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Aug 6 2014

Don’t Be the Rude Mom At “Mommy & Me”

By at 9:53 am

music-baby

I’m on my fifth kid, and I still don’t get it.

I have been the “Mommy” in “Mommy & Me” classes for years. Without exaggeration, years; I have gone through the Kubler-Ross cycle of Mommy and Me classes. Open, shut them. Open, shut them. Give a little clap, clap, clap!

Some classes are tedious from the adult side of things (please, God, not “Wheels on the Bus”), but once you get the hang of the mothering thing, you know how to pick classes at good places where the kids will be stimulated and have fun. So, as they say in another context, It Gets Better. Read the rest of this entry →

May 1 2014

What I Hope My Baby Will Gain From Mommy & Me

By at 12:14 pm

baby-biting

Now that Shabbat starts later, and my husband and I have a car, I have been taking my little girl to the Village Learning Place in Baltimore where we participate in the Friday morning “Mother Goose on the Loose” story time. Most of the kids there are at least a year older than she is, if not more, and I think I might be the youngest parent there (though the nannies are more around my age).

Why do I go? Ziva is only 7 months old, so her participation in the activities is very limited, and everything that gets handed out becomes an exploration in taste. Time to ring the bells? Straight into her mouth. Time to wave scarves around? Hers is covered in slobber. She can’t march in a circle but when I carry her around, her squeals of delight and gigantic grin let me know that she’s definitely benefitting from the experience.

As a librarian, I learned over and over the importance of early literacy. Nursery rhymes help teach your kids phonological awareness and language. Music helps their brains develop, and modeling behavior teaches them learned behaviors. It killed me for the first few months of her life that between my work schedule and not having a car, we couldn’t get to the library for story programs. I really felt like I was failing her as a parent and as a librarian. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2013

How I Swallowed My Pride & Asked for Help

By at 10:09 am

jello

Last week was one of the hardest parenting weeks I can remember. My 14-month-old was breaking four molars and three incisors at once, which I figured could explain the endless screaming and fevers. That is until the 3-year-old started in with the fevers, and screaming, and saying his mouth hurt. After finding his mouth full of sores, I noticed the baby’s hands were also covered in sores and realized they both had Coxsackievirus (more commonly known as Hand, Foot and Mouth disease).

So with my husband out of town on business, I was house-bound for an entire week of rushing between two beds of screaming children all night, giving endless hugs and popsicles, and managing my own pregnancy-induced nausea.

At one point I stole away a minute to pee and as I passed the defeated shell of a woman looking back at me in the mirror I thought, “This is so hard, I wish I had help.” I was eating Ramen noodles because making a full meal for myself when my kids were surviving on Jell-O seemed ridiculous (and time consuming). I wouldn’t dare ask a friend to enter my home and risk bringing this hell back to their own child, but even if someone tossed me a hamburger from the driveway, at least it would be a hot meal that I didn’t have to make myself. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 8 2013

Tell a Friend: You Are a Good Mama

By at 1:56 pm

you are a good mama

Recently while traveling our family stopped at a mainstream chain restaurant; not fancy, but not fast food. As we set our kids up at the table (baby in a high chair and preschooler in a booster seat), we glanced over and saw the couple in the next booth over staring at us. They had that new-parent-deer-in-headlights look about them. The exhausted, exhilarated, stunned look that inevitably accompanied the newborn cradled in the husband’s arms. They asked us how old our baby was, clearly having no idea because they can’t imagine their tiny son a day older than what he was right then. They were looking at us like we had our shit together. Like somehow we knew secrets they didn’t.

Later on in the meal after attempts at a bottle, bouncing, and pacifier had been exhausted, their baby cried a signature newborn wail–the cry that you blink and realize your baby has outgrown and that sound has now been replaced with more vocal cries with actual tears. The new parents looked around, panicked for the reactions of others. I heard them apologize to the table beside them and as they turned to us with forgiving looks, before that Mama could say a word I said, “Don’t for a second apologize to us. He is a baby and you two are doing a wonderful job with him. You are not bothering us in the slightest.” My husband agreed and joked about how our children were only behaved because they were too tired to do anything else. The mother’s eyes softened and she said, “Thank you so much for saying that.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 16 2013

Friday Night: A Love Letter to My Old Friends

By at 12:04 pm
adina kay-gross love letter to my old friends

Yep, that’s me on the right.

