5/31/10

Lighten Up on Carrie Bradshaw!

I think this recession is making people grumpy. How else to explain why a large portion of the population seems to have lost their collective sense of humor? Much as I tried to shield myself from the reviews of “Sex and the City 2” before I saw it, I could not. Most of the reviews I read were negative, and most objected to the movie’s inappropriateness in these economic times.

People. Come ON. This is Carrie Bradshaw we’re talking about. The only writer in the history of Manhattan who can afford a walk-in closet full of designer labels and a sweet Upper East-side pad on a newspaper columnist’s salary. The only woman in the world who would wear a Dior ballgown to a Middle Eastern spice market. Can we just suspend our disbelief for a couple hours and enjoy a girls' night out?

That’s what I did. I've told you that a group of us used to get together weekly (!!) to watch “Sex and the City,” eat, drink, and gossip. Pre-kids, of course. Oh, how times change. The first SATC movie was a big event for us. We began planning a night out for the sequel as soon as we found out there was going to be one.

One person flew in from Portland and another from Minneapolis. Tickets were purchased, reservations were made. Outfits were bought, nails were done. This was my favorite part, truth be told. I’m still wearing my post-baby Old Navy wardrobe from 2006. Carrie would be so ashamed.

My ensemble for the movie, however, was nothing short of FABULOUS, if I do say so myself. It was a team effort -- two of my friends and the chic dressing room attendant at H&M helped me select a ruffly top and short-shorts, which I paired with studded gladiator sandals and a whimsical feather broach, as an homage to Carrie’s crazy bird headpiece at her first wedding to Big that didn’t happen. My nail polish was called “My Place or Yours.”

By the time we were settled into our seats with popcorn and Cosmos (the theatre had a bar!) I was ready for some fun. Carrie & Co. did not disappoint. While the first movie had some serious themes, this one’s pretty much pure spectacle. “Eye candy” is a good way to describe it. The wild wardrobes, the glamorous parties, a Speedo-clad male soccer team, Aiden...

Look, grumpy movie reviewers, if you’re looking for a nuanced portrayal of Islamic culture, you will not find it here. (Shocker!!) If you’re looking for a realistic depiction of life in this tough economic and political climate, you will not find it here. If, however, you’re looking for a lighthearted, female-focused bit of fun (remember FUN?!), you WILL find it here.

Me? I loved dressing up, going out, wining, dining, and gossiping with some of my best girlfriends. It’s been a LONG time since the stars and calendars aligned for that to happen, people.

I maybe should rethink the staying out till 1 a.m. part, though. Because being awakened at 5:30 a.m. by an angry, wet baby? Not so much fun.

5/26/10

What I Wish I Knew

Someone asked me the other day if there was anything I wish I knew before I had kids. After telling him I could write a book on that topic – and if you compiled all my blog posts, I already have – I narrowed it down to a few things.

The cleaning. Dear God, the cleaning!! I had no idea how much time and energy I would spend cleaning up after my children. And we’re not just talking changing diapers and picking up toys. Oh, no. The day might bring a spilled bottle of maple syrup or a blender explosion in the kitchen, a sippy-cup malfunction in the family room, a dog-shredded diaper in the baby’s room, and a bathtub tsunami. Not to mention the laundry. Spit-up stained sleepers, grass-stained overalls, and peed-on sheets are just the beginning.

It seems like not that long ago I lived in a 1-bedroom apartment and used the same plate and fork at each meal. I vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom maybe once every week or 2. (Did I even own a vacuum?) I did one load of laundry a week. And if I put something away, it stayed there. If you can imagine.

Nowadays, if I didn’t do the daily maintenance I usually do, you’d think we’d been robbed. Or, as one of my Twitter friends put it, “My husband recently said our house is to the point where we should burn it, collect the insurance money, and start over!”

And thank goodness someone finally put into words what I’ve always thought about cleaning ladies. If you’re lucky enough to have cleaning help once a week or even twice a month, that’s not a free pass, people. It’s not like you have Alice from “The Brady Bunch” living with you, points out Claudine Wolk, author of “It Gets Easier… And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers.” It’s simply what I like to call DAMAGE CONTROL. The daily messes and stresses? They’re still on you.

The 24/7, 365 responsibility. OK, maybe intellectually you knew this was the deal. But did you really think through exactly what this meant? That you’d be restricted to drive-thrus, unless you want to schlep the baby carrier in and out of the car just to grab your Starbucks and your drycleaning?

