May 30, 2013 | 3 Comments
Who here got a push present? Don’t nod your head or raise your hand. Step up and leave a comment telling me what you got. Why? BECAUSE I DIDN’T GET ONE and now I am pissed. (And yes, my kids are 2 and 4….I’m still pissed. There’s no deadline on those sorts of things.)
The push present has to be one of the greatest marketing ideas ever invented. Because it makes perfect sense. I cart this damn kid around for 9+ months and then labor (I mean labor like sit in pain for hours, sweat, get the chills, have massive heart burn, shit myself and then push a GIGANTIC head and the rest of the kid’s body out of the pleasure hole….proper toiling away kind of labor) to give you a kid. The least you could give me is an overly expensive piece of jewelry or a new car. Right? Who’s with me on this?
What I want to know is why the expectant mother books and childbirth courses don’t cover this? Are they worried about offending someone, and if so, WHO? This seems like something that should be covered in between packing the hospital bag and breathing techniques. They could just slip in a couple of slides showing expensive tennis bracelets and include a Tiffany’s catalog in the middle of the childbirth guidebook. It would be easy!
And where is TV and the movies? I was just reading examples of celebrity push presents (I recommend skipping that article unless you want your head to explode). Hollywood clearly knows they exist, but they aren’t giving them the attention that they deserve. Tina Fey – can you not write a halfway decent “average person” push present into one of your scripts?
Some husbands even labor under the mistaken impression that the kid is the push present! Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous in your life? On what planet is a needy, crying, shitting person a gift to the person who will be kept up around the clock?
I am asking you all to join me in my efforts to legitimize the push present. Here is how you can help. If you have a friend that is expecting, ask her husband what he is buying as a push present. Don’t do it in front of her where he can turn it into a joke. Pull him aside and make him feel really shitty if he doesn’t have a good answer. Next, when you hear someone who got a good gift, bring it up in mixed-sex outings. The more you can show that other people are doing it, the higher the likelihood that our partners will remove their heads from their collective asses.
So say it with me now people, “Papas buy push presents. Papas buy push presents. Papas buy push presents.” And partners, just remember – it is never too late to do the right thing.
May 28, 2013 | 2 Comments
After a four year hiatus during which I only sometimes worked, I have returned to the 38.5 hours per week,no facebook or blogging at your desk, deadlines, budgets and personnel management world of work. And, drum roll please, I even get paid a decent wage for doing it.
For those of you wondering what the secret is to getting a good job after such a long pseudo-absence, I have bad news. One, this blog in only self-help in the sense that it helps myself. You should *not* follow my advice unless you want to be a hot mess. Two, I have no idea, but I am pretty sure it isn’t rocket science….um, look for one? stay active? don’t use words like “household manager” on your CV to fill the gap? (If the hiring manager has kids, they’ll get it without any explanation and if they don’t, no amount of wordsmithing is going to get them on board.)
Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, haitus. One or two of you might have noticed that I am also returning from a two-plus week blogging break that conveniently exactly correlates to the amount of time I have been in my new role. Was I freaking out? (yes.) Was I a stress-case? (yes.) But not for the reasons that you might think.
I get work. I get that I have to show up and do my job. I get that the kids are going to be complete nightmares on a regular basis and cause me to have to scream my throat sore before 8am. What I did not expect was the massive change in my own place in the office.
Just in case I ever get the chance to go back in time and pass along a few notes to my younger self (yes, those jeans do make your butt look big. No, he won’t call you in the morning. Yes, when your husband says you should wait to have kids, he is actually smarter than you are.), I thought I’d type up a handy “While you were out” note so that I know what to expect.
WHILE YOU WERE OUT
- You got old. (WTF – I used to be the young, hip gal in the office. Now everyone is under 25, single and kid-free. And I’m trying to convince myself that gray hairs can be classified as highlights. I am OLD. We were talking about movies in my new hire training and no one had seen Goonies or Ghostbusters. They talked about music and I didn’t understand a word of it. They should have put a photo of Bart Simpson’s grandpa on my name badge…except that the youngsters probably wouldn’t get that either. ARGH!)
