“The Days are Long…”

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I read a great quote the other day about parenting: The days are long but the months are short. 

I’m finding this especially true this week, which is my first solo week with both the kids (and both the dogs). The days seem eternal. Heck, the time from when they wake up to the time to the baby’s first nap seems eternal. Don’t even get me started on how bath time feels like it takes 6 hours. But, at the same time, the thought that the baby will be eight months old on Saturday blows my mind. 

I’m glad, though, that the days feel long. I know that when I look back many short years from now and think about when my kids were babies, I’ll know that I felt every minute (good and bad) of the time I spent with them. I think that will bring me a sense of peace and help me not to miss those babies as much when I’m in the company of their adult-selves.

Acting Crazy to Stay Sane

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During bath time last night, both the baby and the toddler started wailing at the same time for no apparent reason aside from the fact it was getting close to bed time (fatigue will do that to a kid). After about five minutes of trying to put lotion on the baby and bathe the toddler through this noise, I sat back on my heels, looked at them both, smiled wide and said,” You guys, we’re having SO MUCH FUN!”

They both stopped crying and looked at me like I was crazy. Not going to lie. I felt kinda crazy. Needless to say they both went back to crying  almost immediately. But I felt better. 

Sometimes, in a ridiculous, how-did-I-get-here moment, acting a little crazy will help you stay sane.

Believing in Aliens

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Like the rest of the world, I’ve been intrigued with the lost Malaysian Airlines plane. In today’s world when we can find our cell phones from miles away, how can something so large just vanish? There were so many fanciful theories about what happened that it was hard to keep up. I’m actually surprised that abducted by aliens wasn’t listed as a viable option.

A few friends of mine on Facebook (and yes, they really were friends and not just people I’d met once who friended me) posted an article suggesting that there was a simple explanation: a fire on board and the pilots lost consciousness. This made complete sense. After today’s news, it looks like he was probably not far off. Occam’s razor. The simplest explanation is most likely the correct explanation. 

So, it got me thinking: Why do we look for such complicated explanations when, really, the simplest is most likely the correct one. We’re told over and over again by every guru around that we need to simplify our lives. Get rid of clutter. Donate old clothes if you haven’t worn them in a year. Reduce the number of emails in your inbox. Figure out what is essential to your happiness and forget the rest. 

We dedicate so much time (and money) to simplifying our lives but then assume that the world around us is complicated. We struggle and fight to create a place of zen in this fast-paced and difficult world. But maybe the world isn’t as confusing and challenging as we make it out to be. Maybe we make it complicated because that is a way of not having to accept the simplest of truths: We are each responsible for our own actions and the outcomes of those actions.

It’s easy to pass off responsibility when you have a complicated world to blame things on. It’s easy to avoid dealing with life’s difficult experiences when you can focus on fanciful reasons why something may have happened. By accepting that the world is a simple place we also have to accept that life is not fair, some days are hard, and the only person who can improve a life is the person living it.

Some days, it’s easier to simply believe in aliens.  

Let Me Miss You

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I am plagued with maternal guilt. This is not new since, as a mother, it’s nearly impossible not to feel guilty almost all the time. “I’m not reading enough with my kid.” “I’m not taking my kid outside enough.” “I’m being too harsh on him and he’s going to hate me for it.” “I’m not being harsh enough and she’s going to be a brat.” My personal battle is with the “I shouldn’t take time to myself because I’m abandoning my kids” issue.

I realized just how badly I was suffering last weekend when I sprinted out to the mall during nap time and it took me a full 45 minutes to slow down and realize that I could enjoy the time to myself. There was no need to rush home. Daddy was there. Everyone was asleep, for pete’s sake. Slow down, window shop, and chill the hell out. I finally did and was able to pick up a few cute things that I needed for my upcoming weekend away with the girls for a bachelorette.

Cue maternal guilt. I am beyond excited to head to the beach for a weekend in the sun with my best friend to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. We’ll hang out by the pool. We’ll drink at random times during the day. We’ll go out to dinner (and not have a baby strapped onto our fronts). We’ll go dancing. I. Am. Pumped. 

I also feel so guilty. I’m abandoning my children. They’ll be without me for an entire three days. I am a terrible mother. 

