Is there an art to roughhousing?

There's a new book out called The Art of Roughhousing, in which two fathers (one an MD and the other a PhD) offer advice and diagrams on how to roughhouse the right way.   They believe that it's "crucial to kids' self esteem and physical development that parents unplug the family, loosen up and let fly."  Today's obsession with safety and technology, they argue, has changed the way we play.  And not for the better. 

Let me start off here by saying I AGREE.  Who wouldn't?  I don't like the idea that today's kids no longer roam free and explore on their own any more than the next mother. And there's nothing better than the bond (and the giggles) that comes from them messing around with their father on the kitchen floor. 

But as I said in this Associated Press article, as much as I  WANT my children to enjoy the benefits of roughhousing (a close physical connection to us as parents, a sense of their own physical power and free play) there's a lot at stake when the roughhousing starts.

Celebrities: They're Just like You and Me! (Not.)

Celebrities: They're Just like You and Me! (Not.)

First, Gwyneth was all “Every woman can make time to exercise."  And you can even do it “with your baby in the room” !  (Cause there’s nothing that my 2 and 4 year old boys would liike more than hanging out in the TV room on a sunny day watching me do the Tracy Anderson Method.)

March Moms Group Redux

The boy enjoying ski school. Made possible--both lovingly and grudgingly--by me. The topic for the most recent meeting of my Moms Group was Time:  Who has it?  Do we have enough?  How do we get it (shuttle the kids off to the grandparents?  Come up with enough cash for a sitter?)?  And what would we--as mothers--do if we had more of it?

What if...?

That's what I'm saying.

The holidays are coming…and I’m already seeing articles and blog posts titled “How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain” and “Don’t Sabotage Yourself this Holiday Season…” and they all get me wondering what would happen if we (meaning I.  Cause it's my blog and all) didn’t follow their advice or even our (again: my) own better judgment this holiday season?  Would my world—that I work really hard to create and maintain--crumble? Would my body break down or balloon up to some socially unacceptable size?  I mean really, what's the worst that could happen if I broke all my own rules? 


The perfect diaper bag is a work of art

A thing of beauty. My Okiedog bag (sigh).

File this under things I never thought I’d write about.  I mean, diaper bags?  Booooring. There are all the same.  Just go for the prestige and get a Coach/Kate Spade/whatever.  Mais non, mon amie!  The perfect diaper bag (much like the perfect purse or tote) is actually a work of art.  It’s a blend of design and functionality—and if one leeetle thing isn’t right (the straps are too long/too short; the bag doesn’t stand up on it’s own; the lining is so dark that things get lost inside--hello Kate Spade.  I'm talking to you), the bag ends up collecting dust in the closet.  At least that’s what happens in my house.

So now, let me count the ways I love my new Okiedog Equinox Metro Messenger diaper bag.

Do you ever feel like a bad mom?

The state of my kitchen table yesterday. I do.  

Like, all the time.

Take yesterday.  I was was trying to keep the kids on schedule (camp for Ollie; music class for Felix) because if we dawdled much longer then there would have been no sense in even trying to get out the door.  (And before you ask, "So? What's the harm in that?" let me say that we all do better when we get out of the house.  Otherwise, the boys rip the place apart, maul each other, and basically make me crazy[ier].  In other words, there is no upside to staying home--especially on a gorgeous summer morning.) 

Day 168: "Meditate on Being Good Enough as You Are..."

This serene photo of Alice Lake in British Columbia is supposed to inspire thoughtful reflection. Okay now, go.

That’s what Ally the teacher said today in 7am Hatha class.  And it struck me because I never feel good enough.  Which is weird (and sad) because I am someone who (I think) has high self-esteem and a fair amount of perspective…and yet my body doesn’t feel good enough.  I don’t think I’ll ever adjust to the post-pregnancy changes that carrying to giant 8+lb bebehs wrought on me. And I’m not talking about how my body looks (okay, maybe my stomach, but only a little), but rather how my body functions.  It’s just not the same, and as much as I love my kids, I have trouble “celebrating” the fact that I spend a lot of time and money seeking the help of specialists, or spending my “free” time in the evening doing extra stretches and exercises and internet searches to try to help my situation. 

