30 Reasons Being a Stay-at-Home Mom is a Sucky Job

stay_at_home_mom_kid_chaosEvery stay-at-home parent is well aware of the benefits of the job: the ability to be home with your children during their formative years, no scrambling for child care, and pajamas are perfectly acceptable “work clothes,” just to name a few. Unfortunately, few moms or dads have a realistic view of the pitfalls of the job when they decide to become a stay-at-home parent. That’s why you have me, dear readers. I’m willing to tell it like it is even if that means risking the ire of the happy, happy, stay-at-home mommy mafia.

I will admit that I drafted this list after a particularly trying week. Ad Man has informed me that he will be out of town for much of the next month…a month that will feature Small’s 7th birthday party and family visiting from out of town. Did I mention that he’ll be in Austin at South By Southwest for “business?” Yep, it’s that time of year again.

Anyway, please feel free to pass this along to anyone who may be considering dedicating his or her life to this challenging job. Friends don’t let friends become stay-at-home moms without full disclosure of the risks. Knowledge is power.

30 Reasons being a stay-at-home mom is a sucky job:

  1. Pay is far, far below minimum wage
  2. Kiss adult conversations goodbye
  3. Zero growth potential
  4. Physically demanding
  5. Tiny “employers” are often vocally critical of your work
  6. Most accomplishments go unnoticed
  7. No days off, no vacation time, no sick leave
  8. No combat pay for physically or emotionally dangerous work
  9. Feedback from superiors generally limited to silent reproach and judging from afar
  10. Requires an impossibly wide breadth of knowledge including, but not limited to: identity and recommended treatment for various rashes, latest research on the effect of BPAs on growing brains, rules of obscure playground games, names of all characters from every Star Wars episode (even the one with JarJar Binks), removal techniques for a wide range of stains, trigonometry, etc, etc…
  11. Despite #10, you’re left with absolutely nothing to add to your resume
  12. At least one person is actively working to thwart your progress at all times
  13. Stating dissatisfaction with, or openly criticizing, the job is strongly frowned upon (Oops!)
  14. Rules of the game are always changing
  15. Increased risk of substance abuse
  16. Limits social opportunities
  17. No training program
  18. Wardrobe options are limited
  19. Workplace is always messy and often sticky
  20. Drinking on the job is frowned upon
  21. Requires contact with bodily fluids that are not your own
  22. Must be available to work early mornings and late nights
  23. No awards, promotions or perks
  24. Very little opportunity for travel
  25. Excessive contact with brain numbing children’s entertainment
  26. Company car is crusted with food and perpetually smells of spoiled milk and old vomit
  27. Job causes irreparable brain damage
  28. Your boss is unpredictable, irrational and prone to emotional outbursts
  29. Schedule may change at any time with no warning
  30. Much of the day is spent trying to keep employers from killing themselves

Do you have anything to add to my list? What about you moms who work full-time outside the home? Would you describe your jobs as sucky for any of the reasons above? Surely at least one of you has a boss who’s unpredictable, irrational and prone to emotional outbursts, right?

Feeling Like a Failure? Lower Your Expectations!

antidepressants_funnyWhen I was working in production in Los Angeles, my boss and friend, Tom made a point of sitting down every January to write out his personal and professional goals for the year. At the same time, he’d revisit his previous list to determine which goals he’d successfully completed, which ones he’d fallen short on, and which ones to reevaluate and revise going forward. Thankfully, he got me in the habit of doing the same.

Now, I’m great at writing down my goals for the year, but I have to admit, I kind of suck at looking back and evaluating my success. I’d like to believe it’s because I’m such an optimist, always looking to the future with no time to dwell on negatives. Sadly, pretty much everyone who knows me, knows that’s far from the truth. In reality, looking back at things I intended, but failed, to do is just really f*cking depressing and I generally like to avoid it at all costs.

This January, however, I am forcing myself to confront the 2014 list and acknowledge my progress (or lack thereof). Lucky me, I also ran across my goals for 2013, so I have even more data to consider…and to haunt me for the next twelve months. Without further ado, let’s strip me bare and judge me. It’s for my own good.

My Goals for 2013

  1. Heal back and neck
  2. Get fit
  3. Drink green smoothie or juice every day
  4. Atlanta or LA — make a decision and make it happen!
  5. Get a job (or not, depending on #4)
  6. Get finances in order (Make appointment with financial planner)
  7. Refinance house
  8. Be more creative (drawing and writing)
  9. Read more nonfiction
  10. Exercise brain — learn one new thing every day
  11. Learn French
  12. View aging as an interesting science experiment, not a failure
  13. Stay in better touch with family and friends
  14. Spend the holidays on a beach

Reading through it now, I find this list charming in its naivaté. 2015 is looking back at it and shaking its head with a knowing smile. “Aw, bless 2013’s heart…so young, so hopeful…” There are exactly two items above that I can cross off with authority. I have, indeed, been more creative, with writing at least. And, I suppose cake decorating. I have also succeeded in reading more nonfiction. So there, 2013!

As far as the other thirteen items on the list go, well, I can say I gave at least most of them a shot. I actually did get more fit and drank a lake of green smoothies in 2013. Had I evaluated this list in January of 2014 as previously scheduled, I’d have proudly checked off those two goals. But no, I had to give myself an additional year to backslide on my fitness progress and go on a kale strike. So, let’s say success in 2013, less so in 2014.

I did French lessons online and was very consistent for a few months. Unfortunately, as I wrote more, I conversely spent less time studying French. You’ll see that this trend continues through 2014. Something had to give! There are only so many hours in the day! I have two children and a puppy to raise! Other excuses like that!

Goal number four is the one that makes me chuckle the most (sometimes, we laugh to hide the pain). This particular goal…deciding between staying in Atlanta or moving back to Los Angeles…has been on every single one of my annual goals lists since our first January in Atlanta. I’ve made exhaustive pros and cons lists for each possibility and the race always ends in a dead heat, hence, the inaction. I suppose we’re choosing to stay where we are by not choosing to leave. Alas, the internal cage match continues. And, now, on to my goals for 2014:

Things I Will Do In 2014:

  1. Paint our bedroom
  2. Spend more time writing
  3. Spend way less time aimlessly wandering around on the internet
  4. Read four classic books I should have read in high school
  5. Exercise five times a week…even if just thirty minutes of walking
  6. Learn to bake a pie
  7. Practice French five days a week
  8. Have at least two girls’ weekends away
  9. Get back to LA
  10. Cook one new recipe a week
  11. Write at least two blog posts a week
  12. Build a file of blog posts so I’m not always playing catch-up
  13. Volunteer at the girls’ school
  14. Meet with financial planner
  15. Introduce kids to one new veg and one new fruit each week
  16. Take a knife skills class

Reading through this list, you’ll see that I attempted to be much more firm with myself. No more of that wishy-washy “get fit” or “learn French” crap. This time, I threw some numbers behind my promises…”practice French 5 days a week.” Five and nothing less! How is one supposed to succeed unless one has her goals very clearly defined?

