An Open Apology To All The Moms I Judged … Before I Was One

I judged moms.  The childless twenty-something me shot them the stink eye in the grocery store when their kids talked back to them.  I rolled my eyes and made comments under my breath when I pulled up next to a minivan of kids watching DVD players.  But now I am a mom and I totally get why moms do some of the things they do.  So, I am sorry my clueless self judged you.  Guilty as charged, OK? Mea culpa and all that.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms That Use Bribes

money-163502_640I thought moms that use bribes were creating monsters.  Spoiled, entitled brats that would never function in the real world.  Call bribes what you will: allowance, rewards, treats. Hell, call them compensation.  Which is fitting because I wouldn’t go to work and do half the shit I do if someone wasn’t rewarding me with a paycheck.  But really, what other incentive is there for my kid to eat his peas or change his underwear?  The simple fact is, bribes work. And there’s simply no persuasive argument against them. I’m not saying buy your kid a BMW every time he does what he’s supposed to, but a POPSICLE® for finishing a meal is completely appropriate incentive.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms That “Use” Television

FullSizeRender (3)Sometimes you just need to accomplish something (e.g., making dinner, folding laundry, peeing) with some semblance of order and speed.  Order and speed go out the window when you add kids to the equation.  I know “good moms” include their kids in housework and the kids get some valuable life lesson out of it.  Well, maybe I’m not a “good mom” but it’s 8.30 PM and I want my kids to eat before 11.  And if I have my 4-year old help cut peppers for dinner, we’ll be eating peppers tomorrow morning. I’m all for including my kids, but there’s a time and a place for that and sometimes tonight ain’t it.  Now, if I put on one Dinotrux episode, I get 22 uninterrupted minutes (yes, I’ve counted) during which I can try to get a meal on the table.  And maybe flip the laundry.  And pee.  Two episodes and I may be able to make something other than Ellio’s in the microwave. No, I don’t “use television as a babysitter.” I simply rely on it to keep my kid’s attention when his Mandarin flashcards are not doing he trick.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms That Let Their Kids Watch DVDs In The Car

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Photo cred to a very special Bestie and her kids.  

I know you don’t need a DVD player in the car to occupy your kids.  You also don’t need Novocaine to get a root canal, but it sure as hell helps. I get the whole “WE didn’t need movies to get through car trips” argument, but WE also sat in “the way way back” without seat belts. I even remember playing Twister in the back of my parents’ Station Wagon on long trips down the shore.  Watching DVDs is arguably more entertaining and a hell of a lot safer.  Look, there’s no harm in a little Finding Nemo if it gets you through a three-hour drive to the beach.  Or a 5-minute trip to the grocery store.

 

 

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms That Used Daycare When They Didn’t “Need” To

I could never understand the line of yoga-pants-clad stay-at-home moms leaving Daycare drop-off each morning. Now I do. Yes, some of it has to do with socialization, structure, and education, but a big part of it has to do with getting a flipping break.  Devoting an entire day to caring for an infant and/or entertaining a toddler and/or preschooler is exhausting.  And hard.  It’s sometimes best left in the hands of professionals.  Hats off to the women that do it all, but for those that enlist help, I’m with you.  I do believe I am able to be more patient with my son when I am not with him every waking hour.  Plus, I imagine the other 4-year olds at daycare are far better than I at playing the “doctor dinosaur” game.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms Whose Kids Had Public Meltdowns

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A S’Mores display. Complete with explosives.

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Whoever did this store’s layout TOTALLY knew what they were doing. And clearly doesn’t have small children. 

I used to think kids’ tantrums were a sign of bad parenting and a lack of discipline.  Now I know that even Perfect Parents have Perfect Kids that test boundaries, get tired, act human, etc.  I also know this is 90% more likely to happen in a public place, like the grocery store.  And a grocery store meltdown almost inevitably involves Pirate’s Booty or some other completely unnecessary item with zero nutritional value, that your kid suddenly can’t live without.  I blame the grocery store. I don’t know about yours, but our grocery store puts a “summertime” S’Mores and firecracker display next to the deli counter, and a candy rack at the check-out counter.  So, the only two times I need my kid to behave, he’s face-to-face with a campfire diorama and an all-you-can-eat sugar, Tic-Tac, and chocolate buffet.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms Who Let Kids Sleep With Them

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At least only one is a cover hog.

