“Provided the test comes back fine, I’ll plan to see you back here in, let’s see…maybe June.” My OBGYN gave me a little smirk on his way towards the door.
“June? You mean next Feb– oh. You’re funny.”
It wouldn’t be an annual womanly checkup if Dr. H didn’t joke with me about trying for a third kid. I’d like to think it’s because I’m his favorite patient, and it’s just his way of saying he would like to hang out with me more often. (Is that a weird thing to say about your OBGYN? Because I feel like it might be weird. Even though I don’t mean it to be. It’s just that Dr. H is kind of the bomb – and a great conversationalist, considering the circumstances surrounding our interaction. Like, I’d totally go have a few beers with him…if he wasn’t checking up on the health and wellness of my lady bits.) However, as the father of seven or so children himself, I think his enthusiasm for me getting pregnant again simply comes from him being pro-baby…and pro-more income to pay for seven college tuitions. I also *may* have told him I would name the next kid after him. Continue reading “This Mom Thought About Having a Third Kid. See What Changed Her Mind!”→
Today it has been one year. A whole year of being able to answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” with the answer, “I’m a children’s author.” To be honest, I still feel a little funny saying it, and I’m not sure I will ever be used to it. Probably because for most intents and purposes, I still identify with being a stay-at-home mom: I do almost all of my work in my own house (although I now have a dedicated office with a white board and a stapler and paper clips and everything)…my day-to-day tasks still seem to take precedence over my writing (as my blogging hiatus during the months of September, October, and most of November clearly demonstrated)…and I’m still mostly just famous for being “Mrs. Suellentrop” or “Michael’s mom” in the school parking lot (or “the lady who always orders a large half cheese/half sausage pizza” at Imo’s).
But today marks the one year anniversary of the release of my very first children’s book, Absolute Mayhem. I feel nothing but gratitude for how it has been received. Every time someone tells me their children ask to read it over and over, or that they caught them pretending to be Lulu or Milo, I am beyond tickled. Regardless of the future success of this book or those to follow, how could an author ask for anything more?
In addition to the blessings that have happened over the last twelve months, I have also come to learn some very valuable lessons in my first year of being a published author:
#1 Forget rousing, motivational pep talks. “What’s the worst that can happen?” works just fine. It turns out the boon of a realized dream or the promise of becoming the next Sandra Boynton were never the kick in the pants I needed to finally pursue a career as an author. All it took was someone posing the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer: I fail. Or no one buys the book. Or readers say it ranks as rubbish. Or Amazon creates a new suggestion category that reads, “People who bought this item, DIDN’T also buy…” just so they can publicly shame my title. Okay, so all of those things are pretty hard to swallow for a girl who really doesn’t like being bad at things. But confronting those possibilities also made me honestly admit to myself that a little potential public shame was worth the risk. Besides, we could always move to one of those tiny houses off the grid if need be. Have you seen the tiny houses? They are adorable. Continue reading “What I Learned In My First Year of Being a Published Author”→
Mother’s Day. I recall being a kid and feeling a little jealous that moms got their very own holiday (because kids are too dumb to realize the national children’s holiday is just called “Life.”) I wanted to be a part of that club who got to go through the dinner line first and unwrap gifts on a day that wasn’t Christmas or my birthday. I just knew that once I became a mom, I would have it made in the shade every time the second Sunday of May rolled around.
Little did I know.
The advent of your first bumbling baby may give you the right to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. But what most new moms don’t realize is that there is a certain seniority at play. You aren’t immediately granted a free pass to a day of complete leisure and pampering. That has to be earned through the ranks of what I like to call “The Hierarchy of Mother’s Day.”
Level 1: The New Mom
You will probably get some nice jewelry from your husband, but just don’t even think about putting “sleeping in” on your wish list, especially if you’re nursing. Babies can’t read the universal memo, RE: Mom is Off the Clock Today. And they usually pick Mother’s Day as one of those “special” times when the touch, voice, glance, or even presence of anyone but Mom induces whines, tantrums, and neck clawing. So I hope you like that birthstone necklace. It’s all you’re getting this year.
