Is Santa Real?

First… my goodness… last post in July and now it’s November? Slapping myself on the wrist. Once I went back to work, any free time I have is spent with the baby or on mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning and laundry with the occasional pedicure thrown in for good measure.

Anyway. Sorry. Really.

So, it’s snowing here in New York this morning, Benjamin’s first glimpse of snow since the day he came home from the hospital. We are in our new apartment and life is taking on a certain pleasant rhythm. He’s thriving, and Damir and I continue to just drink in the experience of parenting.

When I started this motherhood journey, of course I started reading…books, articles, blogs, tweets… anything to clue me in on how this whole parenting thing works. It still amazes me that they just send you home from the hospital and say, good luck you’ll somehow figure it all out. And for the most part we have, at least so far. I wanted to share with you a blog posts that came across my desk this morning that answers the question: what to say when your child asks, “Is Santa Real?” 

Now, of course we are YEARS away from that conversation. B. won’t have any sense of what Christmas or Santa even is for a long time yet. But the answer to this question was worded in such a lovely, magical way that I wanted to:

1) Share it with you in case your kids might be getting to that age
2) Post it here so I can reference back to it when the time comes.

This isn’t some BS to feed your kid to prolong his/her belief in the big guy in the red suit. It’s a heartfelt truth into what the meaning of Christmas is all about. Please go to this post to read the entire context, but here’s an excerpt of the post of the letter Martha Brockenbroug wrote to her daughter in response to the question: ARE YOU SANTA? TELL ME THE TRUTH.

Tip: you may want to have a tissue or two handy.

 

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Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.

Mama

 

FML-Absurd

I had a horrible dream the other night that I was pregnant again.

NOOOOOOOOO!

Why so horrible? After all I had a pretty easy pregnancy (all things considered) and hope there’s time in my biological clock to have another. The problem is the FMLA, aka the Family Medical Leave Act, that enables women to take time off (unpaid) to have their baby for up to 12 weeks and have their job guaranteed. FMLA really should stand for:  Federal Men Lack Awareness, Frustrated Mothers Lose Atrociously, or Fetus Might Live Alone… you get the point.

Here’s the problem. The FMLA only allows you to take advantage of leave every 12 months on a rolling basis. So my recent maternity leave ended July 1, 2013, I would not be allowed to start another leave until July 2, 2013. If my dream were to be accurate (and it’s not), I would be due in April 2014, 3 months before I would be permitted to take another leave of absence. So it would be up to my employer to decide whether or not I was valuable enough to keep on board for another maternity absence and I would have no federal protection for my employment.

This stuff makes me a little crazy. Where is the Religious Right when I need them? For all they go on about “Family Values” we don’t have many safeguards in place to protect mothers, or aspiring-mothers, in the work place. Even the crappy pay you get on maternity leave (if anything at all) is called ‘short term disability’. Hello? I was not disabled, I had a BABY.

Our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle need to wake up and realize that many mothers do actually have to work outside of the home and we need to protect these mothers so they can find the balance they need to raise their children, be a valuable employee and pay their bills. We all can’t be [insert wealthy white politician’s wife name here]. Plenty of families in this country depend on the paycheck mommies bring home, and more and more frequently that paycheck is more than daddy’s. You don’t want us to have abortions but you don’t want mothers to be able to actually provide for our families either. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways, Misters.

Can’t we do better? Looks like I am about to send another donation to Emily’s List. In the meantime, my dream better not come true.

Posted in WTF

Three Months In.

All good things must come to an end. Like maternity leave.  After about 13 weeks I went back to work this week and Baby B. was downgraded to day care. It has been a really tough week adjusting to the change of pace for both of us.

I really like the day care we picked and I am confident that baby B is well care for and adored by his care providers. But nothing can replace his mamma….right? RIGHT? Each evening he has come home simply exhausted and a bit fussy, surely from all the extra stimulation he is getting all day long surrounded by other kids and adults.  At least that’s the story I am telling myself, and not that he has lost interest in me and Damir and no longer wants to laugh and play with us at home in the evenings.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t yearn to hold him all day long. I do. Thank goodness at least I love my job and the people I work with. If I didn’t, I can’t imagine how I would bear the separation. Though at the same time it’s weird. Back at my old desk in my old routine sometimes its like he never happened. Baby? What baby? Was it just a beautiful dream? I am thankful that it was approved for me to work part of the week at home. I actually get more work done in my quiet space and I get to spend an extra 2 hours a day with the baby that would otherwise be spent commuting to/from the city.

