Say What?

“You know Mom, everybody has a nest.”
Ryan, age 4 after riding quietly in the car for a few minutes.

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Sunday is National Sibling Day

Don’t forget your partners in crime. Sunday is National Sibling Day.

 

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A Working Mother’s “Stay-at-Home” Experiment

A 'New Found' Respect For Mothers
Image by ronmarshall074 via Flickr


by Lela Demeter
I am a working mom – 10 months out of the year.  Yes, I am an educator and I do look forward to June, July and August.  This summer vacation was especially poignant, because it would be the first summer I spent with my son, and the longest duration of time we had together since his birth and my subsequent maternity leave.
The anticipation for summer built from the moment I went back to work.  Admittedly, I had been looking forward to going back – there were a lot of things I needed to do at work and I missed the pace of the workday.  As a new mother, my day had a structure all its own, a seemingly endless cycle of waking, sleeping, feeding, and changing diapers.  After I had recovered from my son’s birth (an experience we were very fortunate to come through with flying colors), I missed talking to someone who could answer, and I would anxiously await my husband’s arrival home.  I did a majority of the night feedings – my logic was that he worked all day – and I would be at home to sleep.  I want to make it clear that I did not and do not resent either of my boys (married or birthed), but I was just ready to go back.  I love my son more than life, but I just felt like I was missing out.
When I did go back in January, my son was in the midst of a two week (thankfully) bout of colic.  However, one can only imagine how I felt that week.  However, with lots of coffee and an iron will, I was able to complete a graduate degree and work AND take care of my family in the six months until summer break.
So, when my job responsibilities came to a close with the end of the school year, I was ready to be a full time mom for a little while.  However, it wasn’t the idyllic time that I thought it would be.


My son, now eight months old, was a different person from the helpless infant of my maternity leave.  A blissfully mellow baby, he has become his own little person, complete with opinions and demands.  Immediately, I was back on the baby schedule of waking and sleeping, feedings and changing diapers. But, this time was different as the “happy blob” stage of infancy was OVER.  Now, my day was spent tackling a moving land shark of a child.  A child, may I add, that weighed over twice what he did during my maternity leave.
I began to become quietly desperate.  Forget sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely morning – I was on as soon as he was, and I wasn’t leaving for a job.  I started to hide out in my bedroom when my husband got home. Twelve straight hours of an infant began to wear on me – I wasn’t as patient with my son as I was when I worked.  I didn’t treasure the time with my boy, as I felt constricted.  I literally never had a moment without him.  I couldn’t focus on anything but him.  My house wasn’t any cleaner and I spent more money as I would go shopping just to escape the same four walls.
But, the benefits to me being around all day were obvious.   I was the first person to see my son crawl and the emergence of his first baby teeth.  Instead of reaching for his grandfather (his daily caregiver), he reached for me.  He began to recognize his name when I said it to him.  I love this kid more than anything and these small things were the balm of my desperate heart.
Now, as summer begins to swing into twilight, I am looking forward to going back to work.  Why?  Believe me, I am not in a rush to feel the mommy guilt of leaving my baby for eight hours a day.  I will miss playing with him.  I will miss being the alpha and omega of his daily existance.  But, for me at least, the eight hours a day I work at a job are my vacation from parenting.  When I hit the door of my car to go home, I am in mommy mode.  I get the twenty minutes from work to home to decompress and switch gears.  When I get home, I am all for my son, with a focus.  This is probably the second reason I work (the first being money), I feel like I personally am a better parent because I work, because I get to be away and come home and be completely focused.  As hard as it is to be a working mom, it is incredibly hard to be a SAHM.  Some people may disagree with me, but this experiment made me feel that working is the right choice for me.
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Who are they kidding – that is no purse!

by Lela Demeter

I am addicted to bags.  I need to join a support group for my bag addiction.  Before I had my baby, I loved my bags.  Seriously.  Who wouldn’t?  If you gain weight, your purse still fits.  Many purses still look nice, season after season.  Spend a little bit of cash and your purse is an investment piece that doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned, in most cases, can be repaired and will, with care, last until your fickle heart finds another.

One of the biggest things I looked forward to when I got pregnant was that I finally had a reason to buy my coveted Coach baby bag.  When my DH purchased it, I thought all of my baby bag needs were met.  The morning I left for the hospital, I lovingly packed my Coach bag and went to have my little darling (with the bag safely stored in a closet at least 20 feet from where I gave birth).

Ha ha.

The first time I took my fall baby out (November in Chicago), I, like many new mothers, completely overpacked.  Diapers, wipes, vasoline, pacifiers, extra outfit, a thousand bibs PLUS my wallet and cell phone.  Do you know that some moms have the wherewithall to put a first aid kit in their bag (now that is good planning, or what)?  Forget the zipper.  That Coach baby bag was STUFFED and things were FALLING out of it.  Did I also mention that the idea of putting something that my little darling puked or pooped on INSIDE my Coach bag was completely repellant to me?  So I decided I was only going to use the Coach bag for “special” occasions. Until I brought it to a bridal shower (at a country club on Chicago’s Northside) and it flipped over and everyone at the shower saw my son’s and my (it was that time of the month) diapers.  GOOD TIMES.