That unless you’re lucky enough to live near family you will have to pay someone to watch your child EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to go out with your spouse, go to a yoga class, repaint the dining room, and possibly even clean your house without someone screaming or getting underfoot?

That you don’t get sick days, holidays, vacation time, or personal days? That you may never again sleep in on weekends? (At least till your kids are teenagers.) I’m telling you, people, it takes some getting used to. Even now, I’m still disappointed when 5 p.m. on Friday comes … and I realize it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Happy hour is a distant memory…

The unparalleled joy. I’ve always loved kids. And yet I still hadn’t the faintest clue what it was going to be like to meet a tiny, brand-new person that was half me and half my husband. How I would feel when he reached for MY finger and would only be soothed by ME. How my heart would soar when he slept peacefully, ate well, burped, gained weight, had poopy diapers, even! (Aside: A friend of mine – a GOOD friend – changed Riley’s dirty diaper once. Since her babies are regularly constipated, she was actually jealous of my son’s poop. Jealous! Of POOP!!)

Moms love to trade horror stories and vent about the hard work and frustrations that go along with raising kids. I know I do! So before you have them you might wonder, “Why put yourself through that?” and “Is it worth it?” The answer is yes. YES!! A thousand, billion, trillion times YES. Why?

A billion, trillion different reasons. Because babies have senses of humor. More than many adults I know. And because they unconditionally love you, with the sloppy kisses and sticky hugs to prove it. And because they’re so very entertaining. And because of moments like this:

video

If that's not enough to convince you, I don't know what is. But I don't really wish I knew all this before. Because you really have to experience it for yourself.

5/24/10

Movie Night Fail

My fondness for the movies first began to decline when I was pregnant. Squeezing my girth into a cramped theater seat was no fun, especially when I had to go to the bathroom every 20 min. Plus, I had jumpy babies. The loud noises at the movies made them do an in-utero disco. Elbows and knees and heels, oh my! So I stayed home and signed up for Netflix.

But after the baby was born, even watching a video was tricky. If we did manage to find that elusive window between feedings and naps and diaper changes, I’d much rather sleep. Nowadays, we have 2 kids who sleep through the night (mostly), but our evenings look like this:

7-7:30 p.m. – Put the baby to bed. He’s the easy one. A couple of board books and a pacifier and he’s out.

8 p.m. on – Put the preschooler to bed. Usually, this is Dad’s domain. Unfortunately for him, he introduced an exciting new element to the bedtime routine, and is now a slave to the epic tales of fantasy and action he weaves nightly for our son. Each night they get longer and more involved, and each night C. struggles to stay awake and come up with new storylines.

Meanwhile, I’m downstairs waiting for him to start the movie. Occasionally, C. does not come back down. I sigh, resolve to rouse him from our son’s room when I go to bed, and settle in to watch a chick flick. Or, more often, by the time he DOES come downstairs, I’m already too tired to watch a whole movie.

Such was the case the other night when he persuaded me to watch Avatar. I’m not a huge science fiction fan, but this movie got so much press that even I was curious to see it. Only I didn’t realize it was almost 3 HOURS LONG. Good lord, people, I don’t have that kind of time! Especially not at 9 p.m. when I’m on my second glass of wine.

I gave it my best effort, though, rallying till the last half hour. But as a parent, you know there’s always that chance you’ll be awakened in the middle of the night or the pre-dawn hours. I couldn’t risk my rest. I went to bed, secure in the belief that the movie – which we ordered on-demand from DirecTV and recorded – would be there on our DVR for at least the next 24 hours.

Only it wasn’t. When I sat down to watch it the next night, it was gone. I called DirecTV and pleaded my case. I was told that the movie had expired at 6 a.m., NOT 24 hrs later like we’d thought. (Aside: I find it funny that DirecTV began and ended the call by thanking us for being loyal customers for 7 years. The middle part was basically, “Screw you. There’s nothing we can do.”)

So I will never know what happened to the persecuted Na’vi people of Pandora. Did they roam the floating mountains and glowing forests in their skinny blue bodies for all eternity? Was their planet full of weird creatures and scary plants bulldozed into oblivion by the evil Americans? Did the guy in the wheelchair wake up and find it was all an elaborate dream? I’ll never know.

The next time I get the urge to watch a movie, I’ll just skip the hassle and go right to bed. I’d rather sleep than wonder why not one of those skinny blue aliens was pregnant, anyway. (Seriously? Not one. I did spot a baby one, though.)

