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Information Overload

There is a lot of information out there about being a parent. A new mom, in one quick Google search can find everything she ever wanted to know about pregnancy, labor and delivery; and a lot of information she probably didn’t want to know. It would seem to me that most of the parenting articles online are geared towards certain types of people. The people who like to be prepared for every contingency know all their options and everything and anything that could possibly happen during the nine months and unknown hours of pregnancy/delivery. I am not one of those people. I will admit I bought some books on pregnancy, breastfeeding and delivery. I will also admit to throwing those books across the room, saying a few choice words that my unborn baby – still without ears – would be none the wiser to and going to the kitchen wishing that bottle of wine was chilling for me. I found in all the books, chat rooms and blogs a lack of resonance with the authors and other moms. I didn’t want to know everything. I want to approach labor completely ignorant of what those giant scissors are used for. (My working theory is that it’s to help the new mom cut the ribbons on all the gifts she receives.) I don’t want to know about sits baths, leaking, clogging or that it may actually be possible to birth a ten-pound baby naturally. I want to enjoy the time my husband and I have together now, looking hopefully, ideally and naively at the future of when our little one arrives. I want to buy pink teddy bears and write in a baby book all about how much I looked forward to her arrival. I want to prepare the way my mother did — by living my life and buying a crib. Now some of you may be wondering about my lack of planning. As I said, I bought the books. Ok, I also threw the books but I also looked into classes at my local hospital…after all for a new mom there are tons of options on baby classes. For example there are Bradley classes. I don’t know much about him but he seems to have a good reputation. Since it was a birthing method I just assumed he was a masseuse or perhaps did reflexology but my friend who...

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Talkin’ With Pookie

Today is a special day. It’s Pookie’s ninth birthday. I’ve had the good fortune of being her step dad for nearly four years now. All told, I’ve known her for two-thirds of her life. And I’ve loved her every minute of it. While Caroline was carrying the triplets, countless well intentioned people would say something along these lines: “Just wait til you have your own children.” “I’m sure. I’ve got Alli, so I know what you mean.” “Yeah, but just wait. You’ll see.” The insinuation, of course, was that I didn’t know what they meant and that I wouldn’t until I had my own biological children. And I understand what those people meant. The best day of my life (aside from my wedding day) was the one when the wee threesome began their reign of planet Earth. But that said, I don’t love Alli any differently than I do A, B, or C, except, perhaps, for the fact that I love her like a parent loves his or her first child. My point? The fact that she’s not “mine” has never made a difference. And it never will. When I proposed to Lovie, it was important to me that Pookie be part of the process. So after I sought permission from Lovie’s mom (her dad is deceased), I sought the same thing from Pook. Here’s how it went down. “Pookie, I got something very important I wanna talk to you about. So pick anywhere in the whole house where you want to have a serious chat.” Oddly, she chose the very corner of her momma’s bedroom where we sat Indian style facing one another. Perhaps odder still, my hands were damp with anxiety. Deep breath. “You know I love you, right?” I began. “Yeeeessss,” she answered coyly. “Did you know I love your mommy, too?” “I thought you loved her!” She wore a grin that stretched from one ear to another. “Well you’re right. In fact, I love your mommy so much that I wanna marry her.” A look of genuine disappointment came across Pookie’s face. “But Mommy’s already married,” she said while looking down at the planks of the hardwood floor, her finger tracing an imaginary pattern. Understandable confusion for sure. After all, Pookie was only four, and divorce is anything but black and white. A less prepared man might have been derailed by such confusion. But luckily,...

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Summer Lovin’

Everyone keeps telling me how much they love summer. The kids are out of school. No schedule. Lazy days. Long days. Summertime: bug bites, too much ice cream, big pores, charred meat, the lovely sounds of my tweenage children: “Mom I’m bored,” “Mom can you drive me?” “Mom what am I doing today?” Oh my, when will summer camp begin? I know that I should be breathing a sigh of relief that another school year is done. But there is something I like about the routine of the school year. Perhaps I will love the routine of the summer time…when I figure out what it is. I’m trying to squeeze in client meetings, work travel, reports, and deadlines and suddenly my children have “nothing” to do. I’m glad they are on vacation…because I am not. I will be on vacation…when I’m on vacation. Managing my children’s non-schedule is harder than managing their actual schedule. During the school year I know where they have to be and where I have to be and it is coded onto an Outlook calendar that would make General Patton proud. During the summer time I don’t know what is happening until I get the phone call that instantly demands wherever I may be (including, in one instance in stirrups at my doctor) a pick-up to “hang” with someone (needless to say I was late that time). When they were little I arranged the play-dates according to my schedule. Now that they are in-between there is no plan AND worse yet it is a non-plan I have no control over. This summer feels different too, as my kids, who are both moving up to new schools (middle and high school, respectively) are no longer just little kids satisfied with playing in the sprinkler. No, they are tweenagers with lots of new friends. And these new kids are texting and FaceBooking and e-mailing. AND these “new” kids are kids I don’t know. When my fourteen year-old said to me, “You don’t get to pick my friends any more,” I knew it was going to be a long summer. Uh, yes I do. I want to proudly be known as the strict mother, who won’t let you stay up all night just because it is summer (because then you are a bear the next day just like when you were little). I want to strut my stuff...

