What’s in my bag

April 6, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in SAHM, Starbucks | 2 Comments
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Lindsey at A Design So Vast tagged me to reveal what’s in my bag. Lest I try to manipulate reality to make me seem more organized or stylish than I am these days, I took a photo of my bag and its contents the moment I read her blog post. Thus, the Starbucks background in the shots below.

Actually, 75% of the time I do not carry around a purse. I stick my iPhone in my pocket and lug around my five-pound wallet (the baby’s carseat is a convenient place in which to tote said wallet). I have gorgeous Kate Spade diaper bag filled with all sorts of baby and toddler necessities, but I only drag that around for extended outings (a trip to Starbucks does not qualify).

The bag:

Neutral patent leather for spring. It’s quite small because I really only use it for going out to dinner or when it pinch hits as an abbreviated diaper bag, as it did on this particular day (see below).

The contents:

Thanks you notes for baby presents, my enormous green wallet, bottle of milk, black fountain pen for thank you notes, Charlie Card (this had been long-lost until this exercise made me empty out the pockets of this bag!), pacifier, and five — yes five (?!) — lipsticks/lipglosses, which are all generally the same color red (from left to right: CoverGirl Lipslicks, Clinique Black Honey gloss, Mac 3D, Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick, Benefit Benetint). The iPhone is not in the picture not only because I used it to take the photo (duh), but because it’s usually in my hand, my pocket, or the drink holder of the car.

In case you are wondering, the baby is perched in his carseat to the left of this picture. Otherwise, I might not walk around with a bottle of milk or a pacifier in my bag…

Thanks, Linds, for this fun diversion!

I tag:

One of the Three Clever Sisters (though it most likely will be Karen or Marie, unless Sara feels like a break from nesting with her brand new baby boy!)

Jessica of Mommy Wants a Drink

Birthday girl Kristin of Mommy, Esq.

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Yaaaawn…

March 23, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in little bug, Little O, SAHM | 6 Comments
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First smile at 7 weeks

Don’t let these smiling angels fool you. We are not getting a lot of sleep around here. Little Bug has decided that she wants to play the “let’s get out of bed” game for an hour or so each night. It’s absolutely hysterical for her to keep running downstairs only to have us haul her back up. I even try the Supernanny technique of waiting right outside her door to silently drag her back, but she just giggles. And, then, there is the inevitable late-night visit to our room. Because I’ve been up with the baby, Tim usually handles putting her back to bed. Last night, because Tim is away on business, I had to take her back, and she was screaming and sobbing. I know she’s cutting molars, and I do feel bad for her, but it was not fun for either of us. I bribed her to stay in bed with a Dora band-aid and a teaspoon of liquid Motrin. 

Other than our nighttime travails, however, she’s been really sweet and funny. For example: 

Yesterday morning, upon spotting a basket of folded laundry at the foot of my bed.

Buggy: Oh, are those my sockies?

Me: Yes, I just washed them.

Buggy: Oh, mommy, THANK YOU for cleaning my little sockies!

Little O is starting to sleep a bit longer, but still needs a middle-of-the-night feeding. He goes right back so sleep and so it’s not all that bad — or, it wouldn’t be bad if Little Buggy also would sleep through the night.

I’m rereading Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Starting today everyone is getting on a new schedule. Little O will be put to nap one to two hours after waking and Little Bug is going to have an earlier bedtime.

Oh, wait, did you think this post would be interesting? Check back with me in a few days/weeks — I don’t have a lot of reserve brain capacity right now!

Asking for (hiring?) help

March 10, 2010 at 10:46 am | Posted in little bug, Little O, SAHM, Starbucks | 4 Comments
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I have an unflattering admission: I judge people. Remember how I judged those women sitting around the table at Starbucks? I immediately labeled them stay-at-home moms whiling away their mornings at Pilates and coffee while their kids were at school. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but they made me feel uneasy because while I felt slightly superior that I, a busy and important lawyer, normally had no time for sitting around at coffee* I also really wanted to be one of them. Similarly, when I lived in the city, I’d go to the playground and I’d see nannies chasing after children whose mothers I knew did not work. I can’t believe so-and-so has a full-time nanny, I’d think to myself. Almost like, why have children if you’re not going to work and yet you’re not going to take care of them? But I suspect some of my judgment masked an underlying jealousy.

Judgment isn’t pretty. Ever. And when I judge, I do so because something about the situation makes me uneasy and insecure about my own choices. Perhaps these women had nannies for an extra set of hands, enabling them, as a mother, to focus on one child at a time. Or maybe these mothers knew they were not the most patient of souls, and the nanny helped them be more calm and present. Or perhaps they just spent their days at the gym and shopping, who knows. But I get it now: if you can afford some help with your small children, why not have an extra set of eyes and hands around? An extra lap for reading stories? An extra pair of arms for hugs?

