An Interview with Biggie and Smalls

three_on_a_swingAs part of the 30-day blogging challenge, my assignment today is to write a post that includes a new-to-me element, like an image or video. I’ve already done both, so I’ve decided to conduct an interview which I have not yet done (If you’ll recall, you guys conducted the interview with Kanye West, not me).

In considering who to interview, I looked far and wide, remembered that it’s 15 degrees (Fahrenheit!) outside and recommitted myself to not leaving the house. Luckily for you, dear readers, the witty, charming and only occasionally maddening Miss Biggie and Miss Smalls are here within the confines of my warm house. They’re also bored out of their skulls and ready to murder each other because they’ve been home on winter break for the last 2+ weeks. They’re now stuck here for yet another day with school cancelled due to the frigid weather.

You see, children in Atlanta don’t even own clothing warm enough for standing at bus stops with temperatures in the single digits. The former Chicagoan in me scoffs at the concept of calling off school for a “cold day,” while the former Los Angeleno in me is like, “Aw, HELL no! I’m going to sit my freezing ass down right here by this space heater and not move again until the temperature hits 50 degrees!”  But I digress.

Anyway, as you’ll see below, the girls had lots of insightful things to say about my current and former careers. They also really, really want cookies.

Q: What kind of work does mommy do?
Biggie: Taking care of us and doing your blog.
Smalls: Taking care of us and doing your blog. [Hmm…maybe I should ask Smalls the questions first.]

Q: What does Mommy do to take care of you?
Smalls: Giving us baths, kissing us goodnight, tucking us in at night…
Biggie: Making us food.
Smalls: Cookies! Can we have dessert?

Q: What do I do during the day when you’re at school?
Smalls: I don’t know. I’m at school.
Biggie: Dishes, laundry, clean the house, go get groceries, go get your nails done. Daddy says you just get coffee and tea.
[I give Ad Man a dirty look and kick him out of the room.]

Q: What should I do during the day?
Smalls: Go and get a surprise for us…like cookies or something. Or you should bake cookies.
Biggie: Go look at French Bulldogs. [The ladies of the house want a French Bulldog. Ad Man doesn’t want to clean up poop.]

Q: What kind of work did Mommy do before Biggie was born?
Smalls: I don’t know!  It was before she [Biggie] was even born!
Biggie: You were a lawyer. And you made a movie…a documentary. [At least someone has been paying attention.]

Q: Do you know what kind of lawyer Mommy was?
Smalls: What’s a lawyer? [Sigh.]
Biggie: You were someone who helped people who someone else thought did something bad. And you would defend them. [Yes, like representing the poor major film companies that didn’t want to pay their producers’ royalties.]

Q: What’s a blog?
Smalls: Something that you write down things on on a keyboard. People read it on the other part of the computer [pointing to the screen].
Biggie: Something some people write that goes out on the internet for people to read.

Q: What do you think mommy’s blog is about?
Smalls: You talk about what you do at your house like giving us baths and taking care of us.
Biggie: About your life. Like, a few days ago, you wrote about how messy our house was. [Specifically, Biggie’s bedroom.]

Q: If you had a blog, what would you write about?
Smalls: My family and friends.
Biggie: You could write anything. You could even write about your butt!  I would write about my friends and me.

Q: What do you think I should write about next?
Biggie: Why you started your blog…you know, so you could have something to do when we were gone. Or what you did before you started your blog, like where you lived and where you went to school and stuff.
Smalls: I don’t know. [Smalls is clearly starting to check out at this point.]

Q: Do you think I should spend more time or less time writing my blog?
Biggie: Less time so you can hang out with us more.
Smalls: More time so you can do a better job. Like if you messed up, you could do it again.

Q: What kind of school did mommy go to?
Smalls: A college?
Biggie: You went to elementary school, high school and college. You studied Geometry and Geography and French. [Huh?]

Interlude while the girls show me how they pretend to fall down.

Q: How do you think my life is different now than it was before I had kids?
Smalls: You have to take care of kids. You didn’t then.
Biggie: Mostly the same except for the part about having kids.
[Yep. Exactly the same…except for the having kids part.]

Q: Do you think mommy should go back to work full-time?
Biggie: No, because I want to hang out with you.
Smalls: No. You should stay and snuggle with us…because you do love my snuggling.

Q: Do you think mommy is funny?
Smalls: Yes. You say funny stuff.
Biggie: Yes. You make funny faces at us through the car window at the gas station. [I kill it at the gas station.]

Q: What do you like least about Mommy?
Biggie: You can sometimes be mean. Like about making my bed and cleaning my room.
Smalls: Sometimes you’re so busy you don’t get to play with me. [Like, for instance, when the thought of playing one more game of pretend with Littlest Pet Shop animals makes me want to bang my head against the wall.]

Interlude while the girls demonstrate their “mime-in-a-box” skills.

Q: What kind of work does Daddy do?
Smalls: Advertising. What does advertising mean? [OK…I feel better now.]
Biggie: He makes advertisements and commercials in a big office building.

Q: What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?
Smalls: I don’t know. [She’ll drive around the country for a year in a smelly van with her boyfriend and his bandmates.]
Biggie: A veterinarian, an artist and a fashion designer. [She’ll change her major seven times.]

