Making a Case For Raising Vain Babies

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little-girl-dress-up Image via Shutterstock

“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall… who’s the fairest of them all?”

My childhood obsession with Snow White goes deeper than I thought. Now before you slap me for being another pathetic ex-pageant queen stereotype, let me say that raising vain babies is nothing to scoff at, mamas. I’m neither ashamed nor tentative about this. Given our social pressures and imposed insecurities (just by being a part of the female species), I’m now more convinced than ever that raising vain babies and toddlers is a good thing. A fabulous thing.

Judge away, but to get where I’m coming from on this, let’s back it up to when my now almost-four year old was just a wee babe. It all started so innocently: When she was a newborn, I’d stand in front of the mirror holding her over my shoulder (upright, to burp her) and watch her reflection to see if she was spitting up, crying, smiling, still alive or just plain awake. That simple act of practical mothering through a mirror (eyes behind the head, ya know?) quickly turned into me catching her gaze and making her giggle by singing, bouncing or making funny faces and noises (as we both stared into the mirror at each other). The more I’d play, dance and goof off with her though our reflections, the more she laughed and loved it. We’d lock eyes and it was an instant party. We had our own secret joke while I’d hold her and sing and choreograph entire musical numbers off the top of my head in front of the mirror. It passed the long days of newborn life and made both of us equally happy. I was proudly a rock star of a sideshow act (still am, actually).

I soon noticed (when she was about six months old,) that our mirror playtime became more than just playtime. She’d catch herself in any mirror we passed, whether at home, at the mall, in a restaurant… and get dramatic if I didn’t stop and let her gaze at herself for a little while. Two seconds in front of any mirror and she’d get a big smile on her face and coo at herself. If I turned her back towards her reflection, she’d struggle to crane her neck all the way around in order to see herself. She’d find the mirror in her jungle-gym, roll over to it and babble at reflection. It seemed that finding her perfectly-chunky little self in a mirror made her feel secure. The only thing that would calm her down as she screamed bloody-murder during her baptism was the mirror in our church’s choir room. (I wish I was kidding.) Great. I was raising a vain girl and she wasn’t even one year old yet.

Out of habit, the same pattern evolved with my second girl (now two years old)… we’d lock eyes in the mirror, stare widely at each other, giggle and gleefully go for it again and again. Pure happiness. To this day, my one of my girls’ most favorite activities is to stand in front of their mirror and either talk, dance, sing or playfully yell at themselves. Just what the world needs: Self-obsessed little women.

Just as I considered taking down all mirrors in our home, something clicked: Maybe this is one way we can learn to love ourselves… as women… as kids… as people. Too many incredible, smart, motivated and amazing people that I know (young, mid-life and old) struggle with happiness because they don’t feel secure within themselves. I think I speak for a lot of moms when I say that one of the major things we want to do right is to raise our kids to feel and be confident from the inside out. Looking in the mirror – and liking yourself – is something that all of us struggle with at one point or another. (Yes, me included. More times than I care to admit) Where did those wrinkles come from?!? Why is that bulge there?!? Does my hair always look this stringy?!? Can I slap a filter on my driver’s license photo?!? Stupid. Yet we are all guilty.

At this exact point in time, my girls are happy when they look in the mirror. They find security from themselves… their own smile, their own movement, their own voice. That’s a big win. They don’t care if they look tired, silly, dirty or round. I can only pray that it stays that way throughout their entire lives, no matter what possible future experiences they may have involving mean classmates or social media influence.

It’s a increasingly-hot pressure-cooker of a world when it comes to self-image folks (thanks in part to Instagram… sorry, it’s the truth). Life coaches have longtime encouraged us to stand in front of our mirrors – every day – and say what we like about ourselves out loud. Positive affirmations are credited to reverse and purge negative thoughts and energy and lead to a more fulfilled life. Loving yourself, including an appreciation of the way you look and present yourself, is not shallow… it’s the foundation for happiness, contentment, confidence, motivation and success.

Of course, there is a line of humility in all of this that cannot be crossed… we all know that crossing that line is just plain dangerous (not to mention, arrogant, rude and destructive). But that’s what moms are here for: to spy on our little people as they grow and keep them in check from the inside-out.

With any luck (and heavily-moderated mirror-time) we can all grow up to live happily ever after.