Rationally, I understand this is ridiculous. My mother travelled for work a lot when I was growing up and my sister and I turned out just fine. We have a fantastic relationship with her and always have had. My relationship with my 2-year-old and 6-month-old is not going to suffer because I was away for 3 nights. 

In fact, our relationship will likely improve. I have a friend who says, “let me miss you.” It’s so true. My kids (and husband) need to miss me. And I need to miss them. I need to recharge my batteries and they need to get to spend some quality time together without me jumping in to do things “my way” all the time. Daddy does just fine when he’s doing it his way. And I see that every time I leave. When I get back, my kids go to both of us for hugs, kisses, and help. Not just me. And I love it. 

I know that I’m going to be so sad walking out the door tonight knowing that I won’t see my babies for three whole days and nights. But I also know that I’m going to have an amazing time, feel like an independent adult, and, wait for it, get to relax. It will be amazing. 

Come Sunday, though, I’ll be so ready to get home.

Hiccups

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Some people are prone to coughs. Some to earaches. Me? I’ve always been prone to hiccups. I got them when I was little when I laughed too much. I get them now that I’m older when I drink too much. 

When I was five, I had a terrible case of the hiccups. I couldn’t get rid of them. My sister and I walked into my babysitter’s room to tell her I had the hiccups (as if she couldn’t hear me hiccuping across the apartment). She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Ok. But I have a question for you. Did you break my duck?” She had a stuffed animal puppet that was a duck. When you put it on your hand, inside where the mouth was, there was a bulb you squeezed and the tongue rolled out. She said we’d broken it.

“This was a gift from my fiancé. It was the first gift he ever gave me. I’m very upset. Who broke it?” We were petrified. We hadn’t done it but were being accused of breaking this very special toy. We looked at each other. We looked at her. Blood drained from our faces. We were good kids. We didn’t break things. We didn’t touch other people’s stuff. 

“How are your hiccups?” she asked.

“Wh-wh-what?” I stammered?

“How are your hiccups?” She asked again. Smiling this time.

“They’re gone.” I said, my surprise evident in my voice.

“Good. When I was little, the nuns at my school always told us the best way to get rid of the hiccups was to scare them out of you.” She said. Then, she tucked the duck puppet over her hand, squeezed the bulb, and stuck his tongue out at us.

Hitting is Not Love

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This makes me sad: “Despite previous beating, Rihanna back with Chris Brown.” Now, I’m one of those people who doesn’t really care what celebrities do with their lives. They’re people, just like the rest of us, who have a passion for being in the public eye (a.k.a. narcissism?) But when I see stories like this, where two celebrities who are role models for young women and men engage in dangerous behavior with no regard for the consequences, it makes me sad. Very, very sad. 

Yes, there are other celebrities who do dangerous or stupid things. Most of these things, however, are so frowned upon by society that young fans cannot brush away the act easily. Lindsay Lohan drinks and drives (among other things). Kids know that that is dumb and will tell you so. But Rihanna, a victim of domestic violence, goes back to her abuser claiming that “it’s different now.” Most kids will talk about how that is true love or how romantic that is. The fact is that it is neither true love nor is it romantic. It’s dangerous. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will be victims of domestic violence during their life. 1 in 12 women have be stalked by their partner. 30%-60% of abusers will also abuse children in the home. And, this one was was the most startling to me: “In 70%-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man abused the woman before the murder.” 70% – 80%? That is incredible.

Rihanna, like many victims who return to their abusers, claims things have changed. How exactly? Is she going to stop it next time? Why? What has changed that will give her the power to stop her abuser from hitting her? Does she think he won’t hit her again? He will. No matter how much community service he has to do, he is still unable to control his anger. This is a guy who just a few days ago, beat the crap out of another R&B singer, Frank Ocean…over a parking space. This is not a guy who is in control of himself.

I’m sorry for Rihanna in the same way that I’m sorry for any victim of domestic violence or abuse. It is a vicious spiral that is incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of, even with a wonderful support system. She has to do it in the public eye with people she’s never met criticizing her (like me). But, in reality, if she wants to go back to her abuser, that is her decision. I hope that her support system is strong enough to help her the next time he lands her in the hospital.

