Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Perfect Storm

A few hours ago my handsome, freshly bathed toddler sporting adorable monkey pajamas charmed the pants off of every disgruntled, fresh-off-of-work shopper in my local Whole Foods Market.  I could not walk three feet without a stranger witnessing and commenting on his giddy demeanor, his infectious sing-song-like laugh, his smile or the gleam in his eye.  Yes ladies and gentleman, the P-man was "On." Which of course means, you guessed it, Mommy was ON with a capital O-N.

What's that you ask?  Oh, of course, he's always this charming, happy and delicious.  That's why I look so impossibly refreshed after 12 hours of entertaining a fiery lithe boy with a penchant for climbing things.  Excuse me while I strut (not walk) through the deli section right on into the bulk foods aisle.  Because (and excuse me if I'm mistaken) that's where we moms who kick parenting's ass buy organic, hormone-free, antibiotic free, vegan grains with names that we can't pronounce and turn them into delicious, nutritious Whole-Foodsier-than-thou meals that our toddlers gobble up.  Right?

Yes, today had been the perfect day.  We ran errands, we visited museums, we had play dates and Mommy's new bangs stayed perfectly in place through it all. Yet somehow, just one hour after our perfect visit to Whole Foods where we gave the performance of a lifetime, I stood in my kitchen covered in instant oatmeal.  Yes, instant oatmeal from a packet.  Instant oatmeal within which I had tried to hide an egg, just the smallest bit of protein for my toddler whose palette is only so robust as to eat products from within the bread and dairy families these days.   Covered in instant oatmeal and at my wits end, I looked my 16-month-old son square in the eyes and politely asked, "P, could you please stop acting like an asshole?"

Poor choice of words?  Yes.  But, forgive me for saying it and for thinking it, but when someone screams, cries and physically expresses disgust in the second or third food product you've prepared for him that evening  by using his tiny little hand to dump and smear it all over you....that, my friends, is acting like an asshole.  A tiny, adorable, charming little asshole.

Broken, I hand P a far-from-organic, unholy, processed stick of cheese that much to my dismay will serve as dinner.  He looks up at me, smiles and says, "Thank You" before puckering up for a kiss.  We sit on the floor while our grown up dinner simmers on the stove.  Next to me rests the pan that I used to cook the offending egg half-an hour earlier.  I pick tiny remains of scrambled egg out of the pan and drop them into the yogurt he happily eats off an adult-sized spoon.   He moves a few steps away, looks back at me and flashes a brilliant yogurt-covered smile.  I melt.

Once again, Mommy's little asshole has reminded me of what a perfect day it has been. What a perfect day they all are.  A long time ago I read an article that described having children as long stretches of exhaustion, frustration and difficulty peppered with small moments of joy so great that they wipe away even the most trying of incidents.  At the time, this article made me ponder why anyone would have children.  I questioned how any moment could produce the kind of happiness that completely diminishes even the most emotionally distressing, sleep deprived stretches of time.  Now, as someone fortunate enough to experience the intense delight that something as simple as a smile or sweetly uttered, "thank you" from your child can bring, I find myself questioning more often what it was that frustrated me in the first place.  Most of the time, I simply can't remember.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Babies and Bars

The year was 2007.  The day was March 17.  The party started at our 650 square foot studio apartment in Murray Hill.  After a few hours of the kind of morning drinking only appropriate on St. Patrick's Day, we moved to our neighborhood pub, Third and Long.  UnPlain led a parade of revelers into the bar, probably playing "air" bagpipes and in the middle of the crowd spotted the most adorable, cuddly, snuggly, six-month old baby.  Yes, six-month old baby.  Wah?

True story.  I put down my imaginary bagpipe and marched directly up to the drop dead gorgeous twenty-something mother of the drop dead gorgeous zero-something baby, held out my arms and yelled, "Can I hold him?!"  I surmise it must've sounded more like "BlahBlahSLUR-BOLD-EM" considering how many mimosas I'd had that day.    To my surprise, the mother-of-the-year candidate in front of me handed over Little Mr. Adorable almost instantly.  I S-H-I-T you not and have a large number of eye witnesses who can validate this story.  Not only did she hand him over, I carried this baby on my hip, with a drink in the other hand for a good 10 - 15 minutes, dancing, laughing and playing peek-a-beer.  It was only when she whipped out her supermodel perfect boob in the middle of a crowded pub, on St. Patrick's Day to breastfeed him that I handed him back over.  Behind me, T and all the others tried to pick their jaws up off the floor.

At 27 years old, with the ring not quite on my finger yet, I passingly judged this woman who appeared to be close in age to me.  For days my friends and I remarked about the fact that this new(ish) mother had her baby in a crowded bar, handed over her baby to someone who had clearly imbibed a few cocktails and then proceeded to breastfeed her baby after probably having a a few cocktails herself.  We judged, we made jokes, we expressed disbelief.

What I did not feel at the time, was the heart heaviness that I feel now when I think back to that experience. As the mother of a precious little man who rules my world in the most wonderful way, it physically pains me to remember the disregard with which this woman treated that tiny someone who completely depended on her for the most basic of needs.  Perhaps this sounds a bit dramatic (have you met me?), but it hits me in a way now that it didn't back then.

