Return of the tantruming terror

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He's BACK....

My almost 4 year old is back to his tantruming ways. Silly me to think that life with a preschooler would proceed in a straight line. While i've learned (and re-learned) a boatload of stuff in my few years as a mom, the lesson that continues to take me by surprise is the fact that progress is a circular process. Not so much 2 steps forward, 3 steps back as the need to revisit a few time before a change actually sticks.

When I take a step back to think about it, this really was inevitable. Angel is going through MASSIVE amounts of change right now. Preschool, speech therapy, homework, growth spurts... All this poor kid wants to do is play, and here we go imposing all of this new structure into his life. The tantrums, I think, are his way of saying "Time out! I need a minute here!This is a lot to process."

He's also a very perceptive kid, and I think he's picking up on the fact that mommy has been riding the edge of insanity a bit tighter than usual these days. With work demands, doctor appointments and holiday madness in full swing, The BadAssMama has been a bit more intense than usual (and for anyone how really knows me, you can imagine just how scary that might be!).

So, I'n taking a mommy time out. I'm taking some time off of work before the next round of craziness commences. Late daycare drop off and early pick up. More baking, less rushing. More whispering, less yelling. After all, 'tis the season to focus on family, right?

Just another day in the life of a BadAssMama...

Picking my battles

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Apparently, I don't know how to do that.

Well, it's not so much that I don't know how to, but more that with a threenager and an overachieving 1 year old (in a rush to enter the terrible two's), life at BadAssMama Central has become a never-ending series of battles. Stop throwing things. Don't hit your brother. Brush your teeth. Go make poo. Sit down. Eat your food. No spitting. STOP SCREAMING!

Oh, yes - life is just a barrel of monkeys these days.

Not that I'm complaining. I am truly enjoying watching my kids grow up literally before my very eyes. Angel seems to grow 3 inches each evening and Victor, well, I can barely even remember him being a baby. I love that they are getting better at expressing themselves and starting to engage in real conversations with me, my husband and with each other.

But the things that come out of their mouths!

Case in point, today was truly a battle of wills between me and the almost-4-year-old (with the baby throwing in his two cents at any given moment, just to keep things entertaining). From the moment he woke up this morning, he was ready to rumble. "Where's Daddy? I want my Daddy!" I calmly responded that Daddy had to go to work, but he would be back in a little while. "I WANT MY DAAAAADDDDDYYYY!! WAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!"

Here we go.

Since the tantrums have returned with a vengeance these days (after a blissful 3 month hiatus...still not sure what happened there), I decided to put my foot down - show him who was boss. I declared that every time he had a tantrum today, he would go to time out. I didn't care if he stayed in time out all day, I was sick and tired of the whining and it was going to stop.

Well, my son took that as a challenge. And, like mother like son, Angel is not one to shy away from a challenge. He proceeded to raise hell approximately every 27 minutes throughout the course of the day (with a 90 minute hiatus at the children's museum since that is actually his favorite place and heaven forbid he interrupt THAT).

For the first half of the day, I stuck to my guns. Time outs were administered liberally, yet calmly. Refusing to feed into the emotional outburst, I matter-of-factly instructed him to go to time out a good 17 times (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating but it felt like we were there every 6 minutes). We had the brief hiatus at the children's museum and he picked up where he left off at lunch with a girlfriend and her son. Refusing to eat his food. Climbing under the table to play with his brother. Standing on the chair. Demanding to make poo, then refusing to do it once we got ALL the way downstairs to the bathroom.

By this time, I was getting tired and wavered in my time-out-giving-resolve. Rather than demanding that he stay seated and finish his lunch, after a bit I just let him play under the table with his brother (really, what harm could it do? At least I could have half a decent conversation and the boys weren't hurting anyone, right?). Both boys then proceeded to up the ante and take turns sneaking out from under the table and attempting to make a break for it - down the aisle of the restaurant at top speed.

Double crap.