Q: Do you want to have kids when you grow up?
Smalls: No, It’s kinda scary because they cut open your belly. Do they always cut open your belly?
Me: Well, either they cut open your belly, which is called a c-section, like I had with you two, or usually the baby comes out of the mommy’s vagina.
Smalls: Eeeeewwwww! [This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed this, by the way.]
Biggie: I want to adopt two girls. [Sucker!]

Many thanks to my darling daughters for providing MommyEnnui’s readers with such a clear, detailed and accurate description of my life before and after children.  I suppose all that’s left for me now is to move on to blogging about my butt.  Stay tuned!

I Am Not Worthy

bandaid_handsI want to thank my dear friend Kanye West for filling in for me last Friday.  I hope you found his parenting advice helpful. I must apologize for being a bit of a slacker this week. I’ve been (gasp!) working. Yes, I’m engaged in some seasonal labor. No, I’m not the mall Santa’s new grumpy middle-aged elf. I can barely manage my own children let alone hundreds of kids who are up past their naptime, wearing their itchiest Sunday best, and wired from a steady diet of candy canes and goldfish crackers.

Actually, my friends K and G own an amazing gourmet sweet bread company and cafe here in Atlanta called Breadwinner. I can’t help but boast…their bread was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things in 2011. And you know Oprah is the world’s foremost expert on Things. Anyway, they do a ton of business at the holidays, shipping thousands of breads across the country. So, I’ve been doing some pretty serious packaging and shipping these days. As I sit here, I have a heating pad on my neck and shoulders and band-aids on the bloody stumps that used to be my fingers.

This little trial run as a working mother has been eye-opening. Thus far, I’ve worked a total of three, five-hour days. I’m still getting home in time to meet Biggie and Smalls when they get off the bus, but I am completely exhausted! Granted, as I mentioned, it is fairly physical work (I mean, those bows don’t just tie themselves!), but you’d think I could handle a few measly five-hour days. Instead, until now, I have not managed to write one word for this blog, do a moment of exercise or wash one piece of laundry. The house is in shambles and our dinners this week have been, shall we say, uninspired. As far as experiments go, I wouldn’t exactly call this one a rousing success.

I bow down to working mothers everywhere. I am clearly not worthy to stand in their shoes. When I was first out of law school and working as an associate at a law firm, there were weeks on end when I didn’t get a day off. I always worked at least one day each weekend and rarely left the office before 7 pm. Twelve-hour days were typical. I’m not saying it was fun, but I managed to keep up that pace for a few years without falling apart physically or losing my mind, which I’d say is a win. So I have to question whether I am a weenie now because I’m old or just because I’m out of practice.

Don’t get me wrong, there have also been some very positive aspects to working outside the little fiefdom of my house. I don’t fall into the Today Show/Facebook black hole in the morning while drinking my tea, failing to emerge for hours. I actually get up and shower every day. I’m eating an actual lunch instead of scarfing an energy bar and a handful of nuts between errands. I’m having contact with human beings other than the person working the Starbucks drive-thru. I take pride in my work. My ribbons are tied and trimmed beautifully, my breads are carefully packaged and I only occasionally find a crucial enclosure card left on the table and have to unpack 50 boxes to figure out which one is missing a card.

Most importantly, I get a real sense of accomplishment from the work. You can’t wrap and pack 300 loaves of bread for a corporate order without feeling a certain satisfaction. That is one thing I’ve sorely missed from my days of working full-time. Being a stay-at-home parent is a marathon rather than a sprint, and you rarely even see the finish line on the horizon, let alone cross it. Most of the things you do accomplish in a day…cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, helping the kids with homework…just need to be done again tomorrow. I really miss the finish line.

Luckily, in the next few weeks I have, among other things, a birthday slumber party to throw for Biggie, Christmas presents to buy, wrap and either ship out or hide, stockings to stuff, cookies to bake, a holiday party to throw for Ad Man’s employees and a blog to write. Maybe it would help me to visualize all those tasks lined up before a finish line beyond which lies copious amounts of wine, a pint of ice cream and a nice, warm bed. If not, I’ll just take the wine and a few Xanax-laced Christmas cookies, thankyouverymuch!

Kanye West Answers Your Parenting Questions

kanye_headshotDearest readers, I’m busy buying useless crap at the dollar store to fill Biggie and Smalls’s Christmas stockings just like Jesus would do, so I’ve asked my close friend Kanye West to fill in as guest blogger on MommyEnnui today. Kanye and I go way back. He grew up in the Chicago suburb adjacent to mine (at least 45 minutes from the mean streets of Chi-Town…don’t let all that tough talk fool you) and we loitered in the same malls as teens.

As you may know, Kanye’s soon-to-be wife, Kim Kardashian, gave birth to their first child North West this past fall. Because, in his words, Kanye is full of “awesomeness…beauty, truth and awesomeness,” he is more than qualified to provide some sage advice. Here, he answers your most burning questions about his new bundle of joy and advises you on your parenting dilemmas.

Q: Kanye, every morning turns into a battle with my daughter over choosing an outfit for the day. Do you have any tips?

Kanye: Imma tell you what I do with my babygirl. I pick up the phone and call my friends Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace and I have ‘em each send over a bunch of fly outfits in baby size and that gives me lots of options for dressing North to coordinate with what I put Kim in that day. Whether she flyin’ on a Lear to Paris for the Louis Vuitton show or she just playin’ in her private 20 acre park with the nannies, my girl be dressed to the nines at all times. When she gets older, she won’t question my fashion advice because I’m a fashion God, yo.