- Work culture changed. (My office has no offices. Just one big room of desks. Where we all sit as equals. I’m sure that seems great if you are 22, but if you are
36thirty-something, you want the damn office with a door that you are entitled to have. What is the point of working more efficiently if you can’t get on social media because everyone can stare at your screen? How sad is it that I yearn for the days of the 5 foot tall cubicle wall?)
- All the priorities changed. (Whatever you knew about doing your job before, just forget about it. If you were out for more than 6 weeks, it is highly likely that some new technology came along and completely changed the way you do things. And, fyi, you won’t know anything about it.)
And so it is, that I am back at work…trying to find the business suit equivalent to the mommy jeans, counting my gray hairs on every bathroom break and trying not to say things like “Back in my day” any more than absolutely necessary. The good news is that the kids are as bad as ever and Nomad Papa is as clueless as ever, so I have plenty of things to complain about outside of the office.
Next post, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.
May 10, 2013 | 3 Comments
The fallacy of a holiday known as “Mother’s Day” is coming up. I say fallacy because my husband has never done anything to celebrate my role in bringing children into our lives….although I am not sure if that is because he doesn’t do holidays or because the kids are a giant gift that keeps on sucking. Since I know with 100% certainty that I am not getting a mother’s day present, I am free to invent an impossible present that I’d like to receive without any worry of disappointment from a lesser gift.
This year I have decided that I want to eat at mom’s for mother’s day. No silly, not my mom (with what I’ve got in mind, I’d slap my own face for asking this of her). I’d like to be able to go to a restaurant and pay good money to get the full mommy treatment my kids regularly receive. Not sure what I mean? Let me describe how this would go.
“Good evening and welcome to Mom’s. Here is your table.”
“I don’t want this table. I want to sit on the couch and watch a movie. No, not that couch. No, a different movie. YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG! Why doesn’t that movie work anymore? TURN ON THE MOVIE! Waaaaaahhhhhhhhh. I want to sit on your lap.”
“Ok Madame, are you comfortable now? Tonight at Mom’s we are serving your favorite, pizza margherita!”
“Pizza?! Bleh! I don’t like pizza. I want pasta.”
“Ma’am, your husband phoned in advance and told us specifically that pizza was your favorite. We don’t have anything else.”
“I WANT PASTA! GREEN PASTA! Waaaaaaahhhhh! Carry me to the kitchen!”
“Right, very good. Here we are in the kitchen. Please sit down here on the counter while I cook your pasta.”
“I want cookies! Where’s my wine? I WANT RED WINE! I NEED SNACKS!”
“Here is a complimentary basket of bread and butter spreads. And let me pour your wine. Your pasta will be ready in just a moment.”
“I don’t like that plate! I want a blue plate! No, don’t put the pasta on the plate that way. DON’T CUT IT! Waaaaaaaaahhhhhh. I need to sit in your lap again. Feed me, I can’t do it myself.”
I could go on and on and on….but seriously, how nice and refreshing would it be to spend an evening as the kid, but be in a nice restaurant that you would actually want to visit? Imagine the freedom of being able to bitch loudly and repeatedly about everything and have your ever whim catered to by smiling staff. Wouldn’t that be AMAZING?
So that is what I would like for Mother’s Day this year. I need to do it asap before my kids outgrow this stage and I forget how bad/good it is. Wait, hahahahahahahahahha, for a second there I imagined that my kids might outgrow their bitchy, demanding, exacting natures. HAHAHAHAHA.
What are the rest of you craving?
May 8, 2013 | 1 Comment
Just in case this is the first Nomad Mom post you have ever read, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my kids drive me nuts. Phew, glad that is out of the way. So it should come as no surprise to you that my kids go to daycare four days per week. I keep them home one day per week for a “mamadag” as the Dutch call it. That day helps me remember why I send them to daycare the other four days.
Nomad Papa has been traveling all month (seriously…all freaking month. He comes home for a few days between trips and then heads off again. Each week I get to restart the “Where’s Papa” discussion. It’s awesome. I hope we can do it again next month.) so I have been on daycare drop-off and pick-up duty.
