Today was a good day

I started this blog to talk about why parenting is hard.  But there are those rare days where the stars align and you have a very good parenting day.  This is the opposite of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (which incidentally is the title of one of my favorite children’s books).  Sometimes these magical unicorns of a day are because things are just so exciting – like when we had 5 very good days in a row while in Disney World.  But today, today was just a regular day.  No barking from the dog, no smog, and mama cooked breakfast with no hog (ok, ok, I’ll stop quoting Ice Cube now.  But come on, that song is SUCH A CLASSIC).

First of all, I slept until my alarm (aka my children) woke me up, instead of waking up early, which has been my MO recently due to anxiety.  And for that matter, I woke up not anxious.  Despite Julia coming down with a cold last night, she was in relatively good spirits this morning.  The kids snuggled in bed with us and watched TV without any clobbering or whining.  After breakfast and some actual relaxing, we all got ready for our respective errands without incident.  Julia didn’t fight about wearing weather appropriate clothing.  Luca didn’t poop four times in a row.  Brian and I didn’t argue about what recipes to make for dinner this week, making the supermarket list easy peasy.

It was pouring rain when Julia and I set out for our plans but it turns out that her arms are long enough now that she could hold the umbrella over my head while in her carseat so that I could buckle her in without getting soaked.  We did a few mundane tasks (dry cleaners, gas station) and then went to the mall to return some clothes.  I chose the far away mall because it had all the stores we needed, and she didn’t complain about the long car trip.  In turn, I didn’t get annoyed when asked to play the food game and agreed to play it all the way there (it’s a guessing game we made up where you give the first letter of a food and describe it – pretty basic stuff but gets boring after a while).

She brought her new fidget spinner in the car with her, but didn’t even try to convince me to let her bring it in the mall. She willingly carried her umbrella throughout the shopping trip which blew my mind.  I can never get her to carry anything not fun with her for more than two minutes.  Then of course she wanted to take off her jacket, because Julia runs extremely hot like her dad, as opposed to me, who is always cold.  I said that was no problem as long as she carried it, and SHE DID.  I honestly felt like I was in an alternate universe, but you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  In fact, she behaved so lovely on the entire trip that I somehow agreed to spend a ridiculous amount on a new bathing suit for her at Justice (we had planned on getting her a suit, but I was hoping for a better cost).

Can we take a break for a second to talk about Justice? I know I’m digressing here, but I LOVE that store. I think I’m not supposed to, I’ve heard other moms talk about it with disdain for being too “trendy” or not age appropriate. But this paradise of tweens had a pillow of a rainbow poop emoji wearing a crown, tank tops with sequined unicorns on them and rhinestone headbands with cat ears.  It reminded me of Patricia Fields in NYC in the 90s.  We got this bathing suit, which has a picture of a cat in a seashell bra and says “I’m really a Purrmaid”.  It was overpriced, but to be fair, she goes swimming twice a day at camp so she does need a lot of bathing suits.

The day continued in a similar vein of simple pleasures.  Julia didn’t lose her mind over what to eat for lunch (mealtime indecision on her part is a real Cucinotta household issue).  Luca kept asking for high fives after he accomplished something.  At one point he said “Hi mommy, I love you”, which is a new and extremely adorable addition to his vocabulary.  Julia took a long nap, then we went and got manicures.  She behaved like an angel at the nail salon.  She told me on the way home I am her “best and only mommy” (hah).  Neither of us smudged our nails.  Dinner was decided on without arguing.  That’s two meals in a row of smooth sailing, which might be some kind of record.

Bedtime went off without a hitch.  Luca insisted on bringing everybody’s shoes upstairs.  He wanted me to sing him “Happy Birthday Julia”.   We read a book about different kinds of trucks and I got lots of kisses and snuggles in before putting him down.  My heart swelled with love as I laid him in the crib.  When I brought Julia upstairs for her bedtime, she offered to let me pick her pajamas and then actually agreed to wear the pair I picked!  There were no negotiations/arguments about picking two books of the appropriate length and she didn’t interrupt me every page with questions.  My heart swelled yet again with love as I kissed her goodnight.

I share all of this with you not to outright brag, or humblebrag.  This day is worth sharing because Mom tip: it is a reminder that there a good days, and every one of those good days should be celebrated and put into the bank of good feelings you can draw on during a tough day.

I should note that I am writing this the night before Mother’s Day.  While I historically have been an optimistic person, the last nine months of my life have been infused with quite a bit of pessimism.  So my knee jerk reaction is to assume that there’s no chance I’ll have an entire weekend streak kid behavior wise and therefore my Mother’s Day might not live up today.  But that’s ok.  Because today I didn’t even have to use my AK, I got to say it was a good day (sorry… I promised I wouldn’t quote Ice Cube again, but god damn him that song is catchy).

 

 

Self(ish)

I love having this blog as an outlet for my thoughts.  I am so glad that my friends and even some strangers are reading it, and that maybe my posts are connecting with them. But today I’m grateful for the fact that I am not a famous blogger, because I want to write about something that I know I’ll be judged for.

