6 Important Things You’ll Learn After Being Away From the Kids

It’s only for a few days, I told myself as the ever-familiar mom guilt crept in. Just two days. And I’ll Skype with them for an hour before bedtime.

It’s only for a few days, I told myself as the ever-familiar mom guilt crept in.

Just two days. And I’ll Skype with them for an hour before bedtime. And buy them souvenirs. And text pictures. And not leave again for at least another year. Yeah, that’s it. It’ll be fine.

I secured childcare (that’s never easy since we don’t live near family) and took a deep breath.

I got up early to coach my husband on the morning routine and triple-check my packing, because I always overpack but wind up forgetting something important.

I was all ready to go, and I gave the kids hugs and kisses goodbye. I walked into the airport and this exhilirating feeling came over me. I was walking alone. Only worrying about my own stuff, my own things and not chasing children anywhere.

I was traveling alone. I was traveling alone! Like Kevin McCallister from “Home Alone” raising his eyebrows after making his family disappear, I was on my way.

I was only gone for two days, but I learned a lot about taking a trip away from the kids.

It’s hot to watch your husband take over the morning routine

I don’t know if it gave the kids a deeper level of appreciation for me or not, but it was pretty hot to watch dad get the kids dressed and ready, pack lunches, and strap our toddler into his carseat in his car for drop-off.

The kids always get ready faster for him because of his no-nonsense approach, and he may just throw a big bag of pretzels and cookies into a bag for lunch, but he does it with love and he made sure the toddler’s seat belt was on with care. Now that’s hot.

It’s okay to leave for a few days

Moms often give until they suffer, and I am guilty of not taking enough time for myself on a regular basis. I rarely take time away, especially overnight. But I realized as I was gone, after the business part of my trip was done, I was able to decide what it was I wanted to do. I wasn’t working around naps or homework and I got to see a lot of new things and really enjoy myself.

I did not even end up Skyping with the kids for an hour before bedtime like I had planned. And it was fine.

It’s okay for something else to be a priority in your day

Self-care is really important and it’s okay for something else to be a priority in your day. It’s important for kids to know that you are more than “mom,” that there are other things in your life that you can take time for. It’s especially important for them to see you going out and pursuing career ambitions, and I gladly share that with them.

It’s important to experience new things

Experiencing new things helps you grow as a person. I believe if you continue to learn and pursue new things, you will never get old.

I was in a new city trying to navigate how to get to where with public transportation, and I saw a lot of historic landmarks. I had time to get a feel for what it’s like to live and work in a big city, which is a lot different than my small home office out in the country back home.

Kid-free life is good

I had a laptop bag and a camera bag to keep track of, and that was it. I traveled light. I saw a woman pushing a big stroller trying to get on the train gracefully, and I was glad it wasn’t me. And then I of course yearned for my kids’ baby days as I admired her baby.

I also grabbed a quick bite to eat at a restaurant before heading back to my hotel, and there were two little boys at the table next to me telling their mom “I’m hungry!” I grinned and immediately missed a few very similar little voices and complaints from home.

And then I ate my meal in peace while listening to a podcast.

It’s really important to miss each other

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I arrived home to excited kids that were happy to see me and I gave them their souvenirs and great, big hugs. I truly missed them. I showed them pictures from my trip and they listened to every word.

Though the big city has a lot to offer and it was a trip that I will always remember, it was really good to be home where I belonged … In a simple little town with two little boys in mismatched clothes that their father lovingly picked out for them while I was gone.

Things I Feel Pressure to be Good at Now That I’m a Mom

We’ve all heard about those over-achieving parents who pull all-nighters for bake sales and lead Girl Scouts or whatever.

Even as a new mom with a baby I have somehow felt pressure to compete with other moms right out of the gate. There’s societal pressure to be feeding my kids food that’s not covered in chemicals or is only fed gold or owns its own land or whatever, sure, but let’s talk about the real societal pressures I feel as a new mom. Here are a few things I feel pressure to be good at now that I have progeny:

Knitting

I don’t know when this happened but suddenly everyone in the world who had a baby knows how to knit. I’m not sure why knitting is the thing, or when every other mom but me finds time, but it has become some strange part of having a baby. I tried for a few weeks to knit but everything I made ended up looking sort of crooked and lumpy and uncouth. Anyway, knitting is not for me. But I can make really nice-looking friendship bracelets out of hemp so I’m hoping that comes in handy at some point.

