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I’m worried my therapist hates me

Usually I dress up to go to therapy. It’s important that my therapist doesn’t think I’m as big of a mess as I am. Plus, her shoes are always so cute – she’d clearly judge my Uggs-and-pajama-pants look, no matter how chic it may be…

I hate the box of tissues at my therapist’s office. They sit there taunting me trying to get me to cry-which I’m desperately trying not to do. I don’t want my therapist to think I’m too neurotic, after all. Also, I’m not a pretty cryer. I bet she is.

I wonder if she knows that I’ve spent hours googling her, that I know her husband’s political leanings, her maiden name, and her synagogue…

Have you ever been in a therapist’s office that does not have an orchid? A white one of course. Those fuchsia ones are just too upsetting.

Children of the 21st Century

I have 3 kids, which means there is rarely a night I’m not up with at least one of them some time during the night. Last night my 6-yr-old was in bed with us (and by us, I might as well mean me since my husband has no idea of any nighttime struggles). No matter how many times I pushed my son off me towards the center of the bed, I would wake up 5 min later with a hand in my face. So after this beating I endured in the night, I wasn’t totally functioning this morning. And it took until around 10 AM for me to remember my night-shopping. Did I really buy 40 rolls of washi tape at 2 AM? My emails confirmed this to be true. What could I have been dreaming about that led me to actively seek out this tape? And from multiple shops? And WTF would I do with 40 rolls of washi tape? Luckily my sleep-shopping self was one step ahead of my awake self as I discovered I also purchased a very useful washi-tape-dispenser. What a blessing that exhaustion and stress manifest themselves in these surprising gifts from me to me!…

It was not my proudest moment – but also not all surprising – when one of my youngest’s 1st sentences was “Alexa, play Elmo!” It took Alexa some time to realize what “Wessa pay Ewmo” meant, but now she’s an expert at my toddler’s specific accent…

I’m not sure if this is more troubling than the time my family as eating at an ice cream store in San Diego when my then-2-yr-old said loudly to the shop, “Alexa play Frozen,” as if she was omnipresent and he possessed the power to control the airwaves anywhere he went. I suppose he was not completely off about this…

There are many people who are rightly concerned about the infringement of our privacy these days. And it is unnerving to be chatting with your friends about some product one minute, only to open up Instagram to see it being advertised to you the next. But I must admit, I absolutely LOVE all my targeted ads! How else would I know that I needed a tribal-print cape/blanket? And where would I get tiny upholstered furniture if Instagram wasn’t always 1 step ahead of me, knowing my needs before I do?

Parenting Perks

Sure, I haven’t used the bathroom alone in 6 years. I’ve had to jump off the pot mid-use, pants around my ankles to break up a fight or save a child from certain death more times than I can count. But you know what else hasn’t happened for the last 6 years of potty-going? I haven’t experienced the panic of realizing halfway through that my husband “forgot” to change the empty TP roll. Constant toilet company means there is always someone there to run and fetch me a fresh roll. And in a day full of parenting struggles, this isn’t nothing…

Since becoming a mother, I have also been blessed with the delightful experience of pet ownership. And no – we don’t have a dog or a cat. It’s hard enough keeping the humans under my roof fed and somewhat clean. But I am the proud mama to ants, worms, snails, and aqua dragons. Forget the fact that I have a slight phobia of ants and that my family promised I wouldn’t have any interaction with these insects. When you get a call from your hubby at work explaining that he had received notification that the vile of ants had been delivered, and could I please follow the directions to get them into the terrarium because they’d freeze outside if we waited for him to get home from work, you jump to it. Because I’m even more terrified of my children than I am of those ants. And when your kids promise to be the ones who will spray the worm dirt to keep them alive, you realize that means one more chore for you to nag them about, and you end up keeping the worms alive yourself because a.) there is less chance of a mess if you do it and b.) even though the kids show absolutely no interest in said worms, you know that should they mysteriously disappear, there will be hell to pay…

And once you become a parent you no longer need worry about carefully curating your walls and décor, because all surfaces will be covered by the dozens of masterpieces your kids produce and so lovingly urge you to display. Unfortunately, you will have to worry about your kids discovering their masterpieces in the trash when they begrudgingly go to throw out their wrappers.

