Do as I say...

1 comment
Physician, heal thyself. Do as I say, not as I do. BadAssMama, get a grip.

Yup, that's right. After tomes of self-help and mommy happiness books, I have once again found myself depleted, depressed and down-right exhausted.

Let me explain. 

The past several months have been more-than-a-tiny-bit hectic. The good news is that I am more than back in-the-groove at work. The bad news is that with it comes yet another round of the BadAssMama Travel-O-Rama. Between my once-every-ten-years girlfriend's getaway, a speaking engagement at my alma mater and random business trips I have been on the road roughly every 3 weeks for the past 2 months.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it  and each of the trips has been successful in their own way.

The past 2 weeks have been particularly hectic. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I have once again averaged 4 hours of sleep per night. That average likely came down a bit in the past 5 days, which involved:

 - An 8 hour trip to the emergency room (long story, everyone is fine)
 - 2 hours of sleep before a 6:30am cross-country flight
 - Less than 2 hours of sleep on said cross-country flight because my wonderful-yet-very-chatty boss sat DIRECTLY NEXT TO ME on the 6:30am flight
 - A 22 hour day followed by roughly 5 hours of sleep (ah, the joys of a bi-coastal career)
 - An overnight flight, landing at 6am with a 9am budget meeting waiting for me on the East Coast

Notes to my younger self

0 comments
I've seen a lot of articles and blog posts where women write a note of advice or even admonition to their younger selves. Don't date that guy! Love yourself! Don't take any wooden nickels (ok - maybe not so much). As I take a moment to reflect on my younger self, rather than warning her I feel more like thanking her. In many ways, she represents the best of me - parts that I long to reclaim as life gets more complicated.

And so, an open letter to a younger The BadAssMama (before the whole mama part):

Hey girl,

You are incredible. A force of nature. You are strong. Fearless. Determined. You know what you want, have no doubt in your mind that you will have it and do whatever it takes to achieve it. You burn the midnight oil to make the grade - first in school and later in your early career. Thank you for believing in yourself. That confidence will take you far, and one day it will help you overcome obstacles that you've never imagined.

Thank you for being selfish. True, you did focus a bit too much on your own wants and needs at times, but that selfishness allowed you to focus on your goals, to define your dreams and to live life on your own terms. That stubborn bull-headedness (really, not a backhanded compliment), will take you far in your career. Farther, some might argue, than you have the right to think that you might go at such a young age. One day, when you realize that the world does not always revolve around you, you will lose some of that focus. Sometimes that will be a good thing. At others, not so good. Don't ever let anyone tell you that being selfish with your time, your focus and your heart is a bad thing. These are 3 of the most important elements of your life. They deserve to be protected.

Thank you for taking risks. Because of your sometimes blind-meets-foolish ambition, you will achieve more in your still-relatively-young life than you've ever imagined. You will meet a wonderful man (no, not the fool you dated at age 26 - he was just an asshole), get married, have 2 beautiful children (yes, I know you wanted four. Trust me - 2 is enough) and hopefully live happily ever after.

Well, not everything will be happy. You will lose people that you love, many way too young. You will know pain. You will experience tragedy. You will be tested beyond anything you could ever imagine. And you will come through the other side stronger, more powerful and more glorious than your young mind can fathom. You are a warrior forged in fire. A fighter. A true badass.

Thank you for loving deeply, living passionately, laughing long and loud. One day, when you're overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and feeling less-than-awesome, you will look back on your life and remember the you that you once were. The younger you. The bolder you. The fearless you. And you will smile.

And then you'll take the best parts of her, add them to the older-and-somewhat-wiser parts, and once again begin to feel whole.

I love you. Love yourself. And never forget who you are.

Always,
The BadAssMama.

Lessons from a juice cleanse

0 comments
This week, I decided that my life was neither challenging nor painful enough and decided to embark upon a 3-day juice cleanse. In my head, it was more than just about losing weight (although a little boost post last week's offsite-induced-snacking-spree wouldn't hurt). As I mentioned in my last post, I feel that I am going through somewhat of a transformation after a challenging series of events. In my head, the juice cleanse represented a fresh start - a kind and natural way to usher out my old self, along with the tough emotions and other toxic crap (literally and metaphysically) that had been building up over the years.

Either way, I ordered it.

Day one went surprisingly well. I grinned and bore it as I gulped down a concoction bearing closer resemblance to fresh cut grass in a bottle than juice, oddly enjoyed the spicy lemonade and grapefruit-mint juices, gagged over the promising-yet-ever-so-disappointing "essential red" and found myself slightly nauseated by the supposedly welcome heaviness of the almond nut milk at the end of the day.