Three months in, I have to report that this whole motherhood thing is so much more than I expected. It is really all-consuming. I have turned in to one of those annoying women who only wants to talk about her angel of a kid. Ask me if he sleeps all night! Ask me how much he eats! Ask me how big he is! I could talk about the little guy all day long. My friends are going to start unfriending me soon from Baby B photo overload BUT I CAN’T STOP MYSELF.

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Three Months Already!

 

The Evolution of Commercials

Since being home on maternity leave I have had my first real taste of daytime television in a long time.  The last time I spent any significant time of my week at home was probably the summer after my freshman year of college when I was nursing both a broken heart and a bad case of mono. Me and the TV had a really good time together in the summer of 1993.

I have been really surprised these last few weeks about what I am seeing on TV– between the bad reality and daytime talk shows. Commercials are definitely evolving… in a good way!

In my most recent post I mention the Luvs commercial where the mom breast feeds in public. Shocking! Here that is once again:


I am also seeing an influx of commercials traditionally marketed to the traditional housewife being marketed instead towards househusbands and other commercials featuring dads doing stuff normally delegated to the mommy. Such as…

Tide: Dad’s do laundry!


Huggies: Dad’s test diapers!


Samsung: Dads use mobile devices to figure out complicated stuff like baby swaddling!


Those role-reversals are great and its high time we see Dads portrayed as family caretakers and not juts financial providers. But the king of all surprises was this Cheerios commercial. Watch it first, then let’s discuss:


Notice anything different other than it being completely adorable? Did you? Be honest! Definitely not your typical ready for prime-time family being featured here and I LOVE IT. But of course, since some people just can’t handle that life is sometimes different than a Brady Bunch episode so General Mills had to shut down the comments section of this video on youtube due to some racist jerks.

Meredith Tutterow, a marketing director for Cheerios at maker General Mills, told the New York Times the company stands by the commercial and that the spot will “absolutely not” be pulled.

“There are many kinds of families,” Tutterow said, “and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.” She said the comments will be enabled again at some point, though didn’t know when.

Cheers to Cheerios!! I think I might just head on over to the Cheerios Facebook page and give them some support.

The big question I have, who will be the first major brand to feature a same-sex couple in a commercial? If there has been one, I haven’t seen it yet. But I will vow to buy whatever product that is!*

*You know, as long as it isn’t like Porsche, Cartier or some other fancy product that I can’t afford.

Now I Am a Fire Hazard.

“Ma’am, you can’t do that here, you’re a fire hazard, ” is what the lady said to me when I tried to breastfeed in her local Long Island restaurant.   We were seated at a booth, but there wasn’t enough room between the table and where I was sitting in the booth to hold the baby at chest level. I tried to do that first, but the only way to fit the baby would have been to lay the baby on the table, but surely my dining companions would not have appreciated that.  See what I mean in my crude illustration:

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So I did the next best thing, I grabbed a chair from one of the dozen empty tables around us and propped it at the head of the booth where there was plenty of room. I covered myself with a nursing apron so I was more than decent… though, as I mentioned, the restaurant was basically empty except for one other table who also had a small child with them so the cover was more for my comfort than anyone else’s.

As I got cozy and started to feed my hungry baby the not-so-nice lady came over and told me that by putting a chair at the head of the table/booth I was creating a fire hazard, despite the restaurant being all but empty. I asked her where would be a more appropriate place to feed my child and she only responded all snippy and awkward, “I don’t know. You are a fire hazard,” again and she walked away.

Helpful, right?

I am quickly learning that breastfeeding in public is a hotly contested subject. Have you seen the very recent Luvs commercial featuring a breastfeeding mom?  In the first scene a new mom is struggles to breastfeed under a cover, clearly frazzled, in a public space. Then in the second scene, on her second child, she has abandoned the cover and bravely feeds her child at the table. She is so over being covered up, now being an expert mom and not giving a shit about dumb stuff like covers.

