Life is Good

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It is 6:45am on New Year's Eve. There is a tiny lunatic in my bed watching Monster Jam. All is right with the world...

Revolution

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You are as important as your children.

Or your job.

Or your spouse/partner/significant other.

Or your to do list.

BAM!

There it is, in black and white.

I don't know about you, but for longer than I care to recall I have put everyone and everything above myself. I wasn't always this way. For the majority of my teenaged-years-into-young-and-not-so-young-adulthood I had no issues whatsoever putting myself first. Sure, I may have had a nurturing personality, but before I hit my 30's I somehow found a way to take care of everyone else AND take care of me.

Then I became a mother.

Suddenly, putting myself on the to-do list seemed like a luxury. Selfishness. Idolatry. Blasphemy. Your kids are the center of the universe! Your kids must come first! Followed by a clean house, empty email inbox and every-once-in-a-blue-moon a happy husband.

Bullshit.

In 2011, The BadAssMama is back on the map. I am as important as my children, or my laundry, or my career or my dirty dishes. More important, actually, because if I pass out from sheer exhaustion who the hell is going to take care of all of the above??

So, here's the plan. This is the year to get back to me. I will love and cherish my children and husband - caring for them as only The BadAssMama can. BUT (and that's a big but), I will no longer do so at the expense of my well being. I will not stay up until midnight most every night of the week trying to do it all and have it all. I will learn to be happy with less. I refuse to continue to try to be all things to all people, to answer every email within 24 hours and maintain the false veneer of perfection.

I'm tired.

In 2011, I will take each day as it comes and live it peacefully. I will serve from my saucer rather than my cup, and above all if it does not provide for my family or make me happy I will say NO.

No thank you, but still no.

A revolutionary resolution. A new day (on the eve of a new year) in the life of a BadAssMama.

Nature vs. Nurture

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What is it with little boys and guns?

I am not big on violence. Not an earth-shattering pronouncement by a long shot (although nowadays, you never know!). I've never been a fan of violent movies or television programing, and am relatively strict when it comes to the content I allow my boys to consume. While we will watch the occasional Megamind or Descpicable Me, we have yet to enter the world of the true, hard core superhero and superhero-type levels of violence. My husband and I weed out any toys with guns or obvious weapons as accessories.

So why does my almost-four-year-old turn everything into a gun?

I've noticed the signs. The "pyoom pyoom" sounds when he plays pretend with his little brother or the crew from daycare. The on-going requests to select the car with the big gun in the Hot Wheels video game. Yesterday, as I went into his room to demand that he just-go-to-sleep-for-goodness-sake, I encountered the classic thumb and index finger pose followed by the tell-tale sound effects. When I asked what he was doing, he replied that he thought I was a monster.

Apparently monsters are to be shot on sight.

I don't know if it's a matter of preschool playground dynamics (the other little boys play with guns and superheroes, so maybe Angel is just learning by osmosis?) or if there is something deeper going on here. I heard once in a research presentation that by-and-large little girls engage in nurturing, cooperative play by default, while little boys gravitate towards death and destruction. Cheerful thought for an anal-retentive mother of two boys...

So, The BadAssMama stands before you perplexed. Am I fighting a losing battle? Do I continue to fight the good fight, or go with the flow? Should I insist that there be no gun play in our home, or simply institute the rule that if you must shoot, aim only for the feet?

Trying to keep the peace. Just another day in the life of a BadAssMama...

Christmas Blessings

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It's that time of year again. As the clock ticks down to Christmas morning, I've taken some time to reflect on the miracles in my life and how this Christmas is destined to be the best one yet.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the tiny miracles in a mother's life - made all the more special under the glow of the Christmas tree:

- little toes in ankle socks, with feet crossed at the ankle

- the first time you hear the word Mommy and realize that they mean you

- baby toes

- nap time

- the squealing-like-a-pig sound that toddlers make while laughing uncontrollably

- the first time your baby sleeps through the night

- the time out chair

- the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment when your kids play together quietly for 30 minutes on a Saturday morning while you lay in bed

- making your kids say crazy things because they don't know any better

- listening to your two little boys bicker like old men at the breakfast table

- receiving a sincere apology from an almost-four-year- old

- dancing furiously to Billy Idol with a baby in your arms

- watching sappy kids movies and actually enjoying them

- experiencing pure, unconditional, life- changing love


Merry Christmas - Love, The BadAssMama

Superwoman

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In a conversation just the other day, I told my husband that I thought one of the reasons he fell in love with me was because I was so strong, and now that we've been together for almost 10 years, he's seen that I'm really pretty broken. Without skipping a beat, he said that he'd stopped believing that Superewoman hype a long time ago...and that he loved me anyway.