After the third or fourth attempted jailbreak, I wrangled each into their jackets, hats and mittens (ah, the joys of winter with the under-5 set), dragged them to the truck and pulled out the fail safe: the money-back-guaranteed-nap-route by the beach. Both put up a fight for the first 20 minutes, then drifted off to sleep.

I drove for 2 hours.

Those were the only 2 quiet hours of my day.

After nap, we returned home for the evening edition of anarchy and mayhem, followed by the bonus round after bath. It is 8:30pm, the boys have been in their beds since roughly 8:05, and Angel is still yelling , "MOOOOOOMMMMMY! DAAAADDDYY!!!" from his Lightning McQueen bed.

I think I'll go to Walmart, but a big ass set of ear plugs and go to bed.

Until 7:30...

Mommy Guilt

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Sometimes, I suck as a mom.

Royally, completely, totally suck. Epic failure. Loser.

There are many things that cause the BadAssMama to doubt the "Mama" part of her title, not the least of which includes when her children (more often than not the almost-4-year-old) get hurt. There have been no major injuries. Nothing requiring hospitalization or a visit to the emergency room (yet), but each time I always feel like had a watched a little bit closer, been a little bit firmer with my nagging to "slow down before you get hurt", or admonitions that "this really isn't a good idea" he could have avoided the tumble/spill/bump/dog bite/face plant/fill-in-the-blank.

Therein lies my conundrum. In my neverending journey to become less Geek and more Jock, I long to be a more mellow-go-with-the-flow-type Mama. But seemingly without fail, whenever I attempt to let my hair down and just let my kids be kids, somebody gets hurt.

And then I feel guilty.

This job sucks...

Guest Blogger! D'Angelo Thompson's Beauty and Buzz

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While the BadAssMama may not get as much beauty rest as she used to, she still likes to look good. While my definition of glamour may have changed from full hair and makeup to concealer and lipgloss, a girl still needs to keep it together! That's why I love my dear friend D'Angelo. D is a makeup artist EXTRAORDINAIRE and keeps the BadAssMama on track with quick tips to keep my look on point (even when the wake up call comes at 4am...yet again).

Here's a little tip from D'Angelo - courtesy of the BadAssMama. Enjoy!


Lashes Anyone?

A great way to enhance your look quickly from day to evening is to add individual or strip lashes. After you do your shadow and or eyeliner follow these 3 steps...
Step one: Curl lashes with eyelash curler if needed.
Step two: Put on one coat of mascara.
Step three: Put on Elite "short" Individual Lashes with DUO lash glue starting from the outside in, use your fingers or tweezers. Three to four lashes on the outside corner of each eye is great.** If you want more drama use #118 in Elite Strip Lashes and apply strip very close to lash line.
***once glue is dry add ONE or TWO more coats of mascara***
VOILA!


by D'angelo Thompson
model:Katie photo: Luciana Pampalone

--
D'angelo Thompson
Esthesia Productions. Inc., Owner
Beauty Techniques To Go, Co-Owner
www.dangelothompson.com
dlicious777@gmail.com
917-470-3559
LOVE & LIGHT IN ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE...

Thankful

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As we round the bases into the start of the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the blessings in my life. This Thanksgiving, I have many things for which to be thankful.

I am thankful for the two tiny assassins (a.k.a. my children) who make me happier/crazier/more exhausted/more exhilarated than I have ever felt in my entire life.

I am grateful that Angel survived an 8-week premature birth and 35 days in the NICU to become the stubborn, loving, creative, strong, happy, dramatic, colorful little boy that he is today.

I am thankful that Victor was born a big-chunky baby (fulfilling my desire to bite fluffy, rolly baby legs - since Angel was a teeny weeny one). I am thankful for his shocking red hair (where DID that come from? Thank God he looks like my husband!), his raspy voice, resilient spirit, and alpha-dog-meets-cuddly-puppy personality.

I am grateful that I have a husband who can put up with my shit. One who can see the vulnerability beneath the veneer of BadAss-ness. A husband who is a true partner, friend and amazing father (even though he can still manage to piss me off on an every-other-daily-basis).