FLICK O’ THE WEEK: Are you ready, ladies? The movie I’m REALLY excited to see is “Sex and the City 2,” opening Thurs. But first, I just need to find something to wear...

5/20/10

What a Boy Wants

“I would like to share an orange outside.”

“I want to have a picnic at the park with the tall slide.”

“I’m wearing my black pants with the blue Spiderman shirt under and the Batman sweatshirt over and my Crocs with no socks.”

“I want 2 pancakes -- whole, not cut up -- and strawberries without the green part on them. And orange juice in the purple cup.”

My almost-4-y.o. son Miles knows what he wants. I admire that about him. He is sure about his likes and dislikes, swift in his decisions, and specific in his requests. Often annoyingly so, like when he wants blueberry waffles and we only have the plain kind, or when he refuses to use a spoon that’s not his favorite color. But I’m trying to focus on the positive here.

I can’t remember what I was like at his age, but I suspect I was always less vocal about my preferences. I’m the person who says, “I don’t care, where do YOU want to go?” when going out with a friend, or “You pick, I’ll eat anything” when ordering take-out with my husband.

I like to think this is a good quality, a laid-back, go-with-the-flow attitude that makes me easy to get along with. But lately I’m afraid I’ve begun to slide into martyr territory. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll just have whatever’s left over,” I find myself saying to my family when there’s not enough of something to go around. “Here, this is the last of the milk. You take it.”

And more often than not, a short person in Cars underwear is calling the shots about where we’re going to shop or eat or play. What if *I* want to go to Chipotle instead of Chick-fil-A? What if *I* want to go to the gym instead of the playground?

Lately -- on the advice of something I read somewhere, probably O magazine or some self-helpy blog -- I’ve been checking in with myself more. I feel stupid even typing that, but it’s true. I am making a concerted effort to actually stop for a moment during my day and say, “What do I want now?” And then if the answer is, say, a cup of tea, I (try to) make one, sit down, and drink it. While it’s still hot. Without jumping up to put in a load of laundry or schedule a dentist appointment. (!!!)

It turns out my deepest desires aren’t that extravagant. For example:

- I want to watch the damn weather report for 2 seconds in the morning without someone screeching at me to turn it back to “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."

- I want someone ELSE to change a freaking roll of toilet paper around here. And actually put it ON the roller thingy.

- When my kids eat something they don’t like, I want them to spit it out into their OWN hand.

It’s kind of sad that I am raising a vibrant, confidant little person who knows his mind and has no qualms about speaking it, yet I, an intelligent grown woman, struggle with this.

I guess compromises and putting others’ needs first are part of parenthood. I’m OK with that. I just wish every once in awhile, someone would ask me what *I* want. Until then, I’ll continue to ask myself. “Self, do you want to unload the dishwasher or locate the source of that stench in the fridge?” And let a preschooler decide my favorite color. He says it’s purple, BTW.

READ O’ THE WEEK: I have often thought this, so I was interested to see my theory confirmed: “How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer.”

5/17/10

It's All Coming Back Now...

not my parentsI’ve observed a particular phenomenon that occurs when the older generation encounters today’s parents. As burning as a grandparent's desire to see a new baby is the urge to dispense advice and platitudes to the new parents. Most older folks are convinced that our generation has ridiculously complicated the issue of raising children. In general, I’d tend to agree.

But it’s funny how that smug confidence can morph so quickly into irritation and confusion. After decades of glossing over the past, the grandparents begin to remember what it was REALLY like when their kids were small. Ideally, this leads to understanding and appreciation -- and if you’re lucky, like me, grandparents who are willing to get right in there and help tackle the rigors of today’s baby-raising. Let’s take a look at the transformation, shall we?

Before coming to visit:
“Raising my kids was the best time of my life! I loved every minute with my little angels. Enjoy it because it goes so fast.”

A couple hours into the visit:
“Why is that baby crying so much? He’s hungry. Well, then he has gas. Doesn’t he ever sleep?”

A couple days into the visit:
“I’d forgotten how much babies cry. Why, you cried so much that we had to move because the neighbors complained. I still haven’t regained full hearing in my left ear. Here, you take the baby. I’m going to go do the laundry.”

Before coming to visit:
“You moms today think you’ve got it so hard. We didn’t have any of those fancy gizmos you all have now. You slept in a drawer and you liked it!”

A couple hours into the visit:
“The baby monitor? Isn’t that what this thing is? Oh, that’s a BREAST PUMP? Well, I’ll be! What about this thing? That’s your phone?!

