As any mother or father knows, parenting indelibly shapes you – for the better and the worse. “Mothering and fathering aren’t just things we do. Being a mother or being a father is who we are,” writes Jennifer Senior in her book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting.
I talked about All Joy and No Fun a few months ago because it’s beautifully researched, well written, and engrossing. It’s not a parenting book. It’s a book about what it means to be a parent. And I highly recommend it.
(In my initial review I mentioned that I’m friendly with Jennifer because I think you should disclose things like that when you’re promoting something. I also dated Ryan Gosling for three years and George Clooney for two. So glad I got all of that off my chest. And speaking of my chest, I modeled for Victoria’s Secret for 15 years. Phew. Coming clean feels so good, you guys!)
Here’s the deal: If you are interested in Jennifer’s book but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (maybe you’re like me and you’ve been using the three books on your nightstand as a coaster for most of 2014), you’re in luck. Jennifer gave a TED Talk based on her book. It’s interesting and thought provoking and will make you feel smarter. I’m linking to it here; all you have to do is click and then you can watch it – isn’t technology grand? 

As any mother or father knows, parenting indelibly shapes you – for the better and the worse. “Mothering and fathering aren’t just things we do. Being a mother or being a father is who we are,” writes Jennifer Senior in her book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting.

I talked about All Joy and No Fun a few months ago because it’s beautifully researched, well written, and engrossing. It’s not a parenting book. It’s a book about what it means to be a parent. And I highly recommend it.

(In my initial review I mentioned that I’m friendly with Jennifer because I think you should disclose things like that when you’re promoting something. I also dated Ryan Gosling for three years and George Clooney for two. So glad I got all of that off my chest. And speaking of my chest, I modeled for Victoria’s Secret for 15 years. Phew. Coming clean feels so good, you guys!)

Here’s the deal: If you are interested in Jennifer’s book but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (maybe you’re like me and you’ve been using the three books on your nightstand as a coaster for most of 2014), you’re in luck. Jennifer gave a TED Talk based on her book. It’s interesting and thought provoking and will make you feel smarter. I’m linking to it here; all you have to do is click and then you can watch it – isn’t technology grand? 

17 Things Your Child’s Pediatrician Doesn’t Want to Hear From You

1. I’m sorry to call at 2 a.m. but I don’t think we’ve ever discussed your philosophy on vaccinations.

2. I did a quick Google search on my phone and have to strongly disagree.

3. It turns out that we actually live closer to your home than to your office. Could we just schedule something at your house?

4. Does a high Apgar score have anything to do with being gifted?

5. While we’re here, would you mind taking a look at my mole?

6. Shots are a really big deal in our family. After the visit, instead of stickers, we’ll need you for a quick trophy presentation.

7. According to Jenny McCarthy….

8. There are a lot of coughing children in the waiting room. Is there somewhere else we could wait?

9. I have to jump on a quick conference call. Can you keep your voice down during the exam?

10. Can I get your cell phone number? I don’t like dealing with the answering service. 

11. Can I give YOU some advice?

12. We’re applying to preschools and would love a letter of recommendation from you and from each of your partners.

13. Could you say that a little louder? We’re recording this for our YouTube channel.

14. I see you have diplomas on your wall. Do you have any copies of your actual report cards? 

15. I’m not sure if you saw the blog post I wrote about you, but I just want to you to know I was having a really bad day when I wrote it. I had no idea it would go viral.

16. Did you get my friend request on Facebook?

17. Thanks for calling back so quickly. I was just checking to see how long it would take to reach you if I said it was an emergency.

Julia Lavigne is an illustrator and my new favorite person in the world. (Sorry husband and kids.)

I wrote some words — and Julia turned the words into ART. Virtual high five to Julia! And a hug! And a smooch! And then one more high five! There are seven more of our cartoons featured on the Huffington Post right now so please go look and then, if you like them, share them with people you love. If you don’t like them, share them with people you hate. I don’t care. Just share them. 

Woe Is Toddlerdom

I wrote this essay for Babble in 2011 and every once in a while a friend will ask me about “the toddler thing” I wrote. Here it is again. Well, here’s some of it and a link to the rest on Babble.

One morning, my then one-and-a-half-year-old son unlocked the child-safety latch of our bottom bathroom drawer. Upon finding my makeup, he began breathing heavily with excitement and staggering around. What a haul! What loot! Imagine his disappointment when, just as he was about to pry the shiny cap off a red lipstick, I picked him up and carried him out of the bathroom. I didn’t congratulate him on his discovery. I didn’t point him in the direction of the hallway’s white walls and say, “My home is your canvas. Go forth and create.” Instead, I ruined everything.

Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping, and eating? Now, after living among their kind, I should apologize. Not to you, but to them. Here’s the sad truth: for toddlers, the world is a rough place full of squelched mysteries, restrained freedoms, and nonsensical commands. I think I’d rather be fourteen again than be a toddler.