Having emotions ooze out of your pores

Every mom blog or Momstagram or Facemom I’ve ever seen has been dripping with profound emotional release and analysis. I’ve pored over stories of moms wondering how in the world they got so lucky and missing each passing stage and packing up old baby clothes with tears in their eyes. Personally, I just can’t quite get there with my own social media presence. I feel those things, certainly, but I’m terrible at letting the world know about them. Most of the time when I try to say how much I love being a mom it comes out as me making some joke about how my kid’s nickname should be Cuteness Everdeen. That joke is good because it’s word play but it’s also topical. Anyway.

Art and/or crafts

I’m not going to attempt to describe specific art forms I’ve seen some moms take part in (mostly because a lot of it is really outside of my comprehension), but we all know the moms I’m talking about. They know how to do weird stuff involving dying clothes with fruits and vegetables, making flower crowns, and designing their own felt books. And I’m over here like, “paper airplanes, anyone?”

Healthy baking

Not being sexist here at all, because being good in the kitchen is definitely not a necessary part of being a woman or being a mom (case in point, this guy! *points to self*), but it is quite common among the moms I follow on social media to be conveniently extraordinarily skilled at baking. Like maybe they went to school for it at some point? They have master’s degrees in the culinary arts? I don’t know, but somehow it seems like every time I refresh my Instagram feed there is a new photo of some gluten-free-vegan-no-sugar-somehow-still-cookies cookies and I’m busy worshipping my idols of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Alternative/natural medicinal practices

When did cooking oils become standard moisturizers? And when did rubbing those oils on the bottom of our feet become common practice? I don’t know, but weird health stuff is everywhere. My family’s into it, actually, and always trying to learn new things about natural health, but I really can’t compete with the apparent knowledge of my fellow moms. I’m talking about the moms who make their own soaps and wear diffuser necklaces and always smell kind of like patchouli. You guys win, okay?!

Singing

Okay, this is just unfair. Singing is a natural gift only some of us are granted at birth. So how is it that every mom seems to have an extraordinary voice? Thank goodness for that whole “babies prefer the voices of their parents to everyone else’s no matter what” thing because otherwise we would really be in trouble.

Babywearing

I love babywearing, but it took me a long time and many YouTube videos to get the hang of the carriers I have. It seems like all the moms I meet are somehow wearing their babies in public places while holding bags of various things and pushing five other kids in strollers and walking two dogs and singing with their perfect singing voices. It’s not even fair.

Creating more hours in the day

Not sure how it’s possible, but many of the moms I observe on social media seem to have time I didn’t even know existed. Some days, even though I work from home, we will have only left the house once or twice and it’s already time for bed. And I only have one kid! Some of these moms make you say “how do they find enough hours in the day to do all of this stuff with their kids?!” But then you realize that they are magic and they made their own additional hours somehow. Don’t worry, guys, I’m right here with you in real time.

What Happened After I Was Ghosted by My Mom Friends

Even with the anguish, I’m grateful can show my daughter that what matters is how you treat people, and knowing and valuing yourself.

My 40 year old peers have taught my 8 year old daughter what mean girl behavior looks like.

It has been humbling to have her bear witness to people not liking me, ignoring me, and excluding me. It is a valuable life lesson, and one worth learning at any age.

When my daughter started kindergarten, the parents in her class connected as a large group, and became fast friends. I was grateful for this new supportive group of parents, and it didn’t feel or appear cliquey to me, but then again when you’re in, it’s sometimes hard to see who is out. Inclusion with these adults felt amazing, compared to the mean girl scenarios I had experienced in the past.

My family lives in a small one bedroom apartment.

One day, one of my new mom “friends” came over for the first time, and said, “Wow, your house makes me feel so much better about my own life.” I love honesty, so I wasn’t totally offended. I felt more surprised and curious. If this is what she is saying to my face, what on earth would she say behind my back?

This mom deemed herself social “planner” of the group and began to coordinate most activities. One was a class camping trip, a small girl’s beach weekend away, and a woman’s book club.

I joined the book club and was having a great time belonging. These blossoming friendships helped inspire me to start a year long self love journey.

Initially, these friendships felt compatible and healthy. Many of these incredible friendships have grown and strengthened over my 18 month journey. Some were instrumental in helping me create fun and making a ruckus. I had my Day One party and my 9 month celebration party at one friend’s house. A different friend teaches Brazilian dance, and extended her services to me, for free, whenever she could. She also led dancing at numerous celebrations I threw. I exercised with these friends, and we had a great time together.

My children were becoming closer and closer to this group’s children. Our social calendar was full and fun. We carpooled, play dated, partied, ladies night outed, and coordinated after school classes and camps.