I started off 2014 strong. Did I paint my bedroom? Yes, I did! Did I spend more time writing? Absolutely! Did I spend way less time aimlessly wandering around on the internet? Well, um, not exactly. But, I did take one whole week off from my computer. That should count for something, right?

I managed to get away for one girls’ weekend this year. Fifty percent isn’t too bad. I started walking at least thirty minutes a day starting from when we brought Birdie home and taught her to walk on a leash (a triumph in itself). I also started doing hot yoga, which I thought I would hate, but ended up loving. Hey, I could count that as learning something new! Oh, never mind…that was 2013. As for doing actual, vigorous exercise at least five days a week, well, that was a lofty goal so I’m giving myself a pass on that one. On this year’s list, I’ll shoot for a much less onerous three times a week. Or maybe twice. Twice is good.

Actually, that may be just what I need to do in order to reach a 100% success rate…make my goals less ambitious! In an effort to end this post on a positive note, I have drafted a list of goals for 2015 that I know I can achieve:

MommyEnnui’s Far More Attainable Goals for 2015:

  1. Get out of my pajamas at some point every day (even if just to change into a fresh pair)
  2. Make a healthy, non-processed meal containing actual fruits or vegetables once a week
  3. Complete the Monday New York Times crossword puzzle at least once a month
  4. Walk the dog a minimum of once a day
  5. Think about getting a job
  6. Listen to others tell me what an important job I’m doing as a stay-at-home mom (try to believe it)
  7. Volunteer at the girls’ school, or at least boldly write my name on the sign-up sheet and then claim I have an unforeseen conflict when the date rolls around
  8. Learn to bake a pie (I’m adding this one, because I plan to do it this weekend. I’ve even bought ingredients. See? I’m well on my way to success!)
  9. Learn to see aging as a natural process that occurs between Botox appointments
  10. Speak to my husband in the evenings instead of sending him an occasional text from the adjacent couch while watching Project Runway
  11. Stop believing I’ll ever make a decision whether to stay in Atlanta or move back to LA
  12. Apply sunscreen to my face at least as often as I sunscreen my tattoos

Think I can check off twelve out of twelve when next January rolls around? I’m suddenly feeling more confident than I have in years! This is going to be very good for my self-esteem. How about you? What are your goals for the year? Need help making them more achievable? I’m here for you.

I Have Decision Fatigue! What Should I Wear?

carolina_herreraI recently read an article about successful people who have chosen to wear the same thing every day in order to avoid a psychological condition called “decision fatigue.” Decision fatigue refers to the declining quality of the decisions a person makes after a long session of decision-making. As you can imagine, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company makes thousands of decisions daily, virtually all of which are more important than choosing his or her outfit du jour. Why not take that one decision off the table permanently?

Developing and sticking with a personal uniform is a compelling idea even for non-CEOs. Imagine the time you’d save if you no longer had to decide what to wear every morning, let alone shop for each item of a typical wardrobe. However, the author of the article cites not one woman among his examples of highly successful people who have chosen personal uniforms.

I, myself, have a personal stay-at-home-mom uniform consisting of a faded Everlane v-neck t-shirt, Hudson skinny jeans and Vans leather slip-ons (because I also can’t be bothered to tie my shoes). Unfortunately, I don’t think my current level of success quite measures up to that of Steve Jobs or Karl Lagerfeld.

I can think of only a handful of extremely accomplished women who have perfected a “look” they return to time and again. Carolina Herrera is known for her crisp, white button-down shirts and you’ll rarely see Fran Lebowitz deviate from her menswear navy-suit-and-white-shirt uniform. However, I can’t think of one successful woman outside of the creative fields who wears the same thing every day.

What do you think? Do you wish you could avoid wardrobe decision-making every morning? Could you see yourself wearing a personal uniform? If so, what would it be? Do you think a female CEO could get away with wearing a t-shirt, black hoodie and jeans å la Mark Zuckerberg to the office every day? How about the same navy or gray suit like decision fatigued Barack Obama? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Calculating Your Whine to Wine Ratio

grocery_store_tantrumAs an avid childhood fan of ‘The Brady Bunch,’ many of the story lines and lessons learned on the show have stuck with me through the years. I truly believe there are few experiences in life that can’t be related back to a Brady Bunch episode. But, as far as the delightfully terrible Brady sequels go, I remember only two things. First, Cindy carried her lisp into adulthood. (I’m not sure why Carol and Mike never sent her to a speech specialist. I mean, they had a live-in maid; it’s not like they couldn’t afford it.)

The second thing that stuck in my consciousness from the short-lived series, ‘The Bradys,’ was poor Marsha’s fate. When Marsha gave up her career to become a stay-at-home mom, her ego sustained quite a blow (sound familiar?) and she turned to alcohol for solace. She eventually dried out in rehab after getting in an alcohol-related accident with her kids in the car…a true Brady-style happy ending (Marsha’s recovery, not the car accident). To this day, I still think of Marsha when I pour a glass of wine at 4 pm hoping it will sustain me through the long hours until bedtime.

I know I’m not the only mother who, at least occasionally, reaches for a wine glass for emotional strength. As a matter of fact, just this morning I just ran across this quote from Her Majesty, Duchess of London and New York, Gwyneth Paltrow: “I drank like crazy [when the kids were babies]. How else could I get through my day?” See ladies? We’re in good company. If Gwynnie, with her team of nannies, chefs and personal assistants can’t get through the day without a little vino, is there any hope for the rest of us?

In an effort to keep us all out of rehab, I have developed this handy list of parenting situations in which you may find yourself, along with the corresponding amount of alcohol that would be appropriate in each circumstance. I must stress though, never drive when you’ve been drinking, especially with your children in the car. We owe it to Marsha to learn from her mistakes.

Example #1: Your son needs help on his math homework, but it appears to be written in another language. “How many rectangular arrays can you make of these twenty-four crayons?” Wait…is this math or art homework? Your kid, of course, has no clue what a “rectangular array” is despite having spent thirty minutes on it in class that very day. You text a friend who has a child in the same class. She is no help and neither is her kid. Your son moans, lays his head on the kitchen table and makes a point of sighing dramatically.

