Baking and Motherhood

I vividly remember watching Like Water For Chocolate on VHS from the library.  The themes in that movie reflected back to me a reality I had never identified outside myself.  It was like the moment the fish swimming in his bowl finally understands this is water.  Though my roots are Italian and Puerto Rican (not Mexican, as in the movie), all of those cultures place an emphasis on food.  And like the main character Tita, it felt that the women who cooked in my family — my great-grandmother, both my grandmothers and my mother — poured their emotions into their creations and their charges were immediately infected with their feelings.  Love was as real and as substantial an ingredient as flour or milk or butter.

When I became a mother, I realized instantly how important feeding my children would be to my happiness.  I fretted over breastfeeding (is he getting enough?) and eventually I served up mashed fruits and vegetables by hand.  Even today my husband will tell you that nothing lifts my spirits like a clean plate handed to me by my 3yo or 5yo.

So when I’m inclined to go above and beyond what a busy mother can “get away with” at school functions, it typically revolves around a baked good.  But sometimes it’s just about showing up.  My actions – every little thing I do for my kids – are my expressions of love.

A few months ago Lauren Apfel and I began this debate for Brain, Child Magazine with a focus on Superwoman Syndrome — I had it, she didn’t.  At the time, I was explaining why I felt the need to do so much, especially around my family, especially when I had a full-time out-of-the home job.  But as our drafts progressed, my life changed.  I reduced my work schedule and I started to let go of some of the less significant things (like a clean house).  Yet that pull to go above and beyond, to perform to perfect standards (even if they were only my own or my child’s as opposed to society’s ideas) remained.

I also refused to believe Lauren lacked ambition by any definition of the word (this woman is a phenomenal writer), which is typically thought of as the “opposite” of Superwoman Syndrome.  So when she used the metaphor, ” I never wanted fingers in lots of pies. I wanted one cake at a time so that I could properly enjoy the eating of it,” we knew this conversation would revolve around the symbolism of baking and motherhood.  Of course, it’s about so much more than that.  I hope you will read the entire debate here:

Making the Perfect Birthday Cupcakes for Our Kids: Two Perspectives

Cupcakes specially requested by my daughter for her 3rd birthday

Cupcakes specially requested by my daughter for her 3rd birthday

I Can Finally Admit I’m Not Good At Being A Mom…Or At Least That’s The Story I Keep Hearing In My Head

Now that it’s over I can finally let you in on my big secret.  I’m not a fan of Mother’s Day.  There could be a lot of reasons for that — I don’t love being “celebrated”, I don’t love being forced to do things in the name of being “celebrated” when I really just want to go to a yoga class, or maybe because I feel torn as a mother and a daughter.  Or it might be because I’m super lazy and lame.

But if I am being honest, I probably don’t love Mother’s Day because the journey to motherhood has been a rocky road for me.  I struggled to get pregnant the first time, I was in the hospital with the “Royal Disease” (hyperemesis gravidarium) during my second pregnancy, and I flat-out sucked as a new mother with my first.  I couldn’t get him on a schedule, I couldn’t get him to stop crying unless he was being pushed around in a stroller, and I couldn’t get him to sleep…ever.

But that has changed.  I hit a stride when Gavin turned one and then a year later, Chloe was born as one of those mythical “easy babies,” so I haven’t really had a tough time as a mother in years.  Yet I still identify most with those first really hard months.

Today I have a feature up at Mommyish talking more about this strange feeling I just can’t shake.

I’m Convinced There Is No Comfort Zone In Parenting

Since suffering through that impossibly difficult first year with a challenging baby, I have never really allowed myself to get into a groove as a mother.  This isn’t a sob story about how kids constantly change and ruin your perfectly laid plans. I gave up those expectations years ago. I have learned to really go with the flow in practice. Yet in my mind, I find myself always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Four years and two kids later – despite many more good days than bad – I constantly wonder “when is it going to be like that again?”

Read more on Mommyish…

And don’t forget, I publish a news story with a parenting angle every weekday at 9:30am (today I’m jumping for joy over the fact that someone asked “that question” to a man).  Like the WTTM Facebook page here to get my newest news piece in your feed every morning.

Just Wait Elizabeth Banks, Two Is So Much Better Than One

All my life I had wanted a big family, 3 or 4 minimum.  That was before I experienced parenting first hand.  After the challenge of being a first time mother I was honestly thinking that might be it. Having one changed my mind on having more. Then you know what happened?  We had another.  Having two children is the most rewarding experience of my life.  Yes, it beats getting in to my first choice college, receiving my juris doctor, landing my dream job, and then leaving it to teach yoga.   All of that pales in comparison to seeing my two children interact on a daily basis.  Watching them share secrets, steal hugs, and laugh together is heartwarming beyond words.  Overhearing my know-it-all first-born try to explain potty etiquette, or math, or the minimum safety requirements for jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed – and watching his reckless baby sister take the time to really listen – makes me laugh, tear up, and swell with pride all at the same time.  For some people, having one child is the right choice.  But if you are on the fence and feeling overwhelmed by first time motherhood, I am here to tell you to go for it and don’t listen to what Elizabeth Banks is saying.