A couple days into the visit:
“My, he sure does like that swing, doesn’t he? Nice how it has music and vibrates. And that bouncy seat is a godsend! How did we ever make dinner without those? We better find batteries for the portable CD player pronto because you know the baby can’t sleep without his nature sounds!”

Before coming to visit:
“I raised kids too, you know. I know a thing or two about babies.”

A couple hours into the visit:
“What? You can’t put babies on their tummies now? And why CAN’T he have blanket in the crib? And what do you mean I put the diaper on backwards? I thought Elmo went on the front and the little tab-thingies in the back.”

A couple days into the visit:
“Well, of course he’s not settling down, sweetheart, you forgot one of the 5 S’s. What are they again? Swaddling, swinging, sucking, shushing ... side! You need to put him on his side, THAT’S the ticket...”

LINK O' THE WEEK: Speaking of things that look different in hindsight, have you taken a fresh look at some of those classic books you're reading your little ones? Check out my humor essay, "Green Eggs and Salmonella?" on the hidden hazards of popular children's books.

5/14/10

How Does She Do It?

So I was at a moms’ group one time and got to chatting with this SAHM who has 3 kids, takes them all grocery shopping with her, grows her own vegetables, and probably weaves her own rugs from wool she shears from organically-fed sheep she raises in her backyard.

Not surprisingly, the rest of us were amazed. “How do you do it?” we marveled. She ducked her head modestly and muttered, “Oh, well, you know, it’s not that hard..."

No, really. I want to know EXACTLY HOW you do it. I want specifics, logistics, timelines! When you take all 3 kids to the supermarket, do you pile them all into one of those carts that looks like a car? The ones that are impossible to steer, so you end up running into people’s ankles when you try to round the corner of the cereal aisle?

And then when you get back to your car, do you unload the groceries first or the kids? Do you hold onto the cart with your foot to keep it from rolling away? Do you start the engine and roll down the windows first if it’s hot out? Then do you return the cart to the store while praying no one kidnaps your kids in the idling car, or do you just leave the cart in the parking lot?

These are the things baby books should really tell you. Like, how do you use a public bathroom with a baby in a stroller? Do you leave the stall door open? Do you ask a stranger to watch your baby? Do you use the handicapped stall and wheel the stroller right in there with you? (That's what I do, FYI.)

BTW, I once saw a product on TV that was invented for this very purpose. It was essentially a baby-hanger. You strapped the baby into this sort of harness-thingy and then hung him over the back of the door like a purse. You know there are people out there who actually bought it.

Even figuring out how to take a shower with a baby around is a complex maneuver. Bringing the bouncy seat into the bathroom seems the simplest choice to me, but what if your bathroom’s not big enough? For some moms, the highchair is the key, but I happen to have a fear-averse baby who will hurl himself sideways in an attempt to tip over the chair and escape.

I hate to break it to you moms of one, but it only gets more complicated with 2 or more kids. For instance, I had to potty-train my older son while nursing the younger one -- SIMULTANEOUSLY. This involved clever use of the Baby Bjorn and quick reflexes to avoid dumping the baby headfirst into the toilet. I have also learned to use my teeth and toes as extra hands.

I realize that for most people, “How do you do it?” is a rhetorical question. But if I’m the one asking, please -- draw me a diagram, would you?

LINK O’ THE WEEK: This post on “When Men Go Grocery Shopping” is exactly the kind of step-by-step, illustrated guide I’m talking about.

5/12/10

A Birthday Conversation

“Miles, you know what tomorrow is? Daddy’s birthday!”

“Are we going?”

“No, it’s his birth-DAY, not birthday party. The day he was born.”

“When’s his party?”

“He’s not having a party, sweetie. But we’ll make a cake and celebrate at dinner, just us.”

“Can C. and O. and L. and B. come?”

“Those are YOUR friends, buddy. And like I said, he’s not having a party, it’s just us.”

“Why isn’t he having a party?”

“Well, grown-ups don’t always have parties for their birthdays, unless it’s a big one.”

“Is it a big one?”

“No, not really. Do you know how old Daddy is?”

“Ummm... 4?”

“No, not 4! That’s how old YOU’RE going to be on your next birthday. Daddy’s 37. That’s a lot older than 4.”

“300 and 7?!”

“No, THIRTY-seven.”

“When are you going to be old, Mama?”

“Hmmm, well... do you mean old-ER? ‘Cause I’m already pretty old.”

“When can we give Daddy his presents?”