Level 2: The Mom of Little People
Pinterest was invented for you. Keepsake plates decorated with your children’s adorable artwork. Footprints immortalized in garden stones. Ornaments of your children’s silhouettes. Jewelry charms made from precious fingerprints. Except YOU won’t be the one getting these gifts, because, duh…dads don’t do Pinterest. GRANDMA is going to be the lucky recipient of all these thoughtful and sentimental goodies. YOU will be the one busting your ass to get them all made while your kids try to shove quick-dry cement up their noses and stick their tongues out every time you try to snap a photo of their profiles. Then you get to dress the kids in their Sunday best (because again, duh, dads don’t do fashion) and herd them all to church before heading over to the big extended family celebration with your pot luck side dish (because, you guessed it, dads and Pinterest). But don’t worry. You are still going to have hella appreciation heaped upon you. Get ready for some pancakes with “secret” ingredients, construction paper cards with indecipherable writing, and glitter. Damn it.
Level 3: The Mom of Teens
During Level 2, you would have given your Target Redcard for everyone to leave the house for the day so you could have some uninterrupted peace and quiet. Now in Level 3, that’s all you get…because everyone is apparently hanging out at Taylor’s house breaking in her new pool table. Well, there was that text you got that says “HMD *heart emoticon, kissy face emoticon, taco emoticon.*”
Level 4: The Mom of Adult Children
Mother’s Day is becoming a sweeter affair by now. Your kids make money of their own and can finally start giving you something that doesn’t have a handprint on it. You may even get to be doubly celebrated as a mom AND and grandma, so there are bonus presents. But since your kids are likely busy being parents of tiny tots, working long hours, or just being self-absorbed d-bags (because there’s always one), everyone still looks to you for “the plan.” And it’s just as well, since your own 83-year-old mother broke her hip when she tripped over a Lego castle the last time she was at your daughter’s house, and she might catch any number of communicable diseases if the celebration is held at your son’s bachelor pad.
Level 5: The Eldest Matriarch
You’ve made it to the only level of The Mother’s Day Hierarchy where you don’t have to lift one.damn.finger. Everyone owes YOU. The party’s not at your house. You don’t have to cook a freakin’ thing. You’re first in line to eat. Good news: you are the Queen Supreme of all the Mothers. Bad news: that means your mom is dead.
Son of b. Looks like Mother’s Day kind of sucks for everyone.
Do you like your Mother’s Day with just a hint of truthful snark? Then you are going to LOVE these new cards designed by myself and three other über talented ladies: Emily of The Waiting, Meredith of Pile of Babies, and Ashley, writer at Mommyish. Emily had this great idea to put our heads together to create a Mother’s Day collection of cards that speak to the “real” and often hilarious side of motherhood. You know, non-Hallmark approved. We even made it so you can purchase and download any of these cards at our Etsy store to give to all the mamas in your life. Even better, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to an organization called Every Mother Counts, an non-profit that works to provide safe pregnancies and childbirth for women all over the world who don’t have access to the care and resources they need. So not only do you get to have a laugh at these cards, but your purchase also helps to ensure other mothers get the chance to find the humor in motherhood.
Here’s a sneak peak at the three cards I contributed to the collection:
To see the rest of the collection, go check them out on Emily’s blog, The Waiting, or head over to the Etsy store and get your own copies!
Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it!
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I’d like to kiss the person who invented internet parental controls.
Raising kids in this digital age usually terrifies me. The moment my tween daughter first asked me for her own iPhone without the slightest hint of joking in her voice was enough to make me regret not becoming Amish. But being the (fairly) modern people we are, we do allow our kids their technological romps, with all necessary precautions in place. Like internet parental controls. And thank God, because had we been Amish, or not able to trust internet filters, I would have missed out on one of the funniest things I have ever read: my 6-year-old son’s Google search history.
