Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top 10 Resolutions

1. I will do more volunteer work
2. I will read more books
3. I will stop sleeping in my contact lenses
4. I will kiss my husband hello when he comes home before the chaos sets in
5. I will go to the gym
6. I will use a night cream
7. I will hang up my clothes at the end of the day, instead of piling
8. I will cook more, heat up less -- for Chloe
9. I will write more
10. I won't sweat the small stuff

Mamadramas will be on hiatus until the first week in January. Thanks to all my readers and fellow bloggers. Wishing you all health and the kind of wealth that really matters.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stage Mother

My childhood dream was to be an entertainer. I would awaken at an ungodly hour to watch Kids Incorporated. I was riveted by Stacey, (who went on to be Fergie in The Black Eyed Peas). She was blonde and blue eyed. She rocked the side ponytail. She got to sing and hang out at the soda bar. I was obsessed.

My mother had told me that when I was very young, she was often stopped by strangers and told that I should be on television. I had a mop of remarkable blonde curls at the time. In my re-creation of this tale, I envision my mother being approached by actual agents with business cards, but in reality it could have just been friendly strangers. Nonetheless, my mother always responded graciously but with an emphatic "No". She did not want me to have "that life". And I am sure she did not want that life either, the shlepping to castings, with three kids who were a combined four years apart in age.

I remember as a pre-teen, when my obsession for all things Hollywood piqued, I screamed at my mother in response to a re-telling of this story. Something about how she killed my dreams, how I could have been famous. I was furious. By that time my curls had frizzed and I was awkward with braces and glasses. Still, I felt that she had made a decision on my behalf that thwarted my dreams.

I dabbled in entertainment in any way that I could. I sang in my school choir. I danced ballet and jazz. I enrolled in modeling school.

In high school, I sang on in my bedroom to the Les Miserables soundtrack even though I had never seen the show. I was a tormented teen, haunted by "a world that's full of happiness that I have never known". A angst-filled Cosette, using my four poster bed as a stage.

I was les miz, to say the least.

Early into my college career, I had the opportunity to audition for this or that, but by that time, I was too accustomed to the audience of only my mirror and too afraid of rejection. One day, I was jogging at the park when home visiting my parents on some break. A commercial was being shot. My heart raced, as I watched the lights, the cameras, the whole production. I sprinted home and announced to my parents that "THIS" is what I wanted to do. They were not pleased. You'll never make any money, It's a diffficult life. What happened to law school? Still, I was renewed. I interned at production companies as a PA, anything to get closer to the business. The work was tiring, with early call times and menial tasks. But I loved the energy - even for a lotto commercial. I interned at MTV, in series development and production. My parents remained unenthusiastic when it came to "the industry". The implicit superficiality, the difficult personalities.

In the end, I did not have the strength to pursue this passion without my parents support. Or, I did not have the ambition and the drive to make it happen on my own. I took the road more readily traveled, the consumer PR life that inevitably lead me to the world of non profit. Both careers have proven to be largely unsatisfying, uncreative and riddled with the difficult personalities that my parents feared on my behalf.

As I watch my daughter dance to music in a manner that has been so staggeringly intense and dare I say, gifted, I am convinced that she will somehow want to pursue a path of performing. And if she wants to do this as a job, and not just as a hobby, what will I say? Despite my wish that my parents had been more indulgent of my dreams, Lindsay Lohan scares the hell out of me. But is her way the only way to be successful in that area?

An old friend had a sister who danced her way into the New York City ballet. While there were difficult times when the family had to rally behind one child in a manner that may have lacked equity, they remained generally healthy and normal. I am sure this woman, who is still dancing in her 30s, can not imagine her life any other way.