The Historian in Me

I was halfway through my dissertation in early American women’s history before I was derailed by the birth of my 1st, and then my 2nd baby. Suddenly the biopolitics of 18th c American no longer seemed as pressing to me. But there’s still a historian somewhere deep down in my with lots of completely random, useless knowledge about the past…

For instance, did you know breast pumps were as necessary and irksome to women 400 years ago as they are to us moms today? This is an example of a glass breast pump circa 1800. The flange was placed over the nipple, and a tube extended upwards so that the milk-expressor could suck until her engorged breasts were as deflated as she desired…

FUN FACT: In 17th c France there is evidence that puppies were sometimes used as makeshift breast pumps. Hey – a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do…

You know your old-fashioned heater that only seems to have one temp: HOT? There’s an actual historical reason for this nuisance. During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, many experts (rightly) believed that the virus was less likely to spread in well-ventilated places. So heaters were designed that could get hot enough to warm a room, even with the windows open. So your annoying, noisy radiator is actually a pandemic-fighting invention!…

One of the most popular (and titillating) medical pamphlets from the 17th c on offered advice and info on the mysterious workings of pregnancy and reproduction. For hundreds of years it was common to blame birth deformities and abnormalities on the hysterical, evil, and uncontrollable emotions and thoughts of the pregnant mother. If she lusted after forbidden fruit, her baby could be born a monster. The sight of a hairy animal could imprint itself onto the anatomy of her unborn child. This science is not all surprising given men’s age-old attempt to control women and “encourage” proper behavior. My pregnancies prove these postulations to be illegitimate, however, since if they were, my kids would have come out as giant oreos.

Rainb-OCD

I rarely wear makeup, but nothing sends my heart soaring like the perfect, ombré lines of beauty products at Sephora. I get a similar sensation of hope here as I get at the Container Store; an overwhelming sense of confidence, peace, promise. Like nothing – not money, not the 3 tiny monsters I share a home with – will keep me from achieving my life-long pursuit of organization. If I, too, had eyeshadows in all the colors of the rainbow, I would wake up 5 min earlier to beautify myself. And clearly my lack of inner peace is a result of outward clutter (and a lack of age-defying creams and serums). Which is why, despite my typical au-natural look, I have drawers filled with makeup – and all the baskets, dividers and containers I would need to Sephorize my vanity. Unfortunately this can-do feeling usually fades on the drive home from the store. And I am left with nothing but guilt and the need to purchase more containers to hold those that will never see those perfect rainbows of lipsticks and nail polish…

I had a friend whose favorite pastime was switching just 2 items in these color-coded Sephora displays. It was just 2 tiny products, but it dismantled the entire system…

When my 6-yr-old asked me if the internet was just cookies and cakes being frosted, I knew I had a problem. But acceptance is the 1st step to recovery, so here goes: I spend inappropriate amounts of time watching those FB videos of buttercream being smoothed and shaped into petals, steady hands making perfect lines of glaze on cookies, and cupcakes receiving their perfect poofs of frosting. And obviously I watch these videos on mute because a.) I don’t want my kids to know just how often this is what I’m doing instead of reading to them and b.) does anyone watch FB videos with sound?…

I recently finished the Home Edit Netflix series and was overcome with the certainty that my home, too, could look like Reese Witherspoon’s. I then spent a furious afternoon rearranging all our books in rainbow order as they suggest. Their reasoning was very persuasive – and once I had that scary pile of books in the middle of the living room, there was no turning back. It has now been a few months living with the rainbow. And it does look glorious. But I cannot find a single book.

Snow Daze

Last night as I lay in bed bartering with the powers that be about the weather, it dawned on me that one of the biggest changes that accompanies motherhood is one’s attitude toward snow days. Gone are the days when days off from school means sleeping in, down time and hot chocolate. Snow days become their own little hell on earth. Even though school is canceled, you nanny can’t make it, and no Postmates are available to deliver your $45 coffee, somehow your husband can still get to work through the elements in his run-down 2008 Honda Civic (will he be able to get home? Now that’s a different question). And your kids don’t understand that sleet is not the same as snow, and are at the door by the crack of dawn ready to play outside in the winter wonderland of mud, ice, and brown slosh. And that hot chocolate and cozy fire you have such fond childhood memories of, they don’t just appear with the weather. Snow-day fun takes ceaseless adult curation. And heaven forbid you’ve run out of marshmallows! The tantrums that ensue tell you all you need to know about the snow day memories you are failing to pass on to your children…

We need to talk about mittens (and don’t get me started on gloves!). WTF is wrong with kids’ mittens? Or is it my children’s hands that are disfigured? I have never, not once, been able to get their little hands covered without a great deal of effort (and often screaming and tears). Their thumbs are just too floppy. Or maybe it’s the sticky layer of God-knows-what that always covers their hands. Or perhaps mitten-makers have to get their s**t together and figure out the technology we need to allow the greatest amount of easy thumb slippage. I mean, come on! We can get men on the moon but we can’t figure out how to fit my kids’ tiny fingers into little knit pockets? And where do all the lost mittens go? Why can we never find them when we need them? And why have I already had to order 2 dozen this season?…

I can’t decide what’s worse: the hours it takes to get 3 kids under 6 bundled up to go outside for a few min. before they are whining at the door to come in, or the hours spent playing monopoly with one hand while blocking the destructive forces of the toddler with the other.

