Category Archives: aha moments

First Lesson In Motherhood: Shit Happens

I never thought being a first time mom was going to be easy, but I didn’t expect to consider myself a failure the day my daughter was born. I kept a journal throughout my entire pregnancy. I recorded my physical ailments (morning sickness for a full nine months), my food cravings, my happy days, my sick of being pregnant days, my baby sonogram updates and promises I vowed to work on everyday to give my child the best life possible. I was committed to being the balanced, confident perfect mom with all the right tips and tricks to help navigate my daughter through birth to adulthood. One of those promises was breastfeeding. If you asked me before I got pregnant what I would feed my baby, I would have responded dubiously, “Coffee and cream”?!
Since I was becoming a mom and was responsible for taking care of another person besides my own selfish needs I was going to give her the greatest gift. “Breast is best,” I was told countless of times. Experienced moms, lactation specialists, doulas and scientific research expressed the positive effects breast milk has on a child’s growth, health and brain function. And there was another bonus. Theories suggested body-to-body contact helped form a mother daughter bond I instantly craved. I imagined myself sitting next to her 20 years later discussing the joy I received while cradling her in my arms as I fed her milk from me, my body, the dedicated mother who would sacrifice everything to keep her happy and healthy. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the breastfeeding daydream images surrounded by lullaby tunes playing in the background with a fixed crooked smile on my face dressed in a cute white sun dress turned into a major shit show!
As soon as she came out I sang her name out loud in the delivery room and then growled at my husband to hand her to me. I was eager to introduce myself and watch her latch on effortlessly. Except, she never did. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I qualified as a woman with inverted nipples. My boob malfunction drove me into a tailspin. I was drugged due to a C-section and left dumfounded by my inability to nurture my child naturally. I became depressed, angry and desperate. I requested a lactation specialist to visit me in the hospital and tell me what my chances were of delivering breast milk to my daughter. Already I let my daughter down–only nine hours after she was born. I tried everything. Nipple covers, breast shells, a breast pump to convert my inverted nipples to erect ones. The anxiety overwhelmed me, I felt like I was starving my child and I was exhausted. My breasts failed me and I failed her. Being overly paranoid and emotional, I decided to supplement her with formula while I tried tirelessly to get her to latch on.
I was engorged the day we came home from the hospital. I assumed this was a sign that my body was ready to surrender to her suck. Unfortunately, the milk buildup became too painful and my baby nurse had to help me pump it out through my screaming and crying. I was lucky if I got out half an ounce of milk. According to experts, babies don’t need many ounces in the beginning stages, but after seeing how much I produced is when my “mother instinct” kicked in. Yes, I could keep trying to feed her naturally while being cranky and feeling defeated or I can try to get to know my child and give her what I think is best. I opted for the latter. I kept my daughter at a healthy weight with formula feeding meals and whatever drips of breast milk I could pump out for dessert. I returned my boppy pillow and pump a month later. It’s almost been seven years since the boob fiasco. My daughter has been attached to my side ever since.bf2

Don’t Be A Decorating Dope

imageI love the holidays and all the love and joy they bring, but I despise decorating for them. I admit I have very little patience and all these elaborate Pinterest items put my work to shame. I wouldn’t say I am Mrs. Scrooge because I still get butterflies in my stomach when I hear Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” chime from every radio station’s playlist, but I don’t yearn to spread my holiday cheer in lights, fake snow and mistletoes. An eggnog latte and a pumpkin muffin from any coffee shop is enough to get my jingle bells ringing.

My daughter thinks there is something wrong with me. She’s six. Her opinion is still up for debate, but I agreed to hear her grievances with my anti-decorating demeanor. She was rather honest with her assessment. “Mom, you are the only mom, who doesn’t like to decorate for the holidays”. When she approached me with this accusation I was caught off guard? “What do you mean?” I figured my question would challenge her to think and then she would just give up. However, she countered with a line I may have mumbled in the past, “You don’t want to ruin our new, fresh painted walls.” She got me. There was no arguing back. She was right. I couldn’t deal with all the mess or stress. For the first time in my life, I actually felt guilty about my anti-creativity holiday stance. Maybe there really was something wrong with me. Was I killing the December mood for my kids? Will they be scarred for life with out witnessing their dad and I shop for candy canes to hang, menorahs to light and snowflakes to stick on the windows? Should I be more willing and excited about giving up hours possibly even days of my time to create a winter wonderland? All of a sudden these thoughts overwhelmed me and I started analyzing the kind of message I was sending to my family, friends…oh no, the neighbors. Was I known as the bad Santa on the block?
I took a deep breath and then asked my daughter what she wanted to create. I would let her make whatever she wanted for the house and we could hang it wherever she chose. She decided on drawing a gingerbread man and a Christmas tree. Then, we cut out the sketches and taped them to her armoire so she can look at her display as she goes to bed. I think it took a total of 10 minutes, but the time didn’t matter. She was happy. And I was satisfied.

