Snot-Hair, Don’t Care.

The other day, just before finding out my baby girl’s fever had spiked to 105 and we had to take her to the emergency room, I was in a panic over how I would handle all other aspects of my life since this is the most sick she has ever been…  My mom helps every time the baby isn’t feeling well, so that I can go about my life and tend to the other things in peace, knowing that my little love is being taken care of by the only person I really trust.

Well, as fate would have it, my mom went out of town for a much-needed vacation just as we coincidentally heard from the doctor that the baby needed to be home for at least a week.

Peeeeeerrrrrfect.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well – as I lay in the emergency room with my babe, covered from head to toe in her vomit, it hit me instantly…

I wouldn’t have it any other way – I wasn’t leaving her side.

No matter what it took, no matter how hard the struggle, I was going to be her mommy first.

In fact, I felt proud in that moment to have overcome my fear of vomit-smell simply because of how much I love this child.

I felt proud to no longer worry about my freshly blown-out hair each time this child buries her sweet little head in it, using it as a tissue for her eternally runny nose.

I now feel proud to boldly announce, I AM A MOMMY FIRST, when the issue of having to drop everything to take care of my helpless, feverish, infant arises.

I have been sitting in silence since Tuesday evening.  I have barely been able to answer the phone for fear of waking the child who will only sleep on my chest until she gets better.  I am typing this with one hand, actually, which is pretty amazing in itself.

I have also been texting with one hand, writing lesson plans for work with one hand, making bottles with one hand, feeding my dog with one hand, all because, since Tuesday night, I can’t put her down.  She won’t let me, and I sure as hell do NOT want to.

My shirt is soaked through with all sorts of funky stuff.  I have snot in my hair, and I don’t care.  I have so much laundry that needs to be done, a pile of baby photos that needs to be sorted, dishes that need to be put away…

But I have her, on me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This morning, when she woke up with another miserable fever – her daddy comforted her a bit and then handed her over to me.  Instantly, she buried her snotty nose and watery eyes into my neck, into that place that gives her so much comfort.  She stroked my face with her little warm hand and I felt the heat from her body burning into mine.  I kissed her gently on the head and then she looked up and stared at me really intently – as if to say,

“THANK YOU, for being my mommy first.”

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Ignorance is Bliss.

I want my daughter to be smart as hell.  Book smart, street smart, you name it.  I want her to be sophisticated, hardworking, quick-witted and eager to take on the world.

All with the heart of gold that both her parents are proud to raise her with, of course.

But when it comes to certain truths of this cold, cold world, I’d much prefer if this little, incredible being would remain somewhat ignorant to those truths.

I’d like to keep her in a bubble of sorts, never allowing anything painful to burst through.

I am no dummy, and I know damn well that I am the kind, loving, and loyal person I am because of that fact I was exposed to so much pain as a child.  In my case, it made me kinder – because deep down inside of me, I am driven to make sure that no one in my presence will ever feel the kind of pain that I have felt.

It’s like I’m on my own quiet mission to eliminate unnecessary coldness from the world.

And that world, ladies and gentleman, begins and ends with Bella.

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If I was the Wonder Woman of motherhood – here’s what I’d use my gold wristbands to help wipe out from the world…

