DNF- A Love Story

Tap tap tap, is this thing still on?

I’m sitting in my living room, hacked into my neighbor’s wifi and using my TV as a computer monitor. All I can think is, “write something… just keep putting words on the page and don’t think about them.” So here we are; now you’re sitting in my living room too.

My daughter is furiously scribbling and erasing on the white board next to me and that seems like a fitting way to start: with haphazard bursts and then erasure. With surety and then censorship.

I want to tell you a love story, and it isn’t easy to figure out where it begins and where it ends because love, unlike math, is not linear. There should be an equation, right? Because that’s what makes it fair? But if motherhood has taught us nothing else, it’s that the chances we take are not linear and the answers we’re given don’t always add up. Sometimes you put everything you have into becoming a parent, and you add up all the right steps and inexplicably come out with zero. Sometimes you do everything wrong and hit enter and find yourself with exactly the right amount.

This is not your typical love story.

IMG_20180328_210641004It’s about a girl who was in love with herself; a girl who slept til noon and drank margaritas because they were a pretty color. This girl read poetry, real poetry by celebrated authors. and then she felt inspired, so she wrote some too. Her boobs were fabulous by the way, totally perky and skeeved out by the mere thought of revealing them in public for the mundanity of feeding an infant. This girl had interests and hobbies and she was fascinating to talk to, believe it or not.

And then she became a mom.

When faced with the task of describing herself on social media she was stymied. “Wife” she started with, and then “mother” and then… ? who was she without those things? It probably didn’t matter anymore, right?

20180423_065542Yesterday, I got my first DNF. For those of you who haven’t attained that particular failure, it stands for “Did Not Finish.” I attempted to run an ultramarathon, a 50K race, and had to drop out at just over 20 miles. Today, I’m nursing a stress fracture in my left tibia and a pretty nasty grudge. I knew at mile 7 I wasn’t going to finish the race. The terrain was so much more technical than I expected and to be honest I was also severely under-trained. At mile 14 I felt a very weird sort of rush of coldness in my left shin, almost like I’d gotten an injection of cold water in my bone, and although I marveled at the fact that it didn’t hurt, I had the sneaking suspicion that it would later. Badly. I pressed onward through another 800ft of vertical elevation and 6 miles before I realized that even if I finished the last two loops, my time would disqualify me. I briefly considered cutting the course before I realized that if i did, although i’d get to brag about being an ultramarathoner on social media, I knew I wouldn’t feel like one.20180423_072835

Those last six miles I did a lot of thinking. I thought about all the things I haven’t been able to finish because of motherhood. There is nothing I love more than my two kids. They are my magnum opus. My raison d’être.

But for women giving birth creates a life chasm; a before and after that is sometimes uncrossable.

I will literally never wear these shoes again

Most women, if you ask them, will tell you about the thing they didn’t finish because they had a child. For some it’s the masters degree they were a few credits away from, for others it’s the olympic try-out they missed because of a toddler with a fever. Sometimes it’s nothing extraordinary: a blog you started, a room that is waiting to be painted, a pair of 5 inch stilettos that cost $1200 that you know you will never wear again.


I will never be the athlete I could be because although motherhood opens many emotional doors, it slams shut every single physical door in the entire goddamn Chrysler Building. I feel things I never imagined possible when I was in love with just myself, but I don’t own my body anymore. I will never sleep like the dead or run for hours through a trail with no cell service. That’s a fact.

Some love stories have happy endings, but most don’t. We don’t tend to tell those because we’re embarrassed or because we don’t know where to begin or because we’re strong women and we don’t make excuses.

So here is this strong woman’s list of excuses:

  1.  I ran a marathon in mid-march and tried to parlay it into training for an impromptu ultramarathon. In chicago. During an endless winter.
  2.  I’m a single mom and I work 7 (SEVEN!) days a week
  3.  In the last 30 days my children and I have been in the ER three times: for strep A, an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, and mono
  4.  I am really fucking tired

As a culture, we spend an obscene amount of time waxing philosophically about “the one that got away.” But where is the love for the wanton that got away? The women we were before? We have loose ends with her. We’re here in the middle of the night wondering what she’d be doing, what she might have accomplished. Forget about the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, can we talk for a minute about the fact that I haven’t written a blog post in a full calendar year? I’m the one that got away. I got away from myself.


So here it is moms, our swan song. Our love story for the things that we will never finish. Sure, life is long and my children are very young, but running will physically never be as easy on my body as it is in my thirties. So I just have to make peace with this DNF and finish the things I can, the things I have time for, my second best choices.


20180423_070023There are always second acts in every romantic dramatization and so I will always hold out hope that one day I will have time, enough time, endless amounts of time and energy to pursue my passion. I see my son writing his very first story in the same zealous frantic way I wrote my first stories and I know that one day he’ll ask me for help and maybe we’ll work on something together. I see my daughter running block after block with me, refusing to sit in the stroller and insisting she’s a runner too. One day we’ll run a marathon together.

Perhaps that’s the second act; finding the people they’ll grow into and rediscovering the things I first loved alone but now can enjoy as a team. Becoming a guide instead of a trail-blazer, a hand instead of a leg-up, a person who also happens to be someone’s mom. This is what I comfort myself with when I’m grappling with the disappointing sting of things that can’t be finished right now. And although there is an inherent mourning to being a parent, it can be a sort of balm to see your talents reborn in a smaller version of yourself and hold out hope that the sacrifices you make will evolve into something beautiful.

current badass, future marathoner

“The thing about stress fractures,” the doctor explained, “is that they don’t need a cast most of the time. It’s not like a broken bone we can set that will heal up clean. It’s a tiny fissure that just takes time. It’ll be tender, you just have to be easy on yourself and give it time.”

Maybe it isn’t a chasm. Maybe it’s just a stress fracture. Maybe, with time and tenderness, you won’t feel the space between it at all.


The Working Sanctimommy’s Guide to Career/Life Balance:

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been asked, “Sanctimommy, how is it that you balance a career and motherhood, all while maintaining a spotless home and a hopelessly happy marriage and rewarding social life and still make it all look so damn easy?”

I don’t make it “look” easy– it really just is easy.  For me.  I just don’t know why so many other moms complain about this stuff.  Managing a full time career and full time motherhood isn’t hard if you’re a self-actualized wonder woman like myself.  Look, I don’t usually like to share my tips for success, because frankly I like to maintain my position of superiority, but I guess throwing you all a bone from time to time won’t hurt.

So, without further ado… here are my foolproof tips for work/life balance:

1- Leave nothing to chance.

Motherhood is not to be entered into at random.  To ensure I was able to have it all, I had to carefully choose the timing of my pregnancy.  I couldn’t risk being too young or too old.  Too young, and I may not have been as financially stable as I am, reasonably finished with my educational pursuits and not have had enough time to carefully craft my marital union.  Too old, and I’d risk not being able to bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a reasonable time (6 days postpartum).  That ideal age?  27.110573.  Not a day more or less.  Got that?  Take the age of 27.110573 and count backwards 43 weeks (because, remember, full term+ is the only way to go), and voila!  You have your ideal conception timeframe.  See how easy that is?

2- You should have planned the perfect career path back in 9th grade (but, you probably didn’t). 

