a love letter to my new babysitter.

WMHR-12

Dear babysitter*,

Do you know how long we’ve been waiting for you? My sister wife and I have been on a quest to find The Perfect Babysitter for what feels like forever. We’ve been trying to figure out this work/life balance between caring for a total of four children while also leaning in to our work-from-home careers.

We’ve lamented over mommy guilt and scheduling; we’ve weighed the pros and cons of working at home and we’ve crunched the numbers between freelance salaries and childcare costs. The solution seemed obvious: we wanted to share a babysitter, allowing our boys who are best friends to continue being best friends, under the occasional supervision of someone else.

And, well, what started out as a simple search turned into a string of bad blind dates.

There was the babysitter who was never available, and the babysitter with no personality. There was the babysitter who quit after one day (?), and the three babysitters who went back to college in the fall. Over and over again, we were mismatched with babysitters that wouldn’t or couldn’t stick around. Some were great; others were….meh. Okay, not meh, they were fine. They kept our kids alive. Whatever.

But in the back of my head, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were missing something. Are babysitters really this hard to find? This hard to keep?

It started to feel like we were…..settling.

In a state of pure desperation, we signed up for Care.com and threw up a simple hail mary:

Two mommas seeking care for two toddlers and a baby. Must be reliable and trustworthy and have a personality. 

Lo and behold, you responded to the ad and blew our freaking socks off. You, with all the energy of a child and all the responsibility of a grownup. Are you even human? Sometimes I feel like I need to take a Percocet to even have a conversation with you. Your consistent enthusiasm leaves me fighting the urge to say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

You seem excited about this opportunity, as if watching two toddlers and an infant is your actual dream job. Is this really your dream job? I would believe you if you said yes. Your attitude and overall presence is how I imagine I would feel after winning the lottery. Do you really like our kids that much?

I’m obviously not there while you watch the kids, and you probably don’t even know this, but my sister wife texts me regularly while she works from home, just a wall away from you.

“The boys are hopping like frogs and the babysitter is hopping with them.”
“The babysitter is singing to Grace.”
“The babysitter brought her own bubbles.”

Hold the phone. You brought your own bubbles? That you bought with your own money?

Please don’t ever leave us.

The second time you watched our kids, my sister wife whispered to me in the kitchen, “I think she’s a better mother than I am.”

I joked that it’s easy to be a good mom when you only have to watch kids for eight hours a week but my smile was forced because underneath my grin, I agreed with my sister wife.

Please don’t let my kid love you more than me.

(Actually, I am borderline okay with that).

There was the time you showed up with coloring books and the time you took the kids on a “field trip” to the nearby park. There was the time you picked up dog poop in the backyard because you didn’t want anyone to step in it. Every time I pick my kid up, you give me the full rundown of the day’s events, which always include what snacks were eaten, how many times he peed, and a list of varied fun activities that you facilitated with the energy of a responsible new puppy. The house is always picked up, my kid is always exhausted, and really, I could just cry when I think about how much I love you.

I’m starting to feel like a clingy ex-girlfriend, but I really want you to watch my kids forever. Do you need anything? Can I bring you back a latte? Wanna borrow my car? Here…help yourself to these unused gift cards sitting in my junk drawer.

Seriously, whatever it takes, I am in this. To me, you are perfect. Whatever you need, you got it.

In the meantime, I know you’re only three weeks into this gig, but we’re giving you a raise.

Please don’t ever, ever leave us.

*Name left anonymous to protect said babysitter and also: paws off, she is ALL OURS. 

Posted in be | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

what i really want for my birthday this year.

Processed with VSCOcam with c7 preset

It’s kind of the cliche thing to say when you’re a mom. We joke about wanting to be alone, eat alone, pee alone, stroll the aisles of Target alone. Sometimes when Brett comes home at the end of a long day with the kids, I beg him for just twenty minutes of silence in the bedroom. The second he obliges, I step into my oasis—the room with the unmade bed and floor littered with clothes. It might as well be Jamaica. Those twenty minutes are never enough.