In addition to playing Angry Birds Star Wars and Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, my son loves utilizing the Google voice search function on my husband’s phone. He will sit there and just start saying crap as it comes to mind, seeing what results pop up on Google. (Hence, my extreme gratitude for parental controls.) The other night, my husband came into the bedroom laughing. He handed me his phone and told me to check out the search history.
When it comes to eating healthy, kids talk a big talk. But they usually walk the walk that leads them straight to the sugar high.
Case in point: I was recently at an elementary school reading my book, Absolute Mayhem, to the kids. At one point in the story, my character Milo is struggling to choke down his vegetables in as many unsuccessful ways as possible. I always stop and ask the kids, “You guys like vegetables, right?” I usually get a pretty resounding “Yes!” drowning out those few, *ahem*…darling children who always insist on giving the answer they know you don’t want to hear. However, when I turn the page to reveal Milo and his sister Lulu feasting on a sweet buffet that is the stuff of doctor’s and dentists’ nightmares, a wide-eyed, covetous look creeps across the face of every single child sitting on the reading carpet. It’s a look that says, Screw you, vegetables. Continue reading “3 Tips for Getting Kids To Eat Healthy (Hint: They All Involve Deception)”→
Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and I feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.) Continue reading “A Mother’s Advice for A 10 Year Old Daughter”→
Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and I feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.) Continue reading “Advice for a Double-Digits Daughter”→
There is nothing quite like breastfeeding to make a new mom feel like a complete failure at the most important job she will ever have. Scratch that. There is something else: a lactation consultant.
Now before anyone objects, let me say I am perfectly aware that nurturing and helpful lactation consultants exist and are likely the norm. I was lucky to have a good one after the birth of my first child. Unfortunately, despite all the help and understanding she provided, I struggled with little success to breastfeed my daughter. After latching problems, unsuccessful pumping sessions, a painful bout of thrush, and many tears, I gave up after a month. And man, did I feel the guilt. Hence my statement, “There is nothing quite like breastfeeding to make a new mom feel like a complete failure at the most important job she will ever have.” But guess what? Continue reading “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon”→
Currently, I am doing some part-time substitute teaching in a preschool classroom, which is a fairly new experience for me. Though I was a teacher once upon a time, I worked with high school and middle school students. So we are talking about pretty much the entire opposite end of the spectrum here. I always used to think I didn’t I have the special kind of patience required to be a preschool teacher. Older kids don’t need the same type of refined discipline and meticulously crafted rules as the little guys. I mean, that attention to detail is exhausting.
Yet now that I find myself in a preschool class a few days a week, I will admit I’m kind of loving it. Maybe being a mother has imbibed me with those particular survival skills I didn’t have during my earlier teaching days. Or maybe the fact that I know this is a temporary gig makes it easier for me to be charmed by the preschool life…similar to the way people make the argument that being a grandparent is better than being a parent. You get to eventually give them back to the person who is actually responsible for them: their real preschool teacher. Continue reading “Five Reasons You Should Hug A Preschool Teacher”→
“It’s fine. You have to work…again. Maybe we’ll snuggle tomorrow.”
My daughter said it in a way that let me know it most certainly was not fine. For being only nine years old, she sure has mastered how to lay on the guilt in a flawlessly passive-aggressive way, without knowing what passive-aggressive even means.
In my defense, it was 9:30 on a Sunday night, a half hour past her bedtime, when she wanted me to snuggle with her. But I really needed to get a jump-start on the week. I had two freelance deadlines, an author visit to prepare for, a blog to write, Lulu & Milo coloring pages to illustrate, contacts to touch base with, pieces of prose to submit, letters to compose, a sales tax report to file, networking to do, excel spreadsheets to create, two days of substitute teaching, a basketball practice to plan, Girl Scout cookie-selling to oversee, snack supplies to buy and send to school, a birthday present to find, laundry to catch up on…
You get the idea. My life looks like that of millions of other mothers. But some of this is new to me. After being a stay-at-home mom for the last nine years, I’m back working full-time. The last time I did that, I was responsible for zero children. Just a dog. And the only time she made me feel guilty was when I was eating a spoonful of peanut butter in front of her.