Related post: Why I Stopped Trying To Make My Daughter Pretty

The Top 7 Reasons Why You’re Mom-Shaming (And Why You Need To Stop)

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mom-shaming

“Did you see how she’s feeding her baby?”

“I can’t believe she thinks that’s ok?!  He goes to bed where?”

“What kind of parent would let their child sleep that way?”

This is parenting, in public.

This is motherhood, preparing for our close-up, knowing full well that our cracks and flaws and doubts will be revealed to critics who are watching and waiting for us to fail.

I’m so embarrassed. Am I the only one in this playgroup who is feeding a baby this way? 

I can’t keep my eyes open.  I love where my baby sleeps, but maybe I’m doing it wrong?  

Is everyone watching me?  Does anyone really see me?

Welcome to the Mommy Wars, ladies.

Where we are horrible to each other online, in playgroups, and in tight little huddles in the preschool parking lot. Our parenting beliefs are not as easy to hide as religion and politics, so we use them as weapons when we need a release. The Mommy Wars are collapsing our confidence one snarky Facebook comment at a time.  We are breaking each other down because we’re crumbling inside, our pre-motherhood identity slowly disintegrating under the weight of the laundry, the groceries, and the thirty thousand jackets and sand toys and leaky sippee cups that our kids have left in the car. Motherhood is hard. So why are we so cruel to each other?

1.  You’re bored. I get it. If my son asks me to be the “red ninja” one more freaking time, I’m going to stab myself in the eye with his plastic sword.  I spend endless minutes spinning around with him and yelling “Ninjaaaaaa-GOOOOO” like a good red ninja. Until I can’t take it anymore, and retreat to the quiet of the Internet. The parenting routine can be mind-numbing. Sometimes a good argument about how the formula companies have brainwashed the sheeple, or how breastfeeding past 12 months is perverse can make you feel like your neurons are actually firing. Our mothers’ generation watched soap operas in the afternoons. Facebook and Twitter are the new Days of Our Lives, but it’s dangerous when we can contribute to the train wreck in real time.

2. You’re angry. When you’re a mom, you can’t get mad at the kids in the same way you get mad at adults. I have an out-of-body experience when my 1 year old takes his entire breakfast and launches it off his high-chair. I hear myself saying calmly “Bennie, no throwing food. Food is to eat.” when inside my head I’m screaming “Are you fucking KIDDING ME?! I would give anything to actually eat a hot breakfast and you are throwing it on the FLOOR?!” But mothers can’t say that. So we yell at each other instead.

3. You’re jealous. You know that mom who wears the tassel bikini to the pool? The one we all whisper about, because her fake boobs barely fit in the little triangles (Who the hell wears little triangles when they’re swimming with a screaming 2 year old anyway?) And she obviously had a bikini wax. Who has time for that? Although I must admit, I considered subjecting myself to the searing pain of having hot wax put on my lady parts, just so that I could have 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to lie down. Why are we so judgmental and snarky about each other’s bodies? Well ladies, it’s because we’re jealous. Your fake boobs are perkier than mine.  I wish I could rock a triangle bikini.  We hate each other for being someone else’s version of perfect, when the truth is that we hate ourselves for not being Pinterest-ing enough.

4. You’re overwhelmed. Get kids dressed, get myself dressed, get everyone fed, feed them again, clean up food they threw on the floor, assemble the stroller, disassemble the stroller, get them in car seats, unpack the lunch boxes, make the snacks, nurse the baby, play with everyone, do the dishes, and be the red ninja. This is motherhood. I love it. But it freaking exhausts me. Then we go online and filter out the sweat and the stains and the screaming with pretty photo filters. Why do we lie to each other about real life? You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.

5. You’re exhausted. Not even going to explain this. Instead, will go microwave my piss-warm coffee and raise it in your direction.

6. You’re not sure of your identity. New motherhood can be lonely. We all want to belong, and it helps to have a group of people who think like we do. It feels safer to be tethered together by similar parenting beliefs. In the riptide of motherhood, we’re all looking for a life raft that will help us stay afloat. Even if we have to kick you off of yours.

7. You’re dying to be recognized. Do you do a touchdown dance when your baby sleeps through the night? Do you shout it from the rooftops when you hit the 6 month mark of exclusive breastfeeding? Our celebrations scream “Notice me! Someone please tell me that I’m doing a good job, because nobody else is! Wait…I am doing a good job, right?”