While I felt this burning desire to be alone after long days with just one kid, I have felt the urge more often with two. Every day it feels like twice as much energy is being spent. There is twice as much crying, and sometimes the naps don’t overlap. I am picking up both kids several times a day, in and out of carseats and on and off of toilets and in and out of bathtubs. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to the gym since having Carson, and yet the baby weight is melting off my body like ice cream sitting in the sun. Who needs to exercise when you can just care for two kids all day and breastfeed around the clock?

Carson isn’t taking a bottle, and I’m breastfeeding every three hours. I have a freezer full of pumped breastmilk that more often than not, gets defrosted and heated and reheated before swirling down the kitchen sink. If I dare to leave the house for the night, he simply waits for me. Maybe he’ll entertain an ounce or two, but he’s stubborn like me and will wait four, even five hours to get the real deal.

And while my momma ego soars knowing that he wants me and only me, this attachment is also slowly breaking my spirit. I feel anxious leaving the house. I plan every outing around his feeding schedule, feeling the daily pressure of feeding my five month-old twelve pound baby who isn’t even on the growth chart. I reassure myself: If he’s really hungry, he’ll eat. I know this. He won’t starve, technically. But still—no pep talk can fully rid my mind of worry when I am away for too long. I worry about him and I worry about whoever is caring for him. Is he screaming? Are tears streaming down his face at this very moment?

It’s hard to enjoy time alone when these thoughts are in your head.

After five months of this—of caring for two young children, of nursing every 2-3 hours, of being responsible for them every day, I feel the weight of it catching up to me. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic in my own life, slightly trapped, unable to breathe. I feel guilty even writing these words because I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is the very best way to be trapped, to be stuck in a box with these two beautiful children who I love more than life itself.

***

I’ve never been a very good runner. To be honest, I just hate running. Nothing about it appeals to me. I hate feeling out of breath, I hate being super sweaty. I don’t like the way everything….bounces.

Oddly enough, after having Carson, I have found myself somewhat regularly craving a good run. Sometimes I just want to go outside and run as fast as I humanly can. I want to feel my feet hit the pavement, the breeze through my hair. I want to feel like I’m flying. I just want to feel…..free. I want to feel alive and free and remember what it feels like to just be me. To have my whole body to myself. I want space. I want to be alone with my thoughts and remember who I am outside of being a mom.

***

My birthday is this Friday. Rather than ask for new shoes or a new piece of jewelry (all gifts that would have been graciously accepted), I have asked for the gift I think I really need right now: a day to be alone.

It sounds selfish, and awkward, to ask for a day away from the people who love you most so that you can celebrate yourself, by yourself. But if I’m being really honest, it’s what I want.

I want to go to a yoga class and focus on my breath and thank God for a body that can bend all different ways. I want to get a pedicure and read a magazine and do that thing I have practically forgotten how to do: relax. I want to sit at a coffee shop and write without worrying about running out of babysitting hours. I want to welcome the age of 29 with the focus it deserves and set some goals for my last year of being a twenty-something. I want to go shopping and try things on in a real dressing room—shorts and swimsuits and a new dress, perhaps. I want to get my eyebrows waxed and treat myself to a new tube of mascara. I want to finish the night off with good food and good cocktails with good friends who are also enjoying a break from their kids. I want to laugh. I want to feel rested. I want to feel like I’ve gotten a real break. I want to escape the boogers and diapers for a day and give myself the opportunity to actually miss my kids.

Just one day—12 hours, to myself. Even if that means I have to swing by the house every 3 hours to feed my baby, which is the arrangement we’ve made for the day. That’s the thing about being a mom: no matter how selfish you try to be, even on your own special day, they still come first. And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy birthday to me.

Posted in be | 24 Comments

“mommy doesn’t go to work.”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLast Tuesday Brett had the day off, and graciously offered to watch both kids for the morning so I could go to Starbucks and work. I had an essay to write, submissions to read, photos to edit, e-mails to answer. You know the drill.

I put on some cropped yoga pants, my favorite sweatshirt, and threw on a hat (because I believe you need to dress for the job you want, and I want the kind of job where you can wear yoga pants). After carefully packing up my bag, I said goodbye to Everett.

“Bye, Ev! Mommy’s going to work!”

He looked at me as if my hair had turned blue.

“Mommy doesn’t go to work. Daddy goes to work,” he informed me.

Come again?

“What did you say?” I asked him, even though his words had been crystal clear.