So then I went in search of a utilitarian diaper bag.  Obviously a gigantic trash bag was out of the question.

Now, Google search “diaper bag” and the options are limitless.  Google “stylish diaper bag” and that is also a cornucopia of options.  However, the idea of a STYLISH diaper bag is about as unreal an expectation as pregnancy not completely decimating your body.

First off, cost.  Anything stylish usually costs money.  Anything stylish usually requires care.  And money and time to care about something other than the breathing, crying and complaining people you live with – is something that most moms do not have a lot of.  Just count how many “dry clean only” items you have in your closet (you know, the outfits that are sitting next to the purses you haven’t used in a while and the shoes that fit before you got pregnant and had the child).  Now count how many times you have worn them since having a child.  Now count how many times you have worn said outfit with said child. Same goes with the “dry clean only” diaper bag.

Any diaper bag that I carry must pass the PP (puke and poop), a.k.a the SS (spit and sh*t) test.  I must feel comfortable sticking things that either have been or will be puked or pooped on in said bag.  I am not sticking something that belongs in a PortaPotty in a bag that I have spent more than 50 cents on. Plus, if you plan on taking your child anywhere but the mall, plan on that bag being treated worse than your favorite pair of tennis shoes (i.e. dragged on a stroller, thrown into a car, falling off a car seat, being ransacked by DH, etc).

Very few new moms consider what should go in a diaper bag.  As mothers, we are usually prepared for any occasion or disaster.  Most times that means schlepping half the house with you.  Any “stylish” diaper bag is usually TOO SMALL to be packed in preparation for World War III. But, here is a short list of my essentials that should go in the diaper bag:

1) Diapers, wipes and diaper cream.  All of this can fit very nicely in a Ju-Ju-Be Be Quick.  The Be Quicks are affordable and very handy.

2) Your stuff – i.e. wallet, cell phone, day planner, makeup bag.  Prior to my DS, I was an overpacker. Ha ha. No more.  I am also putting these essentials in another Be Quick.

3) SEASONAL clothing.  Because I love mafia movies and Chicago style pizza, I will probably never leave the Chicagoland area.  Due to this, I pack clothing for my son like we will be traveling through at least three climates.  I usually bring a washable bag so I can stick the PP clothes in the bag so I can wash it.  New moms – nothing says love like machine washable.

4) Pacifier and pacifier holder.

5) Something to entertain the kid.

This is all you need to leave the house.  So, the criteria for a diaper bag should be: reasonably priced, requires little care, and maybe machine washable.


The first bags I looked at (after I decided that the Coach bag was my new work bag where it would be far, far away from my little pooper) were the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags.  Very cute.  Until I asked my DH how to clean brocade.  After he mumbled something about our checking account, I thought I would ask an expert.  When I found out that brocade can stain, I moved on.

The closest I have come to meeting the aforementioned criteria is the Ju-Ju-Be line of diaper bags. Every Ju-Ju-Be bag is treated like it will be shipped off for a hard tour of duty (which it will be).  Its coated in safe, stain-proof materials that require little care.  Sure, if you spill something, you can use the baby wipe – but the best part about these bags is that you can stick them in the washer and pull them out to air dry and your bag is as good as new.

These bags are reasonably priced.  In fact, one of the only complaints I have is that they are a little hard to find.  But most online retailers carry them.  But if you want to look before you buy, good luck finding one close to you.

These bags also come in all shapes and sizes.  Most of the prints do kinda scream “DIAPER BAG.”  But, they have debuted a new program where you can customize your own bag.  I personally own two Ju-Ju-Be bags – the Packabe and the BeTween.  The Packabe should really be called “the stuff as much sh*t in it as humanly possible without it exploding” and the BeTween should be called “the I am only planning to be out of my house for a half hour and I am hoping the kid does not poop like he ate a can of Beano.”

These bags meet my criteria for being durable and fairly (around 100 bucks) reasonably priced for a bag you will use over and over again.  As a mother, I am embracing my inner MacGyver and going for utilitarian and sacrificing a little bit of vanity.  Besides, I figure that I will never carry a small purse again – I gave that up when I got married and started carrying around my husband’s stuff.


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Did you ever just have one of those days?

IMG_3983

He got himself dressed.
Backwards and inside out.
Impressive.

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I’m not taking a nap!

IMG_4053Mommyblogging has turned me semi-nocturnal and my need for naps with two boys is primal. I’ve tried to get my 4 year old to regain his afternoon sleepiness. This has led to multiple negotiations: If you stay quietly in your room for an hour…., If you sit next to mommy’s bed and read…., If you don’t help me, so help me God….

We decided that he’d try and nap for an hour and we’d see how it goes. This day he stayed defiant that he wasn’t taking a nap. I thought he was reading and playing with his toys. He was quiet on the monitor.

After an hour the baby and I awoke from our midafternoon slumber. We went to wake the 4 year old and there he was, asleep on his bed with his backpack on.

I asked him why he had a backpack on and he said he was going to run away because he didn’t want to take a nap. Only, he got tired when he got his blanket and fell asleep. IMG_4054
I told him, of course that I’d miss him terribly if he left. (Note to self sleep with the burglar alarm on!) He then had to show me every toy he had packed in his backpack. It’s a good thing we weren’t going on a trip.

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