I like to be clean. Taking a shower each morning is really one of my non negotiables. I can go without a full night’s sleep. I can make it without coffee. But I really need a quick spritz with a little soap to embark on the day. If I have a few bonus minutes to shave my legs, then I really can rock it into high gear.
Keeping kids clean is entirely different. You really have to lower your standards. I try to make sure they are clean enough. My “clean enough” threshold means they might appear a bit messy and sticky but they still look cared for by loving parents. Often my baby Presley has bits of food stuck to her ears or cheeks (at my house we call this “cleaned daddy style”). And my toddler Dylan can spend a half hour at the sink putting on her makeup. That stuff doesn’t fully come off until a good scrub down at the end of the day.
Before I had kids, I never understood why a parent would let snot pour out of their child’s nose. Why don’t they just wipe it and keep the poor kid clean? It’s so gross. Of course, now I know better. The parents are wiping their child’s nose. They just can’t keep up with the non-stop faucet.
Nearly three year-old Dylan is learning the rituals of cleanliness. She regularly brushes her teeth (she does not always put on the protective eyewear).
She is also learning to wash her hands each time she goes to the potty. Well, sort of. I admit that I don’t make her wash her hands every time she goes to the potty. Gosh, I feel so guilty just writing it. Honestly, I don’t know how the girl pees so much. In addition to peeing in her pull-ups regularly, she is able to pee in her potty a million (o.k. eight or nine) times a day. Maybe those M&M bribes have something to do with it. I do try to insist on hand washing at least fifty percent of the time. And I always wash my own hands. Aren’t I the one who is wiping her anyway?
Given my natural tendency to be a neat freak, I’ve come a long way in accepting messy faces, stained t-shirts and sticky walls. I know now that when Dylan drops a tortilla chip on the city sidewalk, it is definitely still clean and ready for consumption (no matter how many dogs have peed there before).
Everyone is trying to scare the crap out of me. Every few days I receive an email warning me of yet another risk to my innocent, sweet children. There have been several major toy recalls with long lists of toys featuring characters like Dora the Explorer and Elmo. Elmo is so darling with that red, matty hair and perky personality. Now I find out he is just lurking in my toy bin waiting to share a little lead paint with my unsuspecting children.
Apparently, my baby bottles and sippy cups can’t be trusted either. How is that possible when they all have those cute little butterfly and teddy bear designs in such fun colors? But apparently many of them contain a possibly toxic ingredient called bisphenol A which can leach into the bottle’s contents (especially when they are heated in a microwave or dishwasher). Depending on what you read, bisphenol A is either completely harmless or quite dangerous. Who wants to take chances? So I rush off to Whole Foods to invest in a safer plastic bottle.
I’m barely back from Whole Foods when I have a new email warning me of the dangers of a magic eraser sponge. There are even pictures of a poor little boy who got serious burns on his face after using this cleaning product. I have never even heard of this Mr. Clean sponge that promises to magically erase crayon and marker from your walls but it sure looks evil. I’m thankful that I only use all natural cleaning products in my home. Phew. Looks like I escaped that one.
It can all make a mom crazy. Isn’t it enough to live in Manhattan where I jump into taxis without car seats and can’t avoid constantly hearing about the next potential terrorist attack on soft targets like the subway system? I do want to know about all these potential dangers but the knowing is also making me nuts. Plus, I pass these scary emails along to my friends. Am I forwarding important alerts or just ratcheting up the panic?
Luckily, my kids don’t know about all of this. My daughter Dylan still thinks that little redhead Elmo is the nicest guy in the world. Now that I’ve checked his product number and he’s in the clear, I guess I still like him too.
I can still remember my night with Shaun. He was my hardy boy who helped me believe in magic. It was my first concert and Shaun Cassidy could do da doo ron ron all night long. Of course, there were thousands of other screaming prepubescent girls there too but to this day I believe Shaun was singing to me.
This past week, it was Justin. You know, that guy who’s bringing sexy back. We had an intimate night together at a cozy little place called Madison Square Garden. Our evening was briefly interrupted when I ran into my daughter’s gymnastics instructor Joey in the cocktails line but I quickly refocused on Timberlake. This guy practically channels Michael Jackson with his dance moves (minus the child molestation baggage). He may not be the hottest guy in the room but my J.T. can do it all: sing, dance, play the piano plus he’s so sweet and humble with that Memphis accent. I can’t understand how Britney cheated on him.