Appropriate response: Pour a glass of wine. Sip it over the course of the evening.

Example #2: You wake before dawn to your preschooler crying because “Blue Mousie” is just out of reach at the foot of her bed. Rather than moving an additional two inches, she yells to you to retrieve the matted, stuffed mouse. She refuses to wear her favorite dress (the one she wore twice to school and once to bed last week) complaining that it’s “too itchy.” After extended negotiations, you agree to send her to school in pajama bottoms, a Snow White costume and rain boots.

When you arrive to pick her up, she throws a fit and makes you peel her, one finger at a time, from the swing to which she’s clinging with a death grip. She’s still doing her best spawn-of-Satan impression when you get home. Maybe she’s just hungry (…said every hopeful parent since the dawn of time). Take a deep breath and make her a snack. It should preferably be a snack containing some sort of fruit, vegetable or protein, but if things continue to go south, swallow your pride and bust into the hidden Halloween candy. You still have hours to go before bedtime. If the snack fails to remedy the situation, sit her in front of the television, and wallow in feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Appropriate response: Drink one glass of wine. Yearn for another, but realize that you never made it to the grocery store today because you were combing the town for a pair of yellow tights for tomorrow’s preschool performance.

Example #3: It’s your daughter’s “busy day.” As soon as she gets off the bus, you rush her into the house to don her soccer gear and stuff a granola bar in her mouth. Remind her to bring her backpack and a pencil so she can do homework in the car. You’re ten minutes away from the house when your daughter realizes she’s missing her homework folder and one shin guard. Screw it. Let her have one bruised leg and do homework during dinner. Sit in the minivan during soccer practice so your younger kid can knock out his one sheet of homework. Unfortunately, you’ve failed to stock the car with safety scissors and a glue stick.

You return home after soccer only to discover that the dog has diarrhea. Disinfect every surface, then attempt to simultaneously make a passable meal while overseeing both children’s homework. Your husband calls to say there’s a crisis at work and he won’t be home until after bedtime. Your son gets gluestick on the shitty dog and your daughter throws herself on the floor whining that she’s “toooooo tiiiiiirred to do homework!” Realize that, next year, you’ll likely have two children playing sports and moaning about homework and one husband still working late.

Appropriate response: Drink one glass of wine and don’t bother putting the bottle away. Drink another glass while eating leftover mac ‘n cheese from the pan.

Example #4: In a moment of weakness, you volunteered to chaperone your son’s second grade class field trip to the zoo. You’re running late because, well, you have kids. You drop your daughter off at her school, then try to determine whether you have time to pick up a much-needed cup of coffee since you left your to-go cup on the counter at home. As you pull into the Starbucks parking lot, your son starts whining, “Nooooooo, don’t stop heeeerre…I’m gonna get the last seat on the bus and have to sit next to someone stupid!” Remind your dear child that we don’t call people stupid and promise him chocolate milk if he’ll shut the fuck up (in much more sweet and motherly words of course). Get to the drive-thru, take one look at the line and acknowledge that you’ll never make it to school on time if you stop. Abort the mission and head for school. Your son now starts wailing because he wants chocolate milk and continues until you screech into the parking lot at school and drag him onto the bus by his elbow.

In the ape house, the boys loudly discuss daddy ape’s “wiener” while every mom within earshot glares at you in disgust. Three of the five kids entrusted to you run off (your son leading the pack) and disappear into the reptile house while you’re standing guard by the men’s room waiting for the other two to emerge. Despite these incidents, you’re successful in returning all the children safely back to the designated meeting spot outside the zoo gates. You now have a splitting headache from caffeine withdrawal and the incessant boy chatter (and burps and fart jokes) still ringing in your ears. At this point, your son realizes that you didn’t make a stop at the gift shop before exiting and throws an epic fit. The entire episode is witnessed, of course, by the class room mom. You know…the one with the perfect highlights and angelic children? Repeat after me…”I will never volunteer to chaperone a field trip again. I will sell things, I will make cupcakes, I will help grade homework, but dear lord, NOT another field trip!”

Appropriate response: When you return home, polish off a bottle of wine by yourself. Fall asleep on the couch at 8:43 pm while watching an episode of ‘Castle’ you’ve had on the DVR for the last two years.

Example #5: Your daughter is in rare form. Nothing is going right for her today and it’s all your fault. This morning, she is devastated to find out that you washed her black skinny jeans with the gold pattern on the pockets instead of her black skinny jeans with the studs on the pockets which are OBVIOUSLY the ones she NEEDS to wear today. Are you TRYING to ruin her life?! She, of course, misses the bus because she has LITERALLY NOTHING to wear! Your formerly sweet daughter silently mopes the entire ride to school. You drop her off and briefly consider just continuing to drive until you run out of gas in a small town where you’ll start a new life under an assumed name. You shelve that thought, though, when you think about your younger daughter who’s not a teenage asshat yet and still needs you.

That afternoon, your left eye starts to twitch when you hear the middle-school bus lumbering down the street. You hold your breath wondering which of your daughter’s personalities will be returning home today. Unfortunately, it’s the evil one again. You make the mistake of asking about her homework. She grunts something unintelligible, pulls textbooks and notebooks out of her backpack and dramatically drops them one-by-one on the table. You ignore her theatrics and encourage her to head to her room and get started so she’s not doing homework all night.

Not two minutes pass when you hear her screech, “Get OUT of my room! Mooooooommm…I can’t do homework with this BRAT in my room!” Your younger daughter manages to gasp through her sobs, “I. Just. Wanted. To. Show. Her. My. Wiggly. Tooooooooooth!” You calm her down and suggest she stays as far from her hormonal sister as possible. You poke your head in the demon-child’s room and remind her that she needs to be kind to her sister or she won’t be going to her best friend’s sleepover next weekend. She responds by wailing, “Mooooooommm…you DON’T understand! She ALWAYS comes into my room and I can’t do my homework. It’s NOT FAIR! Why do I have soooooo much homework and she has like four math problems? And, I can’t even think because I’m LITERALLY starving!” You back out of her room quietly in hopes that she’ll be so busy ranting, she won’t even know you’ve left.

Your younger daughter spots you in the hall, tiptoes over to you and says, “Um, Mommy? You know that project I told you about yesterday where we’re supposed to do a report on a book and then dress up as the writer and give a speech about the book and the author’s life? Well, it’s due tomorrow.”