Case in point: Last night, at 6 p.m., I was wrangling Little Bug from the table to the bath, while the baby, who has in general “woken up” and now at five weeks is somewhat colicky at the end of the day, wailed away. I handed the baby to Lisa, our graduate student babysitter, who rocked and bounced him while I washed Buggy’s hair and let her linger in the tub and then got her ready for bed. Lisa then read Buggy a book while I nursed the baby, and then she burped the baby while I read to the toddler. And then it was 6:30, and everyone was relatively calm: I had not snapped at Little Bug nor sent her to time out for restless behavior. I did not spend the earlier part of the day dreading dinner and bathtime. It had been a pretty good day.

And yet, I feel a tinge of guilt. It’s not the expense — I have a very generous maternity leave and am getting paid for several months still, not to mention that the cost of a babysitter a few hours a week is literally a fraction of what we paid our wonderful, full-time nanny. It’s the admission that I can’t do myself without feeling overwhelmed. It’s the realization that I judged so many other women’s choices without knowing their backstories. 

Let’s be honest: if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t work and I’d hire a lot of childcare help.

Or would I? As I drove home from Starbucks the other day — solo, because Lisa was at home — I saw a young mother pushing an infant in a stroller and dragging along two other small children, both under 3. I was overcome with guilt and sadness — why wasn’t I out strolling my babies in the spring sun? Was grabbing a chai and writing a few thank-you notes at Starbucks while someone else held my baby the right thing

I know a lot of people reading this will offer support for hiring babysitting help. Indeed, many of my coworkers were surprised that we were not keeping our nanny through my maternity leave. But I’d also love to hear from others who feel as torn and guilty about hiring help as I do — or who perhaps have not hired (for whatever reason) some help while staying at home with children. I keep thinking: my mother did it without babysitters (she might argue that her sanity suffered?); my mother-in-law hired help only when her twins, my husband and his sister, were born — but I should add here that she already had SIX OTHER CHILDREN, the oldest of who at that point was 8 (she might argue that her sanity suffered as well!)

As I write this, Little Buggy is at preschool. Little O is home for two hours with the sitter. I have edited the resumes of my sister and aunt, signed up to be an alumni mentor at my law school, answered a dozen emails, skimmed the Times, and have written this post. Were I not doing this now, I’d be thinking for the rest of the day of getting these little tasks done. And I wouldn’t have had the chance to write. Arguably, this time will make me more focused and present this afternoon. But do I deserve this? Are the other women at Starbucks judging me? 

*This is of course not entirely true because as any regular reader knows, I hit Starbucks with my colleagues all the time.

Thank you…

March 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Posted in little bug, Little O, SAHM, Starbucks, weekend | 2 Comments

… thank you to everyone who emailed me, both via the comments and privately, after my “So Lonely” post. I felt both supported and relieved — that my feelings are not unique, that I’m not going crazy, and that, most important, as the weather gets nicer and I get some sleep, things will start to seem more routine. Caring for an infant is inherently isolating — you’re a slave to feeding schedules and diaper changes and, in the winter, the weather. And so on this sunny, lamb-like March day, things seem a little brighter. 

Besides, how could this face not cheer you up a bit?

Or this one? (She is saying, “Cheese!” by the way.) Taking the advice of almost everyone, I took the plunge and hired a babysitter. Little Buggy and I thus made it out of the house yesterday for a Starbucks run (of course) and then storytime at the library. Just getting two hours alone with her seemed to make her noticeably less clingy. Plus, we actually had a lot of fun. 

And then, as my family always does in difficult times, they showed up. Erin was in town for the weekend, so she and Jennifer stopped by to be doting aunties.

My mother and Henry made an appearance, as well. Here are Little Buggy and my mother, having a tea party.  In her sweetest, most non-terrible-two-ish way she asked, “Can you have a tea party with me, Mimi?” 

And so I’ll keep trying to enjoy this gorgeous spring weekend before things turn lion-ish again. Which inevitably, they will, but it is inspiring and encouraging to know that so many people reading this blog have paved this path ahead of me. Again, thank you.

So lonely*

March 3, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in SAHM, Starbucks, the 'burbs, the firm | 7 Comments

*Disclaimer: Don’t worry — the title of this post is not meant to be dramatic so much as it is a nod to my once very deep obsession with The Police.