Daycare pick-up duty is the best. The kids have been gone long enough for me to have forgotten how bad they are. I have been gone long enough for the kids to have forgotten how bitchy I am. Everyone is glad to see everyone else. Well, for the first 35 seconds anyway. Then they start asking for cookies and refusing to put on their jackets and I remember why 6 euros per hour per kid is a bargain for childcare. Those workers earn every penny of their salary.
Daycare drop-off is a whole other matter. Not because it is bad, quite the opposite! My kids love the daycare. LOVE IT. They sing most of the way there and then knock each other over trying to get into the front door. They love their teachers. They love their friends. They love their Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty slippers they get to wear.
You know what they don’t love? Me. As soon as we get within 50 feet of the daycare, I move from mommy to personal assistant…and it is like they have being taking lessons from Naomi Campbell or Lindsay Lohan. My only role there is to pick-up the jackets and shoes they throw at me and then give them their school notebook before opening the classroom door.
Somehow these same kids that can’t be parted from me long enough for me to pee alone, completely forget my existence. They abandon me so abruptly once that door opens that I morph into my alternate personality (aka nice, caring mom) and I chase after them trying to say goodbye. I yell things like “See you later. Mommy will be back later. You can go and play now.” in an effort to somehow convince the other daycare moms that I wanted my kids to abandon me like a piece of dried dog poop on the side of the road.
Letting go at the daycare has taught me a key lesson: there is a fine line between wanting your child to love daycare and wanting them to at least nod in your direction before bolting off to play. Who knew?!
April 24, 2013 | 4 Comments
You know how sometimes you hear something so moronic that you are momentarily struck dumb? Yeah, me neither. Such was the case with the idea of the “staycation” after you have had kids. I was momentarily struck with 4,000,000 things to say.
Once you are a parent, the only true vacation you can have begins with putting you and your kids in vehicles going in opposite directions. (Note: Insert chorus of “heck yeahs” from the peanut gallery here).
For the other 99.8% of the time, three to five minute “staycations” are how we moms survive. Yes, I said three to five MINUTES and not three to five days. It only counts as a “staycation” if you were left completely alone in your own house, and we all know how often and for how long that happens.
I have found some ways to fit in a staycation every now and then. Here are some of things I do:
- Read in the dark: How did parents survive before book apps existed? Did they just lie there in the dark? One of my favorite staycations happens right at bedtime. I read my kid a story as quickly as possible and then lie down at the foot of her bed until she falls asleep. That usually takes 3 minutes. But I lie there for a good 30 minutes each time reading books on my kindle app. Why? Well, no one is going to come and bother me if I am putting the kid to sleep. If my husband does open the door to check on me, I quickly say “she just fell asleep” and put on an air of exhaustion and frustration. I’ve had plenty of practice with it, so I can pull it out at a moment’s notice.
- Read on the potty: Karen from the Baby Sideburns talks a lot about hiding in the bathroom to read People Magazine when she comes down with a case of fake IBS. After spending a month with an actual stomach virus, I can tell you with complete confidence that she is on to something. There were two upsides to that month of sickness. One was losing a crap ton (literally) of weight. The other was having an all-access pass to my bathroom hideout whenever I wanted. The key to getting to go in there by yourself is to cite an illness. If you don’t have a virus, I recommend Karen’s FIBS as a great alternative.
- The dishes: Remember when you were a kid and your mom would make you do the dishes and you hated it. Looking back now I wonder if she was secretly laughing while thinking that in
20a few years I’d be begging to wash the dishes so that I could have a break, especially on Tuesdays when the kids have been home all day. If my husband even sets foot in the kitchen after dinner, he can expect to be bitch-slapped back over to the play carpet where he belongs. That staycation is MINE!
- Work: Even if you don’t have a paying job, when you are a mom you quickly realize how much easier it is to “work” than deal with the kids. My husband pulls out the work card all the time. I’ve started counting doing anything off my To Do list as work…like paying the bills. I can stretch three online payments out to 20 minutes if I concentrate really hard…and make sure to minimize the facebook screen whenever my husband walks by.
