Don't leave, mommy!

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"Mommy, sometimes it makes me sad when you go to work."

Ugh. Well, I knew this day would come eventually.

The day started off like any other Monday. My husband works from home twice a week, to catch up on paperwork and to shuttle Angel among preschool, daycare and speech therapy (mommy drives the kid-taxi on Fridays). With the hubs holding down the fort on Monday mornings,  I can actually start my week significantly less frazzled than in the past (who would have thought that speech therapy would be such a blessing? Mainly for my kid, but a clear bonus for mommy's sanity as well!).

I began the day with an early morning run, followed by breakfast and a little silly time with Victor-Roo-Roo. After a full weekend with no naps (more on that later in the week!), Angel was wiped and stayed in bed until close to 7:15 (a miracle at BadAssMama Central). My goal was to make the 7:32 train, but Angel woke up just as I was making my way down the stairs to head out the door. I didn't want to start my week without seeing the big boy, so I decided to push to the 7:50 train. We had a promising start. Angel woke up dry, was unusually un-whiny and gave me a big hug. When I asked him to be a big boy and take off his pajamas so we could get dressed for school, we headed down the slippery slope to cranky town.

The downward spiral went a little something like this:

Shoulda, coulda, woulda...

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I am officially outlawing the word "should." It's the new four letter word.

OK, technically it has 6 letters, but you get the picture.

So much of the guilt and fret and worry and general ennui of motherhood is contained in that little-but-oh-so-powerful word. It represents all of our shortcomings, all of the things that the "good moms" out there do that we can't seem to get around to, or even wrap our heads around.

  • I should be more patient
  • I should spend more time at home
  • I should do more arts and crafts
  • I should do more educational games
  • I should let my kids watch less TV
  • I should teach my kids a foreign language before age 3
  • I should be more like Mary Poppins
  • I should be more like Martha Stewart
Shoulda, woulda, coulda...bullshit-a.

When we allow ourselves to fall into the "should" trap, we are defining ourselves  by someone else's rules, rather than living life on our own terms. Who says we should enjoy playing endless games of Chutes and Ladders or dressing up like firemen every Saturday afternoon? Only YOU know what's best for your family, your kids, your unique situation. Trust that your best is good enough, and send all the shoulda, woulda, coulda language packing.

I am The BadAssMama, and from this day forward I pledge to live my life on my own terms.

I suggest you do the same...your family will thank you for it. 

You've GOT to be kidding me...

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I just need a break.

Not a major vacation. Not a trip around the world. Just one day. One easy day, without any drama or teething or tantrums or politics or pediatrician appointments or trips to the emergency room or children's Motrin or poop or pee or spit or Disney movies or Long Island Railroad or snow or never-ending-seemingly-pointless-meetings or catastrophes.

I just need one easy day.

My children don't sleep. Ever. Well, at least not consistently. One likes to drag out the bedtime routine from 8pm to anywhere between 9 and 11:30. The other likes to wake up between the hours of 4:30 and 5am. A 6:15am wake up call is considered a good day at BadAssMama Central.

And now my four year old has taken up spit as a new hobby. 

Not spitting at people, just spit in general. He likes to hold water, juice or just spit in his mouth and swoosh it around. Squeeze it in his cheeks with both hands to see how it feels. And tonight, just to make things interesting, after fighting sleep from 7:45 until 9:15pm, my husband finally goes up to check on him. When he comes down, he has a curious look on his face. I ask, "What's up?", to which he replies that Angel "smells." He then asks me to just go upstairs and check it out - to try to put him back to bed non-violently and see what I think the smell is. As soon as I open the door, it hits me like a ton of bricks. 

It's spit.

It's on his shirt, his pants, his sheets, his blanket, his stuffed elephant, soaked through to the mattress cover. I can't begin to imagine just how much spit you have to store up to cover that many surfaces so thickly that the smell envelops you as soon as you enter the room. 

Quite frankly, I don't want to know.

