Multitasking Moms

Believe it or not, occasionally, I get to read other blogs. Granted, I read them when I’m on the treadmill or on line at the DMV or stuck in traffic. I read an interesting one recently that stated that in order to stop feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, moms need to STOP multitasking. I closed out the blog off my phone as I jumped off the treadmill and laughed for a good solid ten minutes while I folded the laundry and listened to voice mails. I debated about whether the author was a man or a twenty-three year old single woman without children. Whoever it was is seriously out of their minds or delusional. Multitasking is essential as a mom. For as little as I manage to get done in a day, I don’t think I would accomplish half of that without having mastered the art of multitasking.

I wasn’t always a multitasker. Hell, I don’t think I could tie my shoes and chew bubble gum at the same time as a teen. But there’s something about having children that suddenly gives moms the ability to perform more than one task at a time. I empty the garbage while cooking (and subsequently burning) dinner. I iron my work scrubs while dictating my blog into Google Docs. I make my grocery list while eating breakfast. I make my bed while I wait for my straightener to warm up. I’m putting on eyeliner while peeing. As I’m washing dishes, I’m on hold with the doctor’s office making the kids’ yearly physical appointments. Sometimes I’ll even dust as I write my novels. I learn Spanish on my headphones while vacuuming (okay, maybe I dreamt that one). I clean out the fridge while I eat my lunch. I plan out the day’s errands so that I have the shortest route, thereby taking as little time out of the day as possible. The multitasking also occasionally causes ADHD as well, one thing leads to another—I start off vacuuming the couch and end up buying a closet organizer online. I’ll start off cleaning the bathroom and somehow end up changing my curtains. Sometimes I feel a little dizzy from all I’m trying to do at once.

It’s not all work that I multitask, either. Oh no, I’ve managed to multitask pleasure, too. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) I’m talking about cutting coupons while I watch a baseball game, reading a book while getting a pedicure, playing solitaire while waiting on line at the carwash. There is never a moment in the day where I think I’m just doing ONE thing. If I have to do A,B and C, why not get it done while doing X, Y and Z? How would I exist without multitasking? Probably the same way I’d exist without my Post-it note lists…badly. How is that supposed to make me less stressed? Just the idea of it is enough to make me break out into hives. How could anyone possibly get anything done if they don’t answer their email while pooping???? Who watches TV without a pile of socks to match up? Who has time to shop for school shoes online without making their kids’ lunches at the same time? There are only 24 hours in a day and 48 hours worth of stuff to do!

My husband never multitasks (as far as I’ve seen he barely “single”-tasks some days) and he seems a hell of a lot less stressed out than I am. Right at this moment he’s watching golf. That’s right…watching golf. And that’s all. He’s not watching golf and filling out the kids’ emergency forms for school. He’s not watching golf and paying bills online. He’s not watching golf and trying to clip the dog’s toenails. He’s just…watching golf. And he doesn’t feel an ounce of guilt about just doing one thing (and one pleasurable thing—well, for him it’s pleasurable…I’d rather get my tongue pierced than watch golf). Maybe I would be better at things if I didn’t multitask. Maybe I wouldn’t be as stressed. Maybe I wouldn’t burn dinner if I just focused on dinner and not trying to see how many other things I could get done at the same time. Maybe I’d enjoy a TV show or a book every once in awhile if I wasn’t feeling guilty for not performing some chore while I indulged in those pleasures. Maybe I could…if I wasn’t a mom. In my next life I think I’ll be a dad.

 

 

Just a Little Pee

I have a dilemma that nobody in my family seems to understand. In fact, not only do they not seem to understand my plight, they find it humorous. They laugh at me and make jokes…at my expense. I don’t find it humorous. Maybe some of you out there…specifically those of you who have given birth (and given birth MULTIPLE times)…can understand my issue. The issue of having dealt with unborn children using your bladder as a trampoline for nine or more months. The issue of coughing, sneezing, jumping, or laughing being mortal enemies of one’s…ahem…urinary tract integrity. The issue of wondering just how “discrete” and “panty-like” the new adult diapers are these days. Yeah, I’m talking about peeing yourself.