Phone Fears

WARNING: I’m about to get hella meta (and just a little bit needy). But since my friends have stopped engaging me in this particular line of neurotic, I have no choice but to whine to you. So here’s my confession: 80% of my self-worth comes from social media. Maybe 85%. Unless I share that creative craft I did with my kids with the world – and get the proper feedback – it may as well have not taken place. Who cares that I have built a wonderful life for myself: loving husband, great kids, a comfortable home. None of that means anything unless it garners impressive #s of likes. I was working towards a healthier relationship with my phone (setting it aside during meals, practicing self-control during date nights, and even implementing no-phone Shabbat). And then I started this blog. Naturally, a day or 2 after I Amazon Primed a strap for my phone so it can be on me at all times. In case, God forbid, my watch doesn’t ping me with notifications as they come in. And I am so appreciative of my growing following. I love reading all the comments and feeling like I’m connecting with people. But you know what’s a shitty feeling? When you go to check your # of followers and watch in real-time as you lose one! I didn’t know that was a thing when my only followers were long-lost high school frenemies and my doting mother. And look, intellectually I get it: I’m not everyone’s cup of tea/you didn’t realize how often I’d post and my black and white scribbles are keeping you from seeing and liking all the newborn pics from co-workers. And how irritating that Instagram won’t let me know who these haters are so I can stalk them to figure out what went wrong with us! I know I shouldn’t dwell on these traumatic moments, I have kids to feed and a husband to argue with, after all. But this phone has brought out the very worst side of my obsessive need to please…

Sometimes when I’m bored I find my fingers taking me to my Amazon app and my mind desperately trying to remember what household items we need that I might be able to buy to satisfy my shopping urge. Inevitably the TP/detergent/light bulbs don’t cost quite enough to get the free overnight shipping, and why wait 2 days for something when there are people whose job it is to stay up all night just to make sure our new vacuum arrives by 4 AM instead of noon. So the responsible thing to do in these circumstances is spend 30 min-I hr going deep into the app, searching for toys my kids don’t need and essential oils I will never remember we have. Because I am a grown-up, and it is my job to save $2.99 on shipping!

Glowing

Before I got pregnant with my 1st child I had this beautiful idea of what it would be like: I was going to eat lots of organic, leafy greens, go on lots of hikes looking oh-so-adorable in my normal sweatshirts that were just a bit tight over my perfectly hard, ball-shaped belly, and I’d practice hours of prenatal yoga to ensure my baby received all those good, calming chemicals. The reality of my 3 pregnancies, as you might guess, looked very different. I HATED BEING PREGNANT! I took absolutely no pleasure in my ever-expanding body – my boobs, thighs and arms grew at almost double the rate of my belly. I didn’t want those leafy greens anywhere near me. Really, I could smell them from my bedroom upstairs through the fridge in the kitchen. Everything hurt, especially during my 3rd pregnancy when my pubic bone was split in two. Yup, that’s a real thing. People talk about finding it difficult to tie their shoes – no one warned me that I’d have to find new ways to wipe my butt. And hikes! Forget it! I spent the majority of each pregnancy camped out on the couch figuring out new ways to get my husband to fetch me food without my having to move. Some of this was a result of doctor-recommended bedrest (apparently my cervix is a tad bit incompetent, an actual medical term), but honestly I doubt I would have been much more mobile without this lovely excuse. My babies and I survived on Oreos, pop tarts and bagels, and I spent 80% of my time googling “is my diet going to make my baby stupid” while stuffing my mouth with chips…

Once at a restaurant a family wouldn’t stop staring at me. Annoyed, I finally said “Can I help you?” to which one of them responded, “Oh, sorry, we were just watching to see if you were going to fit in that booth.” And honestly, I don’t blame them. I was a medical marvel, having gained almost 3X what doctors recommend during pregnancy. So many strangers asked me if I was having twins that I started to answer in the affirmative. This was only a problem one time when the woman revealed she had been a mother of multiples and then drilled me with very specific twin-related medical questions…

A good way to end up on my bad side is to complain about the 40 pounds you gained while pregnant. 40 pounds is nothing compared to gaining the weight of a small adult!

