Motherhood: Do You Make “Me Time” a Priority?

Motherhood: Do You Make “Me Time” a Priority?

  When did it become ok for Mothers to trade in our life force for our families? Is it just me or are women giving too damned much? Somehow it has become the thing to feel that we can’t possibly step away from our kids for so much as a moment because they need us. Well of course they need us girl, they are small relentless creatures that are 97% made of needs. That doesn’t mean you have to hand over your identity card and lie down to let them run over your sorry ass. Even the youngest of toddlers can deal with a little alone time in their cribs or rooms. Older kids don’t really need you that much. However, if you are still tending to them regardless of their eye rolling, you are becoming a hover Mom. Give yourself a wedgie and walk out the door. If you look like crap, and feel a level below your appearance, the chances are pretty good you are being drained of your life force and have become a husk. A husk in dirty sweatpants. Was this your plan when you decided to produce offspring? I doubt it. You can however stop the insanity, you are the Mom, which makes you Queen Shit of Shit Mountain my love. You decide whose needs get met and when. There has been a lot of chatter in the Mom world about parenting like French women. I am not sure what that actually means, but I picture stylish Mothers sitting in the café Des Saints de Cochon, smoking, drinking coffee with the viscosity of mud, and neglecting their children. It may not actually be that way, but it sure sounds like my kind of afternoon. Those mothers would be much happier than some of the young women I see hauling their three kids into Walmart, hating her life. It doesn’t have to be that way though honey. Here are the three most important things a woman needs in order to hang on to her sanity: Somebody (husband, sister wife, Mother, neighbour anybody) who knows you well enough to tell you to shower and takes your children from you so you can scrape the spit-up off your neck. A safe place in the house where you can keep the little ones entertained while you tend to your needs. Try something crazy like brushing your teeth before 11am. It is a concept. Boundaries. There has got to be a “no go” zone for your children and husband where they dare not tread. If your kids insist on being in the bathroom when you pee, start by axing that abomination. If we are weak with our kids and...
Your Toddler is a Tyrant

Your Toddler is a Tyrant

The mind of a 3 year old child is like the diapered version of Mordor in Lord of the Rings – one does not simply walk in and make him do anything. As a veteran mother, I often amuse myself in public places by watching, with no small amount of glee the younger Moms with their infants and toddlers. Sometimes I laugh so hard my saggy old boobs jiggle in my sensible bra. I think it is so cute when little Caiden or Caylen or Raven or whatever their names are now starts to melt down. Mom gently and patiently pulls out the manual, gets down on one passive knee and starts to talk junior through it. The screaming carries on, and her flipping of pages in the child rearing instruction book gets more frantic. Her carefully coiffed burb-mom hairdo starts to get frizzy like a stress measurement device. As she tries to keep the raging child still, her yoga pants creep down revealing a regrettable tramp stamp and a practical thong, and yet she perseveres. Junior is now screaming at the decibel level of an 80’s hair band and Mom has gone through her entire repertoire of verbal warnings. The rest of us stand around and smirk. Isn’t it so cute in her happy pretend universe where toddlers suddenly become reasonable? Here are some facts for you yoga pants mommy: Three year olds are savages with slowly developing little emotional regulation systems. The only thing they react to is hunger, tiredness or frustration. None of those things can be handled on the spot. Do it later when you no longer feel the rage. Yes, everybody is judging you if you let your child cry and ignore them. Children will test you constantly to see when you draw the line. Public meltdowns need to be that line. Kid starts to get crabby? Do they need a nutritious snack? Then feed them, it might work. If it is an issue of tired or frustrated, you have no hope. Pick up the child, and I mean pick. up. the. child. Take their ground out from under them. It is a bit jarring and sometimes can distract them enough to reset the path they are on. Especially if you do it by their ankle. No just kidding, unless they are wearing overalls, that is what those are for… they have toddler management handles. Don’t actually hurt them of course, but tell them you have had enough, and remove them physically. Once outside or in a new setting, put them down and ask them if they are done. If not, it is time for a nap. Then deliver. It is a dog eat dog...
How To Make Friends When You Are a Mom