I don’t care what side of the whole “co-sleeping” debate you’re on.  If a 3-foot tall ninja wearing Paw Patrol pajamas shows up in your bed at 3 AM, then in the interest of sleep, it makes more sense to let him stay than to spend two hours  getting him water / going to the bathroom / turning on every light in the house to show him there are no monsters waiting to eat him.  This has nothing to do with the psychology of co-sleeping.  It is purely about self-preservation.

I’m Sorry I Judged Moms That Imitate Their Kids’ Voices 

Just kidding.  I’m not sorry about this one.  It annoys the living bejesus out of me even though I am also frequently tempted to do it.  Save it for your spouse or someone else that knows your kid’s voice.  Because if you have to imitate your kid for the story to be funny, then that’s probably what made it funny in the first place and hearing you retell it is the ultimate “I guess you had to be there” story.  If you’re a 34-year-old woman imitating your 22-month-old’s voice, trust me – you’re doing it wrong and it’s not funny.

If it sounds like I’m an incredibly narrow-minded and judgmental person, I’m not.  I just didn’t get it.  And now I do.   So, to all my mom friends that were moms before me (i.e., all my mom friends), I’m sorry.

 

 

 

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Life With Dirt, Penises, And Trucks (aka Life With Boys)

I’ve given birth only to boys.  I believe I am more likely to give birth to a purple unicorn that farts glitter than I am to give birth to a girl. I always thought I’d have at least one girl, but my dreams of nail-painting Saturday nights in tutus and tiaras have been replaced with a reality full of dirt, penises, and trucks.

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This is the closest thing I have in my house to an ally.

Life with boys has taught me a number of things.  Above all else, you have to be able to laugh.  At yourself and at them.  Because if you are going to stress when your four-year-old boy goes through a phase of wearing only a superhero cape and a mask to the grocery store (My son will pull a Kate Winslet and tell me, “I want to go grocery shopping wearing this.  Wearing only this.”), raising a boy will be a very long 46 years.

 

Here are a few universal truths I’ve had to learn as a mom of boys:

Boys Name EVERYTHING

We have “Rick” the dinosaur, “Mr. Frog” the (dead) frog and “Mr. Worm” the – you guessed it – (dead and even petrified) worm.  Everything and everybody gets a name.  I imagine girls name things, too.  Like, butterflies and flowers. But do they name body parts? Because I have been introduced to “Peeper Peeper McDoodles” and instructed specifically to communicate with Peeper any time I want my four-year-old to use the bathroom or put on clean underwear.  If it isn’t obvious, Mr. McDoodles is my kid’s penis.

If It’s Yellow They Let It Mellow 

I blame my oldest boy (my husband) for this one. My son walks out of the bathroom chanting “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  No.  Just, no.  If you use my toilet, flush it.  I tried to explain why pee left in the toilet makes mommy crazy (the smell, the stain…) and this only encouraged my boys to up the ante.  Nothing gives them more satisfaction than leaving me a bowl of highlighter-yellow asparagus pee.  One saving grace is that the toilet is typically last on the list of places my boys like to pee.

And If It’s Brown, Well . . .

turdLeaving poop in the toilet is not nearly as much an issue because my son rarely uses the toilet to poop.  He loves to poop in the woods.  Occasionally he’ll poop on the lawn.  He’ll pretty much drop trou and poop anytime the urge strikes UNLESS we’re in a situation that would require him to do so.  Then, he needs an effing bidet. I don’t have any empirical evidence, but my gut says girls do not do this. I mean, I know girls poop too, but in my mind they poop rose petals and fart fairy dust. Boys also derive from their turds an extraordinary sense of pride and accomplishment. I remember the first time I left my son to poop on his own – hearing his screaming from the bathroom, I went running to his aid only to find him jumping up and down and pointing in the toilet: “Mommy, look at the size of THIS one!” I suppose I should be proud (and to be honest, it was impressive . . . )