Now here’s the thing – my co-blogger Cristina and I started this blog to acknowledge that parenting is hard and we don’t always love it.  Part of that means admitting things that might not be so flattering to us.  But so far, our readers are mostly limited to people who know us, or know someone who does.  As far as those few strangers, my guess is that they are reading because they need to hear this kind of honesty.  My point is that we haven’t gotten any hate comments yet, much to my relief.

If you read any major blog, parenting related or no, there are always the trolls.  People who will write things, heinous things, that they would never ever say to a person’s face.  On the mom blogs, mom shamers come out in force.  And pretty much every mom’s secret fear is that they are shitty moms.  The amount of mom guilt that abounds in our culture is astounding and nobody needs that shit validated, even if the validater (I don’t think that’s a word) is probably a far shittier human being than you.  That’s the point of this blog.  To say hey, I’m afraid sometimes I’m a shitty mom, but you know what? Maybe you’re like me too, and if a lot of us feel like this, maybe it cancels out the shittiness and it turns out this is just the reality of how parenting is today for a lot of people.

Which brings me to my shitty mom admission.  I recently got a new job, which I start Monday (yay).  That’s not the shitty part. The job is awesome and exciting and different and I’m stoked.  My True Mom Confession is that I managed to work it out so that I had two weeks of time off in between jobs … and I didn’t give my nanny a single full day off.

This is not to say I didn’t spend any additional time with my children those two weeks.  I put them to bed every night, something I NEVER get to do when I’m working.  I spent parts of various days with them.  I stopped by Julia’s dance class to check in with the owner on how she was doing.  I arranged multiple playdates and I attended a few. I had some meals with them.

But I also did a lot of stuff for me.  I went to see not one, but two movies in the theater.  I went on a shopping spree….ok, I went on multiple shopping trips (although to be fair, I was shopping for a dress for my niece’s batmitzvah, full spring/summer wardrobes for the kids, summer clothes for my husband and getting clothes for my new job).  I had networking breakfasts in the city and lunches with friends in the ‘burbs.  I took a nap one day.  I read a few books.  I had a couple of manicures and a pedicure.  I got a chair massage.

These are not extraordinary things, but as a working mom of small children, these are luxuries.  These are things that maybe you could do one per month if you’re lucky.  And even if you get to do one, maybe you have to take the abridged version – like on a weekend when I can convince Julia to get a manicure with me. Its fun and cute, but also means I have to bring her snacks and activities, I’m not complaining about that because even that feels like a luxury – getting girl time with my daughter, relaxing, etc.  But my point is that this was truly an extended period of indulging what I wanted to do.  Putting Lisa first.

I’ve always believed that I am capable of being a good mom because I prioritize myself when I am able, but even I wonder, did I take it too far? Couldn’t I have shuttled Julia to gymnastics and sat with Luca in the waiting room?  Or maybe let the nanny go home early every day? And more so, is there something wrong with me that it isn’t what I wanted to do?

I find that piece the most confusing to me in terms of trying to understand my role as a mother.  As a mom, am I supposed to look at a two week vacation and think, I am so excited to spend all the time I can with my kids? Because I don’t, even though I don’t normally get to spend a lot of time with them. When we went to Disney I was super excited to be with them every minute, but that was because we were all doing something wonderful as a family and they were super adorable and well behaved the whole time. But real life in the role of a stay at home mom, even for two weeks, it just doesn’t…. it doesn’t do it for me.  I think you can guess now why I would worry about judgment for this post.  What I’m admitting here is that while I really love and truly adore my children, I don’t want to be with them all the time.

There, I said it.  Let the judging begin.

A Not-So-Dedicated Follower of Fashion

When I was 10, I decided I wanted to become a fashion designer. I became captivated by a particular Versace campaign. Christy, Naomi, and Cindy (the holy trinity) in graphic black and white, shot in the desert by Herb Ritts. I had never seen anything so glamorous.

I started making fashion sketches and reading Vogue. I wore all black for a while, not in a goth way, more of a simple chic sort of Audrey way. I dreamed about being old enough to go live in New York.

And I did it. I went to college, majored in fashion design (one year behind my co-blogger extraordinaire), and moved to New York after graduation to pursue my dream. I spent ten years working for big companies, and small houses. Mass market and red carpet.

Being a fashion designer came with an expectation to dress well, but little money to do so. I lived for sample sales and spent many a lunch break traipsing around the garment district from warehouse to warehouse in search of the best and the chicest at the lowest prices. Sometimes I was lucky enough to snag a freebie or two from the places I worked.

Clothes and body image are inextricably tied together. As a designer, I had to be always attuned to what women wanted to show, and conceal. I had never had major body image issues, but was always conscious, in the way I think every woman is, that there was someone with a smaller waist, bigger boobs, longer eyelashes. I spent my youth fighting those feelings and struggling with at times overwhelming jealously. Ain’t middle school grand?