I wrote at length about this topic today on Mommyish:

I Could Barely Handle One Kid, But Two Is Easier

The truth about “no bathroom privacy”: what really happens in the bathroom once you have kids

Everyone warns you that you won’t have any privacy in the bathroom once you have children, but no one talks about what that actually means.  Some of you expectant mothers might envision a door semi-ajar as you leave your angels playing with blocks in the adjoining room.  You think you might even have a visitor just as you are finishing your tinkle and you will wisely take this moment to teach them good washing practices.

You’d be WRONG.

Will it ever be just you and me again?

  • You will nurse while sitting atop the porcelain throne.  We don’t even talk about how the wiping gets done in these situations.  Not even on this blog.   It’s just survival.
  • You will endure not only your own personal surprise but the shock of others when you unexpectedly get your period a little early.  Questions will shoot from their small mouths like shells from an Uzi.  “Why is there blood?!”  “Mommy, are you bleeding?”!  “Are you hurt?”  “OH, UH, GOOOOO!”  (that last one is from my grunting 17-month old daughter, but I am pretty sure it can be interpreted as “Is that shit gonna happen to me too?”)
  • You will have multiple little people pointing as you attempt to apply a maxi-pad.  A step-by-step lesson will be required if it has wings.

“What is that? Why are you putting in there? Can it fly? I want one in my underwear!” -shouts from the peanut gallery

  • You will be inserting your Nuvaring when the door bursts open and Lego-gate ’12 unfolds in front of your eyes.
  • You will read “Hand Hand Fingers Thumb” aloud while dropping a deuce.  Your child will be sitting on your lap.
  • If, like me, you teach your kids to go potty in a plastic crapper, you will experience tandem dumping.  You will resist for a long time, but when your son sits there for what feels like hours (“I’m not done yet I said!”) and insists you keep him company, you begin to see the efficiency.

This could take hours honey. Don’t worry, your bowels will get on his schedule just like your boobs, your appetite and your sleep.

  • You will be reaping the benefits of your morning coffee when everyone in the house decides that is the exact moment they need to brush their teeth.
  • You will be forced to defend yourself to the sudden intruder’s “what’s that smell?” query.  Try not to answer “carnitas” if you take them to Chipotle the next day.  They will remember.  They will repeat.

I let you off the hook with the logo here. Do an image search for “carnitas” right now. I dare you.

What has surprised you about the “no privacy in the bathroom” situation?

If you enjoyed this post, please click on the juggling woman below. A click = a vote for me. How easy is that??
Vote For Use @ Top Mommy Blogs

I’m here (and there) for you.

You guys know I am totally here for you.  My posts are as raw as your nursing nipples, as transparent as those mesh “underwear” they send you home from the hospital in, and as real as that streak of poop on your shirt.

So I present you with three newborn lies I’ve heard recently that I just can’t let slide:

1. Lie:  Babies sleep 20 hours a day.

What we hear:  newborns are easy.

Truth: if by “a day” you mean, “in 48 hours” that sounds about right.  Also, 18 hours of that rest will be in your arms, which brings me to my next point.

 

2.  Lie: that exersauser/swing/playmat saved my life!

What we hear:  this contraption will buy you a luxurious hour to shower.

Truth: it will buy you exactly 8 minutes to wash your face, brush your teeth and pull a comb through your hair.  Just as you set your bread in the toaster the crying will resume.

 

Photo credit: bundlesofluv.ca

3.  Lie:  I threw little Maddox in that sling/carrier and brought him everywhere!

What we hear:  you will be able to get all your errands done in a timely manner — and even a pedicure — if you get this thing.

Truth:  after you get over the absolute certainty that you are suffocating your child, you will have spent $317 on eight different carriers, the best of which gets you through the line at the post office.

There you have it my friends.  Once again, breaking down the lies one by one and telling you all the details of this thing called motherhood.

As the title of this post suggests, I am also “there” for you – and today that’s over at Skinny Mom (no, it’s not a site for twigs, it’s for real moms trying to figure out how to balance life and kids), giving you the “skinny” on my blogging experience.

I implore you to stop by and leave your comment on my Skinny Mom interview.  Here’s hoping you see me in a different light (something bright and soft, not like the harsh spotlight I use over here).  I can’t wait to hear from you!