All I know is that it is 9:33pm on a Monday evening. I have to wake up by 5am to get on the 7:32am into Penn Station, and we've just had to bathe a four year old covered in spit.

Someone please shoot me. 

I Suck

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Have you ever had one of those days where you feel completely overwhelmed and woefully under-qualified to be a parent?

Well, I'm having one of those days.

It was not a particularly remarkable day. True, it is day-two-of-a-three-day-weekend and my children always seem to open up a special can of whoop-ass for mommy and daddy on day-two-of-a-three-day-weekend. But, remarkably, I approached the holiday with an uncharacteristic amount of calm. Rather than setting myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations of arts and crafts or family sing-a-longs, I decided to go with the flow. I actually gave no thought whatsoever to what we might do over the weekend.

We enjoyed an impromptu kid-friendly-pre-birthday-party with a dear friend and several other families with kids in the preschool set on Saturday. Sunday started off well enough. We managed to let Hurricane Victor cry it out until 6:15, then began the day slowly. After church, we jumped in the car for an impromptu trip to one of the many museums in the city. After hitting the fifth full parking garage, it dawned on us. It is a holiday weekend.

Shit.

Ever optimistic, we soldiered on. After finding a parking lot, we made our way down the block to the museum only to face a wall of people upon entrance.

Double shit.

Long story short, the entire day was alternatively too bright or too loud (my children included). I felt powerless to improve the situation, and found myself yelling at more than playing with or heaven-forbid educating my kids.


We wear the mask

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Do you ever feel like you have to wear a mask just to make it through the day? Something to cover the frustration, fear, exhaustion and general world-weariness that can be written all over your face?

Bobbi Brown is my camouflage of choice. 

I try not to discuss my sleepless nights (either child or insomnia-related) at work. While I do share mommy-tales with a select few, most are under the preposterous assumption that I have it all together. That my life is supremely well-balanced, and both I and my children are well rested. 

Nope - I just have good concealer. 

The secret is to mix two colors. My killer combo? Bobbi Brown Dark Bisque topped off with a hint of Caramel. The lighter base masks the black-blue pools under my baby browns, and the Caramel helps it to blend in with the rest of my face. 

When I've had a particularly rough night with the kids, or am feeling overly anxious/doubtful/generally-less-than-badass, I know it's time to pull out all the stops. Rather than simply covering my bags and rushing out the door with a sweep of lip gloss and mascara, I apply the full war paint: tinted moisturizer, eyeshadow (with contouring!), creme blush and illuminator to draw attention away from my furrowed brow and toward my cheekbones. If I'm in a real funk, I'll pull out a kick ass power suit and my pink patent leather pumps. With my full suit of armor and war paint properly applied, I feel a bit more invincible.

Or at least I look the part.

Some days, looking the part is the best you can do. Fake it 'til you make it, I say. And if you can't get past the frustration, fear, exhaustion and general world-weariness of life as a working mom, you can at least look like you're above it all.

After the day I've had, I have a feeling that I will look particularly fierce tomorrow...

Sweet Dreams

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The bath/books/bed routine can be pretty hectic here at BadAssMama Central. Well, at least the "bed" part.

Let me explain.

The hubs and I pretty much have the bedtime prep work down to a science. If we're both at home, one will bathe the boys while the other dries, lotions, pampers (or pull ups) and pajamas them, followed by a thorough brushing of the teeth. (Random aside - Did I ever mention that little kid teeth scare the crap out of me? They are tiny and all the same size, like a little monster. I scream like a little girl if my kids open their mouths anywhere near my legs or face. Scary...). If one of us is flying solo due to a late work night or rare night-out-with-friends, we leave one kid to play while we bathe/dry/lotion/pamper or pull up/brush the other, then switch.

After everyone is clean, we read anywhere from 1-6 books (depending on what time it is and how smoothly the night is going) before kisses, hugs and lights out. Victor is easy. Once he's tired, you can pretty much rub his back 3 times and walk out the door. Angel, however, is a process.