  1. Mean Girls  – No, not the movie. But the fact that our society continues to spin completely out of control into a world where the entertainment industry rules and shallow materialism dominates, I would wipe all the nasty, competitive behavior that mean girls (and women) engage in.   I don’t want my daughter to EVER feel bad for what she looks like, doesn’t look like, has or doesn’t have.  Not as a child, and certainly not as an adult… Because let me tell you, people – I’m feeling it now as an adult more than ever, and it’s as sad to me now as it was in Kindergarten.
  2.  Debt – If my husband and I can help it, this daughter of mine will be blessed with no student loans, no need to fall behind on payments of any kind, and a career that would leave her far from the world of living paycheck to paycheck.  Yes, this is a far cry from the reality of her parents lives at this moment, but again, if I could, I would.
  3. Heartbreak – Not the kind that happens from her high school sweetheart, her first love or even her second or third.  That kind of heartbreak is good for the soul, in my opinion. I’m talking about the kind of heartbreak that isn’t supposed to happen.  The heartbreak associated with unexpected loss – loss of a parent (physically or emotionally), loss that comes way before she should lose, for reasons that have nothing to do with her.  As a child I experienced losses such as these and this was NOT the pain that helped me to succeed in life.  It has left me with scars so deep, that time could never heal – and I’d much prefer it if the only heartbreak my daughter feels is when her high school boyfriend breaks things off to go “find himself” in college or something.
  4. Fear of being who she REALLY is – As an adult, I look back on all the years I wasted thinking the real me was never good enough, cool enough, pretty enough, smart enough, ANYTHING enough.  Then one day (not long ago, sadly), reality set in and I learned that it doesn’t fucking matter.  And I am NOT pardoning my French on that one.  It doesn’t matter WHO you are in this world Bella.  Do you want to spend your high school years NOT trying to fit in? Great.  Do you NOT want to pursue a professional white-collar career and backpack through the Himalayas until you discover your inner passion for creating artisan-soaps? Great.  Do you want to love someone society makes you feel bad about loving? Great.  Whatever it is you want to be, don’t fear it.  In the bubble I’d create for you if I could, you would never have to fear the opinion of another – not like I have, at least.
  5. War – Well obviously, I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t start a war.  But aside from that, I sincerely hope that when my daughter reaches the age to learn about the state of Israel, the home of her Jewish people and the land that her mommy and daddy fell in love with so dearly in their own childhood, that she won’t turn on the TV only to find that the state of things in the state of Israel is still completely terrifying. I’m hoping that I won’t even need a bubble to protect her from the pain that each Jewish person feels each time their teeny little country of love is attacked.  That it will all be over when I wake up tomorrow, and I can go back to fantasizing about my daughter becoming a Bat Mitzvah at the top of Mount Masada, with nothing to fear but her Haftorah portion.

I know I’m asking for a lot – but if I really were the Wonder Woman of Motherhood, I could make all this possible and more – not just for my daughter, but for ALL of our children.

Our job as parents is to protect, while teaching independence, nurture, while pushing our babies out into the world… Please world, eliminate the coldness and painful things before my daughter is old enough to know better, because this Mama is STILL searching for her shiny gold wristbands.

Thanks in advance.

3 + 3 = YES.

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I used to think my lucky number was 6.  The man I will always consider my “dad” was born on the 6th day of June, the 6th month of the year.  For some reason, after he passed, I adopted this number as my favorite.  Incredibly superstitious, the number 6 became my lucky one – the one I’d bet on at a horse race, the one I connected all good things to.

Today, however, I am celebrating the number 3.

It was three years ago today that I made the very brave (and very brazen) move to attempt to change my life.

After spending 28 years of my life on Long Island, NY – some good, many painful, and some all too unfortunate to describe – everything in my inner being was telling me I needed a change.  After surviving a horrific car accident in the beginning of my 28th year, and suffering through almost 6 (there’s that lucky 6!) months of recovery, I felt there was no better time to pick myself up off the ground (or bed, rather) and start again.

I chose Miami.  I have always had a fascination with Miami after spending so many years traveling down to the gorgeous locale – the weather, the sexiness, the flavor.  But I made this choice not for the perks – but simply for the fact that Miami was where my mom was.  My mom, and the rest of the people I call family.

Ok. So I moved.  With no friends, no man, and no social life in sight – I did exactly what I wanted to do.  I started fresh.

Here’s where the number three comes into play… Pay attention, because the next three years are about to be as much of a blur for you as they have been for me.

Nearly three months to the day after moving to Florida – I was introduced to my now husband.  Three months to the day from that lucky meeting – we were engaged.

Crazy right? No, not that it took me only three months to land a dude down here – but that we got engaged in only three months.  Hey, when you know, you know – right?