Do you have any other staycation ideas? If so, help a mother out!
April 22, 2013 | 4 Comments
Last week I was having one of my regular skype calls with the grandparents, and as usual the kids were completely ignoring the screen. Addy made the mistake of drifting into my peripheral vision and I interrupted my conversation to yell at her, “Come here and talk to your grandparents or I am going to throw those toys in the trashcan.” My mother immediately admonished me not to make threats I don’t mean.
The thing is, I completely meant that threat. I was ready to pitch the toys if she didn’t come over and do her duty to the ‘rents. I knew it. She knew it. And she still ignored me. This happens a lot.
For some odd reason, the only threats that seem to work with my two knuckleheads are the ones that I clearly don’t mean. “I will throw you into the canal” remains the most effective tool in my arsenal. It is so effective, one would think that I had dragged the kids across the street and dangled their toes into the dirty water at some point to make the threat real.
Second up on my list is “You can stay here by yourself”. Won’t put a jacket or shoes on? Refuses to get into the bike trailer? Is just being a general pain in my ass? Nothing causes an attitude adjustment faster than me putting on my shoes, grabbing my keys and heading for the door. Of course I cannot leave them home alone. Surely even they realize that. And even if I did, so what? They would be at home, with all their toys and full knowledge of where I keep the snacks. Does that sound so horrible? We mommies call that a vacation.
You know which ones don’t work? All the rest. “You can go sit in time out” – non-entity. I follow through on that threat often enough that they know I mean it, and yet they still push me far enough on a weekly basis to guarantee that their butt will be parked on the stairs for five minutes before the weekend begins.
Our trashcan has hosted more than a few jars of play-doh, half-filled coloring books, pink markers, paper crowns and assorted toys. This is exactly why I don’t buy them anything nice. I need to be able to take things away and permanently dispose of them before I go insane. Yet, the kids still don’t care. They still get into knock down, drag out fights over the stupidest shit and cause me to get up and throw the offending article into the bin.
I think the lesson to be learned from all of this is that when it comes to threats, it is best to go big or go home. Don’t waste your breath on something reasonable. Take a tip from VC Andrews and promise to lock them into the attic (or basement or bike shed) until their teenage years. Threaten to sell them to a pack of traveling salesmen. Tell ‘em you are going to take a trip to Disney World and leave them at home alone.
So thanks mom for the great parenting advice, but I think I’ll stick to my tried and true method of lying as long as it is working. If they don’t come over and chat with you next week, into the canal they go!
April 18, 2013 | No Comments
Dear genius who invented the “convertible crib to toddler bed” concept:
You are a giant ass. Seriously. I am sure that you thought that the sun shined out of your ass when you came up with this idea. “Why charge parents $100 for a crib when we could charge them $500 for a crib with one replaceable side? All we have to do is tell them that the bed will “grow with the child” and they’ll buy them by the dozen,” I’m sure you explained to your colleagues. And damn you, you were right. I did spend the extra $400 and am now stuck with the pain and misery of that bad decision.
“Why is the bed such a problem,” you might ask yourself (that is, if you can stop counting your millions for long enough). Well, let me tell you.
This idea that the toddler bed is a happy medium between the crib and regular bed only exists in the parents’ mind. In the kid’s mind things are pretty black and white. One side is the fully enclosed crib jail and the other side is everything else. The stupid idea of the toddler bed medium only acts to give us parents the idea that we maintain some modicum of control over the situation, when in reality we have completely lost the battle.
Let me tell you what a child can do in a bed that is enclosed on three and a half sides: whatever she wants. She can jump on the bed. She can stand up in the bed. She can get in and out and in and out and in and out of the bed. She can get out of her bed and go and bang on the bedroom door. She can slowly but surely slide out of the open side and down onto the very thin carpet where her poor mother is lying while pretending to sleep. In other words, she can do everything she could do in a regular bed and MORE thanks to the handy side rails.
The only person that is held in place by the damn sides is the infuriated mother who is lying cramped up against them while begging her child to sleep. That extra-short length gives me just enough space to *think* that I can somehow lie down comfortably if I just try hard enough.