Q: How do I teach my child about managing money?

Kanye: Well, North is in a position of a level of royalty like the Prince and Princess of London, so she ain’t never be worryin’ bout money, you feel me? But, I grew up with a single mom, rest her soul, in [the middle class suburbs of] Chicago so I know all about bein’ poor. I would just tell your kid, “Havin’ money isn’t everything, not havin’ it is.” Tell him Kanye said that. You should also tell him, “The less said about the pterodactyl the better.” Yeah, I said that, too. [That was actually Mark Twain.]

Q: My daughter worries that she’s not as thin or as pretty as other girls in her class.  How do I teach her that beauty isn’t everything?

Kim_Kanye_c_uKanye: This is a hard question for me to answer because I only surrounded myself with objects of exquisite beauty. My BabyMama Kim is the most beautiful woman of all time! I’m talkin’, like, arguably of human existence…the top 10 of human existence. And, North, she the most beautiful baby in the history of the world. Maybe the universe. As a matter of fact, North should be on the cover of Baby Vogue. Everybody knows it. Anna Wintour knows it; Obama knows it. Even the Pope knows it! Anyway, tell your daughter that the world needs people that aren’t, like, good looking because without them, the perfect people wouldn’t be so special. She shouldn’t try to go into entertainment though. In my business, beauty is a talent and it sounds like she don’t got no talent.

Q: My son says he wants to be a rapper just like you when he grows up.  Do you have any advice for him?

Kanye: Imma stop you right there. That just ain’t possible. I am the number one human being in music. That means any person that’s living or breathing is number two. I mean, my music isn’t just music, it’s medicine. Every time I make an album, I’m trying to make a cure for cancer…musically. But you can tell your son, if he works really, really hard, wears limited edition Nikes and he dress fresh at all times, maybe he can grow up to be the second best artist in the world. Or, third…after me and Michael Jackson. Oh, then there’s Jay-Z. So, fourth. He could maybe be fourth.

Q: My daughter is very shy. How can I help her become more confident and outgoing?

Kanye: That one’s easy. Just give her this advice from Kanye, “Believe in your flyness…conquer your shyness.” Boom…done!  Also tell her Kanye says, “I scratch my head with the lightning and purr myself to sleep with the thunder.” She’ll like that.

Q: What were your favorite books as a child?

Kanye: I’m not a fan of books. Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig [Jane Austen] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talkin’ to people and livin’ real life. I would never want a book’s autograph, you know? I’m a proud non-reader of books.

Q: My wife is scheduled to give birth to our first child this spring and we’ve decided not to find out the sex beforehand. We’d like to give our baby a unique name. Do you have any suggestions?

Kanye: You want your baby to have a name that’s strong and confident…a name that don’t bow to the man so, when it grows up, that baby can rise to the highest pinnacle of truth and awesomeness. If it’s a boy, you should name him Hermes, Summit or Kanye. If it’s a girl, I’d go with Apogee, Apex or Kim.

Q: Do you have a special routine for getting North to bed at night?

Sweet_North_WestKanye: If I’m not on tour, in Cannes on Jay’s yacht, or writin’ my feelings down on paper to keep their heat from setting me afire inside, I like to spend as much time as possible with my babygirl. Me and Kim try not to be away from home at the same time so one of us is always there watchin’ over the nannies, makin’ sure they not leakin’ shit to the press.

So, when I’m around, I sing North to sleep with this lullaby I wrote special for her. It goes like this, “Stop everything you’re doing now/ Because baby, you’re awesome/ Don’t let nobody get you down/ Because you’re awesome/ You don’t need to listen to the haters/ You must be tired of running through my mind/ Can I come inside?…I’m also awesome…/ I’d rather do nothing with you/ than something with somebody new/ Because baby you’re awesome.”  And one more thing, I never give my babygirl a fur pillow. Fur pillows are hard to sleep on.

*Please note, this is a work of satire. Kanye, it would be a waste of your precious time to sue me. I haven’t received a paycheck in 8 years.

Advice to My Teenage Self

1987I recently read an article, “What I’d Tell My Teenage Self” comprised of career and life advice from staff members of the TED blog to (of course) their teenage selves. I began thinking about what advice the adult me would give to the teenage me if given the opportunity. As you’ll see below, I have plenty of wisdom I’d like to share with my teenage self. Chances are good though, that me as a teen would take one look at me as a 40-something year-old and ignore every word that came out of my mouth just as I did to all other adults in my life at the time.

Regardless, here are 18 pieces of advice I’d give to my teenage self:

1.  No one cares if you have a zit or a cold sore or if your hair is less than perfect. They’re all too freaked out about their own zits to even see yours.

2.  Nothing is as bad as it seems at 2 am. Take a melatonin and get some sleep.

3.  Spend less time with your boyfriend and more time with your girlfriends. In fact, try not having a boyfriend for a while.

4.  Take Shop class instead of Home Ec. You’re going to have your whole life to cook and clean. How often will you get to play with power tools?

