Is Making Out Like Teenagers Good for Parenting? Asking for a Friend.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal May 12, 2019

“Has that guy been there the whole time? Just watching us?” I asked my husband, while glancing nervously through the windshield of my Subaru.

We were sitting in a Target parking lot, making out in the front seat of my car like desperate teenagers.

“I don’t know. I didn’t notice him before,” my husband said as we looked sheepishly across the parking space. What have we become?

Parents. That’s what. Sleep-deprived, unkempt, slightly smelly, stressed out, parents.

On those highly prized rare nights when parents have a break from parenting pint-sized tyrants, we revert back to teenagerdom.

Seriously. Consider: What do we do when we’re suddenly without our sweet little monsters? Sleep. Eat popcorn and pie for dinner. Watch loads of television. Wear pajamas all day. Catch up and call friends. Dress up for no reason. Put on make up then wipe half of it off because we look like clowns. Take really, really long showers.

And apparently make out in Target parking lots while waiting to pick up takeout.

This night happened on one of those special “Grandparents’ Nights.” Before our second child was born, my mom had our toddler son while we went to a movie and then decided to pick up dinner on our way home. We had time to kill, but not enough to do much. So here we found ourselves, reverting back to our baser natures.

Parenting is a marathon. An endurance test. Maybe we’ll fall down. Maybe somebody will cheer for us. Maybe someone will throw water at us. Maybe we’ll cry. Maybe we’ll hit that runner’s high. Maybe we’ll do something embarrassing. Maybe we’ll find a buddy to commiserate with. Maybe we’ll inhale a packet of gummies without breaking stride. Maybe we’ll learn something about our grit, our fears, our hopes, our strength. Maybe we’ll learn how to ask for help.

And maybe we’ll make out in Target parking lots in front of strangers in vans.

I mean, the world really is our oyster.

Parenting is…

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Real Talk from a Working Mama.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal January 23, 2019

Some motherhood real talk:

Last Thursday was the first time Littlest One went to daycare and joined Biggest One. It was gut-wrenching, but not nearly as bad as the first time I dropped off Biggest One at daycare. That day, I sobbed for about half an hour and welled up again as soon as I ran into a friend and she innocuously asked, “How’s it going?”

Thursday wasn’t so traumatizing, because I’ve been super lucky to have a friend nannying Littlest One in our home, while I’ve been working part-time for the past few months.

Although now, it all feels rushed. After dropping them off, I felt bereft. And free.

Being a working parent is like peeling and cutting a pungent onion. There are lots of tears, it overwhelms the senses, and if we’re not careful, we may be at risk of losing some precious flesh. Talk about the many layers of complicated.

These arrangements are nothing new. I mean come on, I just watched the original “Mary Poppins” tonight. Being a working mom is nothing new. But damn, it’s hard.

I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love what we do. I also love these two little firecrackers who have my eyes and their daddy’s mischievous smile.

I spend nights calculating childcare hours and worrying if I’m doing this parenting thing right.

These are the moments when I feel most tired. Not the all night nursing sessions, or fending off my sliver of bed and rumpled sheets from a marauding toddler, or…

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10 Things Not to do When Traveling with a Toddler.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal December 18, 2018

Not long ago, my husband, toddler, and I dropped everything to fly around the world for a family emergency.

First and foremost, toddlers are little bundles of entropy, with sweetly redeeming giggles and grins. And they can be little demons in squishy fluid-oozing bodies. They make for exciting traveling companions.

We previously considered—and ultimately decided against—the same leisurely trip to visit family, because: toddlers. The variability of toddler moods on a good day can be crazy tempestuous, not to mention while traveling. Since we were forced to make the 48 hour journey from Alaska to Ireland anyway, we learned a few enlightening lessons along the way.

My husband and I have done a lot of international traveling. He’s originally from Ireland and I’m from Alaska. We met in India seven years ago and before baby came, we covered a fair portion of the world and racked up the airline miles to prove it.

But parenting and traveling? It’s newish territory for us.

Mostly, everyone we met while crammed into tin cans in the sky were sweet and accommodating. Traveling internationally tests all of us, especially those of us who are parents.

I once sat next to a mother on a nine hour flight with an infant who cried for approximately eight hours and 45 mins of the journey. Another passenger kept coming up to our row of seats and offering to take the mother’s little one to give her a moment of respite and each time, the mother politely declined. Finally, after hours of this, the other passenger came up, grabbed the baby from the mother’s arms and walked away down the aisle. The baby stopped crying immediately and all the passengers around us let out a collective sigh. The mother put her face into her hands and…

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Feminists Don’t Do This.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal August 21, 2017

When I run into former colleagues, I dread the inevitable question, “So where are you working these days?”

I take a deep breath, lengthen my spine, and with defiance and a touch of embarrassment, I respond that I’m currently staying at home with our little one—and that I unabashedly love it.

Their eyes always widen and I imagine the internal judgment. The same judgement that I used to give, unsolicited, to those I knew who gave up their jobs when a little one came along.

To begin, let me apologize to all the women I judged for not being working moms. And the ones I judged for working too hard. Being a parent is a radical choice. We try to make decisions that benefit not only our children, but ourselves.