What does an old, forgotten Goldfish cracker from the bottom of a car seat taste like? What kind of pattern does yogurt make when it splatters onto the floor? What sound do cookbook pages make as they are torn in half? These and many other great discoveries are often stopped by us, the big people in our toddlers’ lives.

How frustrating! What must it be like to get stopped by a security guard time and time again? To be constantly redirected and rerouted as you tried to go about your day, without an understanding of what you had done wrong? What if you sat down to read the newspaper and drink your coffee when suddenly – out of nowhere – some giant swooped down and plopped you in front of a pile of plastic blocks? You bet you’d protest. You’d holler your tush off.

So what’s the reward for a toddler’s natural curiosity? A little freedom and encouragement? No, just the opposite. Oppression! We pin them to furniture all day long: the stroller, the car seat, the high chair. All of the straps! All of the restraints! How maddening it must be to sit, captive, in front of a tray covered with food you can’t identify or don’t remember liking. No wonder it’s so often tossed to the floor.

Read the rest here… 

BABIES AND TODDLERS TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE THINKING
Vanity Fair runs its version of “The Proust Questionnaire” every month. By answering, participants often reveal a great deal about their true nature. Because I’ve wanted to better understand babies and toddlers for some time, I’ve asked a one-year-old, two-year-old and three-year-old to answer questions from the survey.
ONE-YEAR-OLD:
What is your current state of mind?
My mouth is killing me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I just want my mouth to stop hurting.
What is it that you most dislike?
Teething. Have you ever witnessed a shark attack? That’s what’s happening. A shark attack… in my mouth. Please, excuse me a moment. [Jams fist in mouth.]
What do you most value in your friends?
I don’t have any friends.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have two. My mother’s breasts.
On what occasion do you lie?
Horizontally? I like to be nice and comfy when I nurse.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
It’s a toss up between my dad, my mom, and the cute kid in the mirror.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d like to get the walking thing down.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Watch this! [Waves bye-bye.] 
TWO-YEAR-OLD:
What is your current state of mind?
I’m not taking a nap.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Pushing all of the buttons in the elevator.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Diapers. I can’t even begin to tell you how many I go through a day.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their toys.
What is your most treasured possession?
All of them. They are all mine.
On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t know if this is a lie – but let’s just say I don’t exactly drop everything the moment I soil myself.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Why do you ask about changing myself? Do you smell something?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t know about my greatest achievement, but I’ll tell you what I did not just do. I did NOT just poop. 
THREE-YEAR-OLD:
What is your greatest fear?
Dogs, the dark, the orange cup, weird noises, getting shots, fireworks, babysitters, broken crackers, closed doors, and getting sucked down the bathtub drain.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A need for privacy.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It’s a tossup between patience, self-control, and good hygiene.
On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t need a special occasion to lie.
What is your favorite occupation?
Dinosaur doctor.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to reach high-up things.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
I once drew a beautiful picture all over our sofa. If you look closely, you can still see it.

BABIES AND TODDLERS TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE THINKING

Vanity Fair runs its version of “The Proust Questionnaire” every month. By answering, participants often reveal a great deal about their true nature. Because I’ve wanted to better understand babies and toddlers for some time, I’ve asked a one-year-old, two-year-old and three-year-old to answer questions from the survey.

ONE-YEAR-OLD:

What is your current state of mind?

My mouth is killing me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I just want my mouth to stop hurting.

What is it that you most dislike?

Teething. Have you ever witnessed a shark attack? That’s what’s happening. A shark attack… in my mouth. Please, excuse me a moment. [Jams fist in mouth.]

What do you most value in your friends?

I don’t have any friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have two. My mother’s breasts.

On what occasion do you lie?

Horizontally? I like to be nice and comfy when I nurse.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

It’s a toss up between my dad, my mom, and the cute kid in the mirror.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to get the walking thing down.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Watch this! [Waves bye-bye.] 

TWO-YEAR-OLD:

What is your current state of mind?

I’m not taking a nap.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Pushing all of the buttons in the elevator.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Diapers. I can’t even begin to tell you how many I go through a day.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their toys.

What is your most treasured possession?

All of them. They are all mine.

On what occasion do you lie?

I don’t know if this is a lie – but let’s just say I don’t exactly drop everything the moment I soil myself.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Why do you ask about changing myself? Do you smell something?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I don’t know about my greatest achievement, but I’ll tell you what I did not just do. I did NOT just poop. 

THREE-YEAR-OLD:

What is your greatest fear?

Dogs, the dark, the orange cup, weird noises, getting shots, fireworks, babysitters, broken crackers, closed doors, and getting sucked down the bathtub drain.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A need for privacy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

It’s a tossup between patience, self-control, and good hygiene.

On what occasion do you lie?

I don’t need a special occasion to lie.

What is your favorite occupation?

Dinosaur doctor.

What talent would you most like to have?

I’d like to reach high-up things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I once drew a beautiful picture all over our sofa. If you look closely, you can still see it.