I'm not quite sure when this happened. In the 18-36 month range, a few good back rubs and he was down for the night. (I really hope that doesn't mean that Victor will relapse too...). Now, bedtime is a battleground. First he wants you to rub his back FOREVER. Then he says that he doesn't want to be alone. After you leave the room (often alternately pleading or threatening him to STAY IN THE BED FOR PETE'S SAKE), the in-and-out dance begins. On any given night, he goes through the following sleep-stalling-maneuvers:

Three Little Words

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"I love you" takes on a whole new meaning when you become a mom.

I knew that I loved my husband, almost from our first meeting. Now, don't get me wrong - The BadAssMama has never been accused of being a hopeless romantic (in truth, I'm more of a pessimistic realist), but there was just something about him. From our first hello, I knew that I had met The One.

And then we had kids.

And suddenly, everything I knew about love changed. Pre-kids, love was a romantic notion of spontaneous  trips to the local diner at 11pm on a Tuesday. Flowers sent on a business trip "just because". Romantic vacations in Paris or The Bahamas. Lounging together on a lazy Sunday morning while sharing the New York Times. Gazing into each other's eyes over a candle lit dinner. Cuddling in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter night.

After my kids were born, I realized that while romance is nice, love is much deeper than that. It's the look of wonder in your husband's eyes when his newborn son turns to look at him when he hears his voice in the delivery room. It's the fuzz on a baby's ear, the sweaty-pickly smell of baby toes. The first time you hear the word "Mommy" and realize it's for you. It's staying up all night, rocking a tiny boy with a big fever. Going for days without sleep, keeping watch at the edge of a hospital crib. A weary look across the kitchen table when all hell is breaking loose that says, "We're in this together."

Like the grinch, with the birth of each child my heart grew three sizes. When I looked into their eyes, I experienced a feeling of pure, unadulterated love like I'd never imagined. I knew then, as I do now, that I would do anything for them. My life is theirs for the taking. They give my life meaning.

So, on this Valentine's Day I am thankful for my husband - the love of my life. But I am forever indebted to my children for showing both of us the true meaning of love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Love, The BadAssMama

The Gambler

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Sometimes, the best mommy move is to simply walk away.

Let me explain.

By the end of the weekend, The BadAssMama became victim #4 of the rogue coughy/boogery/phlegmy virus going around Casa de Torres (and apparently the entire daycare). After several days of brave battle, I had to admit that I was feeling like crap. And as is usually the case when I am feeling like crap, my fuse was a bit shorter than usual. Hurricane Victor came blowing through right on schedule at 5:10am - timed perfectly to the coda of my last dose of Nyquil. Congested and annoyed, I took him downstairs for a weak attempt at putting him back to sleep. The Bob Ironman, sadly, failed when I needed it most.

Fast forward, after a dose of Airborne I was feeling slightly-less-zombie-like and proceeded through a typical Sunday. We drove the nap loop to avoid any unwanted calls to the police or ACS by 1:30, then came back home to finish the weekend chores and set up for the work week.

My husband was a rock star and made dinner (thanks, babe) as my sinuses began their second attack. What we didn't know at the time was that not only did my children give me this cold, but they were co-conspirators with it in their on-going attempts to kill me. Angel decided that dinner time was as good a time as ever to sing a song about eating and barfing up baby bumble bees (when I find out who taught him that song, I may have to kill them...). Then, as if on cue, Victor decided to do a little barfing of his own. Not illness related, mind you. Victor just feels the need to gag and vomit during dinner at least once each week.

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

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Color , Color, Color
by D'angelo Thompson

The spring/summer 2011 fashion pages are full of luscious and vibrant colors from head to toe.
 A strong trend i have been monitoring is all about bright pigmented lipstick colors. A few brands that caught my eye at your local drug stores are: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip and Cheek Stains $18, Vera Moore lipsticks in Yes (pink) and Woodberry (rich berry) $14.50 and any vegan based "lip tar" by OCC (obsessive compulsive cosmetics) can be found online or at Alcone on west 49th street.