The ones I am truly saddened for, however, are her fans. Young women and men who will see this story not as one of abuse, but as one of deep and passionate love. Hitting is not love. Returning to your abuser is not love. Promising that this time will be different is not love. It is domestic violence. It is dangerous. It is wrong.

The Meaning of Fear

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The Meaning of Fear

Last night, I learned the meaning of fear. My 10-month-old son was sitting on the floor, playing when he lost his balance and fell backwards, hitting his head. I was immediately seized by heart-stopping terror. He cried and I picked him up and kissed him and held him. He was fine. I was not. For the next 30 minutes or so, I couldn’t stop shaking. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t laugh at my husband’s attempts to cheer me up. All I could do was think about the what ifs. What if he had hit that sweet spot on his head that my cousin hit when she fell off her horse – a fall that resulted in her death? What if he threw up in his sleep as a result of the bump and choked? What if he didn’t wake up? 

My mind kept whirring around these horrible questions and the terror closed in on me like a fire blanket, putting out all optimism and hope I had. After half an hour, I was finally able to explain (poorly) to my husband what was the matter with me. We talked about it. He didn’t totally get it but he listened and respected it. I said that the word terror didn’t begin to explain what I felt. I said that I knew this was just the beginning. After all, everyone knows boys spend a signifiant amount of their youth getting scars, broken bones and war wounds. I said I would be ok. I think I was. Then.

Today, I keep getting AP updates on my phone about this unspeakable tragedy in Newton, CT. 30 people dead. Most of those children. I have again spent today gripped in the iron claws of terror. What if that had been my baby’s daycare? What if he had been hurt? What if he had been killed? I find myself, for the first time in my life, unable to stay in the present. Unable to push aside fears of what ifs. I find myself, once again, seized by fear, unable to break free. No one told me about this part of being a parent. If they had, if I could have truly understood, I might have thought a little harder about it.

At the end of the day, I know that I still would have wanted children and I know that my husband and I would still have decided to two-legged children to our existing four-legged ones. I also know that no matter how much someone had tried to explain to me the true meaning of fear, that as felt by a parent, I could never have understood. The same is true for the true meaning of love. If someone had tried to explain that to me before I had a son, I could never have understood. I do now. I also understand that fear is the price you pay for love. It’s not fair and it’s not pretty but it’s true.  

As I sit here struggling to think positive thoughts so that I don’t burst into tears when I pick up my son from daycare, I’ll try to remember that this panic inducing fear is a part of the intense love I was awakened to the moment my son was born. Without my son, I wouldn’t know the meaning of fear. Without my son, I wouldn’t know the meaning of love. I’ll take the fear any day.

This is a very well put overview of Malala’s story and the struggle for female equality in education under Islamic extremist regimes.

THE VIBE 101

According to Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of LOVE overcomes the love of POWER, the world will know PEACE.” – such humble words underpinning a compelling, hopeful message. Words, no matter how simple, can speak volumes. Words can inspire. Words can be the catalyst for change.

This brings me to the story of Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl, described as a peace activist, who was shot in the head by Taliban extremists, merely for fighting for what should be every child’s right – to be educated.

Since 2007, Malala’s hometown of Swat has been infiltrated by the Taliban regime, which has set about imposing their will on residents through the use of fear and intimidation1. Under Taliban rule, “men have been forced to grow beards, opponents of their beliefs are beheaded and women are prevented from going to the market”2. Furthermore, “schools have…

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A Trip to the Political Kitchen

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I don’t like to talk about my political views but I can stay silent no longer. Mitt Romney insults me so deeply every time he talks about women that I can’t even look at him anymore. As I watched last night’s debate, I felt sick at the idea that this man might become our next president. From the “binders full of women” to his false concern for “gender equality,” every comment he makes about women is condescending and antiquated. Let’s not even get me started on his views about women in the workplace and who gets to control a woman’s body. Actually, you know what? Let’s.

