You Know You Have A Toddler When…

toddler-hiding Image via Shutterstock

1. You know you have a toddler when you hate your spouse a little. Toddlers can destroy your marriage if you let them. The stress of living in an insane asylum with a child who makes you want to fall on your own sword will take a toll on your personal relationship. People without a toddler of their own will not understand how someone so cute will make you want to be single and living in a studio apartment with only a bottle of Jose Cuervo to keep you company, but this is the truth. Do your best to not let your little cock block tear your love life apart. You don’t actually hate your spouse, it just feels like it because you hate life. Remember: You’re in a warzone. You need back up.

2. You’ve no longer fantasize about being rich, famous, beautiful, talented, or any of the above. Your fantasies center around sleep. You dream about being rested and floating away on a California King bed that you can lay in starfish formation in. Most people of think of sleep deprivation in terms of infants but toddlers have the potential to steal just as many Zs as their infant brethren. It’s a hard truth to swallow but with a toddler you will be more physically and emotionally tired than you have ever been while also dealing with levels of twilight shenanigans that will astonish you on a nightly basis. Infants don’t scream in your face. Infants don’t run in to traffic.

3. You have become a shut in. Hopefully you have a backyard because other than work, you’re going to lose your will to leave the house. It just won’t be worth it anymore. Why deal with getting a toddler dressed, carseat drama, and a potential meltdown in public when you can just become a recluse? Groceries are available for purchase online.

4. You’ve ever had to drag a kid out of a store under your arm like a bundle of firewood in front of a crowd of gawking strangers. Good for you. Angry whispering can only get you so far. Sometimes you have to show a kid that you mean business and abandon that cart of groceries. Don’t abandon the wine, though. That’s crazy. Pay for the wine.

5. You regularly open packages of food in stores to keep your baboon quiet while you shop. Don’t worry; it’s not shoplifting until you forget to pay for it.

6. You’ve ever had to alert a store employee to the fact that your kid has urinated on their floor. Hey, better a linoleum floor than a stack of neatly folded sweaters. Bonus points if your toddler has ever thrown up in public. On you. When you don’t have a change of clothes.

7. You sometimes wish you had a time machine and a condom.

8. You have stress-induced heart palpitations. No, your child is not trying to kill you but they might by accident.

9. You’ve seriously considered starting a new life in a new city. If you do this, be sure to cut up your credit cards. They can track you.

10. You have more gates up in your home that the local zoo.

11. You know that sometimes “My phone is charging” is code for “I need you to lay off my shit and play with your own toys.”

12. Your sex life has come to a standstill. Toddlers are natural birth control. Their antics will cause your sex organs to shrivel into your body and seal off.

13. You’ve seriously researched sleep-away preschools and boarding school for two year-olds.

14. You know more about the cast of Jake And The Never Land Pirates than your mom.

15. Every one of your cabinets has some kind of lock on it.

16. Bath time in your house looks like an episode of Wipeout.

17. All four food groups can be found between your couch cushions.

18. You’ve had to say “Stop eating out of the trash” in the last 24 hours.

19. A small child has recently blown his or her nose into your shirt.

20. You would give your molars for a free, reliable babysitter. Who needs to chew meat when you can go out for drinks anytime?

Excerpt from Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault, run with permission.

Related post: Dear Toddler, Screw Your Tantrums – Scary Mommy

8 Kid Shows That Drive Moms Crazy



My oldest child is almost ten. Which means I’ve been exposed to the annoying barrage of children’s programming for ten years. 3,650 days of the talking animals, the sing-song-repetitive bullshit, the nonexistent story-lines, and the guest-stars. When it comes to kids shows I’ve seen them all, from Barney to Blue’s Clues, Upside Down Show to Sesame Street, I’m a walking episode guide. I will stop at nothing for 22 minutes of downtime from this crazy-train called Motherhood.

Now, before you come at me with the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics and their proposal for limiting, if not, eliminating television access for children under the age of two please understand: I really don’t care. The AAP isn’t living my life, or raising my kids, and I’m obviously not the only one who is allowing my children TV time, because if I were, they wouldn’t be a billion different shows for children on TV. So lets just acknowledge that, at times, I’m a mad woman on the brink who needs a break and continue from there.