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The MILF Factor

Before becoming a mother, I didn’t give much thought to the term MILF. It was something I had heard here and there, and mostly associated with the term “cougar.” I pictured moms of teenage children prowling for the next hot man to devour in dresses too short and tight. I thought it was a joke, and the mothers were the punch lines. I’ve since changed my tune. As a mother (and since my uterus has shrunken back to it’s normal size), I’ve given the term much more consideration and have become quite fascinated with it. Aside from the obvious, what exactly is a MILF, who says and why? Men say she’s a mom they’d like to…get busy with. Hollywood tells us she should be able to fit back into her skinny jeans within two months. Beauty magazines say she should be quaffed, glowing and meticulously groomed. Husbands think she should be just as ready for sex as she would be for a facial…a long overdue facial. But what do we say? After all, we are the ones who bring children into the world and we had to have sex to do that. Good sex. Spontaneous, passionate, non-thinking sex! (Remember that?) Two of the strongest needs I have ever felt have been sexual desire and maternal instinct. Both all consuming, urgent and heart stopping. Though vastly different in their physical manifestations, both are as intense as anything I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t want to live my life without them. Reconciling them is, of course, the greatest challenge of all. The act of mothering often minimizes sexual desire due to exhaustion, due to…well, living our daily lives. But isn’t it funny how a smell, a memory, or even a celebrity of all things can ignite one’s libido? Suddenly my senses are awake and primed and regardless of my surroundings, I confirm to myself I’ve still got it. I may not be able to “get it” in that moment, but oh yeah baby…it’s on. I continue walking with an extra pep in my step and feel the blood pulsing through my veins, smiling mischievously like I’m walking around with a dirty little secret and indeed, I am. I feel strong, sexy, beautiful and alive. And that, fellow mothers, coupled with our maternal instinct, is a very, very powerful thing. Much like Eve Ensler reinvented the word “vagina,” I believe the term now...

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I Survived Summer Camp. Will The Kids?

I Survived Summer Camp. Will The Kids?

Aah, my memories of summer camp: sitting on a rusty nail and the tetanus shot that followed, gazing into the camp fire and my glasses falling in, being slathered in calamine lotion after lying in poison ivy, walking terrified from bunk to bathroom in the middle of the night with all manner of animal—including stinky boys—observing. These are the memories of a lifetime, and I wanted to make sure my kids had them as well. So when we moved to Rochester, the first thing I did was search for summer camp programs. People thought I was nuts. Why would you send your kids to camp? Let them do nothing. Let them just play. They’ll figure out what to do with themselves. But they were five and three at the time, and I knew that if I didn’t find a summer camp, I would end up as their camp counselor. Somehow I knew this would not be a good thing. I searched and searched until I found the day camp that sounded like Club Med for kids; with arts and crafts, singing around the campfire, canoeing and swimming, and lots and lots of dirt (none of which would enter my home, as I intended to hose them down before entering). It was called Creative Themes. and for 27 years they have entertained kids during Rochester summers. And, of course, I couldn’t get them in. There was a huge waiting list, and no amount of cajoling, begging or crying worked. How could this be, since everyone I met kept telling me that no one in this town sent their kids to camp?    When I was a kid growing up in New York City, there was no question that I was going to camp—day camp first and, when I was older, sleepaway camp. It’s not that I was a fresh-air kid growing up amid city asphalt and in need of some green. I grew up in the greenbelt of Staten Island (yes, there is one). But my mother knew that an idle child and a busy mother was not a good combination. By the time I came along (the youngest of four), she signed me up at birth to attend the day camp my siblings had gone to before me.  From the very first day, I hated going. It was buggy and hot, and the grounds were near a fetid-smelling swamp....

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