First of all, how awesome is he??!! The BadAssMama is truly a lucky girl. I know that many plastic trophies, anniversary and Father's Day cards may beg to differ, but today I am convinced that I have the best husband in the world.

In addition to confirming his be-awesomeness, Angel's statement lead me to a much deeper question: If he could look beyond the myth of the Superwoman and love me for who I am (warts and all), why can't I?

For many years, like many women, I struggled with what my girlfriends and I defined as "imposter syndrome." From as early as I can remember, I worked my ass off to ensure that I was the absolute best at whatever I chose to do. Whether it was school or career-related, I burned the candle at both ends to make sure that my work was impeccable - to prove that I deserved the degree/title/seat at the table. To ensure that the higher ups wouldn't wake up one day and realize that I was a fraud.

It took years, but I've finally overcome the whole imposter thing in my career. I've worked hard, earned my stripes and can honestly say that I am great at what I do. More importantly, I've learned that when it comes to business, no one really knows what the hell they are doing anyway. Those who succeed do so by honing their craft, knowing what they know as well as what they don't know, surrounding themselves with good people and trusting their gut. When they guess wrong (as will happen at some point), the key to being a great business leader is to acknowledge your mistake, take ownership to address the issue then move on. If you dwell on yesterday's mistakes, you'll undoubtedly screw something up tomorrow because your head's just not in the game.

Then I became a mom.

When I explained my business philosophy to someone, they told me that it seemed like a great approach to parenthood as well (especially since I firmly believe that no one really knows what the hell they are doing on that front either). When she asked why I couldn't be as kind to
myself as a parent as I am as a businesswoman, my response was simple and immediate.

Because there's too much at stake.

I don't want to be the perfect mom so that people can marvel at my accomplishment and beg for my advice. I want to be perfect because my kids deserve perfection. Because there is too much at stake for me to screw this up.

Unfortunately, I am only human. My children are destined for therapy as I've likely twisted their tender little souls to the brink before the first day of kindergarten.

But I love them, and I'm doing the very best that I can.

All I can do is to pray that this is enough.

Fear

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The world can be a scary place.

Bad things happen. Sometimes to good people. Even when you've followed the rules and played it safe. Bullies and boo boos, accidents and crime, illness and even death. All very grown up stuff and, unfortunately, all stuff that your kids will most likely one day have to face.

As parents, I believe that our job is to shelter and protect our kids from these grown up things for as long as possible. But what do you do when the topic cannot be avoided?

I used to be a believer in putting on a happy face. Telling my kids that something was in mommy's eye when I was crying; covering sadness or fear with laughter. While I still believe that less is more when it comes to communicating grown up emotions and grown up situations to very young kids, I'm learning that they pick up more than you would think.

This is especially true with my big boy. Angel is an amazingly emotionally intelligent child (clearly he doesn't use it all the time, but it's there...). When someone is sad, something is wrong or things are just off he knows. He can't communicate the feelings directly (it mainly comes across in whining), but he knows. So, I'm learning to communicate some of the grown up things of the world to him in language that he can understand.

Everyone will go through scary times in life. Even kids. As parents, we can best help them navigate these dark waters by learning to read their signals, listening when they're ready to talk and explaining even the scary things to them honestly - in language that they can understand.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the acknowledgement of fear - and bravery to press on anyway.

Don't keep your kids in a bubble. The world is a tough place. Give them the tools to prepare for it.

Let's get ready to rumble!!!!!

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It's that time again. Nap time on a Sunday. The time I used to relish as an opportunity to read the newspaper, squeeze in a run when the sun was actually up or (heaven forbid!) take a little nap myself.

Good times.

Well, at least they used to be. Just in time for the 2 week Christmas break from preschool and daycare (a.k.a. the two things in life that keep the BadAssMama sane), the big boy has decided, once again, that nap time is for punks.