The REAL Fancy Nancy

I know what you’re thinking. That frumpy woman in sweatpants and Ugg boots has no business indentifying with this superstar to the left. But I am, in fact, the REAL Fancy Nancy. You see, before 3 babies sucked every ounce of energy and giving-a-s**t out of me, I was quite fancy. Perhaps I would be still if I fit into my wardrobe or had time in the morning between breaking-up wrestling matches and trying to get some calories into all the needy bellies in my house to appraise my jewelry collection and curate the perfectly-accessoried ensemble. But sadly these days I am quite impressed with myself if I leave the house in matching shoes (true story: the other day after hours of errands my friend remarked on my interesting style choice to wear 2 different Birkenstocks. It was charitable for her to think this was in any way a choice). But once upon a time, I was an endearingly high-maintenance, accessory-loving, overly-dramatic child who just so happened to be the favorite niece of Fancy Nancy’s illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser. And when she was given the 1st manuscript, my aunt channeled my fancy energy, dug up some old pictures, and got to work creating the now-world-famous FN. And let me tell you something: I, too, have been thrust into stardom. After finding out who I really am, all the little girls in my son’s class fought over holding hands with ME on the field trip to the farmer’s market. And I have signed my fair share of books; grandmothers get very excited to get my autograph for their granddaughters. So being the real FN certainly has its perks. But it is also a lot of pressure. School drop off/pick up for my kids has become oh-so-stressful since my true identity has gotten out. I constantly feel like I am letting all the 6-yr-olds down when I show up in spit-up covered pj’s. But I do make sure to keep a lipstick in my glove compartment, which I only wear when I might run into all the little 6-year-old mean girls who intimidate me so. I cannot bear to imagine what they must say behind my back when I show up sans boa and tiara.

Giving Up

The other night for dinner I served my children popcorn, corn chips, guacamole and grapes. On the floor. In front of the TV. I had spent the last 12 hrs listening to whining, leaping to keep tiny fingers from getting crushed in doors, and holding my shit together so that the primal scream in my head stayed there, locked up where it couldn’t traumatize my kids. So when they were finally quiet – and still – zombified in front of my boys, the Kratt Brothers, I could not convince myself that poking the sleeping beast was a good idea, even for nourishment. I knew, however, that if I didn’t throw some food their way I’d regret it at bedtime when they would turn rabid and ravenous. So I called it a TV picnic. And my eldest told me I was the best mom in the whole world, which is the opposite response than I’ve gotten every-other night when I put effort into their dinner. And by effort, I mean defrosting a Trader Joe’s meal. And hey – I’m pretty sure the guacamole made this a well-rounded meal…

The other day I had a brilliant idea. After screaming at my kids to stop what they were doing (jumping from console table to couch to coffee table), urging them to be careful, and explaining I didn’t want to make a trip to the ER in the middle of a global pandemic, I gave up trying to get them to listen, went to the garage, found their helmets, and threw them their way. “Fine,” I said, “at least put these on.” Their play turned to a head-crashing game after this, but at least I could sit and drink my coffee in peace…

Confession: my kids usually only brush their teeth before bed. There’s just too much going on in the AM to remember to fight with them about it. And I figure these baby teeth are going to fall out anyway…

Question: Does one actually have to wash their kids if you use bubble bath? Clearly in our house the answer is no.

Bra Bites/Bras Bite

When I was little I wanted a bra SO badly. I would sneak into my mom’s closet and try on her lingerie, pieces I thought were the most elegant but now realize were worn, tired mom bras. It was the early 90s, and shoulder pads were the perfect shape to stuff into the bras. On more than one occasion I got in trouble when my mom went to get dressed only to find her shirts empty and sagging in the shoulders. But what would she have me use, socks? Not when it was so clear to me that these pads were designed just for this use. But I wanted my own bra, and one day I took matters into my own hands. I grabbed the grown-up scissors, a couple undershirts, and got to it. My mom found me at the scene-of-the-crime, crying over the murdered bodies of several undershirts. My bras didn’t’ look or feel anything like the special ones my mom wore, and the shoulder pads slipped out the bottom and landed with a plop on the floor, just like my dreams of womanhood…

I loved nursing my 3 children. I had no shame when it came to feeding them. My breasts didn’t feel at all sexual, or even bodily, and I was known to squat anywhere when a child needed to eat. I’ve nursed on playground swings, in the middle of a pumpkin patch, on a ferris wheel, and in dozens of restaurants all across the U.S. I’ve been boob-out chasing after siblings and have nursed on-the-go while grocery shopping. For the most part, people were accepting of this. But once on an airplane in the middle of my son’s lunch, a flight attendant brought me a blanket and asked if I’d like to cover up. I looked right at her and said “no thank you. My son prefers his meals in the delightful fresh air of this plane.” And that was that…

When you are nursing – especially during the 1st few months – you have a person attached to your nipple around the clock. For me this meant I found myself eating at the same time as my baby. When I would undress in the evening – on those rare occasions that the baby was content long enough for me to get a shower – I would find whole meals in my nursing bras. And let me tell you, these bras, like my breasts, were enormous. There was ample food storage space. And I enjoyed this extra surprise snack at the end of the day.