We’re all just trying to get along in this messy, imperfect life. 

People who know me well are unsurprised to hear how judgmental I can be. Until recently, my Myers-Briggs personality rated incredibly high on the judge-y scale. I grew up with a very clear sense of right and wrong, and little tolerance for what I perceived as wrong.

This translated into my personal expectation of feminism.

Of course I’ll be a working mom. Of course I’ll juggle all the things and be all the people. Of course. Of course. Of course.

Parenthood kicks ass—both in the “yay I totally dig being a parent” and the “my ass is being kicked” varieties.

Becoming a parent not only reaffirmed my commitment to reproductive justice, equality, and access for all, it forced me to re-evaluate my assumptions about what it means to be a feminist.

And the conclusion I came to?

Choice.

Feminism is choice. It’s the choice to be the best that we can be in the circumstances we find ourselves. It’s the choice to determine our own destiny. To be, to do, to create a life that is authentic and true. When we are able to make the decisions that are best for us…

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How the Deepest Massage of my Life Brought me Back to my Body.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal March 28, 2017

A month ago in Dubai, I had the deepest massage of my life.

As the massage therapist stretched, pulled, and pressed on my sore exhausted flesh, I immediately knew this massage was different.

Like so many of us, I often walk around somewhere up in my head and barely notice my feet meeting the earth. This tendency to live in my mind is what compelled me to play competitive sports as a child, then find yoga and dance as an adult.

Although my habit is to live up in my comfy cerebral space, my body craves being lived in. Sometimes vigorously, but mostly just actively, even if it happens in fits and spurts. I’ll spend days not doing much intentional movement and then I’ll get the itch and dream of running—sprinting down my street. Or I’ll get the taste of cobwebs on my skin and I need to move. Now. Jump. Stretch. Shimmy. Climb something until my chest heaves and sweat makes dusty rivulets down my legs.

I love massage and I’ve had my fair share of them—in seven different countries. I adore the ritual. I crave the therapeutic benefits. I need the relaxation. I cherish the self-care.

My mother introduced me to the magic of massage when I was a teenager. After getting professional massages together as a birthday treat, my mom decided on a whim to buy a massage table. Her intention was to give me and my brothers all the benefits of massage from the comforts and ease of home.

I can remember one sunny summer day she set the table up in the grass of our backyard and gave each of us a sugar scrub rub that ended with a run through the sprinkler. Unfortunately her dream was…

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Why Does My Baby Smell Like Tapas? And Other Absurd Questions of Motherhood.

“So how’s being a mother?”

To be fair, I’m guilty of it too. Making small talk is awkward and it seems like a harmless question. I know I’ve asked it without any real idea what I was asking.

It’s really an absurd question. Each time I see someone for the first time since having little one, it’s been close to the first thing out of each person’s lips. I don’t blame them. Maybe it’s me. I never know how to answer. I get a goofy smile on my face and say “I love being his momma!”

Which is completely true. I don’t know how I feel about being a mother in general yet, but I love being my little one’s.

After that, I don’t know what to say. I kind of wrap my arms around myself in an imaginary hug of our son, or if I’m actually holding him when they ask, I look down, smile, and give him a squeeze.

Then I sort of wait. Because how do you explain motherhood in a handful of sentences in the same manner as discussing the weather? Most of the time, I get a smile and a “oh that’s wonderful!” Sometimes I get a quick peek into someone else’s crazy postpartum experience. Raw authentic words that cut quick to the heart of the transition from being Not A Mother to being A Mother. Then the moment is gone and we’re back to discussing the actual weather.

It’s absurd.

It feels like a quick dip into the swift underground river passing under all of our feet. Motherhood. We don’t like to get too deep and be whisked away-just enough to feel the force of the river and then back to solid ground. Now that I know it’s there, it’s hard to ignore.

I’m extremely fortunate. I had the dream labor and birth that we planned. A quick, safe, transformative experience. We have a happy healthy (barring colds-damn you colds) little boy. I haven’t experienced any trauma postpartum or PPD. I know a lot of women do. I’d like to find a better way of honoring their experiences with a better question. And the time to actually hear their answers.

So far, motherhood is full of absurd questions. Like, “is the milk stain surrounding my entire nipple area and half my boob super noticeable?” Or “why doesn’t this outfit come in my size?” Or “did you pee on me again?” Or “why does my baby smell like tapas?”

I found myself saying this last one out loud a few weeks ago. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why little one smelled like a hummus platter. I hadn’t eaten anything nearly so delicious for longer than I could remember. So it wasn’t from breast milk. That also means I couldn’t have accidentally spilt anything on him.

The smell slowly dissipated and I forgot all about it. A few hours later the smell came back while little one was practicing jumps and kicks in my lap. He was warm and I was starting to crave flatbread and small plates.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize what was causing the smell. Little one loves bath time. Sometimes I almost think he purposely has poo explosions to get back in the bath. After each bath, I make a nest of towels and give little one a baby massage. With olive oil.

Each time he was getting warm, the olive oil was too. Mystery solved. Go figure. If it’s good enough to eat, it’s good enough to put on the skin.

I blame the delayed realization on the absurdest question of all:

“Is your baby sleeping through the night?”

Bwahahahahahahahaha.