I’m not to proud to admit that some (ALL) of the aforementioned activities have caused me to lose control of my bladder in the past. Stay with me here, ladies (Men and children, you’re excused now). If you’re in shock right now you’ve either, 1, never given birth, 2, given birth to the most docile in-utero specimens who have never played soccer with your kidneys, or 3, have some wicked Kegal skills. I do not fall into any of those categories, hence the conundrum that I face on a regular basis. I’ve gotten used to having to squeeze my legs together when I go to comedy shows and begging off jumping rope and jumping jacks and any other jumping activities (thank God for small favors). I’m over the fact that I have to race to the bathroom to sneeze. (Instead of saying “God Bless You” when I sneeze, my husband asks “You need new underwear?” Snarky bastard.) I’ve come to peace with the fact I will probably never have a full night’s sleep again because I have to pee fifty times. But what I cannot for the life of me deal with any more is peeing on the treadmill.

Yes, you read that correctly. I, grown ass woman of 41 years on this earth,  have actually peed on the treadmill. Now before you’re thinking I just dropped my drawers and squatted on the damn thing, let me explain. I was running….really fast. Like 8 miles an hour fast. I was working hard, my body was giving it everything that it had. Every ounce of strength I had was devoted to keeping my heart and lungs and leg muscles going. In its overzealous state however, my body neglected to keep my bladder muscles going. So yeah, I peed my pants on the treadmill. And not just a little trickle. Oh no. A river. All the way down to my brand new shoes. In the GYM. On a Saturday morning. In the very first row of treadmills. With at least 50 to a 1000 people milling around.

Needless to say, I dashed out of there faster than…well, faster than me peeing myself at 8 miles an hour. I ran home and announced to my husband that I was NEVER going back to that gym ever again. After he was done clutching his sides to hold in his spleen that was threatening to come out of his mouth from him laughing so hard, he assured me that I was bluffing. He knows how much I like my runs. I was not bluffing. Now if it was the middle of summer, I’d say hey, I’ll run outside instead. Maybe by the time I need to run on a treadmill again, there will be a totally new crowd at the gym (it’s like they change out the people for the season at the gym…really weird). But no…it’s the smack dab middle of winter, there’s snow on the ground and it’s freaking cold. I NEED a treadmill.

Hence the reason I dragged the hubby out to test out close to a million treadmills (okay, SLIGHT exaggeration). I don’t bluff. Yup, I’m quitting the gym on the grounds that I’m MORTIFIED, so now I have to buy a machine to exercise in my basement in privacy. That way when my body shuts its “Non-essential” organs down, I can be ready with a towel. Or maybe I can line the belt with pee-pads that we used for potty training the dog. Or better yet, I’ll wear a diaper. Who cares, right? I’m at home and my family thinks it’s hysterical anyway. After all, I’ve given birth, therefore, I have no shame anymore. And apparently no bladder strength whatsoever.

 

 

Bread and Milkers Unite

I love how when the weather people announce it’s going to snow sometime in the next 3 to 4 days, suddenly the grocery stores are bursting at the seams with panicked “Bread and Milk doomsdayers”. Everyone laughs about it and rolls their eyes and makes fun of the people running to the store…there’s even quite a few viral videos of people mocking the Bread and Milkers. But if everyone is making fun of all these people…who are these people that are panicking???? Oh wait…it’s us…the very people making fun. The very people saying “I’m only going to the grocery store because it’s my day to shop…not that I’m scared of a storm. Oh, and I’ll take two gallons of milk and six loaves of bread please.” Well guess what, sister? It doesn’t matter why you’re at the store. If you’re there before a storm, you’re a Bread and Milker.

I’m a Bread and Milker…I freely admit it. It’s because of one reason. I have an almost 16 year old boy living in my house who might eat anything that isn’t nailed down. I mean, as long as it’s on his list of the 10 things he actually eats right now. Pasta, soup, toasted bagels, frozen pizza, hot chocolate (oh wait, that’s only 5). He’s extremely cranky when he’s hungry (which is 23 out of 24 hours) and might be forced to eat something out of his comfort range if we run out of his favorites, ie., MY food. The idea of not being able to get out of the house and replenish his food supply actually makes me shake a little because I’m half Italian. The notion that we would have to go more than a few hours without eating is terrifying. I don’t want to ever run out of food. Hell, I don’t even want to come close to running out of food. I mean, I really don’t want to eat that bag of shriveled up grapes in the fridge.

I hear you at home, shaking your head at me. “Silly woman,” you’re saying. “You’re over exaggerating. You’re not going to be snowed in for months. ” Yeah, well you know what? When it snows and we lose power, it’s going to FEEL like being snowed in for months with a kid who now can’t cook any of his top 5 foods because we have an electric stove. And electric toaster. And electric Keurig. And pretty much electric everything else that fuels his food makers in this house.

