20 Benefits to Catching a Stomach Virus from Your Kids

V0010485 A young Viennese woman, aged 23, depicted before and after

Things have been a little rough here at MommyEnnui headquarters since Halloween turned into a horror story. The girls were adorable in their costumes and both were in high spirits, until Smalls started complaining of a tummy ache. Being closely attuned to my child’s needs, I first suggested she lay off the candy for a while. When her stomach ache worsened, I assumed she had to poop. Smalls denied it, but the child has been known to stare me straight in the face and lie about having gone to the bathroom with pee running down her leg.

It wasn’t until she started vomiting all over the place that Ad Man and I realized we had more than a little Halloween candy-induced tummy ache on our hands. Ad Man took barf-clean-up-duty while I bathed Smalls and began a long night on bucket duty. A few days later, when Smalls was finally back to school and feeling better, Biggie came home complaining of a stomach ache, but insisted it was from reading on the bus. Oh, how I wanted to believe her!

Not surprisingly, Ad Man and I have been the most recent victims of the virus. When I woke up this morning to a migraine brought on by dehydration and caffeine withdrawal, instead of wallowing in misery for the fourth straight day, I challenged myself to come up with some benefits to having a stomach virus. Yep, I’m going to glass-half-full the shit out of this nasty bug! So, here is your list of 20 benefits to catching a stomach virus from your kids. You might want to keep this list handy. I hear it’s going around.

1.  Fewer dirty dishes

2.  Your boyfriend jeans fit like sweatpants again

3.  Good excuse to drink Gatorade instead of green smoothies

4.  No more stealing the kids’ Halloween candy

5.  Newfound appreciation for plain bagels

6.  Teaches the dog to entertain her own damn self

7.  Alcohol intake gets dialed back to zero

8.  Things that haven’t been cleaned in a while get scrubbed to a shine

9.  No judgment for wearing the same pajamas for days on end

10.  Perfect time to binge-watch a new show

11.  Teaches your children to forage for meals

12.  Lessens your attachment to material things, like white flokati rugs

13.  Running a fever makes you track down sweaters and flannel sheets before the end            of February

14.  Kick-starts your pre-holiday cleanse

15.  Housekeeping standards are significantly lowered

16.  Strengthens your resolve to never be pregnant again

17.  Your life of routine and monotony gains a renewed sense of the unexpected

18.  Can’t feel guilty for not going to work or volunteering. You are not wanted there.

19.  Gives you a chance to try out that new no-shampooing trend

20.  You get to go to the bathroom alone again!

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.

Homework: An Unnecessary Evil?

girl_homeworkI’ve discussed my feelings about homework here before and it has become a bit of a recurring topic here and on the MommyEnnui Facebook page. A friend just sent me this fascinating article written by Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post and now I’m even more convinced that homework is a waste of time. A number of studies have shown that homework is virtually useless in increasing grades and test scores. Instead, it adds stress to children’s lives, causes conflict between parents and kids and keeps children from exploring new interests and engaging in active, creative play.

I know I’m not alone in this; I have many friends who feel the same way. However, I also know that many parents still believe children should be given homework, some even complain to teachers that their kids aren’t being given enough homework.

I’d love to hear your responses to the above article. What are your reasons for supporting or not supporting homework? Should math be treated differently from other subjects? Does your opinion change when a child gets to middle school? How about high school? I know we have a number of teachers here. What are your thoughts on the subject?

If you, like me, are convinced homework is an “unnecessary evil,” what do you think parents can do to change policies in our kids’ schools?

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.

Puppy Ennui

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This gallery contains 4 photos.

I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from puppy postpartum depression (“PPPD”). I just called Ad Man because I was lonely and feeling frustrated by doggy parenting and ended up crying on the phone like an effing lunatic. I’m now sitting at … Continue reading

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.

Planes, Ferries and Taxis

mommyennui_office_st.john_0714I had a post all written and polished to a shine for you this week, but unfortunately, it’s going to have to wait due to circumstances outside my control. Let me tell you though, It’s pretty exciting and I can’t wait to tell you about it! What I am not excited about, however, is the fact that it is now Thursday and I haven’t posted a damn thing all week. So, here’s a quick update.

It is 4th of July Eve and we’re getting ready to hop back into the car tomorrow to drive up to Ohio where we’ll be dropping Biggie and Smalls off at my dad and stepmom’s house and then getting the hell out of town. This will be the girls’ first extended visit without Ad Man and I and the first time he and I have been away together without a child since before Biggie was born. We’ve known about this trip for months so you’d think we’d have spent all that time hatching a plan for how and where to spend those blissful child-free days.