I realized the importance of decorating to her was not how fancy or glittery you get, but she wanted to make something special with me, her mommy. No judgments. It wasn’t the quantity but the quality of time we shared together. My 6 yr. old made me feel like a real dope and for a good reason. Thanks to her, I will never forget this year’s holiday and the important lesson I learned with our two make-do festive decorations.

A Journey To Blankie Rehab

“Just one more bite.”

“Just five more minutes.”

“I won’t be able to sleep if you take it away.”

“Pleeeeassse mommy, it relaxes me.”

Those were the daily pleas I would hear from my 5-yr-old daughter. Her begging and desperation would make me cringe but weakened me at the time. I automatically would give into her binge.

My name is Hope and my daughter is a recovering blankie sleeper and sucker.

Just like the pacifier or thumb my baby relied on her blankie to soothe. At first, her habit was innocent, common almost an adorable behavior most infants and toddlers go through. Of course, as parents we want to believe our child is more advanced than we were as kids and we have wiser more effective strategies to help them take the “edge off” rather than rely on a crutch. However, when I witnessed my child go from a moody irritable monster to the most beautiful precious sleeping angel every night once that blanket hit her lips, I found myself becoming the enabler instead of the enforcer. I would assure myself it wasn’t so bad by saying things like, “It’s only a phase. If it calms her down let that be the worst thing she does. But she’s only 2, only 3, only 4…”

Then one month after her 5th birthday I panicked, “Holy shit my daughter is a blankie addict and I’m her dealer.”  I was making the product look too good to give up. I mean she had a beautiful stash. They were washed, folded and sat perfectly in her bottom drawer for her to choose. Ballerinas one day, blue elephants the next and pink polka dots with satin finish as back up, just in case she went through her supply before she fell asleep. They looked so scrumptious; even I was curious how they tasted. I knew she would never be able to kick the habit unless her father, family members and myself supported her through this scary and stressful change. Finally, my husband and I got on the same team. Our cheer was, “Say no to the blankie no matter what!” We shook on it.

First, came the intervention. “Sweetie we challenge you to not use your blankie for five days. In return, you can stay up late, watch TV and get a reward in the morning.” I was fearful we would replace one bad habit with another, but helping her stay away from her “fix” was my first and only priority.   Then came the withdrawal process. We survived it, but it was tough. There were many times she would give me sad eyes and whimper. I just wanted to cave. I would whisper to myself, “Say no to the blankie no matter what!” We also used positive reinforcement. We reminded her how much we loved her, encouraged her to be a big girl and find big girl things to help her sleep, like music or books.

After five sleepless nights the true test came. Could my daughter sleep in her own room without her dependent? She did it! My princess may still give us an hour-long argument about her bedtime, but at least it’s no longer with the blanket hanging from the side of her mouth.

 

10 Tips For Grandma When Talking To Grandchildren

Kids can learn many things from the special bond they form with their older, wiser and more mature grandparents. For example, how to bake the perfect cake, how to clean the right way in between your toes in the bath and how to save money from collecting coupons. However, even our most formal and conservative elders can forget the age gap between themselves and their grandchildren and sometimes may make a comment (or many) that gives little ones an advanced education in life, death and everything in between. Here are the top 10 comments Nana should think twice about saying in front of her impressionable grandkids.

1. When referring to the child’s mom and dad you should try to refrain from calling them nick names, like: Schmuck, stupid and putz.

2. When swearing in front of a minor you should always S-P-E-L-L the bad word. Not curse first and spell it second.

3. When your grandchild is telling you a story about one of his or her peers don’t shout out physical cues to refresh your memory about them. For example, “Oh the chubby one” or the “One that looks like an Old Man” or the “Five-year-old with the connecting eye-brows”.