I can tell that this isn’t convincing you. You continue to shake your head. “You should have enough food in the house for at least a week. What, don’t you buy enough food when you go to the store? What kind of person runs out of food in a day or two?” That’s what you’re thinking isn’t it? Yeah, well I’m willing to bet my car that you don’t have a teenaged boy at home. I buy A LOT of those foods he likes, I’ll come home from the store with EXTRAS, but he sees that as a challenge, as in, “how many frozen pizzas can I warm up in a day?” rather than actually rationalizing, “This is the food for the week…I should go slow.” Within a day or two of grocery shopping he’s already moaning that we have nothing else to eat because HE ATE IT ALL WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS OF IT ARRIVING HOME FROM THE STORE! I brought 2 gallons of milk on Saturday and by Monday morning, there was only half a gallon! I HAD to rush to the store like a Bread and Milker!

When I had no kids at home, or even when the kids were younger, I could have probably have gone weeks without leaving the house for food. I brought food and it stayed in the fridge or the cabinets until I wanted to use it. I could count on a gallon of milk lasting 4 or 5 days. Boxes of pasta remained stacked in the basement for months at a time, not disappearing stealthily in the night like they do now. (Yes, he eats an entire box of pasta in one sitting). That’s back when I had control and he couldn’t work the stove and he wasn’t tall enough to reach the cabinets. Now he’s half a foot taller than me and I have to ask him to reach things in the cabinets. As if eating non-stop normally isn’t bad enough, add in the “maybe we’ll lose power” factor. What if we lose power and he can’t charge his phone or play his video games? Oh the horror! He’ll be eating till he explodes just out of boredom! A growing boy trapped in the house during a snow storm is a frightening prospect…one that’s turned me into a Bread and Milker. So if you still don’t understand my plight, if you’re still shaking your head at me, saying “I’ll never be a Bread and Milker, I have plenty of food at all time”…well, give me your address. I’m sending him over to spend the snowstorm with you.

Why I Let My Preteen Wear Makeup

You know when you’re staring down at your fresh faced newborn baby (or even before you HAVE a baby and you know everything there is to know about parenting…) and you swear up and down on a Bible the list of things you’ll NEVER do. “I’ll never let MY baby out of my sight before they’re in preschool”, “I’ll never let MY kids have sugary cereal”, “I’ll never let my child watch 6 hours straight of Dora the Explorer”…you know, those things that you inevitably do because…well…because parenting is a “pick your battles” sort of thing.
I picked one of those battles this weekend. When my baby girl was little, I swore I wouldn’t let her wear makeup till she was 13. Well tonight, I broke that promise and let her spend an ungodly amount of money in the e.l.f. makeup store…for makeup.
Let me explain my reasons for NOT wanting her to wear makeup before I explain WHY I did let her wear it.
I don’t think she needs it because I personally don’t really wear much makeup (and I’m a hell of a lot more wrinkled than she is). When I remember to put it on, I usually wear blush and eyeliner…foundation just to even out my skin tone and attempt to cover up some wrinkles. If I’m feeling feisty I might throw on some eyeshadow. Mascara is a very rare occurrence and only if I know there’s NO WAY I’m going to cry. As far as lipstick goes…well, I actually wore chapstick to my wedding after wiping off the lipstick that my makeup artist lady put on me.
I don’t wear too much makeup because A.it’s a hassle. I quite honestly would prefer the extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning as opposed to spending 20 minutes every morning making myself look like (in the words of my teenage son) “a powdered donut”. B. I really don’t think makeup does much for me anyway. You can barely tell I have it on. C. It’s friggin’ expensive as hell. I’d much rather get a pedicure than buy a $20 brush to blend my cheekbones. D. I hate taking it off at night. I’m not too ashamed to admit there’s been a time or (twenty)two when I haven’t.
So basically, makeup isn’t really important to me. Sure I wear it to weddings and parties and anytime I might run into Channing Tatum. In those situations, I want to look my best. Overall though, my self worth isn’t in what I look like and I have confidence without it. However, if I think back, it took quite a few years to get to that point in time. When I was 12 and 13, I didn’t feel so confidant about my looks. Or myself for that matter. When I was her age, I thought what you looked like (and more importantly what people thought of you) was the most important thing in the world. The middle school girls I work with everyday are a mix as far as how they feel about their looks and subsequently, how confidant they are. I see plenty who, thank goodness, don’t seem to care how they look, but still are clean and neat and presentable. And I see others that I just want to hug and say “Honey, you don’t need all that crap on your face to be beautiful…have confidence to believe you’re beautiful without it.” Because after all, makeup may help you boost your self esteem, but it does nothing for your feelings of self worth.
I never want my daughter’s self worth to be based on looks. I want her to realize she’s smart and funny and a good friend…I want her to realize those are the things that are important. I want her to like what she sees in the mirror without a need to “fix” or “Cover up” anything. At 11 years old, her face is fresh and blemish free…as far as I’m concerned, she needs nothing to make herself look better (except maybe to comb her hair on a daily basis but that’s a battle for another day). I don’t want her to ever think she needs makeup to face the world. I know MANY women who won’t even leave the house without makeup on, not wanting anyone to see their flaws. I don’t want my daughter to ever feel this way. I want my daughter to know that she can run to the local grocery store in sweats, hair piled on top of her head, sans makeup…and nobody will think less of her. But she’s got to get there herself. I can’t make that journey for her.
She has to figure out how she wants to present herself to the world.
Currently, she makes little to no effort to look like a presentable human being on a daily basis. Getting her out of bed for school should actually be a method of torture. There are days she’s still in bed when we need to leave…forget brushing her hair…I’m lucky if she changes out of her pjs.
For the last couple days, since she’s been asking to wear makeup, she’s been brushing her hair and actually making a slight effort to not look like she rolled out of bed 7 minutes before. Therefore I decided, what the hell. Let her wear some makeup if it gives her incentive to get out of bed, if it gives her a little boost of self esteem, if it makes her feel a little more normal. Most likely her interest in makeup will peter out, much like my own did after fighting my mom to wear it. And even if it doesn’t, maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m thinking it will be. I just hope to God the look she’s going for is “understated” and not “rodeo clown”. But even if she goes for “rodeo clown”, she’ll still be my beautiful rodeo clown.