‘The Great Outdoors’ Inevitably Find Their Way Indoors

I’m all for getting close to nature, but when it comes to noxious odors and unsanitary conditions, I have to draw the line somewhere. Somehow, Mr. Worms and Mr. Frogs – along with a colony of their dead relatives –  manage to take up residence inside long before I discover they’re there. A Mr. Worm was sealed in a jar under my car seat and A Mr. Frog and friends were in a glass under my son’s bed. I explained “natural habitat” to my son. The result is a minefield of branches, rocks, and insects in my living room.

Lego Minefields Everywhere

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Speaking of minefields.  If you’ve ever stepped on a Lego in bare feet, you know what I’m talking about here.  Bonus points if you’ve done it in the dark and tripped and landed on a second Lego piece. We have Legos all over the damn place.  In the shower, in the bed, in my pool filter.  I stupidly bought a “Lego suitcase” thinking that would keep them all in one place.  No.  And here’s a little piece of Lego trivia for you: Legos do float in the toilet.  Ask me how I know.

Naked.  All The Damned Time

Despite appearances, my home is not the set of Naked and Afraid.  We are not running a nudist colony or even actively encouraging exhibitionism.  And yet, my kid wants to be naked around the clock.  He is disappointed any time we have company and I require him to dress himself. He refuses even to wear undies while sliding down his sliding board, or wear a bathing suit in the pool.  I am told it’s just a phase but every time he comes running naked to the dinner table I am reminded of Will Ferrell in Old School.  I think this “phase” could follow him well into his thirties.

Wrestle Mania All The Time

I’ve accepted, but will never get this one.  Boys love to wrestle.  If I didn’t learn this in Kindergarten or at college frat parties, I know now.  I swear my sons were born and the second (maybe even the first) thought in my husband’s head was “Dude! Another guy to wrestle with!” The need to wrestle is as much nurture as it is nature.  In our house, wrestling is an acceptable excuse from the dinner table. I’m just a casual observer but to me it looks chaotic and painful. Thank God my husband is the one to humor their need to roll around on the floor until something gets knocked over or breaks.

They Cry About The Stupidest Shit

There’s a reason “Reasons My Son Is Crying” is a thing.  In the span of 15 minutes, my son cried because I would not let him use my mascara to paint “hair” on his bald baby brother, and because I would not allow him to eat an ice pop for dinner. Now, look – I get that girls cry, too, and probably for what seem like dumb reasons.  But they are also more likely to put stuff away in their database, only to be brought out later for a monumental explosion. Boys just put it all out there.  No drama, just ugly cries. And not for reasons worthy of ugly cries.

Construction Sites Are Like Quicksand For Their Attention

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If it runs like a Deere or is yellow like a Caterpillar, it has my son’s unwavering attention. Even Oreos can’t hold his interest like a 30-ton piece of equipment digging a hole. He could watch a crane boom swing for hours and will spend all day imitating them: “Mommy, you be the excavator and I’m the back hoe!” That gaper delay (known in some parts of the country as “rubbernecking”) traffic going by the construction site on I-95? It is highly likely the leader of the backup is a mom . . . with a car of boys.

I am not complaining about my life with boys.  It is delightfully chaotic, funny, and fun, and I can’t imagine it any other way.  Boys are intensely loyal and loving.  There is never a dull moment or an empty laundry basket in a house of boys.  I may never know what it’s like to have a girl, but I wouldn’t know what to do with one anyway.

Spare Me Your Labor (Horror) Story

By the time I was seven months pregnant with my first baby, I was wearing a home-made Post-It note on my belly that read: “I’m due April 30.  No, I don’t know what I’m having.  Yes, I feel great.  No, I indeed do not look pregnant from behind, mainly because my uterus is not in my ass (at least, the last time my OB checked).”  Even the most well-meaning people annoyed me when they were the 87th person that day to ask me the exact same three questions followed by the exact same comment (When are you due? What are you having? Are you feeling good? Wow! You don’t look pregnant from behind).

