The Distant Mother

Now that I am a parent I am learning how different my childhood was. Not in the geographical sense or socioeconomic sense.  I grew up in south jersey in a typical middle class neighborhood.  I mean in the presence sense.  From a young age I remember coming home from school and just being alone.  Alone to make my own snack, alone to play and then engage in homework.  And it wasn’t because a parent wasn’t home.  Almost always mom or dad would be there.  But dad worked from home or was busy avoiding mom.  And mom, well, she was closed off.  Literally.  She would hole herself in her room for days at a time and would only come out to make us some dinner or tell us to go to bed.  Now as an adult I know it was due most likely to her mental illness issues but as a kid it was my normal. This behavior would roll into the weekends.  I have a sister and I remember us just going to play in the basement with our toys for the entire weekend, left to entertain ourselves and later on, feed ourselves.

Weeks would go by where this behavior would go on. And then all of a sudden mom would resurface – full of life and energy and interest.  My sister and I would lap up this attention like puppies.  But then all of a sudden she would retreat, back to her room and the silence would envelope the house once again.

Mom never got a proper diagnosis. Over the years I theorized everything from Bi-Polar to Borderline Personality Disorder.  She died two years ago so I will never know.  And in the end it doesn’t matter.  She was the only mom I had and knew.  It was my reality.

But now? As a parent I see how crazy this behavior was and how different I am trying to be with my son. To not repeat the past.  To make it different for him.  I worry I will become her.  And I know that is crazy.  But this is me being honest.  My fear to repeat the past haunts me at nights.

I remember one time mom opened up to us and admitted she moved when we were little to be closer to her parents because she realized she couldn’t do it. Be what we needed as a mom.  And she was right.  Our “Omi” became our mother.  When my grandmother died I cried like I had lost my mother.  The grief was so intense.  It was not that way when my mom died.

For those of you out there that have had similar experiences know you are not alone. For SO long I thought what I went through was mine alone.  But now that I am older I have met so many others that have experienced absent parents.  Mental illness is the silent struggle in many families.  So many people had no clue what was really going on behind our house walls.  We looked like your average middle class family.  We even had the dog and picket fence.  But inside was silence punctuated with either violent outbursts or overzealous love.  But those stories are for another day.


Repeat this affirmation daily – No One is you and that is your power. I am my own person, and I am blazing my own path.

Toddler Antics

Kids make you insane.

Not necessarily in that gibbering, banging-your-head-against-the-walls, strait-jacket kind of insane (well, maybe in small doses), but in the way that it warps the way you look at the world. The world a parent lives in is not the same world that a normal human lives in. We see things that are invisible to most people. We do things that make normal people scratch their heads in wonder. Our heads are constantly filled with bizarre fuzzy maths that would make the physics department at MIT weep. We tie ourselves in knots to make the world livable for ourselves and the future humans we are tasked with raising to adulthood.

Here are just a few of the strange behaviors that have become totally commonplace for my husband and myself since having a “tiny human.”

  1. Normal people can drink out of cups, but we can’t. If we have a glass of some beverage, and we leave that beverage unattended for even fifteen seconds, then that beverage will end up spilled on the couch, the carpet, or possibly the ceiling. The fact that we have a cat plays in here, too, because our cat cannot abide an upright glass. So instead we drink out of bottles with lids, all the time, until the kid is asleep and the cat is preoccupied with grooming itself for the 10th time.
  2. Normal people lock the bathroom door, but we don’t. I don’t even close the door all the way; I just rest it lightly against the frame. For some reason, the kid never wants my attention so much as when I’m trying to do my business.  And here comes that mental math I mentioned: I can lock the door (which will keep him out) or simply close it,  but then I have to suffer the slings and arrows of a tireless banging on the door to the chorus of “MAMA!? MAMA!?” Or, I can give him easy access, and put up with the lesser indignity of relieving myself in front of the tiny human while listening to him prattle on. (Generally, the prattle wins out over the banging on the door.)
  3. Normal people can drive and listen to a song of their choosing, but we can’t. As soon as we put the car in reverse it starts.  “oh oh” song.  Or “Disney” music.  If I don’t play it I deal with the endless whining.  And when I do play it I have the battle of getting my sweet child to not ask to have the song repeated a gazillion times.  EACH song that comes on the tiny human wants to hear again. And again. Such fun.
  4. Normal people check the thermostat maybe once or twice a day, but I have to check it more often. This makes me crazy, because the thermostat is not a thing that changes on its own, and I feel like an insane person looking at it as often as I do. But little kids love pushing buttons, both the metaphorical and the literal. Seriously, he had somehow managed to turn on the heat while it was 95 degrees out the other day. Luckily, I caught it before the house or any of us combusted from the heat. Because I check the thermostat more often than your dad does. Every time I walk past the thing, I check it.
  5. Normal people know what “no” means, but we don’t. The word “no” means nothing in our house. For two reasons. First of all, it obviously means nothing to our child. We both say it and say it, but the little human keeps asking or doing the thing that had us saying “no” in the first place, so we clearly haven’t taught the meaning of this simplest of words properly. Then, there’s that thing that happens, you know, where you say a word over and over and over in rapid succession and, like a soggy Cheerio, it just kind of disintegrates in your mind? Like the syllables and the letters come apart and the meaning just evaporates? Where do words come from, anyway? What’s a language, for that matter? How are we even able to communicate at all?

