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If I had to choose one day – one story – that could best describe the highs and lows of my eight years of being a parent, I would tell you about a blah winter morning at a bagel shop. In fact, I’ve written about it before.

I had a cold and was getting over pinkeye. I also had a headache that got worse every time I heard the word, “Mommy.” My children were two months old, three years old and five years old.

After bundling up my preschooler and infant, I took them to a local bagel place for lunch. As babies like to do when their mothers take their first bite of a meal, my infant started to cry. He was hungry. I was hungry. He cried and cried. And I wanted to cry too.

I was tired, worn out, and overwhelmed. I also wanted to eat.

There I was in the bagel place, half sitting and half dancing around with my wailing infant trying to decide if I should feed him or eat a few bites of bagel when my three-year-old interrupted my thoughts.

"Look, it’s magical!" he shouted to me as he often did at that age because he didn’t know how to modulate his voice.

He pulled a napkin out of its dispenser and was amazed that more napkins waited behind it. “It’s magical!” He pulled out another napkin. And another after that. As far as he knew, the napkin line went on forever. The happiness he felt in making his discovery was contagious. Just like that the dreary morning became – temporarily – a joyful one.

I was reminded of that winter morning this week when I read Jennifer Senior’s terrific new book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.

I’ve read a lot of books about parenting. I’ve read an embarrassing amount of books about parenting. I’ve read books about parenting methods and parenting philosophies and child development and picky eating and sleep training and behavior modification and Tiger moms and free-range-kids and oh-my-God-I’ve-read-so-many-books.

That’s why I need to point out that All Joy and No Fun is not a parenting book. It’s a book about being a parent. And it’s excellent.

As Senior explains in her introduction, “We’re all the sum of our experiences, and raising children plays an enormous part in making us who we are. For some of us, perhaps the largest part.”

That’s where she had me. In the introduction. I just finished reading All Joy and No Fun and highly recommend it. It’s insightful, engrossing, beautifully researched, and elegantly written.

Read more

Today I have the opportunity to revisit a topic on Scary Mommy that I first addressed years ago. The need for a word to describe a new mother. Here’s the beginning and if you like it, you can read the rest on Scary Mommy. You can? I mean, you should! Yeah! 
An Open Letter to the Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary:
Let me get to the point. I know you are all very busy, and I’m incredibly busy too. I’m so busy that I don’t think I’ve brushed my teeth yet today. I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Please forget that I mentioned that.
Let’s start again. I’m writing because, last year, you added the word “selfie” to your dictionary.
“Selfie.”
That was the word you and all your nerd colleagues couldn’t live without. “Selfie” — a word that originated with Kim Kardashian or one of her sisters. Or her mom. It could have definitely been her mom. But I digress…
You chose “selfie” when there are so many others words you could have and should have chosen. Like what, you ask? (And thank you for asking.) Like “neomamma.”
That’s the word I would have added to your dictionary if I had been given the opportunity. And that’s specifically why I’m writing you. I’d like you to consider it for this year.
- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/neomamma/#sthash.BWxD5FLh.dpuf

Today I have the opportunity to revisit a topic on Scary Mommy that I first addressed years ago. The need for a word to describe a new mother. Here’s the beginning and if you like it, you can read the rest on Scary Mommy. You can? I mean, you should! Yeah! 

An Open Letter to the Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary:

Let me get to the point. I know you are all very busy, and I’m incredibly busy too. I’m so busy that I don’t think I’ve brushed my teeth yet today. I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Please forget that I mentioned that.

Let’s start again. I’m writing because, last year, you added the word “selfie” to your dictionary.

“Selfie.”

That was the word you and all your nerd colleagues couldn’t live without. “Selfie” — a word that originated with Kim Kardashian or one of her sisters. Or her mom. It could have definitely been her mom. But I digress…

You chose “selfie” when there are so many others words you could have and should have chosen. Like what, you ask? (And thank you for asking.) Like “neomamma.”

That’s the word I would have added to your dictionary if I had been given the opportunity. And that’s specifically why I’m writing you. I’d like you to consider it for this year.

- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/neomamma/#sthash.BWxD5FLh.dpuf

Some incredible responses to my post about Rep. Jack Kingston

Last week, I wrote about Rep. Jack Kingston who shocked me and most Americans (the ones who aren’t dead on the inside) by his suggestion that children taking part in the national free lunch program should clean the floors of their cafeterias. Some of the responses to the post have been incredible as well as eye opening, and I’m including excerpts below. Thank you to all of you — there were more than 4,000 of you — who shared the Huffington Post article. And to those of you who wrote in, I’m grateful.

“I grew up with a mom that was so poor when she was little, she brought a lunch bag to school filled with rocks to make the other kids think she had something to eat.  Her diet was so awful, she had scabies and rickets on a regular basis and most of her teeth rotted out. She was one of those ‘self-made’ Americans that men and women like Jack seem to think are so valuable to this country. Growing up in poverty scarred her permanently; the shame she felt, the fear of not having enough are so hard-wired, she still goes into grocery stores and says ‘I can’t believe I get to buy anything in here.’ She’s still that little kid. It wasn’t the poverty that broke her, it was the shame of it. The fear it instilled, the complete lack of safety net…” —Blogger Kickball Revolution 

“Let me tell you, as a kid who spent several of my formative years eating bologna sandwiches on white bread with government-subsidized blocks of cheese, who used that free lunch program, that I had absolutely no misconceptions about there being no such thing as a free lunch.  When my teacher mother was laid off because she had the audacity to get pregnant again, I watched her leave the house, hugely pregnant, as soon as my dad got home from his low-wage job to go work second shift at the Swiss Colony so they could make the house payment, so they could keep the heat on, so the electricity wouldn’t get cut off.  She never once complained about lost time with her kids because she was doing what had to be done. Nobody wants a handout, Mr. Kingston. But you try making rent on three different minimum-wage jobs. You’ll barely make it, much less get food on the table, much less ever see your kids in any capacity that enables you to see them thrive and succeed the way you desperately want them to, because all you ever wanted was a better life for them.  You try to learn when you are hungry, sir. To focus on anything, much less what’s going on in a classroom.” —Blogger Break the City Sky 

“I benefited from reduced lunch programs as a young child and still experienced the shame of living with a single (young) parent struggling to support her kids as an exotic dancer as well as manage her mental health issues and drug addictions. In addition to feeling constantly judged by my peers’ parents, being bullied by the kids around me, feeling afraid at night when I was home alone or in the care of an unknown or unsafe guardian, paying my part of my lunch bill with damp sparkling dollar bills, and worrying that CPS was going to swoop in any day and break up my family, sweeping the cafeteria floor for loose change to pay for some lukewarm green beans or congealed fruit mold would have DEFINITELY taught me an important lesson about making better life choices. Because living in poverty isn’t terrifying and dehumanizing enough OBVIOUSLY so kids need to be further ostracized and embarrassed…” -Blogger Mamamusement 

I wrote about something that is very important to me and hope you will take a moment to read it. It is about a suggestion, made publicly, by Rep. Jack Kingston who is running for Senate. He would like to see kids who receive free school lunch (that’s more than 30 million children) sweep the floors. He wants them to learn that there is “no such thing as a free lunch.”
I disagree, to put it mildly, and wrote about it for the Huffington Post. 

I wrote about something that is very important to me and hope you will take a moment to read it. It is about a suggestion, made publicly, by Rep. Jack Kingston who is running for Senate. He would like to see kids who receive free school lunch (that’s more than 30 million children) sweep the floors. He wants them to learn that there is “no such thing as a free lunch.”

I disagree, to put it mildly, and wrote about it for the Huffington Post

Sh%t Every New Parent Should Know

It does not go by so fast. People who tell you “it goes by so fast” do not have babies or small children at home. It goes by so slow. But you know what? That’s good! There’s more room for error! Be grateful.

They’re up all night to get lucky. Because their stomachs are so small, newborns need to eat roughly every 2-3 hours. This means they wake frequently. This means they wake you frequently. Thankfully, babies do have some good qualities: they smell good, don’t cheat on their taxes, and look good in hats. 