“Tomorrow. I got him a framed picture of us and an orange bathing suit. But don’t tell him, because we want it to be a surprise.”

“OK. Mom, I’ll tell him we got him a picture of a tree and a GREEN bathing suit!”

“That’s pretty clever, bud, but how about we don’t tell him anything.”

“Mom! Mom! Let’s tell Daddy we got him a window and a fence for his birthday!” (If you recall the current state of our house, he might actually be thrilled with those gifts.)

Birthdays just aren’t the same when you’re a grown-up, are they?

PIC O' THE WEEK: Last year's celebration. Guess whose idea the cake was?
baseball birthday cake

5/9/10

Being a Mom is...

Can you believe I almost didn’t write a Mother’s Day post? I know! For one thing, I was too busy being a mom. For instance, on Friday I woke up with a jolt at 6:53 a.m. and realized I’d forgotten to bake 2 dozen blueberry muffins for my son’s preschool class. :(

Also, I was stuck. Half of me wanted to make jokes about spit-up and sleep deprivation, and the other half was leaning towards sappy, sentimental musings. Bleh. But after several days of reflection and a writing prompt on another blog, this is what I came up with:

Being a mom is... an adjustment. Even though the number of people in your family increases overnight, wrapping your head around that fact takes longer. My favorite way to illustrate this point is with an anecdote my parents like to tell. In grad school, they were visiting the first of their friends to have a baby. Someone suggested going out for pizza. They were halfway out the door before one of them said, “Wait -- what about the baby?”

Being a mom is... hard. Loving that tiny new person is the easy part. But growing them, birthing them, feeding and caring for them, and worrying about them for the rest of your life? It’s hard on your body, your bank account, your marriage, and your friendships. It’s especially hard on your furniture. I don’t always like to admit this -– to myself, to other moms, and especially to moms-to-be. But I’d be lying if I said motherhood wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Being a mom is... not for everyone. When my first son was tiny, a single acquaintance stopped by. She looked at him bouncing and giggling in his jumper and said, “Aww, I want one.” It was like someone toying with the idea of getting a puppy. Then she asked me if I’d read any good novels lately – obviously missing the huge dark circles under my bloodshot eyes. “You don’t get it AT ALL!” I wanted to scream.

Being a mom is... rewarding. You know the satisfaction you feel when you’ve done a job well? Multiply that by a trillion and that comes close to how I feel when my kids smile or laugh, run to me and give me a hug, tell me they love me, or learn to say a new word or put on their shoes. (BTW, Miles gave me a Mother’s Day card he’d made. “Aw, is that a picture of you and me?” I asked. Him: “No, that’s a candy machine.” Oh.)


Being a mom is... different for everybody. I’ve met moms who loved being pregnant and ones who loathed every minute. (I’m somewhere in between.) I know moms who’d never held a baby before their own, and moms who don’t like kids – except their own. I know moms who’d kill to stay home with their kids and others who were counting down the minutes of their maternity leave until they could go back to work. I don’t know ANY moms who would trade the gig for anything in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

VIDEO O’ THE WEEK: I love author and funny mama Jen Singer’s take on motherhood. Watch her cute video, “Trust Your Gut, Mom. Really.

5/5/10

Save the Drama for Your Mama

This headline makes me laugh, because I remember somebody saying once, “Whoever coined that phrase must not have been a mama.” ‘Cause we don’t need more drama, that’s for sure! I also laugh when I think back to those times I thought my life was boring -– dull, monotonous, no excitement. Boy, have things changed.

Now, my days are a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes I experience extreme highs, devastating lows, laughter, tears, and more all in a single morning! As my aunt once put it, “Kids are a lot of things, but they’re never boring.” You got that right, sister.

Take the other day, for instance. My 3 y.o. son was in his usual good mood for most of the day, and even behaved himself during a doctor’s visit. So I decided to reward him with a snowball. (For you non-Baltimore natives like me, that’s something like a snow cone.) Of course he chose the bluest, gooiest flavor, which totally could have been sweetened Windex for all I know. Anyway, he loved it. And then we went home and all hell broke loose.

Miles wanted to play outside, but it was past the baby’s dinnertime and plus, I had to go to the bathroom really, really bad. (I have considered wearing Depends so many times it’s not even funny. If you’ve ever tried to use a public restroom with 2 handsy kids in tow, you might too.)

So Miles throws a tantrum. Crying, kicking, stomping, the whole bit. I had to forcibly drag him into his room for a time-out. Meanwhile, Riley realized it had been 20 whole minutes since his last snack and his blood-sugar was plummeting. “FEED ME!!!” his screams insisted.