Back when you met with your first guidance counselor in high school, you should have had the foresight to have chosen the perfect career that would simultaneously let you be a powerful jet setting career woman but would also allow you to work from home, but not so much at home that you never leave the house… a career that would give you no other choice but to “lean in”, but that would still allow you to always put your family first. Here are some helpful guidelines:working-mom

  • You have to be able to have mornings and evenings free to tend to your home and children.
  • You must also have your afternoons free so you can continue to take Bikram Yoga classes and have time to take your children to the local park so you can simultaneously give them 100% of your attention and still allow plenty of time to observe other people’s playground-related parental failures.
  • No part-time jobs.  No MLMs (unless you have a downline of at least 112 people), no jobs that require travel.  No sales, or marketing, or skilled trades.  No food service or factory work.  No teaching or nursing or retail.  No administrative or accounting work.

“But, Sanctimommy, that sounds impossible!  Careers like that just don’t exist!”  God, you have no imagination. I suggest you consider building your very own homemade Elderberry Syrup empire or find a way to make six figures as a Mommy Blogger.  It’s not that hard, ladies.

3- Understand that you can’t go it alone.

Balancing career and motherhood is nearly impossible if you don’t have a strong support network.  I don’t mean rewarding friendships, or a life partner/co-parent who is willing to shoulder half of the responsibility.  You can’t call yourself a success if you can’t claim to have done it all on your own.  So, make sure your husband or partner is there, ready to take on whatever responsibilities you are willing to dole out to them.  Allow their contributions to be small enough that no casual observer would give them any meaningful credit.  And never, I mean NEVER, allow them to make any actual independent decisions as they relate to the children.  You’re the star of this show, cupcake, don’t share that spotlight!

As for friendships, make sure to surround yourself with people who provide you validation at all times. You’ll want to carefully craft a circle of real life and internet friends who are just slightly beneath you— people who can bask in your superior judgment and choices… people who you know secretly envy you.  The satisfaction you’ll get from knowing others want to be just like you will fuel you on your down days.

4- Self Care is Key.

Here’s the thing.  There will be times when your (and I truly mean “your”, because this has never happened to me) house is slightly messy, you’ll forget all about that parent-teacher conference, or you’ll feel exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious.  You’ll snap at your kids, you’ll stick them in front of the tv so you can have a minute to yourself, you’ll crack open a box of Mac & Cheese for dinner because it’s 7:00pm and you’re so tired your hair hurts.  At work, you’ll make mistakes from time to time, you’ll find yourself in over your head on some days, or you’ll spend a day at your desk at work scrolling through Pinterest because fuck it, you’re the only one in the office that day and there are no immediate deadlines looming.  These things are inevitable.  So what  you do when you find yourself feeling like a failure? YOU DEFLECT.

Say you’ve just yelled at your child because you’re tired and crabby, and you’re feeling guilty.  Do you admit you’re only human? God no. You’ll have to simultaneously forgive yourself and also find a way to mercilessly critique others for engaging parenting behaviors you deem unforgivable.  It’s not hypocricy, it’s “self-care”.

First thing is first.  You’ll have to get into the right head space.

Find yourself a nice comfy chair.  Sit back and take a few cleansing breaths.  Close your eyes.  Now… visualize yourself frolicking on a sandy beach or running in a field of wildflowers.  Ok, now stop that.  Picture yourself walking through Target.  There you are… walking through the baby aisle.  You look hopelessly pulled together and chic, because well, of course you do.  You spot another mom.  She’s bleary eyed, has spit up on her shoulder, and her hair is a tangled mess.  She has a baby carrier, perched on top of the shopping cart.  What… what is that item she just pulled off the shelf….?  Is that… a can of formula?  Oh MY GOD, it’s Target brand formula.  She’s going to buy formula.  GENERIC FORMULA.  FOR HER BABY.  She doesn’t even look ashamed.  Picture yourself, giving her the most violent of side eyes.  Visualize yourself audibly gasping and tapping her on the shoulder and yelling right into her stupid face, “BREAST IS BEST.”  Now, see yourself… turning abruptly on your heel and walking away with your head held high, leaving her stunned and crying in the background.  Feel the superiority.  Feel the shaming.  BASK IN IT.


Now, if you’re short on time and don’t have time for the visualization technique outlined above, you’ll have to take a faster, more direct approach.  Find your nearest online Mommy Group, and post away.  Here’s a sample format:

“I’m not trying to sound judgmental but, am I the only one who thinks you’re a (lazy parent, shitmom, failure at life) if you (put your kid in daycare, don’t even attempt to breastfeed, take your kid to McDonald’s, forward face before 4, etc.).  Not trying to start a debate, just looking for opinions.”

Granted, about half of the replies will disagree with you or take offense to your smug tone. Don’t let anyone try and change your mind—you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life, girl. Don’t try to understand alternative viewpoints.  When confronted with differing opinions, DOUBLE DOWN.  Call those people shitmoms and move on.  When it gets to be too heated, post a farewell speech to the group letting them know how you can’t believe how many terrible parents have snuck in right past the admins and that you can’t associate with the likes of them.   Depending on the size of the group, this entire exercise should take no more than 30 minutes.

Now, do you feel better about yourself?  Are you feeling empowered? Smug?  Self-righteous? Perfect.

5- Never miss an opportunity to assert your superiority at work. 

Here are some helpful examples:smug

  • Remind your child free coworkers how unfulfilled their lives are without motherhood (“Wow, so, no kids yet, Dan from Accounting? Don’t you find that sort of aimless existence to be kind of… lonely and depressing?”).
  • Always steer conversations right back to yourself and your children (“I’d love to join you all for Happy Hour, but little Teighlurr has ballet class tonight and here, let me show you the 39 pictures I took of her this morning!”)
  • Remind your fellow parent co-workers how much more put together and evolved you are than they are (“You look tired today, Karen from Purchasing. Isn’t your baby sleeping through the night yet? When my children were 4 weeks old they just naturally started sleeping through the night. But then again, I did breastfeed and co-sleep so…”).
  • Don’t forget to passive aggressively comment on other people’s lunch choices (“Ooh, another Lean Cuisine, Joyce from Customer Service? I’ll bet that is so much easier than the farro and quinoa bowls I made while meal prepping last week! It would be so much easier if I didn’t care about my wellness and longevity!”)

6- Social Media exists solely for your validation.

  • No one will ever get sick of pictures of your children. Post at least 10 well filtered pictures of your precious littles each day, with helpful hashtags that remind everyone how fulfilled you are, like #enjoyingeverymoment and #soblessed #mylifeisperfection.
  • On a similar note, no one will ever, ever tire of pictures of your food. That Instapot bone broth isn’t going to brag about itself, ya know.  Don’t forget, food pictures don’t count if they are not accompanied by 12-44 hashtags.  Here are some of my favorites: #farmbeforethepharmacy #whole30 #allnatural #organic4lyfe #mealprep #mykidlovesquinoa #vegan #vegankid #veganfamily #veganveganveganpaleoveganglutenfree #frankenfoodisforlosers #imaworkingmombutstillhavetimetobebetterthanyou
  • Vague but oddly specific observations are a helpful tool to make everyone on your friends list occasionally wonder if you’re indirectly judging them. “It’s so sad how some people don’t mind living in a pigsty.  Having kids is no excuse for being lazy. /Endrant”  You can bet your bottom dollar, anyone who’s posted an uncropped #nofilter picture of their kid in the living room recently is going to think you might be referring to them.
  • Change it up! Alternate between vaguebooking status updates and those ecard memes.  I mean, it’s not rude if it’s accompanied by an old timey cartoon!Image result for lazy mom meme


In conclusion, being a working mom isn’t that hard.  For me.  You’re probably royally fucking it all up though.

