Category Archives: moms

Dadchelor Parties: A Dream or a Disaster?

I saw this segment on ABC Nightline last week about “Dadchelor” parties becoming all the rage among soon-to-be daddies. In fact, according to one expert interviewed during the segment, roughly 1 in 5 dads has a dadchelor party.

If you’re like me and don’t know a single dad whose had such a party, a dadchelor party is a man’s version of baby shower. And because its usually given by men for men, it tends to end up looking seriously similar to a bachelor party, with loads of booze and questionable entertainment generally lasting well into the wee hours of the morning.

It would appear that most soon-to-be mommies aren’t exactly big on this idea. It’s totally immature, but I personally think it’s brilliant.

Leave it to men to figure out how to take the idea of a baby shower to the next level. How lame do ladies lunches with traditional shower games seem next to a party bus full of raucous friends with a final destination of the nearest casino? And the diaper keg is ingenious. Basically how it works is every dadchelor party participant brings a box of diapers to the party in exchange for booze. I also really like the idea of bringing a new stroller full of beer or drink-with-me Elmo games, as shown in this dadchelor party spoof:

But while I find this whole dadchelor idea totally creative on the part of soon-to-be dads and their degenerate friends, I sincerely do think it’s a good idea. From what I gather from a lot of my mommy friends, nearly every husband has a freakout moment before the birth of his first child. (Mine most definitely did.) It most often looks nothing like a soon-to-be mommy freakout. Rather than coming on fast and furiously like a freakout does for soon-to-be moms (thanks, hormones!), soon-to-be daddy drama usually builds builds slowly and sort of festers before exploding, usually after some serious nagging by the moms to get off their duff and do something on that honey-do-for-baby list.

That trigger for a lot of soon-to-parents is the issue of the nursery. Moms totally stress about getting the nursery ready and especially about setting up the crib. Dads generally don’t have the same urgency in dealing with those tasks, which drives most moms absolutely nuts. I see this lack of urgency almost as a subconscious refusal to deal with the reality of having a baby. It’s like a last grasp to hold on to life as they’ve known it. No crib roughly translates to more time to still be the kind of married-without-kids carefree that they’ve enjoyed for some time. Conversely, the crib is a physical reminder that those days are seriously numbered. And this reticence has nothing to do with not being excited about a baby or the prospect of being a dad.

So, maybe a dadchelor party is just the cathartic experience that some dads need to reconcile their fears with reality. Sure, life changes in a big way post baby, but it’s in a good way. You don’t just stop being the person you were, but you do start to learn more about the person you are. I get that for a lot of dads it’s scary to be looking at an overnight change. Personally, I wished I’d have known about these dadchelor parties back when I was pregnant. I think my husband would’ve totally benefited from one last blowout before getting down to the real business of baby.

Admittedly I would’ve also been jealous had he had one. I’m not sure when I’ll get a night on the town dadchelor style. But maybe that’s where a compromise is in order. Dad gets a dadchelor night out and mom gets a post-baby moms-gone-wild night. Sounds like a deal to me.

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Filed under daddy care, dads, diapers, family, infants, marriage, maternity, mom style, mommy care, moms, nesting, newbie parents

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

Sunday Funday

Most days my former single life seems forever ago. (Oh wait, it was.) But this morning, as I cruised by Target before strollering on home from the gym, it occurred to me that maybe my college days weren’t as far behind as I would have thought. Just take a look at my so-called grocery essentials:

The Essentials

That’s right: beer, bread, peanut butter, milk, and a light bulb. (In order of importance, to be sure.) I’m not even sure in college I had so much in common with a 19-year-old frat boy.

But maybe babies actually make parents retreat to what actually is really important in life–basic food and fun. It’s hard to believe that a college sophmore could possibly know more about what’s truly important in life than a 33-year-old mommy. But maybe college kids really do have their life priorities in order. At least for an NFL Sunday.

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Filed under booze, cooking, daily life, food, moms

Stay at Home or Work? Every Mom’s Big Decision

As I was trying to shovel applesauce into a screaming toddler’s grimacing mouth the other morning, I saw this news segment on TV that asked: Who’s got it worse, working moms or stay at home moms? According to a University of Washington study, stay-at-home moms are more likely to be depressed. But the caveat is that those working moms who try to be super moms–meaning they have unrealistic expectations of work-life balance–were more depressed. The big takeaway being that any way a mommy slices it, she’s likely to run up against depression at one time or another.