Food War Tactics

I’ve come to the conclusion that the worst thing about parenting isn’t what you think it’s going to be when you sign up for the gig. Oh sure, we’ve all heard the horror stories about not sleeping for 18 years and never being able to pee alone again. On some level, we’re all aware about the lack of time and the utter ridiculousness of racing from school to work to home to activities. We quickly find out about sibling rivalry and never being able to speak in tone under a yell once your kid can actually walk (hell, once they can crawl). But what takes a while to realize is the fact that for the next 18 years (or how ever long your darling spawn decides to inhabit your home), you will not have anything to yourself again. I’m not talking about time or quiet. I’m talking about STUFF. Nothing belongs to you anymore when you have kids. Children, from a young age, will seek out and destroy anything that’s YOURS. Your phone becomes their plaything at 10 months to distract them in a restaurant…yup, you’re never seeing that again. Your charger has suddenly been relocated to their bedroom, and you see your son with your headphones on. No, you don’t want those back…you’re pretty sure he might literally have those famed carrots growing out of his ears. Your daughter has absconded with your sneakers and anything else from your closet that she deems cool enough for her.
But the worst is the food—any food you buy seems to be fair game. With a 15 year old male in the house (and a very bored-during-the-day-when-nobody-else-is-home hubby), we go through food at a breakneck pace in this house. There’s simply no such thing as buying ice cream, cookies, chips or even Triscuits (for God’s sake) on Monday and expecting it to be there Tuesday. There’s nothing more disappointing than coming home from a bad day and hoping for a bowl of ice cream, only to find the empty container in the freezer. (Ironically if I want an apple or an orange I have no problem finding one rotting away in the fruit bowl.) I mean, it’s not like I want cookies every day…but it would be nice if they were there when I DID want them. After all, I do pay the bills around here.
Because of this, I’ve taken to hiding food from the people in my house. I’m sure I’m not alone in this plight and you all are looking for hiding spots too. This is WAR after all.
To help you all out, I’ve compiled a list of hiding places I’ve used for food in the past:
-The dryer—make sure you remove the cookies before turning on the dryer (You thought getting chap stick all over your clothes was bad? Try getting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups off your kid’s underwear.)
-Inside a box of tampons—absolutely fool proof for moms with all boys.
-Underneath the frozen veggies in the freezer—this is a great place for ice cream since its hiding spots are limited; also a Thin Mint favorite.
-Substituting containers—this is my favorite. Just shake out that Special K into the trash and you could put ANYTHING (except ice cream) in that box.
-Underwear/sock drawer—great for Halloween candy you’ve swiped from them.
-Your car—be aware of temperature changes though…nothing like cleaning melted Lindt truffles out of the glove box.

