It definitely takes a certain boldness to change your child’s name at eight months-old. It makes for great cocktail conversation I can tell you that. We attended a few parties this weekend and ran into some acquaintances and old friends. Nothing makes an ordinary, “how are the kids?” conversation take a fun turn than telling someone that your daughter “Presley” is now “Summer.”
It’s been an interesting progression since we nicknamed her Summer two months ago. Many people were surprised and fascinated by the development (meaning, they thought we were a little crazy). For a while, no one felt comfortable calling her anything so I heard a lot of “the baby.” But the more we called her Summer, the more others gave it a try. I applaud our friends and family for making the switch. It’s not easy. We know that. My husband Rick is still referred to as “Ricky” by anyone who knew him in high school or his early years. Our 3 year-old Dylan still refers to Summer as Presley but I’m guessing as time goes by, that will fade.
We have no regrets. She is completely Summer. We will likely legally change her name before her 1st birthday rolls around. She, of course, will get older and someday (as hard as it is to imagine right now), she and her friends will talk about their names. You know the, “If I was a boy, my name would have been Finn” or “I always wanted my name to be Jennifer” conversations. And I guarantee you, Summer will have one of the best stories to tell. It will definitely be a good one for cocktail parties.
mama bird notes
Our contributing mama, Jordana Bales, is an accomplished, highly skilled professional who feels good about her day job. It’s only when she gets home that she starts to feel a bit incompetent. Girl, we can all relate. To read more, click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar.
By Jordana Bales
In my job as a teacher and program chair, I’m sometimes asked to do things I find unpleasant. I’ve had students I would not particularly recommend ask me for letters of recommendation. I’ve had to do meaningless, brain numbing data entry because no one else wants to do it. I’ve had to speak to other teachers, who I consider friends, about mistakes they’ve made. And I have had to complete tasks without any training or guidance.
Yet, because I am bright and competent – and know how to ask for help – I’ve always managed to figure out what I needed to do. Sometimes it’s not always accomplished in the most elegant of ways. Sometimes I look back on what I did and realize I could have done it better. But it has never, ever made me cry or question my self-worth.
Enter the latest task on my home front – the dealing with tantrums. My almost two year-old daughter has been throwing the most horrific tantrums. From a completely objective perspective they are magnificent. They last for what seems like days (although at most, I think they are about an hour) and involve screaming, kicking, hair pulling and jumping up and down in an almost dance-like maneuver. What amazes me most is her utter lack of fatigue or embarrassment. I wish I could say the same for me.
I do what I was told to do – I ignore it. In theory, I guess, a good idea; in practice, not too effective. Strangers stare at me with a mix of pity and compassion. Some kind-hearted mothers smile knowingly. Today one woman told me, “Try not to hold it against them. Believe it or not, they grow up to be nice people.” I appreciated her advice and hope to God she’s right.
I just feel so utterly incompetent and incapable of being a good mother. I know that Ava is not permanently damaged by these episodes – as soon as they are over she’s smiling and laughing and giving me “pat pat.” Why is it that I never doubt my professional capabilities and yet often doubt my mothering skills? Maybe it’s because I’ve been at my job for 11 years and have been a mom for less than two. Maybe it’s because I know in my heart of hearts that the worst that happens at work is that I teach something wrong or screw up a kid’s schedule, while here the stakes are much more important. I guess when all is said and done, I’d rather waste my tears of frustration crying over Ava then some other kid who wants to get into Cornell.
I was always nervous about having a little girl. My mother and I are not the Gilmore girls. As much as we love each other, we are not best friends who talk every other minute. We have always been very different women.
As a teenager, I loved to shop, experiment with make-up and do aerobics. My mother loved to meditate, read and ride horses. I like to follow style trends, television and pop culture. My mother only watches PBS and considers herself a Buddhist. She spent this past weekend listening to the Dali Lama. As you probably know, I’m more apt to listen to Justin Timberlake. I am a stickler for neatness and details. My mother is far stronger at seeing the big picture.
I respect and admire my mother enormously. I can easily say that I have never known a kinder, more sensitive and more compassionate individual. But we are, at our core, very different souls. It has been challenging at times to find a place in the middle to connect. It can be sad but it’s true. So I was worried about having a daughter and finding a way to connect with her. So, of course, I ended up with two. And I’m glad I did. Just this past week, I had an experience with my 3 year-old Dylan that helped ease my anxiety enormously.
My mother stopped by my apartment after the Dali Lama. I asked her to watch the girls so I could run out and get a much needed pedicure. Chipped toenails make me crazy (see, it’s always the details for me). But Dylan wanted to come. I’m so glad I said “yes.” She, in her pink sweater and tutu, sat in my lap during the pedicure and we read People magazine. She is shocked about Britany’s behavior. No, we actually read “Curious George” and “Pinkalicious.” After the pedicure, Dylan picked out a polish and they painted her nails too. The experience just felt so girly, so sweet and so lovely. I thought, “I can definitely do this girl thing.”