How To Make Friends When You Are a Mom

If your life follows the Motherhood trajectory, you find a partner and push out tiny humans, or adopt them or whatever. Either way – you are now in the Mom Zone. You need friends, sister. You need them bad. In order to help you in your friend hunting strategy, I am going to give you some clear Do and Don’ts. Shun my advice at your own risk: Prenatal classes: Do Not – repeat Do Not seek out friendships with these people. None of you have actually had your babies yet. These friendships are potentially destined for the scrap heap because you can’t tell from how they do breathing exercises what kind of parents they will be. Conflicting parenting styles are slow deaths for friendships. However, if you are bound and determined to ignore my advice, at bare minimum, ask prospective friends if they have a hippy dippy birth plan and a recipe for fried placenta. If the answer is yes, waddle your ass out of there. Baby socializing groups: same as above. Babies haven’t had time to be ruined little assholes yet, so you won’t know the parenting styles unless you create a real time scientific test of what kind of parent you are talking to. If you have picked out one with potential, you might have to take extreme measures to get them to show their true colours. Sit yourself on down, pull out a bottle for your baby and a martini for yourself. This will separate the wheat from the chaff. The first woman who comes up to you looking relieved because she didn’t have enough mix in her diaper bag for her own drink is your new bestie. Toddler Playgroups: This is primo Mom-friend stalking grounds. Pick cool classes and watch the minivans as they arrive. If the Moms look frazzled and they roll out of their fishy cracker leaking sliding doors carrying a squiggling toddler by his overall straps, she is ripe for some friendly adult conversation. That is your prime target right there, so bring her a handy wipe and some chocolate. Pre-School hallway parties: Technically this is the beginning of the “drive and drop” years of school. But mostly when the kids are in their preschool years, Moms still hang out in the hall waiting for precious to go in or come out. This is prime time to make your move. Ask your kid who the nice children are, who has vegetables in their lunch, and who the teachers like. Then find out who their moms are. Just don’t be too creepy and wide eyed when you start the conversation. Desperation has a smell that cool moms pick up with their aquiline noses. Elementary...
Why Can’t I Master Woman Stuff?

Why Can’t I Master Woman Stuff?

I was never a tomboy as a kid. I couldn’t throw a ball with any accuracy, wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between the infield and a forward guard, and am relatively sure I am mixing up sports here. I accept my ineptitude in all things sporty butch. But I am even more useless in areas that are usually the domain of women. In fact, with all this chatter about “identifying as something other than what you appear” I might be a new iteration of human that is a bit of both genders. That concept justifies my shortfalls and makes them seem a little less inglorious. For instance – fake eyelashes. I have failed at the installation of those little creeps my whole adult life. It was evident that I should give up trying to wear them when I found a “spider” in my fancy gala plated dinner. It was quickly pointed out that it was in fact my eyelash and it had dropped into the chevre and cranberry salad. Ya, winner. Purses confound me as well. I have a friend who has  different one to fit her mood and the season. I just gawp at her ability to “switch purses” in a blink. How the hell does she do that?? Do you know how long it takes me to move all my crap from one purse to the other if the pockets are in different places in the bag??! If the zipper pockets are different sizes entirely, I come undone. My criteria for purchasing a new purse is a pretty short checklist of two questions…. can I find my damned keys in it when I blindly reach? Next priority: does it fit my Ipad and my giant camera? Somewhere down my list is the minor issue of fabric and aesthetic. Chick cars also leave me cold. I know that if I see a white Volkswagen Beetle with a sunflower in the cup holder, I could probably describe the driver pretty accurately. Pony tail, yoga pants, no kids, Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand and open mouthed gum chewing. Follow me? I drive a German car as well, but a cool one and I make that gas pedal my bastard servant. I drive it like I mean it, and there are no flowers in the space where my double expresso cup sits. BooYA baby. Cruising at the $189 level gives me a rush. On the topic of flowers, I can’t stand them. If the smell of funerals and old ladies through the whole house isn’t bad enough , the rotting petals and even the slimy vase water make me heave. Just gross. Why buy somebody flowers when there is...
Leo DiCaprio Got Fat

