“This is my tussy,” 3 year-old Dylan proclaims. I look at my daughter.
“That’s not your tussy, honey,” I explain, repeating the word for “rear end” my husband introduced to our family. “That’s your vagina.”
“No, it’s my tussy,” Dylan insists.
“Sweetheart, I promise you. That is definitely your vagina.”
But Dylan remains unconvinced. “It’s my tussy!” she hollers.
I give up. I mean, I’ve never heard of anyone growing up and being confused over the difference between their vagina and their bottom. This mix-up will definitely work itself out in time. No need to argue with a 3 year-old.
“I have a vagina,” she then proclaims. At least her facts are right this time, even if she can’t quite pin down the location.
“That’s right honey. You have a vagina. I have a vagina and Summer has a vagina. All girls have vaginas. ” At this point, I’m wondering if one should even discuss vaginas with their toddler. But I’ve gone too far to turn back. I’ll just stick with the facts (no goofy names for genitalia) and then I’ll suggest we go to the park or something. (By the way, that may be the first time I’ve every typed the word genitalia. Strange word.)
“And daddy has a vagina!” Dylan triumphantly concludes.
“No, honey. Daddy does not have a vagina,” I reply. For some reason, this all feels a bit inappropriate but I wager on. I don’t want to mislead her and I don’t want to tell her too much. I hope I’m not being recorded for some hidden camera mommy show. Highly unlikely.
“Yes, he has a vagina,” Dylan insists.
“No, sweetheart, daddy does not. He has a penis. Girls have vaginas and boys have penises. Daddy is a boy.” I explain. That’s simple enough. Right? This isn’t so bad. I am in control of this conversation.
“Daddy has peanuts!” Dylan exuberantly exclaims.
“Hmmm… I think he would probably prefer if you did not refer to his penis as ‘peanuts.’” OK, enough of this. “Do you want a mini-cupcake?” I ask. Suddenly, all talk of peanuts and other body parts are forgotten. Oh, the almighty cupcake.
mama bird notes
We have also have a piece today by contributing mama, Jordana Bales. She writes about one of her adventures as a mad mama scientist. If you’re hoping to get your child in a Halloween costume in a few weeks, this is expert advice on “what not to do.” I promise you’ll laugh or your money back. Oh wait, you didn’t pay any money. Seriously, you’ll laugh. Just click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar on the right side of the screen.
I’m feeling some “mommy guilt.” It’s like those two words are destined to be together for all of eternity (and then maybe a little longer). Today I feel guilty about two things. First, someday my 9 month-old baby Summer will read this blog and think I didn’t write enough about her. Second, someday Summer will read this blog and think, “my name used to be Presley?” O.k., we will tell her. I promise.
These second babies just seem to get cheated a bit. Of course, I love her immensely. I adore smothering her soft baby skin with a trillion kisses. In the middle of the night, I must check that she is still breathing. I obsess over every one degree temperature change in her room – always certain that I’ve set the air conditioner too hot or too cold.
But still. Her naps are constantly cut short because we must pick up my 3 year-old Dylan from preschool. I’ve never even taken Summer to a “mommy and me” class. When Dylan was a baby, I brought her to infant massage class, baby yoga and other programs to engage her mind, strengthen her growing body and reinforce our mother/baby bond.
Because I have two kids, I’m just not able to focus on Summer with the same intensity. I can’t even remember exactly the last time I took a picture of her with those saucer eyes and easy grin. Isn’t that pathetic? With Dylan, we had entire baby albums documenting just a two week period of her life. And Dylan, even as a baby, had little interest in delivering the smiles for our photo shoots.
Of course, Summer has something Dylan did not. She has Dylan. And to see the two of them laughing and entertaining each other is… well, amazing. So to my Summer lovin’, you are not forgotten. You are treasured and we love you.
Just about everyone I know is having a meltdown over birthday parties. Oh, definitely not the kids. It’s the parents.
At first glance, birthday parties seem so innocent. You send out a few invites, pick up a cake, light some candles and do a little singing. Oh, I wish this was the case. Let me briefly take you through the agony.
The Invite List: I haven’t been this stressed out since I put together my wedding invite list and discovered that my husband wanted to invite about 75 of his parent’s closest friends. When I begged for a small, intimate wedding, he explained that all of these friends had attended his bar mitzvah 20 years earlier. I couldn’t really argue with that. So I bid adieu to an intimate affair and started planning a big, festive wedding.
Same invite stress with your kid. Everyone will tell you to keep a toddler’s birthday party small. But no one tells you how to do it. The list grows and grows. There’s the children from your neighborhood, the ones from preschool, your family, your friends from your life before kids (can you remember that far back?). Don’t start hyperventilating yet because you haven’t even found a location.
Location: I have this vision of the suburbs where everyone is having these great birthday parties in their perfectly manicured backyards or in their sleek, ultra-cool refurbished basements. I have no idea if this is true. I do know that in the city, there is hardly enough room in your apartment for you, your spouse and your kid(s) all at the same time. There is definitely not enough room to throw a kid-friendly bash, especially if you like your couches chocolate icing free and you don’t enjoy scraping hardened pizza cheese from your counters.