Months ago, all of this stopped.

I have been “ghosted”, essentially iced and ignored out of the social circle. First, I realized I was no longer “friends” on Facebook with the “planner.” I called her and directly asked her why. She said she didn’t like me, and all I do is talk about my transformation.

This hurt, as I am human, and I have been a people pleasing codependent person my whole life. Therefore, this honest answer felt like she was pouring acid on my emotional thin skin. So, I had to grow a thicker skin, and focus on logically knowing it is fine to not be liked.

Unfortunately, being in drama with the “planner”, I was now in a pickle. After sitting down and agreeing that there was space for both of us in our community, I stayed in her book club and beach outing plans. I optimistically hoped that since we aren’t actually the ones in elementary school, we could move forward in a mature fashion.

Then came the very next book outing.

I had responded I was coming, but the “planner” changed the place and time and didn’t include me on the switch. Ouch!

I couldn’t sweep it under the rug, so I wrote to her. I expressed my hurt and disbelief, and told her to now intentionally leave me off future invites, because I didn’t want to be a part of her club if she could treat me like this. Her response was, “ok, Sara”. So I stooped to an 8th grade level, and emailed my letter and hers to the whole book club, so they would know why I was no longer going to be involved. CRICKETS. The “planner” came back and said, I shouldn’t lump all of the woman together, because she was the one who intentionally left me out. I wish I could say that those amazing woman took a stand and said this isn’t right, or reached out on their own to keep up relations, but they didn’t.

My daughter now sees these adults ignoring me, like I’m not even there. She hears about the gatherings that we weren’t invited to. She watches the other kids continue to be together at carpool, play dates, camps,and parties, while we are left out. Just today she asked for a play date with one of her old buddies from that group. I feel guilt and shame that she feels thrown out too.

I’ve been able to model a lot to my children, through this experience. One lesson is that quality is better than quantity.

I spent 36 years thinking I could attempt to control who liked me, and who didn’t.

It was a waste of time and energy, and I am now free of most of those desires. However, that doesn’t mean that my feelings don’t get hurt. I also find it interesting that when I don’t want to think about things within my power, I can focus on this wound and fester in victimized self pity. Those moments aren’t always pretty, and I wish I could protect my children from my adult (life) experiences.

Through my Public Display of Self Love journey (I know, there I go again), I have been so fortunate to cultivate a lot of new friendships. I’ve found like minded people, who are attracted to self care and self love. Those new friendships have been tremendously helpful and healthy.

Even with the pain and anguish, I am grateful for the opportunity to show my daughter that it isn’t the size of your home, wallet, or social calendar that is important. What matters is how you treat people, and knowing and valuing yourself.

As I surround myself with people who believe in love, abundance, and aren’t scared to celebrate other people’s successes, I will help my children learn how to be wonderful friends. 

8 real moms dish on their ultimate Mother’s Day

Not surprisingly, we know a lot of (awesome) moms. We asked a few of them what they consider the ultimate Mother’s Day. You might think, given the opportunity to fantasize about anything under the sun, that the answers would be something only The Duchess of Cambridge could realistically expect. The truth is, most moms want something quite simple.

Not surprisingly, those of us at Parent Co know a lot of (awesome) moms. For reasons that were not entirely unselfish, we asked a handful of them what they would consider the ultimate Mother’s Day. You might think, given the opportunity to fantasize about anything under the sun, that the answers would be something only The Duchess of Cambridge could realistically expect. The truth is, most moms want something quite simple.

(Hear that, lovers of moms? SIMPLE. You can do this.)

Sarah, mom of 2 ages 9 and 13

Ok- dream? My kids are old enough that we have fun together, and we all work a lot, and any moment when we step outside of the pace and requirements of our day we just enjoy each other’s company- feeling lucky. So, my mother’s day wish would be us all in the east village for one weekend, eating cannoli at Venieros and borscht at Veselka and long hours in the aisles of The Strand- happy.

A close second is a day in the garden with them and then walk to dinner at Leunigs and creemees at Burlington Bay. I don’t ever wish for time apart. I just wish for time to be with them deeper. One little jewel of a day.

Elizabeth, mom of 1, age 2
I would like a Kitchen Aid mixer in the most basic color possible. Just kidding…. I would like to sit in the sun and read my book uninterrupted and a gift card to Mirror Mirror or J Crew.