I am thankful for an incredible network of family and friends who can pick me up, put me in my place, make me laugh, smile, cry and help me to believe in myself on the days that I really just don't...

I am grateful for good health, and solid health insurance for the days that health fails.

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for the opportunity make mistakes - to royally screw up this parenting thing - and still have the chance to brush myself off and try again tomorrow.

What are YOU thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving, from the BadAssMama to you and yours.

Geeks and jocks

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In the everlasting yin-and-yang of parenting, there is most often a "fun parent" and a "practical parent".

While the roles are most often played by mom and dad (with mom in the role of Band Geek and Dad as the Star Quarterback), they can just as frequently be filled by mom and grandma, dad and uncle, dad, mom and auntie...the possibilities are endless. The point is, while the players may change, the dynamic remains the same. Good cop, bad cop. Roller coasters vs. baby rides. Geeks and jocks.

I would like to be the fun parent. I'm not.

Don't get me wrong, I used to be fun. Really - crazy fun. In the not-too-distant past, I was the girl who loved acing the AP exam as much as skipping French class to see Al B. Sure at Tower Records (wow....did I really just invoke Al B. Sure in a parenting blog? Times have changed...). I was spontaneous. Crazy. At times, even impulsive (please note the yin-and-yang tattoo inked at 3 in the morning on the Las Vegas strip. Really...that was me. Check the right ankle if you don't believe me!).

This highly unusual balance of crazy and calm defined my youth and in large part formed the foundation of my professional success. I was practical enough to put in the work, but crazy enough to take big bets. Confident enough to go for the brass ring, even when I had no practical right to have it, and smart enough to work my ass off to keep it- and trade up for bigger and better rings along the way.

When I became a parent, something changed.

The AP kid in me remained - meticulously planning and budgeting and reading to ensure that everything was in order for the arrival of our little bundle of joy. I researched public and private school options through age 21 and scouted playgrounds, public parks and playgroups with equal fervor. I didn't want to know the baby's gender before arrival (that just didn't seem fair - there have to be SOME surprises in life, right?), but meticulously stocked up on gender-neutral clothing and play things in spades.

Before kids were even a thought, my husband (then fiance) non-chalantly called "shotgun" and claimed the role of Good Cop. It started with the cat and the trend continues to this day. After the arrival of bundles-o-joy Take 1 and 2, my slow and steady slide to the geek side continued. While my husband built castles out of empty food containers, I put away the groceries. Monster truck battles raged while I prepared meals for the week. He dove head first into the deep, rich world of play created by our children while I watched the clock to ensure that the lunch, nap, snack, dinner, homework, bath, book and bed routine stayed on schedule. He went on shopping sprees to Toys R Us while I balanced the checkbook. Played with the Christmas gifts while I made the lists and checked them twice.

Every now and again, I try to hang up my pocket protector - trade in my scientific calculator for a letter jacket. But more often than not, I find myself relating to the all-too-relatable Liz Lemon in last week's edition of 30 Rock. The cool kids always know...and put you back in your place.

Not unlike Liz, I generally thrive in my role of chief organizer, mess-cleaner-upper, mommy-in-chief. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, right? And while I stare longingly at the manic smiles of 2 little boys rolling on the floor with their dad, I know that in my own way I have fun with them too. I'm the one they snuggle with at the end of the day to read books. I kiss the boo boos (both real and imaginary), stand watch in the night when they are sick, the one who knows the size, shape, color and location of their flavor-of-the-week favorite toy. And, yes, on a regular basis I do play with my kids. Crazy, silly, unstructured play in addition to the nuts and bolts of doctors appointments, speech therapy and clothes shopping.

No, I may not be the fun parent. But I'm a good mom. This week, I'll try to do a little more playing and a little less planning. A bit more laughing and a bit less worrying. A tad more Greek and a lot less Geek.

More BadAss than Mama...

Playing Favorites

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Is it ok for a mother to have a favorite child?

I pondered this question after a discussion (some might call it an argument, but we're not here to air dirty laundry...) in which my husband commented that one of our boys was my favorite. After a string of expletives not fit for publications (on my part, not his), I spent the next few days thinking about his statement. Did I have a favorite child?