I hope this helped!


Daughters of mothers

My mom, at the ripe age of 60, is grappling with her relationship with her mother. She stumbled upon a support group for daughters of narcissistic mothers and had an epiphany: her mother, whom she dearly loved and respected, was a textbook narcissist.

This would be no easy revelation under the best of circumstances, but my grandma is 98 years old which complicates any promise of healing.

So she did what any reasonable daughter would do and ordered a self help book on amazon and called all of her siblings to discuss it. They were not as shocked. My grandma, for all her delightful endearing qualities, is not often described as “warm” or affectionate.

Motherhood. Ain’t it a bitch? When we’re not fucking up our own kids, we’re assessing the damage our mothers did to us. Ask any room full of women about their relationship with their mother and you might get some answers like this:

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Or even this:2017-02-16 19.25.17-2


Or maybe even something like this (eeek)2017-02-16 19.25.17-3


My crazy family has it’s share of dysfunction, but we’ve by no means cornered the market. So when my mom told me she discovered something about my grandma, I honestly was expecting to hear that one of my aunts or uncles was not a full blooded sibling. Instead, when she said her mother was a narcissist, I nodded, waiting to hear the other shoe drop. I’d known my grandmother must have been a difficult woman to call “mom” long before I had kids of my own. By the time I was 10 I was actively avoiding her at family functions so I wouldn’t have to hear about how fat I was and how awful my hair looked and how lazy I must be to live in such filth. Occasionally my mother would share things her mother said and did to her, and I would marvel at the thought that my empathetic and affectionate mother grew up with her.

And now, I’m parenting a daughter. Let me tell you guys, this shit is cray. Forget sexism, parenting my daughter is fraught with emotional landmines I never feared with my son. This past christmas I got her a dollhouse and had to listen to the mean mommy character yell at the children characters constantly. Even worse was when mommy character was crying because the children characters destroyed her new purse or something. It was enough to rattle even the most confident parent. Hearing things I’d said to her without thinking, and how her little brain processed my frustration was enlightening (to put it gently).

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I’m going tread lightly here, and suggest something. Here at Sanctimommy we pride ourselves on non-judgement and the idea that there’s no “right” way to be a parent, but the fact is, there is a such thing as a “bad” mom. Just because someone loves their children and just because their children grow into productive members of society, that’s not necessarily a motherhood gold star. Some of our mothers have made mistakes, they’ve failed us and they’ve failed as mothers. But just because you *have* a crappy mom doesn’t mean you’ll *be* a crappy mom.

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Sitting next to me in the drivers seat, my mother got choked up as she asked me if she was a good mom. I instantly flashed on all the things I promised to never do with my kids, then I looked over at her, the mom who picked me up because it was raining and I didn’t want to take the bus, the mom who was excited to spend the afternoon with my energetic kids so I could do a long run and spend some time by myself. Was she a bad mom? Seriously?

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I have 2 children that drive me into an anxious fervor almost daily. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for my mom, who had her first child at 20 and continued to have a baby every 2 years for the next 20 years. Holy shit.

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If I know any bad moms, they do a remarkable job of hiding it. I know moms who drink and swear, moms who make crass jokes, moms who’ve lost their shit and hidden in the bathroom crying and main lining caffeine and chocolate. Not only have I known those moms, I’ve been those moms. That is motherhood.  Forget the trope of perfection, acknowledged mistakes are what make us better parents. Crappy moms are the ones who think they’re doing it all right, who are too self absorbed to self analyze.

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Here’s what I want to hear from you guys, what did your mother get right? My grandma, for all her faults, taught my mother to be independent, to stand up for herself. Her benign neglect fostered the sort of innate introspection that most women go through years of therapy to achieve. My mother knew she wanted to have warm open relationships with her children because she never had that with her own parents.

So spin your damage for me, sanctifriends. Tell me about how the shitty emotional heirlooms you got from your own parents shaped you as a parent. Or, conversely, use the comment section to brag about how awesome your mom is. Or your kids’ mom. Or yourself.

Here’s a pic of all my favorite moms to get you started 🙂

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Fuck you.

Oh my God, I’ve just come into some MONEY!  So excited, I went to the bank to cash a check that was written for a substantial amount.  Man, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that cash.  I had so many plans for it!  Usually, I keep myself on a tight budget, but this was a sudden windfall and I could not be more elated!  I made sure my check was signed, that I had two forms of ID and I waited patiently in line.  When I arrived at the window, I presented the check to the teller.  She smiled kindly and processed my transaction.  But, when it came time for her to hand me my money, she dropped the wad of cash into a box and held the box high over her head.  “Ma’am, if you want this money, you’ll have to fish it out of this box, but I have to warn you… the box is teeming with live spiders.  Don’t look so frightened… you want the money, don’t you?  What’s to be afraid of?  It’s JUST spiders!  Who’s afraid of a few little tarantulas? Oh, you’re terrified of spiders?  Shame.  No cash for you.”

Seems unreasonable, doesn’t it?  Well, something relatively similar happened to my daughter recently.

This past Monday was Halloween.  My daughter was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  She could put on a sparkly princess costume and there would be candy… LOTS of candy?  TONS AND TONS OF CANDY!?  And she could eat it, with reckless abandon?  BEST DAY EVER.  So, we dressed her up in her sparkly Cinderella dress, complete with glittery silver shoes and long satin gloves and set out to Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood.  Now, let me say, Trick-or-Treating is a real event in our neighborhood.  Most houses have festive lights and very involved graveyard scenes or big blow-up pumpkins and witches and goblins on their front lawns.  There are adults, hanging out in their driveways with neighbors, fire pits ablaze excitedly awaiting the waves of trick or treaters, there is candy galore… there are even neighbors who bake Pinterest-worthy Halloween treats for the kids and the whole thing feels very… magical.


House to house we went, my little Cinderella smiling brightly.  At most houses, she was one of many trick-or-treaters approaching at the same time.  The other kids would yell, “Trick or Treat!” and the adults would ooh and aah and distribute the candy.  My daughter blended into the crowd of tiny pirates and Elsas and Pikachus.  So, at most houses, no one noticed that all my daughter did was hold out her bucket without saying anything.

That’s until we hit the house on the corner.  The lights had just come on and my daughter excitedly said, “Mommy, look!  Let’s go dat house!”  When we approached, I smiled and said “trick or treat” for her.  The woman stopped, looked at me and back at my daughter and said, “what are the magic words, Cinderella?” and she held the bowl of candy up high out of my daughter’s reach.  I chimed in.  “Trick or Treat!”  She held the bowl higher.  “No magic words, no candy!”  My daughter stared at her, frozen. “Come on now, what are the magic words?  What are you– shy?  Say Trick or Treat!  Come on now!”

dtb5rudz_400x400I I I am sure she meant no harm, but I wanted to punch this lady square in the nose.  I also wanted to explain that my daughter, who is not yet 4 years old is a small child, not a trick pony.  I wanted to tell her that she is not shy.  In fact, she is quite outgoing and bubbly and that her big toothy smile and her laugh are so contagious, you just can’t help but be happy when you’re near her.  I also wanted to tell her that entire months passed where my daughter didn’t utter a word to her preschool teachers and that we celebrate like it’s New Years Eve when we find out she uttered a tiny “hello” to her teacher.  I wanted her to know that my little girl sometimes gets so anxious in new situations that she will curl up her fingers so her hands look like paws and bark little barks instead of talking, almost as if she wants to be anyone but herself at that moment.