My mother and I will keep on working to find a place in the middle to connect. It’s not always easy but it is always worth the effort when we find it. On my mother’s answering machine at home, her outgoing message ends with, “smile, breathe and don’t forget you’re loved.” I can guarantee you this warm (yet a bit unusual) sentiment will never be on my voice mail message. It’s just not my thing. But I take the words seriously. And in a different way, in a different style, I will send the same message to my girls. So to my mother Susan, thank you for your words and thank you for meeting me in the middle.
I had lunch today with my friend Julie (And yes, our four children – all age 3 and under). You can imagine the scenario. I see no need to really elaborate. In our bits and pieces of conversation (between
yelling nicely asking our children to sit down, eat chicken and stop squirting ketchup), we chatted about the fall tv schedule. Of course, the conversation only turned to tv after we finished our weighty discussion on Iraq. OK not. You know, a girl is allowed to be shallow sometimes. It’s very freeing.
So with the interns of “The Fashionista Diaries” now apparently making their way in publishing, pr and fashion without the cameras rolling or me watching and with all my high school friends in “Newport Harbor” having graduated – it’s time to see what else is out there. And by “out there”, I mean, “in my living room.”
I was excited about the season opener of “30 Rock.” This very sharp, funny comedy fell a little flat (even with Jerry Seinfeld around to help get the party started). But I know Tina and Alec will bounce back. My husband and I briefly checked out “Dirty, Sexy, Money.” In the few minutes we watched, I really saw nothing dirty or sexy. I wish I had. My husband loves “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Office.” Both solid shows but not exactly my thing.
We watched “Grey’s Anatomy” but the Meredith/McDreamy thing just feels done. ABC must agree because the on screen duo just broke up (sort of). Even so, I’ll still hang in there. It’s a light, fun ride. I have some favorite dramas like old school “ER” (yes, it’s still on and yes, it’s still good) and the critically acclaimed but little watched “Friday Night Lights” (and you don’t have to love football to like this show). But neither of these feel like a sugary indulgence. Then there is “Gossip Girl.”
“Gossip Girl” is the best weekly tv candy. Yes, “Gossip Girl” is another show about privileged high school students. But at least these are actors and they are probably in their mid-twenties. My days feel so messy with the feeding, cleaning, bathing and changing (repeat early and often). Shows like “Gossip Girl” are pretty, glossy, stylish and fun. At the end of a long day with my little, sloppy, adorable people, it’s like a mini getaway.
If none of these shows work for you, you could A) wait patiently for the debut of “Project Runway” B) read a book OR C) contemplate whether Chrissy and Clay of “Newport Harbor” will survive long distance. I personally am pulling for them.
mama bird notes
Have you ever stood at the beauty counter and looked at all those shades of foundation? I mean, seriously, how should I know if I’m fair, very fair or medium fair? Please. Of course, your beauty extraordinaire Alex has the solution. Click on “the beauty diary” under the menu bar.
So this morning, as I whisked 3 year-old Dylan off to preschool, this sometimes nudgey girl was in no mood to say goodbye to her daddy. Nor did Dylan want to say “I love you.” A little wave was all she was offering (big sigh from me here). I feel for Rick. Being a working parent can be difficult. You might only get short bursts of time with your kid(s) at the beginning and at the end of a day and it’s upsetting when it all goes haywire. Rick wants to head to the office feeling connected to Dylan and Summer, not frustrated. Yet again, we learn that we can’t always control our children’s behavior. Don’t worry, we’ll keep trying.
Of course, both Dylan and Summer love their daddy like crazy. Summer can’t jump out of my arms fast enough to be with him. Here are two pictures I adore.
And this is just because I can’t resist. A few weeks ago, I found Rick’s old head shot (this is after his triumphant portrayal of Danny Zuko in his high school production of “Grease,” but before his days as a Fox News anchor). Rick once had dreams of being an actor but has parlayed his talents into the news biz. Oh how cute is he!? I love the denim collar shirt (very early 90s).
We did call Rick later in the day so Dylan could say, “I love you.” If that’s not enough to make Rick smile, Martini has headed back to Connecticut. Hallelujah! We are now living in a poop free zone. Well, at least it’s not on the floor anymore. Thankfully, something we CAN control.
mama bird notes:
We all have enough doubts about our parenting skills without our own children weighing in about our shortcomings. Contributing mama Daphne Biener gives us a very humorous look at her 6-year-old, the safety pup. To read more, just click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar.
And finally, there is hope for us lazy environmentalists. My friend Sandrine just told me about an organization that will put a stop to all that junk mail with little effort on your part. Click on “drooling over this” on the menu bar to find out more.