I bought the convertible bed and now find myself with my nose and mouth pressed up against the half-side of crib rails like one of the poor, unadopted puppies at the pet store. Sometimes, I catch myself scratching the railing and mumbling “Free me…free me!”
And my legs…where do I put those? If I face in, I have to let everything below the knee dangle off the side of the bed. When I lose all feeling and am forced to roll over, I have to wedge my toes in between the crib slats so that I don’t fall out.
The final moment of insanity comes when I can finally get up. David Blaine could not extricate himself from a sleeping child’s convertible toddler bed without waking them up. Between the contorted body position and the partial paralyzation, I am going to make a shit ton of noise when I stand up. That is, if I can stand up again.
So thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming up with this great idea. I hope you made enough to pay my chiropractor bills.
April 16, 2013 | 4 Comments
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really like to move. I get super excited about new adventure and am ready to go as soon as the announcement is made. Unfortunately, in Nomad Papa’s line of work, move announcements are usually followed by 9+ months of waiting. It is just like being pregnant – you wait and wait, prepare as much as you can and then your life gets turned upside down . You also lose sleep and find yourself pooping either more or less often, and eat copious amounts of calories that you swear “don’t count”.
We have had a whole, never-ending, incessantly long year to prepare for our move. It is now just two weeks away and I still don’t have an exact move date from the movers. Welcome to my life. I’ve had a long time to mull over the move and think about the things I want in our new place. Here they are:
NOMAD MOM’S MUST HAVES
- A good neighbor – What the hell am I going to do without my trusty neighbor? The one I can call on when I am moments from tossing the kids into the canal. The one that eats half my batch of brownies so that I can justify making a new set every day. The one who sees my two year old taking her pants off on the bike path behind the house and laughs instead of calling child protective services. The one who is just like me, so hanging out with her is like hanging out with myself, only better. I’d start to tear up, but that is so not me. or her. shit.
- A good grocery store – I thought all grocery stores were more or less equal. And then I moved to the Netherlands. Now I have some basic requests. I’d like a grocery store that sells baking soda. I want one that puts the sugar in the baking aisle instead of next to the coffee. I want one that stocks something other than potatoes in the pre-washed ready packages. Is that so much to ask?
- Friends – I am old, married and have two kids. How am I going to make friends if I have to go to work everyday? I am going to be that desperate mom that accosts parents as they pick-up kids from school. Me: “Do you want to go and grab a pint in the pub?” Other Mom: “Um, could you let go of my kid’s jacket you psycho?” Maybe I should put an ad in the daycare newsletter….
- All of you – you guys travel, right? I am going to need all of you, your comments and your likes more than ever…or at least until I find a pub I can nip off to when life gets to be too much. So pack up your virtual suitcases and get ready for the UK
Here is the scoop. Nomad Papa has a new job at the University of Oxford. Yes, that Oxford. And Nomad Mom also has a new job. (Someone is going to pay me to come to an office…I still can’t wrap my head around it.) We are leaving lovely Delft behind after four fun, terror and tear-filled years (we have toddlers, remember). Because we are gluttons for punishment, we are going to do all of it again in another new country we have barely visited.
That, my friends, is how the Nomad family rolls. More fun to follow, guaranteed!
April 12, 2013 | 3 Comments
It’s Friday and that means it is party time. I’d like to go out to a real party, but I am sitting in 10 year old sweatpants and my pajama top (yes, it is 3pm here. No one likes to be judged) and I am pretty sure I would have to put on nicer clothes. So I have decided to go to a virtual party instead. And you guys get to come along. How fun is that?
Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Party 2013. As your host, I would like to direct you to your own liquor cabinet where you can mix up the drink of your choice. Or just bring over the whole bottle. You are in your yoga pants at your own house, people – there’s no need to get out the fancy glassware.
Now that you are comfortably settled with your drink, you are ready to go out and meet some people. Why not start with me? You might as well, you are already here and I am damn freaking awesome, so it would be silly to look for someone else.
