Category Archives: babies

World’s Worst Mother

There are moments in a mother’s life that simultaneously confirm that her baby is smarter than she thinks and also is possibly much smarter than she thinks she is. Mine happened the other morning after my dog dug up a planter for the fourth time.

I had spent the entire Saturday before in my back garden, mulching, planting spring bulbs, and replacing plants that had fallen victim to my dog in one way or another. The day after I finished, my dog ran through my freshly mulched flower bed, trampling three mum plants that had yet to bloom. Later that night, he dug up a planter, leaving a heap of dirt on one of my benches and all over my deck. Press repeat two more times and I was considering permanently chaining my dog to the picnic table.

So, the morning of my incident started out as usual. Got baby up, let the dog out, and proceeded with our normal morning breakfast routine. As I started filling the coffee pot, I looked out and saw the dog standing on my bench, elbows deep in my planter once again. The broom that I had been using to clean up his messes was just a stick with a straw nub and all the straw parts were strewn around the yard and deck.

I saw red. I flew out the door, hurling obscenities at the dog and basically chasing him around the backyard because I was literally going to wring his neck. I finally grabbed him by the scruff, dragged him into the house, put him on his leash, and then tied him to the kitchen table. I armed myself with another broom and marched outside, muttering wicked things under my breath the whole time I was  cleaning up. I could not imagine beginning my day with such a disastrous mess in my yard, so I was determined to clean it all up before resuming the morning routine.

And baby was cool with that. He was wandering around, playing with his toys and having a pretty good time. Especially with the door that leads to our back deck. He’d open it and close it. Open it and close it. Open it and close it. It was great fun until I finished sweeping up the dirt and headed inside. I grabbed the door handle, turned it, and pulled. Nothing. It was locked.

I won’t say a wave of dread washed over me because it felt more like a Niagara Falls of dread inundating me. This couldn’t be happening. My kid is 16 months old. Figuring out a lock is not something he can do. (Or is it?) In my rage, I had flown outside sans phone or keys. I mean, who really takes all that when they pop into their backyard for a couple of minutes? And then I started to feel stupid. I was imagining myself having to walk over to one of my neighbors’ houses to ask to use the phone to call the police. I had decided I would feel less stupid asking the single dad next door than the lesbian couple on the other side of us; he might be able to relate, right? And then I started thinking about what would happen post police. How would I get my lock fixed? What were the repairs going to cost? And worst of all, what trouble could my kid get into inside on his own, completely unsupervised while all this was happening?

I took a breath and kneeled down. There was my little man smiling at me through a thin pane of glass and pulling on the door handle to let me in. I looked at him in a pleading way and begged for him to let me in. (Like he even knew what I was saying.) But by the grace of god, the lock toggle was still very interesting to him, so he continued to fiddle with it. I heard one click and lunged on the door handle. Perfect timing; the door was open once again.

All’s well that ends well, I guess, but I was seriously having a heart attack the whole time. I am still amazed that my toddler got the lock unlocked. What are the chances that he locked it in the first place? But I learned that I can’t take anything for granted anymore. So, I went out and had a spare set of keys made–that was a process in and of itself because apparently my door doesn’t have a normal lock–and hid them outside for the next time something like this happens. And lord knows with the busy body I’m raising, something like this is bound to happen again.

While I can laugh about the whole thing now, I felt–and still feel to some extent–like a crappy  mom. My kid was basically free range while I was flipping out on the dog. And it could’ve been disastrous. It was confirmed as a really bad situation when I recounted the whole incident to my best friend and all she could repeat was “no, no, no, no” at every turn of the story.

But it pays to have a lot of mommy friends on days like that. Because just as I was feeling like I was the world’s worst mother, another mommy friend texted me to say that she was the world’s worst mother. Somehow she locked her son in the car along with her cell phone and the keys. Again, it all turned out okay thanks to a stranger with a cell phone and AAA, but that didn’t help her from feeling any less guilty.

So my question is, do we as mothers hold ourselves to unreasonable standards? Has stuff like this happened all the time through the ages and we moms just take it personally because we feel like we should be SuperMom? Or is there a generation of women out there today that is just juggling too much in their daily lives that consequently their parenting skills are slipping (myself included)?