I wanted to say, “Fuck you, it’s Halloween. She’s 3 years old. Hand out the candy and not the etiquette lessons, lady.”  But, I didn’t.  Another group of trick or treaters walked up and I took my daughter by the hand and we headed to the next house.  I suppose I could have relented and said, “oh yes, she’s shy!”, which I’m sure would have been an acceptable enough response for some candy.  But I decided that my child doesn’t need to hear me making uncomfortable excuses.  And I sure didn’t want her to think that her very real discomfort and anxiety constituted some sort of failure on her part.  There’s plenty of opportunity for us to address these issues… Halloween isn’t one of them.

I mostly forgot about it until I got home and scrolled through Facebook.  In our neighborhood Facebook group, someone commented about kids not saying “thank you” or “trick-or-treat”, or the horror… taking TWO pieces of candy.  On a local social group, someone commented that children just holding out their buckets for free candy is everything that’s wrong with the world today.  In a mom’s group, someone shared screenshots of her great-aunt complaining about how rude children are these days.  Who knows?  Maybe the lady on the corner turned around and told someone the tale of the rude little Cinderella who couldn’t even muster up a simple “trick-or-treat”.  All I know, is people were bitching about parents not teaching their kids manners, as if that’s the only plausible explanation.

Maybe that kid that didn’t say thank you isn’t a just rude little product of today’s “entitled” generation, what with their participation awards and safe spaces and triggers.  Maybe that child is on the spectrum, maybe that child struggles with selective mutism or hasn’t yet gotten a hang of the very rigid rules of Halloween candy acquisition.  Or maybe the kid, at that moment, simply forgot his or her manners.  You have no idea what the cause is, so how about just treating the child like any other human being and accepting that no one is 100% on point 100% of the time?

My daughter asked me as we walked away, “Why that lady not give me candy?”.  So, I tried to explain that some people simply NEED to hear, “Trick or Treat”.  “But… why mommy?”  “Well, sweetheart, I suppose it’s just how you have to ask for candy on Halloween.”  “Ok, mommy… but I shy.  I don’t like to talk.  Why I’m shy?”  Just then, my husband, who’d stopped to talk about the latest Seahawks game with another neighbor caught up with us and I was off the hook.

It felt, however, like the question was left, hanging in the air, unanswered.  And my heart broke a little.  You see, up until recently, she’s been our baby… we could easily shield her from things.  I could answer her questions with simple generalities.  But as time passes, and the amount of why’s and how-come’s increase, I’m going to have to start explaining how the world works.  I know that’s my job, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to have to unveil the truth: the world isn’t always a wondrous place.  Sometimes, it downright sucks.  For her, the world thus far has been full of magic and new experiences, but the older she gets and the more routine her experiences become, she’s going to come to the realization that the magic and the wonder and the happy stuff is only a tiny part of the equation.  By the time you’re a full-fledged adult, you’ll be at times jaded and cynical, at times bored or dissatisfied or angry or sad.  Eventually, those moments that feel like magic become so fleeting, that when they happen, you try so very hard to commit them to memory and savor them.  For me, these days, all of those magical moments I experience, I experience vicariously through my daughter.  Seeing her eyes light up at a new sight or taste or sound reminds me that life is actually, at times, so profoundly beautiful.

And, while my husband and I think she is utterly perfect just the way she is, there will be other people—people who don’t accept her for who she is and want her to change.  We understand her anxieties.  We know her and know what’s beneath that “shyness”.   But, there are others who will judge her for it.  There will come a time where she’s no longer comfortable breaking into an impromptu a capella performance of “Let it Go” in the middle of Whole Foods just because she feels like it.  People will stare. There will come a time when she knows people will look at her funny if she decides she wants to wear a princess dress and sneakers to school.  There will come a day where lightening bugs and thunderstorms and running through a sprinkler and Christmas lights and a new stuffed doggy aren’t met with a big wide-eyed WOW, but a half hearted “whatever”. And, there will be a time when someone is mean to her or criticizes something about her that she can’t change, and I won’t be there for her to hide behind. All I want is to protect her.  I want to shield her from mean and insensitive people.  But, I can’t.  And that angers me.  When someone breaks her spirit, it’s like they’re breaking mine as well.

That moment on Halloween gave me a glimpse into the future when I won’t be able to kiss away the boo boos.

So… for all those times that you, World, make me have to face this inevitable reality sooner than I would like to: Fuck you.

Fuck you, insensitive jerks who expect so much more out of small people who are just learning to navigate the world than you would out of the average adult.  Fuck you, a-holes who make children struggling with x, y, or z feel “less than”. Fuck you, complete strangers who judge the quality of someone’s parenting based on one teeny tiny interaction with their child. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

Ok, so I know it’s utterly irrational for me to be mad about the inevitable.  But what can I say, sometimes a good ol’ FUCK YOU is cathartic.  I posed this question in our private group, and within minutes, we had a whole slew of eager Fuck Yous.

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So, go ahead… share your Fuck Yous with us…. it will make you feel a little better, I promise.


A laboring mother is frantically driven to the hospital by her husband. When they arrive, their doctor tells them about this wonderful new technology they have that allows the mother to transfer 50% of the pain of birthing their child to the child’s father! They agree, and as her labor progesses they’re amazed at how well her husband is handling it. They ask the doctor if he can bear more of the wife’s pain and the doctor tells her she can transfer 100%, the husband doesn’t even flinch and handles it like a champ. As they’re driving home a few days later he starts to gloat about how women always complain about how painful it is to have a child, and he barely felt it! They pull up in front of their house and find their mailman passed out on the porch clutching his belly.

A good friend of mine taught me that when you’re going to ask people for money, it’s best to open with a joke. It’s disarming. The sobering statistics about maternal mortality, not so much. When you give people bad news, it puts them on the defense, leaves them waiting for the other shoe to drop. They know you’re going to ask for help, but they don’t know how much help you’re going to need and they’re wary about committing to washing dishes when they just came over to hold the newborn.

I’ve been ruminating on this post for a long time. On this blog, and on my page,  I pride myself on being “real” about motherhood. I want us to have honest discussions and laugh about the absurdity of parenting. I walk a fine line most of the time between sharing too much, and sharing not enough. Keeping it real and alienating mothers who have a different experience than I do.

13119889_10101785179957071_5138253603229896465_oLast fall I started running. If you don’t know me, you probably won’t recognize the absurdity of that. I am not a sporty person, I’m not competitive, and by all accounts my life was complicated enough.

So why did I do it?

When my friends would ask, I’d do my best Forest Gump and say “I just felt like running” but the truth was, most days I didn’t feel like running.

As my daughter approached the 1 year mark, she was nursing less. I started feeling more and more like she was my last baby and was slammed with the staggering realization one night that I didn’t know what to do with my body. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d done something for my body for its own sake, I didn’t even feel like it was mine anymore. After 5 years of babymaking, I couldn’t even recognize it.


When does this happen to women? It’s tempting to say that maternity does it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it happens much sooner than that.


I remember not being able to play sports in grade school because, already rocking a tall chubby body, I didn’t want the boys to think I wasn’t “feminine” enough.

I stopped picking clothes because I liked them and started sticking to neutrals and flattering silhouettes. I started being interested in things that girls should be interested in and experimenting with makeup and debating trends.

Is this when it happens? Puberty? A woman’s whole purpose for her body is it’s ability to attract a man, and then it switches to growing babies. But when is it ours?


