Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quiz Time! What Kind of Mom Are You?

That’s right, I’m bringing back the quiz, old-school Teen Magazine style. But instead of answering burning questions like ‘Which Vampire Hottie is Right for You?’ and ‘Are You a Promzilla?,’ this thought-provoking test will determine your mothering style. It is scientifically-accurate in 98% of cases, so don’t argue with it. Okay, get your pencils ready!

1.     You took prenatal yoga classes because…
    A.   You wanted to connect with your baby’s spirit while she was still in
          the womb.
    B.   Your OB recommended them, and they were fun.
    C.   You thought they might help you de-stress—studies show that a
          stressful womb environment can have a negative impact on the
          baby, and it stresses you out to think that your womb might be
    D.   It didn’t occur to you to do prenatal yoga, mostly because you were
          in denial that you were pregnant until you were in labor.

2.     Did you find out the baby’s sex before he was born?
    A.   No—you didn’t want to have preconceived notions about your child,
          and besides, gender is a continuum, not just based on sex.
    B.   Yes—it was too hard to wait!
    C.   Of course—you had to preorder the custom curtains to match the
          sheets to go with the wall-hangings….
    D.   Nah—either way it’s just another kid to take care of.

3.     For your baby shower, in addition to the regular stuff, you   
    A.   Good vibes for the birth.
    B.   Copies of your favorite children’s books.
    C.   Contributions to your child’s 529 plan.
    D.   Cash for the paternity test.

4.     Your baby’s name...
    A.   Was inspired by nature. For example, Willow, Aurora, Jade…
    B.   Is a classic like Joshua, Matthew, Katherine, Madeline…
    C.   Is also a place—Berkeley, Brooklyn, London…
    D.   Comes from a classy alcohol brand—Hennessy, Chardonnay,

5.     Your baby’s first exposure to music was…
    A.   The drum circle playing at the birth.
    B.   The lullabies and nursery rhymes you sing to your baby.
    C.   The violin lessons you started for baby when he turned six months
    D.   The soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto.

6.     What was your approach to getting in shape after having the
    A.   You don’t have a mirror so it never crossed your mind. Besides, you
          embrace the curves and marks your children have bestowed on your
          body. They reflect your Journey as Woman.
    B.   You figure that with breastfeeding and taking the baby for daily
          walks, the weight will come off naturally.
    C.   You alternate baby boot camp classes with training for a marathon
          via the jogging stroller.
    D.   You don’t exercise. Exercise is for pussies.

7.     Your stance on
        breastfeeding in
        public is…   
    A.   Breasts are for 
          breastfeeding, duh.
          You’ll whip out the boob
          whenever, wherever.   
    B.   If baby is hungry, you’ll 
          find a private place and 
          nurse under a blanket.
    C.   Um, no. You plan your 
          excursions around baby’s 
          scheduled feeds, and you 
          always have a backup
          bottle on hand just in case.
    D.  You don’t breastfeed, on
         account of the nicotine. 

8.     When it’s time to start solids, what do you feed your baby?
    A.   You make your own baby food from veggies grown in the garden.
          Love is the special ingredient!
    B.   You buy Gerber—doesn’t everyone?
    C.   You have freshly-picked organic baby food shipped in twice a week
          from California.
    D.   You introduce fries at sixth months, nuggets at seven months, but 
          no Mountain Dew until after a year. That shit makes babies go 

9.     What was your approach to babyproofing?
    A.   You closed the barn door and called it good.
    B.   You did the basics—outlet plugs, gates for the stairs, etc.
    C.   You paid a fortune for a professional babyproofing service as soon
          as you found out you were pregnant.
    D.   What is babyproofing?

10. How often do you give your baby a bath?
    A.   Once a week. Or less…
    B.   Every other day or so, more if needed.
    C.   Every day precisely at 6:30, after her evening meal and before    
    D.  You’re supposed to bathe them, too?!

11. Who do you turn to when you need a babysitter?
    A.   Your five older children.
    B.   Your parents or the nice neighbor girl.
    C.   A professional nanny that passed an FBI background check.
    D.   A combination of Benadryl and the T.V.

12. On an average summer day, your baby is wearing…
    A.   Dirt, and that’s about it.
    B.   Whatever is clean at the moment.
    C.   A matching outfit, with matching shoes and matching hat, natch. 
    D.  The same clothes he’s been in for the last week.