5.  Spend less money on clothes and more on concert tickets.

6.  You’re smarter than you think. Demand more from your teachers, your school and your guidance counselors.

7.  Take a test prep course for the SAT and go to the best college you possibly can. Work your ass off to pay for it. Do not settle.

8.  You might want to consider antidepressants. That heavy, dark cloud that follows you everywhere is not normal teenage angst.

9.  I know this is cliche but, please, please, please wear sunscreen at all times.

10.  Your friends are going to leave you at The Cure concert so they can go party with the band. You have the car and a curfew so that’s OK. Grown-ass men who want to hang out with teenagers are creepy.

11.  Your body is young, strong and beautiful. Do not spend another moment wishing it were different.

12.  You are not awkward and uncoordinated despite how the grade school gym teacher made you feel. You can be athletic. Find a sport or physical activity you enjoy and stick with it.

13.  Call your parents when you’re going to be late. They’re worried sick about you.

14.  Do things you think you can’t do. Learn a language. Play an instrument. Surprise yourself.

15.  I know you love Esprit clothes, but they’re essentially grown-up Garanimals. Remember, a true fashionista doesn’t dress in one designer from head to toe.

16.  A light hand with eyeliner is always best and that asymmetrical bob is not your friend.

17.  Your mom isn’t going to be around as long as you think. Spend more time with her. Judge her less. Ask for her advice.

18.   Aquanet will deplete the ozone layer. Put down the hairspray. Bigger is not always better.

How about you, readers? What advice would you give your teenage self if you could?

Not Just a Mom. Not Just a Writer.

tanya_ward_goodmanMy friend Tanya Ward Goodman recently published an article on TheNextFamily.com about her transition from stay-at-home mom and sometimes writer to published author of her first book Leaving Tinkertown.  Her thoughts on career and family were just so on-point with my journey from “stay-at-home momhood” to…whatever’s next, that I wanted to share it here.  I’m sure her words will ring true for many of you as well.

‘Not Just a Mom. Not Just a Writer.’ by Tanya Ward Goodman
http://thenextfamily.com/2013/10/not-just-a-mom-not-just-a-writer/

Please also check out Tanya’s beautifully written book.  In Leaving Tinkertown, Tanya tells the story of her unconventional childhood growing up in a New Mexico roadside museum with her eccentric, creative and loving father and her experience returning home to help care for her father after his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Leaving Tinkertown Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM9GJHe-19I

Stick a Fork in Me

lunatics_blog_pic

These people are lunatics. I blame them.

That’s it…I’ve had it!  I give up!  I would like to be admitted to the hospital, preferably Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.  I am suffering from exhaustion.  It may be a questionable diagnosis, but if it’s good enough for movie stars and rock stars, it’s good enough for me, dammit!  In fact, my condition is so dire, I’d like the Beyonce Suite, please.  Didn’t Jay Z pimp out like a whole floor of the hospital for her when she squeezed out Blue Ivy?  Yeah, that’s the one I want.  (I can assure you, I saw no gold plated birthing tubs when I had Biggie there 7 years ago.)

Since this is a self-diagnosis, I suspect the doctors and my insurance company will require some empirical data before they’ll check me into my suite and begin the massage treatments and bonbon deliveries. So, in the interest of science, I am providing the following documentation of my day thus far.

It began as does every other day at our house…with the morning meltdown.  Alarms went off obscenely early, as always, so we would have ample time to get Biggie and Smalls ready to hop on the bus by 7 am.  Unfortunately, we were not up early enough to provide a sufficient cushion for this morning’s super-sized meltdown.  Today’s drama was due to my utter inability to choose the correct socks for Biggie and Ad Man’s ridiculous choice of breakfast foods for Smalls.  Approximately 30 seconds before the scheduled departure time, we were dragging Smalls out from her favorite tantrum spot under the bed, attempting to brush her teeth through her cries of injustice and stuffing Biggie’s feet into whatever socks were closest to the door…quite possibly the dirty ones she dropped there yesterday.

With two kids successfully deposited on the bus and Ad Man off to work, I began the most pleasant part of my day, the sweet, sweet hours in which no one is whining at me.  As much as I wanted to crawl back into my still warm bed, I had many things to accomplish before the beginning of the afternoon’s homework meltdown.  I ran to the gym for a pathetic attempt at a workout.  I thoroughly researched and bought a new flat iron to replace the one that crapped out this morning leaving my hip-mom shag looking more Carol Brady than Sally Hershberger.  I stalked Goodwill for missing elements of the girls’ Halloween costumes and then headed to the grocery store to purchase the items necessary to make a healthy and delicious minestrone soup for dinner.

I was hurrying home from the grocery store so I would arrive before the school bus when I got a call from Smalls’s teacher.  It seems I’d totally forgotten I’d planned to pick up Smalls in carpool instead of having her take the bus since Biggie had an after-school activity at the other campus.  Instead of unloading the groceries from the car, I immediately turned around and headed to school.  Visions swirled in my head of my poor, abandoned child sobbing alone on the sidewalk as the last car pulled up to the carpool pick-up area and she saw that her mother was not inside.

As it turned out, Smalls was unaffected by being abandoned and was happily coloring in the front office when I arrived at school.  I, on the other hand, slunk in with my head bowed in shame hoping that none of the upper echelon of PTA moms would spot me claiming my forgotten child…in a Carol Brady shag no less.