Yesterday I dropped Little Bug off at her new preschool and took Little O with me to Starbucks. We sat at a corner table (he fast asleep in his carseat). I drank my latte and played on my iPhone for a bit. My morning trip to Starbucks has become a new habit; my interactions with the baristas might be the only conversation I have until Tim gets home. I thought about this as I looked over at a group of women who had gathered around tables they had pushed together. They were slightly older than me, dressed in yoga clothes and carrying yoga mats; no doubt they had just arrived, en masse, from a Pilates class at the women’s-only gym next door. Of course, I sized them up (OK, judged): stay-at-home-moms with elementary-aged children. They had all the time in the world to meet at Starbucks and chit chat for an hour post-Pilates.

And I started to cry. Real tears, dripping down my cheeks, and so, embarrassed, I wheeled Little O out of there, tossing my half-drunk latte. You see, this past month hasn’t been easy. Yes, I’m hormonal. And tired. My two-year-old is driving me crazy. But I’m also lonely. We moved to this suburb in September. Little Buggy was home with her nanny, and I was working full-time. On weekends, we barely did anything other than hit Costco or the diner out near the highway. I know some of our neighbors enough to say hello, but we’re not friends, even though a few of them have toddlers and newborns as well. Since I had the baby, the weather has kept us from strolling around. And, anyway, where would I go to meet people? I haven’t really been part of this town’s gymboree/music class set because of my job. I truly know one person in town — a friend from work. But, guess what — she spends her days at work.

Being home alone all day with very small children is difficult. I get that now. When my daughter was born, my appreciation for my mother changed from love and admiration to something much deeper — I finally understood just how much she loved me. With the arrival of my second child, I now understand so much more about her life and the choices she made. Like me, she also moved from the city to the suburbs when I was just two, right before my sister was born. My father worked long hours in the city. His law firm allowed a car home after 10 p.m.; therefore, my mother explained, he was rarely  home before 11 p.m. She had no babysitter, no housecleaner.  She points out that, unlike me, she didn’t yet have her law degree. There was no job to return to. Her days and, it seemed to her, her life, stretched out long and lonely.  

My mother recalls that things changed one day at the playground when she saw another young mother also dragging a two-year-old and strolling an infant. My mother and Ann were living parallel lives: children the same ages, husbands who worked long hours at their New York law firms, and elite educations (Smith and Columbia Teacher’s College; Wellesley and Columbia Journalism) they felt they had sacrificed (with very mixed feelings) for their families.  They were immediate soulmates, and my early childhood was spent in the company of Ann and her two girls. My mom and Ann would drink endless cups of tea in the kitchen, no doubt complaining about their husbands’ late nights and asking each other: is this really what we were meant to do? The four children would fall off swingsets and put on plays and slam each other’s fingers in doors while my mom and Ann chatted on and on. When their family moved to Texas a few years later, there were lots of tears, and I realize now that my mother lost her first and most important lifeline. To this day, Ann is my mother’s oldest, dearest friend. 

Raising children, whether you work in an office or are at home, is challenging: I know we all agree upon that almost cliched little chestnut. At work, my long days were nevertheless spent with several other attorneys (women, natch) who had toddlers or were pregnant and who thus asked the same questions and had the same challenges. They were my daily lifelines.  But now I’m home, without my work and without these lifelines and I think I need some, or at least one. I need to find my Ann, and I hope I find her soon.

One month later…

March 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Posted in little bug, Little O, SAHM, Starbucks, the 'burbs, wine | 5 Comments

Has it really been one month since Little O came along? Of course, we cannot imagine life without him. At the same time, the past four weeks have been far from smooth sailing, mostly because our Little Buggy, in the throws of the terrible twos anyway, does not really love being a big sister. Sometimes she wants to hold, “MY baby,” but mostly when I have him in the Baby Bjorn or am trying to nurse him, she decides she wants to be in my lap. “He wants to go in his swing,” she tells me. We have watched a LOT of movies.  Little Bug has had two ear infections (one in each ear). The weather has been cold and gloomy, so we don’t get out much. 

But it’s March. Those of us in New England know that it really doesn’t get warm until June, but, each year, March begins with promise. The air is just a tangibly warmer, softer (I think). The Red Sox are down at spring training. Chez Murphy, we now have a double stroller and two potential graduate-student babysitters to help me out a bit and allow me to spend some quality time with the Little Bug. Little O can sleep for five hours at a stretch. 

I have a veritable gold mine of topics to write about as I navigate my stint as a stay-at-home-mom. So stay tuned. But, for now, I’ll leave you with some images of the last month…

Friday night + baby + trashy mag

7 a.m.

Spring training

We are still doing a lot of dancing

Lindsey and Grace come for a much-needed visit!

Little Buggy and I hit Starbucks for some quality time (is this self-serving? I refuse to believe it!)

The hat was knit by the insanely talented Sara

6 p.m. Oh red wine, how I’ve missed you…

I used to mock people with double jogging strollers

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