Always in retrospect, there’s the woulda, coulda, shouldas of any situation. If I could do it all over, I would’ve have grabbed my keys, and I could’ve also pocketed my phone, and I definitely should’ve just propped the door open to keep baby away from playing with it. But is it realistic to expect moms to think that proactively and preventatively on a daily basis? I mean, I know my friend and she’s not only a great mom but a vigilant one to boot, so I don’t take her claims of being the world’s worst mother seriously. But I know she does. And I definitely can relate, worst mother ever to worst mother ever.

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Filed under babies, moms, parenting

Fine Dining in the Frozen Food Aisle

There are two things that my kid can do that can send me over the edge on any given day. The first is put up a fight while I’m changing his diaper. The second is refuse to eat anything.

The diaper issues is more or less fixable. All it really takes is putting a firm forearm down across my baby’s torso. Sure, there’s some screaming sometimes, but it’s over rather quickly once the diaper is totally on.

But the latter? Not so much. And don’t think I haven’t tried to pretty much force feed my kid. I dare say that after about three days of refusing to consume anything solid other than Goldfish crackers, I’ve almost had him in a rear naked choke waiting for him to open his mouth to cry so I could cram a few spoonfuls of something with actual vitamins in his mouth. And it’s not like I lack any tricks of the trade. I have about a million distraction techniques in my repertoire. And still, it’s often a fight to get food into his face.

So, I recently have taken his refusal to eat as a challenge; I absolutely will find something that he wants to eat. This mission, however, has made me reneg on one of the few things I said I was never going to do as a mother: Let my kid eat crap food. But I have been losing in this battle over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it was off to the frozen food aisle for fortification.

Under normal circumstances, I rarely go into the frozen food aisle. Mainly because I just don’t like a lot of that stuff. I detest Lean Cuisine dinners, I think frozen pizza tastes yucky, and oven-baked french fries never taste as good as McDonald’s fries. So, you won’t find any of that in my freezer; instead, you’ll usually find a few bags of decaf coffee, a couple of tupperware tubs of leftover pasta sauce, and a steak or a salmon filet or two.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. So, into my cart went a bag of tater tots during the last grocery run. Followed by a box of mini chicken-and-cheese empanadas and a bag of chicken nuggets. I couldn’t pass up the fish sticks or the Stouffer’s french bread pizza. And oh wait, I forgot that there was such a thing as frozen vegetables, so I grabbed a bag of mixed veggies–diced carrots, peas, green beans, and corn. I couldn’t believe I was caving; I made my own baby food for god’s sake.

When mealtime rolled around again, I set the oven to 425 degrees and laid out a high fructose feast on a baking sheet. Twenty minutes later, I cut the crispy, crunchy canapés into cubes for my crumb cruncher. Tater tots got high marks from him, as did the pizza. He was pretty happy with the veggie medley, although it’s proved to be impossible for him to resist picking up those perfectly pint-sized pieces and pitching them across the kitchen. He’s warming to the chicken nuggets and the fish sticks, but the jury’s still out on the empanadas. He ate a whole one once, but I’ve yet to see a repeat.

While I’m disappointed that I seem to be a fast-food mom in the making, I wonder what the alternative is when you’ve got a kid who just won’t eat. At this stage in his young life, it would seem that calories are king. And while it would be great if they came from whole grains and organic vegetables, I guess I’ll just take them where I can get them, be it via fish stick or chicken nugget.

Photo: Courtesy Flickr.com

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Filed under babies, cooking, daily life, feeding, food, toddlers

The Write Choice

A friend of mine recently went to work for the mom-founded, mom-run upstart Juice in the City. So, I was using my Friday night to troll the company’s site since it’s expanding to the D.C. area soon. Basically, if you subscribe to stuff like Living Social or Doodle Deals, you’d probably be a fan of the Juice. It’s similar in that it offers discounts to cool stuff in your metro area, but it’s totally targeted to the mom in us.