And while I’m confessing about stuff, my mothering often doesn’t feel good enough either.  Are the kids being exposed to all the things that will make them happy and successful?  Am I a neurotic fool to even worry about that?  Are they eating well enough?  Are they where they should be in their development?  Should I be giving/doing/organizing/creating more

Plus I wonder about being a good enough wife.  Like, am I attentive enough?  Do we have sex enough? Is my house clean enough? And (I can’t believe this thought actually exists in my head, but it does) are my menu options varied enough?  No, really.  I actually worry about that.  I went to school for nearly 20 years (from preschool to grad school), and I like to think about things like semiotics and feminism—and yet I worry almost daily about whether or not we’ve eaten chicken too often lately, and what new fun lunchtime options my toddler will eat without needing ketchup poured on it.

I also wonder about whether I’m being me enough.  About getting enough time to write, think, plan and progress toward my own personal goals.

So when Ally got us out of savasana, back up to easy pose on our foam blocks, and had us think about being good enough as we are, I really tried.  And I chanted along—feeling hokey as hell—saying, “I am.  I am. I am.”

And for the rest of the day, I’m going to try to remember that I am. 

My dinner with Maple Leaf Foods

It's weird being a mom.  There are so many things I never thought I'd care about or don't know jack about. And one of them is food safety. Yeah, food safety.   Y'know, as in not wiping the door of the fridge with a raw chicken breast like in that Lysol commercial.  And now that I have kids, I find myself being more careful about things (ie tossing leftovers sooner, cleaning the kitchen extra extra well, and ix-naying-ay the chicken-ay as a handi wipie-ay.)

Then last month, I got invited to a Food Safety dinner for bloggers being hosted by Maple Leaf Foods (which, for those of you playing along at home in the USA, is a huge food vendor here in Canada.)  I wasn't going to accept given that I don't normally blog about issues like health and safety, but then I changed my mind--and I'm glad I did. 

May Moms Group Redux

Whatta bunch of gals. So the topic at the end of last month was Busy-ness...and how it relates to (or detracts from) our happiness as mothers. 

The upshot of the conversation was that yes, we are too busy and that no one (not husbands or even our own mothers) seems to understand just how much so.  Our group basically agreed that we don't have the time to take care of the kids as well as we'd like in addition to taking care of the home and the other details of our lives.  And ourselves?  Yeah, no. 

So what does that mean? Because when I write that out, it makes us seem like a particularly whiny bunch.  But yet, I don't think we are.  I actually think we're pretty typical of many moms today who had or have careers, who are educated, accomplished and want to hang on to some of that as we raise families.  


Day 148: Give yourself permission

Green and pink together make me happy.Ollie has scarlet fever.  Felix keeps coughing until he vomits. I got up five times last night. The nanny broke her foot. Chris is in Seattle (at a deluxe boutique hotel) with the car. It's pouring rain outside...

...and I'm giving myself permission to only do deep breathing today for my yoga session. 


(I also ate a fair number of cookies.)

April Moms Group Redux

Are we happy yet?The topic: to find it, what it is once you've become a mom and how it's different from before.

We started, as always, by going around the table and sharing something about ourselves from before we became moms--something that defined us before we became known as "Taylor's Mom" and "Ollie's Mom" etc.

Finding Audrey....

Where's Audrey?I'm home in New York right now and it seems like old times.  I've gone shopping (oh, there's been a lot of shopping), seen friends from high school, had uninterrupted conversations with people, and just had time to think, explore and reconnect with myself (Sweet Jesus that sounds hokey).

My kids haven't really spent much time in New York yet.  On the few occasions they've been here, they were both so young they can't possibly remember anything.  As a result, I don't really associate New York--or the person I am here--with them.  Which means I have to keep reminding myself as I walk around and feel totally at home that I have two kids waiting for me.  In Canada.  Weird.