When I take a step back and evaluate the statement devoid of emotion, I am proud to say that I don't have a favorite son - while I do favor one or the other on any given day for a variety of different reasons.

I love that Angel is becoming more independent. He can get out of the bed to go to the potty by himself - and put himself back into bed! He can get himself undressed for bath, or take off his pjs while I get Victor dressed in the morning. He can play with his blocks or trains in the basement while I run on the treadmill (I can get 3 miles in!). He can play independently for up to 30 minutes while I cook dinner, finish up emails, fold laundry - whatever. He has a new habit of pro-actively asking me for hugs and declaring at the top of his lungs that he LOVES his mom and dad (and his brother, on occasion). He has an incredible vocabulary and loves telling me stories that begin with "once upon a time" and end with "the end" regardless of length or topic. He loves to sing, dance and will put on a performance at the drop of a hat (he all but did jazz hands during the closing number of his first preschool Halloween pageant). He has an amazing creative, theatrical spirit and he never fails to make me smile (even when I'm laughing at the drama of one of his many temper tantrums).

I love Victor's determination. He is strong and stubborn, but shy and sweet all at the same time. He is the alpha dog in the Torres house, while bursting into spontaneous demands for "HUGS!" at the drop of a hat. He is a tinkerer - he loves to figure out how things work (often by trying to pull them apart and put them back together). We've nicknamed him "Monkey Do" based upon his new habit (similar to those of most second siblings) of mimicking just about everything that his big brother does. I love his red hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. I have NO idea where they came from (thank God he looks like my husband!) and they make me laugh just about every time I look at him. I love how he still rubs his belly while he drinks milk (I can see him doing that as a frat boy with a can of beer, but something tells me it won't be quite as cute). I love how he still likes to snuggle, even though he's nearly as big as the almost 4-year-old at 22 months. I love his raspy little voice. In many ways, he's like a 2-year-old Godfather and that thought alone never fails to make me smile.

I love my children. They are my 2 favorite kids in the entire world. While I like different things about each of them, I do not have a favorite.

Well, that's not necessarily true.

When one is acting like a raving lunatic and the other is smiling angelically, for a moment I may feel more of an affinity to one child over the other. But, since God has an incredible sense of timing and sense of humor, without fail a game of one-up-manship for the title of baddest kid in the house breaks out and they are once again on equal footing in the eyes of mommy.

No favorites, only love.

Just another day in the life of a BadAssMama.

I Quit....again

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Operation Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It is failing. The yelling has returned - full force - for approximately 2 weeks now. True, the yelling zone has been contained in what has most likely been the most difficult 2 weeks of my life to date, but still. They are my children. I am supposed to be patient, and loving, and kind.

At this point, all I am is annoyed.

At bath time, Angel proceeded to throw his 5th tantrum of the day (clearly the preschool-induced-tantrum-hiatus has passed). Victor insisted upon dumping as much water as humanly possibly OUT of the tub. And when I demanded that they stop dousing each other with water so that I could finally bathe them, they both proceeded to throw water at ME.

Then, I started to yell. Then my husband yelled at me to stop yelling because he was tired of all the yelling at bedtime. That's when I shouted the ultimate in passive-aggressive comebacks.

"Oh yeah? Then YOU do it".

I then stormed downstairs. And to make matters worse, the boys are all now upstairs being cooperative and reading nicely with daddy before bed.

I'm going to bed...

Teacher's Pet

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Me: Am I a bad mom?

Angel: No.

Me: I can't push our kids as much as I push myself. It's just not right.

Angel: That's true...

Me: I yell at little Angel too much.

Angel: Well, not to oversimplify, but you just have to be patient.

Me: I'm not patient...

Angel: Maybe that's what he was sent here to teach you.

***

Some say that as a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. I think the all-knowing "they" have got it backward. In their very few years on this Earth, my children have taught me far more than any text book, teacher or training manual I have ever encountered.