There are more, but I have to go check the thermostat.

Acupuncture and Life Balance

Two days ago I got acupuncture again. I had gone 3 years ago to see if it would help my infertility and crazy hormone issues.  After 8 weeks of treatment I stopped going but got pregnant soon after.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But I had never felt so “balanced” emotionally and physically and I am sure that helped get me pregnant.  And after 5 years of never getting that magic pregnancy line I sure wasn’t going to complain!

So when I developed Carpal Tunnel type pain during pregnancy and it still didn’t go away after birth and after trying wrist braces, exercises, rest, etc. I went to my acupuncture lady.   One treatment and the pain went away and never came back.  I so wish I would have seen her sooner instead of wasting so many months dealing with the pain.

Lately I feel like my hormones are all over the place again. My cycles are spacing apart.  My skin is crazy.  Ever since I gave birth I feel like I am one hormone away from losing it.  That or it is the lack of sleep and the fact that the bottom of my purse is now a garbage dump of half eaten goldfish crackers.  Either way I feel unsettled. Unbalanced.

So this week as I laid on a table with needles poking from every limb while trying to not think about that fact, I tried to meditate on why I am feeling so crazy lately. I remember feeling free and unstoppable.  Youth does that to you.  When you are 20 the responsibilities of adulthood feel so far away.  I didn’t think past that weekend.  That summer.  And what summers they were…..  But now? At 37 with all the responsibilities of job and home and never ending bills… is enough to just give in and say “this is it.”

And as a mom to a young toddler I feel like there are a lot of expectations that you are now supposed to be just a mom. Your dreams and ambitions go on the backburner.  Your life is their life.  Maybe it is my mom guilt that makes me perceive this but I am just trying to balance everything the best I can.  Being a mom is harder than I thought it would be.  You constantly feel like you are not doing enough yet feel pulled in every direction.  And as much as part of me would love to stay home all day with him the reality is I also like having a “life” outside of being a mom.  Of interacting with adults and knowing TV shows other than Bubble Guppies. I didn’t get a college degree just for the hell of it.  But since I graduated – 15 years ago! – I have yet to find my way, my calling.  These are the thoughts bouncing around my mind while I laid there.

I love this quote as it pretty much sums up what I need to do right now.

“Be Addicted to the Feeling of Having your Shit Together.”

Now if I could only figure out how. Maybe next week’s session will uncover that…..

Toddler Life

I vaguely remember my life pre-child.  Sleeping in, drinking hot cups of coffee, eating hot food while watching a TV channel other than Disney Jr.  Heck I think I even have memories of being able to read more than two pages of a book before passing out in exhaustion! Or talking to my husband about something other than our child, bills or our ever growing to do list around the house.

Parenthood is wonderful. It is also exhausting. We have entered the tantrum stage and I swear he knows to throw one just when they are least welcome.  Middle of aisle five at the grocery store because I wouldn’t let him climb the store shelves? Of course.  Out at the park because we need to leave? A given. Before or after his bath because he hates transitions? Why not.  And trying to put a diaper on him lately is like wrangling a snake.  He hates it and won’t sit still. He won’t use a potty either so wrangling him it is. I have taken to whatever distraction necessary to change his diaper.  Want to play with mommy’s phone? No, OK, how about this Ipad? No? OK, here are a pair of scissors…..ugh of course those would peak your interest….


Because wrapping paper apparently makes the best cape EVER



We have had to remove EVERY bar stool from our kitchen because he has become fixated with climbing them and then onto the kitchen counters. Which that alone is bad but then he proceeds to throw everything off the counters onto the floor, which in turn makes me a hysterical mess….it has not been a pretty sight at times in the Thomas household lately.