Leo DiCaprio Got Fat

So did Vincent D’Onofrio. They started off lean and mean, but made the catastrophic error of eating carbs and steak. Now they rock Jabba the Hutt level jowls. Seriously those flesh pockets jiggle on well after the actors stop talking. Of course, being movie stars, they have been sent down the trap door of shame to wallow in their extra large Dad bods. Oh wait… no they haven’t. The film industry trap door of grey hair and fat shaming is only for women. Leo and Vincent can still play lovers, criminals, good guys or whatever, and as long as they don’t try to pull off superman in full body tights without digital enhancements they can still get a paycheque. Hell, they can still catch a net full of bikini wearing supermodels if they push back from the buffet long enough to reach out and grab some. Yes, they can still star in a movie and convincingly play the husband or lover of a slim trophy female. Suit makers will install compression panels in the alpha males’ undergarments and they will walk confidently like a big horny silverback in front of the cameras. They feel loved and sexy. Or maybe they will go commando and forgo compression and let it all hang out even if they haven’t seen their gear in two years… they know it is still there, and that they can still get somebody to touch it. I was thinking about which people should worry about being fat in Hollywood. Clearly my list didn’t include Tina Fey, yet there she was in knee to boob elastic girdle garments handing her dress to David Letterman. If she feels she has to wear that blood clogging gear, what hope is there for Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy? Those women have to live in a world that considers them invisible unless they pare down to the weight of their current left leg. One would think that they wouldn’t ever get a good gig, so they have to be super extra talented, and probably wear the tightening gear, but only on the red carpet. Another example of the impossible is Gabourey Sidibe playing the rather buxom lead in Precious honoured by the Academy. Could it be that there is a change in wind for the land of white teeth and fake boobs? An obese black girl taking the red carpet by storm? About time say I. Still I remain dubious. Unless I see a convincing romance between Kathy Bates and Hugh Jackman, in a movie or real life, I am skeptical. They are 20 years and 50 pounds apart. I can picture your raised eyebrow at the mere thought of a doughy...
Married to The Military

Married to The Military

I married a former sailor who is now living as a land creature. My husband spent a good deal of time sailing the world in the Navy, and he has generally adapted well to civilian life, but there are some things that are so deeply hardwired from his boot camp days that he just can’t adapt and leave them behind. No matter how rough the seas get in our marriage, he struggles with me, his so un-military wife. Here are the top five things that drive my military dude bonkers: 1. The toilet: He just doesn’t get why I am seemingly incapable of employing a used toothbrush to clean the toilet. Apparently that is the designated afterlife of all toothbrushes in the Navy, and he has a whole box of them which he has saved for this purpose. He huffs and puffs in frustration when he finally can’t stand it anymore and just spends the afternoon grumbling and scrubbing. 2. Punctuality: Apparently it is a travesty to arrive anywhere later than 15 minutes prior to the actual designated time. I have been hustled out the door with half a false eyelash stuck to my cheek more than once. Why? Because we have to arrive 15 minutes early. Parties, school concerts, even an appointment with the bank… as we stand outside 15 minutes before it opens. This is locked in behaviour, and I can always tell it is near time to leave when I hear the key jingling and pacing echoing through the house. 3. Shoes: It took me a few years to figure out that there are, in fact, no elves who tiptoe into our house to polish my shoes as we slumber. I discovered that, in a final act of desperation, my gigantic shoe-elf of a man stealth polishes all my footwear. He couldn’t stand my utter neglect for one more stinkin’ minute. I kind of wondered why I had reflective shine on even my suede heels. Frankly, I think he has a parade-gloss addiction. 4. Fashion: Specifically, the major point of contention is my casual reference to his “outfits.” My otherwise docile love becomes positively apoplectic and through clenched teeth reminds me it is called a “uniform.” I call it a “cute outfit” just to see if I can get a vein to bulge out of his forehead. 5. Alarm clocks: Our marriage almost came apart during the great boson whistle crisis of 1999. This was when he declared himself the keeper of the family schedule by instituting morning “wakey wakey.” This involved a high-pitched, screeching little tin whistle from hell. I was whistled out of bed. If you’ve never been driven abruptly to wakefulness, terrified that...
What You Should Know When A Loved One Has Cancer

