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Contrary to popular belief (and Macy’s commercials), most moms aren’t waking up on Mother’s Day and expecting…
- diamonds (hello, have your seen the price of gas??? At $4.15 a gallon, unless that tennis bracelet is getting me to work and back, no thank you)
- plants (with a husband, two kids, two dogs, and two turtles, I have no need for another living, breathing thing that is going to demand food and water, AND not help me mop or cook),
- chocolate (and expect me to rock out a bikini in less than two months?? Heck to the NO.)
Now, I’m not speaking for all moms, but I think what most of us want is to feel appreciated. A card (Hallmark or handmade, we’re not picky), some flowers, pancakes and coffee with our family, maybe the promise of 15 uninterrupted minutes to read, nap, pee, etc. - that’s all that it takes to make most of us smile and feel loved.
That being said, the whole idea of Mother’s Day is definitely one of those “First World Problems“- much like your iPhone not uploading your latest tweet about which Jersey Housewife you are siding with (Team Manzo!!) or debating which OPI polish color you should use for your mani/pedi, Tutti Frutti Tonga or Royal Flush Blush…decisions, decisions!
These life or death decisions, are obviously not literally life or death. However, there are moms out there, in our own country, and beyond, that are faced with the very reality of death daily, even as they labor to bring new life into this world.
- In rural Papua New Guinea, 1 in 7 women die in childbirth.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 women die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
- The risk of dying as a result of pregnancy if you live in the industrialized world stands at 1 in 4,100. (Big props to Rants from Mommyland genius mommies, Kate and Lydia, for gathering this information…and thanks for letting me steal it. xoxo)
These figures are staggering and horrifying…But we can change that…YOU can change that…today.
While reading my favorite mommy blog, Rants From Mommyland, I found out that there is an amazing movement, Bloggers for Birth Kits, happening right now. I found out that there are brave mamas in very rural, poor areas of our world, who need our help right now. One amazing Australian mama, Adriel Booker, who blogs from the land of Olivia Newton John and wallabies, is on a mission to provide struggling women in rural areas with clean birth kits. What is a Clean Birth Kit, you may ask? Well…
1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).
2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.
5. Three pieces of strong string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.
7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).
This simple kit, can be put together for less than the cost of a venti Caramel Macchiato, and will make you feel a lot less jittery, and much more powerful (because let’s face it, we all feel a tad bit inferior in front of those baristas).
host a Clean Birth Kit girl’s night! Assign each person a supply (and a delicious dish!) to bring. Make an assembly line, pour the wine, and….GO!
Ask your Church, Girl Scout troop, neighborhood, anyone to donate supplies or entire birth kits.
Birth Kit date night! Nothing says romance more, than a trip to Home Depot for some plastic gloves and rope (right, Mr. Grey??)
I have always prided myself on being a fabulous multitasker. I could read a book, talk on the phone, plan this week’s dinner menu and make a mental grocery list, all while running on the treadmill. Backwards, in heels. Of course, that was all in the BC (before children) era. These days I’m lucky if I can pour bowl of cereal, and remember to breathe at the same time.
Wishin’ for three arms
I’m sure that every mom since the beginning of time, has wished she had three more arms, two more eyes (for the back of her head, of course) and a brain that hasn’t been taken over by the theme song to “Yo Gabba Gabba.” Feeding the dog, while pouring (and spilling) chocolate milk, sweeping the kitchen floor for the third time in an hour, and trying to say more than 5 words to my husband in a row without hearing “MAAAAAAAAMMMMAAAA” is pretty much impossible. No matter what I do, no matter how many lists I make and how organized I think I am, it all goes out the window most days. Most nights, I am still loading the dishwasher and wiping the crumbs from dinner off the kitchen table at 9:30 pm.
It’s not just my Cinderella chores that keep me twitching and pacing 24/7…the wonderful world of technology has added a whole new chapter to my To Do list. Many days, my iPhone might has well be duct-taped to my hand. Many hours are spent texting sarcastic remarks and observations to my mommy partner-in-crime, updating my Facebook status with the latest hysterical quotes that came out of my little monkeys’ mouths, and rocking the highest score in Scramble with Friends.
I had thought I was doing a pretty good job juggling everything- kids, work, chores, hubby, texting, swimsuit modeling, until last week. I was steam mopping the living room, and gabbing on the phone, while my little bambinos were sitting on the couch, enjoying everyone’s favorite oval headed super cool exploradora. My little man kept saying “Mama, come sit. Mama, come sit” to which I kept replying “In a minute, buddy!”
Wisdom from a child
There I was, multitasking my ever-expanding hiney off, when my wise little three year old, walked over to me, grabbed my mop and my arm and said, “Mama, stop and come sit with me now.” My first impulse was to shake him off and repeat my favorite phrase in Dora’s native tongue (uno momento, por favor!)and then it hit me. My little man was telling me to slow down, sit down and stop mopping/chatting/planning my days away. So I did. I have to admit, after about 30 seconds of sitting, I heard my phone go off, and I used a whole week’s worth of self-control not to check it. I remembered that I hadn’t made a list of ingredients I needed for the bake sale at my daughter’s school, but I fought the urge not to run to the kitchen for paper and a pen.