He is already fascinated with how things work and wants to fix everything.



But when the going is good it is amazingly beautiful.  He loves to cuddle up on our laps now with his blankets and will just turn around randomly to give us a hug.  I melt every time he does that.  His mental capacity to figure things out is growing leaps and bounds everyday. He is talking more.  Understanding more.  He understands what we say so much now that we have started spelling out words we don’t want him to hear. The problem with that is mom is NOT a great speller, apparently….

He has a slight blanket hoarding problem


He will be 22 months in a few days. Almost two years old.  I am continually grateful that he has come into my life and even though we have a lot of the these crazy days in our house currently, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  If you are in the thick of toddler life like me, remember you are not alone.  And people tell me there is this thing coming up in a few years  where the kid goes to this place for the whole day and you get the house to yourself. It is free and they are taken care of by a whole team of people. I hear it is called school…..

Maybe Reality Really Does Bite

I turned 37 years old yesterday. I didn’t think it was going to bug me. I mean, 40 is the new 30, right?

So I should be OK with turning another year older.  But I am a mess.  It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It is the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, will I feel like I am where I should be?  When will I feel like I have this life thing figured out?

I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis – but dipping my toe in those waters just doesn’t appeal to me. For one, I can’t drink a 21 year old under the table anymore, let us be honest here. And those clubbing clothes of my younger days? Let’s just say there is a reason there is not a junior clothing section for moms.

So the midlife crisis is off the table, which is for the best as I don’t have time to self-destruct just now. There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, seriously!

But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not), coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.

Maybe I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland land of perfection for me.

And then this thought hit me last night. Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my college degree, I have come to the realization that I’ve been on this planet for 37 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and wine drinking.

Maybe growing up is overrated. Pass me the nachos please.


Omi Saves the Day

Back in December my son got kicked out of daycare for biting. He is 1 years old. Someday I will laugh at this but at the time I thought the world was ending with the amount of stress it gave me.  What to do, on top of the holidays, made me a mess. And people don’t have much sympathy when they hear it is a behavior issue.  The judging I felt I got from others plus the unsolicited advice from them was too much at times.  I am not in a situation where I can just quit my job and stay home.  But I also knew daycare was not a good fit for him.  He needed more attention and less of a schedule.  More time to explore and just be a kid.  Nanny?  More money than we could afford.  So what to do?

We are very lucky that my mother-n-law offered to watch him for us. So currently my mother-n-law lives with us during the week and watches him.  And in just one month he has made so much progress.  He rarely bites anymore and has calmed down.  He actually can concentrate on the task in front of him instead of bouncing around from one thing to another.  He smiles more. He sits on my lap and gives me hugs when I get home instead of the tears I was getting before. It is like he is a different child.  And of course I love the pictures she sends me during the day of him.  Their relationship is special and you can tell he adores her.

Upon reflecting on this arrangement of course I have mom guilt that I am not there. Every mom –working or not – has mom guilt. But I realize these days of him being with his “Omi” are precious. You see, she is his only grandparent. My parents are both deceased as well as Brian’s dad. “Omi” is it.  I was so close to my “Omi” growing up and am SO grateful that he is getting to know at least one of his.

Life has a way of pushing us where we need to go whether we are ready or not. Lesson learned.

Mommy Wars

I have come to realize many things since having a child. For example, I now know that I can read “Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham” seven times in a row without going insane. That no matter what people say, throw-up is throw-up and I will never get used to being thrown up on, which is usually after I have already bathed my child. I am a really fast diaper changer. And it’s true: love grows with your child.

But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I’ve made as a relatively new parent (my son turns 2 in May) is how incredibly judgmental other parents can be. It hurts. And it happens way more than I thought it would.

You, the woman at Kohl’s who stared at me as my child threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to push the cart instead of sit in it, you judged me.

Friend who saw I have TV on almost all the time. You judged me.

Parent at the park who saw I did not pack an organic, free-range, all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches cut in cute little shapes, and instead fed my child cold pasta noodles and (gasp) potato chips? You judged me.

Friends who tell me how to correct my child? You judged me.

Not always out loud, of course. But internally, they were smug. They thought things like I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public. Or, Doesn’t she know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until the age of 2? Or, How can she possibly be feeding her children that crap? Has she not read any of Michael Pollan’s books?

And what’s worse, now that I’m a parent, I am realizing internal smugness isn’t so internal. I know when I’m being judged. I can sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It’s in the look. The double-take. The whisper to the companion they’re with.