Over time I grew out of it. Then I got pregnant. Here’s the thing–as a woman, you struggle with learning to love yourself, accepting your appearance. It takes years, if you ever get there at all. And then, if you have kids, you go through a huge body transformation right about the time you start to be good with what you saw in the mirror. All bets are off. You are back to square one. But this time you have to learn to love several different bodies in a pretty short time frame.

Some women revel in pregnancy. The dramatic changes that happen, the power of the female body. Others don’t. I suppose I was a bit in between.

Phase One: Lets be honest, it’s kind of hideous. You gain weight in all the wrong places, you’re probably trying to hide it at work so you start learning how to camouflage the best you can with sometimes ridiculous layering. You look, not glowingly pregnant, but like you just had two burritos for lunch and they gave you food poisoning. It’s not a good look.

Phase Two: You emerge from your layers when you start breaking the news, and then you hit the cute stage. A tiny round belly, and lots of congratulations from friends and family and random passers-by.  But you have to learn how to dress this little bump. There are tons of options out there, not all of them great, and usually the cuter ones are pretty expensive. The pricey stuff I admired but I just couldn’t get behind investing in a wardrobe that would last me for 6-8 months. I got away with, for a while, non-maternity things in stretchy fabrics, in larger sizes. But that only lasts for so long.

Phase Three: You are enormous. Insensitive assholes ask if you are having twins. You feel like a baby whale and have completely stopped looking in your full-length mirror. When you do, you often cry. Your feet are swollen and you have given up wearing heels. The time has come for full on maternity clothes. Large tent-like tops, pants with big stretchy panels that you pull up to your ribcage.

Post Partum (Phase Four): You are still wearing maternity clothes. A lot of people don’t know this, but just because you just dropped an 8 pound love bundle, doesn’t mean you suddenly don’t look pregnant anymore. Those insensitive assholes are now asking you when you are due, and you gave birth 5 weeks ago. Good times! You can’t throw away those maternity clothes just yet! (As much as you want to. And I KNOW that you want to.) You are disoriented and exhausted and sweatpants are your new best friend. I was never a big fan of sweatpants until Phase 4. You are tending to a tiny demanding baby and you may not change out of your pajamas in the morning. Why bother? You are going to get spit up on or pooped on, so it doesn’t really matter what you wear, right? (Yes, this is the fashion designer speaking!) And it better all be machine washable.

Phase Five: This is different for everyone but my Phase 5 was back to work and nursing. I loved wearing dresses to work, but having to stop and pump 3x a day while wearing a dress was awkward, so my wardrobe became pants and nursing friendly tops. Secret revelation: I was still wearing maternity pants. Once you get into pants with no fly or waistband and a soft stretchy panel, its REALLY HARD to go back to regular pants. REALLY HARD. After work I would race home to have a precious hour or two with my baby who would make sure to spit up on me one last time before bed, so I usually changed into a T-shirt and sweatpants when I got home. It got to the point where my husband rarely saw me not in sweatpants. Bless him for keeping his mouth shut.

Phase Six: I’m ready to give up my maternity pants. I fit back into some of my old clothes but not all, because while my weight is back to pre-pregnancy, my body is different. I know I want to have two kids, so I can’t burn my maternity clothes just yet. Aside from some shoes and accessories, I don’t really buy myself anything new, because I like to buy things that I can wear for several years, and I just don’t know what my body is going to be like after #2. Oh and also, once you have a kid you are acutely aware of any dollar you spend that should probably go toward that kid instead of you. $45 new top, or $45 to the college fund??? College is going to be one billion dollars a year by that time, so I really don’t need that new top.

Rinse and repeat. I’ve been through this cycle twice. My youngest is almost two. The maternity clothes have long been given away, but I’m still not shopping for myself either. My body didn’t snap back quite as well after number two as it did after number one. I have diastasis recti which means my abs didn’t completely come back together. The long and the short of it, is that I look a couple months pregnant. And some insensitive assholes have asked if I am. Mom Tip: NEVER EVER EVER ask someone if they are pregnant. EVER. If you can’t obviously tell they are pregnant you are treading on some very dangerous territory.

I have lots of things in my closet (even some still-great pieces from sample sales of my designer days) that just don’t fit me the same way, or draw attention to places I would rather not. I’m not ready to part with them. I’m not ready to accept this body as my own just yet. I’m a work in progress.

As it relates to pregnancy and fashion, I will leave you with a story. Once upon a time, Lisa and I were out to dinner. Young twenty-somethings living in New York. Girls on the town. At dinner we saw a group of women, one of which was pregnant. She was so amazingly stylish, we couldn’t help but notice her. She was definitely Phase Two. An emerald green open-back halter top over a black bandeau, white jeans, gold jewelry and gold platform sandals. Lisa, the more outspoken of the two of us, excused herself and went over and told her how fabulous she looked. It turned out she worked for a very popular online retailer and had access to great stuff, but she was absolutely thrilled for the compliment. I think about her often. I’m certain I never looked that fabulous when I was pregnant, but now I understand the effort it takes when you are pregnant to pull out all the stops, and that complimenting a pregnant woman is maybe one of the nicest things you can do.