I hope that Chloe will find a way to chase her dreams in a way that does not take her too far from us. And I hope that I can find the strength to support her choices, and to let her go.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Best Laid Plans Part Two

With regards to my last post, keep in mind that it really is the story of how my nanny "Jane" came to be. The bigger story about my return to work, involves the disastrous dismantling of my position based on my part time status, and the fact that my boss believed that "senior managers can not work part time". I believe strongly that women who try to maintain their corporate life in a flexible scenario generally have to make a deal with the devil, and will somehow get screwed in the end.

I did not want to mislead anyone to believe that the decision had a fairy tale ending. Once I leave my job, I will share the details of the erosion of my workplace persona.

Think Dilbert, but with better hair.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

It was spring 2005. My friend E and I were having our one millionth conversation about the type of mothers we wanted to be. But unlike the last 999,999 conversations on this topic, this one was actually valid, since I was in my third trimester. E did not know then that she would go on to get pregnant the same month that I delivered Chloe. So we were valid in having this talk, unlike our general prediliction towards obsessive, baseless speculation.

"I am definitely staying home full time", I announced. In my memory of this moment, I am stroking the belly which had finally outpaced my breasts and devouring grilled cheese. I am sure I looked at her confidently, with a smugness that only an ignorant mother-to-be can perfect.

"I believe that no one could take better care of my child than I can".

That was only half true. I mean, I believed the statement in hypothetical terms. It's one of those things that you say that no one can disagree with. But a big motivator for that statement was the fact that I hated my job, and was ready to leave. I had experienced a fall out with a colleague with disastrous consequences. I had outgrown my position with no real career trajectory. I was ready, and the timing seemed to perfectly align with the birth of my first child. I fantasized about my resignation, how I would come to the office with my perfect cherub on my hip, living proof of the bigger, better job I was about to take on.

E felt differently, a rarity in our relationship. She wanted to to work. She wanted her child, especially if it was a girl (it would be), to see her mother in terms of a woman in the workforce - a role model that she could embody despite the ongoing inequities between men and women in corporate America. She felt it would be better for her relationship with her husband to be working, to share experiences born of the complexities of work outside the home. She made a good case, but I remained convinced of my own. I packed up my desk slowly. I transferred files. And when I went out on maternity leave, I prepared to return only once, to give notice and say goodbye.

But that was all "B.C.E." (Before Chloe Era).

In the weeks following her birth, I was plagued with several blistering emotions, not the least of which was an ovewhelming identity crisis. My life was virtually unrecognizable. I was living in a new home, with a new body, new set of responsibilities and new baby, with a new title of "Mommy". My face was makeup-free, my clothes were still elastic and I had "working breasts". Who the hell was I? Despite my issues with my job outside the home, it was something I did well, something I could do on autopilot. And it was a surefire way to get the hell out of the house.

In those early days, I put Chloe in her bouncy seat where she sould sit for hours, staring wide-eyed at me. The kid never slept and always had a fierce independant streak. I took it as a sign. I opened the yellow pages and wrote down the list of day care centers. Along with my other platitudes B.C.E., I swore I would never use a nanny. "If anything, I want her to be in an educational enviornment", I would say. Never knowing that my child could barely see in those early months, and was readily entertained by the dance of stuffed giraffes that hung over her crib.

Still, I persevered in my thinking that returning to work would be a salvation. As I walked Chloe around on my maternity leave, in my post-partum pants and ponytail, I oozed jealousy at the women who were in eyeliner and stilettos, carrying briefcases instead of diaper bags. I wanted to be rushing off somewhere. I desperately missed email, and conference rooms, and powerpoint. I even missed the subway.

When Chloe was around six weeks, we visited the only day care center that would not tell me that I was too late to register Chloe. Who knew I should have filled out an application on behalf of my fetus? I walked into the building with my mother, who waited outside with Chloe while I toured the establishment. While the tourguide was a chipper, Love Boat Julie type, this was no fun cruise. The baby room, where Chloe would stay, was filled with stoned looking children in huge bouncy seats. The walls looked filthy, with wilting construction paper art. A teacher waved a pink streamer in front of the babies, who stared listlessly ahead. It felt germ filled and depressing. I ran outside, tears in my eyes, and proclaimed "I can't leave her here! So I can't go back to work!"