They've taught me to respect my body. To revere it as an amazing vessel that can contain and nourish life - rather than simply bemoaning the size of my thighs.

They've taught me that I have limits. While I can push myself through for days without sleep when a child is in the hospital or the project is due by noon - eventually I have to sleep. I can keep pushing myself like I'm a robot, but eventually....every time, I will break down if I don't take care of myself.

They've taught me to marvel at the little things in life. Who knew that sliding a car down a cardboard tube over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again could be so fascinating! Could fill an ENTIRE Sunday afternoon with smiles and laughs and a level of excitement rivaling our exhausting (not to mention expensive) trip to The Magic Kingdom.

They've taught me to love unconditionally. A love that makes me ache and cry, while filling me with such inconceivable joy that I think I might explode.

And they are teaching me patience. I haven't quite learned THAT lesson yet, but they're persistent. They'll beat it into me eventually...

Tradition

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As the holiday season quickly approaches (by the way, where the HELL did this year go, and will there ever be a year that I can actually remember?), I find myself reflecting on family traditions.

I come from a big family. A close-knit family. All of my immediate family (and by "immediate" I include uncles, aunts and 20+ first cousins) on both sides lived within 20 minutes of each other. We saw both my mom's and my dad's family most every holiday - making the drive into San Francisco from the East Bay. Sunday mornings for the majority of my childhood were spent at the Golden Gate Church of Christ Holiness - my grandfather's church - where I was surrounded by most of my 10 aunts and uncles and their families most every weekend.

As the years went by and the family grew, our holiday celebrations expanded beyond the scope of a single family home. We had Thanksgiving in the rec room of an aunt's apartment, community center, banquet hall. As the children's children grew older and had families of their own, holiday gatherings began to contract a bit - back to a size that could comfortably (albeit crowded-ly) fit into the living room/dining room/kitchen of one of the larger homes amongst the brood.

Big or not-so-big, in good times and in bad, holidays always meant family.

Now that I have a family of my own, I want to continue the tradition of holidays and family. Sometimes it means a trip to California to visit Nanni and Poppi. Others, it's a quiet meal with Titi Camille. Sometimes it's a trip to Puerto Rico to sit with 'Buelo and 'Buela, or a drive to Brooklyn to celebrate with various aunts and cousins.

While the celebrations may be different that the ones I grew up with, it's important to me that my children appreciate the holidays not only for presents and parties, but as a time to reconnect with the ones we love.

While we're still in the process of finalizing our holiday plans this year (drive into Brooklyn? stay on the island? Decisions, decisions...), I am happy to report that, in a quiet and unexpected sort of way, we've established a new Torres family tradition that is uniquely our own.

Applebees.

About a year ago, an Appelebees opened in the strip mall up the street. Since the kids were born, I've learned to appreciate a family dining experience with ambient noise and big screen TVs as much as a fancy dinner at the latest Manhattan hot spot (OK - even moreso given that my meals involve chicken nuggets and french fries much more than Opus One and filet mignon these days...).

By Friday night, my husband and I were always wrecked. I was in no mood to cook dinner, so a-restaurant-hopping-we-would-go. When Applebees came to town, it was like heaven! It was convenient, there were plenty of menu options for the grown ups (including a full bar - hey!), they served the 5 things that my kids will actually eat and we could go out for dinner and still have the kids in bed by 8 o'clock. It was perfect!

We went a few times, and before we knew it Applebees became our Friday family tradition. We arrive like clockwork. The managers know us by name. The hostess seats us by the windows so we can watch the commuter trains go by, while still having a view of the big screen over the bar. The wait staff asks about us if we miss a week. A waitress actually commented that she saw me on my morning runs (when I was training for the San Diego marathon back in June), and it inspired her to get back to the gym.

Our friends and neighbors know the routine as well. At least once a month, other friends with their kids join the Friday night routine. My kids look forward to it as well. On Friday mornings, I announce that we'll be going to Applebees for dinner and without fail they cheer with glee. They know the route by heart, and often get upset if we drive in that direction and do NOT stop for dinner. In a funny twist, on the way to the library last Saturday morning, Angel cried out from his car seat that he wasn't hungry. We were confused, until we realized that he saw the Applebees sign and assumed that was where we were going....

