Category Archives: Moms

Top Ten Christmas Miracles of 2011

The Holiday Season has been so good to me that I almost expect it’s up to something.  You know that feeling you get when your Significant Other unexpectedly treats you to a super special dinner and in the back of your cynical little mind you think, “Is he boinking the blonde in accounting?” Or when your boss gives you lavish praise and you wonder, “Am I on the list for lay offs?”  Yeah- Christmas has been that kind of good. Some would say it was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

 No ghosts came to escort me through portals of time and I spent no time conversing with an angel named Clarence. They are small miracles I suppose but none the less they are mine.

Christmas miracle #1: My four-year old son bought my “Giving is Better than Receiving” shtick.

Trying to teach Leo about giving, I volunteered us to buy Christmas for two children in need. Wonderful in theory but in practical application, it can be rather difficult to talk a child into buying toys for OTHER children.

In the days leading up to the shopping trip I talked excitedly about how much fun we would have being elves. I have learned that talking about chores, vegetables and other “undesirables” with as much enthusiasm as possible can be helpful with children. It’s tricky though, kids might be all, “Brocoli, hell yeah!” However they are just as likely to look at you like you’re an idiot and refuse. In this case the tactic was working pretty well  until the morning of the shopping trip.

“Are you excited about our trip later today? We get to be elves! Giving to those kids is going to make them sooooo happy and that’s what Christmas is all about!” I squealed.

“No it’s NOT Momma. Christmas is about getting toys and trucks and, and . . . and BOUNCY BALLS!” My son hollers.

Bouncy Balls?

Who says Bouncy Balls? Did Charles Dickens make an appearance at Leo’s daycare that I was unaware of?

Perhaps he just had not had enough Cheerios or juice that morning because when the time for Target rolled around he was in a significantly brighter mood. Still, lets not kid ourselves, I was walking into a potential hellish situation.

Boy was I wrong. He was an absolute angel. He spent some time looking at toys I knew he would give his left chubby cheek for but he never once asked for a toy for himself.  His excitement grew as he helped me pick out all the gifts. He knew just what to get the little boy. He was less certain about the little girl, at one point he stopped in his tracks and loudly said, “Uh, don’t girls like THAT?” Pointing an accusing finger at a Hello Kitty toaster oven.

I was beaming with pride as we checked out and by the time I loaded up the toys in the trunk I was doing that crazy happy cry thing I do sometimes.

From the back seat Leo asks me, “Momma, why are  you all stiffly?”

“I am so proud of you Leo! You did something that many adults (myself included) have a hard time doing.”

“Oh, but why are you crying?”

“Sometimes when grown ups are very happy they cry.”

“Momma, sometimes grown ups are silly.”

  True.

Christmas miracle #2: My Baby’s Daddy and I took our son to see Santa . . . together.

That’s right. Together. Was it awkward? Only slightly. We actually got along and may, I mean may have even shared a laugh or two. I left patting myself on the back for being such a mature human being, and thinking we may have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting along. 

#3 My four-year olds wavering belief in Santa was completely restored. 

#4 Fiance became one of those slightly creepy, yet magical Elf on the Shelf parents.

#5 No one got food poisoning from the Chinese food that by all practical purposes should have landed us in the hospital.

#6 I spent an entire holiday season with out getting down in the mouth about my dysfunctional family and was not once haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.

#7  XXX’s The Most Interesting Man in the world holiday ad campaign. One word: Brilliant!

#8 I hand crafted my Christmas gifts to Fiance and they didn’t suck!!

#9 I somehow managed to never set foot into a post office or mall.

#10 On Christmas Eve my son climbs out of the bath tub and as I wrap him up in a towel he looks at me with his enormous chocolate eyes and says, “Momma, sometimes I think I have so much love in my heart that it will grow and grow, like the Grinch’s heart. Only my heart will keep growing and it will just explode love all over you.”

I can feel myself raise my eyebrows. What is he up to? Does he want something? Another cookie, more stories, to open a Christmas gift? I brush the thought away like a snowflake from my shoulder and I pull him to me tightly.

“Sometimes I think mine will too.” I tell him as one of my dumb happy tears rolls down my cheek and on to his back.    

I guess miracles are not up to anything after all.

Annnnd, because if you know me you know that I heart George Michael. It would not be Christmas with out this:

Peace out Christmas.

