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Aug 4 2014

I’m the Comedian, So Why Will My Daughter Only Laugh for Her Dad?

By at 9:52 am

laughing-girl

The instant my husband walks in the door, giggles fill the room from our 20-month-old daughter.

It is the most beautiful sound a mother could hear. It is also the most jealousy-inducing sound a comedian could hear.

As a mother and a comedian (momedian?), I often find myself feeling this strange mix of emotions. I want my daughter to laugh, but I want to be the reason she’s laughing. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2014

Some Promises Are Made to be Broken

By at 2:31 pm

ginger-snaps

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Mattot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

My vows about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be went out the window early, when I realized that eating an entire bag of gingersnaps would cure my morning sickness.

I had a lot of ideas about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be (cute, active, not too huge); what kind of birth I’d have (natural, empowering); and what kind of mom I would be (cute, active, not too emotional). Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 24 2014

My Daughter Wants to Go to School…Yesterday

By at 4:15 pm

Ready-for-school

My 3-year-old daughter has been bursting out of her skin to get to school. This past September, when we were getting ready for the son’s upcoming school year, my son got a new backpack. So she wanted a new backpack. She watched him scooting the 20 minutes to and from school while she rode in the stroller behind and started talking about getting a scooter, too. Over the winter, she found one on the playground and practiced scooting on it, even taking her backpack with her to the playground so she could pretend going to school. She would even stop somewhere to “cross the street” while holding my hand. She started wearing her backpack everywhere she could.

We hadn’t put her in the 2’s program in the fall mostly due to logistics; it was half a day and we lived just far away enough that we would have spent our entire days running back and forth from the school. Instead, I had her most mornings. I felt awful when I watched her longingly staring into her brother’s classroom, trying to procrastinate leaving. Over the course of the year, she inched up her presence into his classroom more and more. She endeared herself to his teachers so they were giving her snacks at pick-up regularly. In the morning, she was occasionally asked if she wanted to help put the schedule up. When the family came into school for birthday parties and holidays, she sang and danced with the kids, even though she didn’t know the word or the movements and she sat right at the table with the rest of the kids. For the class’ final puppet performance, she went to sit with them rather than sit in the audience. She even talked about making goodbye cards for the teachers.

Her social life didn’t help. All the kids her age were either in programs or so filled up on classes that playdates were a nearly impossible exercise in Tetris. She had been in a music class for almost a year which she loved. She was bursting with confidence and joy to see friends and sing. However, after the summer, the average age in the class dropped significantly. She had few peers available on a regular basis and she wasn’t being challenged. My guilt increased significantly every time she asked for a playdate with a friend who was busy at school or another class.  Read the rest of this entry →

Our Ever-Growing Bedtime Routine Needs to Stop, But I’m Not Ready

By at 10:50 am

sleepless-toddler

A few weeks after my son was born, I made up a lullaby that I’d sing before putting him to bed. Back then, getting my son into his crib was a simple matter of swapping his diaper for a new one and belting out a two-minute song before calling it a night (yep, we were very fortunate). But somehow, over the past two years our bedtime routine has evolved from a quick pajama change and lullaby into a 45-minute extravaganza complete with stories, videos, and many, many songs. And it just seems to be growing by the day.

Here’s how things will typically go down: First, my son will run around his room like a maniac as I attempt to grab hold of him and lift him onto his changing table. From there, he’ll wiggle and squirm as I desperately work to get his pajamas on. After he’s clothed, we’ll head to the bathroom to brush his teeth, which often takes longer than necessary thanks to my son’s desire to touch absolutely everything on the counter before finally opening wide.

But once his pajamas are on and his teeth are brushed, the real fun begins. It starts with a story from a collection of books we store crib-side. Ever since he was about 1.5, we started giving our son the privilege of selecting his bedtime story himself. What this now means is that he’ll pick up every book on the pile before choosing one–and then once we settle into our rocking chair to read it, he’ll invariably bolt off my lap, insisting that he made the wrong book choice. If I don’t let him switch, a fit will most likely ensue, so I usually allow him one book swap before putting my foot down. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 16 2014

Saying Goodbye To Mondays With My Daughter

By at 10:04 am

bouncy-house

Sometimes we did nothing but go to Target or run an errand. Other times we had play dates, bounced around a trampoline playground, met Daddy for lunch and a carousel ride at the mall, or went to a PJ Library event at the local library. Whatever we did, we did it on Mondays for the past two years. June 10 was our last Monday together.

My daughter finished her time in the mixed 3s and 4s class at preschool on Thursday. It met Tuesday through Friday. She starts camp five days a week next Monday. In the fall, her pre-K class will meet each weekday, too.

