of a children’s book that no doubt is hilarious to both those parents who have a problem and those parents who don’t admit that they have a problem when it comes to getting their kids to sleep. But really, it’s no coincidence. Among parents with young children, sleep is the topic du jour every jour.

Most of the time the topic comes because there’s something about their babies’ sleep habits that mommies (and daddies) are struggling with. The issues are all over the board–baby won’t sleep in the crib, baby wakes up super early, baby only falls asleep in mom’s arms or in bed with mom and dad, baby doesn’t nap, baby doesn’t sleep through the night, and on and on. Most of the time during these conversations I hear other mommies commiserating; rarely do you hear mommies talking about what’s working when it comes to sleeping babies.

It could be that the issue of sleep just gets totally marginalized in mommies’ brains once their wee ones start sleeping through the night; it’s like if it’s not a 4 am-problem, it doesn’t get bandwidth. (I totally get that.) Or it could be that mommies who are seeing some degree or another of sleep success are afraid to sound like either braggards or know-it-alls, if they talk about it. (I get this, too.)

The latter is in fact a little bit my fear in writing this post, but the possibility that something I write could help any one of my mommy friends currently struggling with a monster at bedtime is enough to take me out on this limb.

I lucked out and my wee one started sleeping through the night at seven weeks. He did it on his own (or so I thought at first), so for awhile I just enjoyed it. But I couldn’t stop wondering what what made him suddenly do it. I also wanted to be sure I didn’t do anything going forward that would mess it up. Sleep is good.

A number of parents I know swear by Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. In the interest of full disclosures, I’ve never read the book. My go-to guru on baby sleep habits was an old friend, Meg Casano, who had in the many years since we used to tear up the playground together gone on to become a nurse and then an infant sleep consultant with Baby Sleep Science. (You may remember that I’ve written about Meg before, when she launched a blog to illustrate successful sleep training techniques.) But I’m guessing, given that my friend completed a lot of her training and research with a woman who got her start with Dr. Weissbluth, that her sleep philosophy is of the same vein as Weissbluth’s.

There has been a lot of back and forth with Meg over the months to get me to the point where I understand what baby needs and can make adjustments as necessary. I don’t want to get bogged down in every detail, so I’m going to boil it all down to the five things I’ve learned about babies and sleep that have not only helped me ensure baby is getting healthy doses of Zzzzs but also allowed me gain a few hours of my life back every day. Both are priceless.

  1. Know the basics. I’m not someone who can really follow anything to the letter–my schedule is too erratic–so, just having someone give me a few rules of thumb to think about while I’m managing the rest of the chaos was really helpful.The big one I think about nearly every day (even now that baby’s almost a year old) is how much total sleep baby is getting in any given 24 hour period. It’s recommended that babies get, on average, between 10.5 and 12 hours at night and then around 3 hours during the day across typically two naps. That’s just a rule of thumb, so I’m not exacting on executing on it, but it definitely helps me gauge where baby is during the day.
  2. Bedtime is serious business.The one thing I’m really pretty anal about is baby’s bedtime. And it’s more out of necessity than anything else. Once he hits his wall, it’s meltdown city and, at the end of the day when I’m tired and my nerves are shot, honestly, I can’t deal. So, baby has a pretty strict routine.My friend recommends babies hit the crib sheets sometime between 6:30pm and 8:00pm. In our case, we head up to the nursery around 6:30-6:45pm. Baby gets a diaper change, put in his jammies, and then has a little time to play while I read stories. After about 15-20 minutes of play, I nurse (maybe 10-15 minutes at this stage of the game) and then it’s lights out by 7:30pm.
  3. Never underestimate the power of naps. I’ll be the first one to admit that baby and I are still working on getting him on a really good nap schedule. We’re doing better–he’s pretty consistent with a morning nap now–but the afternoons are still hit or miss. But knowing that baby needs three hours one way or another is helpful because even if he won’t rack out in his crib for a full-fledged nap, I can start to count his quick snoozes in the car or stroller toward the three hour goal. And I’ll tell you the days that he gets his full three hours of naptime, he is definitely a happier baby at the end of the day than the days he doesn’t quite squeeze it all in.But the one thing I have noticed about baby and his naps is that if I take the time to enhance his sleep environment, his chances for nap success are higher. I think at bedtime, he’s more tired, so he’s less distracted by everything and anything; but during the day, I have to try harder to work him down so he will get some good daytime Zzzs.