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Awkwardly Honest

When little kids are not making up wild stories or telling bald face lies, like the time in third grade I told everybody there was a dolphin living in my pool, one of the best things about them is that they are refreshingly honest. Unlike myself, who is always wearing different “hats” and often feeling like I am presenting to people, my son is completely comfortable in his own hat at all times.  One day I was risking our lives in rush hour traffic when I lost my temper in front of Leo. “What? Where do you want me to go you dumb ASSHOLE??” I holler at the guy who is incessantly honking at me as we sit in gridlock on the highway. Leo cocks his head and says, “Momma, I don’t like the way your face looks when you are mad.” Then he thoughtfully suggests, “Maybe  that guy just needs a nap? Maybe he had a bad day?”

Regretting that my mom “hat” slipped and a bit of ugly truth slid out, I think:  God, he is completely right. Schooled by a four-year old.

Sometimes I think of my son as a little Buddha, spreading truth and wisdom. And then . . . he tries to eat one of his boogers and the whole image is blown.  Sometimes his honesty and openness is more embarrassing  than inspiring. Case in point:  I call The Ex to speak with Leo who is visiting him for the weekend.  The Ex answers using the hands free function in his car and my voice is broadcast over the speakers.  I hate being on speaker phone when The Ex is around, I can just feel him rolling his eyes at everything I say, however, he insists that cell phone radiation will warp our sons brain so I deal with it.

“Hey baby, what are you doing?” I croon to Leo.

“Oh, hi Momma! We just had Mexican food!”

“Yum Mexican!”

“Momma, my dad is on a date right now.”

“Oh!” I say, a little confused, because his dad just answered the phone.

“Yeah he is on a date with  _________n.  She’s riding in our car right now.”

“Oh! Mexican.” I have to say something!

“She is really nice to me Momma, but I think it’s because she likes my Daddy.”

“Did you have cheese dip?”   Why can’t I stop talking about Mexican food?

“Yes. But Momma, I wanna tell you something! You are more pretty than ___________!”

“Oh! Okay, well I am gonna go to the grocery store now. I’ll buy some taco shells!” What is wrong with me?

I hang up the phone, absolutely mortified. Why in the world would The Ex choose to answer my call, on speaker phone no less, if he had a date in the car?

Maybe this is The Ex’s version of being refreshingly honest and breaking ’em in quick? “Hey, I have a four-year old boy! He can’t sit still in a restaurant! He says all kinds of crazy stuff! My Baby’s Momma is always gonna be around!  She is awful in awkward situations! Can you deal? ”  And I hope she can, because dating someone with children is a huge undertaking, just ask The Fiance.

I can only hope that what ever woman gets the extreme joy of having my son in her life recognizes how wonderful he his. And . . . since we are all being so refreshingly honest, I must admit, I am wearing my shallow and petty “hat” and I am happy my son says I am prettier!

 

Because this guy is always funny: 

“Dear Ms. Love n Happness,” Like Dear Abby off her meds.

Dear Readers (all two of you),  

You lucky dog! You have experienced me bending your ear about my wack-a-do problems. Now it’s your turn.

 I thought it would be fun to experiment with a “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” feature on my blog. Like this one: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/09/chicken-soup-for-the-soul-or-dear-ms-love-n-happiness/ and I could really, really use your help.

 Could you PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY please take a moment out of your crazy-ass life to do two things:

 1) Jot down a question about life and fire it off to me. @ ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

Don’t worry! You and anyone you speak about will remain completely incognito, unless of course you are glutton for glory.

Fear not! If you don’t have the time to craft a cutesy question, it could be a simple prompt. Think Mike Myers and Coffee Talk:  “I’ve been dating this guy for a few months and the first time I spent the night at his house he came to bed in pajamas and a breath right strip. WTF? This was an absolute deal breaker and now I won’t return his calls.  Am I shallow? ” I can take it from there. Of course if you fill inspired WRITE ON!

My areas of (supposed) expertise: Single parenting, parenting, dating, blending families, relationships, crazy ex’s, really, really ridiculously dysfunctional families, antics, rants, fun and trying your damnedest to live a good life. And!  Powered by the world-wide web and a library card, I will even do research if I don’t have the answer. I. Am. Not. Scared.

And, while I may be a snarky puss the majority of the time, I am capable of being rather kind: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/10/25/the-amish-instinct/ and kinda deep. Kinda. See: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/04/an-open-letter-to-my-father-the-meth-addict/

 2) Recruit a friend to do the same! Let’s face it, I am usually always stuck at a desk or chasing a toddler so getting my writing out beyond my circle has been tough. Please, let your friends, colleges and family members critic my perspective and crappy grammar! The more the merrier.

 Let’s Talk!

You are achingly beautiful and wise.