In allowing TV time for my children I’ve opened myself up to a whole new world of crazy… the shows themselves. While I’m able to get a small block of time without someone saying, “Mommy, Mommy, Mom, Mom.” on loop, I now have some personal preferences about the shows that are going to drive me to the loony bin first. Here are the ones that drive me most crazy…

1. Dora The Explorer: Oh Dora, you had some redeeming qualities but in the last couple of years you’ve really jumped the shark. Once you made Swiper a good guy it was over for me. He’s a “sneaky fox who steals all your stuff”, you said it yourself… over and over and over again. Children live to yell, “Swiper, no swiping” at the damn TV and now, now he’s your buddy and you’re having slumber parties with him? I think not. Dora has obviously never seen Sleeping With the Enemy.

2. Go, Diego, Go!: Like Dora, I used to think Diego was okay. I enjoyed the fact that he spoke Spanish and rescued animals, but then they brought Rosie Perez in for a bit to play “Click the Camera” and my mind exploded. Guest-stars aren’t always a good thing. It was like Diego was dropped onto the set of It Can Happen To You and I’ve never been able to stomach the show again.

3. Max and Ruby: I’ve hated Max and Ruby since the first time my mesmerized child sat in front of it. Ruby is a demanding, self-righteous, bitch and I just want to cover her mouth with duct-tape, while Max says one word, over and over, on every show to drive you right to the edge of sanity. And where the hell are their parents? They take the bus to Grandma’s alone? NO. Hell no.

4. SpongeBob SquarePants: This show is not for children. At all. I know some adults enjoy it, but I am not one of those adults. Between SpongeBob’s voice, Patrick’s blatant stupidity and Squidward’s pompous attitude that’s the trifecta of bullshit. Not to mention, I don’t need a cartoon to introduce my child to the words: dumb, idiot and stupid. I’ll wait for the kids at public school to do that.

5. Sam and Cat: My 9-year-old LOVES Sam and Cat. I believe that one day my tombstone will read “Killed by Sam and Cat”. Cat’s annoying monotone voice haunts me when the show isn’t on. With Ariana Grande’s increasing popularity as the second-coming in the pop world, I’m hoping that means Sam and Cat won’t be filming anymore episodes.

6. Caillou: Caillou is a bratty, whinny, Charlie Brown wannabe. Avoid Calliou at all costs. Calliou is like kid heroin… hard to kick. Trust me on this.

7. Curious George: Aww, Curious George… these once-cherished, children’s books have been made into an animated show, and ugh. George is still a free-to-roam, up-to-no-good monkey who never gets in a bit of trouble. The Man with the Yellow Hat is still the biggest parenting pushover in the biz. No thanks. I’ll just read my kid the book.

8. Yo Gabba Gabba: I have no desire to watch my children experience a 30 minute acid trip, and that’s exactly what this show is. It’s only redeeming quality is that Biz Markie does a small rap segment on some shows. That’s cool as hell. Otherwise, skip Yo Gabba Gabba.

Releated post: Raising my Kid on 6 hours of TV a Day

Shut Up About Being Happy Already

kids-making-a-mess Image via Shutterstock

Before I became a parent, I was assured I would never know such love as I have for my children. “Holding your baby is the most amazing experience of all!” I was told by parents, relatives, friends and random strangers in the check-out aisle of the grocery store who saw that I was great with child.

Imagine my surprise, when I first held my daughter and felt absolutely nothing but fear. Was I going to drop her? Would I raise her correctly? Had we chosen the right name? What had I done, thinking I could raise a human child?

My fear of course made me feel even more fearful. I was afraid, so did that automatically mean I was a bad mother? Where was that overflow of love I was promised? Was I broken? I was probably broken.

The overflow of love didn’t beat out the fear until two weeks later, when one night, as she screamed at two in the morning and I had exhausted all means of stopping her, I started crying. “Please,” I said, “I’m doing my best, just stop crying.”

And she did. The whole moment was so improbable, so ridiculous, that I laughed. I looked at that mewling little baby who half-resembled her father, and half-resembled Mikhail Gorbachev and I realized, she didn’t have a clue about anything either. The fear abated.

I thought about that moment again, when a well-meaning relative assured me that this time with my baby and three-year-old was a golden stage. “You will miss it when it’s gone,” she said. “It was the happiest time of my life.”

My days are full, meaningful, frustrating and involve a lot of poop, but happiest time of my life? I’m not so sure. But even admitting that makes me feel afraid that I am failing, I must be doing it wrong if I’m not overjoyed to scrub poop out of my 3 year-olds carpet.