I have thought a lot about this question over the past couple of years, as I struggled to decide whether to stay home full time with my wee one or go back to work. I’ve also seen a lot of mommy-friends come up against the same big question–and come up with different answers. But as I look across the spectrum of full-time moms to full-time professionals with kids on the side, one thing is clear: No one has it easy. Each work-life permutation that I’ve come across has moments that are positively overwhelming and definitely worthy of a whimper or two.

Of course I’m painting with a very broad brush, so bear with me, but most of my stay-at-home mommy-friends’ struggles stem from the fact that they are indeed home all the time. While it’s wonderful that they get to spend every waking moment with their precious wee ones, many of them seem to feel that they’ve lost a little of their shimmer and shake along with their connection to the working world. They’ve got a good grip on all things domestic–their laundry baskets aren’t overflowing and the litter box doesn’t stink–but finding things to do and places to go with the wee ones other than the grocery story and Target isn’t exactly easy. Hooking up with playgroups, classes, and activities can be as much work as dating or interviewing for a new job.

Life for working moms, on the other hand, is seriously programmed. From the moment the alarm rings to moment the last kid is in bed, it’s go-go-go time. In a way that’s good because a day can just fly by,  but one small glitch and the wheels are nearly going to fall off. There is absolutely no time for stuff like misplaced keys, runaway dogs, or flat tires. (My mommy meltdown of the week was over a broken back gate.) There’s so little time to take care of the basics that anything that requires extra, special, or immediate attention feels like a way bigger deal than it probably truly is. But having way too much to do in way too little time is the reality.

So, whether its about feeling invisible or inadequate, life for any mom, regardless of employment situation, can be stressful if not downright depressing. This realization begs the question whether there can really ever be a good work-life balance.

One of my brother-in-laws had a very good “dad” response to that question. He said that he knew he was close to striking that point when he felt like he was just doing in his estimation “good”–not fantastic or great but not bad or terrible either. It sounds a little depressing, but I get what he meant. It’s like if he was being a super star at work, he knew he wasn’t being the dad he wanted to be. And if he was being super dad, he probably wasn’t putting in the time or effort at his job that he should. So, when he was doing well enough, that was balance. I guess that makes him the good-enough father before there was the good-enough mother.

While I think that’s a truly honest assessment of the situation most young parents find themselves in, it’s not exactly prescriptive. The best how-to advice I ever heard was unsurprisingly from my best friend. (It’s always funny to me that you never really have to go far for good advice.) As an executive at a well respected, Fortune 1000 company, she’s definitely corporate to the max; however, she’s also a great mom who adores being with her kids, so she knows all too well how delicate that balance between a successful career and home life is. As I was blubbering to her about my decision to work or not to work, she finally told me the way she would have it, if she could: work 3-4 days a week, with the flexibility to work from home, and limited travel. And it dawned on me–isn’t that the way most mommies would have it? You’re home enough, but not too much, you have a little bit of income, and you still stay connected to the world that’s 18 and older.

But sadly, few of us are afforded that luxury of flexibility and those that have it cherish it. A lot of school teachers have a pretty good gig, working the same hours that their kids are in school and then summers off. But I learned recently that most female doctors only work three days a week because of this issue of family, and I instantly regretted my career decision. I certainly could have made a lot more money for the years I spent in school and have as close to a perfect work-life balance as possible. But I’ve got to imagine, or at least hope, that maybe the business world is in the process of changing to accommodate families needs to have moms and breadwinners. Maybe by the time Gen Y decides to have kids, the flex schedule will be more commonplace than it would seem today. Because the reality, at least according to that University of Washington study, is that as a mommy, you’re far from escaping depression at some point, no matter if you’re at home or at work.

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Filed under baby blues, family, moms, stay-at-home moms, working mom

All Boy From Here On Out

This morning I came face to face with the reality that I have a boy not a baby on my hands.

We were on our way out the door. I need to put the stroller in the car, so I set the not-so-wee one down in the driveway while I started folding down the third row of seats in my car. I figured he’d maybe toddle into the garage and annoy the dog for a minutes. I got one seat down, popped the stroller in the back of the car, and turned around to grab the baby to hoist him into his car seat. My dog was standing right next to me, but no baby. A little panic flared up, but I quickly convinced myself that he hadn’t gone far.

Turns out he had wandered over to my mom’s little shade garden. No biggie. And actually he looked kind of cute playing in among all the plants. But as I looked at him, something wasn’t right. His hair was soaking wet. I took two more steps closer to him and realized that it wasn’t just his hair; both his jacket and pants were soaked. My child–yes, the one that just a half hour before had had a bath–had found the sprinkler.