Now do you see why we’re so mean to each other? We’re exhausted! We’re short-tempered. We’re terrified that we’re screwing up the little people who we love most in this world. We are needy, and lonely, and getting lost in this brave new parenting landscape because our map has been spit-up on by our baby and torn apart by our toddler. We shame each other on the Internet, because we’re worried that we’re the ones doing it wrong.

Moms, I need you. We need each other. It will only get better, when we start feeling better about ourselves. Put away your keyboard and put your hand on my shoulder. Log out of the Facebook groups and text your best friend. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Tell her your baby ate a crayon when you weren’t looking. Tell her the truth about motherhood. Your children are watching… is this how you want them to treat each other?

Related post: 15 Things Experienced Moms Really Want to Say to New Moms

25 Things Men Should Know Before Marriage

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wedding-on-bridge Image via Shutterstock

1. Should I ever ask, “You look fabulous” is the only correct response. And why did I have to ask?

2. Borrowing my car and returning it with the gas gauge on “E” tells me it’s been too long since we’ve had a good fight.

3. Drinking the last Diet Coke without replacing my stash is exactly the same as me letting your beer fridge run dry.

4. Three hours of trying to get your attention and actually talk to you, while you scream and yell at the TV during the entire course of the Big Game, is not “spending time together.”

5. No, I cannot stay at my hot pre-wedding weight and eat a big dinner with you every night. You’re going to have to choose.

6. Yes, I know you hate the songs on my iPod. That’s why they call it an “I” Pod.

7. Beer is not the only liquid that will quench your thirst.

8. Just because you were born with a penis doesn’t mean you automatically know how to fix my car. Take it to the shop, please.

9. Throwing all my delicates into the dryer on high isn’t “helping with the laundry.”

10. There is no official religious sanction in any recognized church that prohibits putting the new toilet paper roll on the dispenser rather than on the bathroom counter. I checked.

11. Blaring surround sound in a tiny living room is not “way cool.” It’s just loud. I don’t need to hear helicopters behind my head.

12. There isn’t a woman alive, in any country on the planet, who thinks “fine” is a synonym for “beautiful.” When you say “You look fine” or “That dress is fine,” I guarantee you that we just heard, “You look boring and plain, but I’m getting impatient, so let’s go.” And the next time you ask “Was it good for you?” I’ll respond, “It was fine.”

13. After two arm whacks and a swift kick in the shins, if you’re still snoring, I’m sleeping in the guest bedroom. Yes, I still love you.

14. A sports bar with unlimited “Buckets-O-Wings” and 27 TVs will never be my choice for date night. Or actually, ever. Go. Have fun. I’ll pick the next one. No TVs, but you’ll love the wine list.

15. I don’t care if we’ve shared a toothbrush from time to time, when you drink milk directly out of the container, it has backwash in it and I can’t drink it. Same for my Diet Cokes. The glasses are in the cabinet on the left side of the fridge.

16. Thong underwear feels like dental floss in your butt crack, and 4″ stilettos are as comfy as ballet toe shoes. These were invented by men. You wear ‘em.

17. Yanking the duvet up over the still-wadded sheets and blankets is not “making the bed.”

18. The distance between your hand and the sink is roughly the same as that between your hand and the dishwasher, so all things being equal, please put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, not the sink.

19. We will never be married long enough for me to find ball-and-chain jokes funny.

20. If I’m wearing it, it’s because I like it. And if I like it, you like it. Yes, even the boyfriend jeans.

21. A two-minute back rub, followed by your hand down my pants and the assumption of sex, is not “giving me a massage.”

22. Repeatedly leaving the toilet seat up is the male equivalent of the universal, female “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” Ain’t nobody getting any tonight.

23. Just because I do all the shopping doesn’t mean I do all the spending. The drycleaning I picked up was yours. The $40 moisturizer I bought at Nordstrom was yours. The dozen t-shirts from Target? Yours. You say “we” need to stop spending? You first.

24. There are many great movies with no screaming car chase scenes, automatic weapons on constant firing, alien invasions, or apocalyptic backdrops. We also like comedies, musicals, or even love stories. And spending the entire movie repeatedly asking, “When does anything happen?” or “Do they have to sing everything??” is virtually guaranteed to have us watching movies in different rooms of the house.