    My friend recommends room-darkening shades and a white-noise machine. I have neither, but I don’t turn on any lights and I’ve also started playing very soothing music–my favorite right now is Baby Einstein’s “Naptime Melodies”–and it really helps set the mood. I put it on about 10 minutes before I nurse and by the time I hear the whale sounds in song 6, nine times out of 10 baby is asleep.

  4. Routine is key.It pains me to say that, as I don’t like to characterize myself as someone who “schedules” everything. But life with baby is so much easier when there’s some predictability to it. You find yourself getting really efficient during naptime because you know how much time you have to check things off your list and the whole bedtime process goes so much quicker. (At this stage, if I’m entertaining at home, I can get it done in about 10 to 15 minutes.)So, in our house, baby gets up every day at roughly the same time (within a 30-minute window), I try to get him to nap (as best I can) at about the same time every day, and he most definitely goes to bed at pretty the same time every night.
  5. Take ten minutes.No one likes to hear their wee one wail, but it’s likely going to be part of the process. The good news is that once baby is in a routine, there’s less crying. But there’s still a little bit of crying, so don’t try to hold out for a perfect–and improbable–bedtime situation. Even now, there are days when my wee one is just really angry at me when I put him down in his crib. So, here’s what I do: tell him I love him and walk out.Babies need to learn to put themselves to sleep or they will be screaming and counting on you to do that every time they wake up during the night. And babies do go in and out of sleep during the night as part of their natural sleep rhythm.

    I hate the wailing as much as the next mom, so I give myself the 10-minute test. I walk out of his room, shut the door, go downstairs, and without turning the monitor on, I do something like put in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or set the table and then after 10 minutes or so, I flip the monitor on to see if he’s still crying. (A few of my friends set a timer, but I don’t bother.) I have yet to turn that thing on to him still crying. And if he was, then chances are something is wrong, like he’s still hungry or he’s not feeling well.Similarly, if I hear him start to make sounds during the night, the same rules apply. If he’s still crying after five or 10 minutes, I go in and check on him. Otherwise, I stay right in my bed. And you can sort of hear the whole self soothing process. There are a few cries, then some little grunts and wiggling around, and then sweet silence.

These tips probably don’t sound like much more than common sense, but sometimes that’s the first thing that goes when you’re dealing with your child, especially an overtired and (likely) unhappy one. For me, once my friend Meg articulated a lot of these things to me, I was like, “duh.” There were things I didn’t realize I was doing but I was and they were working unbeknownst to me and then there were other things that I had to really work on.

And the reality is that there are always things that I’ll have to work on when it comes to baby’s sleep habits. He’s going to keep growing and changing, so his needs may change, forcing me to adjust his schedule. But having a few basic rules or tips to help guide me has helped us get off to a good start. After all, this is the time when healthy, long-term sleep habits start to form.

But more selfishly than that, I really don’t want to have to buy the book to get some perspective and a sense of humor about why my baby won’t go the f— to sleep. I’d rather him just do it.

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Filed under babies, childrens books, daily life, first year, health, naps, sleep

Stroller S.O.S.

Getting a flat tire stinks. But when you’re a mommy like me, getting a flat tire–or two, in my case–on your stroller really sucks.

In some ways, I shouldn’t be surprised. I am hard on my stroller, putting it through its paces week in and week out. It is baby and my primary mode of transportation; so, for more than a jog around the neighborhood a few times a week, it’s called into service for nearly every errand, from grocery shopping to the post office to the dog’s daily walk. I dare say that between the nanny and me, we probably put 20 miles a week on it, at least–and that’s excluding runs, which if I’m honest, I am not nearly consistent enough with to count in my weekly mileage.

And then there’s the terrain. It would seem that rolling over sidewalk wouldn’t be all that stressful on a stroller, but city strolling has little in common with a walk around a new neighborhood development. There’s a reason it’s called an urban jungle.