4. Try to keep your humor within age appropriate limits. It’s probably not a good idea to make jokes like, “Your grandfather is worth more to me dead than alive.”

5. If your grandson misbehaves or purposely pushes your buttons you may want to reprimand him with words like, “There will be a consequence for your bad behavior” NOT “I am going to kill you.”

6. When whipping out photos and videos from your youth, stick to sharing the fun and crazy moments you shared with your friends. They don’t really need to know how many of them died from cancer or heart disease.

7.   Try to keep your competitive nature in check when playing cards or games with your grandkids. You don’t always have to talk smack so you can win.

8. When you are relaxing and watching TV with your grandchild, if a “Viewer Discretion Is Advised,” warning flashes on the screen it’s probably best to choose another show.

9. When playing with your granddaughter, remember you are supposed to be the responsible one. Teach her how to do fun, physical activities like how to use a hula-hoop around her waist, not her neck.

10. Don’t get down on your age. Instead of focusing on the number just keep reminding your kids no matter how old you are, you will always be the most fun, playful grandma they ever hung around with.

*Originally published for WEtv.com

Make Your No Stress-olutions

resolution

Here is a glance at my first draft of resolutions for 2014.
1.  Run a 20-mile marathon.
2.  Meditate.
3.  Cook a Barefoot Contessa inspired meal for my husband (he loves watching her create delicious dishes for Jeffrey).
4.  Don’t snap at my kids.
5.  Look 10 years younger.

As I jotted down my grand New Year’s goals, it all seemed very doable and realistic.  Then I asked myself a simple question, “Me…have you met me before?”
I never ran a marathon, the thought of lying in silence freaks me out, I am just getting comfortable scrambling eggs and I can’t follow directions on a map so discovering the fountain of youth can be problematic (unless someone knows the address so I can plug it into the GPS).  Suddenly, my new oaths sounded more child-like than life changing, so I decided to challenge myself.  If my kids were making resolutions, what advice would I give them?  At that point,  I turned my list of nonsense into momsense. I would advise my children that it’s very important to have goals and work hard to achieve them.  However, these goals need to be clear, realistic and accompanied by a well thought out strategy on how to approach and accomplish them.  They should work towards making small victories and then raise the bar after they complete their first set of objectives.
I decided to take my own tip. I wouldn’t set my kids up for failure so why would I do it to myself?  Here are my official revised resolutions:
1.  Run a 2-mile marathon.
2.  Research the importance of meditation.
3.  Whip up an AMAZING omelette (Hope-inspired).
4.  Have more patience with my kids.
5.  Invest in some anti-aging cream.

Wishing all moms a Happy, Healthy and Accomplished New Year.

xoxo – A New Mom In Town Staff

 

Saying Thank You And Meaning It

©istock.com/staceynewman

©istock.com/staceynewman

It’s very easy to say the words, “Thank You”.
“Thank You.”  See, I just said it.
But to say it and mean it are two different things, and can be difficult concepts to teach children.  In the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving, the holidays and the New Year I decided this would be a good opportunity to lay down the groundwork for defining gratitude to my 4-year-old.  Here are some simple grown up concepts, which I have turned into kid-friendly tricks to teach my daughter how to be thankful, and really understand the significance behind them.

ABC’s To Donating
I’m not going to lie.  I love spoiling my daughter.  I love seeing the big smile that automatically appears on her face when I buy her a toy, craft or a princess dress she’s been dreaming about.  I am even guilty of purchasing unnecessary knick-knacks for her just because I can’t handle hearing the disappointment in her voice.  But when her school sent out a form about a clothing drive, I decided this was a great chance for me to explain and show her the importance of giving back and helping families in need. Instead of running solo to the store to pick up some pajamas and outerwear for the fundraiser, I hopped on the chance to turn this act of charity into a fun activity for both of us.  I explained to her the meaning of donating and put her in charge of selecting the pieces.  She was so excited to be given this big girl responsibility.  It took her less than two minutes to choose pink pjs for a girl and blue for a boy (we’ll work on her creativity next time around ☺).