But it wasn’t just that his once-dry clothes were now sopping wet. No, just sticking his hands and face into the sprinkler wasn’t quite enough. A medium sized pool of mud and dirt had collected around the base of the sprinkler and my child was sitting, splashing in it. Of course that looked like loads of fun, so the dog jumped in.

I’m totally running late, so I run over and grab the kid, taking him far, far away from the sprinkler. He was covered in head-to-toe mud, so I started stripping my just-bathed child down in the middle of the driveway. I took off his jacket and threw it on the ground. I started shimmying off his pants when the dog stole the jacket and ran circles around me with it hanging out of his mouth. So now I’m chasing the dog around the driveway and my filthy offspring is toddling around behind me, one thunder thigh still in his pants and the other bare. Somehow he wriggled his one leg free of the pantleg and took off toward the house just as I nab the jacket from the dog. Looking for more fun times, the dog bounded toward him. The kid basically turned right into the dog, losing his balance, and face planting into the cement garage floor.

I collect my bawling child, tie up the dog, and head to the car; I am 20 minutes late at this point. I put my kid in the car seat– soakied onesie, dirt-filled shoes, and all–and realize that with his tumble we’ve now added blood to this mix of dirt and water. His cheek was swollen and crosshatched with scratches. I couldn’t believe he’d already stopped crying.

Needless to say, hot mess pretty much sums the whole ridiculous situation up. The one redeeming part was that I fortunately had a set of dry clothes in a diaper bag stashed in the car, so I was able to change him in the church parking lot. (Classy.) And I was able to clean up the blood and dirt on his face with a baby wipe. But there wasn’t much I could do about the dirt caking his feet. It’s safe to say this little boy is definitely all boy.

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Filed under boys, daily life, moms, pets, photos

My First Stroller Derby

One of my summertime projects has been to get back into running. See, I signed up to run the Army Ten Miler this fall with a group of mommies like me who have wee ones and soldier husbands. Our team is called the “Military Mommas” and to motivate us through those 10 undoubtably painful miles, we’re raising money to support the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for military family members while their soldiers undergo medical treatment. (Click here if you’d like to donate.) While the charitable fundraising is helping pump me up for the run, it’s not doing the work for me, so I decided to sign up for the Save the River 5K last week as a fun way to log some miles.

This particular 5K is a little event–about 300 participants–and anything but competitive. It’s one of those small-town events where it’s ok to walk, kids and grandparents are totally invited to participate, and strollers are more than welcome on the course. I used to be a runner, but it’s been a good five years and change since I could last call myself one, so this low-key event was so my speed (or lack thereof). Given the baby-friendly set up, I decided to take the wee one along for the run and fun.

I run with baby and the buggy from time to time, but this was my first baby-in-tow race and I definitely learned a few things about being a mom on the run:

  1. Learn to be loud. Chances are you’re not going to be the first up at the starting line–stroller pushers tend to wind up near the back of the herd–so find your stride becomes first about just finding a clear path. You don’t realize how much extra room you need to maneuver when you’ve got your front traversing wheel locked into a stationary position for a better ride, so moving through the crowd becomes a little more difficult, especially when the people ahead of you are doing their own thing. Many thanks to my friend Eva who was clearly a good 30 seconds faster than I and was alerting people to watch out behind them that a stroller was coming through as she passed them. I actually heard someone call her a bitch for doing it–mostly because she passed them, I think–but I thought she rocked because as much as I wished my Baby Trend Jogger had a horn, it didn’t. And god knows I didn’t have enough breath left to do my own shouting–on your left!
  2. Don’t run alone. Misery definitely loves company, so I count myself lucky enough to have a couple of friends do the race with me because I think I can officially say it would have been rough to do it alone. Somewhere into mile 2, I know I definitely looked at my friend Lesley and said, “This sucks.” But having a running partner (or two or three) was a lot of fun, too. I know as Lesley and I came into the last half mile we decided to pick up the pace and as we were sprinting toward the finish, our heavy breathing was definitely punctuated from time to time with encouraging words to each other like, “We can do this.”
  3. Water breaks are for sissies. There were two water stations along the course. I wasn’t thirsty when I ran past the first one, but when I saw the second I was dying for something at least sort of cool. I let go of the stroller handle to grab a cup and as soon as I did I realized that there was no way this water thing was going to happen unless I stopped. Not only was water splashing out of the cup, but I felt like I could barely steer the stroller. And seriously, stopping was not an option because I was never going to get the baby rig going again if I did. Next time around I’ll definitely have a water bottle with a squirt top stuffed into the cup holder.
  4. You’ll make insta-friends. When you’re working a stroller at one of these races, you automatically start picking out other stroller runners and kind of naturally gravitate toward each other. I had seen two mommies with their strollers before the race that sort of caught my eye, mainly because they had the same stroller as I did, their babies looked to be about the same age as mine, and they looked like they could tear up some asphalt with three wheels. (Turns out one was a half marathoner and the other was a triathaloner.) As I headed into mile 3, I saw the two of them up ahead of me. They got hung up at the water station, so I ended up passing them. But after the race, the two mommies wheeled over to me to congratulate me on my finish. I was kind of blown away–my face was too red to have made my finish look easy–but I thought it was really cool of them. Turns out we had more than just the strollers in common–their husbands too are military–so it was a fun way to meet some new people.
  5. It’s more fun that you think it’ll be. I set out with no goal other than to finish. But just being with the crowd on a nice day on the River turned out to be quite a bit of motivation. I ended up finishing in the top quartile–if you want to check out the rankings, you can find them here–despite what during my running heydey would’ve been an embarassing time. But out of all the fun runs I’ve done over the years, I definitely won’t forget this one because it felt awesome to hear someone yell, “You’re the first stroller!” as I ran over the finish line. Of course I would’ve felt even better about my final results had there a 1 minute handicap, but it was enough to know I at least finished in front of the only dad I saw with a stoller at the start line.

