Gifts That Keep on Giving

Last year for Christmas, my parents gave us a family membership to the Zoo. And let me tell you how we have given that sucker a workout. Nothing like waking up in the morning, realizing it’s a nice day and high tailing it downtown in 15 minutes to check out the animals, burn off some energy at the playground and enjoy the outdoors. It’s nothing short of a miracle, some days.

So this year, of course we asked grandma and grandpa to regift. No need for original ideas here, just more Zoo please. And Nana added to the fun by giving us a membership to our local Children’s Museum. Now we have an indoor and outdoor option. Nothing like waking up int he morning, realizing it’s a crappy day and high tailing it downtown in 10 minutes to check out the moon sand, John Deere tractor and mechanical ball mouse trap. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

I have recently learned, however, of a free option that as soon as my peanut is potty trained (really? you’re sure you’re not ready yet?) I can take advantage of. The free babysitting ball pit at IKEA. Oh, sure. You can’t leave the premises, but mama can meet some gal pals for lunch at the cheapo cafe or have a coffee with a book or do some actual shopping. And it’s only 5 minutes from my house. Taking advantage of a customer courtesy? Maybe. But 90 minutes of free babysitting? Now that’s a miracle.

Toddler Lockdown

After a rainy morning workout, peanut and I skipped our normal playground routine and headed for a drier, warmer activity – the library. We piled our tote full of new reads for peanut and mommy and headed for home.

After completing the mental scan of what was in our refrigerator versus what was planned for dinner and the fact that it was just rainy and gross out, I decided we’d treat ourselves to a bit of Chick-Fil-A for lunch. As I asked peanut whether he’d prefer nuggets or strips, I realized I was talking to myself. The kid had fallen asleep in his car seat. Perfect. I ordered at the drive thru and, thanks to the lack of common courtesy of the 500 cars that passed by without letting me in even though they were only gaining about 6 inches in forward motion because of traffic, ended up taking the long way home.

Peanut was still dozing soundly when we pulled into the driveway. I grabbed the lunch goods and ran into the house to turn off the alarm, pull off my noisy windbreaker and turn down the bed. I pulled peanut’s boots off and coaxed him out of the car seat, shushing and rubbing his back. While putting him into this bed, he murmured, “I just want to sleep,” and I quietly backed out of his room thinking I might get lunch and about an hour of peaceful quiet.

No such luck. He quickly bounded down the hall announcing “I’m AWAKE!” But we enjoyed a lovely lunch (only my kid likes the carrot raisin salad MORE than the nuggets and fries) and spent some quiet time snuggling on the sofa watching a video. Finally, he remembered that we had gone to the library and wanted the books. Of course they had not made it in from the car in my haste to perhaps get a nap out of the child.

I grabbed my keys and headed out to the car to get the books, grab the mail and retrieve the trash can from the curb. As I turned the knob to come back in the house a total of 45 seconds later, I realized he’d locked me out. Peanut had turned the dead bolt behind me.

I panicked. I started knocking on the door yelling at encouraging peanut to unlock the door for mommy. And then, under the mail and library tote, I felt my keys in my hand. Oops…quickly followed by…WHEW!

The good thing is that he actually did unlock the door for me before I used my keys. The bad thing is did he remember the books were in the car and simply use it as a ploy to kick me out of the house? Nah. He couldn’t be that sneaky.

Could he?

What Do You Do?

When living in DC, “what do you do?” was the first question out of a person’s mouth when you met them anywhere – ball game, work function, the Metro. It was a city that defined who you are by what you did from the hours of 8 to 6. When we moved to Atlanta, I noticed that, although the question would certainly come up in the cocktail party small talk, it was certainly not the first, second or even third question (of course, in Atlanta, it seemed the first question was where you lived…but that’s a whole other post).

Of course, when you have an answer to that question, it’s a pretty simple thing. Since giving up the work-a-day world to be with peanut, the “what do you do” question has always been vexing. Do people really want to know? “Change several diapers a day, feed, bathe, play trains, sing silly songs, imagine ‘where is that car going?’ 30 times a day and otherwise answer to the beck and call of a two year old.” Probably not the answer they were looking for, nor does it really encapsulate all that I am. Do they want the big picture, makes me feel important answer? “Raising the next generation of thinkers to be responsible, generous citizens of the world.” Um, really, this would never roll off my tongue because I’d be too busy thinking about this.

Honestly, I’ve gotten used to simply stating I’m a stay-at-home-mom right now with a history in PR. I’m proud of what I do, even though I still struggle with keeping the non-mom parts of me fulfilled and challenged.

So, I was a little surprised at a recent gathering of our neighborhood Garden Club. Let me start by explaining that our Garden Club has VERY little to do with gardening. We are primarily a gal’s only group who gets together once a month to drink wine, eat yummy snacks, gossip and spend a few minutes discussing neighborhood improvements. We had a few new neighbors joining us, so we were going around the room stating our names and “what we do.” When it was my turn, I said I was a stay-at-home-mom and looked to my right to await the next introduction.