An average outing for me with the stroller involves negotiating stairs. I usually avoid bumping down our front stairs, if I possibly can, which are scary steep in heels and pretty much death defying with a stroller with a baby in it. So, I usually try to go out through the backyard, which has far fewer stairs but a number of other obstacles, including lifting the stroller over the toe-kick on our back gate and maneuvering it between the cars and over the gravel in our parking spots.

Offroading in the city

Then there’s the back alley, which is in itself an adventure because you never know what kind of rodent carcass or trash, broken glass, abandoned TV or mattress or other matter of debris you may encounter. Not only that, but the terrain is atrocious–half brick pavers, half pavement, it’s all pocked and pitted making for a seriously bumpy ride for baby.

Once out to the main street, it only gets marginally better. In my neighborhood, there’s all manner of sidewalk cracks, curbs, and increasingly construction.

When I lay it all out like that, it’s no wonder I had a tire blow out given all the bumping, thumping, and thudding along. But two in one week seemed a little much. The stroller gods certainly had it out for me.

But one of the problems with having a tire malfunction–other than it can put your stroller out of commission–is figuring out how to fix it. I so wish there was such a thing as AAA for strollers.

With the first tire problem, a slow leak in the front tire, I tried to pretty much ignore it for as long as I could. I would pump it up with the air compressor, but after about a day and a half, it would deflate. I toyed with using that spray Fix-a-Flat, but I was scared that I would ruin the tire and then be really screwed. Fortunately, the nanny passed a bike shop on one of her outings and 10 minutes later, the problem was fixed.

However, the second flat, occurring just a day or so after the first tire was

Tire trouble

fixed, was a bit more traumatic. I noticed a weird sound coming from the stroller on the way to the gym one morning, but I thought it was it was the strap on my bag dragging on the ground. However, as I came out of the elevator at the gym, I took a look down and noticed that one of the back tires was looking rather pancake like.

Fortunately, there’s a Target in the same building as the gym, so post workout, I popped in there to buy a cheap bike pump to get me home. (Yes, I totally was the person using the pump before I bought it, but I was desperate.) However, the flat was so bad that I had to stop and pump up the tire three times before I got home and the trip is all of 10 blocks or so. So, back went the stroller to the bike shop.

But when I had called around to a few bike shops to find out of if they could fix my tire troubles, the answer I got was maybe. Most shops were confident that they could fix any tire-related problems, but anything more than that and I likely would’ve been out of luck. So, it got me thinking about what I would do if I had a bigger problem, like a wobble in the front wheel or a broken foot brake or something.

Where do mommies go for heavier duty body work on their strollers? If a bike shop can’t (or won’t) do it, what would option B be? I suppose you’d have to try and sort it out with the manufacturer. Just saying it makes me feel like I have a headache coming on. I imagine spending a gazillion dollars to ship the stroller back to the manufacturer only for it to take weeks to resolve the problem. (Where can you even get a box big enough to do that? My stroller box is long gone.)

At any rate, all this stroller drama just served to highlight two things for me. First, I’m glad that I have more than one stroller. I was able to use my umbrella stroller while the jogger was out of commission. It made carrying my groceries home a little more difficult because it has a much smaller basket, but it worked in a pinch.

Second, I’m glad that I didn’t spend a whole lot of money on any of my strollers. I mean, tires are one thing. They can be more or less easily remedied. But I can imagine how irritated I would be if my $400 (or more) stroller had any sort of problem that needed more specialized attention. At least with a value-priced one, the worst case scenario is just buying a brand new one. Not exactly ideal, but, hey, if I had to do that, I figure I still come out ahead in terms of dollars spent on strollers than if I had bought the expensive one in the first place. And with how hard this family is on its strollers, I’m not confident that any stroller is really up to the challenge over the long haul.

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Filed under babies, baby gear, baby travel, daily life, strollers

The Ultimate Guide To Traveling with Baby

I have few mommy friends that travel as much as I do with baby, and even fewer that travel that much by themselves with baby. But when I get a chance to connect with the select few who do, I’m always interested to see how they manage on their own. I have found a system that works for me, but I’m never quite sure whether there are more efficiencies to be gained.

