My daughter Dylan bounded into our room one morning this week and shouted out,
“I can’t wait for Yom Kippur!”
You don’t hear this a lot in the Jewish religion. Yom Kippur is a solemn holiday in September. It’s a day of atonement and repentance when you fast and pray until sundown. I don’t think a lot of 8-year-olds wake up bursting with Yom Kippur joy.
But Dylan was born around the Jewish high holy holidays, hence her exuberance. Since in her world, it’s less about fasting and more about cake.
After Dylan’s birth, I shared a hospital room with an Orthodox woman. You see, cushy single rooms are for folks in the suburbs and this was a gritty city birthing experience.
And it was all fine until about 6,000 of this woman’s relatives entered the room and started blowing a shofar. A shofar is a loud horn that is usually used in holiday synagogue services but has also been known to bug the crap out of new moms who just had a baby at a gritty city hospital. That’s the official Wikipedia definition. You can look it up.
I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t care what it costs. PLEASE get me a private room.” I think Rick thought three things at that moment…
1. That horn is LOUD.
2. Postpartum women are always right.
3. If I have any chance of convincing my non-Jewish wife to send our kids to Jewish camp some day, then I need to act fast.
He got me the room.
I guess that Orthodox woman didn’t mind the 6,000 relatives or the shofar blowing in her face because she was in the hospital having her 5th kid. Rick and I really laughed over that one.
“5 kids?! Who would ever be dumb enough to do that?” we said.
mama bird diaries:
This week on Lifetime Moms, I’m writing about Giuliana Rancic and her decision to put her husband before their baby. Check it out here.
Now and then, I just abandon my husband with all four kids so he can have some quality time with all of them.
(Quality time = Constantly responding to a million requests while trying to keep the house from getting completely trashed while listening to a lot of whining while trying to squeeze in a shower for yourself.)
I recently left him on a Saturday morning so I could head into New York City and meet my friend Jen for breakfast. She’s from Colorado so I rarely see her. Plus, she is one of five kids so who better to give me a little pep talk before the birth of baby #5. (Is “Five” a weird name? Asking for a friend.)
But because I’m a good wife, I try to give Rick some idea of what to do with all our kiddos so I don’t return and find him trapped under a pile of baby dolls and toy kitchen utensils.
On this particular morning, I told him to take the crew to a kids play space and I even packed up our brown bag for him.
The brown bag is vital for survival on any outing.
It has snacks. It has water. It has wipes. It has a change of clothes for Chase and Harlowe, in case there is some unfortunate potty accident which there isn’t unless you don’t bring the bag. Every time we leave the house without the brown bag, it never works out for us. I’d rather forget my cell phone than this bag. Now you understand.
Having done everything I could to make his morning better, I kissed everyone goodbye and left for New York City.
And it wasn’t until I was headed over the Triborough bridge, now called the RFK bridge, but everyone still calls it the Triborough so I don’t know why they changed it, when I noticed this…
Yup, I accidentally took the brown bag with me.
So much for being a helpful wife.
At least I had plenty of snacks.
About 4 months ago, my daughter Dylan’s Brownie Troop announced that they were going to do a sleepover at a local aquarium.
“How cute! What fun mother/daughter time!” I thought, somehow ignoring the fact that I would be almost 7 months pregnant.
The cost for my daughter and me to attend was $120 which I assumed meant we would get to pick our own lobsters out of one of their tanks. This proved not to be accurate although I did get to pick my own pizza slice.
They lock you in the place for 16 hours. I mean, you get to enjoy the aquarium for 16 hours!
At first things went well. My daughter was having a lot of fun making fossils, running relay races and playing with her friends.
And then she fell into the stingray/ shark tank.
This is the tank…
Now I didn’t see her fall in because I was doing something very important like feeding a baby seal or maybe just talking to my friend Emily (the details aren’t important) but a friend of Dylan’s quickly found me.
By the time I got to the tank, Dylan was out and very shaken.
Apparently she had leaned over the tank to pet a stingray (whose stingy things are removed) and she slipped and fell in. Her entire body was submerged except for her boots. She scrambled out of there and was totally unhurt but just very embarrassed, scared and cold.
We changed her clothes and I promised her that “swimming with stingrays and sharks” was not something everyone gets to experience and this was a real bonus on the night. She recovered…
Then it came time to sleep.
I highly recommend sleeping at an aquarium with tons of young kids if you like to sleep on hard floors, with a lot of light and constant noise. I had brought sleeping bags and mats but I (who do not complain much about being pregnant) was beyond uncomfortable.