Milking my guilt for all it was worth, Smalls requested that we stop at the park for King of Pops chocolate sea salt popsicles before retrieving her sister.  So, we went to the park, grabbed our pops and sat down at a picnic table so Smalls could do homework. She, of course, dripped chocolate all over herself and her homework and spent half an hour denying that the dance she was doing was in any way related to the fullness of her bladder.  I checked my phone and saw that we were going to be late if we didn’t leave to pick up Biggie just as Smalls began chanting, “I have to pee, I have to pee, I have to pee!” No shit, kid!  Really?!

diagnosis_kidsWe jumped back in the car, headed over to Biggie’s school, ran into the building and located the closest bathroom where Smalls flat out refused to sit on the potty because the door to the stall wouldn’t latch to her satisfaction.  Because, you know, heaven forbid a stray 2nd grade girl should wander in and see a sliver of her sitting on the toilet through the ever-so-slightly open door.  At this point I was pulling my hair out, biting my tongue to keep from yelling all kinds of naughty words in an elementary school and wishing I had a handful of Xanax to munch on.

We managed to track down Biggie who was the second of my two children to wander around looking for her missing mother today and raced home with Smalls’s overextended bladder threatening to blow at any minute.  We skidded into the driveway, unlocked the front door and Smalls ran to the bathroom just narrowly avoiding a pee disaster.  I unloaded the melted groceries from the trunk of the car and thought, “Aaahhhhh…finally, things are starting to look up!”

I was settling in to start overseeing homework and chopping vegetables for tonight’s dinner when it became clear, after a frantic search, that Smalls’s backpack was no longer in our possession.  FUUUUUUCCKKK!!!  Rather than herding the girls back into the car and schlepping them to every location we’d just been to, I called my friend A, sent the kids over to her house and told her to be ready to drink with me upon my return.  I then texted Ad Man and asked him to bring home Mexican food because there’s was no way in hell I was going to cook dinner tonight!

Really, the only bright spot in this day was when I found the backpack sitting right there in the park where Smalls and I left it earlier.  And now finally, after a glass of wine with A, I’m again able to form a complete sentence.  So, here it is…I’m done!  Stick a fork in me. Beyonce Suite, here I come!  I’ll have my driver drop me off at the secret back hospital entrance usually used for whisking in overdosing celebrities.  Make sure that bed is made with 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and get my bourbon I.V. ready to go!

Over-educated, Under-employed Mom Seeks Career Counseling

help_wanted_lgOK, here is the blog post in which you, dear readers, get to play career counselors and solve all my problems.  (Thanks, in advance.)  I am going to tell you all the diverse things that float my boat and you, in turn, will tell me what my next job should be.  Ready to play?

First, a quick outline of my experience for new readers: I am an entertainment lawyer who represented film studios and talent agencies.  When I was not busy being verbally abused by one particular partner at my firm, I spent my time writing briefs, going to depositions, making court appearances, trying to be cool when walking around film studio lots and crying in the file room.  Highlight: Cher once borrowed my bathroom key.

My other main role was as a TV, film and video producer.  I developed numerous television commercials and video projects for one particular client, a scandal-ridden, major mortgage lending company.  One of my strengths was remembering which make-up artist the CEO prefered (hint: the hot one with big boobs).  This former CEO has been referred to by CNN as one of the “Ten Most Wanted Culprits” of the 2008 financial collapse in the United States.  Top ten, baby!

At this same company, I also produced a feature-length documentary about homelessness in Los Angeles which won a couple film-festival awards and played at Cannes.  Highlights included staging and filming a one-man theater performance that was then incorporated into the documentary, filming in Skid Row, LA while 8 months pregnant, trying to find a dress to fit my postpartum body for the Beverly Hills Film Festival awards dinner and managing not to spring a breast milk leak during the lengthy ceremony.

I’ve documented my various strengths and skills here previously, but I also have a number of interests that could point me toward potential career paths.  Art, design and architecture are three of my greatest loves.  I can often be found shopping for furniture and homes that I can’t afford and renovating and decorating houses in my mind.  I watch how-to videos on YouTube in an effort to determine whether I can tear out the refinished (spray-painted), formerly pink tile in the bathrooms of our 50s modern house myself or if I should put it off for 6 more years.

dead_plantsI enjoy gardening, but after numerous attempts to grow a verdant oasis in the backyard of my Atlanta home, I’ve officially given up!  Everything wilts in the hellish summer heat here and, on the occasions that I actually had a few lush raised garden beds growing, flooding from the nearby creek swiftly wiped them out like a magazine squashing a fly.  I now have two dying basil plants and one dying rosemary plant on my porch.  I call them topiaries and hope the neighbors don’t get too close.

I love fashion and, while I’m generally in my not-at-all-fashionable mom uniform, I do try a little harder on the weekends.  I am quite adept at reading fashion blogs and magazines and firmly believe the day the September issue of Vogue arrives in my mailbox should be declared a national holiday.

I’m also interested in (OK, somewhat obsessed with) perfumes.  My friends think it’s insane that I can read scent reviews and peruse perfume discussion boards for hours and Ad Man is less than thrilled with the amount of money I spend on samples every month.  This infatuation grew organically from my crazy strong sense of smell.  This talent was a bit of a burden when I was pregnant and got within 50 feet of anyone eating anything, but it has proved helpful when it comes to wine tasting, perfume sniffing and identifying that thing that stinks in the refrigerator.