With kids (and husbands), this sort of thing is trial and error. Let me save you from making the mistakes that I made.
Bad Places to Hide Food:
-Linen closet—once in a blue moon they use clean towels and change their sheets.
-The cookie jar—this was brilliant for hiding cookies from my husband since he goes grocery shopping and automatically assumes if he didn’t buy cookies, there are NO cookies in the house. Unfortunately, my son checks the cookie jar on days hubby does go shopping…just in case.
-The oven/microwave—enough said.
-Your husband’s golf bag—he uses it more than you think.
-Inside the dog food bin—while this is pretty foolproof since no one else even remembers we have a dog, let alone feed him, dog food lends an unsavory taste to chips.

As always, I hope to have made parenting a bit easier for you…happy hiding!

Why My Daughter Won’t Have a Sweet Sixteen

My daughter will not have a Sweet Sixteen party. Okay, so maybe I’m jumping the gun with this proclamation here considering my daughter is only eleven. I have a good four plus years to get beaten down on this topic by her—right now she doesn’t want one, but then again, her friends are also ELEVEN. At this point in time, all she cares about is Legos and watching You Tube videos of people building Legos. And videos of people opening packages of Legos. And girls doing handstands on their beds. She doesn’t care about tiaras and cakes and good forbid you even look sideway at a poofy dress in a store. Her idea of “dressed up” is combing her hair. She doesn’t wear make-up and she doesn’t even carry a purse. She’s as un-girlie as they get.
I know a lot can change in the next four and a half years. In fact, I know a lot will change. But what won’t change is my resolve…there will be NO SWEET SIXTEEN PARTY…erm…GALA. Because what I’ve seen in my Facebook feed over the last couple years are not PARTIES. They’re GALAS…fit for Princesses and Presidents.
Do not for a second think that I don’t adore her and she’s not my princess (she’s got the market cornered on sweatpants wearin’, Lego buildin’, pancake cookin’ nerd princess…in fact, she’s their Queen). However, I do not think that the mere accomplishment of sixteen trips around the sun should require me to celebrate by taking out a second mortgage on my house. And yes, I do know people who have taken out loans and second mortgages just to finance their princess’s birthday party. Because that’s all it is…a birthday party for overindulgent parents.

Maybe it’s moms living vicariously through their daughters or something, but it boggles my mind how Sweet Sixteen parties have gotten so out of hand. Years ago if you had a Sweet Sixteen you had a few friends over for cake. If you were really lucky, your parents might have taken you for a fancy dinner or hired a DJ for your backyard pool party (usually local stoner with a lot of stereo equipment…not a professional one).  Are the moms of my generation so bitter about this experience that they have been dreaming of tulle gowns and ice sculptures since the late 80s???? How has it gone from the parties of yesteryear to horse drawn carriages, attendants (are you frickin’ kidding me????) and more guests than I had at my wedding??? How do these sixteen year olds even KNOW that many people??? This is not a roller skating party celebrating a birthday. It’s a financial nightmare—a strain on society. Not just the family of the birthday girl but anyone invited or asked to be involved. I mean, what’s the going rate for a Sweet Sixteen party gift? I know weddings are now in the neighborhood of two to three hundred dollars. Am I supposed to shell out that kind of cash if I have the unfortunate luck of being invited to one of these monstrosities?

This is part of what’s wrong with this generation coming up…this iPhone, materialistic, Look at Me Me Me generation. They want, want, want and parents give, give, give. There is no saying “No” to them. This is spoiling, pure and simple…and setting them up for failure and disappointment later on in life. Life isn’t going to give you a sparkly tiara every time you hit a “milestone”. A Sweet Sixteen party (by today’s standards) is the ultimate “participation trophy”. Don’t feed me that antiquated crap about “coming out in society” or it’s a “rite of passage”. That was in the nineteenth century. These are the same girls and women that are screaming about equality. Well here ya go…what sixteen year old boy gets a Sweet Sixteen? None. And lucky them because maybe their parents won’t be in financial stress when it comes time for them to drive and maybe, just maybe, those parents can give them some money toward a car or college…something necessary and valuable, something that lasts well beyond one magical night of attention. That’s why my daughter’s not having a GALA. She can have a party with a few friends or a nice dinner out or even a pool party…just like the Sweet Sixteen parties of my youth. She won’t have that night of unbridled spoiling, but maybe, just maybe, she’ll be better off for it.