25. No, you cannot wear your neon, tie-dyed t-shirt from college to dinner with my parents. Or at any event we attend together. Ever.

“Me Time” Is Bullshit Once You’re a Mother

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mom-in-bathtub Image via Shutterstock

Before I had children, I used to go to the hairdressers. This was known as “getting a haircut”.

Now, I am a parent and  I still go to the hairdressers, but this is considered “me” time. It’s essentially the same thing but now the act of hair shortening is supposed to be some sort of treat.

Well I’m sorry, but going to a hair salon and staring at my own miserable face for 45 minutes while I’m made to look presentable is not my idea of a treat.

Having a bath is not “me” time either no matter how many candles and bubbles there are. A bath is just a way to wash your hair while sitting down. And while you’re in the bath, the children are still out there making noise and messes and smells while Daddy is in charge, so try not to relax too much.

Reading a magazine and drinking coffee is certainly no “me” time. Administering caffeine while finding out what Kim Kardashian’s butt has been up to is just the correct way to start the day. Oh and when I’m on the toilet and I close the door? That’s definitely not “me” time. I’m taking a dump.

As far as I’m concerned, “me” time is a massive crock of shit. Stop trying to make basic maintenance something special. I’m using the restroom, not spending a week at a yoga retreat.

A recent survey claimed that new mothers have on average just 17 minutes of “me” time a day.

“Me” time is not for moms. I’m speaking from personal experience here – as a mom the last person I want to spend 17 minutes with is myself. My life is boring; I don’t need time to reflect on that.

When you are young and free all your time is me time. That’s how life works. Everything is about you – this is because you are bright and happy and make dumb decisions in life which result in you having to climb out of a tiny bathroom window in the middle of a really bad date with a man who may or may not be joking about spending time in prison.

Things like this do not happen once you are a mom. (I hope.)

Once you’re a parent, someone else does all the stupid things while you make sensible decisions and worry about speech development and chicken pox.

In Britain, we love reality shows like The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea which feature young, single people making terrible life decisions. (In terms of American shows, think The Real World or The Hills.)

The stars of these shows need “me” time to reflect on the many ways they have been wronged, told off, or generally “disrespected”. They can then use this time to arrange nights out where they can throw drinks in other people’s faces which is apparently the best way to regain respect should you ever find yourself being told off or disrespected.

I fear for these people when they have children.

Being a parent involves being told off and disrespected on an hourly basis. I have tried throwing drinks in my children’s faces, but it is simply a waste of pinot noir.

So, as far as I’m concerned, as a mom you can stick your “me” time where I stick my children’s art work – in the recycling bin.

Related post: Saturday Night Dinner

Pantech Vybe Giveaway

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For months, Lily has been pestering us for a phone.

By pestering, of course, I mean DRIVING COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY INSANE.

But I had to admit, her arguments weren’t entirely unreasonable. It would be nice to be able to check in with her when she’s at sleepovers, and now that I can leave her home alone while I run to the bank or to the drugstore, I do need to be able to reach her quickly and easily.

But no tween needs a top of the line smart phone, much as he or she might want one.

What does my tween need? To be able to make phone calls and send messages to her parents.

What does my tween want? To be able to make phone calls and send messages to her friends, listen to music, and to be able to take pictures and post them to social media. That’s pretty much it.

What do I need? Not to go broke. And not to hear her incessant pestering anymore.

Enter The Pantech Vybe, a great phone designed specifically for teens and tweens and the parents who adore put up with them. Unlike other smart phones, The Pantech Vybe won’t break the bank at $29.99 (with a two-year contract through AT&T.)

VybePhone (1)

We’ve played around with the phone for a few weeks and were both impressed. Compared to my beloved iPhone, the battery life is endless. The camera, though not award winning, is perfect for her needs, and it’s easy enough to navigate that we both could handle it. If you’re in the market for a beginner phone, it’s the perfect solution. Even better? I’m giving one away.

For your chance to win a Pantech Vybe, complete with a $100 SIM card, just leave a comment with why your kid “MUST HAVE THIS PHONE.”

Entries will be accepted through August 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST and the winner will be randomly drawn using randomizer.org. Find out more about the Pantech Vybe at MyFirstPhone.com.

Good luck!