Imagine my surprise when several ladies spoke up and said, “wait, she’s also a writer.” They mentioned the blog and stroked my ego in a way I hadn’t experienced in awhile. I have always been a student who wanted to be a writer, a PR pro who wanted to be a writer, a mom who wants to be a writer. Always letting “real” life take a front seat to the writer inside. It was a wonderful moment to find some people on the outside describing me by the very word I would love to define myself with every day.

Ladies, it meant a lot.

And means I need to dust off the keyboard and the journals more often to live up to the definition. Knowing you’ve got my back (and a back-up bottle of chardonnay) should make it a little easier.

New Season, New Attitude

Ah, spring. The cherry blossoms are blooming (and so far, I’m not hacking as a result…fingers crossed), the pear trees delicate blossoms are floating in the air like snow, the sun is relatively warm, the world looks brighter, the grass is starting to turn green again, the birds are chirping and making nests in our trees.

Spring is like one big sigh for me. An exhalation of a pent up winter in turtlenecks, boots, scarves and blah emotions. You can’t help but feel like spring is a new beginning.

So today, I am going to take a deep breath and be the calm parent. The even keel parent. The softly spoken mother. Instead of the screaming, raving banshee I feel I’ve become the last few weeks.

Peanut’s “rest time” has quickly devolved into a sick game of toddler mountain climbing where he ends up on top of his dresser tossing lamps, sound machines and baby monitors. As a result, my fear wells up and I yell. I scream at him not to climb up there. That it’s dangerous. As if I could scare him into behaving or understanding how not safe that is. Why don’t you listen to me? – and other similarly useless on a two-year-old phrases have escaped my lips during our attempts at rest time until I finally give up, feeling spent, guilty and useless.

Thank goodness for some of my mommy friends with older boys who gave me a much needed pep talk last night. There is nothing like knowing I’m not crazy, I’m not the only one and that this too shall pass.

So today, on this first day of spring, after a lovely morning at the park with friends, a workout and a vitamin D fix, I’ve committed to not yelling. No more. It doesn’t work anyway and just makes everyone feel bad. More deep breathing. More letting it go. More focus on fun times while we’re having them not anticipating the rest time struggles to come. More trial and error in finding the boundary setting that works (time outs, not so much; toy withholding – we might be onto something).

We’ll see. It can’t hurt.

You know what they say, hope springs eternal. I think a mother with a toddler who wouldn’t nap must have coined that one.

If the Shoe Fits

When I was working, I had a closet full of great work clothes. I bought quality, not quantity and think I did a decent job of building up a professional wardrobe that carried me through a myriad of situations. And of course there were the shoes.

It’s always been difficult for me to justify spending money on clothes, accessories, me. But when I was earning money, it was certainly a lot easier than it is now.

Now, particularly with the constant economic Armageddon news stories following me everywhere I go, it’s a constant source of guilt. Granted, I don’t need to have a closet full of mix and match items that can be dressed up or down anymore. A few Old Navy t-shirts and a cute skirt from H&M are about all I need to get through summer.

But shoes. Oh my. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a pair of shoes (oh wait, I think it was these). And I desperately need a cute pair of sneaks for the summer. A pair that goes equally well with the tan shorts and white T as the white eyelet A-line skirt and navy T. The pair that goes to the playground, the grocery store, the ball game and the zoo.

I used to struggle with spending too much on a pair of heels that maybe only worked with two outfits. I have to admit, of the times I took a risk on a pair, I don’t think I ever regretted the purchase in the long run. Now, I’m struggling with how much to spend on a pair of shoes I’ll probably wear every day between April and October. Seriously. I should not be this concerned. I should be able to just buy them. I didn’t even pause when I bought peanut two pairs of sneakers last week to get him through the summer. Didn’t pause when I picked up shorts and shirts for him. But me? Apparently, I’m still having a hard time, two years later, with this single-salary-household concept. Especially when it feels like the financial world is collapsing around us and I’m just waiting for the trickle down effect to hit our door step.

This recession is a total downer to my shoe high.

The Secret to a Good Nap

Peanut has now taken a nap two days in a row.

Friday, I’m convinced he napped because the hubby was working from home and I had a hair appointment. Of course he’d nap on a day when I don’t get to reap the benefits, right? That, and one of his buddies was here to play and have lunch mid-day while his mommy was out at an appointment. I think they wore each other out being firefighters.

Saturday, our little Tar Heel family headed down to the Georgia Dome for ACC Fan Fest. We didn’t have tickets to the games, but figured we could participate in the (free) events that go along with it. So we donned our Carolina blue and drove down the street. Ah, thank you huge inflatable slide. You were just high enough that my two-year-old wore himself out climbing up the 20-odd times he wanted to slide down.