Then yesterday, when a friend posted on Facebook this debate, "Are Modern Parents Self-Absorbed" from it brought me back to St. Patricks Day 2007 and got me thinking about UnPlain, T and Baby P in 2012.  When you have a baby, does your life stop?  Do you give up the pre-baby activities you considered fun?  Or, do you bring baby along for the ride?  For me, I think we meet somewhere in the middle.  Life does not stop, it changes.  Fun is still to be had, timing is simply trickier (and more expensive).  And baby comes along for the ride sometimes, when it's appropriate.

P has come along with T and I to a day time wine tasting event, but Momma UnPlain didn't get to taste all that much. Does P come out to dinner with us?  Absolutely, but we go early, we order fast and if P's not cooperating we get our food to go.  I believe it's my job (and my pleasure) to behave responsibly.  I  do what's best for my child and do my best to be considerate of others.  On the other hand, it's unfair of you express your annoyance just because I have a stroller or because my baby is still learning to control the volume of his hearty, wonderful laugh. Do you also think that my 90 year old grandparent in a wheelchair who yells because he can't hear should be kept out of your favorite dining establishment as well? I'm sorry, is Grandpa ruining your meal?

The bottom line is you're not going to see my baby at a club or lounge and you're not going to see my baby watching your favorite band at your favorite bar at 9pm.  You probably won't see me either because I'm tired and I'll be in bed.  However, you may see my baby at that family friendly biergarten on a crisp fall afternoon and we, the entire family UnPlain, have every right to be there whether you like it or not.

Monday, August 27, 2012


A while back I wrote about a "first date" that T and I went on with another couple.  No, I'm not talking about a Burning Man type of first date with another couple, I'm talking about a "hey, I like the way you guys roll, let's get into a bottle of wine and maybe have a dance off later" type of first couple date. Who knew that years later I'd still find myself standing idly by chatting with L, while our then-boyfriends, now-husbands hit the floor for yet another impromptu dance-off after what would appear to be a mature, adult dinner?  With this particular couple, it was love at first pop-n-lock and they remain two of my most favorite people on the planet to this day.

Three and a half years later I find myself "dating" again.  This time, I'm Play Dating.As in,  "hey, your kid is the same age as my kid, why not get them together and hope we like each other at least a little."  It sounds simple, but anyone who knows women knows that we mate for life.  Our friends mean the world to us.  We talk on the phone.  When we hang up the phone, we text each other.  After we text each other we post on each other's Facebook walls.  Then before our husband, boyfriend or roomate can roll his eyes and say, "haven't you had enough?" we tell him about the hilarious thing that our best friend just told / texted / facebooked us.  And not to let the cat out of the bag, but those same husbands, boyfriends or roomates would be none-to-pleased to learn that we share, in excruciating detail, pretty much everything with those girlfriends in our inner circle.

My personal core group of girlfriends, aka: my besties, consists of two single ladies who I categorize by danger levels similar to the terrorist threat color system, one not-so-single lady for whom I look forward to one day playing Maid of Honor for, and one really not-so-single lady who just popped out her second child in two years.  All of these girls know me for who I am including the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.  None of these girls live within 45 minutes of me.

What I learned shortly after 27 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing and three months of colic is that moms need other moms and we need them close by.  Moms need other moms who can drop what they're doing and drag their yoga-pants-wearing asses across the street for a quick sanity check, coffee break, or to answer the question, "how the hell did you get your baby to stop chewing the side of his crib?"  Bring on the play dates!

P, like most one-year-olds isn't particularly choosey about who he plays with.  If you touch his toy, he will hit you.  If you touch your toy that he's playing with, he will hit you.  If you do none of the above, he probably won't hit you.  That leaves the rest up to me.  Luckily I had met a great group of ladies in the prenatal yoga class I attended religiously leading up to P's birth.  Our babies are all around the same age, our sciatic nerves are back in tact and almost too-easily, our parenting style is on the same wavelength.  After giving up a three to four hour daily commute, I was finally able to actually hang out with them.  How fortunate was I to learn that we also share other things in common, like the belief that it's acceptable to have a beer with lunch, a little Baby Einstein never killed anyone, and organic chicken nuggets are a godsend.

I thought to myself, "who knew it'd be this easy to meet awesome people with kids the same age so close to home?" They must be all over right?  So I hit the baby-circuit hard, branched out and quickly learned that I was WRONG.  Not all other mom's out there think like me.  I've met tiger moms, helicopter moms and know-it-all moms who prefer to preach rather than a give and take of advice.  Had I just simply been so lucky as to find a group of like-minded, fun-as-hell mommas on the first shot, before P was even born? Um, holy crap, I had.

I'm not sure whom I'm more grateful to.  P for giving me the opportunity to meet such cool people right here in my neighborhood or these ladies for their hoards of GOOD advice, hilarious stories and willingness to turn circle time into happy hour at the drop of a hat.  Either way, I consider myself incredibly lucky and am thrilled to be reaping just another benefit of giving up corporate america for paci's, poopies and the responsibility of teaching my son that while it's OK for right now, he's going to eventually have to learn to let go of his penis.  Good thing I have a small army of new friends to help me out with that one.