Beauty Tips: *make sure lips are  always moisturized
*beautifully define the lips with a lipliner the same color as lipstick and apply all over (**bonus add a lip sealant for longer wear)
*gradually apply lip color with a lip brush or blot with ring finger
***Try this out pre-sping for Valentine's day***

xxoo,
D'angelo

Mixing it up

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The BadAssMama decided to mix things up today.

As many of you know, Friday nights =Applebees at BadAssMama Central. We're a simple family, with simple suburban tastes (translation: the majority of our dining choices are driven by the level of ambient noise and ability for vomit/spit/food/apple juice/milk spills to be easily camouflaged by the pattern of the floor and furniture). Today, we decided to be spontaneous. We picked up the boys early from day care and headed to a 4pm show of Gnomeo and Juliet (very cute film, by the way).

After spending most of the movie staring at the beautiful silhouettes of my boys sitting in height and birth order, we broke tradition and walked down the strip mall to the local pizza joint (hopefully the finicky hostesses at Applebees will still let us in next week...). Dinner was uneventful (always a good thing with one boy who is prone to public meltdowns and another who can vomit on cue...I talk a lot about vomit in this blog, don't I?), capped off by a perfectly precocious conversation among Angel and the twin daughters of the pizza shop owner regarding his favorite color (red), their favorite colors (purple and green), the fact that Angel had just been to "the show" and had leftover popcorn (which he showed them several times).

The spontaneous merriment continued once we walked in our front door. Angel declared that we were going to watch the "pretend dragon show", then put on an elaborate production of Little Red Riding Hood (he and I alternated roles between Red and Big Bad). The night was capped off with a hybrid puppet show/break dance competition (you had to be there...trust me, it was hilarious), and the standard bath/books/bed routine.

All in all, it was a great night. A few outbursts here and there (among mommy and boys alike), but overall it was great to shake up the routine and see our Friday nights in a different light.

A different kind of Friday in the life of a BadAssMama...

Parent/Teacher Conference

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I used to be the teacher's pet.

I loved school as a child. I mean, REALLY loved school. From as early as I can remember, I was excited to get up every morning to get to school. Not so much to hang out with my friends (come to think of it, I'm not sure if I had that many friends as a young kid. Topic for another post. Or therapy. Whatever...), but to see what we would learn that day. I would race to finish my assignments so that I could do extra credit, or do the special work folder at the back of the class. It was like my brain was a sponge, and I couldn't wait to soak up more of whatever yummy deliciousness my teachers were serving up that day.

This trend continued throughout high school. In college, I was even more aggressive in my quest for knowledge - but it was more focused. I knew that to get the right grade, I had to focus on what the professor thought was important. Meaning, what would be on the test. In study groups and discussion sections, I was quick to shut down conversations that meandered into seemingly irrelevant topics. I had no patience for those who liked to hear themselves talk, and was quick to shut it down with a simple, "Excuse me, but will this be on the test? Because, I'm paying A LOT to go to this school and I didn't come here just to listen to you ramble." No, really. I said it more than once. I was kind of famous for it.

So, you might have called me a nerd back then. An aggressive nerd. Truth be told, many would label me a nerd now. Just a nerd with better hair and clothes. Point being, school came naturally to me. I had a long attention span, an uncanny ability to focus even at a very young age and a desire to be the best. Period.

And then God gave me children....

Grown up clothes

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Today, I spent an obscene amount of money on clothes. The good news is that my new wardrobe looks FABULOUS. The bad news? I may not be able to send my kids to college.

There's always student loans...

OK, so I didn't exactly blow their 529 plans on Tahari and Tory Burch, but I did spend more money and more time on myself than I have in longer than I can remember. Come to think of it, I haven't bought myself more than a few t-shirts for the weekend and a couple pairs of work shoes in the past 4 years. Given the fact that I have been pregnant, nursing or attempting to lose the extra weight from pregnancy and nursing for 4 of the past 5 years, it should come as no surprise that a fashionable wardrobe has been relatively low on my to-do list.