Family traditions. They don't have to come with a pretty bow, elaborate plans or pageantry. They just have to represent a pause in the everyday hustle to come together as a family in a way that is comforting as well as comfortable.

I can't wait to make some new traditions with my munchkins this holiday season...

Bad Mommy - Numero Tres

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I often find my kids annoying.

Let me explain.

When Angel was first born, even after the drama of pre-eclampsia, pre-mature birth and 35 days in the NICU, I remained under the illusion that this tiny little being was going to fit neatly into my pre-baby life. I had a schedule (based upon extensive research in books from authors with pen names like The Baby Whisperer and Sleep Genius - if the Sleep Genius said it, it MUST be true!). I would successfully get the baby on a regimented activity schedule, including feeding, playtime and sleep within the first 4 weeks of life. By week 6, he would sleep through the night and I could begin the hard work of regaining my girlish figure by miraculously losing 65+ pounds in the 6 remaining weeks of my maternity leave so that I could return to work looking and behaving as if nothing ever happened.

Yeah, right.

Even after the 18 months of hourly feeding and GERD-induced mania began to fade into distant memory, I was still under the illusion that I could fit this child into my life. On the weekends, I found myself watching the clock - itching for nap time to arrive so that I could actually get something done. There were bills to be paid, floors to mop, dinners to prepare, work to be done. I had a schedule and THIS kid was getting in the way.

Thankfully, somewhere along the way I realized that this kid WAS my life. As the Bible speaks of putting away childish ways when we are grown, the cloak of motherhood became more closely fitted to my form and I realized that THIS kid was MY kid, and this kid was my life. My old life had passed away and while I needed a moment to mourn and reflect, life anew was more fulfilling, more incredible, more amazing (all-the-while being at times more depressing, more challenging and more exhausting) than I could have ever imagined. I couldn't fit him into my life, my life evolved to fit him. He changed me and my priorities - and while the change was gradual, it was as indelible as the lingering scent of a Sharpie.

Fast forward to baby #2. I learned my lesson from the first-go-round. I assumed that little Vic would wake every 90 minutes to feed for the first 18 months of life (we got lucky - he only stuck it out for 10...). I learned to get through the busy-ness of life during the off-hours: balancing checkbooks, folding clothes and grocery shopping on Fridays spent working from home (in addition to the seemingly never-ending-to-do-list from an already all-encompassing day job) and in the hours between 9pm and midnight. While I rarely saw more than 5 hours of sleep, (for a good stretch of time, I subsisted on an average of 90 minutes per night. Apologies to anyone that I may have mowed down during my morning rush to the train or drooled on as I fell asleep in status meetings), there was a silver lining in that the time I spent with my children was actually spent WITH them and not waiting for them to fall asleep so that I could get back to MY life.

Now, the boys are getting older. Victor will be 2 in January. Angel turns 4 three weeks later. We have a steady bedtime routine and they typically sleep tight from roughly 8:30 pm until 6 or so in the morning...sometimes as late as 6:45 (glory!). While I still burn the midnight oil on a regular basis to manage all the busy-ness of life (it's 12:32am as I write this), I regularly allow myself a few full nights of sleep each week (dark circles are NOT the new black). And while I still prefer to keep the with-child errands to a minimum, I have no problem running into Target or BJs with the family in tow on the weekend.

This week, however, I found myself seeing my kids as a distraction once again.

After a challenging 2 weeks (to say the least!), I looked forward to a completely meeting-free Friday to balance my checkbook, take a long run and FINALLY complete the 4 big work projects that had been lingering for more time than I care to remember or admit. On Thursday night, both kids went to bed relatively on schedule and while Angel seemed a bit congested, nothing seemed to be terribly out-of-order.