What You Should Know When A Loved One Has Cancer

In many ways, my cancer has been harder on the people around me than for myself. I experienced the shock and awe of a stage 4 terminal diagnosis but had to get up and get busy living what’s left of my life. I have stuff to do and significantly less time to get it all done. Everybody else has to pretend to be strong with me since I set up a no-grieving zone around me. I’m not dead yet. Cancer seems to be everywhere. There’s zero chance you won’t have it around you somewhere; I just hope it isn’t too close. It’s horrible and has a wide impact zone of collateral damage to everybody around ground zero. Not all cancer endurers react the same way to getting a serious diagnosis, but there are some aspects of this journey that are pretty consistent among people living with any type of it. I hope this list helps you navigate through it with your person. 1. Not all cancers are the same. Its states are varied, and a diagnosis is specific; you almost need a Dummy’s Guide for your person’s cancer to understand what they’re facing. Many cancers are entirely curable now, and others are a death sentence. Try to understand what your loved one has. But above all, know that every person experiences the disease differently. Their doctor may have given them a timeline – remind them it’s almost never correct. Every human is different. 2. Stay the hell off the Internet. Believe me, your person has seen all of it and hyperventilated at every new statistic. The numbers are usually overall outcomes, and they’re not the story your person heard from their doctor. Ask them about that and only that. What Dr. Google has to say doesn’t matter. 3. There will be times your person is not present. They talk and smile or grocery shop or whatever, but for periods of time, they’re swimming in their disease in their minds. They’re tamping down panic and rage and sadness to be able to talk to you. They’re probably better off if you don’t notice. Just be present for them; it gets better again. They also likely don’t care about your holiday plans for next year or other forward thinking happiness. They measure their time and happiness in today; be in that time with them. Share your memories of your relationship together. 4. Who they were before they got sick is who they will be when they have cancer, just strung a little more tightly. If they were an emotional hysteric before, then you will get more of the same during their cancer journey. Pragmatists and tough-minded people will not appreciate your visits with a “Chicken Soup for the...
When I Run My Own Country

When I Run My Own Country

Don’t you sometimes look around your world and just want to fix stuff? I mean we are all citizens of some place, yet we don’t often think about how everything could be made better if the people in charge did something about it. They have the reins on truly important items that make the world tick, why can’t they do something about the broken stuff? I guess my real question is: How could lives be made better for the good people and made harder for rotten people who behave badly? If somebody could figure it out, I would be so excited. There are places where culture allows for a great social safety net, and amazing equality in gender and balance for the people who earn the money versus people who can’t. They have great medical systems, education systems and even humane prisons. They aren’t all the same place and never at the same time. I have a plan, but I need to be the Queen Supreme Ruler of my own country for it to work. I have ideas and I think it would be an awesome place to live. If I had my own country, and made the rules, we would have the best of medical care, education and all that blah blah.. of course. My ideas are more about grass roots day to day stuff. For instance, I would start by making it super easy to have kids. After you take the “parenting licensing” course. There will be a bureau of parental competence and if you want to produce a child you need to pass a test, including a practical exam. During the final testing phase you will be put in a scenario involving either a corn diaper crisis or Grade 4 math with a crying child.  There may be multiple children to deal with during which time you could be asked to wallpaper with your spouse. If you can pass that test, you will be given a permit to begin fornicating with a fertility graduation certificate. I would establish a Ministry of Marital Skills. This is the place where you would come for a marriage licence, and to get schooled. No church, no vows, just courses that teach you some of the basics. We would run through those actual situations that turn couples into crazed rage monkeys, driving them into the eager arms of divorce lawyers. There would be classes in deciding on who drives, mows the lawn and how much salt to put on food. Specially trained counsellors will cover how to balance a chequebook so you both agree on the definition of “balance”. They will teach you both how to manage dual careers or how to make it...
Money is Power in a Marriage