Mommy doesn’t go to work. Daddy goes to work.”

Brett chuckled on the couch. I was not amused.

I crouched down on my knees and grabbed him by the arms, perfectly prepared for such a teachable moment.

“Ev, sometimes mommy goes to work, too, okay? Daddy works, and mommy works. Today, mommy is going to work and daddy is going to stay home with you.”

He shook his little head.

“No. Mommy doesn’t go to work,” he repeated matter of fact-ly.

***

Kids are sponges. We know this. So I guess, in that sense, it should come as no surprise that Everett believes only Brett has a job. After all, every morning we say, “Have a good day at work!” as daddy walks out the door.

Everett knows Brett won’t be home until dinnertime. He also knows that I will be home all day—catering to his every need, preparing every snack, helping unbutton and re-button pants a dozen times in the bathroom. He knows that I will probably drive him somewhere fun—to the park, to the art studio, to the train museum. He knows that I will periodically feed Carson and change Carson and dare I say, pay attention to Carson.

But what he doesn’t know is that when I’m checking my phone while he eats lunch, I’m responding to an e-mail about a photography gig. He has no clue what I do during naptime, that precious hour and a half where I accomplish a myriad of tasks: writing, editing, e-mail answering, collaboration pitching, online banking, TV watching, occasional laundry folding. He can’t possibly know that when we take a walk around the neighborhood, I am brainstorming ideas upon ideas upon ideas for the future of Coffee + Crumbs, the future of my career, the future of our family.

The kid’s only two years old. He doesn’t have a clue.

At this age, Everett only knows what he observes and what I tell him, which is a beautiful gift and also a huge responsibility. Last Tuesday I had a bit of an epiphany: if I want my kids to understand my work, to know that I do, in fact, actually work, I need to speak up for myself. When I’m leaving the house for a photoshoot, I need to say more than just “Bye, kids!” When I drop Everett off with the babysitter twice a week, I need to say more than, “I’ll miss you, buddy!”

After all, how will my kids ever learn to respect this work-at-home juggling act I’m partaking in every single day if they don’t even know that I work?

I have a hard enough time explaining my tiny self-made career to adults. I’m always fumbling over words when people arch their eyebrows and ask curiously, “So what do you do?”

I’m better at answering than I once was, but I still get caught off guard sometimes and look at my feet before mumbling something like, “Uh…I’m a writer, sort of, and last year I started a blog about motherhood…..uh, and I also have a photography business.”

(Are you embarrassed for me? I’m embarrassed for myself.)

But, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. And apparently I’ve been missing out on a LOT of opportunities to practice this at home.

So today, I’m starting with one dirty blonde toddler and four little words.

“Mommy’s going to work.”

Posted in be | Tagged , | 13 Comments

sometimes someone needs to cry.

WMHR-1

I am getting really good at doing things with one hand. Just yesterday I was holding Carson with one arm while assisting Everett on the potty while also catching up with a friend on speakerphone.

Being a mom to two kids feels a bit like being an octopus (I would imagine). All my limbs are constantly doing things, holding people, helping pull up pants, cutting cheese slices, velcro-ing shoes. I’m moving, always moving, helping someone with something. My arms move without thought, both fluidly and jerkily, as I try not to drop a sippy cup or even worse, a child.

I’m five months into this gig of being outnumbered, and for a while now, I’ve been trying to meet All The Needs. I’ve enforced time outs while breastfeeding and I’ve assembled lego cars while changing a diaper. I’ve opened fruit pouches and sang songs and wiped boogers, all while holding a baby. I’ve done my best to tend to both kids at the same time to avoid one of them crying/whining/fussing/melting into a puddle of pathetic on the floor.

But the thing is, sometimes I have to pee. And sometimes I have to eat a sandwich to keep from getting hangry. And sometimes someone is going to cry. I have two hands and two arms and while I’m using them both a good 95% of the day, sometimes I cannot help everyone all at once.

Sometimes Everett is going to get the banana yogurt because we’re all out of strawberry, and he will cry. Sometimes Carson is not going to have his diaper changed right away, and he will cry. Sometimes they don’t want to take baths or ride in the car or go down for naps and they will cry, cry, cry. Sometimes a day will be excruciatingly difficult, and, well, I might cry too.