Appropriate response: Screw wine. Grab the tequila.

The Back-to-School Curse

willa_sick_birdie_0814

Still Life with Dog and Sick Kid

Things have gone from bad to worse at the MommyEnnui residence. I don’t know why it always catches me off guard when things go horribly awry at the beginning of the school year. I really should write, “Don’t celebrate yet! The shit’s about to hit the fan!” in my calendar on the first day of school every year.

I already knew last week was going to be difficult. It was the second week of school, we have a new puppy and Ad Man was scheduled to be out of town for several days. That meant that I’d have to get two sleepy, stubborn kids up at the crack of dawn, supervise their morning routine, make lunches and have the girls ready to get on the bus at about 5 minutes past the crack of dawn. I also had to simultaneously get a sleepy, stubborn puppy outside to go potty, somehow convincing her of the urgency of the matter, and then keep her from chewing on the children while they tried to avoid getting ready for school.

We managed to do it, despite a few mini-meltdowns by Biggie and Smalls over the outfits they’d picked out themselves just the night before and complaints about their breakfast which would have been deemed disgusting and inedible no matter what I put in front of them. Surprisingly, Birdie cooperated, contentedly spending time in her crate when I couldn’t follow her around at every moment. I tried not to make eye contact with her for fear of breaking the trance.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. This was the first week of homework for Smalls and, borrowing from her sister’s playbook, she cried, whined and ended up doing a half-assed job of it each afternoon. Biggie, on the other hand, was delighted that for once, her sister was the drama queen. She took advantage of the rare opportunity to be the “easy child” by being excessively cooperative and pleasant. Both girls have gotten really good at capitalizing on the other’s foul moods. Generally, it’s Biggie throwing a fit and Smalls smiling sweetly at me, saying, “I love you soooo much, Mommy!” These kissing-up skills should serve them well in their careers someday.

When Smalls got off the bus the next day complaining of a headache and stomach ache, I assumed she’d just developed an allergy to homework. I told her to go lay down in her room if she wasn’t feeling well. After about a half an hour of helping Biggie with homework, I realized that Smalls still hadn’t emerged begging for snacks and began to get concerned. I discovered her asleep in her room with the covers over her head, soaked in sweat. Yep…she was running a fever. At this point, I ran outside, shook my fist in the sky and yelled, “Noooooooo!!!” OK, maybe that part only happened in my head.

It turned out, I had my darling Smalls home with me for the rest of the week and through the beginning of this one. We spent long days watching High School Musical, High School Musical 2, Camp Rock, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Princess Protection Program, Freaky Friday and much, much more. If I see one more Disney Channel star, I’m going to lose my freaking mind!

After 2 trips to the doctor, 2 strep tests, 1 mono test, lots of poking, prodding and pleading for a prescription for antibiotics (that would be me), it turned out that it was just a really nasty virus. Ugh…virus. That word dreaded by parents everywhere because it means you are officially powerless to do anything but wait until the virus is damn good and ready to release your kid from its evil clutches. Poor Smalls was stuck with the thing for 6 days.

Oh, and how could I forget the best part? On Fever Day 2 while Ad Man was still out of town, I had Birdie out to attempt a walk. This time, she took a few steps then planted herself on our neighbor’s uphill yard refusing to leave. I ended up carrying her down a set of uneven steps and twisted my ankle so badly I was sure it was broken. I hobbled home carrying the dog (who’s 20 lbs. now, by the way) and immediately iced my ankle while watching it swell up and turn purple. So, there I sat crying with a erratic, potty-training puppy, a sick child and a husband in Texas not returning my texts or calls. Because, you know, that’s how we roll here at MommyEnnui headquarters.

Without access to my absentee husband, I turned to Facebook for support. The best advice came from my friend S who recommended “B.R.I.C.E.”…bourbon, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Many other friends offered their sympathy and asked if they could do anything to help. Those from far away generally just said they were looking forward to a blog post about the whole debacle. So, this is for you heartless bastards.

On the morning of Day 7, I limped to Smalls’s room to check her temperature. Suddenly, the heavens opened up and rays of golden sunshine pooled on her IKEA rug. (Now that I think of it, that could have been dog pee, but I digress.) Once the room cleared of fluffy, white clouds and angels’ wings, I was able to focus on the thermometer stuck in Smalls’s ear which clearly read 98.6! (That’s 37 degrees Celsius for you Europeans with your fancy metric system.)

My joy overflowed, but after 6 days of vegging on the couch watching TV in her pajamas, Smalls was a little less thrilled with the idea of dashing off to school. Regardless, to the school bus she went! I celebrated by sitting on the couch acting as a buffer between Birdie and the furniture, quietly drinking my tea, and watching something (anything!) other than Nick Jr. I actually left the house to sit in a coffee shop with other adults and begin this blog post. I grabbed some groceries and headed home to the dog. It was a wild day of freedom.

Throughout the afternoon, I hatched big plans for the next day. I was super excited to finally get back to my favorite morning hot yoga class. I laid out my clothes and put all my gear in the lovely, as yet unused, yoga bag my step-mom gave me months ago. I planned to finish this post and finally get it up on the blog. I was also going to make one of the zillion tasty recipes I’ve posted on Vegetarian Mamas recently but hadn’t been able to make with a new puppy and sick kid all up in my grill. I crawled in bed that night knowing that Ad Man would soon be home and feeling optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Same Couch, Different Kid

Same Couch, Different Kid

The following morning, I awoke with the sun…and the whining dog and the prodigal husband attempting to pry the children out of bed. When I stumbled out into the kitchen relieved to see Smalls still looking perky, Biggie moaned, “Mommy…my head hurts.” I held my breath as Ad Man stuck the thermometer in her ear, glanced at it and then turned to me with a look of such pity, it sent me into a complete psychotic breakdown.

I don’t remember much after that other than hearing Ad Man’s faint voice from far above the deep, dark place to which I’d sunk. I’m pretty sure he said, “I’ve got to go to work…you know, that place where people praise and throw money at me for a job well done. How’s that law degree working out for you? Oh, by the way, I have to go to San Francisco for a couple days next week.” Or something like that.

A Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Mommy Blogger

When I was an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles my life was pretty glamorous, at least on paper. I was married, without kids, Ad Man and I had plenty of time and money on our hands. I wore the finest in lady-lawyer pantsuits. I spent time on movie studio lots, went to premieres and loaned my bathroom key to celebrities in my office. I never could have foreseen what my days would be like 10 years, 2 cities and 2 kids later. I’ve recorded one average day in the life of MommyEnnui below. Brace yourself for the excitement and please keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.

another_day_in_paradiseThe alarm on my iPhone goes off at 7:30 am because Biggie and Smalls have gymnastics camp this week. Feel the pain of having to get out of bed before I’m damn good and ready and making sure the kids leave the house looking somewhat presentable. Seriously dread the start of the school year which is coming in 2 short weeks. Curse the Atlanta Public School District. Curse my friends in Los Angeles whose children don’t go back to school until after Labor Day. Curse Ad Man just for fun.

Jump in the shower and ignore the fact that my legs are less than silky smooth. No time to shave today. Figure no one’s checking out my legs these days anyway. Quickly blowdry the front of my hair and hope no one notices that the back is still dripping. Contemplate yet again whether I should get my bangs cut or keep growing them out? Bangs or Botox…bangs or Botox? Realize I have to make a decision before my hair appointment first thing tomorrow morning. Know I’ll never actually decide and will let my stylist make the call.

Things I can count on to happen every single day…Smalls throws a fit and cries when getting her hair brushed and I threaten cut her hair short. Biggie realizes she’s forgotten something vital just as we’re pulling out of the driveway. The girls complain that their car seats are too hot, they stage a sit-in under the tree and refuse to enter the car. (I have no doubt they would do this if we lived in Canada.) Envision myself tying them to the bumper and dragging them to gymnastics.

xanax_better_momPick up their neighborhood friend for carpool to camp. Chat with my friend, her mother, who’s rocking a similar “disheveled mom” look as me. Notice that my friend is at least dressed in workout wear. Feel bad for not even pretending today. She mentions her fear of the start of school but remains fairly calm (or at least well-medicated). Full-on freakout mode shouldn’t hit for at least another week at which time we’ll support each other with beer on on the porch and offers to share Xanax. Feel deeply grateful to have found friends who are as neurotic as I am.

On the way to camp, realize that I’ve put my bra on twisted not once, but twice. Hope this isn’t a bad omen for the day.

Go home to blow dry the rest of my hair and brush my teeth. Watch a stupid segment on the ‘Today Show’ with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Feel offended on Tim Gunn’s behalf for this clear waste of his time and talent. Count the days until the new ‘Project Runway’ season starts. Changing of the ‘Today Show’ guard. Think about how much I love Hoda and and would really like for her to find a good man. Wonder how she manages to restrain herself from slapping Kathie Lee Gifford.

heidi_montag_manipediConsider folding clothes and cleaning up the kitchen. Decide to get my nails done and write instead. Hop into our crappy, 8 year-old Passat station wagon and drive to the nail salon. Count the numerous very fit, very blonde, stay-at-home moms in workout gear, getting mani/pedis. Think about how no one in this place has any true understanding of the reality of everyday life for 90% of the people in our country. Realize I should hardly be one to judge. Defend myself in my own mind, pointing out to a nonexistent other person that I spent time on Skid Row and produced a documentary on homelessness in LA. Know that nonexistent person would say that doing a documentary about something is nothing like living that experience. Make myself stop having an imaginary conversation with no one.

Go to Starbucks to write. Lunch is an energy bar and an iced green tea. For the 5,000th time, think about how annoying lunch is, occurring in the middle of the day when I’m trying to get stuff done. Such an imposition.

Sit outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Take in the blue skies, temperature in the low 80s, and lovely breezes. Realize that not one part of my body is sweating…a rare state indeed. A 50-something year-old woman sits down to share my table and we can’t help overhearing the couple at the next table, who are obviously freshly divorced, argue about who’s going to pay for their kids’ private school. The woman and I eye each other nervously. The bitter couple leaves and my table mate says cheerily, “Man am I glad I’m single!” We chat about the pros and cons of marriage for a bit and she goes on her way. Acknowledge that I’ve had an amusing chance encounter with a stranger. I usually try to avoid those.

Check email. Check Facebook. Start to look at sandals on sale, but stop myself, recognizing the classic signs of a writer procrastinating. Peruse my extensive list of topics to blog about and reject all of them. My brain is too fried to actually craft an essay of any quality, so I decide to spew out a stream-of-consciousness, day-in-the-life kind of thing. Doubt anyone will read it. Write it anyway.

I know it’s time to stop writing when I have to pee. Head to Target because I need a couple things and because the bathroom there is fairly clean and smells like Froot Loops. Feel happy that Target has finally decided to ban guns in its stores so I can discontinue my boycott. Three weeks without Target was a serious sacrifice. That alone should show my dedication to the cause. Spend $96 on nothing. Forget to pee.

Get back in the car and consider the fact that I never once forgot to pee or eat a meal before I had children. Blame them.

Inhale a banana and peanut butter and greet the girls when they’re returned to me from camp. Ask how their day was and get vague and unsatisfying responses. They do, however, insist that I watch them do cartwheels and bridges in the front yard for the next half hour. Suggest they come inside for a snack and watch a TV show. Acknowledge that a better mother would stand outside all day cheering on their impressive gymnastics skills. I am not that mother.

bath_salts_0714Spend the rest of the afternoon alternately listening to squabbles over whose turn it is to choose a show, reminding Smalls to go to the bathroom, thinking about the fact that I have no plans for dinner and doing nothing about the situation. Pry the girls away from the television and attempt to entice them into taking an early bath in order to avoid an evening drama. Fail in that attempt. Instead, the girls busy themselves by planting land mines of tiny toys with sharp edges all over the house.

Text Ad Man to ask when he’s planning to leave the office. An hour and a half later, when I’ve given up on him and started cooking the girls an inspired meal of macaroni and cheese, raisins, and almonds, finally receive a text back saying he’s going to be late. Think, “No shit” but do not reply. Pour a sizable glass of wine.

Biggie and Smalls beg to take a bath together then spend the entire time fighting over tub toys and who’s taking up more space. Smalls cries and complains during hair washing, because the child apparently has the world’s most sensitive scalp. Plan to call the Guinness people if we all survive this bathtime. Listen to yet more high-pitched arguing and threaten to take away their reading time before bed. Plan what I’m going to wear to the ceremony when I receive my parenting award.

Supervise the drying off, hair brushing, donning pajamas and brushing teeth process. Just as the last preparations for bedtime are complete, Ad Man walks in. The girls squeal, “Daddy!!!” and run to hug and kiss him like they hadn’t seen him just this morning. Give Ad Man a dirty look, say, “They’re all yours,” go refill my wine glass, and take off my bra. Consider my job complete. Spend the rest of the night zoning out in front of the TV with a computer on my lap, thinking about how I really should be working out instead.