After a very difficult engagement experience (for me, I was terrified) we were married on a beautiful January night, in my dream location – on the beach, in Miami.

Exactly three months after that? You guessed it – I was pregnant.  Oh, and that happened at the exact same time that we were moving into our first home together, as homeowners.

This was all within a year and three months of being introduced.

So here we are, three years later – and I am mind blown by what has occurred over the last three years.  Three years, in the grand scheme of things, is NOTHING.

But somehow, it’s been everything for me.  These three years have propelled me from a life of imagining what could be, to actually living and experiencing my dreams, in technicolor.

A beautiful man, a child more beautiful than I could ever describe – and a beautiful doggy to complete our little puzzle.

You know that saying, “we may not have it all together, but together we have it all?”

Yea – that’s my life.  I’ve got it all – the three things that bring me the most joy.

And in obtaining these three things in just three years – I learned three very important things. 

I learned what it means to truly love, and I learned to truly love myself – and best of all,  I learned to trust the process.

And it happened – in just three years.

The Mama Sacrifice

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“Are you and Eliot going to dress up for Halloween with Bella?”, my mama friend asked me on our morning walk this weekend.  “I wanted to,” she said, “but a new costume is the same price as a case of diapers!”  She almost answered her own question for me.

Not happening this year, not at all.

This blog post is a detailed account of the mommy sacrifices, the ones made day after day, paycheck after paycheck – and is inspired 1000% by my own life, MY sacrifices, and the ones made by the friends and coworkers I spend my time with.  Therefore, it is 1,000,000% dedicated to the people who will read this and immediately connect with what I’m trying to convey – and to the woman who taught me most about sacrifice – my own mom.

That being said – let’s talk money.  I have spent my whole life (pre-baby) spending frivolously – always assuming that if I ran out of money, there’d be more out there somewhere!  Silly, silly me.  This could probably explain why the entire second floor of Nordstrom knows me by name, why I have a closet full of BCBG dresses (each worn only once) and why my minimum credit card payment is probably more than your car payments.  Just saying.

Now I have a child.  And for the first 6 months of her life, I did not have a job, by choice… and only a minimal savings account and my husbands salary to rely on.  This was terrifying – and this was the first real experience with finding out that, there isn’t always more money “somewhere”.  Also, I found out that it isn’t so fun to have to explain to your husband why there are more shopping bags in the trash and why your 2 month old child is wearing a Burberry dress to a pretty informal family dinner.  Whoops.

And all of a sudden, shit gets real –  really real, REALLY fast.

I have been back to work now for almost two months at a school that I love.  In fact, I chose this school simply for the fact that I loved the sense of community it provided for my daughter and I.  She gets to attend their amazing (but costly) baby program, while I teach just a few doors away – making just about enough money to pay her tuition, our insurance costs and (some) of our bills.  To me, it’s worth it though – the smile on her face each time I pick her up at her classroom.  The way every other staff member in the building already knows both of us by name, greets us with a smile and sincerely asks how we’re doing.  This is exactly what I wanted for both of us – so much more than a new dress or pair of shoes.  So.much.more.

Consider this sacrifice numero uno.

I knew in choosing this profession that I’d never be making the big bucks.  The good news is, I am FOR SURE paid in other ways – any teacher will tell you, the rewarding aspect of our profession really is worth all of the hard work, and lack of funds.  But before I had a child to worry about – the lack of funds really didn’t exist.  I had no one to think about but me! Now, however,  factor in the cost of day care, health insurance, baby formula, diapers, wipes, pediatrician co-pays, and you’re EASILY out an entire paycheck and a half, each and every month.

Consider this sacrifice number 2 through 2,000. Literally.

These last few weeks have been harder than usual.  We’ve had unexpected financial responsibilities that we’ve had to attend to, leaving us WAY too tight in between pay periods.

Blah, blah, blah – I’m preaching to the choir, right?

But also, these last two weeks – while our money was tighter than my pre-pregnancy jeans – the world kept spinning, and my baby kept needing things.. More things than usual – a few extra doctor appointments, a medication that was not cheap, some new items for school, a birthday present for a friend.