Day 97: Roar

I yelled all day long today.  I yelled at my kids to get them out of the house for playgroup.  And I yelled  to get them from playgroup out to the playground.  I also yelled to get them from the playground home for lunch...

I am deeply ashamed. And I honestly do feel like a terribly mother.

I blame it on lack of sleep.  I blame it on having two boys--both essentially toddlers--who need endless stimulation and exercise.  I blame it-- well, it doesn't really matter.

Sleep (Take 1)

Ollie at 6 months--asleep outside at a summer cocktail party. How do kids do that?I really don't get a lot of sleep.  Which is a problem because I need 8+ hours to function properly and even begin to be pleasant. 

When Oliver was born, he didn't sleep much either.  I still don't know if it's because he legitimately wasn't tired, or if I fucked things up. I'd put him down for naps and ten or fifteen minutes later, he'd be up again.  Or he'd sleep for exactly 40 minutes (which I now know is the duration of one baby sleep cycle).  Then he'd be up, wide awake and cranky. 

As the weeks and months went on, I'd hear moms on the playground talk about how much their kids (who were the same age as Ollie) were sleeping.

You Can't Make New Old Friends.

"A lot of stuff can come up in this pose, so don't be surprised if you start feeling sad (or nauseated or angry or bewildered or [add emotion here...]"

I've been to lots of yoga classes where the teacher says this at some point during the class. Normally, it's right when we're about to do Camel.  But since I've never experienced any sort of Come-to-Jesus moment like that in the middle of practicing, I usually make some snarky comment to myself and just keep going.

Then today, as I was lying in savasana (corpse pose) at the end of Hatha class, I started to cry. Not because some old family trauma surfaced or even because I've had a particularly bad day.  It was because my Best Mom Friend (BMF) is moving away next week, and I suddenly glimpsed how yucky life is going to be without her around. 

My Day

11:15 am, the playground

  •  Get up (6:25 am)
  • Help bathe kids, wash hair
  • Dress kids
  • Feed kids
  • Load dishwasher that didn't run last night because the knob on the front is currently Felix's favorite toy
  • Eat
  • Check email
  • Strategize with Chris about a) Easter b) Thomas the Train day trip in June that we need to buy tickets for ASAP c) Spring program sign up for kids
  • Help Ollie get off to school
  • Fold laundry
  • Work on iCal spread sheet of possible Spring classes and activities for kids
  • Call mom-in-arms Willow.  No answer
  • Put away laundry
  • Call Mom.  No answer
  • Try to reschedule majorly important, once-a-year doctor appointment that I needed to do blood work for last week and haven't.  Without it, 9:00 appointment tomorrow is pretty useless
  • Change out of pyjamas.</li

How (and Why) to Start a Moms Group

I know I looked that good when I was pregnant. You? I spend a lot of time (like, a lot) talking about Mom Issues.  In fact, almost not a day goes by when I don't spend a significant amount of time hashing out current sleep patterns, the consistency of poop and how to make Oliver scream less during bath time so that the neighbors don't report us to Child Services.... ("We were just shampooing his hair, Officer.  I swear.")

It can get boring.  In fact, I get bored of hearing myself yammer on.  But what I don't get bored of is knowing that other moms are dealing with the exact same shit.  So in September 2009, I started a Moms Group.   We meet once a month at a restaurant to discuss a timely topic (chosen by moi) and then digress into harping on bad celebrity baby names (because Bella Luna and the like are just plain dumb).   We also offer each other support, perspective and good cheer. Bascially, it's kinda like a Book Club, only without the books. 

So why you should start one?  Oh, I don't know...  to remind yourself that you're not alone and that other women might possibly love and sometimes hate (yes, hate.  I wrote that.  Hey, it's my blog.) they're new lives as parents as much as you do?  It also ensures you get out of the house at least one night a month.