Even this fairly innocuous commercial created controversy. This quote in the article, Luvs commercial about public breastfeeding creates controversy  sums up the opposition pretty well, “Luvs should stick to selling diapers and stay out of the politics!” wrote “Tasteless” from Temecula, Calif., on the Luvs website. “I found the ad tasteless and crude.”

As recently as last month Facebook got into hot water about removing images posted of women breastfeeding in a breastfeeding group because it was first assumed they were indecent.

This is all confusing to me given the mixed messages society is sending. Ever since I hit the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy I have been bombarded with literature, doctors and nurses telling me that, “Breast is Best!!” and pushing the breast feeding regimen. New moms are practically bullied into it and those who choose to go the formula route are made to feel that they have to feed their baby in secret to avoid judgement for choosing not to breastfeed as though they are deliberately poisoning their child. So why isn’t breastfeeding met with applause and cheers of approval in public? I should be cheered and celebrated! It doesn’t make any sense at all. Is it so indecent? More indecent than the window display in your local Victoria’s Secret? Or even worse, American Apparel? I don’t think so.

American Apparel ad

Exhibit A: American Apparel ad on their website. Seriously? And you’re upset about breastfeeding mammas?

No one tells you how hard breastfeeding is before you have a baby.

It’s really hard. Painful at times, time consuming, sweaty, exhausting. But I am glad I am choosing this route, though I hold no judgement towards mammas who choose other routes (‘do what you gotta do’ is my motto when it comes to motherhood). If I can’t breastfeed in public that means I am perpetually tied to my house since the little guy eats every 1.5 to 2 hours during the day. If it’s so important that I choose to breastfeed, everyone else in our community needs to get on board and support mothers like me, especially new moms who feel vulnerable and exhausted.

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This is me, rocking it out. SO indecent, right?

If I want any kind of life as a breastfeeding mother, I will need to get out there and brave idiots like that lady in the restaurant. Was I a fire hazard in that empty restaurant? Perhaps. Could she have handled the situation better? Definitely. So for now, I am just going to continue rocking it out and be the honeybadger of mothers.

More Than Words

Welcome to the world Baby B!

For his privacy I won’t be writing out his full name so if he googles himself in 15 years he doesn’t find mamma’s crazy blog posts about him. He was born on April 8th, 6 weeks ago today.

Six weeks! Why have I not written before now? Mostly because so far the experience of new mamma-hood has been bigger than I felt I could put into words. An everything bagel including terror, love, awe, awwww and pure joy. I have taken probably over 500 pictures so far and wake up every day excited about the adventures that wait for us as we get to know one another. I wasn’t sure how I would feel being a mother, since I was never one of those women who felt extreme baby-lust (OMG I HAVE TO HAVE A BABY OR I WILL DIE!). But I will say it has been, so far, better and more enjoyable than I anticipated.

Let me first share with you some of the images from his newborn photo shoot taken when he was a squishy 10-day old.  My sister Erin and I travelled to Queens to Brilianna Photography for the photo session. Irina, the photographer, is an excellent at what she does. Her patience, professionalism and artistry were top notch. She spent nearly 6 hours with us posing B. in sweet positions and encouraging him to be peaceful during the shoot. She welcomed my input but also trusted her creative instinct to get gorgeous images. The studio was warm and cozy and my sister and I were treated to snacks and beverages while we sat in the wings. Irina is just getting her photography business off the ground and I can highly recommend her services. I am certain she has a long and successful career ahead of her! Let there be no doubt – this endorsement comes from the heart not from any special arrangement between me and Irina.

Don’t you just want to eat him up??

We feel we have been blessed with this little baby. By all accounts we have lucked out in terms of how easy he is – lately he has even been sleeping from 10pm to 5am giving mamma a few consecutive great nights of unexpected sleep.  What a miracle!

More Baby B. stories to come!

For that extra messy baby?