And then you realize you’re doing the dance that countless other women are doing all day, every day, all around you – though you’d never know it, because any good mama, does this dance with a smile, hardly breaking a sweat.  It’s called the mama sacrifice – and for each sacrifice I make for this child of mine, the happier I am to “do without” so that my baby can have all that she needs. It makes me feel like more of a woman, and even more of a mother.

I was joking around with a fellow coworker today, about living the mama sacrifice life.  She had made an incredible decision to bring her children to the school  that we teach at, and of course, this comes at a price.  We joked about the struggle (although sometimes it feels like no laughing matter), since she too, gives ALL of herself , emotionally and financially to her children.. We had a good laugh and then we said it, almost in unison – “it is SO worth it.”

Birthday gift for a birthday party = no manicure for mommy this week.  WORTH IT – I love giving nice gifts to deserving people.

Our playgroup membership = no gym membership for mommy.  WORTH IT – I love watching Bella crawl around with all the other cute babies at MyGym – plus I burn plenty of calories chasing after her anyway!

Diapers/Formula/Wipes/Organic baby food = well, no more organic Whole Foods goodies for Mommy (at least not this month, anyway).  WORTH IT – to never have to worry about my daughter not having what she needs, and to make sure I’m feeding her only the best of foods.

I can tell you with all honesty that the list goes on and on.  And with each example, I still find it totally worth it to give up what I want for what my daughter NEEDS. This month, for the first time in years, I have cut back financially in ways I never thought possible. And it feels good… actually, really good. My husband and I may have to forego date nights, fixing up the house, trips with friends and spending frivolously on unnecessary luxuries – but as parents, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The sacrifice may be new to us – but it certainly is not new to the 99% of Americans struggling to make ends meet.  It’s what good parents do – it’s what keeps our children happy, healthy, and well taken care of.

Until you can find me a mama who wouldn’t sacrifice the shirt off her back for her child, I will continue doing this dance – my mama sacrifice dance – with pleasure.

Guilty As Charged

I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be lucky enough to become a
mother. I also, never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d become eerilysimilar to MY mother. Oh, and I definitely never thought I’d be the motherhood-obsessed freak that I am now… But apart from that, there are so many things I swore I’d NEVER do.

Well, people – Never say never. I am living proof of that.
Here are the top 7 things I never EVER thought I’d be guilty of in motherhood..
7. Ruffles and Bows
When I first found out I was having a girl, and one of my best friends made a comment about how fun it will be to dress her up all the time, I distinctly remember saying, “ugh, no hot pink, and DEFINITELY no bows or ruffly shit. Ever.”

    That lasted about 24 hours. The proof? Her first postpartum photo shoot. Oh, and then there’s this…  
 
6. Dropping the obsessive exercise/diet compulsion
    “I am definitely not going to let a baby stop my workout routine.I will workout religiously throughout my pregnancy to at least keep my arms and legs in shape.”

    Well – I worked out a handful of times in my first trimester…But by the third time I had to get off the elliptical to pee/vomit/catch my breath, I threw in the towel. Literally.

  Postpartum? My arms and legs are NOT what they used to be. The proof is in the pudding, or the pizza I just ate (also a pretty literal comparison)…

5. Welcoming carbs back to the party
Because for more years than I’d like to admit to, carbs were more of the ebola- ridden enemy, in my eyes. I shunned them, I hated them, I couldn’t be trusted around them and I basically couldn’t be in the same room as them without feeling as if I needed to run a half-marathon.

 Then, I got pregnant – and carbs were the only food source that didn’t make me sick.

    Then, I breastfed – and carbs were the only form of sustenance that sustained me and kept my milk supply somewhat decent.                

   Then, I stopped breastfeeding, and well, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my morning oatmeal.

 Then, I decided I enjoyed eating like a normal human being.
Welcome back, carbs! 