My daughter is nearly 2 now and starting to get into tutus. That’s great right? Adorable even. And clearly she loves them and it’s a natural choice for her, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some part of me that felt conflicted by it. My little girl with my same tall chubby genes can wear whatever she wants… but can’t that be something with less glitter?

When does it happen moms? When do we lose ownership of our bodies?

I started running because I knew my kids would nap for 2 hours, and for those two hours I could have total peace. Unlike being at home where I’d feel compelled to clean or fold laundry during nap time, I could find myself and do something for myself for a few hours. And the endorphins amazed me. I’d put in my headphones, start a brisk walk, and it was total freedom. The kids were well rested, I was well adusted. It was a transformative experience for me. 12792308_10101714576387191_559119929468943856_o

By spring I’d graduated from 5Ks to 10Ks, and in May I ran my first half marathon. I was quite simply addicted. I wanted to see what else my body could do, so I started playing softball too. When I noticed my biceps getting bigger from pushing nearly 100 pounds of double stroller, I started doing a little weight training.






A few months ago I collaborated with a charity called Every Mother Counts. This is not just a charity, it’s a mission statement for me. It’s a group that honors women’s bodies so thoroughly,  they believe the best and safest way to support a women is to give them resources and get out of the way. They train local women in remote areas with simple midwifery skills, they donate medical supplies, they offer transportation to hospitals in the case of a complication. In short, they believe that women’s bodies belong to them.

I believe so strongly in their work, that I’ve spent weeks struggling with how I can write this post without sounding too shmoozy. You should want to help them, but you should also feel compelled to learn what they do and how far your dollar goes. 100% of your donation goes directly to the cause. This isn’t some pink ribbon thing where you’re paying a CEO a 6 figure salary, every dollar goes to mothers and midwives and support. No one on the board of directors uses donations to pay a salary or host charity balls. It’s all legit. And if you’re a bleeding heart liberal, or a more conservative voter, this is a very politically neutral charity. They don’t provide birth contrl, they don’t do abortions, they don’t dabble in political instability or religious missions. They take women in remote areas who might die from childbirth and they find ways to save their lives. That’s it. Sounds small, but isn’t it really miraculous?

We have this tenuous link to our bodies,  we want to belive they’re permanent, but our perception of ourselves is constantly changing based on what we’re able to do. Donating to this campaign is a small thing you can do to affirm the divinity of women’s bodies.

I asked my group, where we debate all issues of parenting, when they felt like they lost ownership of their bodies and they were able to talk it in this almost detached way that made me a little sad. It’s like, society expects us to not care what we can do after we have kids, and I creates this vicious cycle of alienation from ourselves.Screenshot_2016-08-22-08-08-27-3









So, I opened this post with a joke about being able to transfer the pain of childbirth. And maybe you chuckled a little because you know it’s impossible and absurd. But I want to present you with a radical idea: What if we as collective can shoulder the identity of “womanhood”? What if we can define what our bodies can do and transfer the pain of what it can’t among ourselves? What if we could lift each other up and cheer each other on in a way we rarely see women do in the bloodsport of mothering?

You may not understand why I run or think it’s insane that I’d choose to run a marathon when my life is already pretty chaotic. But maybe you can put that aside and cheer for me, because the very real root of the matter is that I’ve been cheering for all of you for the last 3 years.

For 3 years I’ve been getting angry on your behalf and laughing at the haters with you. For 3 years and with 80,000 other women fighting the same battles we’ve lifted each other up and built a sort of community. I’ve made some lifelong friends on Sanctimommy,  and many of you have as well. Can we put a price on that? Let’s say $10. If you’ve ever felt supported or validated on my page, can you donate $10 to a mother in another country who doesn’t have support or validation and furthermore might actually die without it?

If you can’t, that’s fine. We’re all in a different place in our lives. But if you can, imagine the community we’re building, imagine the power of that $10 to lift other women up and tell them that you value the power of their bodies.

Every. Mother. Counts.

And this mother is counting on you. Please consider helping me.





Life on Social Media: Edited for Content?

When I think back to the hallways of my childhood home, I remember the pictures my mom and dad had hung on the wall: a portrait of me, in second grade, posed in front of some sort of autumn farm scene… a family portrait that was taken at Sears where we are all smiling ear-to-ear… a picture of my dad with his arm around me standing in front of MGM Studios in Disney World when I was a teenager. Every picture was posed, every picture was staged, every picture looks happy.  Just a frozen happy moment in time.

I remember taking that class picture. I cried all morning because I hated my shirt. I remember being very fidgety waiting in line to sit down in front of that garish backdrop… just me… in a weird velour striped crewneck shirt, chillin’ in front of a picture perfect New England barn.  So weird, so artificial.  But the end result was a picture of a happy little girl with a crazy cowlick and a big toothless smile looking at the camera happily.  The picture in Disney? Yeah, my dad was yelling at me about two minutes before the picture was taken because I was 14 and hated the world (as all 14 year olds do), so I was rolling my eyes and sighing heavy sighs ruining the goddamned trip to the happiest goddamn place on earth. My mom had just gotten this really high-end 35mm camera and was itching to use it so I remember her saying something to the effect of, “GODDAMN IT, THE TWO OF YOU STOP IT. STAND THERE AND SMILE!” And my dad and I stopped what we were doing for just a moment to take the picture. About two seconds later he was back to threatening to get us on the next flight to CT and I was back to pouting.  I don’t really remember the events surrounding the family portraits at Sears, but I imagine at one point my dad probably said that my mom was taking too long to get ready and my mom probably told my dad that he was driving too fast and at some point, she probably told me to stand up straight because I was always slouching and my dad probably rubbed the back of his neck anxiously, the way he did when he was getting impatient because the photographer was taking too long.  But I don’t really remember those details because all I have left of the day is an image of me, in a stiff purple dress with that cowlick waving in the wind, sitting between my gorgeous twenty-something parents, smiling the biggest smiles.

But, that’s the way it was, back before we could snap 350 selfies a day on a mobile device. Taking photographs of events or people was a process.  Buy film, load the film into the camera, make sure lighting was right, point, click and then wait until you finished the entire roll of film to take it to the Fotomat to be developed. There were no do-overs. You took the picture and hoped for the best. I remember the excitement of taking a roll film to the photo developing booth and waiting for those pictures to be developed.  You chucked the blurry ones, framed the especially beautiful ones, and then put the rest into a photo album to be admired for generations to come.  Mom and Dad didn’t take 25 shots of you petting the dog or eating your spaghetti. No one wasted time taking duck-lipped selfies. Times have changed, though.  On any given lazy Saturday, I will take a hundred pictures of my daughter doing the most mundane things you can think of… helping my husband load the dishwasher, cuddling with the cat, laying on the couch.  My daughter is only 3 1/2 years old and I have already taken upwards of 15,000 pictures of her and have probably posted 4,000 of them to Facebook.  I don’t usually spend a ton of time considering what to upload to social media.  I think it’s cute, I share it.