When Brett went back to work after Carson was born, I remember being overwhelmed by the amount of crying. It seemed like someone was always crying, and the house was forcibly loud. You start to tune it out, eventually, but that noise can hurt your ears after a while.

Much like anything else in motherhood, you just have to accept it — it being the thing that drives you momentarily crazy. You have to ride the wave instead of pushing against it, because the wave is bigger than you and it’s always going to win. Even though these kids weigh a combined 42 pounds, on most days, they feel bigger than me. Louder than me. More forceful than me.

My ears aren’t necessarily happy about it, but I’m learning to accept the noise. Nobody is going to faint from the wrong flavor yogurt. I’m pretty sure babies don’t suffer longterm if they have to occasionally wait ten minutes to nurse.

I guess you could say we’re all in touch with our emotions in this house.

If you need to have a good cry, as we all sometimes do, feel free to come on over. Chances are, one of us will probably join you.

Posted in be | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

let’s talk about makeup.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetFirst things first: I am the furthest thing from a beauty blogger. You already know this.

A weird thing happens when you get to be in your late-twenties. You suddenly have a makeup and skincare identity crisis on the regular. What chemicals are in this? How do I treat these little wrinkles? What the heck is BB cream? Brushes vs. sponges? Should I wear sunscreen on my face every single day? Can I pull off red lipstick? Should I buy cheap or expensive mascara? OMG WHY DO I STILL HAVE ACNE?!

…..or maybe that’s just me?

A recent vox chat with my friend April led to many voicemail minutes discussing these very important topics. Together, we reached the same conclusion.

WE KNOW NOTHING.

Having said that, I’m a big fan of trial and error when it comes to painting your face. I like to do things like Birchbox from time to time and buy Sephora sample kits to figure out what works best before I invest in full size products. I always ask for makeup for Christmas because I hate spending money on something as vain (yet necessary) as makeup.

Over the years I’ve found a few tried and true favorites, but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect red lipstick and I still need to know if using a makeup primer is necessary. Suggestions welcome.

Here are the current beauty products I can’t live without:

1. Dr. Jart BB Cream – I got this in my Birchbox way back when (circa 2012?) and have been using it religiously ever since. I apply it right over my moisturizer (or a primer) and use it as my main foundation. It glides on smoothly, provides great coverage, and has SPF 25.

2. The Beauty Blender Sponge – You guys. This is singlehandedly the best makeup tool I discovered in 2014. I got it for Christmas and haven’t looked back since. GAME CHANGER.

3. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer – I mean, the name itself warrants giving it a try, no? This is my go-to under eye concealer, and it only costs $7. Can’t beat that. I use the applicator to dab a few spots under my eyes, and then blend with the beauty sponge. Done and done. For blemishes and touch-ups, I love the Boi-ing concealer by Benefit.

4. Feelin’ Dandy Lip & Cheek Kit – I got this for Christmas and I could not love it more. I apply the posie tint on the apples of my cheeks with my fingertips, and dab a little bit of high beam on my cheekbones.

5. Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara – This is my go-to, everyday mascara. I’ve probably tried more than a dozen drugstore mascaras over the years, but I always come back to this one. I like my eyelashes to look long and defined, not necessarily super full and thick. If I’m going out on a date or want to look extra glam, I use Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara on top of this one.

6. E.L.F Eyeshadow – I only wear eyeshadow a couple times a week (if that), and honestly, I cannot tell the difference between the $2 and $22 kind. So I usually stick to the $2 kind. The e.l.f. brand always has a ton of neutral palettes for under $5 and they work fine for me. I also really like their jumbo lip crayons for a tiny bit of color.

7. Hello Flawless – For powder, I rotate between the Benefit Hello Flawless (when I need more coverage), and Sonia Kashuk Pressed Powder (when I need less coverage). Both of these last a long time.

8. Brows-a-go-go – I’m pretty sure Benefit replaced this with Brow Zings but this stuff lasts forever so I’m still working off my original brow set. Let’s file this under: Makeup I Discovered Too Late In Life. Seriously though, well done eyebrows might be the secret to a well done face.

Alright, I showed you mine. Now show me yours. What beauty faves can you not live without?

Posted in get | Tagged , | 23 Comments