With grumbly tummy but ever-resolved will, I made it to the end of day one and soldiered on to day 2. While expecting to awaken completely ravenous, I found myself oddly satiated on the second morning. I could not stomach the green-grass-mixture and swapped it out for green tea most of the day (certainly losing valuable nutrients in the process, but saving my neighbors on the LIRR from the sight of fluorescent green vomit on a Thursday morning). Come to think of it, I had more green tea than actual over-priced-raw-vegan-fresh-pressed-juices by the end of the work day.  While not yet hungry (or quite possibly overcome with juice-induced delirium), I felt a strangely heightened sense of awareness and a sensation somewhat akin to euphoria.

Seriously. I'm not making that part up. My meetings throughout the day were FASCINATING (probably even moreso for the unwilling participants than me...)

In an exciting twist of fate, a dear friend held his 40th birthday bash on Thursday night (poor planning, BadAssMama, poor planning...). So rather than rushing to my bed with the first pangs of hunger,  I ordered a big-ass green tea from the Starbucks next door and made my way to the soiree.

By about 10pm, I realized that my head was spinning. Not unusual, given that the party was in a bar, but highly unusual given the fact that I had not had a drop to drink. My husband asked if I wanted some food (becoming concerned that his over-worked, sleep-deprived, fool-of-a-wife had not partaken in solid food for over 48 hours). My first thought was to refuse. It's a three day cleanse! I can't eat for another 24 hours. Those are the rules!

Then I said screw the rules, I'm hungry.


I had a few nibbles of yellowfin tuna (seemed a safe-enough choice in my head), and chased it with 2 glasses of water. By the time we got home, my tummy was in full-on-grumble mode (which I apparently mistook for hunger pangs),  so I resorted to my classic late night snack: 1 graham cracker, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 banana.


Yeah...let's just say that was a mistake.

Transformation

0 comments
Shortly after the end of my first maternity leave, I remember breaking down into tears in the middle of my kitchen floor. When my husband asked what was wrong, I remember having a very hard time describing the problem. All I could say was that I just didn't feel like myself.

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but eventually I realized that I didn't feel like myself because the woman that I once knew was no longer. With the birth of my first child, nearly every element of my life changed. My body, my relationship with my husband, the role of my career, my overall perspective and priorities. Not better or worse (well, the body was FAR worse, at least for a time). Just different. Foreign. New.

Over time, I came to understand that the tears and confusion of that day - and on-and-off for many more months - were part of the grieving process. Rather than continue in my fruitless attempts to reclaim my old life, I had to put off the old and embrace the new. New body, new relationship(s), new role for my career, new perspective and priorities.

In time, the new me became less of a stranger and more like a new friend. There were glimpses of the old me, the pre-baby me.  But somehow she had come more into focus, more efficient, more purposeful. While sleep-deprived and bit less self-assured, I liked the softer side that she brought to my being. The empathy and compassion that was sorely lacking in my pre-baby self. True, she was no Mother Theresa and could never be confused with Mary Poppins. But she seemed more human. Less polished, but more real.

Fast forward to 2011. A lot has happened in my life over the past few months. Most of it I'm not ready to talk about. I'm really just beginning to reflect on it for myself. After a particularly harrowing week last week, I felt the oddly familiar pangs of grief circa 2007. Today, I realized that through my recent experiences I was once again becoming a new version of myself. As much as I long to return to the pre-me, the "normal" me, I am beginning to accept that after enduring this experience it is impossible for me to revert to the woman I once was. I am once again grieving the me that I once new, and embracing the new-new me that is yet to come.

I don't know what I will be, but I know that it will be magnificent. Trial by fire makes you stronger. Beauty is forged in flames.

Let the transformation begin...

Emergency Procedures

0 comments
As a Platinum level frequent flier, I have a routine when it comes to any flight. I can pack for a trip of almost any duration in one suitcase and in less than 20 minutes. I have my go-to flight outfit for both business and personal travel, and the contents of my under seat bag have not varied much (on business trips at least) in the last 15 years. I've heard the emergency procedures so often that at times, I feel like snatching the mic from the flight attendant and doing it myself. It would go by more quickly and, unless I find myself flying on Southwest or into Las Vegas, I would certainly be more entertaining.

That's why I find it so odd (and vaguely disappointing) that I failed to remember the cardinal rule of all emergency procedures this week: Put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.