Hi. My name is Lynn. I am a 35 year old American married to an Italian and living in the Netherlands…for three more weeks. Then we are moving to the UK. Because that obviously makes sense. We have two kids and they speak mostly Dutch and English, but throw in some Italian from time to time to show off to their friends. They are 2 and 4, but 2 and 4 nowadays are like 12 and 14 when we were kids. You gotta step up your game early.
This blog is my safe place. It’s where I come to bitch about things that piss me off or frustrate me. It is where I pull back the curtains on the perfect life I report on my personal facebook page (you know that you do this too, so shut it) and share the gritty details of being a mother to two. This is the place where I grapple with the motherly guilt that causes me to keep my kids at home one workday per week and with the massive frustration that the kids give me on that day.
Some of you might be wondering why I choose to do this in such a public space. The answer is simple. I am obviously an attention whore. If this party were to take place in a real venue, I am sure that you could all pick me out of the room. I’d be the loud woman bitching in the center to a big group of people.
It makes my day/week/month that you are all here too. I really love to meet people who read the blog and don’t do it because they know I will ask their opinion about it at next week’s playgroup meeting. I love that some of you comment on the blog to my husband, mainly because it drives him insane. (He is really private. I have no idea how we ended up together. Must have been laziness.) Most of all, I love hearing your own stories and opinions via the facebook page and the comments section. Please keep it all coming!
And that’s it for me. If you feel up to sharing, leave me a comment to tell me about you. If you aren’t ready to take that step, scroll back up to the image and click the link to find other bloggers at the party. What else have you got to do? Let the laundry/kids/dinner wait for a few minutes and focus on yourself for a change!
April 8, 2013 | No Comments
(Side note here – sorry for the long quiet period. Our move to the UK is just three weeks away and I have been completely overwhelmed with job hunting and move management. Hopefully I am now on top of things and can get back to my normal writing schedule. Thanks for sticking with me!)
I have spent roughly 90% of the last four years of my life telling the kids to do something and being ignored in return. In thinking about it, I really have no idea why I continue trying to tell them anything? Must be that parental guilt or something…or just insanity. Probably #2.
Anyways, I have gotten so used to the kids ignoring me, that it does not begin to cross my mind that they might actually listen every now and again. But you know kids, they like to keep you on your toes. Just when you think it is safe to tell them to do something, they turn around and jump right into action when you least expect it. This is what happened to me, and I totally learned my lesson. From now on, I’ll stick to my normal nagging or be much more specific in my commands.
We had just gotten back home after some errands and found a parking spot in front of the neighbor’s house. Addy was begging to play with the neighbor’s kid and I was telling her that they needed to play in the garden because it was sunny for once and not completely miserably cold. After much haranguing, she finally agreed. I got her out of the car and walked around to get Giorgie out. Thirty seconds later I stood up with kid #2 and found a completely empty sidewalk in front of me. Sidewalk, walkways, doorways, street…emptiness in every direction.
At that moment, every organ in my body took up residence in my windpipe. I called her name a few times without any answers. Mind racing, I walked over to see if she had gone to our front door. Nope. I began spinning in circles and screaming loudly looking in every possible direction all at once. The only response I got was the little one adding in her own frantic calls for her sister.
I began jogging down the block, trying to cross off all possibilities from my list. Not at our house, not standing in front of the neighbor’s house, not wandering down the street. My job turned into a sprint and I finally found her standing on the bike path behind our row of houses, waiting to go into the gate to the back garden. i.e. exactly where I had told her to go. She was bawling her eyes out because she could hear my screaming for her and she couldn’t get the gate to open.
As my organs descended back to their normal homes, my mind cleared up enough for me to remember that I had left the second kid standing on the sidewalk in front of the house. Clearly, I am a top contender for Best Mother 2013. I took the shortest path, running in through the back gate and dumping Addy in the garden with promises to kill her in a minute, through the house, hurdling over the cat and dog and back out the front door. Poor little G was still standing on the sidewalk calling for her sister.
I called my mom later and told her what had happened. She got a giant grin on her face and exclaimed her happiness that my kids were paying me back for all of the times I had done that to her. Her exact quote, “One down, 999 to go”.