Every day the site features a deal on anything from mommy-and-me painting classes to family portraits to mini van tune ups, all provided by locally owned businesses. Not only are the discounts great, but you can have the assurance that it’s a good deal on a good product or service because it’s been totally checked out by a local mom. I think it’s a really cool concept–a buy-local business built by moms for moms.

But that’s not really what this post about. While I was scavenging the site, I ran across this blog post, A Writer Mom’s Balancing Act. From one writer mom to another, it really struck a chord with me. Especially this part:

“We [writer moms] have an ever-present need to put words down. No matter what else demands our attention, no matter how severe our sleep deprivation, our personal muse is always hovering nearby whispering, ‘Write.’ We must write. But finding the time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can become more challenging than finding a needle in a haystack the size of Mount Everest.”

I write for a living. And that’s fun and rewarding. But what I really find fulfilling as far as writing goes are the hours I spend feeding this site. And I so have those same muses whispering in my ear to the point that if I go too long without posting, I start to feel bad, kind of guilty or something. It’s pretty silly–I mean, who’s really reading this thing anyway–but blogging has become a major part of my weekly routine. It’s very similar to when you get into a good exercise routine and then you miss a few days; you get all anxious to get back to the gym.

And so while it’s always hard to find free time when you’ve got a baby, it wasn’t until I had a baby that I was ever this disciplined about writing for myself. And I am grateful for that. Writing is just good for my soul and, until I became a mom, I didn’t really realize how much of myself I had been missing by not writing for fun frequently enough. Funny how for as much as babies can take from you–time, energy, patience, and all the rest–they give back more without even knowing it.

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Filed under babies, daily life, first year, moms, working mom, writing

Diary of a Diaper-Eating Doberman

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know my dog eats a lot, and specifically a lot of things he shouldn’t eat. Twice his strange eating behavior has landed him at the emergency vet and once he even had to have a scope to remove the foreign object from his stomach. So far his menu of banned items includes countless baby socks, two leather-soled baby booties swallowed whole, a seat belt, and most recently a diaper.

I never really worried about him eating diapers before because we have a Diaper Champ, which not only keeps dirty diapers from fouling up baby’s room but also keeps them safe from thieving Dobermans. But every once in awhile, I’d get lazy or forget and just chuck a dirty diaper in a regular trash receptacle. Now my dog will never let me live that mistake down.

I thought he was being good, chewing on the bone that I had just given him. But that was not the case, as I soon found white papery chunks littered around my living room. Upon inspection, I found that the dog had eaten the crotch clean out of what had obviously been a dirty diaper. I just kept imagining super absorbent diaper bits getting bigger and bigger in his digestive tract and knew that couldn’t be good. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple neighbors to take shifts watching the baby while I drove out the emergency vet to get the dog’s stomach pumped. The whole way I was kicking myself for not putting the damn diaper in the Diaper Champ.

So, with another lesson painfully learned, here’s a little poem in honor of the antidote to diaper-eating Dobermans:

Ode to the Diaper Champ

When I put you on my registry
I wasn’t sure you’d please me
Or if I really needed you
To stash all the baby poo

But wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Baby’s britches are a hot mess
We’ve definitely put you to the test
You’ve kept the room from stinking
Which is why I’m totally thinking

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Bring on the diaper blow out
You make it easy to throw out
A week’s worth of dirty underoos
Without leaving smelly clues

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Not only can I use my own sack
But you keep the dog from a tasty snack
Of diapers, dirty, ripe, and wet
And ending up at the E.R. vet

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

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Filed under babies, babyproofing, diapers, pets

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

Cool Mom or Just Crazy?

Every once in awhile the reality of my life slaps me right upside the head Joe Jackson style. Today it was the fact that I was driving home from baby’s French play group, rocking out through the rain and the traffic to Kidz Bop Monster Ballads.

I had often seen the Kidz Bop CD series and had no trouble taking a pass. The idea of a bunch of 8-year-olds singing anything from Lady Gaga to the Glee soundtrack sounded absolutely painful. But in a moment of weakness, the impulse buy got the better of me and I shelled out the $10 or so for the Monster Ballads version. I mean, seriously, bands like Poison, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Scorpion, and Firehouse definitely should have a place in my child’s musical education.