Last weekend was Father’s Day and my husband and I decided that miniature golf might be a fun thing to do. I dressed my daughter in this really cute Hello Kitty outfit and made sure my phone was charged for what I thought would certainly be photo-op-palooza.  The minute we got there, she didn’t like the color of her putter.  She wanted to go right to the 5th hole because there was a waterfall there.  My husband hit the ball, she grabbed the ball and tossed it back to him.  We told her to be patient, she cried.  She wanted apple juice.  She wanted pizza.  She didn’t want apple juice or pizza.  It was a nightmare that we abruptly ended somewhere around the 8th hole and the 350th, “WILL YOU STOP IT ALREADY!?”  But somehow in the midst of the chaos, I snapped this picture of my husband showing her how to hit the ball:


Later, I sort of mindlessly posted the picture to Facebook, no caption, no funny quip about what a disaster it was, and I started to feel like a total imposter.  I felt like I needed to go back and edit the picture with an explanation or some little self-deprecating qualifier that the whole outing was an ordeal.  I felt like a phony and that somewhere, someone on my friends list was thinking, “there she goes again, trying to make life look perfect.”  I’m not sure why it mattered to me what my old coworker from TGI Friday’s who I haven’t seen since I was 23 or my husband’s great aunt might think I might be trying to portray.


So I got to thinking… why do we feel guilty about NOT letting people in on the good, the bad, the ugly of parenting?  Sometimes, I take a picture of my kid in the living room and strategically crop out the pile of toys in the corner.  Sometimes I add a black & white filter if my carpet looks dingy.  And, sometimes I post pictures of my kid covered in toilet paper or the massive mess she’s made of laundry I just folded or my dog covered in Mickey Mouse bandaids.  Just because I let the people on my friends list in on the good and the funny, doesn’t mean I always want to chronicle the dirty and the disgusting and the less than happy moments.  I doubt friends of my mom and dad ever came to our house and whispered to each other, “Look at those happy pictures.  What phonies, trying to portray themselves as the perfect family! tsk tsk.”  That’s all anyone put out for the world to see- edited, sanitized snapshots of a moment in time.


So, why do we expect that sharing on social media is all or nothing?  I posed the question to one of my parenting groups, and it turns out we all edit on some level.

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And I was reminded that there’s no harm in posting that picture of my family without qualifying first.  It was a cute Kodak moment that I will look back on in 15 years and see it for what it was– a moment.  By then, maybe I’ll forget how much she whined or how we stormed out of there as quickly as we could, barely taking a moment to make sure we returned the golf balls and putters to the right place.  And, chances are, my daughter will look at it years from now and see it as this sweet picture of her and her dad on when she was a toddler.

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And, there’s nothing wrong with telling the whole story either… some of us like to share tales of potty accidents and doggy haircuts when you were in the bathroom and permanent marker scribbles on the new couch.  These moments are real, they are often funny and they offer a minor reminder– to others, and to our future selves– that parenting isn’t always neat and pretty.



I think my friend Scott said it best:


We share and we overshare.  We get pissed off at a co-worker and fire off a vague status update about “some” people being lazy.  We are sitting in the doctor’s office and post a 10 line complaint about how inconsiderate it is to have a 2:45 appointment and at 3:15 we are STILL waiting.  We make an arugula salad and take a picture of it, add a filter, crop out the pile of mail in the corner of the kitchen and slap it up on Instagram.  And the thing is… a lot of what we share is not for others.  Social media is just one big huge photo album/diary hybrid… an ongoing chronicle of our lives that we add to on an ongoing basis.  So, Girl Who I Went to Grad School With and Second Cousin Once Removed and Person Who I Friended like 8 Years Ago but Don’t Remember Where We Actually Met, if you’re side-eyeing because I’m only showing you the sanitized version of my life, too bad.  You won’t look back on these pictures and posts 6 years from now… but I will.  And I want to remember the good and the funny and occasionally the icky and the messy and the sad.  It’s my story to tell.

But I do have to fess up: sometimes, I look at what others post and I side-eye.  “I’ve been to their house… they totally cropped out that huge hole in the wall…” or “Look at that couple smiling in that picture at so-and-so’s wedding… I was there and I know they spent like 45 minutes outside arguing”, and “oooh, girl, how many filters are on that selfie?  Cause I know what you actually look like!”  And strangely enough, I find that those thoughts seem to creep in the most when I’m feeling frustrated or angry or dissatisfied at something in my own world… that’s when pictures of others’ kids in crisp and clean white dresses or frolicking on the beach annoy me.  It’s the times when I can’t relate and I wish someone was feeling as down in the dumps as I am at that moment.  Our telling of our reality is very personal… but it also connects us to others and makes us feel not so alone in our trials and tribulations and potty accidents and piles of toys in the corner and temper tantrums at the Mini Golf place.

So… how do you decide what you share on Facebook for all to see?  Do you purposely “edit”? And, do you look at other people’s posts and critique the “realness” of the story they’re telling?  Tell us in the comments below!

Not me.

This morning I woke up to the news that yet another tragic event occurred in the city of Orlando.  A small child, only two years old, was wading in less than 12″ of water near the Grand Floridian resort and was suddenly grabbed by an alligator and dragged into the water. His parents, who were right there with him, attempted to save him.  They were unsuccessful.  A search was underway and the chance of anything but a tragic outcome was bleak.

I don’t know if my feelings were extra raw because of all of the tragic tales we’ve been bombarded with over the last few days, but this story struck a chord deep in me.  I knew the chances that he would be found safe were almost nonexistent, but my God, for a few hours I held on to hope.  I prayed.  I wished.

I started combing through the comment sections of the different Facebook posts related to the story, I suppose looking for some answers, and found myself becoming enraged.  Really– enraged.  For every comment that expressed sorrow or empathy, there was another one calling the parents stupid, ignorant, careless, reckless and so on.  The suggestions that somehow these people brought this upon themselves or even deserved this on some level were plentiful. We recently saw another event where a four year old boy got away from his parents and climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.  For every sympathetic comment and hashtagged tale telling of the time #ivelostmykid, there were two more comments demanding the parents be brought up on criminal charges for negligence and that they be investigated by CPS.  Here are two sets of parents, both faced very suddenly with the mortality of their small child (albeit with vastly different outcomes) and all we can do is blame and criticize?

Is the problem that we have become so jaded, so quick to pass judgement that we automatically turn to cruel remarks and finger pointing when the unthinkable happens?  Are we so desensitized that we are no longer capable of expressing sympathy? We’ve lost our humanity, haven’t we?

I’m not sure.

What struck me today was the number of comments that were made by those who quite obviously hadn’t even read the very basic account of the event.  So many “Where were the parents?” and “Why was a 2 year old swimming alone?! Smh!” queries that could have been easily answered by clicking on the link they were actively commenting on.  I found myself shaking with anger and saying, “DID YOU EVEN READ THE ARTICLE, ASSHOLE?”

And, then I had a sort of epiphany.

We are so quick to heap judgement and victim blame because it is the only way to convince ourselves that somehow, some way if we do things the “right” way, we will avoid tragedy.  It’s mental self preservation at its finest, and the only way we can convince ourselves that xyz will never happen to us.  Because if we can not pinpoint a cause or identify a source of blame, then that just means that the universe is one cruel motherfucker and a terrifying twist of fate can find its way into any of our lives at any time… and that is downright horrifying.   If we are to make it through the day with our sanity intact, we somehow have to separate ourselves as the “us” (the good parents, the attentive and informed parents) from the “them” (the people that bring bad shit upon themselves).  We have to write off these tragedies as the result of parental failure because if we don’t that means we could very well be next.

Social media has allowed us to become hyperconnected.  Thanks to Facebook I can see what my cousin in CT, who I haven’t seen since I was 8, is eating for lunch… I can watch my nieces and nephews grow from a distance and celebrate their milestones and dance recitals and baseball games.  I can distract myself at work or in line at the DMV by reading Buzzfeed posts.  I can maintain my sanity by sharing tales of potty training or the last fight I had with my husband with my tightknit little mommy group.  I can laugh at viral cat videos or silly eCards.