So, when my grad school friend decided to check out of the West Coast for a few weeks in favor of a whirlwind East Coast tour with her son, nearly a full-fledged toddler, I was excited to learn that she was planning a pit stop in D.C. Not only could I not wait to see her, catch up on all the news, and, of course, meet the not-so-wee-anymore one for the first time, but I was super curious to see how she managed when traveling long distances with baby.

My friend is a very efficient traveler by nature. But having a baby in tow is definitely challenging this aspect of her. I actually got a message from her a few days before her flight, telling me that she was trying to get all her and baby’s stuff into a suitcase small enough to carry on. It was a very admirable goal, one that I admittedly have toyed around with and failed at achieving, so I was prepared to be seriously impressed (and take notes) if she did indeed edit their accoutrement to fit into a carry-on suitcase.

Despite her greatest efforts, it didn’t happen. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Even if it cost her the $25 or so to check her suitcase, she had plenty enough else to deal with–baby, stroller, diaper bag/purse, and car seat.

When she told me she was going to bring her car seat, I really started paying attention. I have only bothered with bringing the car seat on my travels when baby was in his infant car seat. I could clip the seat into his Snap ‘n’ Go stoller and then leave it all at the end of the jet bridge before boarding the plane. No biggie. But now that baby is bigger, there are no simple clip-in solutions like the Snap ‘n’ Go.

To date, I’ve always found a way to work around lugging the bigger car seat. When we went to El Paso, we rented a car seat from the car rental company. Contrary to rumor, the car seat we ended up with was the exact same one as one of the car seats we own. And it was new–or nearly so. It was still wrapped in plastic and in mint condition when we got it out of the trunk. When we went to Chamonix, the shuttle service from the Geneva airport supplied infant car seats and then we traveled by foot, train, or bus after that, so no seat was necessary. And then when we went to South Carolina, Ian’s mom decided to just buy a cheapie car seat to have for such occasions. It was going to get additional use from some of the other grandbabies that would sometimes visit.

Needless to say, I do everything I can to avoid having to sherpa the car seat. And I still feel like I’m totally bogged down. So, I had to find out how my friend managed. Turns out it looks something like this:

Streamlined for sanity

The thing I want to most highlight is how she deals with the car seat on top of the stroller, roller bag, and shoulder bag. Basically she just uses a bungee cord to strap the car seat to the stroller frame. It’s pure genius.

I mean, I think I would’ve have found a bag/cover for the car seat and tried to slide a handle over the telescoping handle of my roller bag. Of course, with my luck, it would be flapping around, throwing the whole bag off balance and making me struggle. But the bungee method is so much more secure. She just nestled a front edge of the seat under the stroller so it had some bottom support, stretched the bungee cord around the stroller and seat, clipped it to the back of the stroller and–voila, voila, voila–momma is good to go.

Granted, even with this innovative thinking, traveling with an infant is still not easy. Most umbrella strollers, which are a travel must given their compactness, have two separate handles over a single bar. This makes steering the baby vehicle significantly more difficult with one hand, especially when you are running to your gate, as I most often am. The other hand is usually busy dragging the roller bag with diaper bag sitting on top.

But we’re all about efficiencies here, so I thought this was some seriously smart travel thinking and figured I should share with other mommies trying to sort out out how they are going to take everything they need on their next trip. Happy packing!

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With a Little Help from Our Moms

As I wrote in my last post, I’ve loved becoming a mom and have counted my first year as one one of the happiest of my life. But as any mom can attest, it’s not always easy. But thank god mom’s also have moms; mine made my first year as a mom about more than just surviving it.

She was there from the very beginning with baby. She was ridding my closet of junk right up until the point where my contractions were so intense that I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to go to the hospital. She sat with me all through baby’s birth and even cut his umbilical cord since dad wasn’t able to be there to do that himself. She stayed with me until it was clear baby and I could be on our own; we were going to be fine, but I remember never feeling so sad to say goodbye to her as when she left after baby was born.