As I’ve told you before, however, Ad Man and planning don’t mix, so as of yesterday, we still had no firm plans. Oh, we’d thrown around some ideas. Our friends offered us their lake house in Ohio which would have been easy and peaceful. We thought of heading to Chicago for a few days since every time we’re back home we spend the trip shuttling back and forth between suburbs and never actually spend any time in the city. I haven’t gotten my fill of the beach this year, though, so we started looking at Portland, Maine, Nantucket and other charming East Coast towns. We considered flying to New Orleans but Ad Man was horrified by the thought of the heat and humidity…as if we don’t currently live in hot, humid Atlanta.

Finally yesterday, I said, “Why don’t we just hop on a flight to some Caribbean island? We have frequent flier miles and how often do we have a few days alone together?” Two hours later, we were booked on a flight from Dayton, Ohio to St. Thomas and a ferry to St. John! I’m so incredibly excited! We decided on the US Virgin Islands because the USVI is one of Ad Man’s clients and because my passport is expired. Oops.

I’m nervous about being away from the girls for so long, but they will absolutely be in good hands. And, our children generally only act like little shitheads when they’re at home. Elsewhere, they are well-behaved and polite…practically unrecognizable. Regardless, I’m sure they will keep Grandma and Grandpa nice and busy and that we will, no doubt owe them a weeklong spa vacation somewhere after this. (The grandparents, not Biggie and Smalls.)

But, before we hit the road, we’re throwing one last dinner party (Ad Man’s genius idea) so I’d better get cooking. My new bikini is getting more use than expected this year!

Update to my update: After a long day of planes, trains and automobiles–well, actually, planes, ferries and taxis–we arrived last night in gorgeous St. John! Ad Man and I were so exhausted after the journey, we had dinner on the beach, took a quick swim in the pool and were in bed by 8:30 pm. Ad Man snored while I watched a marathon of ‘Ray Donovan’ with Liev Schreiber on Showtime. (Great show, by the way.)

Today, after a morning swim, laying around in the sun (while Ad Man went for a run), and breakfast by the pool, I’m blogging with a view of the ocean. Not a bad gig! I’m missing Biggie and Smalls terribly though and was heartbroken to hear that Smalls had a rough time missing us at bedtime last night. Everything I see or do, I think, “The girls would love this.” As much as I was looking forward to some kid-free time and as good as this is for Ad Man and I, I can’t help wishing the little shitheads were here.

I’m planning to do some writing this week, but most likely won’t be blogging unless I get the go-ahead to tell you about my mysterious project. Until then, enjoy the above photo of the MommyEnnui office this week. I could get used to this!

 

Five Telltale Signs that I’m a Mother

You know that old cliché about the married man who takes off his wedding ring before going out to a bar? Well, I might be able to take off my rings and claim to be single, but the stench of motherhood is not quite so easy to shake. I suppose I could try to flat out deny the existence of my children, but here are some telltale signs that would give me away every single time:

enormous_purse1. My purse is freaking enormous! I yearn to be the kind of chic woman who goes out for the evening with a sparkling minaudiere that fits in the palm of my hand and contains only a credit card, a tube of lipstick and a little cash for tips, but that just ain’t gonna happen. First of all, who the hell has time to switch out her purse on a daily, or even weekly, basis? I can just see myself heading out for a night on the town. Ad Man would be standing at the door, glaring at me because I’m running late, as usual, and he simply cannot abide tardiness. I’d be shouting instructions to the babysitter while trying to apply mascara, hopping on one leg to buckle a sandal and reminding the kids to pee before getting in bed, all the while leaving behind a trail of all the crap in my “daytime handbag.”