I love to cook, at least on weekends when I don’t have homework to supervise and kids begging for snacks.  I even started a Facebook group called Vegetarian Mamas.  I don’t think I’d like to cook for a living though because, generally, cooks have to either get up early or stay up late.  I’m really more of a middle-of-the-day kind of gal.  Oh, and I have a freaky aversion to smelling like food.  It’s most likely a nose thing again.

A few other things you might find helpful when choosing a career for me…I have recently started this blog and discovered that I enjoy writing.  I am a certified kettlebell instructor. Kettlebells are those weights that look like cannonballs with handles.  You know the ones I mean.  No?  Well, you’re not the only one.  I am a skilled negotiator as long as the parties involved in the conflict are under the age of 10.  I plan parties and vacations like a boss.  And, I’m really, really good at Pinterest.

So, what should I do?  Take the Georgia bar (I’m licensed only in California) and try to claw my way back into some sort of legal career?  Find someone to pay me to use their money to make obscure documentaries?  Become a personal shopper?  Be a perfumista and start my own company?  Try rooting for truffles with my bionic snout?  Remain a kept woman and thank my lucky stars?  The possibilities are wide open.

The possibilities would be infinite though if all the over-educated, under-employed moms who wanted to work could band together to build something great.  In the 7 years that I have been a stay-at-home mom, I’ve met some extremely educated women who have set aside their careers to raise children.  All are as creative and hardworking as those who have chosen to, or have had no choice but to, remain in the job market.  I constantly find myself searching for a solution for funneling that huge pool of intelligence, ambition, creativity and dedication into some incredible project.

If each of us brought our job and life experience, talent and desire to the table, we would be unstoppable.  So maybe instead of just trying to map out a plan for my career, we should take more of a big-picture view and become career counselors for the group of us former professional women turned full-time moms.  So, what do you think?  Should it be a corporation, a think tank, a revolution?  Let’s shoot high.  You’ll get bonus points for creativity.  What should we make or build?  How do we grab our portion of the profits?  What can we change for the better?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Bitter

standard_la_footAd Man travels for work.  A lot.  In fact, he’ll be out of town most of this week. So, I’m sitting here sulking and dreading and wondering if I can get away with feeding the kids take-out for every meal until Saturday.  I’m also planning ways I can ensure that I’ll actually wake up when the alarm goes off so I can get Biggie and Smalls on the bus at the crack of dawn and not have to drag them half dressed, each with an energy bar stuffed in her pocket, into the car where we will then sit in two carpool lines at two different campuses. Pulling off that feat with neither child being marked tardy requires a plan of attack timed to the second and seeing that in this scenario I couldn’t even drag my sorry ass out of bed, the chances of me succeeding in such a plan are slim.

I am most emphatically not a morning person.  I lived in fear for many years of missing finals or sleeping through the bar exam because my bed was just so damn warm and cozy.  One thing Ad Man does well, though, is waking up.  No snooze button for him…when he’s up, he’s up.  And I am the direct beneficiary of this talent because, day in and day out, he manages to get three cranky ladies out of bed and moving at 6:15 am and for this, I am eternally grateful.  Oh, believe me, he bitches about it every single morning, but he gets the job done.

Beyond just missing my own personal alarm clock who won’t take “but I’m so sleeeepy!” for an answer, having a husband who travels a lot can be difficult.  In fact, one of the reasons we moved from San Francisco to Atlanta was that I was often left by myself with a newborn baby, who I was up nursing every few hours, in a town where I knew almost no one.  Meanwhile, Ad Man was flying blissfully alone to meetings on the east coast where he was put up in posh hotels, sleeping uninterrupted in sheets not stained with breast milk or baby spit-up and going out to restaurants I could only sit home and read about in Food & Wine magazine.  Not surprisingly, this arrangement got really old, really quickly.  So, we moved to the east coast where we bought a house and Ad Man started collecting more clients in, and traveling more often to, the west coast.

I also have the uncanny ability to come down with any number of illnesses that would normally send me right to bed the moment the wheels of his airplane leave the ground.  And, if I somehow manage to avoid getting sick while he’s out of town, you can be sure that both children will start running a fever or be covered in suspicious looking spots so they can’t go to school and we’re all quarantined in the house for the duration of his absence.

I really shouldn’t complain (but I do it so well!).  I know a number of women and a few stay-at-home dads who have it far worse than I do.  I have friends whose spouses have “commuted” to south Florida and even Detroit from Atlanta.  My friend K’s husband is the president of a European company that makes bicycle components so he’s often gone for weeks at a time, occasionally reporting back that he’s been cycling in the Pyrenees, or something terribly stressful like that.

I have to admit, things have gotten easier now that the girls are older.  Ad Man has learned that it’s best to be as vague as possible about the details of his trips, which helps too.  This was a lesson he learned the hard way, however.  Once, when Biggie was about 4 years-old and Smalls was 2, Ad Man felt he just had to post a photo on Facebook taken in his hotel room at The Standard in Los Angeles.  (He’s just reminded me that his room was called the “Wow! Suite.”  The guy just does not know when to keep his mouth shut for the sake of marital harmony!)  What prompted him to post the photo was an approximately 6 ft. long by 4 ft. high sculpture of an actual foot…in his bathroom.  Now, just imagine what the rest of his room must have looked like if there was space for a 6 ft. long foot in the bathroom.