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They really should make maternity t-shirts like this for us!

I was amazed how many “experts” come out of the woodwork, to offer opinions and advice while you’re expecting.  Not one of these “expert” opinions aligned with the next: I heard everything from “oh, it’s a girl and you’re going early” to “definitely a boy and you’ll likely need to schedule a C-section.”  With all these experts around it’s a wonder we still have obstetricians and ultrasounds!  For the record, I had a boy and he came into this world naturally and  eight days early.

Enter my second (successful) pregnancy and I’ve had to add a line to my Post-It: “Spare me your labor horror story.” Seriously – this time around, once I was obviously pregnant, and not just fat, I heard it all.

I had women telling me how they barely made it to the hospital in time to deliver their second baby.  I had men telling me that they DIDN’T make it to the hospital, and delivered their wives’ babies at home or – worse – in a car on the way to the hospital.  I heard about 72 hour labors that ended in emergency C-sections and labors so fast and furious there was no time for an epidural.  I heard the worst blood pressure and preeclampsia stories you could imagine – women with blood pressure as high as 600 over 80 (is that even real life?).  The episiotomy stories were something out of a seventies horror film – 867 stitches clear up to one woman’s eyebrows!

Really? Your OB was on an African Safari when your water broke? Great – I’ll make a mental note to ask my OB to surrender her passport for the next 40 weeks.  Your water broke on a Ferris wheel?   Thanks for the tip – I’ll try to avoid amusement parks after 38 weeks.

Look, I may not be driving a Honda Odyssey full of ankle-biters, but this ain’t my first rodeo.  And yet, I find my fears vacillating between having my baby two months early on a SEPTA train, and going so late that my OB induces the birth of a small toddler. Literally, all of my worst fears about labor and delivery are realized in these “helpful” anecdotes.  As if I wasn’t already afraid I’d miss the obvious signs of labor and give birth while taking a poop, I now know that it can happen, and indeed has – in a grocery store.

As a woman, I get the need to share – really, I do. I even find myself getting the urge to tell pregnant women that, despite what they tell you in birthing class, you may not know when your water breaks. Particularly if it’s not your first kid and you have a tendency to “leak” on trampolines or when sneezing.  Our need to share is equal parts our innate desire to help, and the satisfaction we get from talking about what we endured to bring our tiny humans into the world.

But these labor horror stories – cloaked as advice – are not actually helpful.  Particularly to pregnant women that might otherwise rethink having a baby after hearing how horrifying labor can be. I think we can all agree that no two pregnancies are the same, so why would one woman’s labor be like anyone else’s?  Why should I prepare to deliver a 12 pounder like yours, when I’m 5’4″ and shaped like a boy?  Please.  My anxiety about labor is growing with every Braxton-Hicks contraction – now is not the time for you to tell me all about how you “went natural” with your birthing ball for 46 hours … or that your damned ball popped mid-contraction.

This may come as a surprise to some, but guess what? The number of people on this earth is directly proportional to the number of times women have gone through labor. No doubt, enduring labor is a tie that binds us, and it’s even fun to bond over the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of childbirth. I like a good labor story as much as the next mom- just not while I’m close to experiencing my own.  So, next time we get the urge to tell an expecting mom about the fun that is a “double contraction,” save it.  Especially if she is watching the clock to try and figure out if her “gas pains” are lasting a minute and hitting every five minutes. Let’s swap horror stories over bottles of wine, long after the epidural has worn off and we can laugh again without tearing a stitch or peeing our pants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Mesqwire

Mesq-wire: (mess-quire, /mˈeskwīr/, noun)

  1. Noun; A title appended to a lawyer’s surname, to indicate said lawyer is a hot mess
  2. Noun; A blog chronicling the observations and thoughts of a hot mess lawyer

The irony of this blog is that it is authored by someone who does not have time to write, for the benefit and entertainment of those that do not have time to read. But, I’m writing and you’re reading, so here we go.