 
4. Being the cliche wine-obsessed mom

    Well, when your day revolves around taking care of everyone else but yourself, sweating through your shirts in the Florida heat while toting your baby around, putting the stroller in the car and then taking it out of the car (an average of 36 billion times a day), coming home after sitting through rush hour with a  screaming child in the backseat, to a dog that desperately needs to be walked while your now starving baby’s diaper is leaking on to your hip…

You tell me if you won’t need a glass of wine the exact SECOND your child hits the crib for the night.

  
    Or 2.

    Or 7.

3. Being the cliche coffee-obsessed mom
    Take everything from #7 and imagine doing even a fraction of that on no caffeine.
    End of story.
    I love you, Starbucks. And your drive-thru locations.
2. Compulsively posting photos of my child to social media
    HAHA.
    “You’ll never catch me posting photos of my kid all the time on Facebook,” I once said.

    Well, that was as much of a lie as the ruffles and bows thing.
Sorry, not sorry – I am so damn proud of that delicious face I created and I will share and keep sharing forever.

1. Being so damn in love with motherhood that it’s all I talk about.
   Again, sorry not sorry. I’ve FINALLY found my happiness – inmotherhood, in Bella, in everything related to my life now as I know it… and I’ll never shut-up about it.

  

Tinder for Mamas

My girlfriend, Laura and I, took our usual weekend walk this morning with our little girls for some fresh air. Ok, just kidding, we were walking to get our weekly bitching session on – I mean, it was 9am and we had basically taken on the world at that point, while her husband was still asleep and mine was, where else, preparing for a long, hard day of football.

I talk so much about the “village,” – this girl is definitely helping to hold up the walls in mine.  She’s thoughtful, kind, and a very, VERY good mother.  Plus, she is always down for a walk and some venting, as she lives right behind us.

On our stroll in the quiet, modest, development that we call home, we were stopped in our tracks by a car that seemed to appear out of nowhere, window rolled down, driver looking for answers.

Once close enough, I noticed a car seat, a mommy about my age, and a giant smile that was basically saying “please be my friend.”

“I know this is seriously creepy but I’m new to the neighborhood, and I see you guys have young girls, and I do too, and I’d love to join you on a walk someday.”

Creepy? Not so much, at least not for me – because naturally,  I empathized with her decision to make an attempt at connecting with us.  Gutsy and smart would probably be the words that I’d use to describe this attempt.  Brave.

Brave, because, when you see two young moms in cute workout gear, aviator sunglasses, talking a mile a minute and clearly trying to break a sweat and burn some calories, you probably wouldn’t know what to expect, right?

“We walk ALL the time,” I told her.  “We live just down the next block, and my daughter is the same age as yours.”

The happiness in her face was so evident.  It seemed as it took everything in her power to not jump out of the car and hug me.  I instantly felt so good, so helpful – like I had handed over the keys to a brand new, very comfortable home in MY village, and she couldn’t wait to move in.

You see, it is hard as hell to make friends at my age.  Only 3 years ago, I moved to the state of Florida without having a single girlfriend to call my own – and it took me a good two years to build a solid core of girlfriends that were right for me.  It took guts, it took feeling silly each time I introduced myself to some one new – it even took finding a job in an area that would force me into conversations with new people just so I could start building relationships.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

Luckily for me, many of the friends that I am fortunate to call my own, are also new to the whole motherhood world.  But all too often, whether at a new mommy and me class , or out for a stroll in the neighborhood, you meet that one mother who has yet to find her new mama crew.  Her teammates on the mommy team, her late night texting buddies – the ones who will answer you back about your babies teething pain in the  blink of an eye.

This is when extending a smile, a cell phone number, a facebook friend request becomes critical.  It’s no longer about picking friends just because they look like you, dress like you, have similar interests as you or come from the same place as you.  It’s about being open to mom friends from any and all walks of life, embracing the new mom who just wants another new mom to help her feel like she’s not alone – like what she’s going through is more common than she ever dreamed possible.