13. This past Mother’s Day, you were…
    A.   Thrilled—your partner took you on a hike, prepared a picnic, and 
          surprised you with a new homebrew!
    B.   Thrilled—the hubs fixed you breakfast in bed, then sent you off for
          a pedicure and a massage!
    C.   Thrilled—your husband followed your ten-point set of instructions
          to a tee!
    D.   Thrilled—your parole officer showed up and took you and the kids
          out to lunch!

14. Your worst nightmare is that your baby will grow up to be…
    A.   A Republican.
    B.   A drug addict.
    C.   A hippie.
    D.   A cop.

15. At night, you don’t worry about your baby because…
    A.   She's in bed with you.
    B.   She's in a bassinet in your room where you can see her.
    C.   You set your alarm to check on her every hour. Plus you have the 
          video monitor.
    D.   You are drunk.

Tally up your results!

If you answered mostly As, you are:
A Crunchy Mom!
(Note: this is the P.C. way of saying you’re a hippie).

You take a laid-back approach to parenting, raising your children to be in tune with nature, their bodies, and their emotions.

Recommended reading: The Dr. Sears line of books, Mothering magazine, The Lorax…

Potential pitfalls: You want your child to be a unique expression of himself, and he will be. But at some point, he may feel awkward being the only kindergartner with dreadlocks and a tofu lunch. His way of being an individual just might mean experimenting with conformity for a little while. Don’t worry, he’ll go back to being barefoot soon enough!

If you answered mostly Bs, you are:

The Average Mom!

You are practical and level-headed, and balance your own mother’s advice with your pediatrician’s. You are raising confident, well-adjusted children who will fit in wherever they go. 

Recommended Reading: The Baby Whisperer, Parenting magazine, Brown Bear Brown Bear…

Potential pitfalls: Sometimes you might find it hard to follow your own instincts when it comes to parenting. Remember that it’s okay to listen to your gut, even if it doesn’t jibe with what your sister, your college roommate, or the park ladies say. It’s okay to go your own way and try new things!

If you answered mostly Cs, you are:

An Overachieving Mom!

You are the envy of the playgroup with your sparkling countertops and GMO-free 100% whole wheat muffins. You are raising kids who will be responsible, hard-working, and maybe just a wee bit neurotic.

Recommended reading: Who am I kidding? You know you’ve already got every parenting book ever written.

Potential pitfalls: Here’s the deal C-mom. Kids are messy. Life with children is chaotic, and things definitely don’t always go as planned (see here for proof). In your attempts at perfection, you just might miss out on the little things that make it all worth it. Admit it—wasn’t it just a teensy bit funny when your son hung the asparagus out of his nose like a giant booger? Make sure to take time to laugh, be spontaneous, and let loose from time to time. Your kids won’t even remember the countertops!

If you answered mostly Ds, you are:

A Neglectful Mom!

Sad face. I really really hope you didn’t get mostly Ds. Now please turn off the computer and get yourself to rehab.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Someone Needs a Swaddle

Recently, I was in line at the grocery store with my two little buddies. S was attempting to do acrobatics off the shopping cart, but not bothering anyone, and baby N was, as usual, in the Moby Wrap on my chest. I noticed this guy behind us—young, pudgy, frumpy—shuffling from one foot to another. He kept smirking and rolling his eyes in our direction. I could tell he had something to say. I smiled at him, giving him an opening.

He pushed his glasses up his nose and sneered, “I don’t get why people carry their babies like that. Didn’t you, like, just carry her inside you for nine months? I mean, put the baby down, already!”

Oh, my dear boy. First of all, it was ten months (add it up people—40 weeks, and N was late). Secondly, with those manners, I’m not surprised you were shopping for your Hamburger Helper and beer by yourself.

Although I wanted to drop-kick this stranger, I suspected his mommy didn’t do much snuggling when he was a babe. So I bit my tongue and shrugged. I figured my explanation would take too long, anyway, and this guy seemed like he had some pressing online gaming to do.  But, I was left with the nagging feeling that I needed to justify why I wear my baby. So—

Aside from the fact that new mothers tend to enjoy holding their babies (um, hello), there are some very practical reasons why you will find me at the store with my baby in the wrap. Here is my argument:

1.  We have to eat. Although I did plant a veg garden, we can’t survive off of basil for the next two months until the zucchini and tomatoes are ready. (I don’t even like zucchini or tomatoes that much). And though I hear there’s a breast milk ice cream shop in England (truly!), my family’s not ready to make that leap. Also, we don’t have a flourmill. Or any wheat to speak of. So I have to go to the store.

