Archive for May, 2007

Perfectionism, the Root of All Evil

Monday, May 28th, 2007

After my kids make brownies, I enter the war-zone of my kitchen and have to bite my tongue (hard!) not to scream about the chocolate-covered counters and buttery cutlery scattered everywhere. When my husband and I make our bed, I stand there staring at him wide-eyed, amazed he doesn’t think to pull the sheets taut unless I tell him to. When I sit at the computer, I can’t rest until I’ve assured myself I’ve thought of everything — everything – I need to do to make my work as good as it can possibly be.

And, get this, I am no perfectionist! One look at my front hallway, linen closet, laundry room, book-keeping techniques (or lack thereof), my kids’ backpacks or bedrooms and you’d suss me out immediately: Slob. Lazy. Too busy to care.

Well, actually, none of the above. I do care, I’ve just learned I have to let go. No way I can be a helicopter parent, or even just a decent house-manager, and also be a happy, efficient, productive and sane woman.

What are your war stories? What really pushes your buttons and what do you let slide? Do you feel guilty about hovering too much or not enough? Is there a happy medium?

Here’s to Your Health!

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Mothers’ reluctance to focus on self care is understandable. It’s probably way down on your list of priorities. After all, who wants to get their teeth drilled? You’d much rather finish a spreadsheet or fold laundry than get a pap smear or a mammogram! And who wants to spend money on a babysitter so you can go get prodded and poked, or sit and talk to a therapist while the minutes tick away—minutes when you could be productively doing something else… something that counts?

Frankly, when you’re young, there’s just not that much upkeep. Then the babies come, and it seems as if you’re at the OBGYN’s office every other day. During those child-bearing years, you know exactly what your blood pressure is or whether your nutrition is adequate, not to mention there are scores of professionals at hand to help you in a heartbeat if you’re having concerns of any sort. Whether or not it’s a hassle, you do it all, for the health of your baby.
And then… the years go by… and you begin noticing small things. Maybe you get tired more easily or don’t heal as quickly. Friends and family suffer illnesses and suddenly you seem to know ten women with breast cancer. Pre-menopause hits; you start dealing with aging parents; you stop feeling invincible. But aging doesn’t have to be misery and gloom.
Every woman can age gracefully and live a long, energetic life as long as she remembers to treat herself with care and respect. Since no one else is looking out for us the way we look out for our children, we have to step up to the plate and look after ourselves. Simply put: it’s our responsibility!

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”Albert Schweitzer, German theologian

Thank You, Mami

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Dear Mami,

You’re in England and I’m far away, but I’m thinking of you.

Thank you for:

* Always telling me you loved me, even when you hated my black nails and Adam-Ant-inspired hairstyle

* Insisting that school came above all else

* Making great Sunday brunches

* Teaching me about being generous, fun-loving and social

* Being there for me when I became a wife and mother

* Loving my kids more than I ever would have dreamed possible

* Tolerating my messy house

* Not giving up on making suggestions, even when they’re not often acted upon

* Being unabashedly yourself

* Dealing with Papa (ha! ha!)

* Saying sowsse in stead of south

* Having an open-door policy

* Grabbing the knife from the thief in Spain and teaching me what a strong woman is made of!

Slacker Moms vs. Alpha Moms

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Do you know there’s a war going on between mom-camps, and it’s not between working and stay-at-home mothers? It’s between Beta, or Slacker Moms, and Alpha moms.

Man, sometimes these Mommy Wars are exhausting!

Parents have such a big job, and there’s so much at stake, it’s natural that we second guess ourselves. Confidence and genuine happiness is a real gift in mothering, because our kids can sense it. That’s why we wanted to write this book, When Mom’s Happy, Everyone’s Happy, full of real life anecdotes from moms all throughout the US, sharing their stories about how they found their own way through the maze of mothering.

The moms who are best off are the ones who feel in touch with their instincts. They feel confident that they’re doing things their way, and don’t look to others for answers. When we lose touch with how WE want to parent, we forget that we have choices to make. It’s easy to start feeling pressure to do things a certain way. I think Alpha moms feel that sense of competition and pressure all the time, but if they can handle it, fine. For me, personally, it’s all about knowing what I think is important and not getting caught up in the details.

Can’t Live Without ‘em

Monday, May 7th, 2007

It’s no secret that women lean heavily on their friends, especially their girlfriends, in order to stay sane. When we just can’t take it anymore – the kids are driving us nuts, our husband doesn’t get it, our boss is being difficult – it’s our friends we turn to. In a 2004 Time Poll, 63% of women said they talk to friends or family in order to improve their mood. Women want and need to be heard. Try going online and searching for mothers groups: If you type in “blogs about mothers,” you’ll get 15 million sites!

“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love,” Elie Wiesel, Writer and Holocaust survivor

When they’re stressed, women release the hormone oxytocin, according to Dr. Laura Cousin Klein, Assistant Professor of Bio-behavioral Health at Penn State University. This hormone encourages them to “tend and befriend” rather than reacting as men do, by “fight or flight.”

It’s simple really: it’s written in women’s genetic codes that they turn towards family and friends when they’re under pressure. Finding community makes us feel more powerful. Connecting with friends re-sets our inner equilibrium.

How many times have you spent a chaotic weekend afternoon with your family when your home is a disaster zone, kids are fighting, and chores need to get done but are being ignored by everyone? It’s about all you can do to gather up your brood and head over to a friend’s place for dinner. You’ve barely said a word to your husband all day and your nerves are frayed.

But… as soon as you walk through the door, your friend gives you a hug and a glass of wine, the kids run off to play, you sit down, and ahhhhh….. you start to relax. Before you know it, you’re laughing at yourself, and your friends are sharing their own war stories. Suddenly your husband looks human to you again, and you’re back to being comfortable in your own skin.

And, once again, you ask yourself: where would I be without my friends?

Let’s Talk About Sex

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

OK, it’s something we all deal with when we get married and have kids: our sex drive changes but our husband’s doesn’t. Is sex really so important to a marriage? Aren’t there other ways to stay connected?

What do we do about making sure we’re not just bringing up our kids side by side, sharing the same house, bed, food, but not really sharing our lives. Our inner lives. Does it matter?

As a teenager, I remember the parents of my friends started getting divorced. I wondered how it was possible for a man and a woman to stay together for such a long time — decades — and THEN decide they’d had it with each other. Now as I approach my 18th wedding anniversary, I understand much better. At this point in a marriage, a lot of people have given up trying to understand and connect with each other. They’re too tired.

So what do we need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen to us? One solution: massage oil.

Don’t laugh, I’m being serious…!