In order to dig down to the few essentials I’d need in my miniscule “evening bag,” I’d first have to remove the following: an extra pair of underwear for Smalls (just in case), two water bottles, an extensive selection of snacks to keep the kids from getting hungry and turning evil, a pair of socks from that one time we went to the bouncy place, sunscreen, four special rocks, a dead flower, a wadded up piece of gum wrapped in a Target receipt, twenty other Target receipts, seven old grocery shopping lists and one to-do list with not a damn thing crossed off. The chances of doing that without forgetting something imperative, like my ID or an industrial strength concealer, are pretty slim.

bingo_arms2. My body is a veritable roadmap of motherhood. I generally have the c-section scar tucked neatly away, but other things are harder to hide, like my poochy mid-section, the one bulging vein I blame on Biggie, the permanent dark undereye circles and the crevasse that bisects my forehead. And then there are the things I just don’t have time to deal with, like the constant five o’clock shadow on my legs and the floppy “bingo arms” that would be easy enough to firm up if I could just get my ass to yoga on a regular basis. You’ll be relieved to know that I’ve had my bikini line lasered. I find that a permanent solution is always worth the time and money. I’ll be the first one in line, with a grocery bag full of cash, when permanent Botox is invented!

Since birthing two children, I’ve learned to “dress for my body” as women’s magazines have been imploring me to do for years. This means I generally try to stick with A-line everything. I used to love me a good empire waist top or dress, but since pregnancy left me two full sizes bigger in the boobage area, an empire silhouette now makes me look like a 45 year-old carrying in-vitro induced triplets.

Effie_Trinket3. My makeup routine has been pared down to the bare minimum. I haven’t really been a big makeup person since I stopped applying it with a spatula in high school. And, I never got the whole eyeshadow thing. In my mind, it’s a fine line between painting one’s eyelids iridescent green and going full-on Effie Trinket. In fact, I recently decided that, at my ripe old age, I should at least know how to properly apply eye makeup. So, I dug through my makeup “reject pile” only to find the MAC eyeshadow I bought for my wedding sixteen years ago. Something tells me it’s time to just write that skill off permanently. (See? You gotta love a permanent solution.)

Despite the fact that my maquillage has always been at the natural end of the L’oreal spectrum, pre-children I was reluctant to ever leave the house without the basics: concealer (always concealer!), blush, powder, lipstick and mascara. My routine these days really depends on where I’m going. I no longer care about looking “done” around school moms and other women my age, so I’ve designated an “I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit Zone” that extends from the carpool line, to the grocery store, to Target, to the girls’ dance studio and home. Occasionally, I gerrymander the IDGAS Zone beyond the usual boundaries to places like IKEA or the gynecologist’s office. Seriously, who has the time and energy for constant faux beauty?

4. My brain is now merely a repository for random details like my kids’ friends’ summer camp and travel schedules, which of the natural, crunchy peanut butters is the yucky one and the twelve items I’ve promised to add to the girls’ Amazon wish lists in the last two days. My short-term memory is now completely shot. The kids have to ask me over and over for a glass of milk or to change the outfit on the Polly Pocket doll that one of them is wagging in my face. By the way, whoever invented those dolls and is now rolling around in the Polly Pocket fortune, needs to come to my house and change those goddamn dolls’ clothes every three minutes! He or she owes me at least that much.

Wait. What was I going to say? Ah yes, it must have been the fact that, even if I did manage to shake the kids, slip off my wedding rings and meet someone in a sleazy bar, I’d never be able to remember his name or whether this roofie was in my drink before I left for the bathroom or not. I guess I’d have to hope any mystery men I ran across found “bumbling” an attractive trait.

5. My body clock has been forever changed. Long ago, when I was a married, but childless, career woman, Ad Man and I would often work late into the evening at our respective offices in Santa Monica, California (mere blocks from the ocean, I might add). We’d eventually meet at home and end up eating dinner around 9 pm or so. On a weekend night, it wasn’t unheard of for us to head out at 11 pm to go see a band play or connect with some friends at a bar. Now if you called me at 11 pm, I would first freak out and assume that someone was dead. If that weren’t the case, I’d be more than a little pissed that you interrupted my blissful REM sleep.

mom_in_pajamasI am no longer eating dinner at 9 pm or leaving the house to go out in the wee hours of the night. These days, if you want to spring some spontaneous evening plans on me, I’d better receive notice no later than 4 pm. If you wait until 4:30, there’s a very good chance I’ll already in pajamas with a glass of wine in my hand, counting the hours until the kids are in bed and I can kick back with a month-old episode of Project Runway. Just off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything that would be enticing enough to make me put my bra back on once I’ve retired it for the night.

So, you see? There’s no going back to my pre-kid days even on a lark for one evening. I am a far, far different person than I was a mere eight years ago. And, really, let’s be honest…who’s going to be fooled by a woman sitting in a bar at 4 pm, wearing jeans, a well worn t-shirt and sensible flats, her face free of makeup except for a swipe of borrowed ‘princess pink’ Lip Smacker, surreptitiously stuffing handfuls of stale Goldfish crackers into her mouth from a purse the size of a Volkswagen Beetle?