Another half truth. I was blaming the day care center, but actually, my depression had started to lift. At around two months I began to really enjoy motherhood, and missed my job far less. My physical pain had finally subsided, and my breasts felt less "alive". Chloe was more interactive and fun.

And I did not even mind my extra pounds and sweatpants.

It's this last sentiment that did not allow me to abandon the idea of working entirely. Ultimately, for me, the life of a stay at home mother was not meant to be. The way in which my days progressed at home did not allow for me to develop any sense of myself. Meaning, I had no time to shower, I had to wear clothes with give, and the household tasks (not my forte) were never ending. It seems like a trite reason to leave your child in someone elses care but the me I needed to be to be happy and fulfilled and stimulated and an all around better mother did not include stretch waistlines and all day baby talk.

Plus, we were deeply in debt.

But I knew I could not work full time. I was breast feeding, did not want to supplement with formula nor exclusively pump. And there was still the issue with my job dissatisfaction, I feared returning to that world all day, every day, and the potential emotional impact. And I missed Chloe when I was away, even for just a haircut.

So I was torn.

To add to the complexity, the only lingering component of my post partum baby blues was irrational paranoia. I was constantly afraid that something terrible would happen to the baby. SIDS, choking on a binky, slipping through crib rails. You name it, I thought it. So the idea of a stranger caring for my child, someone who could snatch her/molest her/drop her/contaminate her body or mind, was terrifying.

My mother, witnessing my torment but firmly believing that I should go back to work, found a nanny. It was a woman who had helped raise by sister's husband. Her name was "Jane" and she was an Orhodox Jew by conversion. She had eight kids of her own. At first, I balked. I did not want a nanny. My mother forced a meeting between us which she mediated. She sent me out to get some cookies and when I returned, Jane had arrived and was holding Chloe on her ample bosom. I cringed, took the baby, and sulked in the corner, nursing frantically. Jane talked for hours. She never stopped talking. She mentioned she had cared for someone with ALS, and I liked that. But that was about it. She was slightly unkempt and her comments sometimes sounded ignorant. But she knew babies. When she finally left, I mouthed "No Way!" to my mother and left the room. My mother called Jane, told her I was still trying to figure things out.

But the more I tried to figure things out, the more confused I became. When I was home, I was happiest with other mothers, but those "playdates" did not really benefit the kids, which left me feeling guilty. Classes, while a great distraction, were overwhelmingly expensive. I feared that Chloe would become too dependant and unable to manage new surroundings and new caregivers, especially due to my smothering nature. When my husband came home, and asked what I did all day, I worried that he would wonder what had happened to his wife. I tried days of staying in, sitting on the floor, no TV, no playdates. But after a few I felt suffocated and lonely, and dare I admit, bored.

But I never wanted to leave her.

So I was stuck.

As is the case with most big decisions, mine was made out of sheer necessity. My maternity leave was up. Time had run out. So I dressed Chloe up and went to work, just as I had planned many months ago. But instead of a resignation letter, I brought a proposal for part time work. My boss agreed. And I called Jane, because after weeks of marinating in this decision, I realized that she would be ok. And she was almost family, she was not a stranger. My mother promised she would drop in alot. It was about as good as it was going to get.

One morning before my first day of work, Chloe had one of her explosive poops, through the diaper, and into my hair. I was desperately trying to make the bed and put laundry away. On the phone with my brother, narrating these events, he said, "Aren't you happy that you are going to have someone to do all of this shit for you?"

And I was. Because in the end, the joys of motherhood are not 9-5. But there is alot to handle. And I was glad to have a helping hand, a bit of myself back, some comfort in my high heels.