But what Facebook giveth, Facebook also taketh away.  Thanks to the miracle of social media and the oversharing that occurs, I am all too aware what my friends’ and family’s political leanings are, and that alters my opinion of them at times. I read too much controversial bullshit and find myself angry.  A lot. I am privy to news stories of unthinkable disasters from small towns across the country that don’t make their way to the local news here.  I see the Gofundme pages for acquaintences’ children who are fighting cancer or for people who’ve lost their house in a fire.  I am completely steeped in reality: the good, the bad, the mundane, the tragic. So, sometimes a headline pops up and I judge the content of the story based on the clickbaitey headline because I. Cannot. Take. Any. More. Bad. News.  A child was ejected from a car?  (Probably bad chest clip placement.  Luckily I know my car sear safety!).  A baby is left in a hot car by a parent? (That would never happen to me!  I’m never THAT preoccupied!) A toddler eats a moldy applesauce pouch and this triggers a massive recall? (Lucky for me, I refuse to buy THAT brand as it is! Score one for me!)  So, I am–on occasion– one of those assholes that jumps to conclusions without the facts.  I scroll past and think “not me” and feel better for a brief moment.

But, I can never escape the feeling that maybe, somehow, some way…it’s only dumb luck that has allowed me to avoid tragedy… that maybe my superior choices and keen maternal instinct aren’t responsible for my child’s safety and well being, but that I have thus far been on the right side of parental luck.  And, that is equally humbling and frightening.

I’ve always thought that the root of sanctimommying is fear and uncertainty, and the mass reactions to events such as these seem to support that theory.  The vitriol and venomous criticism come from a place of fear.  The fact is… we aren’t angry with you.  We ARE afraid that we are, or will be, you.

I can’t imagine what those parents are going through right now.  My heart aches for them.  I hope they don’t ever read the comment section of any article related to their tragedy, because the Monday Morning Quarterbacking might be too much to bear.  But if they do, I hope they can see through what appears to be smug judgement and know that fear that we could be in their place is what guides the harsh criticism, and that their pain is all too palpable to all of us, even if we are afraid to acknowledge it.



Buffet Parenting

My friend Julie is one of those cool moms who just has her shit figured out. I’m sure her kids drive her just as crazy as mine do, but she is unflappable and seems to be content to just act as a battering ram against the chaos. That kind of go-with-the-flow mentality is crucial, not just for parenting,  but also for being a kick ass mom friend. Julie is someone who hears you’re on night one of letting your 10 month old cry it out, and instead of sending you a bunch of literature,  will talk you off the edge and send you a glass or two of wine. Snarky, but also empathetic, this mom of four boys knows things about parenting that all us newbies can only hope to understand.

This week, she taught all of us over in the Sanctimommy group a term that just knocked our socks right off.

It all started when our friend Susie came in to complain about how elitist and judgy some mom groups are on the internet.

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It can be hard to find support if you’re not a die hard proponent of one very specific and narrow parenting methodology. If you babywear, but don’t formula feed, it raises eyebrows. If you make your own laundry soap and cloth diaper, but vaccinate your kids on schedule, it arouses suspicion. There are rules to being a “crunchy” mama, but what happens when you’re too “silky” for the granola crowd, but too into natural remedies for all the Salk-ians?

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It’s a conundrum. Especially for those of us who don’t really care what other people do with their kids and just want some virtual asspats after a long day in the trenches.

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The cool thing about the sanctimommy group, is that we can have discussions that would implode most other parenting circles but keep it relatively clean. Maybe it’s because they know I’m screenshotting them for my blog so they have to be accountable for what they say? Or maybe it’s just because I have the best friends on the internet? Either way, we had a pretty great discussion about things we’ve compromised over the years and parenting philosophies we gave up and how we’ve grown, not just as gestators, but as women.

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It seems simple enough, but when Julie brought up the idea of treating parenting like a buffet line,  where you take what you like and leave what you don’t,  our minds were blown. Was it really that simple?


2016-06-04 16.08.00Can we make this a thing? In a limitless array of choices we have to make every day, can we lose the lofty ideology and just take what we need? It seems simple enough, but when we give up our labels, it almost seems like we lose our identity. If I’m not “Sam’s mommy, the AP normal-duration nurser” than who am I?

Myself. I get to be myself. And, BONUS! when I’m myself that means you get to be your self, and then we don’t have to bullshit each other about how rewarding motherhood is, we can just get together and cry because our 4 year olds won’t sleep through the night and our baby just got kicked out of daycare for biting. We don’t have to make all our decisions so cerebral, we can do what we need to to get through the day.

It seems extraordinarily simple, but could we pull it off? Could we stop looking for validation and instead offer solidarity? What would Julie do?

Tell me about your parenting style in the comments, in what way do you follow a specific philosophy and where do you deviate into doing what’s best for you?


Enjoy every moment

Last week, I posted something on Facebook about how my 3-year-old hadn’t stopped talking all day.  I wasn’t complaining– well, not really.


Many of my Facebook friends have children, some with children around my daughter’s age, so I guess I was just looking for a little solidarity.  It was one of those “I’m due for a status update” kinda posts that I didn’t give much thought to before posting.  The comments were mostly “ooh, girl, I feel ya” type commiserating where everyone traded war stories about their own overly chatty spawn.  And, then, there it was… a comment from a business colleague who has grown children, admonishing me and the other commenters that we should “really try to enjoy these moments, because there will come a time when they’re grown and won’t even answer your phone calls”.

*Groan*  There it is.  Someone who is years removed from the challenges of daily life with a 3 year old reminding me to ENJOY EVERY MOMENT.


My daughter is the light of my life.  I adore her.  I’m intrigued by her.  She fills me with pride and wonder and joy and all those squishy, sparkly, wonderful feelings I never expected to feel.  But, sometimes, I gotta admit… I. Am. Not Enjoying. It.

Picture it:  It’s 7:00 p.m., I’ve just gotten home from a 10 hour day at work.  I’m still in my work clothes, I’ve had to pee since 4:00 p.m. and for no particular reason, I still haven’t managed to make it to the bathroom, and I’m just now starting dinner.  The dog is whining to go outside, even though I’ve already let him in and out 3 times since I walked in the door.  And it begins. “Mommy.  Mommy mommy mom mommmmaaaaa I need a Bandaid.  A Paw Patrol Bandadid.  I want an applesauce.  Mommy apple sauce.  Apple sauceeeeeeeeeeeeee.  Paw Patrol apple sauce Bandaid sauce.  Mommy look.  I have a boo boo (no she doesn’t)… Mommy my doggie, where’s pink doggie? I no want pagetti (spaghetti). Pagetti is yuck mommy.  I want a Pop-Tart.  Mommy Bandaid.  BAND AID.  MOMMY.  I wanna watch Paw Patrol McStuffins.  MOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!”.  It’s not that I’m ignoring her.  I’m listening as intently as I can and trying to simultaneously boil the spaghetti, sautee the chicken and find the goddamn box of Bandaids my husband put in the wrong place the last time she needed a Bandaid (like, 8 minutes ago), and trying not to escape to the bathroom just for a moment of silence.