My girlfriend Abby from high school hooked us up with the tickets. She loves J.T. too. We may get older but we never lose our crushes. Shaun was my first and I promise, Justin isn’t my last. My husband Rick has his own. Just ask him about Salma Hayek sometime.
mama bird notes
Speaking of my friend Abby, she has her own successful college counseling business. Check it out at Abby Siegel & Associates. And if you find me amazing seats to a Justin Timberlake concert, I’ll shamelessly plug your business too.
Also, quite a few readers have asked about our dog Martini. She is still living in Connecticut. We took care of her a few weekends ago (you may remember the dead bunny incident) when the family went out of town. Martini is really warming up to them and life in the suburbs. We miss her in the city. She sends a postcard now and then.
Since my younger daughter was about one month old, I’ve wanted to change her name. I really thought I was having a boy. I had that maternal sixth sense. I knew we were having a son. His name was Cash. I loved it. Cool, simple and strong.
Before I gave birth, we decided on a girl’s name. My husband loved the name Presley. I thought it was cute and what did it matter anyway because I would soon be holding my darling Cash in my arms. But instead of Cash, suddenly I was nursing Presley, my beautiful little girl.
The first several weeks were a fog in which I just tried to survive sleep deprivation, terrible mastitis and a toddler who wasn’t adjusting well to a sibling (didn’t matter if it was Cash or Presley to her, this baby was just taking up way too much of my time). Finally I reemerged and realized that I just wasn’t in love with my daughter’s name. So I tried to suppress it for five months (why does this approach never work?) and then I finally got up the courage to talk to my husband about it.
He wasn’t overjoyed. He loves the name Presley. Even so, he said he was willing to change it. But altering her birth certificate feels like we are erasing a part of her. It just doesn’t feel right to us.
So we are nicknaming her Summer. We both love the name and in many ways, it suits her so perfectly. She glows with such warmth and happiness. It’s my favorite season and it just feels like her. In the end, she’ll be more Presley to some, more Summer to others but no matter what she’s called, she’s perfect.
I never see armpit hair coming. I’m just living my life and all of a sudden, wham, it’s right there. This week, while visiting my father on Cape Cod, I took a yoga class. I immediately noticed that the teacher was quite chunky around the middle – not exactly what you hope to see in an exercise instructor. Maybe she subscribed to the theory, “those you can’t do, teach.” Anyway, she began the class and a short while later came over to correct one of my postures. And that’s when I saw them – long sprouts of brown hair poking out from under her arms. It’s always a little startling to see female armpit hair, as if the person is naked or something.
I really should be used to his. My mother has always been a bit of a nature girl (o.k. a whole lot of nature girl). In middle school, I started noticing many of my friends had smooth, shiny legs. I looked down at my own blond hairy limbs and decided to take action. If I couldn’t beckon puberty, at least I could have silky legs and wear short shorts. My mother encouraged me not to do it. She warned me that if I started shaving, my hair would grow back thicker and coarser, creating a lifelong, tedious obligation. I took the plunge anyway and have been happily using my pink Daisy razors ever since.
As I was planning my wedding, the issue of body hair once again came up with my mother. I had helped my mom find a beautiful champagne colored dress with spaghetti straps for the nuptials. The only sticking point – her underarms. Like the yoga instructor, she has always embraced her natural state. But my wedding did not have a bohemian theme. I very politely asked my mom if she would be willing to shave her armpits for the first time in 59 years. She was. I thanked the bridal gods.
I really respect my mother’s choices. It’s hard for me to imagine being so comfortable in my body that I wouldn’t care if I shaved or plucked my eyebrows or put on make-up. My mom has always focused more on the inside of people than the outside and perhaps that’s what beauty is all about. I wonder what choices my own daughters will make. Dylan is almost three and she’s already digging into my make-up bag and painting her toes. But she’s probably just copying me. I just know one of these kids will grow up to be a granola girl just like my mom. And that will be fine with me.