Sometimes I’m sympathetic to my kids -- it had been a long day, everyone was tired, Miles had been a trooper at the doctor’s -- but at that moment, I was pissed. “I take you for a special treat and THIS is how you act?” I may have yelled. “And your room’s still a mess even though I’ve asked you to clean it up for 3 days in a row?! Clean it up NOW or you’re going straight to bed!”

More sobbing, thumping, and hysterics ensued as I got Riley’s dinner ready. BTW, feeding that child is like throwing food to the lions. I literally chuck pieces of chicken, pasta, peas, etc. onto his highchair tray as fast as I can, while he shovels them into his mouth as fast as he can. And if I dare dawdle for a SECOND to, say, blow on a scalding-hot piece of food, he screams as if he was the one being scalded. I tell you, whoever says family dinners are a great way to bond and relax at the end of the day is ON CRACK.

At this point, all is silent upstairs in the land of the angry, sticky-faced dwarves. I tiptoe up to take a peek, expecting God knows what. Splintered furniture? Spray-painted walls? Instead, Miles comes skipping out into the hall with a smile on his blue-stained face. “Mom! Come take a look at my room. Ta-da!” he says, sweeping his arm grandly across the now-immaculate room.

“Wow, Miles, you did a great job cleaning up your room!” I enthuse. “I’m so proud of you!” Mwaahhh! I give him a big smooch. And you know what he says?

“You’re the best mom in the whole world.” And he takes his little bipolar self down the stairs to dinner. Is that enough drama for one afternoon or what??

RECIPE O’ THE WEEK: For a more nutritious frozen treat, you can’t beat a smoothie. We make them with anything we have on hand, but here’s a yummy-sounding recipe with blueberries, mango, yogurt, and almonds.

5/3/10

Separation Anxiety, Take 2

Well, looky here. I decided to re-post an old entry because
a) I'm caught up in the copyediting project from hell
b) I'm having that deja-blog experience where every idea I have I've already blogged about, and
c) I'm in a bad mood because the gym daycare has kicked us out 2 days in a row because Riley won't stop crying & I can't get a damn workout.

I thought it would be interesting to see what the last kid was doing around this time. And look what I found:

Month 14: Separation Anxiety

Poor Miles. He’s downstairs right now shrieking his little lungs out, as he has been ever since the babysitter arrived. Whoever thinks it’s easy to work from home doesn’t have a toddler in the throes of separation anxiety. I hope this is just a phase. For now, I am a prisoner in my home office. If I go downstairs for a drink or a snack, he’ll catch sight of me and the whole ordeal will begin again. Thank God we have a bathroom on this floor or I’d be investing in Depends.

If I’d thought ahead, I would have brought my cell phone so I could text the sitter on her phone and tell her to block Miles’ line of sight while I sneak downstairs and out the door for my haircut appointment. See what my life has come to?

To be fair, though, Miles has had a bit of a rough week. Last week, I took him to the pool for the first time. Which he LOVED, by the way. He liked the baby pool OK, but when I brought him into the big pool he screamed with laughter and splashed like a lunatic. He didn’t even mind when I dunked him underwater.

Then, later that night, he started running a fever. By the next day, he was miserable. I took him to the doctor and it turned out he had an ear infection. His first. He bounced back pretty quickly, except for this new unbreakable attachment to Mommy. He even cries when I leave him with his dad. I feel bad, but hell, I need a break sometimes.

A REAL break, not “Hey, why don’t you bring Miles to my softball game and you can watch from the sidelines while I play. It’ll be fun.” Cut to Mom prying her son’s hands off of rusty fences, other people’s keys, cigarette butts, and someone’s grubby dog for a solid hour in the 90-degree heat. Is it my fault he spilled a beer on the playbook? Was it my idea to feed him a sticky cereal bar and then let him play in the dirt? (Well, yes to the former, no to the latter. Even though that’s how C. phrased it later: “Why’d you let him play in the dirt?” Same reason I “let” him dump out the dog bowl three times a day and play with cutlery and chew on the phone charger!)

So I haven’t been to the gym all week because I’m afraid to leave Miles at childcare. We’ve been doing our Stroller Strides class in the mall since it’s so damn hot out, and because Miles can keep me in his sight the whole time. But most of my exercise lately has come from carrying around my sticky-fingered 24-lb. appendage. Nothing like some quality Mommy & me time, right?

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