In the morning, both kids slept until roughly 6:30 (the first sign of trouble). While Victor was his normal-chipper-self, Angel was dragging a bit. Slightly more dramatic than his standard morning adagio. His congestion was heavier, cough slightly disturbing. The kicker was when he announced with a moan that he did NOT want to go to "big boy school" , (the place that he PINES for each weekend and rises with the sun to arrive on time 3 days per week), because he was sick.

Ugh.

There goes my schedule.

Fast forward - I call the preschool to let them know that Angel won't be in class today because he's not feeling well. The director lets me know that there have been 3 cases of strep throat at the school this week.

Double ugh.

While he doesn't have a fever and is sluggish but relatively playful, I can't run the risk that he has strep throat and miss the opportunity to get some antibiotics into his system before the weekend. We head to the pediatrician, the test strip turns pink and it's off-to-Walgreens-we-go.

I looked at my watch. It was 11:15. My plan was to knock out reviews between 9 and 11:45 (while Angel was at preschool) so that I could dedicate the rest of the afternoon to banging out my 3 presentations. All of which are due next week...and have been lingering for longer than I care to remember or admit. Then I started to get agitated. How quickly can I get home to put this kid to bed so I can get to the business of busy-ness?

Bad Mommy.

The difference, 4 years later, is that mercifully I was able to catch myself and hit the pause button. Rather than rushing home and sweeping him into bed, (likely accompanied by yelling, screaming and whining - from both mommy and son), we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up the prescription and went to have pizza. It was 11:30, he was hungry and we both needed a change of scenery. We ordered 2 slices, an apple juice and a Diet Dr. Pepper. We sat at a table where he could watch the pizza man flip the dough and I had an actual conversation with my almost-4 year old. I watched him methodically examine his pizza and carefully take the first bite. Too hot. He took a sip of his apple juice and turned to give me a toothy grin. I smiled back, put my arm around him and we lingered this way for a while.

Lest the moment become too idyllic, the high school lunch crowd chose that very second to burst into the narrow-hallway-of-a-pizza joint. Rather than scurry out the door, we lingered in the din. My boy watching the big kids laugh and eat and play. His mother realizing that all-too-soon he would be amid the crowd. The tiny baby was already a distant memory. High school, it seemed, would be here in the blink of an eye.

After the first slice (oh, you thought one of the slices was for ME? Have you seen my kids eat?), Angel decided that his tummy hurt from the medicine and that he would like to take a nap. I said "OK" and guided him through the traffic, out the door, while he held the pizza box like a big boy. After a few fits-and-starts, naptime went down smoothly. While my big boy dozed I wrote reviews, banged out 2 presentations and polished off the third between the hours of 9pm and midnight....just like the "good" old days.

For a moment, I looked at my son as a distraction today. His illness an annoyance. Thankfully, my 4 puny years of experience as a mom were enough to give me pause and recognize the day for what it really was.

A blessing.

An unexpected chance to spend the day with my boy.

A beautiful day in the life of a BadAssMama.

When I Grow Up

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My kids are funny. I have to start writing down the stuff that they say. Every week there's a new zinger.

I've already forgotten some great ones from earlier in the week. Yesterday, a simply awesome scene played out in front of the day care as I strapped Victor into his car seat. It went a little something like this:

ANGEL: "Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to eat salad..."

Mommy: "O....K....."

Before and After

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Benign.

Kind of an odd word, isn't it? It isn't pronounced the way it's spelled. I think the teachers called those "imposter" words when we were kids.

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary cites the following definition:

1) of a gentle disposition
2) showing kindness and gentleness
3) favorable, wholesome
4) of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life
5) not of significant effect.

This week was anything but benign.

On Monday, I received a phone call from NYU that there was a suspicious finding on my routine breast MRI. On Tuesday, our amazing cousin Tony passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer. On Wednesday, I had a core biopsy of my left breast to determine the status of the 4mm growth evidenced on the MRI. On Friday, while gathered with the family after Tony's funeral, I received a call from my surgeon with the results.

Benign.

My life is the very antithesis of benign. You could describe it as hectic. Chaotic. At times, on the verge of insane. While I don't necessarily enjoy the breakneck pace, I'd like to believe that I've learned to thrive in the midst of the lunacy.