A few weeks ago, my husband said, “You have only eight more Mondays with Ellie at home.” And that kicked off Operation Monday Madness. His statement hit me like the clichéd ton of bricks. My little girl would be away all week forever after. I wanted to make the last few Mondays we had together memorable. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 10 2014

10 Ways the Second Pregnancy is Different Than the First

By at 12:10 pm

second-pregnancy

Pregnancy is a great divide. My mothering life bears little resemblance to my pre-pregnancy life. But my second go-round is reshaping my thoughts about pregnancy. Being pregnant while parenting a toddler is so much harder. Now wiser, I offer 10 of my own second pregnancy lessons:

1. Hello, Exhaustion. When I was pregnant with Lila three years ago, I slept nine hours nightly. For the first time since kindergarten, I was also eager to nap. And nap I did. If I was tired and didn’t have anywhere to be, I indulged. No such luck now. I’m learning what tired really means. Even though this has been an easier pregnancy, I’m still tired and all-over achy. Handling that while chasing an über-energetic preschooler is tough, especially since she’s often awake before I am and is outgrowing her nap. If it weren’t for decaf, I’d be a complete zombie.

2. Less Anxiety. I generally know what to expect where pregnancy is concerned. Sure, I still have periodic questions for my OBGYN, but I don’t need to call all the time like I initially did with Lila. So, whereas an unexpected pain might have scared me last time, now I typically just shrug. Read the rest of this entry →

May 15 2014

Turns Out Vacationing With a Toddler is Not Very Relaxing

By at 12:09 pm

vacation-pic

When is a vacation not really a vacation? Answer: When you go with your 2.5-year-old.

We are back from a week in Southern California where it was warm and sunny most of the time, and felt like a vacation for a few brief bursts when I had the chance to get away from my get-a-way. I try to kvell more than kvetch as a parent. I know I am infinitely blessed to have a happy and healthy daughter, great life-partner, supportive family, wonderful friends and community. I know the fact that I can take paid-time off from my job and hop on an airplane makes me at least a 5 percenter, so I feel like a jerk complaining about a week of vacation. That being said, it’s not so much as a complaint as an acknowledgement that my expectations sometimes drastically differ from reality, now that I am a parent. The learning curve is steep for the first kid. What I remember a vacation being is no longer what a vacation is.

I think back to past travel, shopping for new clothes especially for a trip, making a list of what to pack and an itinerary of what to do, and enjoying the excitement of going someplace new or visiting old friends. Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2014

Turns Out I Don’t Have a Monopoly On My Toddler’s Love

By at 1:08 pm

toddler-daycare

I visit the toddler’s room first. After seven months of day care drop off trial and error, I’ve discovered that this routine works best. The 3-year-old runs ahead. I follow her into the classroom, hauling two massive tote bags and a squirming 16-month-old.

The toddler waves frantically at her lunch bag. My 3-year-old finds a toy to play with while I locate her sister’s breakfast. I hand the toddler off to *Miss Jane, the teacher, and dig out a container of mini pancakes. I relay the morning’s events: wake-up time, last diaper change, and the most recent meal.

“She didn’t sleep well last night,” I add. “Teething, maybe? I don’t know, but she might be a little cranky this morning.” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 25 2014

It’s Hard to Honor Your Mother & Father When You’re in the Terrible Twos

By at 9:41 am

kedoshim

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Kedoshim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week Sylvie turned 2. On her birthday, she woke up, talked to herself for a while, then called out “Mama, mama!”

I went to pick her up from her crib and as soon as she saw me she stood up and screamed, for the first time ever: “Go away, mama!”

Terrible twos, right on schedule. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2014

The Day My Toddler Saw Me Cry Like a Baby

By at 12:02 pm

crying-baby

It was one of those days where I would’ve been better off staying in bed under the covers. Work had been stressful. My bus home was delayed. A close friend’s actions had left me feeling hurt. And just as I was gearing up to put my toddler to bed, my husband called with the news that our car, which he was supposed to be taking for a simple oil change, would need several thousand dollars worth of repairs.

Clearly, nothing particularly tragic went down. But I was tired. I was already aggravated and upset. And yes, okay, there were also some let’s call them “prominent female hormones” at play. So when I got the call from my husband, it was that classic piece of straw that broke the worn-out mother’s back. And so I did something that I hadn’t really anticipated but also somehow couldn’t prevent: I broke down crying in front of my toddler.

Now just to be clear, I’m talking about the type of crying where you sink to the ground, your body shakes back and forth, you start making all sorts of strange guttural noises, and you generally can’t catch your breath for several minutes in a row. It’s the kind of crying you really can’t hide, and it’s the type that most adults would probably either avoid altogether or reserve for the confines of their respective bedrooms or showers. In other words, I cried like a baby. A big baby. And worse yet, I did it in front of my baby.  Read the rest of this entry →

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