One thing that I guess I shouldn’t be shocked about in this whole baby prep process is how much crap is out there for sale. And how aggressive retailers are to get you to buy their crap. I am bombarded daily with coupons, free samples, catalogs, emails and deals. Living in a small space I have really tried to control my impulses by asking myself this critical question before each purchase: “Is this nice or necessary?” 

Or perhaps if I am honest the question goes more like this, “Is this nice or necessary or so insanely cute that I can’t turn away from it because when I am awake at 3am dying from heartburn it’s hard NOT to impulse buy which of course is a lot worse when pregnancy hormones are coursing through my body like my own personal emotional road rally so I may as well buy it and surely I will love it not matter what.” Yes, I talk to myself in run-on sentences.

But here’s one thing I was able to turn away from:

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What is this, you ask?  This is a flower hooded bib for the low low price of $19.99.

Granted, I don’t know much about parenting. Or rather, anything about parenting, but I sure as hell hope that I don’t need to cover my child nearly head to toe in what really is a pretty plastic bag to get through the messiness mealtime. In fact, instead of spending 19.99 you could just cut a few holes in a hefty bag and call it a day and probably get the same results.

What do you think, fellow mammas out there, is this a nice or necessary product for kids?

Baby Nook: The Final Countdown

The baby nook is slowly coming together. Since we may (or may not) be moving this summer I am not putting too much time and effort into decorating the baby nook, but there are a few things I fell in love with.

carnival

elle

I am now just a few days away from the big dance… no, not March Madness. I am due on the 13th so it could be any time now. I am working form home full time since I just didn’t want to risk going into labor in the office (that would bring a whole new value to the company’s core value of ‘Helping Others’).

I am pretty nervous about what lies ahead, this being my first time and all. And not just about the labor, but about all the life adjustments necessary once the little one arrives.  I’ve lived 39 years according to my own set of rules and to have to be accountable as a Mamma will definitely be something new and different! But definitely a challenge I am ready to face.

How to Disconnect?

I am ashamed to admit that on my honeymoon- yes, my HONEYMOON– I struggled to disconnect from the world…my job, social networks, incoming emails. There was no wifi in the (stunning) rooms and to connect I had to go to a small dark windowless office off the hotel lobby to log in to the resort’s guest computer.  I sat in that little room more than I would like to admit. I hate being disconnected.

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Would you choose email over this scene?

On my daily commute there is a period of my train ride, oh about 8 minutes or so long, where we are under the East River and have no cellular connection. And of course there’s no wifi on the Long Island Rail Road (one can dream that someday…).  Even for this short period of time I get anxious. Not about the thousands of pounds of water just a few feet over my head but because I can’t see what’s going on. For 8 minutes I can’t just sit and relax with my own thoughts to entertain me.

My name is Terra, and I am an addict. For real.

The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do (before kissing my sweets goodnight) is something digital. Check my email. See who pinged me on Facebook. See what tweets have come through or what breaking news is happening . While this is a great trait to find in a social media manager, it’s not perhaps very nice to be married to. Or the child of.

The reality is I love what I do, I enjoy it. I like to think I am pretty good at it too, which makes it all the more fun. So now, as the time is quickly approaching for me to shift gears for a little while to focus on the little one about to burst from my loins, I am starting to feel anxious. Yes, about the regular new-mamma stuff but also about what it will be like to not HAVE to check in to my social streams, emails and network 100 times a day for 12 whole weeks. To not have to worry about this presentation or that conference call. To not be spending my free time thinking about my projects and strategies. I think it’s going to be really hard to make that shift.

When I recently suggested to my boss that I set up a weekly call with the contractor coming in to handle my tasks while on maternity leave he quickly said, “No. Enjoy this time. You only get this opportunity once to bond with your baby. Don’t schedule any meetings.” He’s right, as usual, but immediately my heart rate went into overdrive. How will I know what’s happening? This makes me physically uncomfortable. But I am slowly realizing that this is important – the ability to disconnect with the digital and reconnect with the actual is something that I have to learn to do, and learn to enjoy. If I don’t figure out how to do that now, I may miss the good stuff. The real stuff happening right in front of my eyes.

How many days in to my maternity leave will I stop unconsciously reaching for my laptop and cell phone? Any guesses?