Not this week.

I did not want to write this post tonight. I wanted to forget that this week ever happened. Instead of getting right to it after the boys went to bed, as is my usual custom, I did some online Christmas shopping, balanced my checkbook, set up my clothes and lunch for work tomorrow, called my mother, cleaned the kitchen. Anything to avoid reflecting on what may have been one of the worst weeks of my life.

That's not true.

This was THE worst week of my life.

When your children are sick, you become Superwoman. You stay up all night - watching, soothing, supervising medications and procedures. Anything that needs to be done to ensure that your child will be OK. When it's all over, then you can cry because only then do you know that they are safe.

When it was my own life potentially at stake, I became frozen. I didn't know how to process what was happening to me. I went to the biopsy on Wednesday morning, then rushed home to prepare for the rest of the week. By the time I finished my errands, it was time to pick up the boys from daycare and begin the dinner, bath, books, bedtime routine. By the time we were done, I collapsed out of sheer exhaustion - never taking a moment to process the events of the day.

On Thursday, I jumped on the 7:32am train like any other morning - ready to face the standard back-to-back-to-back routine. Except, unlike any other day, when I got to work I could not stop crying. A dear friend asked how I was doing as I walked into the office and I literally crumpled into a blubbering mess on the floor. I made it through my 9 and 10am meetings tear-free, but by the time the 11am weekly rolled around I was nearly inconsolable. I made it through without crying, but with no trace of a poker face. When I once again broke down into uncontrollable tears in the ladies room, I knew that I had to leave.

I called my husband and told him that I needed time to process. He asked me what I needed to make it through.

I didn't know.

I've never taken the time to think through what I NEED. FOR ME. Not for my kids, or my husband, or my family, or my friends, or my job. Not what I think I'm supposed to be or to feel, but how I actually am.

I left the office and allowed myself to feel. I sat on the train and wept. I crawled into the bed and ate Honey Smacks (didn't they used to call those things Sugar Smacks? Really??) I stared at the ceiling. I didn't try to move on or apologize for my behavior. I simply allowed myself to be. Even after the blessed phone call from Dr. Bernik on Friday afternoon, I remained in this same space throughout the weekend. Taking a step back to truly absorb my emotions - whatever they might be.

It is just after midnight, nearly a week since this roller coaster ride began. I'm not here to tell you that I'm a changed woman - that I know my priorities and commit to live my life to the fullest. But I am here to say that life is different on this side of "After". I can say that I no longer feel the need to do things simply because I'm "supposed" to. Life is too short for that. Today, I commit to take better care of myself in addition to the care I give to my family. To allow myself to feel and to be, not simply to get through the day. Check off the to do list. While my diagnosis was benign, I still have a highly elevated risk of developing breast cancer before age 50. I have a lot of questions to ask my doctor. A few more decisions to make.

But this time - my decisions will be just as much for ME as they are for my family.

A very long week in the life of a BadAssMama.

Human

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Moms don't get sick.

Moms don't need sleep.

Moms don't need free time.

Moms don't need "me" time.

Moms are Superwomen.

Bullshit.

As much as many of us would like to pretend that we are indestructible, moms are just as beautifully, painfully, meaningfully human as the next gal. We put ourselves last because, for the most part, we feel like that's our job. We have to make sure that the kids are fed, cleaned, clothed, entertained, educated, vaccinated. THEN we have to take care of the laundry, and the bills, and the birthday presents, and the grocery shopping, and the play dates. THEN we have to take care of our "day job". THEN we have to pay some amount of attention to our significant others.

And if there's anything left between 2am and 4am, we might give it to ourselves.

This is why so many mothers are run down, worn out, just plain sick-and-tired.

I received several reminders this week that life is painfully short. On my commute home, I re-read "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" by Anna Quindlen. It is a truly amazing book - I highly recommend it. This, and her brilliant piece "Being Perfect" are two of my guideposts to life. One quote stood out as if under piercing bright lights today: "It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking."

Tick tock.