And other moms (who are obviously far more brilliant than me) brought these gigantic blow up mattresses, sheets and comforters. And wine. And I can only assume their own personal masseuses although I didn’t actually witness that.
Anyway, we slept by the jellyfish tank for about 5 hours, got up in the morning refreshed and energized and then saw the IMAX movie, “Born To Be Wild” which is beyond cute. It’s impossible to watch a baby elephant drink milk from an enormous baby bottle and not leave the theater a little happier.
So if you ever have the opportunity to do something like this, here are my tips…
1. Don’t be pregnant
2. Bring your own Queen or King Size mattress
3. Bring an eye mask and ear plugs
4. Bring a box of wine
5. Don’t let your child swim with sharks
6. Bring a change of clothes in case she does
The thing about being pregnant and having four kids is that people stare at me all the time.
I sort of get it because every time I see a mom with three or more kids, I’m like, “Whoa, that’s a serious handful” and then I suddenly remember that I’m in the same crazy boat.
But still, I hate people staring at me.
Like over school vacation, I took my four kids to Trader Joe’s. The one near us is pretty small and therefore quite manageable with my whole crew. Plus they have free mini coffee samples which I really enjoy. (Although my 2-year-old let it slip to my husband that I let her have a few sips of coffee so she’s now cut off.)
Now some customers seem very irritated by my presence in the store. Like a woman who was trying to get to the apples. But at that very moment, each child was placing a few apples into his or her own bag and completely blocking the aisle. I wanted them to move for this woman. I really did. But I just couldn’t orchestrate it in a timely manner. She finally huffed away angry and appleless.
But then other people seem almost envious.
Like an older woman came up to me on the same shopping excursion and said, “Your kids are so cute. All my children are grown now and all over the country. I used to buy so much at the grocery store and now I only need a few items.”
I felt so sorry for this woman I wanted to cry right there between the breakfast bars and the sea salt brownie petites.
And then she went on, “This is the best time of your life. Enjoy it.”
Oh man, not that again! Lady, I had four years at Tulane University that I KNOW were better than this.
It’s not that I don’t love my kids.
2-year-old Chase kisses me on the cheek 40 times a day and says, “I love you mommy. You are so pretty and so nice.” I don’t know where he learned it but it’s the sweetest thing EVER.
2-year-old Harlowe has the cutest tushy shake in the universe.
6-year-old Summer has the tightest bear hugs and the most sparkling smile I’ve ever seen.
And 8-year-old Dylan is so loving and sweet with all her younger siblings that sometimes I just stare at her with so much love and pride that I feel like my heart is going to explode.
My point is – I really adore my kids but this phase of my life is grueling. There are no days off. I barely shut my eyes at night and someone is calling me because they have to go to the bathroom, they want to be tucked in or their blanket is folded wrong.
I barely open my eyes in the morning and someone is fighting over something with somebody else. There are lunches to be made, days to organize and constant clean up. I squeeze in time for my husband, writing, exercise and friendships but mostly this time of my life is all about taking care of these little people.
So please please please don’t tell me this is the best time of my life. An amazing, crazy, chaotic, rewarding time? Absolutely. The best? Did I mention how much fun I had in college?!
But I don’t say any of this to the woman between the breakfast bars and the seat salt brownie petites.
I simply say, “Yes, I’m lucky to have all these wonderful children. I feel very grateful.”
These kids are loud and crazy and prevent good Americans from buying apples.
And I love them because they are mine.
When I was a kid, I didn’t want a dog like so many of my friends.
Mostly because we already had one.
What I wanted was a monkey.
This was not a passing phase.
I adored that Every Which Way But Loose movie.
I was obsessed with the work of Jane Goodall.
I had a million stuffed monkeys.
And I can still make a monkey sound that would win competitions if they held monkey sound competitions.
My childhood longing for a monkey would only be equaled one day by my teenage desire for a Suzuki Jeep.
I never got either which is so sad. Especially because can you imagine how damn cool I would have been driving around in my Suzuki Jeep with a monkey in the passenger seat?! Do monkeys wear seat belts? I don’t know! If only my parents had loved me more and bought me the things I really needed, I would know important stuff like that.
So when Samsung asked me if I would show a video that featured monkeys and their new refrigerator, it was like the universe was speaking directly to me. I love monkeys. I have a healthy respect for refrigerators. How could I say no? So here it is…
To recap the video,
That looks like a really nice fridge.
That house has the worst security system ever.
And by the way, now that I basically have 4 monkeys and one more on the way, I no longer desire one of these primates. So seriously don’t send me one.
This post is sponsored by Samsung.