Sleep deprivation is the worst. It’s awful. It’s revolting. It causes confusion and memory loss. And it physically hurts. It’s like a really bad subway smell on a hot day – but in your brain. That said, blame everything and anything on sleep deprivation for as long as you possibly want.

The phrase ‘maternal instinct’ stinks. Here’s a quote from a popular website, “Once you give birth… feelings you never expected to have will surface as part of the process of becoming a parent.” Once you give birth, feelings you never expected magically surface? Is a switch flipped during delivery? And what if you’re a new parent who didn’t give birth? Does this mean you’re screwed? No. Sorry. Maternal instinct is, literally, for the birds. If you bond right away, terrific. If it takes much longer, so be it. Either way, you’ll still probably have to pay for the wedding one day.

Hold your baby as much as you damn want. You can’t spoil babies. You can, however, spoil teenagers. “My Super Sweet 16” is proof of that.

Breast is best but… Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t know, by now, that breast is best? We get it. We’ve heard. Breast milk rocks. There is no chemical composition available that can ever replicate what we lucky women can make ourselves, any time we want, for free. But even though it looks ridiculously easy when other people do it, breastfeeding is not ridiculously easy. So please be prepared and be patient. Breastfeeding can be difficult at first. And at second. And at third. It can take a lot of effort and practice and help to get it right. And sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Or it doesn’t work out for long. And - newsflash for some of you reading this! - it’s okay. 

It’s called childREARing for a reason. It’s unbelievable how often babies can poop, especially since they don’t even drink coffee. The frequency or color of babycrap ® (yes, that’s a registered trademark) doesn’t really matter. As long as the stool’s soft, not black or white, and blood as well as mucus-free, there’s nothing to freak out about. Well, there are things to freak out about – global warming, for example – but not your baby’s poop.

Get out. Babies are small. This works to your advantage in so many ways. First, it would be hard to give birth to one if they were big. Second, it makes diaper changing easier. And third, it means that babies are portable so you can take them almost anywhere. Yes, even to a bar. 

Get support. This is important for your boobs and this is important for you. Seriously a) you’re going to need some good bras whether you’re nursing or not and b) you’re going to need some good people with whom to talk, lean on, and commiserate. Join a new parents’ group or class as soon as you can because – don’t forget! – your baby is portable.

Get help. Ten to twenty percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety. Ten to twenty percent. It’s so common. Why don’t we talk about this more? If you’re reading this and feel you might have symptoms of depression or anxiety, please don’t feel alone – because you’re not. If you feel depressed, overanxious, overwhelmed or are worried that you may have trouble taking care of yourself and your baby, call your doctor or reach out to a loved one right away.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do you love your baby? Are you doing the best you can? Has anyone contacted the authorities? If you can answer “yes,” “yes” and “no” then pat yourself on the back because it’s going well so far!

(That’s all I’ve got for this year. See you in 2014. Not literally. But you know… Happy New Year!) 

If you go to the Huffington Parents’ page and click on my story, “13 (Completely Made-Up) Words All Parents Will Understand” and then share that story on your Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter accounts, you COULD win a million dollars.
I don’t know how you could win the money. I would have nothing to do with it. Nor would the Huffington Post. Winning the million dollars would not have any correlation with sharing my post. But, anything is possible. Isn’t that what we teach our kids?
So, basically, if you don’t share my story on social media, you are teaching your kids that anything is NOT possible — and that’s just shitty. Don’t be shitty. Share the story. It’s not rocket science.
Also, thank you Joanie Shook and Jill Kravetz, who both have words featured too!

If you go to the Huffington Parents’ page and click on my story, “13 (Completely Made-Up) Words All Parents Will Understand” and then share that story on your Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter accounts, you COULD win a million dollars.

I don’t know how you could win the money. I would have nothing to do with it. Nor would the Huffington Post. Winning the million dollars would not have any correlation with sharing my post. But, anything is possible. Isn’t that what we teach our kids?

So, basically, if you don’t share my story on social media, you are teaching your kids that anything is NOT possible — and that’s just shitty. Don’t be shitty. Share the story. It’s not rocket science.

Also, thank you Joanie Shook and Jill Kravetz, who both have words featured too!