Lather, rinse and repeat tomorrow.

Help Design MommyEnnui Headquarters

office_space_before_0414

Can you spot my desk?

Please help! MommyEnnui HQ is in dire need of an upgrade. After almost seven years in our house, I’m actually going to be getting a real, organized, home office space. I’ve attached some “before” photos so you can feel better about the state of your house. As you can see, I do have a desk of sorts. As you can also see, my desk has been buried under a pile of unfiled paperwork, old bills, a printer that ran out of ink two years ago and a random collection of “kid krap” for as long as I can remember.

My lack of a workspace hasn’t been a big problem until recently. Ad Man handles the bills and there have always been plenty of other surfaces in the house on which to fold laundry, change diapers, iron clothes (Ha, ha! Just kidding…I don’t iron) and complete other stay-at-home mom tasks. Since starting this blog, I’ve either worked at the kitchen table, on the couch or at a coffee shop somewhere. I’ve also developed some pretty major wrist problems and need a more ergonomically correct set up or I’m going to end up requiring carpal tunnel surgery. No fun.

living_room_view_before_0414

View from living room area.

Moreover, I’ve started working on another, top secret, writing project for which I’ll be needing a workspace that accommodates both me and a writing partner. I’m super excited about the project, but I’m also somewhat superstitious and don’t want to jinx anything. As it progresses, and if it doesn’t end up sucking, I promise to tell you all about it.

I’ve actually made a bit of headway on the space in the past two weeks. All the bills and random papers have been either filed or shredded and I’ve decided on a paint color for the room. This quick choice of paint color is a huge accomplishment for me. Some of you may recall that Ad Man and I had paint swatches on our bedroom walls for about two years before settling on a color and finally repainting. So anyway, the downstairs living room/home office will be Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. It’s the perfect warm gray and, while not the most inspiring color, it should make for a calm, cozy room. There are still, however, three bicycles and two skateboards in the room that will need to be relocated to the utility room whether Ad Man likes it or not.

As for organization, I’m totally open to suggestions. I’m thinking I’ll spackle (is that a verb now?) the hell out of the wall from which I just removed a gallery of family photos and add some floating shelving in its place. I won’t have too much of a need for paper storage since I write on my laptop and will be doing the other project on it as well. I’ll need a large-ish corkboard for story outlines with good, old fashioned index cards. Other than that, I’ll just need room for typical office supplies and my resource books.

dreamy_home_office

A girl can dream, can’t she?

I’d rather not spend a pile of money on this project, so I’ll likely be sticking with the existing ugly IKEA desk. After all I’m not exactly making a fortune blogging. As a matter of fact, you can count on me to make a huge announcement the first time I earn a dime from blogging or other writing. That will be a happy day, indeed, and we shall celebrate! I’m pretty sure the joyous event will call for a signature cocktail so you can start thinking about that beforehand if you’d like.

I’d love to hear your ideas and see photos of how you’ve managed to organize your own work space at home. I’ve started a ‘Home Office’ board on my Pinterest page on which I’ve started pinning photos of dreamy, functional and clutter-free home offices. Please feel free to send me pins you run across that you think I should add to the board. And as long as I’m already begging you for help, if you’re not following me on Pinterest, please do so I can justify the ridiculous amount of time I spend on the site. In the meantime, I’ll be patching, painting and perusing my favorite porno mag, the Container Store catalog, for inspiration.

Calling for Peace in the Parenting Wars

judging-new-parentsLast week, I went to hear Jennifer Senior, author of the universally lauded book on modern parenting All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, speak. I have not yet raved here about Senior’s book just because I feel like it has been reviewed and praised in so many publications already. It’s unlikely you haven’t already read a review, read the book itself, or at least seen it on the bestsellers’ shelf at the bookstore. Suffice it to say, it is a fantastic book about the changes that have occurred over the past 70 years or so that have completely changed the face of parenting and what those changes mean for today’s parents.

all_joy_no_fun_bookAll Joy and No Fun isn’t a how-to parenting book, however. Senior, a parent herself, readily admits that, like most people, she’s just “winging it” as far as raising her kids goes. We’re all pioneers in this wild new landscape of modern parenting. Senior’s book presents astute observations in a nonjudgmental way and this is one of the things I found so rare and refreshing about it.

You can go to any bookstore or spend just a few minutes on Amazon and find countless books written with the intention of convincing the reader that the author’s theory on raising children is the correct one and that all other parenting methods are tantamount to child abuse. Really, it’s come to that level of dispute and hysteria. It’s a virtual cage match between Attachment parents, Free-Range parents, long-term breastfeeders, Tiger moms and dads, No-Cry parents, anti-vaccine evangelists, family bed advocates and on and on and on.

I’m not going to claim that I didn’t delve into more than a few how-to books myself as a young parent. (Or, more appropriately, a “new” parent…I had ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE stamped on my OB’s medical files from day one!) There are a thousand different situations that arise just in the first few months of your firstborn’s life for which you have not the slightest bit of preparation and it sure would be nice to have a manual to refer to for step-by-step instructions. But, unfortunately, that’s not how this maddening parenting thing works. In reality, you do your best and then wait 18 or 30 years to find out whether you completely fucked up or not.

And yet, that hasn’t stopped an army of experts and lifestyle gurus from getting rich on books that purport to show you “the way” through parenthood. I was just reading a review of Alicia Silverstone’s new book The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning. If that doesn’t sound like a woman who thinks she has the answers, I don’t know what does. In addition to being an actress, Silverstone is also a vocal vegan, animals rights activist, fairly new mother and best-selling author of The Kind Diet. (Full disclosure, I own Silverstone’s first book and refer to it often for recipes and information about vegan eating.)

the_kind_mama_bookAs an influential Hollywood hippie-type (no judgment intended…you know I love my LA hippie brothers and sisters), Silverstone has taken it upon herself to extend her vegan, Earth-loving “brand” to parenthood. Not surprisingly, The Kind Mama advocates strongly for attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, the family bed and vegan eating for the entire family. Some of the controversial assertions Silverstone makes in the book are that: 1) meat, dairy and processed foods “track toxic sludge through your [uterus],” 2) diapers are “pseudoscience,” 3) eating plant-based foods can “demolish your need for pharmaceutical drugs for things like depression,” 4) tampons may make you infertile, and 5) some babies are “never the same” after receiving vaccines.