That’s one fast toddler!

And so he napped again. Ah. Peace. Of course naps meant that he was up at 7am this morning. Not pleasant. But beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Workin’ It Part 2

I wanted to clear something up from my last post. I have to admit I was writing it during peanut’s “rest time” where he kept throwing things against the wall and I found him perched atop of his dresser three times, so I wasn’t exactly focused. As a result, I think I may have insinuated stay-at-home-moms don’t show the value of women to their children.

NOT WHAT I MEANT AT ALL!

I know plenty of moms, my mother-in-law included, who did not technically work outside of the home. She did, however, work hard as an involved parent on school committees and activities and had an active hobby life turned side-line business. I obviously think she did okay teaching her sons how to respect women since I married one of them. Although the hubby doesn’t think I walk on water (which is unfortunate!), he does value my opinion, my contribution, my intelligence, my wants/needs/desires and I never feel less than in his eyes because I don’t have a “job” right now.

The hubby listens to me rant and rave about equal pay for equal work and the male-centered view of corporate America, that although not always conscious, is definitely present. He sent me this NY Times graphic last week.

I spent a lot of time last week thinking about how this view of women being worth less monetarily in the work force keeps perpetuating. That is what I want to make sure peanut avoids. Whether I pursue a career inside or outside the walls of my home, I want to ensure that my son does not grow up to add another link to the chain of this backwards thinking that holds women back. And the stories I recounted simply illustrated my fear of him thinking that “work” is a daddy’s job.

As I’ve mentioned before, peanut’s no-napping schedule has really thrown off the time I have to spend on me. As I see that slip away, the fear that mommy is one-dimensional scares me. We all, whether we are mothers, fathers, SAHMs or working mothers, need to nurture our core selves in order to be the best parents we can be. I know he is too young to understand that mommy needs mommy time, but he’s obviously starting to make connections and assumptions about our roles and responsibilities in the family.

Anyway…that’s where this was all coming from. Thank you for letting me clarify what may not have been clear and hopefully I didn’t just confuse the issue even more, which is entirely possible. After all, I’m typing this while peanut catches up on some Clifford episodes after another abandoned “quiet” time.

Workin’ It

Peanut is currently obsessed with where daddy is during the day. Yesterday, for the umpteenth time during lunch, I told him daddy was at work.

He scrunched up his brow in his adorable thinking face and finally said, “Mommy doesn’t work.”

I laughed and said, “Yes I do. This is work.”

He replied, “No mommy doesn’t.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you are at my house.”

Okay. Kid’s got a point.

Fast forward to today’s lunch. A group of my girlfriends were having a picnic lunch with the kiddos post-park-workout at the park’s playground. We were lounging in the spring sunshine, the kid’s were sharing their snacks and toys. It was a lovely, peaceful scene. One said, “This is exactly what my friends without kids think every day is like.”

We all laughed at the absurdity of that image. If only.

It got me thinking, though, about how to teach peanut the value of women, the importance of what I’m doing now, the idea that my choice may be different from another mommy’s choice and that just makes it different not right vs. wrong. I hope to get back into the working game at some point so that he will see how important it is for mommy to have her own life, income, outlet. But until then, when he wants to play by himself and he knee-jerk says “Mommy can go in the kitchen,” I have to say, it makes me cringe. A lot.

I know there isn’t an easy answer for this. I know that my actions and the actions of my husband will set the tone and so far, I’m happy with the image we portray. Well, other than that get in the kitchen business.

I suppose I can only focus on raising a thoughtful, compassionate, secure little boy so that he will grow into a strong, empathetic, loving man.

No pressure though, right?

Shocking Night of Reality TV

Hi, my name is High Heeled Mama, and I’m a reality-TV-aholic.

[Hi, High Heeled Mama.]

I’d like to think that my taste is more high brow – I love Project Runway, Amazing Race and Top Chef. These shows are always interesting to me for the fashion/the travel/the cooking and the underlying theme of the show does not tend to be overshadowed by the drama of their individual contestants.

Unfortunately, my theory is blown since I did watch the entire train wreck season of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and have no real excuse for why I couldn’t find anything better to do with my Tuesdays at 10pm. Now, I do NOT watch “The Bachelor.” Well, I don’t watch ALL of it. I tend to tune in when it gets to four and watch the remaining few episodes.

So imagine my surprise at last night’s finale. What?! Are you serious? Did he really just say that?

Did he say he put his nearly four year old down for a NAP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Oh, you thought I meant that whole thing where he proposed, she accepted, then he brought her on national television to break up with her then make-out on the couch with the girl he originally kicked aside? Not nearly as shocking to me as the nap thing. Not even close.