I can’t remember what I posted in response or if I called him directly, but I assure you, retribution was swift and painful.  Even his guy friends were like, “Dude…what were you thinking posting a photo of your swank hotel room?!  Your wife is going to kill you!”  Luckily, he (sometimes) learns from his mistakes.  Now, half the time I don’t even know what city he’s in.  We joke that he could have a whole other family in another city and I’d know nothing about it.  Of course, the joke would be on him because he’d be the one with two pissed-off wives and even more children running amok.

I do, occasionally, get to go somewhere by myself for the weekend.  For instance, I’ve been to a couple funerals and I try to get together with a group of my friends from law school once a year or so.  In those rare instances, as soon as word gets out that Ad Man will be home (alone! gasp!) with the kids for a few days, support pours in from all corners of the globe.  It’s usually something like, “Oh you poor dear, why don’t you come to the mountains with us for the weekend where you can stay in our rustic-chic cabin, your kids will be entertained by ours during every waking moment, you’ll have a cold beer in your hand at all times and the women-folk will take care of all the meals?”  It’s truly amazing he survives those difficult times.

There are, however, a few benefits to having a husband that travels for work.  I mean, who can deny the allure of frequent flier miles?  When he’s gone, I go to bed earlier because there’s no one to veg out with in front of the television.  And, when I do indulge in some late night TV watching, there’s no one trying to convince me that an America’s Next Top Model marathon is a bad idea.  I also have one less mouth to feed and fewer articles of clothing to pick up from the floor next to the clothes hamper.

Of course, Ad Man’s frenzied and unpredictable travel schedule also makes me wonder what type of position I could accept if some fantastic job opportunity fell in my lap.  I worked as a producer at a multi-media production company before Biggie was born.  It was the job I loved the most and miss to this day, but it also required long nights in the edit bay, weekend film shoots and changes for clients at the last minute.  Could we work it out if another opportunity like that arose?  I would hope so, but I just don’t know.

biggie_tupac_croppedWe’ve talked about turning our downstairs guest room into a space for an au pair if necessary, but do I really want to be responsible for a teenager living in my house when I already have two kids and a moody, skateboarding husband with a vast collection of hip-hop dolls and breakdance figurines?

These are some of the questions that keep me up at night (along with things like “does it really matter which earbud I put in which ear?”) and I have no idea how or when they’ll be answered.  In the meantime, I’ll just be happy if I can get the kids to school on time, make it through homework without strangling one or both of them and manage to feed them items from more than one food group this week.  As for me, I’m stocked up on tea, wine and dark chocolate so how bad could the next few days possibly be?  Right?

Life Lessons

I’ve P_and_W_on_bike_0913_v3discovered, if I tell Ad Man that I need to work on a blog post, he’ll willingly take the girls out to do something fun-ish and if I say I need somewhere to write, he’ll blow all the leaves off the deck so our house no longer looks abandoned from the back.  I should have started a pretend job long ago!

I have to admit though, for all the shit I give him (usually in a public forum like Facebook), I have an extremely supportive husband.  He’s quick to cheer on any half-assed scheme I present to him.  Like the time I told him I was thinking of making and delivering soups to office buildings after his co-workers made a few comments about his lunches looking delicious.  I mean every office gets sandwich delivery and what’s a sandwich without soup, right?  I soon kicked that plan to the curb though, when I realized the fact that I don’t eat meat and am squeamish about cooking it meant that I would only be able to offer vegetarian soups thereby limiting my potential customer base immensely.  (Prior to giving up meat altogether, I once called my father freaking out while prepping a turkey for Thanksgiving and squealed, “Oh god, what do I do with this, Dad?!  I feel like I’m cooking an INFANT!”)

Of course, Ad Man quickly moves on to leaf-blowing the entire back yard and forgets that we have two children, one of whom is now putting stickers on my face while I attempt to type and the other who is glaring at me from across our filthy outdoor table because I won’t let her watch the Disney Channel for the 17th hour in a row.  And, I suppose that’s one of my biggest gripes about (traditional) motherhood vs. (traditional) fatherhood.  For hours on end, even my comparatively involved and supportive husband has the luxury of forgetting that he is one of only two people on the planet responsible for keeping these two humans alive and preventing them from (fingers crossed) growing into adult psychopaths.

I had a sudden epiphany recently when trying to figure out why, after spending most of the last 7 years yearning for my “lost” career, I was still conflicted about going out and getting a damn job already (as if it were that easy).  I realized, no matter how hard I worked or what amazing job I managed to land, I would never be living the equivalent of Ad Man’s charmed life because of one glaring omission.  I will never have a wife.  Even with the best, most loving nanny possible, I would never have the freedom of knowing that I had someone at home who loved my kids even when they were acting like little assholes and would show up at “work” every single day even when I was out of town and she had strep throat.  (Just a random example, of course.)

And, while that realization still really, really pisses me off, I’m taking steps to try to learn the lesson I’m constantly impressing upon my daughters.  Life isn’t fair.  Suck it up and move on.