I am so proud to have started my Saturday by making another mama feel better about her stressful mama-morning.  I am happy that I gave this girl my phone number for the next time she wants to just take a walk and a break from washing bottles, folding onesies and watching Elmo’s world.  I am glad I didn’t take on the much easier, “no new friends” attitude and instead, I welcomed her, with open arms, to join my village – my no judgement zone – with no questions asked.

I am fulfilled – I am doing my part to unite the mamas, one neighborhood walk at a time. Consider me the walking tinder for mamas.FullSizeRender(8)

Smeared Mascara and Shopping Carts

Yesterday afternoon was a shit show.  I had to leave work early to take my STILL coughing baby to a pulmonary specialist, manage to keep her calm throughout the two hour ordeal, trek-it across town in rush hour traffic to Whole Foods in the pouring rain, and THEN try to get my baby into the crowded supermarket without letting the rain make her even more sick.

So… as you can imagine, by the time I made it inside the damn store, my emotions, exhaustion, and mascara were smeared ALL over my face.

Bella was so excited to be cruising around in a shopping cart that I let the temporary moment of calm wash over me as I wandered aimlessly through the aisles – soaked from head to toe.   Did I mention I lost a flip-flop in a puddle before walking into the store? Yea, that happened.

Almost out of nowhere, I bumped into another mama who looked like she could have been a mirror-image of mine – with an equally delicious baby girl riding along in her shopping cart.  Like, literally, bumped into her with my cart.

“Today SUCKS,” she said, looking at me like she was desperate to vent.

“OH MY GOD… The WORST,” I exclaimed without hesitation.

We literally stood there and talked about everything and nothing for a good ten minutes.  Our baby girls were exactly the same age and seemed to be communicating with each other through random sounds and squeals so we just went ahead and kept right on talking.

“My daughter has her first cold now too,” she told me – the exhaustion in her face speaking for itself.  “I need to find something here for her cough.”

“Follow me,”  I told her,  “apparently coconut oil can do the trick.”

She literally looked at me like I had handed her a winning lottery ticket.  Like after the shit storm that life (and the skies of South Florida)  had chosen to send us that day – there was a glimmer of hope at the end of the coughing-baby rainbow.

You know how I knew about the coconut oil thing? From my best friend whose crunchy-mommy remedies have always come through in a bind.  The friend who always answers on the first ring just when I need her advice the most, even when her own baby girl is demanding all of her time and attention.

Do you know why I ended up at a pediatric pulmonary and allergy specialist yesterday afternoon instead of back at my pediatricians office for the 4th time in two weeks? Because a different trusted mama friend invited us over for a play date a day earlier, because she’s so damn sweet like that, and took one listen to Bella’s rattling chest and knew just who to send me to.

Do you know how I made it through the day today, even though I was dying inside? Dying to just be at home with my coughing-cutie all day, letting her get better while I doted on her hand and foot… I made it through because each and every single time I had a moment to glance at my phone, I had a text or call from a friend “just checking in.”

From my mom who was scrambling to get to school to be able to pick up the baby and bring her for her blood tests.

From my grandma, mother in law, and aunt, just wanting to know how our day was going and how Bella was feeling.

From my neighbor, who, bless her heart, is another lifesaver – a young mama and nurse, she’s looking out for me every single day… Giving me tricks for Bella’s nebulizer treatments, taking walks with me and our girls to vent about everything only another mom could understand.

Do you know what it’s like to know that no matter what may happen on a day-to-day basis in this beautifully messy world I’m living in, I have a strong-ass village of mamas behind me, no matter what?

THE VILLAGE, LADIES, THE VILLAGE.

My point is this – if you’re lucky enough to have a small village helping you get through the mom-race, it really CAN feel like a winning lottery ticket.

If you’re open enough to share your mom-successes, your mom-fails, seek help when you’re desperate, fall apart when the time is right, and reach out to the mamas around you – you’ve got your winning lottery ticket for life, your village.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… We are all in this together.

Be the mama that makes the other rain-soaked, shoe-less, mascara-smeared mamas day just a little bit better.

Memorize the map to your village.IMG_8649