Three Words That Begin With G…
It’s hard for toddlers to understand the real value of money.  When they ask for or receive a gift, the last thing they are thinking about is the price tag that comes with the present. But who can blame them, (I’m in my 30’s and sometimes get tripped up from this concept too).  I needed to find a clever way to explain that being handed a gift is a very nice gesture, but shouldn’t be expected.  I gave her a quick lesson about three important words that begin with G, giving, generosity and being gracious. I was pretty sure she got the gist and then she asked me for cookies and milk.

Mommy and Daddy Need To Do Their Homework Too
I overheard my husband telling our daughter that if she needs anything, she should just pick up the phone and call her grandparents.  Although, this was an obvious joke to both of us, I feared that she could take this statement as 100% true, potentially creating our own “Veruca Salt.”  No one can forget the infamous bratty character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who expected to get everything by simply saying, “I want it now, daddy.” If you want to teach your kids how to be appreciative, then you have to practice what you preach.  My first step is not being disappointed for what I don’t have, but being thankful for what I already do have (including the simple pleasures in life like the delicious cup of coffee I just brewed for myself).

Wishing all of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 

First Family Vacation To Disney: 4 Beginner Tips

photo(3)I’ve just returned from a journey like no other.  My family and I were even given a pin to reward our guts and glory.  The pin read,  “First Time Visitor To Disney World.”  Throughout my adult life, I’ve managed to navigate my way through NYC, explore
Las Ramblas in Barcelona and scour the racks at Loehmann’s, but when it came to visiting the Magic Kingdom, others didn’t need to notice my daughter’s pin to know we were Disney amateurs.  From planning and packing to boarding the plane to reaching our final destination, “Where dreams come true,” my vacation quickly went from calmness to chaos.  With a chance to reminisce after four days of non-stop action, a load of pictures and memorabilia I can honestly say, “I’ll be back,” but only with a new and improved traveling strategy.  Here’s a list of tips that can reduce family drama when doing Disney the first or in my case, second time around.

Pack A To-Go Tote
When we arrived at the hotel, our room wasn’t prepared and neither were we.  Our food was stuffed in one bag, kids clothes thrown in another, lotion and sunglasses hidden in my pocketbook.  It made me realize a bag needs to be pre-packed for the park and ready to go at a moments notice. The tote should be filled with lotion, snacks, water, wipes, diapers (if needed), sweatshirts and change of clothes.

Divide And Conquer
Most of our visit consisted of bursts of excitement or major meltdowns depending on the kid and time of day.  After two days of insanity my husband and I decided our love couldn’t conquer all.  We had to devise a plan that would keep the whole clan happy, but not always together.  Next time we will pair up, one child per one parent.  This will help create a smoother trip and give parents a chance to see Disney through their child’s eyes.

You Can’t Compete With Mickey and Friends
Never and I stress never, stand in your child’s way from getting their Disney idol’s autograph.  Although the character meet and greet may seem a little boring to an adult, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your little one.  If the line is running too long, try to stay flexible and rearrange some plans. You certainly don’t want to be remembered as the evil parent who made your child miss a high-five from Goofy or a hug from Sophia the First. 

Take a Minnie Break
From the time you first step into Disney, all the fairytale sights, parades, shows, and stores enchant you.  Your adventures turn into full day excursions and before you make it to dinner you’re exhausted and the kids are ready to crash.  Remember, to take a break and unwind from the excitement.   Schedule time to chill out in the room, pool or go for a spa service.  It gives parents time to rest and kids a chance to re-energize for the next voyage.

 

 

Push Your Kids’ Buttons

My kids love pushing my buttons and I figured out a fun and clever way to push theirs!  Every time I ask my daughter to brush her teeth, get dressed or go to sleep she tells me in her sweet, innocent matter-of-fact voice, “No mommy because I don’t have a button for that!”  I realize at that point, I have two choices.  Either, I get upset and explain to her, that type of behavior is unacceptable or I understand what I’m asking may be a simple daily task for adults, but a meaningless and very boring activity for a vivacious 3 year old.  Of course, I choose the latter.

Our chores are now a creative thinking game.  We love coming up and creating special dials to give her and me (why not?) super powers.  Whether it’s a switch to help her run faster or an on/off button to grant her the power to brush her teeth or a happy thoughts tab to give her happy dreams at bedtime –we love pushing each other’s buttons!