I am a partner in an AmLaw 100 firm.  I won’t tell you which one, and it doesn’t matter.  The point is, I have a high-pressure and high-profile career: it’s not what I do for a living, but that I do for a living.  The fact that I am a lawyer means I get a lot of special letters after my name, and watch my work life tick by in six-minute increments.

I am the mother of two boys, one that is four years old and one that is two three weeks three months old.  The latter is the reason I’ve finally found the time to write – I am home on maternity leave.  Of course, it’s already taken me two three weeks three months to write this much, as each time I sit down to write, he’s attached to my right boob and I’m hunt-and-pecking with my (very much non-dominant) left hand. My 4-year old is smarter than me and my three month old repeatedly outsmarts me.  As with my job, however, it is not the number of children I’ve delivered, nor their gender, that is significant.  The point is, I’m a working mom which essentially means I have two full-time jobs with extraordinarily demanding clients.  Make no mistake – my boys are more demanding than any Fortune 500 client involved in bet-the-farm litigation.  At  3AM, it’s easier to pacify such a client than a teething toddler or colicky infant.

So many maternity leave mornings find me behaving like my 4-year old at day care drop off: My husband is trying to get out the door while I cling to his leg and beg him to (1) stay (2) take me with him, or (3) trade places so I can go spend time with mature and civilized adults, if only for a day (of course, my husband works for my family’s business so going to work in his place may not find me surrounded by mature and civilized adults, but more on that topic later).

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And I suppose Bed Bath’s “smoothie” machine is not intended for Rum Runners, either?

I am what my beloved (late) grandmother would call a “modern woman.” I did not date in college and took a gap year between college and grad school. I got my masters degree and law degree, and started my career, before getting married and starting a family.  I got married “late” and by the time I had my kids, “elderly” replaced the medical term “advanced maternal age.” (Because, really, nothing says ‘candidate for Depends‘ like a 35-year-old pregnant lady!)  I do everything at home that my mom did to earn her the distinction of “homemaker” at my 2nd grade career day, yet no one in their right mind would suggest I do any “making” of the home – I want to put on my Domestic Goddess tiara when I manage to make a bed.  Betty Draper I am not.  I don’t prepare meals that take more than 20 minutes or that don’t involve the microwave. I consider a dining table “set” when everyone has something to eat with and eat on. I own an iron and ironing board but only because Bed Bath & Beyond’s wedding registry told me I needed to. My iron and ironing board are used solely to wax snowboards.

While lawyer moms will identify closest with my observations, I do think this blog will resonate with anyone with a family and career, inevitably engaged in the daily struggle to achieve the elusive work-life balance.  Every time I hear “work-life balance” a picture pops into my mind of my 4-year-old making me do the seesaw with him at the park.  There is no balance – there is me stuck on the ground on the one side and him teetering precariously in the air on the other.  Achieving anything close to balance would require me to split myself in half, or move to the middle, where I cannot effectively control either side.

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This is my husband’s biggest pet peeve.  I just tell him I like to live on the edge.

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Now, the name.  If it’s not obvious, Mesqwire a mashup of “mess” and “esquire.”  No, I’m not a total mess, but most days I toe the line.  I never know where my keys are or where I parked my car, and my phone battery and gas tank permanently hover around empty.  Yet, I can get two kids and a 24oz coffee out of the Wawa with military precision and can make dinner (and fan a smoke alarm) with an infant latched on to me.  I’ve left the house for work wearing bedroom slippers, but never without a diaper bag that would survive 10 days in the Andes.

So, balancing work and life.  As far as work, I will not go into great detail unless relevant to the topic of a particular post.  But the topics that make up the ‘life’ side of the seesaw will range from the serious to the not-so-serious, and everything in between.

I have some pretty strong feelings on things like body image, fertility issues, loss, OCDs/ICDs and addiction, and child-bearing and child rearing.  Am I a licensed psychologist? No. Do I have a PhD? Well, no.  My “authority” and “expertise” to write about these subjects comes solely from experience and firsthand observation.  Many posts will be amusing, but a number will also (I hope) be thought-provoking and helpful. Above all, I hope you can identify with the posts and think to yourself, “Ohmigod Yes! Me too!”