And it is apparently his mission in life to prove to mommy and daddy that he is no punk.

Yesterday it was a two-and-a-half-hour slug fest. The rumble in the jungle, Wrestlemania and UFC grand championship combined. He screamed. He sang. He laughed. He cried. He rolled around in the bed. He kicked the walls. He threw his toys. He did just about everything BUT close his eyes from 1-3:30 in the afternoon. (Funny enough, while he refuses to nap during nap time, it has yet to dawn on him that he is alone, in his room, in the midst of all his stuff. I may not have the Cesar Milan calm-dominant thing down enough to actually get my child to sleep, but at least he knows better than to start playing with toys. Small victory, but I'll take what I can get!)

The baby sleeps. While he may get a bit cranky and fight for a few minutes, given a bottle (ah, the crutch that is the Born Free "sippy cup") and a few laps around the house in the stroller, Victor is down for the count. But Angel is a fighter.

Boy, is he a fighter...

I really thought that we had the nap thing down. But, all good things must come to an end, or more appropriately, as with everything related to kids (well, at least my kids), progress is not a straight line phenomenon. It is a circular process. One step forward, two steps back and all that jazz. Or, more realistically, kids are not robots. Routine is important. Habits can be learned, but life intervenes. Growth spurts, changes at school, mommy or daddy home a bit more or less than usual, holiday hustle and bustle; all these things can throw a kid off their game, and consequently knock the nap time ritual off course.

It is 1:25. The screaming has stopped but I just heard someone run down the hall upstairs. MIght have been Angel. Might have been my husband. Not sure. Not trying to find out either (if someone is bleeding, the screams will come eventually).What I do know for sure is that Victor is finally sleeping.

And one out of two ain't bad...

Renewal

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It's official. The BadAssMama needs a makeover.

Now, don't get me wrong. Even with two kids under the age of four, I can still hold my own on most days (although the last eight-or-so pesky "baby pounds" are still stuck to my thighs like white on rice and mega dark circles have taken up permanent residence under my baby browns...). My attitude, however, could use some major work.

It hit me today. I've been taking a bit of time off of work and realized that rather than enjoying the slower pace, I'm feeling kind of lost. I've worn sweatpants three of the past four days because, other than my work clothes, my wardrobe is comprised of stuff from which vomit can easily be removed. And, trust, with my genetic blessings in the lower body department, sweats are not a good look. Being the crazy-type-A mama that I am, I slammed through my holiday and household to do list in three days flat and now find myself with big honking stretches of time to just think. To reflect upon my life and the life I'm setting up for my family.

I gotta tell you, I don't like what I see.

I have spent so much of my life defining myself by my work. Getting to the next level, closing the next deal, winning the next award. I think it was so easy to focus on the work part of my life because the rules are relatively straightforward. Not easy, but pretty direct. Get the right grades to get into the right school to get the right degree and get the right job. Work your ass off to prove yourself to get the next promotion (and the next, and the next) and finally get some recognition for your hard work. The payoff is neither guaranteed nor automatic, but the rules are relatively uniform for everyone involved.

Then I became a mom, and my world turned upside down. The rules of the road that lead to success in my career mean jack when it comes to my kids. Parenting books and magazines, for the most part, do little more than piss me off. With pie-in-the-sky titles like, "Taming Your Toddler in 3 Easy Steps" or "Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night TONIGHT", most parenting experts seem like snake oil salesmen to me.

Which brings me back to my need for a makeover. For the past 2 weeks, I've had the opportunity to slow down and focus on my family. Instead of enjoying the extra time with my kids, I find myself yelling even more than usual and rushing to get everything done even when there is literally NOTHING to get done.

The BadAssMama has lost her way.

I spend so much time cleaning up after everyone (either for the toddlers at home or the folks who sometimes resemble toddlers at work) that Jill has become a dull girl. I can't remember the last time I did something simply because it made me happy.

So, I have a new challenge. For the next 6 weeks, I am going to do at least one thing a day purely because it makes me happy. It can contribute to the good of my family, but it cannot be an everyday necessity (e.g., making dinner or doctor appointments). The BadAssMama needs a little Christmas spirit, right this very moment.

It's time to bring the happy back...

Poop

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I have to bribe my son with Zhu Zhu Pets to get him to go poop.