Let me explain.

It's been a hectic week at BadAssMama Central. Big work meetings, big family things, big personal stuff.  A number of friends have approached me for advice or support with personal or professional crises. And I am still recovering from a minor surgery.

Since I continue to confuse myself with God, I found myself bouncing around like a rabid ping pong ball - flitting from crisis to crisis to soothe, advise, support. Stepping in where I felt I could be of assistance, offering a smile or a hug when I felt I could not.

There were big offsite meetings at work and a number of major deals that insisted upon entering crisis mode throughout the week. I stayed in the office until nearly 10pm on Monday, ran to make the last-train-before-daycare-pickup on Tuesday, meant to leave at 6:10 on Wednesday but somehow ended up on the 7:24 train, and once again hauled ass to Penn Station on Thursday to make my day of daycare pick up.

While I thought that I was handling the crisis-filled week relatively well (I refrained from yelling at my husband or children for most days of the week and no one on my team openly confused me with Miranda Priestly), by Friday I realized that I had not gone to bed before midnight in over a week (with 5am wake up calls each day).

And my pants didn't fit.

I then made the mistake of getting on the scale. Apparently I have broken the world record for rapid-weight-loss-followed-by-even-more-rapid-weight gain.

As I take a moment to reflect upon the events of the week, it is all crystal clear. In my never-ending attempt to be all things to all people, I neglected to put on my oxygen mask first and nearly fainted by Friday morning. I was an over-eating, under-sleeping, stress-riddled basket case. It took everything in me not to break down in tears when the door to the daycare was closed when I arrived at 9:07 that morning (the ONE day of the week that I get to take my big boy to preschool).

I won't re-enact the full-day-Friday-meltdown, but rather jump to the point. The BadAssMama cannot take care of everyone else when she is neglecting her own basic needs. Sleep, exercise, healthy eating, bits-and-pieces of relaxation on a daily basis. I failed to put on my oxygen mask first, and it almost killed me.

OK - so, it didn't almost kill me but it DEFINITELY made my butt fat. And that's just not cool...

Confessions of a BadAssMama - Take 4

0 comments
Sometimes, I would rather stay at work than go home.

Let me explain.

Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and my kids. I have a nice house - quiet neighborhood, good friends. My house is comfortable and I do enjoy being there. It's just that at work, I feel smart. Like I know what I'm doing. I have the good fortune of being complimented on a regular basis for a job well done, and I'm proud to say that I am generally respected for what I do.  Even on the days that I'm not at my best or make a mistake, I have confidence in my expertise and am relatively resilient. Even after the biggest screw ups, I take responsibility, re-group, rally the troops and have another go at it.

When I mess up at home, I just want to slink into the corner and cry.

At work, the messes I clean up are all figurative. I understand the politics, the agendas, the personalities. I can navigate the potholes and pitfalls and actually find humor in some of the drama because at the end of the day, while my work is important to me it's not life or death. There is serious money at stake, and I am responsible and take pride in what I do. But no one's life is going to be drastically altered if I get the wrong answer. And most days, I don't - I'm pretty good at what I do and I generally get things right. Most days things are quiet. Even on the worst days, there is no yelling. Most days I feel smart and accomplished. On the best days, I feel proud and kind of awesome. Even though the in box is never empty, I can leave at the end of the day feeling satisfied with the work I put in and confident enough to relax until the next challenge.

And then I go home.

My house is loud and generally chaotic. We are constantly making a mess or cleaning a mess or preparing for the messes yet to come. While I'm confident in my skills and experience at work, I rarely feel competent as a mom. Most days I'm just trying to make it through without doing any permanent damage to my boys' collective psyches (my husband included). On my best days, I'm proud that I didn't yell too much or actually was able to take the time to play with my kids. On the worst days, I feel like the worst mother and wife on the planet. I never feel like I'm giving enough time, enough focus, enough patience. There's always more to do than hours in the day, and everything just feels so critical - so important. Everything matters, so it's hard to take anything lightly or forgive myself for the inevitable mishaps and mistakes. I can't help but think that I have more bad-mom day than good-mom ones.

On the other hand, while I often feel smart at my job, I always feel loved at home.

At the end of the day, I guess it's more important to feel loved than to feel competent. But it sure would be nice to feel both a bit more often...

pissed.off.

1 comment
I would like someone to take care of ME for a day.