As you can imagine, the responses to the review I read and comments on Amazon regarding the book itself are passionate to say the least, though the word combative seems more apt. A few responses, both positive and negative, were thoughtful and constructive. However, the overwhelming majority of comments made it abundantly clear that otherwise sane people will readily resort to insults, name-calling and threats against those purporting to tell them that their beliefs and philosophies, especially regarding parenting, are incorrect.

start_cola_earlierI’m not trying to defend Silverstone here. The author herself resorts to the same tactics when she describes forcing your baby to sleep “in a barred-in box, completely alone,” AKA in a crib, as the equivalent of child neglect. And, I personally think her anti-vaccine stance is misguided at best and, at worst, deadly. What is clear, though, is that the so-called “Mommy Wars” have now grown into full-blown “Parenting Wars.” You will now be judged not only on whether you choose to work or be a stay-at-home parent, you will be second guessed on every decision you make regarding every aspect of raising your child, from when you decide to start the kid on solid foods to whether your children will be expected to contribute toward the cost of their college educations.

You know, it used to be considered extremely rude to tell someone how to raise his or her children. Not everything was up for passionate public debate. Were there “experts,” books and magazine articles, friends and complete strangers standing by to shame my mother when she was unable to successfully breastfeed me? Hell, no. Did she have to justify her choice of diapers or where she put me down to sleep or what vaccines she “allowed” the pediatrician to give me? No, again. She sincerely did what she and my dad thought was best for me and it was no one else’s damn business.

beer-breastfeedingWouldn’t it be nice if we could return to those days? Thank you, researchers, for your findings. Thank you, doctors, for your medical advice. I am now going to go ruminate on those facts and opinions and take the action that my husband and I deem is in my child’s best interest. No, woman at the grocery story, I don’t need to know what you think of our decision. No thank you, I’d prefer not to read the book filled with doomsday predictions about the horrible things that will happen to my child and, indeed, the universe if I fail to buy her organic, GMO-free toothpaste.

Can we all just go back to viewing parenthood as a series of personal decisions people make as they’re stewarding little humans from infancy to adulthood instead of a political stance to be analyzed, debated and voted upon by all citizens, everywhere? In other words, they’re my kids, I’m doing my best and everyone else can shut the fuck up. Oh, I’m sorry. Was that too harsh? I forgot mothers aren’t supposed to get angry or swear. Surely, that outburst will have a dire effect on my children in the future.

Something About a Sandwich

eliza_cook_cowboy_boots_0314I was chatting with Biggie’s teacher one day and she asked me if I’d heard from Whosit about the whatsit contest Biggie won. I said no, but, “Yes, definitely, very exciting…have her send me the paperwork…” nodding my head knowingly all the while having not the slightest idea what she was talking about. All I could gather was that it had something to do with a sandwich. I somehow got through the conversation without revealing my utter confusion and ignorance and pumped Biggie for information as soon as she got off the bus that afternoon.

Apparently a number of classes entered a healthy sandwich recipe contest a few weeks before and two kids at the school won, Biggie and a boy in her class. They were now invited to move on to some sort of cooking contest. The details remained sketchy. Biggie couldn’t remember the exact recipe she submitted, but she knew it contained turkey, “monster cheese” (muenster) and pickles. She wasn’t sure about the bread, but she had a vague notion that it was on a rolled up tortilla.

I had no clue who was sponsoring this contest, what the cooking competition would involve or how in the hell Biggie won with a turkey, cheese and pickle sandwich. About a week later, I received the mysterious paperwork in the mail which included some details about the event and a photo release I was required to sign and return. The photo release put me on alert that this might be a bigger deal than I originally imagined.

future_chefs_vert_0314It turns out that this was part of an annual “Future Chef” contest organized by Sodexo, the company that manages the fine dining at school cafeterias across the country. In a few weeks, Biggie and an unspecified number of other winners would move on to the district finals where they’d be required to make their sandwich for a panel of judges and fifty other people. Fifty!  All ingredients would be provided, each contestant would have one adult helper and the event would take approximately four hours. Four hours!

This concerned me for a number of reasons. First, the event would begin at 8 am on a Saturday morning, at a school about thirty minutes away. As is my luck, on that particular Saturday morning (and for numerous days before and after it) Ad Man would be schmoozing and partying his way through the interactive section of South by Southwest (“SXSW” for you hipsters) in Austin, Texas. This meant that I would have to get two kids up and ready to hit the road by 7:15 am in order to go sit at a cooking competition for hours. This was far from my idea of a relaxing Saturday morning.

I was also concerned (or maybe the better word for it would be ‘hopeful’) that Biggie would want nothing to do with this. My eight year-old self would have run for the hills if someone told me I had to make food for fifty people and present my dish to a panel of judges. Not Biggie. She was super excited and ready to go!  It occurs to me that maybe she’s not actually my child. She was conceived in a petri dish after all. Any number of things could have fallen into that dish.

Over the next few weeks, she practiced making her sandwich and figured out the best way to serve small portions to a crowd of people. Concerned that she’d be crushed at the competition by other, more creative, sandwiches, I suggested that she might want to add some sort of condiment…mustard, mayo, hummus? But, she stood strong and insisted on sticking with her turkey, cheese and pickle sandwich rolled up in a tortilla and cut into cute, sushi-like rolls.

By the time the big day arrived, I was already in a frazzled, pissy mood from single-parenting while Ad Man posted daily online reports about drinking moonshine, bumping into old friends and going to see astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak. (N.DeG.T. is one of my biggest crushes, by the way. Seriously, that man’s brain is so damn sexy!) Thankfully, my friend B, offered to take Smalls for the morning so I wouldn’t have to try to entertain her for hours in a place I knew nothing about. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to wrap my mind around what this event would be like and why the hell it would take four hours to make some sandwiches!

Biggie and I left home slightly late and I knew we’d be cutting it close, but I had to stop and grab a large tea en route or I feared I’d spend the entire morning with a raging headache. On the way, I attempted to lower Biggie’s expectations a bit. I told her that she shouldn’t be disappointed if she didn’t win and that I was already really proud of her for having her recipe chosen and for working so hard on practicing her sandwich. Biggie, ever the optimist, replied, “Yeah, I know, Mom. I might only win, like, third place or something.” Oh boy. I had no doubt we were walking into a kids’-cooking-competition bloodbath.

As it turned out, we arrived a few minutes late after cluelessly wandering around the school until we spied a few balloons marking the entrance to the event location. The cooking contest was, of course, held in the school cafeteria. I don’t know why I expected a ‘Top Chef’-style soundstage complete with high-end kitchen appliances. Too many years spent living in LA, I guess. There was a long table set for five judges, a table overflowing with goodie bags, prizes and trophies and signs and balloons everywhere. The rest of the attendees, mostly parents and siblings, were directed to the cafeteria tables.