I believe that Jane has been a great influence. While not classy nor kempt, she is engaging and energetic. I am sure that Jane's love of music is visible every day when Chloe dances to any beat. Chloe can play happily alone, or with any stranger without anxiety. And over a year later, Chloe bids me farewell with a cheerful, yet dismissive, "buh-bye" and greets me at the end of a day with an enthusiasm that almost knocks us both over.

And we are no longer in debt.

So it does not get any better than that.

New addition

Note the new addition to my blogroll - Apartment 53. If you like my blog, you will love hers. In this way, we one and the same.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sex and the City, Season One

I am watching the first season of Sex and The City. I never saw this season, but its on HBO On Demand and I am killing time until 9:00 PM, the absolute earliest I can fall asleep in anticipation of a sleepless night with a sleepless baby.

I'm sorry, but what the hell is going on with SJP's HAIR? As a curly girl, I am appalled. The frizz. The horrid highlights. The terrible length. This series comes after movies like Miami Rhapsody, where SJP is platinum and ringlets and great. Did no one in makeup and hair on SATC the early years know of hair serum, long layers and lowlights???

I can not even speak of the makeup - the uneven complexions, the blue eyeliner. And Miranda's eggplant do?

And the fashion sucked. We are supposed to believe that these stack heel slides are $400 Manolos??

Anyone? Anyone?


Things I will never have in my home: The Clapper, Wall-to-Wall carpeting*, white formica, a bidet....

...and a scale.

Growing up, my house had a scale that resided in my father's bathroom. But I never paid much attention to it. The numbers meant nothing to me. Even when my father surveyed me one day in feeted pajamas and remarked to my mother (in an adoring tone, of course), "She's growing a little pot" (as in belly).

My first understanding of the scale arrived via my friend Rachel. She was one of those jellyfish friends, to borrow a term from Bridget Jones. The ones who zing you from time to time with remarks that sound innocuous but leave a sting. Things like, "Why are your arms so hairy?". You know those friends. After realizing that we both weighed a whopping 88 pounds, we decided that we needed to "work out" and ran around the house in a fit of excerise. It was the 80s, mind you, so Jane Fonda was used, I am sure. When we finally allowed ourselves a healthy snack (which was probably about 20 minutes into this routine) it was carrots. With heaps of ranch dressing. We had alot to learn.

Even when I cared, which was a brief stint in college, I still never really knew what I weighed. And I liked it that way. Numbers are just too addictive. The ability to manipulate a number, to take one on as an identity, to succeed or fail based on a number...this is all dangerous territory as far as I am concerned.

Even when I was pregnant, despite being forced to hear the number associated with my weight on a regular basis, I did not internalize it at all. I was harboring another human being. All bets were off. The growing number was a sign that things were progressing correctly. I had an excuse.

Recently, I went to the doctor for a baseline physical and got on the scale, only to be greeted by a number that I have never seen before. The steel tab kept moving -- and landed on three digits that were totally unexpected. And I am not surprised. My eating habits have fallen apart in the face of fatigue and chicken nuggets. I haven't exercised a lick in almost two years. I no longer consume anything that contains Nutra Sweet. And just generally, I have not been able to let go of the bliss that comes from thoughtless eating, a bliss cultivated during pregnancy which should have been abandoned 17 months ago.

By the same token, I do believe that people need to accept their bodies for what they are in adulthood, and abandon the sizes they inhabited 15 years ago. I would rather be on the higher end of the scale and not live a life of salads and "on the sides". However, I do believe that working out keeps you young, and that it is very easy to fall apart in the face of other demands like toddlerhood, demanding jobs and general lethargy.

However, when it comes to the scale, I believe it is a needless torture device. Regardless of how little I worry about THAT NUMBER, I would give in to curiosity on the days when I was feeling low. And because eating disorders run rampant, and because I am not entirely unconvinced that my lineage does not include a genetic predisposition to anorexia/body dysmorphia if not merely extreme vanity, I never want my daughter to fall victim to numbers. I don't want her to believe that it matters at all, and even owning a scale is an endorsement of its importance.