I realized that my children watching me constantly running around like the Energizer Bunny on crack isn’t good parenting. All work and no play makes ANY mama a cranky, cranky gal. Quieting my mind and body, and just vegging out with my babies on the couch doesn’t sound like a tough task, but I know you will all agree that it is way harder than it sounds. Then again, nothing worth having comes easy…and it was worth each and every snugglicious moment.
Here’s to a relaxing Spring…well, a girl can dream, right? Cheers!
Marshmallows: Great for hot chocolate, s’mores, and, if you are one of the baby birds living in the Colucci nest, dinner. Wish I could insert a cute little ‘lol’ here, but sadly I speaketh the truth. Before you call CPS on my malnutritional mothering skills, lemme explain.
While I was pregnant with Bells, I read every How to be the most perfect mother book that Amazon sells. I was SURE that I would be making my own baby food (from organic fruits and vegetables, of course). My precious little kumquat was going to get three well-balanced meals a day, and I was DEFINITELY not going to give her juice, chocolate milk, or anything that contained that sneaky little four-letter enemy, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).
A little background information
Growing up, dinnertime was a war zone in our house, and looking back, I’m 100% certain that my mother should be awarded a Purple Heart. She cooked dinner every night for the six of us, only to hear, “EWWWWW!!!! I’m not eating that!!” or “Mommmmm, why don’t you ever make anything I like???” This poor woman, a SAHM (stay-at-home-Mom), made a nutritious meal each night, only to be pelted with whines and demands. Then someone would spill their drink. Then my dad would yell…and about 5 minutes later, someone else would spill their drink. Don’t get me wrong, I had the most AH-MAAAZ-ING childhood, and I probably have a slightly skewed memory of dinner, since I was the one doing most of the whining and demanding. I pretty much hated everything my mom could’ve possibly cooked, with the exception of pizza and pancakes.
Knowing what a royal pain-in-da-tush I was as a child, I was determined to raise ‘good eaters.’ Forget peanut butter and jelly, my little culinary geniuses were going to be eating roasted butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce, made with free range, organic, hormone-free squash.
I will say, I started off strong. I nursed both of my kiddies for one year (Luca, a total boobaholic, a tad bit longer). That’s pretty much where my career as a child nutrition expert hit a brick wall. When my fussy 9-month-old wouldn’t eat his peas, I sprinkled just a teeny-weeny bit of sugar on them. When my 2-year old-curly girl wouldn’t eat anything….ANYTHING…we would clap and cheer when she would finally eat a handful of M&M’s and half a slice of cheese. And so, the bad habits were born.
The whole “feed your child what you’re eating” idea went straight into the garbage, along with my sanity and my super sexy nursing bras. My personal chef/husband would grill up a delicious steak, cut it up in those tiny, safe little pieces- only to have it smushed all over the high chair tray and then thrown to the landsharks, aka our Boston Terrors. (No, there’s no typo there, our terriers are terrors!) Panicked, we started what is now known as the Mac and Cheese Era. I’m no financial genius, but I’m pretty sure that we should have invested our life’s savings in several shares of Kraft stock. What’s better than powdered cheese? According to my little monsters, apparently nothing.
Things are improving
These days, we’ve made some small strides. We’ve graduated from the orange Kraft crack to actual, real live pasta. We’ve had glimmers of hope. Over the summer, Bella ate a hot dog. You would’ve thought someone granted my husband a starting position on the Jets. She has Cocoa Pebbles most mornings for breakfast (Don’t judge; they’re made with whole grain.) Luca is our champion eater who will actually eat what we are eating most nights for which we are very, very grateful. But on those nights when the dinner table is starting to resemble the Peloponnesian War, a few deep breaths and a handful of marshmallows can work a small miracle.
Jealousy. Envy. Dirty looks. No, I’m not talking about last week’s episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I’m talking about the classic battle…as epic as Sparta vs. Athens, or Yankees vs. Red Sox, even Me vs. My Hair…it’s the:
The Working Moms VS. Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHM’s…see?? They even get a cute acronym!!)
From my snarky remark, you can most probably guess which side I am on. For the past five years, I have been a working mom. There have been good days, bad days, and days when I feel like swimming across the Nile River, or being Charlie Sheen’s agent (a treat compared to the mental/physical/emotional rut I was in.)
Now, I should say that I kinda play both sides of this game. Yes, I am a working mom (WM? nah, just doesn’t have the same ring…), but I’m certainly not the workingest mom on the block. I teach middle school, which means although my day starts early, I am home by 3:00pm most days. Some working mamas are just grabbing their afternoon pick-me-up espressos on their way to their fifth meeting of the day at that time.