Really. Just a day. One day when I didn't have to clean up anyone's mess (literally or figuratively). A day when I could fall asleep on the couch in front of some inane reality programming because I'm f'ing exhausted and that's the natural human thing to do. A day when I don't come home from work at 9:45pm to pick up toys and dishes and wipe down counters. A day when someone else plans, buys and prepares the meals for the entire week in one mega-cooking session each Sunday. A day without the need to set up clothes or show and tell or snack or back up clothes or checks for school or birthday presents or doctor appointments or homework or any of the 50 billion other random things that I have to accomplish on a given day in addition to my day job. A day when I can decide that I'm tired, and don't feel like talking so I just go straight to bed without explaining myself or apology.

I would like one f'ing day to be all about me.

What the hell - you can have one too...

A Normal Family

2 comments
After a minor surgery, a major crisis and countless daily annoyances, I found myself wishing for just one normal day. One without drama or doctors, overtime or over-eating, sleep deprivation or cries of "why me."

Then I realized - this IS normal.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. Trite to quote famous musicians on a blog, I know, but I can't think of a more apt phrase for the current state of affairs in all things BadAssMama. Suffice it to say that the past few weeks - check that, past 4 months - have been more-than-a-little-less-than-normal around here.

Just as life doesn't always work out the way you planned, I do believe that the same can be said about your family. Or, even more specifically, the role that YOU will play in your family as a mom. Maybe it's just me, but before my kids arrived I was chock-full of pre-conceived notions about how I would raise my kids. What books they would read, how much TV they would watch, the organic meals I would lovingly prepare on a daily basis (OK, maybe that's a stretch but you get the idea). I thought that there was one "right way" to raise my kids. The good way. The smart way. One answer to the million dollar question of how to raise happy, healthy and not-in-the-least-bit-psycho-killer-ish children.

Some days, I still fall into the trap of thinking that there is a "right way" to be a mother; and that I am tragically, woefully unprepared and under-qualified to live up to that gold standard.

Then life intervenes. There comes a major surgery, a minor crisis and untold millions of daily inconveniences and you realize that your family - just like your life - is NOT a one-size-fits-all equation. There is NOT one answer on how to raise kids the right way, just like there is NOT just one type of family.

Raising a family - a happy, healthy family - is a multiple choice quiz with only ONE wrong answer. If you make your choices out of fear or without love, then you've made a mistake. Any choice you make out of love for your children and the desire to do the absolute best for them is the right answer for YOU and YOUR family.

So stop worrying about following the rules. When it comes to raising your happy family, only YOU can make the rules.

Sorry I've been away for a while. Life intervenes...but The BadAssMama is back.

so.tired.

0 comments
Have you ever been so tired that you can't even sleep?

I used to feel sorry for folks who would talk about insomnia. "That's crazy!" I would mutter to myself. How could you possibly stay awake for days on end and claim to be too tired to sleep?

...and then I had kids.

In my pre-marriage/pre-children phase, I worked hard and played hard. Eighteen-plus hour days on the management consulting gig were standard, but once I stepped off the plane Friday night it was a weekend of leisure. Late mornings, afternoon naps, weekend cocktail parties before beginning the grind again Monday morning. My work hours aren't quite as grueling these days (although the scope creep of the second shift after the kids are in bed to "just check in" can often put me back into consulting-land). The problem is that welcome respite of weekend catch-up sleep just never comes.

True, my weekends are less scheduled than the weekday rush to make the 7:32am then run for the last train before daycare pick up and keep the kids on somewhat of a schedule so that all hell doesn't break loose the next morning and I miss the 7:32am train. We regularly declare at least one weekend day an official "pajama day" and refuse to leave the house or do much more than brush out teeth and occasionally run a comb through someone's hair (rarely mommy's, sometimes the boys').

The missing ingredient? Catch-up sleep.

It is 12:04am as I write this, and my alarm clock will ring at 5. The wake up call from two recovering-from-nasty-cough-and-fever-fueled boys may come at any moment. And yet I am still awake. Maybe it's the anticipation of the cry in the night. Maybe it's anxiety about the drama that awaits at the office.

Or maybe I'm just too f'ing tired to go to sleep.

It's been roughly 5 years since I've had a steady diet of 8 hour nights or more. My first pregnancy was riddled with hypertension-induced insomnia, and 2 infants who regularly fed on a 90-minute rotation for their first 18 months of life set the pattern. If I do the math, I probably need something like 2.8 years of uninterrupted sleep to actually catch up.  

That's assuming I actually stop adding to the deficit.

Like that's going to happen...