* Sorry D, husband of E. I have heard you love the wall to wall carpeting. Just say NO.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

About Last Night

7:00 PM: Long day of playdates and girl gossip. Feeling as if whole body is already asleep. Toddler is running around house, demanding attention. Call in reserves (grandma).

7:30 PM: Dinnertime! All food offerings are rejected. Turkey, potatoes and milk are on floor. Oreos are offered and enthusiastically accepted. Mom and I are discussing mensa application when child adeptly twists open Oreo. Genius.

7:45 PM: Boosted by the advanced Oreo twisting and wanting to jazz up usual night routine, we put Chloe on potty for second time in life (first time ended in hysterical tears). Grandma brings book to potty which leads me to understand why I have both the need to read on the can, and hemorrhoids. She sits for 20 minutes. Water is run to set proper mood. After flushing and waving bye bye to toilet, Chloe promptly pees on floor.

9:00 PM: On couch recovering from bedtime, removing congealed turkey from the couch, drying hair and ears. Having riveting conversation with good friend J about the pilot that will make us famous as soon as we can a) find an idea b) write something. Can I start spending that advance now, though?

10:00 PM: I somehow am watching the Real World and have eaten three Oreos. If my hair was blonde and I was wearing acid wash instead of shirt with permanent breastmilk stains I would swear it was 1989.

10:30 PM: I am in bed, angered by stiff new cheap sheets. The first money I make from this pilot will be spent on expensive Oprah-like sheets.

11:30 PM: Chloe hysterical. Polar (pronounced like "My Car") has fallen out of bed, beady eyes side down.

12:45 AM: More tears. Chloe is signing that she is hungry. How can this be? Milk is the only option I can handle. It seems to do trick.

2:15 AM: More tears. More signs for hunger. Cannot locate sippy cup and near tears with thought of assembling new one. Finally find cup in sink, empty now warm milk and start again.

4:30 AM: Crying for Daddy. Did I mention he is away? Now I am crying too. Third milk is administered. Was smart enough to leave in refrigerator. Wish I had kid that would fall asleep dutifully in my bed as special treat. Also momentarily wish it were really 1989.

4:45 AM: I can't fall back to sleep. Crippling stomach pains. Wonder if it is guilt pains from wishing for time before children who awaken in middle of night. Start to plan out clothes for tomorrow to save time as well as pilot so I can hire someone to solely wake up in middle of night and fill sippy cups.

7:00 AM: Wake up. Chloe still sleeping, latest in life to date. Call to doorman instructing not to send up nanny whose head I will rip off if she tries to engage me on conversation. Shave legs in anticipation of husband returning but also plan to punish him for leaving by not allowing him any part of legs.

7:15 AM: Chloe is really sleeping late. Start to panic. Believe that she has run away and claimed neglect due to lack of midnight snacks. Check on her. Still sleeping.

7:45 AM: Chloe awakens and seems to not be holding grudge for last night. All thoughts of selling her to gypsies vanish when her two spindly arms are reaching out for hug.

8:00 AM: Say goodbye to Chloe, Nanny and Elmo. Eat Oreo.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Victimless Crime???

In respone to The Ethicist/NY Times Magazine
Sunday December 3, 2006

Dear Editor,

I was outraged upon reading Randy Cohen's response to the internet technician who had found child pornography on his boss' computer and questioned if she should alert authorities and risk his job. Mr. Cohen's advice stated:

" have no legal obligation to contact the police, nor should you. The situation is too fraught with uncertainty. These photographs might depict — legally — not children but young-looking adults."

The technician makes clear in his letter that he is sure that the photos were of underage adults. Mr. Cohen's response is a long winded diatribe of concern for the employer. There are ways in which an investigation can be pursued and confidentially maintained should the employer be acquitted of this crime. The alternative, a possibility strong enough that it compelled someone to turn to the New York Times for advice, is life shattering.