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The First Day of the Rest of My Life

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first_day_school_blog_picIt’s the first day of school for my daughters and I’m kind of (really) freaking out.  It’s Biggie’s first day of 2nd grade and Smalls’s first day of kindergarten. The first day that I’ll have a chunk of time from approximately 7:15 am to 3:15 pm with no children in the house, no questions to answer, no fights to break up, no snacks to retrieve, no butts to wipe, no tears to brush away, no screen time to monitor. In an attempt to talk me off the ledge, my dear friend A. tells me to think of this newly found extra time as an opportunity (“Just think…you can go to a movie in the middle of the day or have lunch with a friend.”), but I’m having a hard time imagining it as anything but the big, black void I’ve been fearing for 7 years now.

My friend S., who is a professional recruiter and therefore qualified to make such proclamations, tells me I need to write a book.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been told before that I give good Facebook, but I’ve never written “officially” unless you count legal briefs.  With the first day of the rest of my life looming though, I figure what the hell?  I’ve got nothing to lose…right?  My first reaction upon setting off on this journey however is, “Oh crap!  I need a notebook!  And pens!”  As someone with a sprinkling of OCD on top of a big dollop of depression, this is a task that could take weeks to complete to my satisfaction.  Because I am well-medicated, however (big ups to Dr. A!), I’m able to acknowledge that the risk of not finding just the right pen could derail this whole train before it even leaves the station. So, I make the momentous decision to spew my thoughts into one of those new-fangled home computers that are all the rage these days rather than writing by hand on actual paper that may or may not have the right level of porosity.

So, I decide to start slowly, recording in blog form the incessant rattlings of my childbirth-addled brain beginning with this, The First Day of the Rest of My Life (henceforth to be referred to as “This Day”).  This Day begins with a 6:30 am alarm going off in three different bedrooms simultaneously.  Biggie is already up reading and immediately shuts hers off. Smalls has never been woken by an alarm a day in her 5 years of life, but is raring to start checking off the items on her “Morning To Do List” which I wrote and she illustrated just the day before.

The Ad Man and I, however, are far less perky after having spent the entire summer waking sometime between 8:30 and 10 am., occasionally yelling out to the girls instructions for operating the television or toaster from our warm bed.  I am particularly difficult to rouse due to my 2 hour crying jag the previous day followed by a handful of melatonin with a white wine chaser in order to avoid laying awake for hours imagining my sweet 5 year old lost and crying out to me from somewhere in the bowels (I’m picturing a boiler room) of her new elementary school.

I’m actually feeling quite proud of myself for putting pen to paper (cursor to screen?) since, I’m sure, had I not captured the events of, and my fragile feelings toward, This Day beginning on This actual Day, I would have undoubtedly scrapped the project altogether. Then I would have to add it to my pile of unfinished (i.e., never started) projects like the documentary I never made about our infertility woes and struggle to conceive Biggie because we didn’t start filming with that first negative pee stick.

I know all mothers feel a mix of melancholy and euphoria the day their youngest fledgling finally leaves the nest (at least for 8 hours a day).  This Day is particularly significant for me, however because it was never my plan to be here in the first place.  My vision for my life with children included either a hunky, but tender stay-at-home dad or well-trained nannies, enriching after-school programs, character-building summer camps and me, blissfully cradled in an Aeron chair in my law office or production company receiving respect, accolades, money by the bushelful and compliments on my chic wardrobe.

Anyway, fast forward past law school, moving to Los Angeles, passing the bar, joining my first law firm and proudly using the obnoxious title “Esquire” after my name.  Continue past my years as corporate counsel at a thriving and then failing dot-com where 18 year-olds actually rode around the office on scooters and drank beer in the middle of the day.  Speed by the small but scrappy production company where I worked on Important Projects like the one with all the living Nobel Peace Laureates and the obscure but (minor) award-winning documentary about a theater group in Skid Row, Los Angeles made up of homeless and formerly homeless actors and the overall issue of homelessness in America.  Whew!  And, finally, you will arrive at today, when my to-do list looks like this:

to_do_list_09131.  Buy groceries
2.  Pick up cupcakes (for our annual first-day-of-school celebration)
3.  Straighten house (because I was too busy filling out school paperwork, labeling backpacks and sobbing yesterday to do any cleaning and the disarray is making me more crazy than usual)
4.  Pick up antidepressants at pharmacy (see above)
5.  Exercise?
6.  Mix bread dough and let rest
7.  Buy notebook and pens

In the end, This Day wasn’t much to write home about. The morning was a blur of the requisite photos of cute kids posing with spanking clean new backpacks and getting on the school bus, confusion over turning on the Today Show and seeing Matt Lauer and Al Roker instead of Hoda and Kathie Lee, and forcing myself to leave the house though depressed and distracted to hunt and forage for sustenance at the grocery store.

I somehow controlled myself during a few tense moments at said grocery store (“Don’t tell me you’re out of cilantro or I swear to god I will lose my shit right here in the produce aisle!”).  I received texts and calls from friends concerned with my well-being (“So.  How are you doing?”) and other depressed moms looking to commiserate (“I feel like I will never laugh again.”).  I made a list of things I’ve been meaning to, or dreaming that I would, do when I had both girls in school full-time (hence the dough mixing).  And, finally, I received back two relatively well-adjusted girls who had a great time in school, loved their teachers, made new friends and couldn’t wait to do it all over again the following day.

As for me…I’m still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.