So, I’m supposed to stop, take a deep breath and revel in this moment?  Cause I can’t.  I’m not enjoying this moment… I’m enduring it.  I’m exhausted.  It doesn’t mean I’m not happy being a mom.  It just means that for this moment, I want to fast forward, just a tiny bit, maybe an hour or so… maybe to bath time? Bath time is fun.  We always fill the tub up all the way with plenty of bubbles. Our 12 year old cat always comes in during bath time, and my daughter squeals with delight.  Seriously, every time, like it’s the first time ever. Our cat, Maynard (who she’s renamed Meathead) saunters over to the edge of the tub every night, and we place a big pile of bubbles on his head.  My daughter cracks up, Meathead looks proud, and I still find this genuinely funny.  It’s predictable, it’s routine, but I enjoy it immensely.  And then, we get out of the tub and sometimes she throws an epic tantrum if I’ve dared to grab the wrong pair of Elsa pajamas, and I’m back to wanting to fast forward… just a few minutes, until we are snuggled in her bed and my husband sits on the floor and reads us one or two (or seven) books as she drifts off into the most angelic sleep.

Parenting is just full of ups and downs and in-the-middles.  Many moments are simply wonderful.  Some are god awful.  Most, however, are just plain average.  And that is perfectly ok.


Life is a mixed bag.  Just because you’re a parent– or more specifically, a mom– doesn’t mean you are required to bask in the magic of every single nanosecond of every single day.





Will I feel guilty some day in the future when she thinks I’m embarrassingly uncool and doesn’t need my snuggles anymore that I didn’t enjoy EVERY MOMENT, down to the tantrums and the whiny ultimatums?  The truth is, I have no idea.  But I do know that the sudden reminder to stop and enjoy every moment of motherhood fills me with guilt.  Why do I, as a mom, have to feel guilty about not finding every last interaction with my daughter to be full of magic and wonder?  If I suddenly landed my dream job and had a bad day at work, would anyone reprimand me for saying that I couldn’t wait for the weekend?  Probably not.  If I complained that I didn’t enjoy some mundane task at work, like filling out my expense report, would anyone suggest that I should stop and savor the moment because someday I’ll be retired and bored?  No.

I am acutely aware that time is passing.  I can’t believe that I already have a preschooler.  It seems like 18 minutes ago that I was holding a tiny little baby.  Ah, she was such a sweet little baby.  It was so much easier then… I wish I could have held on to those moments a little longer.  I wish I could remember what her head smelled like. Why didn’t I stop and commit that exact scent to memory?  I wish I could remember what it felt like to hold her at 6 weeks, 6 months…  Why didn’t I stop and will my brain to burn that sensation to my memory forever?  Gah. God, I guess I squandered those precious moments.

Except that I didn’t.

I did what I am doing now.  I enjoyed the bulk of it– the sweet little coos, the sight of that little infant falling asleep on my chest, the first tooth, the first time she laughed, the first time she said “Dada”, the amazingly sloppy messes she made whilst mastering putting mashed sweet potatoes in her mouth.  And, I’ve glossed over the rest– the colic, the 4 month sleep regression, the clogged ducts and the PPD, the late night frantic trip to the ER when she was 5 weeks old, the almost painful exhaustion those first few weeks…. it all feels like such a distant memory.

Today, I had a meeting in a medical building.  I got into the elevator and there was a couple there, holding what looked to be a one to two week old baby.   He was so tiny, so content, asleep on his mom’s shoulder.  The mom had that look of sheer exhaustion and fatigue that is a requisite part of the new mom uniform.  I felt this sudden rush of nostalgia and even deeper pang of jealousy. We exchanged polite smiles and I told them their baby was beautiful.  But, part of me wanted to beg her to stop and enjoy these moments because it won’t be long before that little sweet angel is demanding Paw Patrol Bandaid Apple Sauces at the top of his lungs.  But I didn’t.  Why? Because no matter how much someone tells you that you’ll miss these days, you can’t appreciate it until you do.

When I encounter someone saying they’re having a miserable pregnancy or complaining about colic or reflux or sleeplessness, I remind myself that it’s part of the package deal to have these moments you don’t enjoy.  Just because I’m feeling nostalgic doesn’t make their struggle any less real.



Someone once told me that the easiest phase of parenting is the one you’ve just come out of, and I can’t imagine anything truer.  Although we are in the thick of Threenagerdom right now, I am certain that there will come a time when we have a sassy five year old or a broody twelve year old on our hands and we’ll long for the days when potty training and tantrums over pajamas were the biggest of our concerns.  And some day, when my daughter is away at college, or moved to another city to start her life as an adult, I know I’ll yearn for these days.  But, until then, I have to remind myself that it’s okay to not enjoy every minute.

And, when an older, wiser person in my life admonishes me for squandering these cherished moments of tantrums and potty accidents and Bandaids stuck to my carpeting, I have to remember to be a little more forgiving and realize that they were probably just like me at one point, wishing away the less enjoyable moments–even if they don’t remember it.




When did you feel like a “real” mom?

A few weeks ago we had a family emergency that required my husband to go away for an indeterminate amount of time. As much as I fuss over the way he does things and his tendency to be more “free range” with the kids, without him was a bit like tumbling backwards into a free fall.

I never realized how much I watched the clock all day for my 5pm reprieve. How helpful it was to have someone there who loved the kids as much as I do, so that even on the bad days we could commiserate about all the ways they ruined our life. It sounds awful, but I never realized how much he did and focused instead on the laundry he left on the floor next to the hamper and the half full cups I found all over our house.

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I’m going to say something that might shock you, but I’ve never really felt like a real mom before this experience. Despite two kids and bills and doctors and a full stay at home life, there was a part of me that was kind of faking it to make it. I did things that moms were supposed to do, and got through the days feeling like I was an imposter around all the other moms who carefully packed snacks and organized crafts. I was going through the motions of motherhood until my partner got home, then we’d put the kids to bed and I’d go back to being my old self.

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About 4 days after my husband left, somewhere around the time my son was totally melting down at a McDonald’s, I realized I was feeling like a real mom. There was no 5 pm shift change, there was no post bedtime return to the real me; this was the real me, this was my real life.

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There’s always that moment when your head is screaming “shut up! shut up! shut up!” and you have to draw on reserves you didn’t know you had in order to say “wait just one second, baby, mommy’s using the potty.” That’s real motherhood. The moment where you take the high road and acknowledge that you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.

I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t the perfect moms stuff like baking and band aids that would make me stop feeling like an imposter,  but the times I was so close to losing my shit and at my absolute limit. Like some kind of bizarro velveteen rabbit, I became real huddling in the bathroom with my kids, all 3 of us sobbing because we missed daddy and didn’t know what to do with the limitless expanse of time his absence left us with.

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Things have settled down somewhat in the last week. I gained a colossal amount of respect for women whose husbands are deployed, or travel for work, and I think single mothers are basically candidates for sainthood. We’re settling into a routine, getting to know a few new babysitters, experimenting with skype. But with every small inch forward, there’s a hurdle to clear, a part of myself I didn’t expect to see. Who is this new woman embracing motherhood, flaws and all, and not always anxious for the opportunity to return to her pre-kid self?

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I’m curious if this would have happened without this situation. Would I have eventually felt like a real mom if I hadn’t faced this emergency and been forced to sink or swim? Were there glimmers of this real mom in me all along and I just finally got the confidence in myself to embrace her? When did you start feeling like a real mom? The moment you held your newborn and knew you’d do anything for her? Or, like me, did it take a while to shake off the imposter veil and step into your new role? I can’t wait to hear all about it, let me know in the comments!