So you must search for that perfect kid spot where a) you haven’t already attended 10 other birthday parties, b) doesn’t cost you two months salary and c) isn’t already booked.
The Party (yes, I’ll cry if i want to): Finally, the party is here. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. Guaranteed, there are tears. Thankfully, it’s only an hour and a half. Now if only your child was old enough to write all those thank you notes himself.
mama bird notes:
Speaking of birthday parties, I just wrote a piece called “Kids Going Green” for a stylish, very cool event planning site called Notes on a Party. Check out my tips for turning your child’s birthday party into an eco-friendly celebration. What more could a mama want than making children happy while saving the earth?!
This week in “the beauty diary”, Alex introduces us to a gorgeous product for fall. It’s sexy. It’s gold. It’s lipstick. I think I’m in love. Click on “the beauty diary” on the menu bar to read more. Also, post your comments and questions for Alex, our mama bird beauty consultant.
“Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave,” my three year-old sobs. But after a kiss and a hug (from her end, it’s more like a tight, pleading grasp), I do leave her. Then, I run into the preschool bathroom, wipe away my own tears and go home. Three weeks into preschool and Dylan still doesn’t want to be left alone. Of course, she is not alone. She is surrounded by other children and loving teachers who take care of her.
As we all know, it’s possible to be surrounded by many people and still feel lonely. Motherhood can feel lonely. Or not. Singlehood can feel lonely. Or not. It’s strange to be in New York (a city of 8 million people) and once in a while find yourself pretty much alone – whether you’re walking down a quiet street or eating in a restaurant at an off hour.
Dylan, Summer and I started taking this “Oh Francais” class at a kids’ place called Baby Moves in the West Village. It’s a fun 45 minutes except that we are the only ones in the class. I’m sure others will join as the weather turns colder but for now it’s just us. It all feels a bit silly and awkward as the teacher goes though her French songs and games. We don’t even speak French. But I work my derriere off in that class – singing, jumping around and trying to make up for the absent children.
I’ve had times in my life where I’ve felt very lonely – when I graduated from college and didn’t know how to start a new life or when I was a TV anchor/reporter in Great Falls, Montana. I felt like a displaced city girl in search of connections among the cows and the big sky. Friends like Jen and Diana saved me that time.
Right now in my life, I don’t feel lonely. If fact, there are times I could use a little more alone time. But I understand how Dylan feels. It’s hard to step out of our comfort zone and experience something new and scary. But it’s a must for all of us if we want to grow, expand and feel fulfilled.
Every time I drop her off, I promise Dylan I will always pick her up. That’s what we all have to remember. No matter how difficult something is or how lonely we feel, someone (our family, our friends, our partners) will always pick us up.
mama bird notes
We have a new feature on the mama bird diaries called “contributing mamas.” These mamas will share their smart, clever and humorous insights with us. We love moms who tell the truth (makes the rest of us feel much less crazy). Daphne Biener, our first contributing mama, is trying to find out who moved her boobs. Daphne, if you find out, I’d like to know who moved mine. Click on “contributing mamas” on the menu bar to read more.
My Jewish husband is hungry and cranky. Very cranky. As a gentile, it’s hard to rally behind this holiday. Yom Kippur is not a fun, happy celebration like Passover or Hanukkah. It’s a day of atonement. Note to my fellow shiksas: avoid chirping, “Happy Yom Kippur” to hungry Jewish friends.
My husband insists there is a purpose behind the fasting. Suffering (even just a little bit) opens your eyes. It allows you to take a step back, examine yourself and reset your goals. You ask for forgiveness for mistakes and resolve to be a better mother, sister, daughter and person in the new year.
I like that. All of us could use a little forgiveness. To my husband, forgive me for not letting go sometimes and letting you parent in your own way. Also, forgive me for being such a neat freak that I remake the bed after you’ve already made it. To my daughters, forgive me for rushing around sometimes like a crazed mama. To my mother, forgive me for everything I said to you from ages 13 to 19. I’m sure my own daughters will seek retribution.
In this new Jewish year, I promise to always kiss my husband goodbye, even if he is in the shower and the girls and I are late for preschool. I promise to never again drink a large cafe mocha and a bottle of water at the beginning of a road trip and then 20 minutes later complain that I have to pee (just as the kids have fallen asleep in the backseat). To my children, I promise to pack your favorite snacks, never lie to you and always be the person who will listen to you and take care of you (whether you are 3 or 33 or 103 – although I might not be around when you are 103).
To myself, I promise to follow my creative ambitions, do things that bring me joy, take care of my family, love and laugh with my husband, connect with my friends (my real friends, not the ones on the “The Hills”), be kind to others and be good to this earth.
So maybe Yom Kippur is not my ideal way to spend a day (especially as someone who isn’t Jewish) because hungry people can be very cranky. Although I admit, the smoked fish platters at sundown are quite yummy. Even without fasting, the Jewish holiday made me stop, reflect and think about the person I want to be. So for that, I am grateful.