For as ashamed as I am to admit it, I love this CD. The playlist is amazing. How can you go wrong when it starts out with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and wraps up with “Love of a Lifetime”? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think it’s a toss up between “Winds of Change” and “Love of a Lifetime.” Probably because they remind me of dancing with a boy named John Goodenbury at a junior high dance at the local YMCA. I was seriously crushing on him and couldn’t believe he picked me for the most amazing slow dance double header of the night.

But while I kind of feel like a cool mom for moving beyond “Old McDonald Has a Farm” and other classic nursery rhymes for musical entertainment, I also have a sinking feeling that my listening to Kidz Bop makes me officially lame. I can imagine that if I had gotten a glimpse of myself belting out kid-ified versions of “I Remember You” or “High Enough” in my Volvo with a baby stuffed into a car seat in the back when I was young, single, and free, I would’ve been mortified. I’m pretty sure I would’ve thought, “Man, she needs to get out more.”

And maybe I do. But chances are next time I do, I’ll be rocking out to Brett Michaels’ kids covering his classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” And I’m okay with that.

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Filed under babies, daily life, moms, music

Confessions of a Cosleeper

Let me just set the record straight and say that I am not an advocate of cosleeping. Not only do I just not sleep well when baby’s in the bed with me, between him kicking me all night long and my worrying he’s going to roll off the bed, but I truly believe that parents and kids should have their own separate sleeping areas.

Some experts would argue that baby belongs in crib for the simple reason that it’s safer. That’s more than likely true, but I think it’s good for a number of other reasons:

  1. It’s undeniably better quality sleep for both baby and mom. Each can go through their normal sleep cycles undisturbed and without disturbing the other.
  2. A separate sleep area reinforces the idea of a bedtime, which naturally creates a much-needed schedule for both baby and parent.
  3. Babies need to learn to self soothe. In other words, they need to be comfortable putting themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night.
  4. Babies need to learn to be independent. That means not only sleeping independently but also figuring out how to amuse themselves in their cribs for a little bit so mom can press the snooze button once every so often.
  5. It’s a heck of a lot less messy. Between the drool and the wetting through the diapers, I’d rather change a crib sheet over my bed sheets any day.

But even I have to give into temptation every once in awhile. (There’s picture evidence to prove it.) Because let’s face it, it does feel awesome to have this sweet, sleepy baby curled up in the crook of your arm.

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However, this summer there was an inordinate amount of cosleeping going on. Way more than I’d like to admit, actually. So what was driving me to nearly do a 180? Here are the factors that I trace to that sudden uptick in baby-in-the-bed nights:

  1. I was missing my husband. Plain and simple. And being close to baby was like having a little piece of him next to me even when he couldn’t be. I guess it made me feel a little less lonely.
  2. It was nice to feel needed. This was probably a consequence of #1, but there is something gratifying when you can quiet a crying baby just by pulling him close.
  3. We were sleeping in the same room. We spent most of the summer at my mom’s, so baby and I were bunked into the same room. Although he went to sleep in his pack’n’play without a problem, if I started to get ready for bed at just the wrong point in his sleep cycle, it was all over. He was standing in his crib, wailing for me.
  4. We weren’t exactly alone. Throughout the summer, we had a number of guests slumbering in the room next door. So when #3 would happen, I felt obligated to find the fastest way to quiet baby down so his crying wouldn’t keep them up.

This combination of factors was like kryptonite to my cosleeper resistance. I found myself having a baby sleep-over, -on top of, -next to, and -under at least a couple nights a week. And I was exhausted each and every morning that it happened.

While this whole exercise made me appreciate the space and routine that I have in my own home, it also underlined for me just how important it really is that baby have his own digs. There’s less fussing and what little waking (if any) there is during the night is extremely short lived. Moreover, he’s sleeping sounder. When we were in the same room I could barely open the door before he was awake; now that he’s in his own room again, I can walk in with the dog trotting behind me, adjust his blanket, and even put a hand on him and he barely stirs.

In the end, my stint as a cosleeper ended up proving to me that baby and mommy really were better off in their own beds. Even if I miss hearing those last little yawns in my ear before baby books it into the land of nod.

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, first year, infants, naps, sleep