Money is Power in a Marriage

Money is power in a relationship. And the person who earns the most money, generally holds the balance of that power. Another reality is, the partner who elects to stay out of the workforce to be home with the children is usually the woman of the pair. This may be a generalization, but demographics bear me out on that one. I see lots of young women getting into the marriage and baby years, and they are not having those preliminary negotiations with their partners. It is alarming that many of them don’t consider that the money earner has the unspoken advantage. Their mothers knew it in the 60’s and 70’s and it is what made them break out of the home to embrace careers. We owe a debt to the women who were brave a long time before the current generation made our way through the maze of careers. They are the people who paved the road for our current vast selection of life choices. In the 1950’s to 1970’s they were simply expected to stay home. They didn’t even have to push out children, they could stay at home and do wife things (whatever those are). More importantly they were generally not welcomed in the workplace anyway. I watch Mad Men and it reminds me of working in a financial industry that looked a lot like that for real. I remember learning the hard way that the old boys club was really old, and very boy.  There isn’t a right or wrong choice to work or stay home when we raise a family. Our parents’ generation gave us the luxury of choice. But every time I hear women discuss the issue, they do so from the narrow-minded perspective of the here and now. Working or not we should really think ahead a little. We need to talk about the repercussions of the choice ten or twenty years down the line. Another challenge is that modern gals who have the bigger money job often don’t understand how to wield it properly and still do most of the chores and kid stuff anyway. Or if they stay home, they choose to be the lower earner, but then neglect to prepare for how much it tips the balance in their relationships. During the many discussions that bubble up around the issue of work outside the home, childcare, stay at home Motherhood, homeschooling and all the options, there is a huge gap that isn’t often acknowledged as important. Nobody talks about income. It is like this big scary drooler in the corner that we ignore and try not to notice. Before I talk about why money is important, I want to pull out and look at the...
8 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

8 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Every time we see the light from an incoming new year, all the lemmings scramble to plan their perky fresh start. Year after year we will join a gym, quit smoking, clean up our lives and finally deal with those nasty personal shortcomings. We tell ourselves: “this will be the year!” But we all know how this is going to play out don’t we? Great plans are made, but even with all the resolve and will power, it all slides off the rails by February. I am going to suggest that some of the reasons you can’t get the big things done is because of the clutter in your life. Maybe if you dealt with some of the detritus that has washed up on your beach it would clear the way for progress. Here are 8 things you might consider doing to free up your mojo for the new year: Go through your Facebook friends list and unfriend everybody who doesn’t make you happy. Be brave, just jettison the people who don’t add value to your life. Do it in real life too. People are telling you to diet and exercise. Have you done much of it in the last few years? Ya, didn’t think so. Instead, just do one thing you like when you feel like it. You won’t want to stick to stuff you hate, so just do something fun. Take the stairs, park far away from the store. Try that and save your gym money. You likely stumbled onto this post through Twitter, and not to be ungrateful for the link, but get off Twitter. It is mostly just noise and causes agitation. Do you need it? Take a look around – do you have piles of unread magazines, books you haven’t gotten to and projects you keep meaning to start? Clean that crap out… it just sits there judging you for not getting to it. When you get it out of your home, you can’t hear the disdain anymore. Try saying no to more stuff. It feels hard at first, but trust me, if you are over extending yourself all the time, saying NO feels fricken’ awesome.  And mean it when you say it. Say yes to stuff. Make yourself say yes to a person who wants to see you (unless they are an asshat, in which case say no). If they add value to your life, make you feel good, or are nice to you, make time for them, and mean that too. It wouldn’t be a New Year list if it didn’t include nutrition advice. Instead of paying some scammer diet company to feed you flax seeds and grass crammed into plastic caplets,...