So, it was a lot of fun and just what I needed to help me get a little closer to be ready for the big 10 mile trudge in the fall. Many thanks again to my running buddies–definitely couldn’t have done it without you–and to Save the River for organizing such an awesome event. Definitely signing up for the stroller division next year!

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Filed under activities, babies, baby travel, daily life, fitness, health, military families, mommy care, moms, photos, strollers, workouts

Three Lessons for All Moms

I recently had lunch with three mommy friends that I’ve known since elementary school. (It seriously makes me so proud to be able to say that we’re all still friends after all these years.) Lunch with these ladies, who are all either two or three times more experienced at the mommy thing, is always enlightening if not totally entertaining.

Part of what makes it so fun to continue to get together is its a chance to take stock of what’s changed.

For example, one of my mommy friends ordered an unsweetened ice tea to go with her lunch. Another friend looked at her, shuddered, and said, “Whoah, unsweetened? That’s hardcore.”

That just about sums up how exciting the mommy life is. So long gone are the days of sneaking out of dances to meet up with boys. Or trekking through the woods at night to a bonfire kegger. Or backpacking through nine countries in eight weeks. Hardcore is now defined as living without the little luxury of a lump or two of sugar.

But what hasn’t changed is the uniqueness and humor with which each one of these women approaches life, and especially the responsibilities and realities of mommyhood. I’ve learned (and laughed) so much from their own stories of success and failure when it comes to keeping it together with kids. Here are three gems that I can’t resist passing on:

Lesson #1: You can avoid extraneous meltdowns. When my friend had her first child, she came up with a rule to keep the crying to a minimum. The rule was simple: You can cry if there’s blood. I didn’t even have kids at the time that I first heard this mom logic, and it still struck me as a brilliant idea. Now that I am a mom, it’s pure genius. I can’t wait to start pulling this one out. Take that minor bumps and tumbles, we’re saving tears for bigger drama!

Lesson #2: It’s okay to keep a secret. This trick of the mommy trade kind of traces back to the old adage of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” My mommy friend, for example, doesn’t tell her kids when the fair is in town. In fact, she doesn’t even drive down the street next to the fairgrounds during that week. (It didn’t even occur to me that I could do this as a mom!)

She’s totally figured out that life can go so much more smoothly without the questions, begging, complaining, and crying that go hand-in-hand with kid-magnet activities like county fairs. This isn’t to say that my friend doesn’t take her kids to places like fairs; it’s just that she’s gotten savvy to fact that she can totally circumvent the annoying and/or exhausting build-up to the event.

Two caveats: This technique works better with the not-yet-literate set and is by no means foolproof, as my mommy friend can attest. Her child started inquiring about the fair after a play date with another child whose parents weren’t keeping the same secret.

Lesson #3: Never forget to make your kid feel special every day. I had a little exchange with my friend’s four-year-old son the other day that I thought was so reflective of the type of my mommy my friend turned out to be. Her little boy said, “Do you know what the most beautiful word in the whole world is?” I, of course, said, “No, tell me.” He said, “Thomas.” That was of course his name. And what he said was, of course, so very true. That’s totally what every kid should be taught. Every day.

So, thank you to my friends for sharing these pearls. From the practical to the sweet, I feel so much better prepared to navigate mommyhood thanks to you.

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Filed under daily life, moms, newbie parents, parenting