Being a teacher also means I have snow days, holiday breaks throughout the school year, and of course, that coveted 10-week summer vacation. I know I have the best of both worlds, and to top it off? I heart my job. Like, if you covered it with bacon and whipped cream and it was delivered to my front door by Matt Damon, I couldn’t love it any more! I work in a great building, with amazing colleagues, who happen to also be some of my best friends, and I truly enjoy teaching and interacting with my gaggle of sixth-graders every day.
I also have another advantage, in that my mom (who actually used to also work at my school), retired from her position when Bella was born so she could babysit for us while I worked. I know how blessed I am to have this advantage…I’ve never had to leave a crying baby at daycare, or a teething toddler at a sitter’s house.
The Enormous Mommy-Guilt
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, despite all of these amazing accomodations, being a working mommy still bites. Missing the first day of school, class parties, first steps…and what’s worse than missing those sweet moments? THE GUILT. MOMMY GUILT is the worst variety of guilt available. If it was possible to bottle the insane amount of guilt that me and my fellow working mamas feel on a daily basis, I could market it to the US Government as a weapon of mass destruction. The A-bomb has nothing on us.
What’s almost as bad as ‘the guilt’ is the perpetual feeling of playing catch-up. As my mommy-partner-in-crime always puts it, it’s like we are constantly treading water, just trying not to drown in the ocean of tasks that all have to be done like, NOW. Or even worse, 5 minutes ago. Multi-tasking doesn’t even start to describe the day…grading spelling tests, while breading chicken cutlets, nursing your six-month-old and helping your Kindergartner with her homework is an EASY afternoon.
OK. Enough woe-is-me. There is a bright side. Like I said, I do love my job, for which I am so grateful. I have the benefit playing dress-up everyday, wearing heels, baubles and cute sweater dresses for an entire 8 hours without the threat of having smashed banana smeared across my boobs, or sitting in a puddle of apple juice. I get to bring home da bacon and live very comfortably in a two-salary household. Eating lunch and having a half-hour of uninterrupted adult conversation each day is also a major perk. To most SAHM’s, that probably seems as unattainable as scampering up Mount Everest in platform heels.
And I won’t claim innocence. Us working madres are pretty judgmental when it comes to the SAHM crowd too. We expect them to be Martha Stewart/Gwyneth/Donna Reed hybrids, with sparkling clean houses, organic meals and crafty projects done each day. They have allll day, don’t they?? Yes, they have all day, unless their darling two-year-old decides that he is NOT getting dressed in anything except rubber rain boots and a tiara today. They have all day, until their 18-month old decides to fingerpaint their leather couches with mac and cheese. They have all the time in the world unless their 4-year-old stomps a BJ’s size bag of Pirate’s Booty into your brand new living room area rug. SAHM’s need to multi-task as much or even more than the working mamas do…and they have to do it for longer periods of time, each day, with no breaks or relief in sight. Like I said, I get to be a SAHM every summer, and it is both wonderful and exhausting, and usually by 3:00 in the afternoon, I am counting the seconds to when my husband is going to walk through the front door.
Doing the best we can
There are no winners in this war, no right or wrong. You always want what you can’t have, and the most destructive thing we can do is to judge another mom, because 99.9% of us are doing the best we can, with what we have. The most important thing is that our babies grow up to be happy, well-adjusted little people, who won’t have to invest too much of their future salaries in psychotherapy.
My New Year’s resolution this year was to be a ‘half glass full’ kinda gal (as long as that glass is mine, and it’s half-full of Pinot Grigio) and appreciate what I have. Green isn’t my color anyway…
We are all guilty of it. Maybe you were out to dinner with your husband or one of your girlfriends in the PK (pre-kids) Era, and at the table next to you, there was a mom letting her two-year old smash Cheerios into the carpet underneath the table. The mom was seemingly oblivious, talking to her husband, enjoying her wine, while her little monster was dumping out her purse, eating her lip gloss and creating abstract art with those delicious little honey nut O’s. You lean over to your dining partner and inconspicuously point and whisper, “OMG, look at this mother! She is so busy talking and drinking, and totally not paying attention to her baby! That floor is so filthy, and she has no control- I would NEVER let my child do that.”
Let’s look at this from the more familiar point of view- the irresponsible mother…who we ALL know is not talking to her husband and enjoying her wine - she’s arguing with her husband about why there is only 14 dollars left in the checking account, thinking about the 9 loads of laundry she has to fold when she gets home, and wondering if she has time to chug just one more glass of Pinot before her little cereal-smashing artist enters the melt-down zone.
I think we can all agree that in the BK era, we would throw around the “N-word” quite often…I will NEVER do that when I have kids or I would NEVER say that to my children.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that by the time your first baby is one month old, you’ve probably broken about 99% of your I would NEVER… promises.
Motherhood is both the most amazing and the most frightening journey you will ever take. It is filled with bumps in the road, bumps on the head and the most horrid smells your nose will ever come in contact with…but one super-squeezy hug from your Kindergartener as she gets off the school bus, or a sniff of your newborn’s tiny little head as he snoozes in his car seat makes you say the ONE true I never statement…I would NEVER trade one moment with my little circus for anything!