When you become a new mother, you spend a lot of time talking about making mom friends. I’ve written about it, as have countless others. We’ve thought it about it honestly, earnestly, and some times desperately. It’s as awkward as dating, it’s a necessary evil, and sometimes, in lucky circumstances, lifelong relationships are formed, relationships that can save us.

But when we become new mothers, we don’t often talk about old friends.

These are the friends who are very well having children in step with you, friends who remember when you, yourself, were a child. Friends who know your parents and know your siblings and slept on the floor in your childhood bedroom and slept on the floor in your college dorm room and saw you with the hair-sprayed bangs and the bad skin and the skinned knees and the broken heart. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 12 2013

Friday Night: Desperately Seeking Mom Friends

By at 2:13 pm

lawn mowerThe weather is warming up and here’s a piece of advice for anyone thinking of moving to the suburbs: do it when the weather is nice.

Through the long winter months, I thought a lot about how living in the city forces you to be a part of the community in a way that the suburbs do not. Back in Brooklyn, I could easily spend a day alone with the kids but not feel lonely for adult company, because wherever I went, I was surrounded by people. If I sat on a bench with the girls at the park, other parents and their kids were inevitably doing the same at an adjacent bench and suddenly we had our own adult version of parallel play without meaning to. Lack of space indoors meant people were pushed out of doors, even in inclement weather.  Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 4 2012

Why Do I Lie to Pregnant Women?

By at 9:54 am

When reading all of the advice posts to our editor Debbie about life with two kids last week, I started thinking about what I’d said to her the last time we saw each other. My son was 4 months old, my daughter was 3 years and 3 months. Debbie was about 8 months pregnant with #2. And she asked me how it was to adjust to two.

Without even thinking about it, I lied.

I blithely said, “Oh, it’s not so bad!” instead of telling her about how this baby would get so hysterical around 11 p.m. that he wouldn’t soothe for anything so I would spend hours upon hours walking and rocking him… which still didn’t work. Almost nightly, I felt so desperate that I’d put him down, walk away, and cry because I was so exhausted I couldn’t see straight. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 10 2012

Making Mom Friends… When You Don’t Want To

By at 10:53 am
mom to-do-list

My calendar is filling up.

In my piece on being a latch-key kid, I suggested that perhaps spending hours upon hours alone as a child, watching TV and ruling my elaborate, closet paper doll kingdom with an iron fist may have contributed to the slightly anti-social–alright, downright misanthropic–aspect of my adult character.

Fortunately, the story had a happy ending. I met a fellow TV watching misanthrope, and we lived happily ever after. (Or at least, 15 years and counting.)

Though we weren’t alone for long. Soon, we had a bouncing, baby misanthrope of our own. Like Mom and Dad, my oldest son could sit for hours, drawing, looking at books, living in his own head. At the playground, he’d sway dreamily on a swing, or repeatedly meander down the slide, as if the other children weren’t even there. In school, he made one close friend, and he was perfectly happy with that, even though every single conference we went to, his teachers urged us to urge him to expand his social horizons. (Which would have been a true case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”) Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2012

Is Making Friends Easier When You’re a Mom?

By at 4:12 pm
two lattes

Get thee to a coffeeshop.

“I wish there were a Hallmark card to say, ‘I’m sorry I flashed you.’ ”

That’s all my email said. I knew they would get it. I had just come from another Friday afternoon gathering of my neighborhood “mom friends.” The conversation turned to C-sections, a few women complaining their own scars were botched. I wanted to know how mine compared. “Nope, yours looks good.” I was embarrassed right after I did it, because no one else, uh, “shared,” but they didn’t seem to really care or mind.

I never thought I would make such close friends at this point in my life. I am in my late 30′s and I had a baby a year and a half ago. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2012

Parent Dating: How to Pick Up New Friends

By at 2:45 pm
playground empty

The scene.

They tell you about the exhaustion, the hours of feeding, the diapers, and the cuddles. They don’t tell you about the revolving door your social life is about to become.

Parent Dating Phase #1: The Pregnancy Pick-Up

In the last month of my pregnancy with my son, I met three other women who were also eight months pregnant and lived in the same neighborhood. They were my early foothold into parent friendships. We cheered each other on when the boys (yes, all boys) were born, immediately started comparing notes on problems the kids were having, and had a few “playdates,” whatever that meant in the first year of their lives. One of them introduced me to a listserv of moms having children in the same month. October is a busy birthday party month for us now. Read the rest of this entry →

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