Nicci, mom of 2, ages 5 and 7

I want a morning of exploring in the woods with my guys, followed by coffees and downtown meandering as a family. Then, I want to go off by myself to an awesome yoga class while my boys work like a rock-star team to plan and make dinner—something healthy and delicious—served on a table that’s set strategically with our brightest plates, coordinating (not necessarily matching) napkins and inexpensive flowers (too bad our peonies won’t have bloomed yet).

I want drawings made especially for me and board games with sweetened mint tea. I want to do the bedtime reading and back-scratching and tucking in—but delegate the subsequent bedtime wrangling to my husband. So basically, nothing much (ha!)— just a picture-perfect day.

Laura, mom of 2, ages 5 and 2

-To actually sleep in (not have the boys running in and out from 6am on and hear them yelling downstairs)
-To have the boys make breakfast AND clean it up
-To do something fun together AND then be granted a few hours of guilt-free time to myself (to hike Philo, get a pedicure, go to a movie, anything)
-And though I don’t need anything, I’ve always loved the idea of having something that my kids picked out (with a wee bit of guidance from their dad); I’d love to wear something that they picked out for me, whether it’s earrings, a hat, you name it (again, within Dad guidelines)

Every year when M-Day rolls around I have the same conversation with many mom friends… that there’s a delicate balance of what makes a perfect mother’s day. You want to spend time with the sweet people who made you a mom, you don’t want to clean up after them for once, and you’d love to have a nanosecond of time to yourself. And then come back to them. But not be the default for the day.

Sarah, mom of two, ages 4 and 7

I want to wake up refreshed from a full night’s sleep (8 hours). The sun is peeking through the curtains and I have a kid tucked under each arm, but my back doesn’t hurt. My husband is frying bacon in the kitchen. We lay around for a while (1 hour) and then have breakfast on the sun-warmed porch with really good coffee (1 hour). Then we go for a walk on the waterfront and the kids are lovely and don’t fight and the sun is warm and glorious (2 hours).

Then we come home and my husband takes the kids somewhere for a really long time. I spent two hours drawing on the porch in the sun. Then I go for a long, leisurely run along the lake for and nothing hurts, not even my lungs or my illacal spinae migratis, and the music is really, really good (1 hour). Then I take a long hot shower (30 mins). Then I lie down with a really good book and fall asleep because hey, I just ran for an hour (2 hours). Then just when I start to miss the kids, they come home and climb all over me and make me laugh. But then they leave again. (30 minutes).

Then I konmari my entire house, top to bottom and say goodbye to clutter forever (4 hours). Then I take another shower, because dust and grime (30 mins). Then my husband takes me to Misery Loves Company for dinner (3 hours) etc (1 hour) and we fall asleep (2 hours). Then somehow the kids come home and they’ve already been fed so we have movie night (Harry Potter, 2 hours). And then they brush their own damn teeth and we all tumble into bed (30 mins) and sleep a deep dreamless sleep. Except my husband, who has gone shopping and made both dinners and lunches for the week while doing all the laundry (3 hours). And somehow, magically, there is still time to get 8 hours of sleep before starting the week.

Erika, mom of 1, age 7

If we are talking pie-in-the-sky, then I’d want to spend the day in NYC by myself looking at art all day and stuffing my face.

Or stay for a night at an inn on the beach where I can read and write all day and take long walks on the beach by myself.

But if we are talking realistic and simple, then breakfast in bed and a day to myself to read, write or explore sounds perfect too.

All I want from my kid is a handmade card and snuggles.

Kali, mom of 2 ages 3 months and 4

Number 1: Acknowledgement and appreciation. It’s nice to feel as if the day-to-day things you do for your kid(s) aren’t going unnoticed. Having the whole family involved would be my ideal treat-whether it’s a day together, a special meal, or something homemade. (And since both my kids are under 4, they need all the help they can get from dad.)

Any of those things would provide a great memory to look back on, which is something I know I’ll do in the not-too-distant future while muttering, “where did the time go?”

Sara, mom of 2, ages 3 and 9

I’ll forever be enraged by the Mother’s Day a few years when the sky was gray, and snow flurries flew like little flecks of spite. First of all, it’s May. Knock it off. Second, of all days, SERIOUSLY? In stark contrast, last year was glorious. The sun was shining, my husband and I spent the afternoon getting the yard and flower beds ready for summer.

My kids pattered about, entertaining themselves outside, and whether I’ve blocked it out or it really didn’t happen, I refereed no disputes. I remember lounging in the shade, watching the sky with each of them tucked under my arms and thinking, “Nailed it!”

So, basically that again. With morning baked goods, handmade cards that took longer to make than finding the markers, and something special to plant in the garden. (And a dessert that looks expensive.)