A dearth of parenting books, manuals and how-to websites, assure parents that if there is a problem that you can fix it. That if something is wrong or frustrating or if your kid insists on biting your arm flab, that you can overcome this with firmness, patience and a few other products that can readily be purchased online. Bottom line: if you aren’t happy, it’s your fault and you are broken.

I wish the word “happy” would be stricken from parental vocabulary. As if a perfect bliss were the realistic end goal for raising children. It’s not. Life is messy, it is hard, and sometimes things don’t get better. Our self-help culture implies that all problems can be overcome. But when that “problem” doesn’t understand that she’s not supposed to keep peeing on the floor because the potty-training book says she won’t, well, good luck with that.

No parent who has ever lain on the floor crying because everyone else is crying around them, is broken. No mom who has ever looked at her child with eyes of sheer terror needs to be fixed. No mom who’s wished themselves away from the living room floor that’s always sticky and smells of poop, is doing it wrong.  I wish instead of parenting books that showed you how to be better, we had books that just taught you how to accept what is before us, with all the grace, joy, frustrating, anxiety and fear that comes with the territory.

Because I’m done with happy.

Related post: At Least 70% Of Being A Parent Sucks

My Daughter’s First Halloween in the NICU



My elder daughter came into this world, ironically, over Labor Day weekend nearly 20 years ago. You might call it an early delivery… 3 1⁄2 months early. Two people who had faced four years of infertility, countless tests, near bankruptcy and multiple miscarriages. A final pregnancy that included everything from nearly daily sonograms to an undiscovered and almost fatal ectopic pregnancy to a cervical stitch at 17 weeks and hospitalization from 20 weeks on.

But we finally had a child. She just was small. Okay, itsy bitsy, teenie weenie small. 715 grams at 24 1⁄2 weeks. Joy and fear, guilt and hope were the emotional baggage that haunted us from the moment she arrived.

After emergency heart surgery at two weeks old (and only two pounds), and more scares than a Wes Craven movie, it was finally October. It looked like our little pumpkin was finally ready to face the frosty days of autumn… though only to experience it from the confines of her isolette.

To rally our spirits, our amazing nurses had a plan.

“Halloween is coming up. We need to get a costume for Samantha.”

Groggy eyed from a long night in the NICU, we didn’t comprehend at first.

“Did you say a costume? Can we do that?”

“Of course you can. It’s Samantha’s first Halloween. She needs a beautiful costume. Maybe a princess or cute little kitty cat.”

We stared at the nurses. Should we make a costume though neither one of us was crafty? Where we would buy such a thing? I mean, I don’t think they make costumes in Thumbelina sizes.

Someone suggested a toy store in a neighboring county, which sold a specific line of doll clothes. We were encouraged to take the drive.

The nurses knew what we needed. We needed to feel like regular parents and celebrate the holidays all parents dream about. That road trip was just what the doctors and nurses ordered.

So off we drove on a Sunday morning to this store. As we walked around the store, we seemed to lose our way, and our belief in what we were doing.

“May I help you?”

We stammered. “We’re looking for a costume for our daughter. She’s very premature and still in the hospital. We heard you may have something for her to wear.”

“I have just the thing. Come with me. We’ll find something really special for her. It is her first Halloween?”

The all-knowing store owner guided us toward an area with doll clothes of every style and shape. There were so many choices. So, so many choices. What was right? What was wrong? Did we know the difference?

Seeing us hesitate, the owner took the time to go through the selections. We limited ourselves to the smallest sizes as those would fit best. We also needed something that would work with all the wires and tubes that were a daily part of Samantha’s life.

And then I saw it. A white tennis dress with a head band, small racquet and tiny can of balls. A tennis player myself, I could see my daughter standing beside me in that outfit.

My wife, more intuitive than I could ever be, sensed what the moment meant to me. “We’ll take this. This is the perfect.”

Driving home from the store in a state of unaccustomed euphoria, we hurried to the NICU to show Samantha and the nurses what we had purchased. My wife huddled with the nurses as I placed the tennis gear in front of Samantha.

“Look Samantha, you’re going to be a tennis player for Halloween. Maybe you’ll play at Wimbledon one day. Wouldn’t that be great?”

Two weeks later, the moment arrived. Isolette glistening with Halloween decorations created by the nurses, we arrived to see Samantha dressed for her first tennis match.

Yes, the outfit was too big, but with her pleated white dress, she looked like she could easily win any set she set out to play.

That Halloween, there were no tricks, only the treat of seeing our daughter ready to take on the world, and win.