Since then, she’s never stopped being the amazing support she was at the beginning. Even though we are far apart and she can’t physically help me when it would seem I need it most, she always finds a way to help make an impossible situation manageable. It’s easy when you’re feeling overwhelmed to forget to think yourself out of a spot, and I am grateful that she’s there to remind me of that.

For as much as I’ve appreciated my mom during this first year, I can say the same about my husband’s mom. Not only do I love how much she adores baby, but I would never have been able to keep up with some of my work if she didn’t think all her vacation days were well spent watching baby and taking care of our animals while I go to conferences.

And of course I count ourselves extremely lucky to still have both of my husband’s grandmothers in the picture to impart some of their wisdom on us as newbie parents.

So, I’m wishing all of them the happiest of Mothers Days today. Without them, this past year would have been immeasurably harder and a lot less fun. Thanks for being such great people to us. We love you beaucoup!

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My First Mother’s Day

I had a friend yesterday wish me a happy first Mothers Day. My first reaction was, this isn’t my first Mothers Day. And then I remembered that I was just very (very) pregnant last year at this time.

But how interesting that in my head I had already switched from just being

A year ago things were good...

me to being mom before baby had even arrived. I mean, it’s hard to just feel like you when you’re pregnant but when you’re pregnant for the first time you don’t know exactly how your life is going to change.

It’s hard to capture the extent of those changes because, on the one hand, life changes super drastically and then  you sort of get into the groove as a new parent, so the changes don’t seem as huge anymore. And then there are the moments you’re never sure how you lived without.

Last night I watched the Ed Burns movie The Groomsmen. While there’s definitely a reason its an instant download on Netflix, there were some good laughs and a few sort of deep reflections. The story line is simple–the main character, Paulie, played by Ed Burns, is freaking out days before he’s marrying his already-pregnant girlfriend, played by Brittany Murphy–so there are lots of good, fairly humorous “guy” scenes and dialogue exchanges.

But for all the cheap laughs, there are also some pretty insightful moments that held up like mirrors to things I have experienced. For example, there’s a scene where Paulie and his girlfriend get into an argument after he sets up the crib because she also wants him to paint and he doesn’t want to. That leads to a whole meltdown where she finally yells at him that it would be nice if he would just once bring her flowers, make her breakfast in bed, or give her a foot massage because she takes care of everything else.

That scene played out a number of times between my husband and I during my pregnancy, as he tried to squeeze as much into the last of our “free” time and all I wanted was to slow down and enjoy the fun of expecting baby.

But this whole concept of so-called free time before and after baby  is worth a visit. My husband and I have always been a couple constantly on the go, and post-baby, that really hasn’t stopped. We don’t go out as much at night any more, but our days our definitely very full. In fact, I’m not sure when I’ve ever been busier than now.

But the amazing part is how productive I have become. Part of it is the not

...but they are even better now

going out as much at night, which gives me a pretty big block of time after baby is in bed to do everything from pay bills, clean, and of course write. And the not going out as much at night means I get up earlier on the weekends–Saturdays and Sundays tend to feel a lot like any other day of the week–which gives me some hours in the morning to do things with baby whereas I would’ve normally been sleeping in or otherwise having a lazy morning.

It’s like this other scene in The Groomsmen where Paulie is talking to his friend Dez about his fears about becoming a father and losing his freedom. Dez, who has a couple of kids, says to him, “What were you doing with your free time anyway? You were watching TV.” And that’s really it. The free time that I had pre-baby was really just a lot of wasted time.

And while being busy means that I often find myself fairly exhausted at the end of the day, I like it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a day to sleep until noon uninterrupted or an afternoon spent at a bar watching football without keeping track of my babysitting tab, but, for the most part, I feel like I contribute more to the world now than I ever did before.

The responsibility of having a baby is sometimes meltdown-worthy, but for me, having a baby was like adding a rudder to my life. I have direction every day; my goal is to make baby’s day the best day possible so that he can sleep happy. Sometimes I fall short in that goal, but lucky for me I get a chance to get up and try again the next day. So, tomorrow I’m going to celebrate Mother’s Day by just being a mom. In my book, there’s no better way to spend my day than doing that.

So, here’s wishing every mom the best kind of Mothers Day–one spent with her kids.

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