As a mother, and a human being, I am chagrined that any person would believe that it is correct to ignore what appears to be child pornography. It is no wonder why our children continue to be exploited. But at least we can call ourselves "ethical".

Monday, December 04, 2006

Purse Peeping

I have long believed that peering inside a woman's purse is like taking a glimpse inside her soul. Much has been written about this, about the memories associated with being a child and rooting through your mother's purse. In Style Magazine always features a section which lists the contents of a celebrity's cosmetics bag. I have always loved this, despite the fact that I am sure it is all strategic advertising and not actually the items of choice.

I recently cleaned out my own purse - purse, not diaper bag, and I thought the contents pretty much summed up the current state of my life:

1. 5-10 errant Cheerios (bottom of bag, not hygenically preserved)
2. Wallet (all but empty)
3. Work ID (four years and counting, how did I not lose this yet?!)
4. Grime covered pacifier (again, uncovered)
5. Solitary diaper (never leave home without one?)
6. Loose coins (despite fear of choking hazard)
7. Coupons for The Children's Place (to validate unnecessary shopping)
8. Vitamins (fear of falling ill and baby left to own devices/TV loving husband)
9. Mini ziploc bag with pretzel sticks (snacks+bribery)
10. Purell (see above fear of illness)
11. Makeup bag (never used mid-day, shout out to old life)
12. Disposable placemat featuring Elmo (again, germ phobia)
13. Mini Baby Einstein book, entitled "Birds" (lackluster attempt to quell potential meltdowns)
14. Crumbs of undetermined origin (I don't even want to guess
15. Sticks (collected by Chloe from street and confiscated by me)
16. Keys (I hope, but have been known to vanish)
17. Cell phone (which Chloe loves more than me)
18. Preschool application (already late)
19. Strawberry Margarita lip gloss (closest I get to a real drink)

Saturday, December 02, 2006


1. Ladies, when you see a clumsy looking woman struggling with her stroller and squirming toddler and packages, etc., help a sister out. Do not avert your eyes. Do not sigh in obvious irritation when my stroller wheels dare to touch your shoe. I know there is a sociological study to be done here (but I will leave this to Grahamad) but time and time again, my knights in shining armor come in the form of young African American men who are almost tripping over themselves to help me. They are always smiling. They are always saying "No Problem" in a way that you believe it. Women, never. And I am sure that at least some of them have been me, at least once.

2. When someone gives you a ride somewhere of moderate distance or more, always offer gas money. If you are the driver, and assuming state lines have not been crossed, never take it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Marriage Equality

I thought more about my post regarding Brokeback Mountain, and the movie itself, since my quick review. I wanted to mention the one part of the movie that I thought was the most important, and illustrated very effectively. It is captured poignantly and perfectly by my blogbuddy Weboynyc when he writes:

"The film is about how this affair - the course of true love - can damage so many things when it is closed off from its full expression."

The scene where Jack and Ennis are discussing what "could have been", made me think of my sister-in-law Davina's work in the area of marriage equality. The inability to have what you most want, the all consuming nature of that and the destruction that can be caused by denial and hypocricy, is a terrible fate.

Every year on Valentine's Day, Davina and Molly go to City Hall. Molly wears a wedding dress. Davina wears a suit. And every year they are turned away at the desk. "But what if I came here with a man that I picked up on the street five minutes ago?" Davina will always ask. And the answer will always be the same - that would be fine. 10 years together and a lifetime in between is somehow less of a case for marraige than two strangers on the street with different sexual organs.

While Davina and Molly are in a committed relationship, out and proud with supportive families and friends, their inability to marry reduces all of this to something less than what they want it to be.

Davina's book, "Why You Should Give a Damn About Gay Marriage" is available via Amazon. The website is

Thanks Weboy, for reminding me that there are stories in fiction and real life that may not always be completely understood by all but are none the less true.

**I am open to comments about marriage equality but will delete anything that is not respectful, etc.