♥ & ☺,
C.
ps
This is like butta!

An Open Love Letter . . . To Target.

Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

Image via Wikipedia

My Darling Target, how I love thee.  It is true that while in your presence I’ve been known to black out. When I awake I have purchased fuzzy Christmas socks in August,  a dozen bottles of mini nail polish, jeggings and a Hello Kitty cookie jar, and somehow these items came to a total over a hundred dollars. That’s ok, because, your little red bull’s eye came to represent a beacon of hope to me. Nine months pregnant, feeling like too much of a whale to be in public and slowly going crazy back at the nest, you were where I would turn.

Of course, you are one of a kind to me, but with your many locations I could pick a store off my beaten path and shop in anonymity. At that point, acquaintances were dangerous. They would want to discuss the fact that I was going to pop any day, or they might innocently ask me how things were with my “boyfriend,” or they may even be bold enough to ask me what my “plans were for after the baby was born.” In my hormonal and slightly paranoid state, I would of course interpret this to be a comment on my marital state, or lack thereof. To be honest, Target, I was deeply ashamed to be a . . . (gasp). . .

Unwed Mother.

I really have no idea where this strange shame came from. I am about as open-minded as they come.  I was a bohemian at heart before I started grade school. I think one of my imaginary friends was a homosexual. My friend group looks like a United Colors of Benetton ad, but for some reason, when I was pregnant, I found myself hiding my ring finger. So I would slip away, as much as a woman carrying forty extra pounds and the weight of the world on her shoulders is capable of slipping, to the place I felt the most free from judgment. And in a giant twist of irony, this was a suburban Target.  I would wonder your aisles, soaking in solitude and sipping on a sinful iced late.  Oh!  My dear sweet Target– you  created my personal version of heaven and put a Starbucks right inside your door. I can shop your wares with a caffeine buzz!

Within your sanctity, I would joyfully purchase a jewel toned Mossimo Empire waist top in a size XL reasoning that $13.50 for yet another top to fit over my belly was a small price to pay for the temporary increase in self-esteem.  I could shop, with little to no judgment from the foodie/health nut types who frequent my neighborhood grocery store, for the Market Pantry brand of spaghetti sauce that I adored and ate almost exclusively for the last weeks of my pregnancy.

We had a little routine, you and I, for our meetings. Once my coffee was secured, with eyes averted, I would discreetly walk past your “Club Wed” section. I didn’t really care to be reminded of the wedding I was not planning. I would then make my way to the baby section and spend hours gawking at baby bumpers, onsies and burping cloths. I would awe at the tiny shoes you carry, knowing that very soon I would be responsible for feet that would fit into these miniature shoes. Then I would well up with tears looking at the “big boy” section, wondering at the fact that my yet to be born child would one day wear a shoe size bigger then my own.

If I was not numbed and/ or emotionally exhausted enough from all this, I would wonder over to home section and stare at random items like, weed wackers or skillet sets. These domestic items objectified my unhappiness and shed harsh light on the uncertainty of my situation.  As hard as I try, I couldn’t make myself buy a weed wacker for a home in which I didn’t feel comfortable. I reasoned that I didn’t need a whole set of skillets; I could get by with one if it was just the baby and myself. Here in front of the storage solutions and slip covers, I was safe to quietly process things I didn’t allow myself to think about anywhere else. Like, exactly what were “my plans for after the baby was born”?

And if all this retail therapy got to be too much, I could always head to your dressing rooms. There I would find a bench to sit on and the privacy to shed a few tears before I put my brave face back on, complete with my new Sonia Kashuk kiwi lip gloss, and drive home to face my boyfriend. He never noticed, Target, how much time I spent with you, or the money that went into our relationship. Truthfully, he never noticed much. Had he asked me, I would have had to confess: I was having an emotional affair with you. You offered me the solace of routine, safety and small creature comforts, usually for under $29.99. Most importantly you offered me little glimpses of the truth I could barely stand to look at by myself.  At that point, no offence Target, I would have taken those things anywhere I could get ‘em.

Now, we’ve all moved on. I still visit your red sanctuary from time to time to pick up an inexpensive pair of shoes for my little boy, or stock up on some shampoo. But, times have changed darling. When I peruse your home goods, and neglect to buy cozy blankets or welcome mats, it is only I am searching for the very best for my family and my home.  When I cruise by Club Wed, or the baby section, I only see possibilities. Were I to shed a tear within your walls, it would undoubtedly be due to seasonal allergies or one of the sappy sweet greeting cards you carry.