No, you don't need to get your reading glasses. You're reading that sentence correctly. And, yes, it does sound crazy and will likely result in an extensive amount of therapy for either me, my almost-four-year-old or both of us...haven't figured that part out yet.

Now, for any non-parents who read this blog (surely for my blinding insight, sharp-edged wit and stunning good looks...), I have to break something to you. Being a parent can be gross at times - ok, most of the time. Disgusting, actually. Just nasty. Bodily functions and fluids become the stuff of daily conversation, observation and removal from either yourself, a child, a complete stranger, an expensive piece of clothing, furniture or all of the above.

So, with the rookie disclaimer out of the way - back to my story of poop. After we exited the diaper phase, the big boy became a withholder of poop. He got the pee-in-the-potty thing down pretty quickly, but when it came to poop he wasn't having it. First he only wanted to go in the diaper. Quickly, that transitioned to refusing to poop - at all. For days at a time. After countless discussions with the pediatrician, pleading and wringing of hands, we entered a peaceful poop phase. But quickly, the truce ended and the battled raged on.

Recently, Angel decided that he didn't want to poop for four days in a row. By the time he rounded the bases on day four, it was not a pretty sight. I won't burden you with the details, let's just say that things got so hectic I seriously weighed the option of rushing him to the emergency room.

So I resorted to bribery.

I'm not proud of it. It's probably the exact opposite of what I was supposed to do, but I couldn't take seeing my child in pain any longer.

And I was sick of all the screaming...

A combination of holiday advertising and preschool chatter has resulted in a new obsession with what Angel calls the "fighting hamsters" or what I like to call pure marketing genius (take a Hong Kong open market toy, find a retailer to market the hell out of it and print your own money). Prior to the near emergency room incident, I had absolutely no intention of ever buying my son a Zhu Zhu pet. Then I needed ammunition, so I went for it. I told Angel that every time he made poop, I would give him a fighting hamster.

After he finally acquiesed (avoiding the emergency room dash), my husband and I showered him with praise, tucked him into bed and I ran off to the local Toys R Us.

At 9:45pm.

The next morning, my son woke with the sun and I showed him his new prize. He was ecstatic and shockingly surprised (do I really make THAT many promises and not pull through?). I reminded him that every time he made poop, I would give him a new hamster.

This is day 5. We have gone from tears and screaming and pleading to Angel actually volunteering to make poop. By the end of the week, I think we'll be able to back off of the bribery and transition to a new normal.

Or I will buy stock in the company that makes these damned things and try to make lemonade out of lemons.

Confessions of a BadAssMama

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Sometimes I like being a mother in theory more than reality.

Let me explain...

For the majority of my life, when I imagined my future I did not see a husband or kids in the picture. And I wasn't sad about it. I was an aggressively ambitious kid-into-young-and-not-so-young adulthood, and when I imagined my happy ending it included a corner office, penthouse suite and very expensive shoes. A lot of them...

Fast forward to 1999. I meet the man of my dreams and he goes and RUINS the single girl part of my vision. Handily. Neatly. Quickly. Well, not so quickly. After so many years imagining a future happily single, it took a bit of time to settle into the whole idea of 'til death do us part-hood. But, slowly but surely, I fell in love and marriage with children seemed like the natural next step.

When my children were born, I fell in love all over again - an almost scary, sacred, overwhelming type of love that I never imagined was possible. Through the sleepless nights and health scares, tantrums and triumphs my tiny assassins made my world complete. We were a family, and I was happy.

And I still am.

Except when I'm not.

Sometimes, I just want to be alone. COMPLETELY alone. No husband, no kids, no relatives, no girlfriends, no neighbors. I crave the companionship of me, myself and I - in a quiet room, in a clean house, sitting on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate or a good glass of wine doing absolutely NOTHING. And loving every minute of it.

Don't get me wrong, I love my family and would not ever want to live in a world without them. But sometimes, just for a few hours, I'd like to take a break from my life. To be still, quiet and alone. To do nothing, think about nothing, plan for nothing and prepare for nothing. To worry about no one but myself and be responsible for nothing whatsoever.

Sometimes, I need a vacation from being a mom...

That is my confession. Not pretty, but always real.

Yours truly - The BadAssMama