It’s hard not to care about what other people think. That quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot and my child is in the worst mood — a combination that often leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.

Pre-child I will admit I thought I would be better. That I wouldn’t do that.  Ha! How naive I was. Parenting is like jumping on a rollercoaster mid-flight and trying to buckle up while going 60mph.

Pre-child: I was going to cloth diaper.
Post-child: Ha! I go through Pampers like they are water.

Pre-child: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Post-child: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Need I say more?

Pre-child: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-child: My kid sometimes eats day old cheerios off the floor.

Pre-child: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-child: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.

Pre-child: Complaints about childrearing and its hardships annoyed me (this was your choice, no?) and saddened me (parenthood is supposed to be a wonderful thing!).
Post-child: Parenthood isn’t wonderful 100 percent of the time.

My day-to-day routine isn’t what I envisioned it would be. Some of the things I imagine I’m judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don’t make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers on the changing table. My son’s socks don’t always match. I forget to brush my son’s teeth. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I’m sometimes too easy. I’m sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I’m doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that’s a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we’re all doing the best we can.

I guess what I am trying to say is that parenting is difficult enough – please do not add to it.

I’m Not That Mom

You know the one… She gets up at the crack of dawn, does her yoga routine, showers and puts on her face and makes the kids organic tree shaped pancakes before even starting her first cup of coffee.

Those moms would never give their children sugar or bribe them with tidbits on long car rides so they don’t have to listen to the crying and whining. They would never throw a frozen pizza in the oven for supper because they didn’t have time to cook a real dinner (much less shower and put on a bra).

I’m not that mom.

I get up in the morning when I hear my kid talking to his stuffed animals and not a minute before.

I feed him frozen eggo pancakes for breakfast.

If he hasn’t thrown a fit by 9am, I consider myself lucky.

His vegetable most days come in the form of a pouch that he may or may not touch.

He watches Mickey Mouse Club while I tackle the dishes.

He continues to watch Mickey Mouse Club while I relax with my coffee and breakfast.

I maybe clean up his toys once a week. They’re everywhere. Each one is a boobytrap in the middle of the night.

I think I changed his overnight diaper before 9am today…

He ate pasta for lunch. And for dinner. Sometimes it’s mac and cheese or hummus, or crackers and cheese or whatever the heck I can scrounge up from my fridge. But don’t worry, he eats fruit. Some of the time.

I am the mom who uses disposable diapers and wipes because who wants to clean up poop off a butt and then a diaper and its reusable wipe? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I am the mom who never gets the stains out of her kid’s clothes because I let him roll in the dirt in whatever he’s wearing. They are only a kid once. That and I am too lazy to pretreat stains.

I let him drink the bath water.

The Tupperware and pot drawers are fair game and provide hours of entertainment and a mess for me to clean up but oh well.

I let him eat cheerios off the floor.

I am the mom that lets her child run around outside in a diaper because I was too lazy to fight him to get pants on.

I’m not a mom who has it all together. I fail at things everyday but my son is happy and healthy and so am I.

So to all you moms out there feeling like you are failing you’re totally normal. And pictures like the one below make it all worth it.


Simple Pleasures Challenge

Every mom out there can relate. There is NEVER enough time and/or energy to do all that is on our to-do list and stay sane. And what is this thing called “me time” I keep hearing about and how do I get some? By the time Bryce goes to bed and I have tackled dishes and packed up the next days meals, I collapse on the couch in exhaustion. My to-do list? Inevitably I will get 1-2 things on the list done and the rest move along to the next week. Going through Bryce’s old clothes and organizing his next size has probably been on the list two months now. lol.

Weekends tend to be a marathon of fit in all the chores while chasing an active toddler and then trying to fit in some family time with said toddler while remembering all that is on your list to do.

But I move on. I live to see another week and another to-do list. But this does not make the weeks any easier. By the time Friday comes along I start daydreaming about tropical vacations,  poolside massages and colorful drinks with umbrellas in them. But we all know this is just that, a dream. So I have decided to implement a 15 minute rule for myself. Everyday, I will treat myself to at least 15 minutes of “me” time. No matter how tired I am or how I need to fit it in. I will do something to recharge myself, feed my sanity and put a spark back into my week.

Below are some of things I have put on my list:

  • I will take a bubble bath
  • I will take a walk around the neighborhood
  • I will call a friend I haven’t talked to in a while
  • I will meditate
  • I will rub some lavender or stress away oil on my wrists.
  • I will sip my favorite Peppermint Tea.
  • I will listen to some chill music.
  • I will catch up on episodes of Orange is the New Black.
  • I will flip through a magazine for a few minutes.
  • I will scroll Instagram and look at fabulous pics of things like farmhouse tables.
  • I will whip up a cool essential oil recipe I have pinned.
  • I will read a few pages of a book.