We’ve been through a lot, Target.  I’ll never forget what you have done for me and I will secretly miss the frequency of my caffeinated shopping dates with you.

Ever Yours,

C.

p.s.

THIS IS AMAZE:

What to Expect When You Were NOT Expecting.

“Either you got a boob job or you are prego. Your boobs look HUGE!” Lynn announces. It was the end of a busy night at the restaurant where I waited tables and I was hunched over wiping down a shelf full of condiments. I took a deep breath, put down the mini mustard and say to Lynn, “Unless the University is giving out student vouchers for books and a boob job, I think it’s safe to say I must be prego.”

Lynn’s face turned the color of the ketchup I was wiping and I could have swept the floor with her jaw. Normally I would have fallen over laughing at her reaction, but I had only known that I was unexpectedly expecting a baby for a few weeks, and I was still busy picking my own jaw up off the floor.

That was four years and nine  months ago, but lately I have noticed an influx of my friends and acquaintances who have come down with a case of the “Unexpected Pregnancy,” or they, like my friend Lynn said upon finding out I was pregnant, “got knocked the fu$k up!”   I would like to point out that I am intentionally not using the expression “Unplanned Pregnancy.” I imagine that those are words that are most often whispered by not so well-meaning individuals around water coolers and hors d’oeuvre tables. “Unplanned Pregnancy,” is an expression that implies some sort inherent flaw in the mother to be, as if she was too callous and/or lazy to bother planning her pregnancy. I prefer the expression “Unexpected Pregnancy.” It sounds like a zany surprise, a last-minute house guest, or a freak weather pattern, and best of all there is no judgment. I mean, an unexpected house guest could happen to any one of us.

So now that we have the terminology down, I’d like to share a few of the things I learned during my own unexpected experience.  Here is what NOT to do when you are expecting:  please, please, please, for the love of God, do not go out and buy that book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” If you insist on buying it please read it slowly and sparingly, not obsessively and compulsively, like I did. Let me be clear, this book could scare the maternity jeans off even the most courageous mom-to-be. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a bunch of prego-elitist fear mongering and no matter how much I bitch, I’ll  never get back that hours of sleep and general sense of peace I lost due to reading that book. The text will go into long detail about birth defects that effect something like one in every one million babies that are born under a full moon. Then it will heap on guilt and have you believe that if your baby did have this rarest of birth defects it would most certainly be your fault. Everything from Alka-Seltzer to zucchini is hypothesized to have some adverse effect to your unborn child.   “What to Expect” will make you feel confused, paranoid and completely inadequate, and these are two areas in which pregnant women need no additional help.

Now, what TO do (the very, very abbreviated version): Go ahead and get over all your preconceived notions of what a mom should be, which are probably based on what your mom was (or was not) and what society says a mom should be. Guess what? This is your experience, your life, and you get to determine what kind of mom you want to be. You want to make casseroles in your Manolo Blahnik’s? You want to make organic casseroles in your Tom’s? You never want the word casserole mentioned again in your presence?  Great, fine, whatever, because you are in charge now and this is one of the few perks of being an adult.

Immediately after this first step, proceed to step two: get over all your fears, insecurities and doubts about your ability as a mother. So, you’re unmarried? So, you don’t have the perfect job? So, none of your friends have kids? So you are afraid you don’t have a maternal bone in your body? So, your friends don’t quite trust you with their house plants let alone their children, your idea of cooking is a microwave chicken pot pie and you find the idea of breast-feeding simply repulsive? Well, this is my advice: So what? Really, it does not matter.

Line up all those feeling of inadequacy, look ‘em in their beady lil eyes and say, “So what?” Because, you are about to live outside of what you ever thought yourself capable of and you will look back and say to yourself, “damn, I did that!” Sounds deceptively simple, but make no mistake it’s actually one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced. But it’s worth it.

Take it from me, an admittedly somewhat selfish girl who found herself: pregnant, unmarried, in a dead-end relationship, with no nearby family, a waitress, a college student, with little to no personal example of what being a good mother was, and with the strong suspicion that I had accumulated enough liquor over the years that milk would immediately curdle upon making contact with my breasts, it is very much worth it.

 There is a sign above my son’s bed that says, “I am a Dream Come True.” The thing is, when he first came into my life I didn’t know this, but now I know there are no words that are truer.

 And my last piece of advice is: what you should expect while you are unexpectedly expecting is that you will rise to the occasion of creating the perfect situation for you and your loved ones, as only you can do.