As a matter of fact, it has been dead last.

My fashion choices have been guided primarily by 3 factors:

  1. Can I squeeze my butt into it?
  2. Can you easily remove vomit, food or various other kid-generated bodily fluids from it?
  3. Is it machine washable (see #2)?

Almost-4-No-More

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Today, my big boy turns four.

There was a time that I thought this day would never arrive. As I've mentioned before, I suffered from a severe case of pre-eclampsia during my first pregnancy. My little boy was born 8 weeks early at a whopping 2 pounds, 13 ounces (his growth was restricted due to high blood pressure associated with the pre-eclampsia). He remained in the NICU for the longest 35 days of my life. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks myself. There were times when it seemed that one or both of us might not make it back home.

But we did.

And now he is four.

And he is tall and lanky and smart and inquisitive and hard-headed and silly and stubborn and loving and an extremely-good-listener (when he wants to be). Both of my children are a blessing, but my oldest son is truly a miracle.

Happy birthday, Angel. Mommy loves you.

I quit...yet again

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Whether we put him to bed at 7:30 or 10:30, my almost-4-year-old fights sleep for 2 hours every night.
  • We follow a set bedtime routine
  • We impose sanctions for bedtime violations
  • We reason, punish and otherwise try to explain to this little lunatic that almost-4-year-olds need their sleep to grow up big and strong. I don't think he's buying it. 
Whether we put him to bed at 7:30 or 10:30, my 2-year-old wakes up between the hours of 4:30 and 5:00am.
  • We follow a set bedtime routine
  • We have tried feeding him before bed, using super-absorbent overnight diapers, prayer and exorcism
  • We returned to the "cry it out method", consistently refusing to pick him up at an unreasonable hour. At times,  toughing it out for over 2 hours - to which Victor responds with scorn and ridicule ("Ha! I spit at your feeble-minded attempts to sleep train me!" in stereotypical Cold Era Russian bad-guy voice).
By the time I can wind down enough to actually get some sleep, the 2-year-old is on the brink of his early morning rant, and I am forced to face yet another day on less than 5 hours of sleep.

Apparently, sleep is the un-dreamable dream at BadAssMama Central...

Confessions of a BadAssMama - Take 3

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The BadAssMama is a worrier.

Now, I know what you're thinking. How can you be BadAss AND a worrier? Aren't the two mutually exclusive?

Well, I must admit that I am a lucky girl. More blessed than lucky, really. I have an amazing husband who loves me in spite of my best efforts. I have two smart, healthy and relatively-well-behaved kids. Good job. Great neighbors. Excellent support system. Many would say, "Hey Miss Woe-Is-Me! What the heck do YOU have to worry about?"

I know. Everything is fine. And, still, I worry.

I think this is an affliction common among mothers. While others may be plagued with either acute or chronic bouts of the worry bug, us moms seem to take the worrying disease to a high art form.

My list of worries includes matters both big and small. Relatable and utterly unique. Understandable and completely confusing to anyone other than me...and my husband - who many times understands me better than myself (another thing to be thankful for), and yet remains married to me anyway.

On any given day, The BadAssMama Worry-o-Rama may include any or all of the following:

Shut Up...and other fun things to say at day care

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It was bound to happen at some point.

I'm not sure if it's karma, God's sense of humor or just plain-old-bad-luck that your preschooler, at some point, will say a bad word at school. Today, it was our turn.

At pick up, the owner of our INCREDIBLE daycare informed my husband and I that Angel had been saying "shut up". She explained this because a) it is an important thing to let a parent know when their child has uttered the unmentionable and b) to explain why our almost-4-year-old was wailing inconsolably in the background. She explained further that he was not upset so much that he went to time out for saying"shut up", but that he didn't want her to tell mommy that he's said "shut up. (Not sure if I'm happy or sad about that...) Apparently Angel felt that it was OK to say"shut up" because some kid at the preschool (not the daycare) said "shut up" so it must be OK. Gotta love the circular reasoning of an almost-4-year-old.