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

0 comments
"YOU TUBE" BEAUTY ACADEMY
by D'angelo Thompson

Last year, i had this co-worker at the Wendy Williams Show who loved "you tube" tutorials. She became pretty good at doing a smoky eye.
There are thousands of pros and simply artists in their kitchens doing mini tutorials. The videos that caught my eye were: Beauty Smarties, Bobbi Brown and Andrea Fairweather  Bailey for Fairweather Faces Global. They all give you great tips and are excellent  at explaining each step.
The beauty of it is you can pause and restart at your leisure. Personally, there's nothing like a one on one make up lesson with a seasoned artist. I love when i see a client have a moment of clarity about her face and or techniques-its beautiful!

Beauty Tip: Indulge in a make up lesson and or day of beauty!
-- 
D'angelo Thompson
Esthesia Productions. Inc., Owner
www.dangelothompson.com
dlicious777@gmail.com
917-470-3559
 BE DYNAMIC in 2011 !!!

Cinderella

1 comment
When you really think about it, most working moms are like a cross between Wonder Woman,Cinderella (without the whole need-to-be-rescued thing) and a dish rag.

Let me explain.

Most days of the week, we rise with the dawn and put on our superhero costume. While Diana favored golden hot pants and an eagle-encrusted corset, most working moms lean more toward the suit-and-pumps look. We apply our superhero mask (one part concealer, two parts tinted moisturizer and one part mascara/blush/lip gloss - we might even sweep on some eye shadow on a good day). We drop the kids to day care or school, leave them with the nanny or a grandparent and off we go to save the world (or at least our little corner of any given corporation).

Over the course of the day, at least a few times each week, we are complimented on our intelligence and strategic planning skills. Someone may flirt with us on the street. We are looked upon with admiration and even envy by young folks just entering our profession, or kids just looking to get their foot in the door with an informational interview. When we go out of town for a business meeting, industry event or speaking engagement we can feel inspired, aspirational, powerful.

And then we come home.

The front door itself can feel like Kryptonite, slowly but consistently eating away at our super powers. We remove our super suit (boogers and Oreo crumbs are never a good look)), take off the pumps and wash off the mask because really, what's the point? We change into something dreary, comfortable, machine washable and slowly but consistently transform from the belle of the ball to something more akin to a dishrag. Always dirty, often smelly and constantly cleaning up someone else's mess. And like a dish rag, we're not much to look at. Taken for granted really. We do our jobs and end each day crumpled up, stained and thrown into the corner without much thought.

In the morning, we press repeat and the cycle continues.

I don't know about you, but I'd really like to feel more like Wonder Woman than a dish rag. Well, a girl can always dream...

p.s. Took the trip to California. Gave a great speech at the business school on Saturday, took the red eye home and returned to 2 sick kids. Just call me Super-Cinderella.

Worry, worry, worry...

0 comments
It was bound to happen.

After never being away from my children for anything other than a business trip, due to sheer luck (or lack thereof), I am scheduled to be away from my kids for 2 weekends in a row. The first was for a much needed girlfriend's getaway (only 11 years in the making...). This weekend I am slated as a keynote speaker at an event for prospective students at my business school.

And now both kids are sick.

I've been awake watching Victor breathe since 3am. It started with him, and he's been feverish on-and-off since Monday. I took him to the pediatrician yesterday and, while the doctor was not convinced that it might not just be viral, he prescribed antibiotics since there was a slight rattle in Victor's breathing (not enough to technically be labeled a wheeze, but enough to give us both pause) and his fever was low-grade but steady for 4 days (now 5). Other than the on-and-off fever and slight rattle in his breathing, Victor is eating, drinking and playing normally. He is not sleeping comfortably, but he is getting sleep. Angel has a little cough, but no fever and is eating, drinking and sleeping normally.

My flight is scheduled to depart for California at 10:45am. Unlike last week's flight, I don't think that JetBlue is equipped with wifi on board (damn you, JetBlue! I don't NEED satellite TV, I need a web connection!), so for 5 hours or so I will not know how my kids are doing.

And I'm not sure if that is a bad thing, or a good thing.

As a mother, my particular vice (well, at least one of them), is the need for control. If I am here, if I can see what's going on and I can fix it. Prevent issues. Kiss boo boos. Make the scary things of the world go away.

But here's the thing - I can't. True, a healthy dose of planning can cure a great many ills, but no mother can fix everything, control everything. I am not a robot. And I am not God.

So, I have a decision to make. Do I stay, or do I go?

I'll keep you posted...