I wish I could spend a day doing all of these things, but I will take what I can get. These are all relatively easy things I can do on any given day of the week at almost any hour. I will  give myself 15 minutes – on good days 30 – and I will simply chill. In the future, I hope there will be more “free time,” but until then, I will enjoy the few simple pleasures I can give myself to recharge and quiet the chaos.

Why don’t you join me in my “Simple Pleasures” challenge? What is on your list?

Signs You May Have a Spirited Child

My 1 year old has been biting recently. And since he is in daycare, this is becoming a problem and seems to be getting worse. So I have been reading parenting blogs to try to get some ideas on how to stop it and came across this word recently. The Spirited Child. The what? Aren’t all kids spirited? Don’t all 1 year olds act up, not sleep, eat little and cry easily? I mean, the saying the terrible two’s didn’t just invent itself. In my case I think Bryce is biting because he doesn’t have a lot of words yet. So he is acting out the only way he knows how to get what he wants. Usually he bites if he is hungry, tired or someone is playing with something he wants. Doesn’t make it right, but I know the biting will be a problem till I can get him to communicate a different way. How to do this with a 15 month old is the challenge. But it will happen. 

After reading the below list I have determined that yes, I guess I DO have a spirited child. At least life will not be boring for the next 18 years…..

Here are seven signs that your kid may be a kid with spirit.

1. Their perseverance perseveres, and keeps right on persevering. The spirited child wants what they want, and they will stop at nothing to get it. They are like the little engine that could…If you gave the little engine that could a bunch of ‘special coal’ and seventeen shots of espresso. You have been told that determination is a positive quality. You could be raising a future leader of the free world, or a paint-throwing member of PETA. I am hoping for the former.

2. They don’t sleep like normal kids. If you’re raising a spirited child, chances are you probably haven’t had a full night’s sleep since they were born. This is because they are often awake in the middle of the night. You’ve tried a hundred strategies to get them to settle, but nothing works because their will is stronger than their need for rest. The child views 1-3 a.m. as a perfectly acceptable time to wake up and demand attention on a normal basis.

3. Their emotions are large and in charge. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon back in 1969, I’m pretty sure his “One small step for man…” speech was interrupted by the echoing screams of spirited baby Gen-Xers who’d just been told they’d be having lima beans for dinner. Spirited children have an innate ‘go big or go home’ approach to feelings. Downside: they might throw screaming tantrums until they’re hoarse, leaving you wishing you had a soundproof room in your home where you could curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth. Upside: they express their joy and love with reckless abandon. They run to you gleefully when you arrive home, throw their tiny bodies across your legs when they want to cuddle, and give bear bugs without warning.

4. People have multiple theories about your child’s behavior. Maybe they’re eating too much sugar. They act that way because they aren’t getting enough rest. They need more exercise. They need less stimulation. They need to play outside to burn off the extra energy. Have you eliminated harmful food dyes from their diet? What about television? Have you tried timeouts? Have you tried sticker charts? How about healthy food rewards? Herbal remedies? Magic potions? Voodoo?

5. People have multiple theories about your parenting. You need to just ignore the tantrums and they will stop happening. You need to be more flexible. You need to practice relaxation exercises with them. You need to punish them. You’re approaching parenting the wrong way; here’s a book about how to do it. Or better yet, here’s how I do it because my kids are so serene and agreeable. Try positive/free range/attachment/authoritative/slow parenting instead of whatever it is you’re currently doing that’s wrong. (You also need to tell the unsolicited advisors to shut up.)

6. They want to do it all. Brushing their teeth, putting on clothes. bathing, baking a cake, painting the shed, climbing a 16-foot ladder and cleaning the gutters on the house, changing the oil in the car, driving the car… If you have a spirited child, they will want to do all of these things by themselves with no help from you whatsoever. Attempts to intervene are met with resistance because they believe they’re masters of every craft, and it’s their life’s mission to prove it. Their perseverance has perseverance, remember?

7. They have a difficult time with transition. Do you dread leaving the house in because you know your kid will actually need to wear shoes? Is getting them dressed each day like trying to wrangle and clothe a rabid wolverine? Have strangers at the grocery store questioned if you’re kidnapping your own child because they are screaming in the parking lot? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you may be the proud parent of a kid with spirit.