I am not the only one who has felt the adjustments that have come with me financially contributing to the family again. My kids have noticed that, even though I am physically home when I work, I’m not as present as I used to be. I know it is partly because I’m still trying to find this little elusive thing called balance, which is exceptionally slippery when you never actually leave your office. My six-year-old son only seems to be bothered if I ask him to be quiet while I work or if I don’t make his chocolate milk as quickly as he would like. But my daughter is extremely sensitive to it.
And it’s hard.
It’s hard because, despite having a seemingly never-ending schedule, I am finally doing what I love. And…here’s the sweet, syrup-soaked cherry…I’m getting paid for it. While I really did enjoy being an English teacher prior to becoming a parent, it wasn’t my dream job. It was my most favorite attainable job. My if-I’m-really-honest-with-myself-I-want-to-be-a-writer-but-I’m-afraid-of-failure-and-I-think-I-could-make-a-damn-good-teacher job. And I wouldn’t trade being home with my kids these last nine years for anything, not even Sandra Boynton’s career. Because I adored it and all its clichéd glory. But now…now I am a writer. An author even. Guys, sometimes I just can’t even. I can’t.
But then I see my daughter’s mopey face when I tell her maybe I can paint her nails tomorrow. She looks like one of those damn sad babies in Renaissance paintings. And that just makes me feel accosted by every blog post I’ve ever read about making time for your kids. Next thing you know, my kids will start spending all their time at Lucy’s house. And when Lucy’s mom says they should check with me to see if it’s okay to stay for dinner, Grace will get all quiet and sulky and say, “Mom’s not around very much. She won’t even notice we’re not home.” And then Lucy’s mom will mentally adopt my kids right then and there and tell them they can eat as many homemade oatmeal butterscotch cookies they want, since they obviously haven’t had a decent meal in months. And they can come over whenever they want. She even has extra pajamas for them. Oh my, God! Just back off, Lucy’s mom! I’m right here! I only told her I couldn’t snuggle tonight! Ease up on the Angelina Jolie complex.
Um, where was I? Oh yeah…
But I DID make time for them…for nine years. And frankly, I’m still making time for them. I’m still the coach and the Girl Scout leader and the classroom volunteer and the chauffeur and the Full House watching buddy and the snuggler and the problem solver and the laundry do-er. Okay, maybe not that last one. I sucked at laundry before. Now I’m just abysmal.
Yet, those times don’t seem to matter when it’s the one time I am refusing to be there.
Working mothers are lauded for showing our children it’s not just men who can successfully handle a career and family.
Working mothers should be seen as examples of possibility. Then why does my child just see me as neglectful?
I know part of this simply stems from things being different from how they were before. Had I always been a working parent, she wouldn’t feel as if something was being stolen from her. Because she would never have had it in the first place. And this isn’t like when her little brother was born and I explained that my heart would simply expand to hold my love for him. He wasn’t going to take away any that already belonged to her. Me going back to work is going to take away time that once belonged to her. Because try as I might, Time is pretty much that pair of pre-baby jeans that just.won’t.zip, no matter how badly we want it. Something’s gotta give. And it ain’t gonna be the jeans.
What I’m hoping is that this is a case of the sting still being too fresh for her. I’m hoping she will come around. I’m hoping she will be proud of me. I take that back. I know she is proud of me. And she is extremely proud of my book.
But maybe one day she will realize that I wanted to be her mom AND a writer not because being her mom alone wasn’t enough…but because being her mom made me enough, so I could finally become a writer.
I guess I owe her a pretty big snuggle for that.
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