2.  It’s illegal to leave kids alone in the car in the parking lot. And mean.

3.  Although hubby could theoretically watch the little ones while I shopped, if I’m kid-free, you can bet I’m going to do something way better than hang out at Smith’s. Yeah, if such a miracle were to occur, I’d probably spend my time…sleeping…or reading…or going to a coffee shop to work and wind up looking at pictures of my kids on Facebook...or going to a coffee shop to work and wind up talking to the lady next to me about my kids, and then showing her pictures on Facebook…

In short, I have to shop and the kids are coming with. Now, I could either carry N on my hip (while pushing a cart, grabbing groceries and making sure S doesn’t climb into the refrigerated foods section to cool off) or carry N in the car seat. The first option is ludicrous, and the second one isn’t so hot either.

See, baby N spent much of her first months under the illusion that the car seat was occupied by evil spirits which she had to combat by screaming at the top of her lungs. Which brings me to my next point:

4. I've found that people generally don’t like being around babies who are screaming at the top of their lungs.

5.  Finally, even if I did take baby N in the car seat, where would I put her? I couldn’t put her inside the cart, unless I was going to pile the food up all around her. (Okay, it might be kind of funny to make her like a real live Cabbage Patch Kid—I can just see her little face peeking out between the cantaloupe and kale, but I don’t think she would like that very much). Lots of parents put the car seat on the handle of the cart, but that feels very precarious to me. Besides, I have to reserve that seat for S in case I catch her bogarting all the free snack samples or something.

And so, the remaining logical choice is for me to carry N in the wrap. It’s easy, she’s content, and I have two free hands… which I just might use to give the finger to jerks I meet in the check-out line. 

Oh, not really.

Well, yeah, maybe in my head.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Isn't That Special

Some days I should really just quit while I’m ahead. Of course that would require being ahead at some point…

Last night, while making dinner, I tripped over a cloth grocery sac on the kitchen floor that hadn’t made its way back onto the hook, and—surprise!—there was something squishy in there. Week-old bananas. Neato. Now, you might think gross at the thought of mushy, almost rotten bananas, but I think banana bread. I mean, you’re supposed to use the brown ones, right?

Since it had been a while since S and I had baked anything together (I’ve been working on limiting the cupcakes after all, boo), I thought this would be a perfect project for us.

So this morning, after getting N down for her nap, S and I began the delightful process of baking. This entailed her making an enormous mess on a tray with flour, water, sprinkles, and some spices, while helping me count out the measures in the real recipe. The first fail was that I had no baking soda. After referencing the all-knowing Interwebs, I decided I could use double the amount of baking powder and call it good.

Baby N woke up just as I was adding in the last ingredients, so I cracked the eggs and did the mixing one-handed. (Note to husband: if you find a crunchy piece in there, that would be eggshell—sorry about that).

S was done messing for the moment, so we all went into the living room to play while the oven heated up. After a few minutes I went to check the temp, only to find thick gray smoke swirling around the kitchen. A vision of last night came back to me in a flash—the gooey, drippy macaroni and cheese that had bubbled over the casserole dish onto the oven floor. A mess I didn’t clean up—first, because I was starving and it was dinnertime; second, because after dinner I watched The Bachelorette (btw, Bentley is coming back next week, WTH?!), then got sucked into Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition (very touching); and third, because even though I had forgotten about it by then, I would be lying if  I said I would actually clean the oven at ten o’clock at night. Stranger things have happened, but not in my house. 

I was faced with a dilemma. I could 1) wait an hour or so until the oven cooled down, clean it (with my two little helpers underfoot) and then bake the banana bread, 2) take the batter to my parents’ house and cook it there, or 3) shove it in the oven, thereby burning off the cheesy gook at the same time. The first option would probably have been the wisest, but I’m lazy and also impatient (great qualities in a parent), so that was out. The second option required getting us all dressed and out the door with our numerous baby accessories plus the batter in tow—no, thanks. So I went with number 3.

Bad choice. The acrid smoke had spread to the dining room with no signs of stopping. I raced around, opened all the windows and doors, grabbed the timer and baby N, and ushered S outside.

“Let’s play in the dirt!”

She looked doubtful. S usually loves playing outside, but it was late morning, June, and New Mexico, which equals 90+ degrees outside with little shade. Good thing banana bread only has to bake for. . . an hour.

Meanwhile, S was wearing nothing but her pajama top and undies, N had a wet diaper, and I was hungry. Ni modo. There was more smoke in that house than a low-rider clambake, and we weren’t going back in until it was clear.