Here’s a question for you, Mitt: Did you think about the “binders full of women” comment before you said it? Were you aware of how ignorant and sexist it sounded? “Look, Bob! The woman on page 3 can read, write and looks dynamite in a skirt!”  I’m 99.9% certain that no strategist on his team told him to talk about these “binders.” If they did, they should be fired immediately. I’m convinced that he thought of that one all by himself. I think a lot can be learned from what people say when they haven’t been prepped. This provides us a great insight into the mind of Mitt. Women are all the same size and shape and, as such, can be gathered into binders where men can easily sift through and find the ones they like. Here’s some news for you buddy, I don’t fit in a binder. None of the extremely intelligent and gifted women I know can be contained by a 3-ring hole punch. If you’d paid one iota of attention during your many years of spectacular leadership at your companies, you’d know that. But, clearly, you didn’t.

The follow up to the famous “binders” comment had to do with flextime. Now, here the Mittster and I agree. Flextime is an important addition to the workplace. I have long been a huge advocate of flextime. I am not a morning person. I am an afternoon person. I can get twice as much done between the hours of 2pm and 6pm than I can between 8am and 12pm. Let me work when I want to work and I will give you a better product. Guaranteed. I will add that the same is true for my husband (who is a man, Mitt, so pay  attention). He defines the term “night owl.” His most productive hours are from 10pm – 2am. I kid you not. If you let him work from home and have flextime, he will crank out an excellent product. If you force him to go in at 8am, he will have a much harder time. So, flextime is good. We are agreed.

Here is where I take issue with you, Mitt. Instituting a policy of flextime so that women can “get home and cook dinner” is not the right way to promote your forward thinking. Yes, I want to be able to spend time with my family during the week. Yes, I happen to be the primary person who cooks in my family. No, my family will not starve without me. No, I do not spend all my free time in the kitchen, barefoot. Again, this comment about women getting home to cook dinner is an insight into that prehistoric little mind of Mitt’s. Did it occur to you, Mitt, that I want flextime so that I can be more productive at work? How about wanting flextime so that I can go to my kid’s games? Or, even better, what if I want flextime so that I can give back to my community through volunteering? Why do you assume that all women want flextime because they need to go home and make dinner? That is insulting not only to women but also to the many men who get dinner on the table every night for their families. They should be recognized for the roles they play at home as well as those at work and in their communities. So should women. We are complex beings, Mitt. We are capable of doing much more than having babies and cooking for them.

And speaking of having babies, Mitt, let’s chat about this whole rape/abortion thing. I’m glad that you have moved into somewhat more recent times and can say that you support a women’s right to choose whether or not to have a baby if her life is in danger from the pregnancy. That’s big of you. You should also congratulate yourself, as I know you do, on agreeing that in cases of rape and incest a woman should also have the right to make a decision about the future of her body and her life. Here’s the thing: how is she supposed to prove that she was raped or a victim of incest? And when the doctors realize that her life is in danger because of the pregnancy, are they supposed to act first and see if they will go to jail for performing the abortion later? What is your timeline on when women will get their cases heard for having a “legitimate reason” to terminate a pregnancy? I’m not sure if you know this, but pregnancy only lasts 10 months. It’s a finite window for women to make the call. Given the sloth like speed of government, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would get the green light in time.

But, what does that matter, right? It’s not about the woman or how her life will be affected. It’s about the baby. It’s not about a woman not having the right to make choices about her own body. It’s about the baby. It’s not about whether or not the woman can emotionally, physically, and financially support the child. It’s about the baby. (Oh, wait. Ok, well, just ignore that last point because they seem to be one and the same. Oops.) Besides, everyone knows that if legal, women would be running out every five minutes to have abortions. It’d just be like another form of birth control, right? The decision to terminate a pregnancy has little to no emotional toll on the mother. It is one that every woman can enter into lightly. That is why government should ban the procedure. It’s really a matter of saving women from making those uneducated, rash decisions they are so famous for. Right, Mitt?

It’s evident that Mitt Romney has a ridiculously old-fashioned view of women. That’s fine. Seriously. It is. He can think whatever he wants about women. What he should not do is be allowed to put policies into place that bring these absurdly out-of-date opinions into the lives of women throughout the country. We have worked too hard to get where we are and we still have a very long road ahead of us for true gender equality. The thought of having a president (and political party) who takes us back decades makes me truly angry. I’ll be watching the polling results on Election Day to see if my future holds steps towards equal pay, equal opportunities and equal respect or simply a trip back to the kitchen.