Summer Camp for Moms

girls_at_campThe frenzy starts in January. Just as I’ve handed over my last dollar (and then some) for some holiday necessity or another, summer camp application season begins. Emails and texts pour in from friends trying to coordinate their kids’ camp and vacation schedules and arrange carpooling. I know of a guy who actually created an Excel document to keep track of his daughter’s camp schedule in addition to the summer plans of four of her closest friends! I don’t go that far, but I do have the camp and travel schedules of our best neighborhood friends scrawled on my calendar.

The most frantic parents are the ones with two kids who have signed only one child up for camp for a certain week, but have no plans for the other child. I completely understand the panic because I’ve been that parent. If there’s anything worse than having two kids at home with nothing to do, it’s having one kid home who’s used to being entertained by a sibling. It’s like a month of parenting crammed into five days and should be avoided at all costs if you value your sanity.

It doesn’t help matters if you live in an affluent neighborhood and your children have friends who come from families far wealthier than your own. Those are the kids who have their entire summer filled with horse camp, space camp, a sleep-away camp where they can raise llamas, drive Jet-skis and learn to program their own video games or any other place that sounds like kid nirvana. And, of course, they spend the last few weeks of school filling your kid in on every detail. Believe me, it’s not easy making an artsy-crafty day camp at the neighborhood park seem as exciting as a week of floating around in zero gravity.

kids_kayaksIf you’re not on-the-ball by February at the very latest, you’re pretty well screwed if you’re looking to get your kids into the “good” camps even if you are the proud owner of an offshore bank account. This deadline throws many moms and an occasional dad into a major tizzy but it’s really not a problem for me. There are two reasons for this: 1) We’re generally still broke in February, and 2) I’m rarely, if ever, on-the-ball. So, when summer eventually rolls around, Ad Man and I do our best to convince the girls of the epic awesomeness of any inexpensive camp that isn’t already full. It’s a damn good thing I’m a lawyer and he’s in advertising. I never imagined that skills learned in our professions would help us sell shit to our own children, but now I’m damn glad we’re both trained master manipulators.

But, here’s the thing…I want to go to camp! Why do the kids get to have all the fun? I’m the one who spent the past nine months making school lunches, getting my ass out of bed at the crack of dawn to get them on the bus, volunteering at school, helping create dioramas and science projects and successfully not murdering the children during their daily homework meltdowns. They’re young and creative…they should be able to come up with their own fun, right? I’m the one who’s old and jaded. I need a change of scenery, peace and quiet and plenty of wine to get all sunny and blissed out. And, actually, zero gravity doesn’t sound too bad either. Lord knows, my face could use a break from gravity for a while.

I don’t need color wars, a climbing wall or archery. I sure as hell don’t need to help take care of llamas. In fact, what I need is a couple weeks during which I don’t have to take care of any creature other than myself. I don’t want to cook a meal, referee an argument or remind anyone to go potty. I don’t want to have to figure out how to entertain two bored children when it’s 100 degrees out and everyone we know is out of town. I want to be the one who’s bored! Me! I want there to be nothing at all I have to do, not just nothing I want to do. No unmade beds, no dirty dishes, no laundry to fold and no one’s work and travel schedule to organize my life around.

I have, however, compiled a list of the things I do envision being part of my perfect Mom’s Summer Sleep-Away Camp:

  • Each camper’s spouse or partner will be required to stay home so campers don’t have to spend a moment worrying about their children. If Ad Man has to work, he’ll need to figure out childcare his own damn self.
  • The minimum session will be two weeks, though a four week session will be strongly encouraged in order for campers to reach maximum relaxation.
  • The camp will be on a beach, but also have a seaside pool where lunch and luscious fruity cocktails will be served. Straight up hard liquor will be available the night before campers are scheduled to head home.
  • The camp must be on an ocean (no trying to get away with some sand dumped next to a lake) somewhere that’s warm during the day but where it cools off enough at night for perfect sleeping conditions and bonfires on the beach.
  • The location must be somewhere with no mosquitoes whatsoever.
  • I will have my own butler who knows how I like my tea and who will apply sunblock and spray me with self-tanner every morning so I can maintain a lovely faux glow.
  • surf_instructorsThere will be surfing lessons with handsome, young instructors. Each instructor will undergo extensive training during which he will be taught to refrain from uttering the word “ma’am” and to never, ever tell a camper that she reminds him of his mother.
  • Men, other than similarly well-trained employees, and all children will be strictly forbidden.
  • Spa services including mani/pedis, facials, massage and acupuncture will be available around the clock at no additional charge.
  • No make-up will be allowed so one’s natural healthy glow may shine forth and so I don’t have to so much as look at an eyelash curler the entire time I’m there.
  • The camp kitchen will serve delicious, healthy meals customized to each individual camper’s specific preferences. Campers will not have to prepare or make any decisions regarding food for the duration of their stay.
  • palapa_exteriorEach camper will have her own private palapa on the beach with high thread count sheets and down comforters. The palapa pictured here should do just fine.
  • My closest friends will, of course, join me at camp.
  • Chai and breakfast will be delivered to me in bed every morning.
  • Lunch, dinner and cocktails will be served poolside or on the beach, in the company of friends.
  • The only forms of exercise allowed at camp will be walking on the beach, yoga, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and possibly ziplines because they sound like fun. Anyone caught doing crunches will be sent home immediately.
  • There will be no internet connection and no cell phone service. I will have to fill MommyEnnui readers in on my adventure upon my reluctant return to reality.
  • Campers will have access to lots of books and expensive foreign fashion and design magazines…you know, the ones you read in Barnes and Noble, but would never buy for yourself.
  • There will be no waking before 8:30 am. Bedtime is at 11 pm, sharp.
  • Each palapa will be stocked with wine and dark chocolate in case of late-night cravings.
  • Dress while at camp will consist only of bikinis, floaty caftans and flip-flops. There will be no judgment of anyone wearing a bikini who wouldn’t dare ever do so in real life.
  • In case of inclement weather, the new seasons of ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Call the Midwife’ will be available for binge-watching.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the bill will be sent directly to my dad.

Who wants to join me?

Fever Schmever…the Show Must Go On!

Biggie's Illin'May madness continues at the MommyEnnui household this week so I will have to make this a short post. Please forgive me. I have, however, prepared a little quiz for you:

It’s the eve of the last week of school and the calendar is loaded with exciting activities. Biggie and Smalls’s dance recital is mere days away. Next week is my last one alone before I begin spending virtually every waking hour with my darling children for the next eleven weeks (not that I’ve counted or anything). Question: What will happen next?

A.  The weather will be gorgeous and the girls will be well-behaved and excited about the beginning of summer break,

B.  I will relax and look forward to the summer because I have crafted the perfect combination of family vacations, weekday activities, weekend road trips and enriching summer camps,

C.  I anticipate that summer break may be a bit stressful, so I schedule a week of yoga, massages and drinking white wine at lunch on charming bistro patios with my dearest friends, or

D.  Biggie will start running a fever the day before the dance recital, I will drag her to the urgent care clinic the moment the words, “Mommy, my throat hur…” come out of her mouth, she will get the 273rd positive strep test of her life and I will scramble to the closest all-night pharmacy with the intention of cramming 24 hours worth of antibiotics into her before she’s scheduled to hit the stage for her big hip-hop dance debut.

Quelle surprise! The correct answer is D.

Yep, I’m writing this from the now-dry-but-still-unpleasant basement where Ad Man has carved out a path to my desk and another one to the chair where Biggie is still in her pajamas, deep in an iPad coma. The cleaning women (the two other loves of my life) are upstairs making the house inhabitable for another two weeks. We shall see how the day unfolds.

After two doses of antibiotics, Biggie is feeling better and things are starting to look up for the recital tonight. Smalls will also be performing this evening, dancing both ballet and jazz. That is, unless she gets off the bus this afternoon running a fever. I’ve been more than a little concerned that I’ll have to stay home with a sick Biggie while Ad Man takes Smalls to the recital. I do not have high hopes for him successfully negotiating a costume change and turning a high ponytail into a low bun at intermission.

Cut to the afternoon. Biggie is now officially well enough to go to the recital. This fact was confirmed when I heard her singing an original number at the top of her lungs in the shower and then walking around the house saying, “No applause, please. No applause.” In other positive news, Smalls arrived home in good shape. I’ll be holding my breath for the rest of the week, however. Biggie just yelled “Moooooooommmm! [Smalls] won’t stop licking me!!!” Stay tuned.