Enjoy, and just be glad THIS can’t happen:

Thank You Girl

How to wash your hands

Image by The Master Shake Signal via Flickr

“Oh, thank you!” says my three and a half-year old son. I respond with an automatic, “You’re welcome”, not even pausing to consider what Leo is thanking me for. I am trying to hover over the toilet at the burrito joint where we sometimes go when I am simply too exhausted to cook or to pick up something from the grocery store. In other words, we go there a lot. While hovering, I am reading a text from my boss about something that could have waited for business hours.  All the while I am trying to keep an eye on the door since Leo has a habit of throwing open the door before I have pulled down my skirt.

“No Momma. I was not thanking  you.”  Leo says matter- of- factly. “I was saying thank you for the paper towels.” I stop what I am doing and look in Leo’s direction. He is standing under the automated paper towel dispenser with this silly grin on his face, tickled pink that this machine just gives away paper towels.  All you have to do is put your hands under the machine and as if by magic it knows exactly what you need and gives it to you.“Momma, I didn’t know it was going to do that!” Leo squealed with glee. And he returns his hands to the same spot. “Oh, thank you very much!” he says.

An unexpected surprise has him delighted and I am probably even more so. As a mother, these are the things that bring me the most joy and it is little moments like this that make spending time with a child a worthwhile pursuit for any adult. You learn so much; rather you remember so much, about yourself and about the world that your adult heart forgot.  The paper towel dispenser has  me thinking about the unexpected things in life for which I am grateful.

I remember my Grandmother stressing to me the importance of “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sure there is Grandma; I get ‘em all the time. It’s called coupons.   But, none the less, I had a hard time being grateful because any time something good came along I feared fate’s retribution. As if God would bless me once and then come down and smite me twice, just cus that’s how he rolls.

There are the obvious things to be grateful for, the ones mentioned in the childlike prayers I used to recite.  “Thank you for my house. . . ”  “Thank you for my family. . .” but, when put in the light of any given tragedy these everyday blessings really hit home and my thoughts shift to “Hey- I really am lucky to have a roof over my head.” Witnessing the devastation of a natural disaster or terrorist attack seems to make us all hyper-grateful. . . for a while.

I have had the pleasure of “working with the public” for many years and I am constantly afforded the opportunity to see people on both their best and absolute worst behavior. On a bad day, I may be likely to tell you that the world is full of insufferable assholes, but I actually believe that people are by in large sympathetic souls. We do care. We do want to help. Sometime we just forget to keep caring because we are so distracted with the phone calls from the boss, paying our over inflated mortgages and hovering to prevent germs because health care is just not what it should be. You know, all of our First World problems.

Then there is the type of gratitude that Leo and the paper towels taught me about; gratitude for the unexpected. I am talking about the type of magic where, just like the paper towel machine, the universe gave me just what I needed. And often times, it is exactly what I thought I did not need and most certainly did not want.

This has been true of  most of the major things in my life. Case(s) in point: Growing up I was pretty lonely and the vibe in my house was less than pleasant. I turned to reading to hide in fictional worlds.  Being a bookworm does not seem like something most teenage girls would yearn for, but my bookish tendencies would later develop into my greatest dream: writing a book.  My broken-down  family was and sometimes still is a painful burden to bear, but I realize now that it has bestowed upon me a strength of heart which I don’t know if I would be capable of otherwise.  Downright traitorous  relationships that left me blindsided and broken-hearted; they also gave me the gifts of a razor-sharp radar that can quickly point out the wrong people and a deep appreciation for true love and friendship.

The greatest unexpected blessing of all is Leo. Getting knocked up in the midst of a rocky relationship when I had not even graduated college sure did not seem magic, or like the universe giving me just what I needed. In fact I was scared shitless. But not a day goes by that I don’t thank the lord, thank my lucky stars, or thank _________ (insert any other applicable deity or entity) for my son. The ways in which he has opened my heart, mind and eyes can’t entirely be measured. Having to step up to be the person he needs me to be is the greatest gift I have ever received and it just keeps unfolding.

It seems to me that it is the pain that keeps us growing and receiving. I am by no means attempting to poo poo on peoples pain or trying to piss off people with problems. Nor am I suggesting that we go out there and throw ourselves to the wolves in order to learn a lesson or two. What I do know is that I can honestly say:  I wouldn’t change a thing; not a single thing about where I have come from and what I have been through. And that, believe me, says a lot. So I am thankful for the unexpected and the uncertain and I even try to be thankful for the unwanted. And the paper towels. Can’t forget to be thankful for the paper towels.

So what’s your “paper towel story” ? What changed your life or gave you new perspective? I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to share some of the unexpected things you are grateful for!