It was not thirty seconds after we walked in the room that, sitting down to fill out some paperwork, I managed to spill my giant chai tea latte over every important document for the competition–sign-in sheets, photo releases, the judges’ name tags–everything!  Not only did I feel like an ass, but that also left me with no goddamn tea! And I couldn’t get any more for four hours!  Four!  (Sorry, lack of caffeine affects me in many ways, one of which is excessive use of exclamation points.)

After I helped mop up the welcome table, the event started chugging along. One of the organizers called out the childrens’ names. Our melodious surname is Schokchtckhtshechkt (or might as well be) so, unsurprisingly, the woman butchered Biggie’s name and attributed her to the wrong school. That was one of the few times I saw a crack in Biggie’s confident veneer. However, her chest puffed right back up as soon as she donned her very own ceremonial Sodexo apron and chef’s hat. And, she looked so damn cute, the ice in my heart actually began to melt a bit too.

eli_smile_pesto_0314The kids were matched with their adult helpers and ushered into the cafeteria kitchen where they were given a short safety lesson and a copy of their original recipe. They were each assigned a workspace and the countdown began. Because of the long time-frame, I was expecting that there would be countless children in the competition, but there were really only about fifteen kid-contestants. They were given one hour to complete their cooking.

Parents could see into the kitchen, but we were kept behind the cafeteria-tray ledge during this prep time. I got as close to Biggie as I could to take some pictures of her working and she held up a slice of bread to me with a quizzical look on her face. I mouthed to her something like, “No tortillas? No problem. Just do the best you can.” I then saw her having a serious discussion with her sous chef about the bread options, ultimately deciding to go with a whole wheat baguette. I thought this was a good culinary choice and an inspired tactical move since this was a healthy sandwich contest and returned to my cafeteria seat confident that Biggie had things under control.

The cafeteria was spotless, but that didn’t keep the lone cockroach from zeroing in on me and running across my foot as I was making small talk with the parents of the other kid from Biggie’s classroom. With the classmate’s little sister yelling, “Squish it, squish it!,” I used my cat-like reflexes and stomped on the offending roach. I was haunted by the sight of its flattened corpse for the rest of the morning.

With all the excitement, the hour passed fairly quickly and the judging phase of the event began. An organizer introduced the judges which consisted of bigwigs from Sodexo and the Atlanta Public School District and a reporter from the local “11 Alive News.” Damn near every person in the room was introduced and thanked, including the Sodexo mascot, some fuzzy, blue, star-shaped thing named Lift-Off who had been enthusiastically cheering on the young chefs. Nervous children stood patiently clutching their completed dishes.

The way judging went was that each kid would walk up to the judge’s table with his or her presentation plate. The judges munched on their tasting samples and asked each young chef some questions. Meanwhile, everyone in the audience also received a sample of each sandwich. As she waited, Biggie looked a little anxious which made me a complete nervous wreck!

eliza_cook_judging_0314Biggie’s turn eventually came and she was amazingly poised, explaining her recipe and responding to the judges’ many questions. I got my sample of her sandwich, picked off the turkey (Biggie’s creativity was clearly not stifled by the fact that I don’t eat or cook meat) and took a bite. I was shocked to discover that it was quite tasty! As it turns out, she had completely forgotten the recipe she submitted. Her actual recipe called for a lightly toasted baguette, with turkey, muenster cheese a pickle and pesto. (Aha…the forgotten secret ingredient!)  She’d specified in her recipe that the sandwich should be lightly warmed so that the “monster cheese” would melt a bit into the baguette. She also mixed together a little pesto and butter and swiped it on top of the toasty bread. I was no longer baffled as to why Biggie was a winner in the recipe contest. I was, however, still baffled as to how she came up with such a tasty recipe. I mean, I love to cook and I’ve baked and cooked with Biggie and Smalls since they were toddlers. But, it’s not like I’ve had them studying old episodes of ‘Chopped’ like football players watching game films.

eliza_mommy_cook_0314After judging, Biggie came and sat on my lap, needing a snuggle after an action-packed hour of cooking. I was so proud of her. It was a rare treat being able to witness her taking on something new and challenging with such confidence and grace. It was nice to think, for a moment, that maybe my daughters won’t be saddled with all my neuroses after all. And to think that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t completely failing at this whole motherhood thing.

In the end, Biggie shocked us both by winning 2nd Prize!  The look on her face when they called her name was priceless and not even the mangled pronunciation could dim her smile. I would have cried if I weren’t so busy hugging her, snapping photos and texting everyone with the exciting news. I really wish Ad Man could have been there with me to see our little girl glowing with such an empowering sense of accomplishment. There are many, many days when parenting can be the most thankless job in the world. And then there are those rare days that make you realize that all the work, anxiety and frustration are worth every crazy minute. This was one of those days.

Poor, Sick Ad Man

ad_man_beach_flaAd Man stayed home from work today. He’s terribly, terribly sick. Kind of like I was last week when I was snowed in with two children and he was at a conference in Florida. You know, while he was posting photos like this one from his morning run on Instagram because he thought I wouldn’t check it. He wouldn’t dare post it on Facebook since learning his lesson with the six-foot foot sculpture incident. Oh, how he underestimates me. Doesn’t he know I have people everywhere?

So, I’m out doing errands and writing while Ad Man is home sipping tea all snug in the little nest he’s created on the couch. He’ll likely spend all afternoon listening in on some three hour conference call, the phone on mute so he can cough pitifully or more clearly hear the old episode of West Wing he’s watching simultaneously on Netflix. See? He works when he’s sick…just like me!

writer_ad_manActually, every member of the family, with the exception of Jacques the beta fish, has had this same illness. Biggie, Smalls and I survived it last week with the only casualties being about five boxes of tissues. I’m not so optimistic about Ad Man’s chances of survival. He’s a bit of a delicate flower. I have no doubt he got the most severe case of this bug. He has the sorest throat, the runniest nose and the worst cough.

In fact, that’s why I’m posting this dear readers. Ad Man could use all the thoughts, prayers and healing vibes you can spare. If there are any priests reading this right now, please stand by. I may need to call on you soon to give him last rites. Not that we’re religious…I just think his mom would appreciate it.

In the meantime, I’ll be on the phone with our insurance agent bumping up Ad Man’s life insurance a cool $Mil or so.