(Why didn’t I turn off the oven, you ask? Add ‘stubborn’ to my fine list of characteristics.)

S adapted pretty quickly, but the poor thing kept begging me to play Tag or Hide-and-Seek with her, both of which would require not sitting on my butt in the one small square of shade. We eventually settled on “Let’s see how many laps S can run around the yard” which I narrated, racetrack style.

Finally, the timer dinged and we all went back inside. The banana bread turned out okay…but it’s been a few hours and my baby’s head still smells like the inside of a pizza oven.

Lessons learned: put away your groceries, clean up your messes, and don’t bake in the summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Got Sleep?

Ah, the elusive nap. With S, I was borderline obsessive about making sure she got enough sleep as a baby. Unfortunately, I never mastered the skill of being able to lay the baby down (awake), kiss her on the head, and let her drift peacefully off to sleep. I hear of mystical mothers who can do this, but I have never met one in person.

Instead, I rocked, carried, wore, and nursed S to sleep. My memories of her first months are of me, sitting on the couch, holding my adorable, sleeping baby. Some may call this wasting time; I call it catching up on the fascinating world of daytime TV and finally reading The Mists of Avalon.

I vowed that things would be different with my second child, but who do you think is on my lap in dreamland this very minute? Baby N, of course. Oh well. I just don’t have it in me to listen to the tears or try to “train” my baby to take naps by herself in a crib.

Which brings me back to S. By the time she was three, we still had to use some tricks to get her to sleep at naptime. The main one was that we (gulp)…drove her around until she fell asleep, which would sometimes take twenty minutes or more. Despite the global gas crisis, despite global warming, despite the high prices. It was ridiculous.   

About a month ago, I decided enough was enough. We were wasting gas, time, money, and energy, and S was beginning to really resist the car rides. There were a few times when she screamed as I carried her to the car, waving to the neighbors—No, I’m not kidnapping her! She’s my own child! Please don’t call the police! It was insane, and something had to change.

I decided to try her preschool’s method for naptime. They would basically set the kids up on cots, blast some music, and they’d all miraculously fall asleep. Peer pressure? Chloroform? I really don’t know, but from 12 to 2 every day, it seemed to work.

So one Saturday, I set up an ancient stereo in her room (it even had a tape deck—so quaint!), and she picked out three stories. She snuggled on my lap as we read, and then climbed into bed with the stuffed animal d’jour.

When the cue-up for the Baby Einstein Mozart CD began, her face brightened. “It’s princess music?”

Now, you may have gathered that I’m not a huge fan of the tiny-waisted, starry-eyed Disney gals. In fact, I’ve done everything in my power to shield S from them, yet they’ve still managed to claw their manicured little fingers into our lives. But, whatever. That’s my issue, not S’s. And at that moment, she was cheerful, cooperative, and cozy, and if she wanted to call it princess music, well shoot, I’d hire the royal orchestra.

“It is princess music!” I said, clasping my hands as though thrilled.

“And ballerina music?” She was digging this.

“Yep, ballerina music, too!” (I’m not super-keen on the ballerinas, either, but hey, at least they have a career. And S is pretty darn cute decked out in a tutu.)

And with that, I tucked her quilt around her, gave her a kiss, and left the room. There was no bargaining. (“How about park first, then nap, Mommy?”) No complaining. And best of all, no shrieking. Just the sweet, sweet silence of a kid in bed. Who is not shrieking. (This cannot be emphasized enough).

After half an hour of blissful peace—most of which I spent gloating to my husband about my amazing child-sleeping skills—S appeared. “The princess music’s over, Mommy. Can I hear more?”

Doh! I forgot to put the CD on repeat. And clearly there had been no sleeping.

Instead, S had spent the time creating an elaborate tent city of towels and blankets in her room. She seemed happy enough, but I was still hoping for a nap. She agreed to lie down with me and try to sleep, but only if we could make a “nest” on the floor. This required asking each of her animals permission to use their blankets one by one. Not a quick process.

When we finally got comfy, S popped up. Before I realized what was happening, she’d tucked me in on the floor, climbed into the rocking chair and was reading to me. I’d been bamboozled! But she was so sweet, and hey, I needed a nap, too.

After a while, I left S with her animals, facing the sad realization that the days of the nap might be behind us. In fact, she didn’t get any sleep that day. But she did play in her room, quietly, happily, for three whole hours. And I’m going ride that train as long as I can, even if I have to share it with princesses. Just call me the Queen.