Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

The Second Child: How Pregnancy and Parenting Differ Among Children


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When I was pregnant with my first child, I routinely stayed hydrated with water, anxiously awaited doctor’s appointments so I could stay apprised of the baby’s development, was terrified of taking anti-nausea medication because of the child born with lobster claws in the Daubert case (lawyers, you know what I’m talking about), and diligently avoided tuna and shellfish.

With my second child, I was downing five cups of coffee per day, “forgetting” about doctor’s appointments, popping Zofran with reckless abandon and, in desperate times of starvation, eating Cuban sandwiches straight off convenience store shelves. (Putting the sandwich in the microwave will kill the Listeria, won’t it?).

With my second child, the five-second rule became the five-minute rule. I breastfed my first child for three days. My poor second child didn’t receive even a drop of colostrum. Hey, it wasn’t for me.

My first child had a closet full of haute couture that would impress even Joan Rivers. My second child received a closet full of our first child’s stained hand-me-downs.

With my first child, I was terrified to leave the house and risk exposure to germs. I took my second child to a zoo with my then-toddler in the dead of summer when she was ten days old. (Maybe if I expose her to lots of monkeys, she’ll be immune from the Ebola virus when she joins the Peace Corps in 2032).

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When I was pregnant with my first child, I was consumed with the “newness” of the entire experience. I found myself saying things like, “Oh my God, I just felt her kick!” and “Jason, get the camera, it’s time to take the 9-week belly picture for her album!”

When I was pregnant with my second child, the conversation became, “I can’t freaking sleep because she’s kicking my ribs!” and “If I rub my skirt really hard with a Shout Wipe, do you think anybody will notice the vomit residue? I’m too huge to bend over and change.” When I was pregnant with my first child, my baby bump became a photographed shrine. With my second child, it became my first child’s pillow and, occasionally, chair.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I loved when strangers stopped me on the streets and asked when I was due and whether I was having a boy or girl. When I was pregnant with my second child, I became homicidal when somebody asked me about being pregnant. Or gave me dirty looks when I was downing that fifth cup of coffee.

On the same token, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was a panicked, uncertain mess. With the second child, I had an idea of what to expect and didn’t have time to stress about the pregnancy because I was so busy chasing a toddler while juggling a career and marriage and attempting to reach Domestic Goddess status. (Never made it to the latter).

With my second child, I knew that most of what I thought mattered during my first pregnancy didn’t really matter at all.

What does matter is that she is loved, nurtured, and raised to feel a sense of validation and belonging in our family and the world. What does matter is that she, like our first daughter, is raised to treat people kindly and to understand her purpose and work hard at fulfilling it.

What won’t matter, dangit, is whether I ate and enjoyed a giant slice of brie during my pregnancy.

How did your first and second pregnancies and child rearing differ and do you think it made a difference?

Cheers!

    The Nine Most Annoying People: I Just Need to Vent


    Annoying I’m not perfect. I think I’m funny when I’m probably not. I tell stupid jokes and inappropriate anecdotes. I generally suck at being places on time. However, there’s a breed of people who I find difficult to tolerate. Ladies and gentlemen, the list of the nine most annoying people: The Know-it-Alls. We’ve been encountered by know-it-alls all our lives, but these people become more prevalent during the childbearing years. You MUST purchase this car seat… it’s the best. You aren’t breastfeeding or vaccinating? The horror! Oh my God… little Mumsy must see this specific pediatrician, but only after she consumes her organic peas that were grown from the richest Peruvian soil in my backyard while Daddy plays his harp that was manufactured by handicapped monks in a [third world country] as Spot sits whimpering nearby in the comfort of his fair trade, cashmere blanket. I want to shoot this person. Unless specifically asked, I don’t want your opinions. Namedroppers. I worked with a dude who was the World’s.Worst.Namedropper. He would routinely show up at work on Monday and spout off a list of local people who he hung out with over the weekend. Nobody knew any of these people he was talking about and they were irrelevant for purposes of the conversation. Unless it’s the President or somebody legitimately significant, nobody cares who you and your spouse ate dinner with last night. We get it. You’re a cool dude(ette). Your weekend was probably cooler than mine. Now cut it out. Big Leaguers. You know these people. They are the ones you have met literally ten times and they act like they have no clue who you are as you are biting your lip and introducing yourself for the eleventh. These people are one of two things: 1) mentally deficient, or 2) trying to make themselves feel important by acting like you are unimportant. Move on. Elevator Gunners. People need to become versed in elevator etiquette. I work in a large office building with 41 floors and have been “elevator roadkill” to someone who couldn’t wait for me to get off the elevator before they attempted to get on. It goes like this: push the button, when the elevator arrives, wait until the people inside the elevator get off the elevator before getting on the elevator yourself. Got it? Thanks.

    Street Snails. These are pedestrians who take their sweet time crossing the street, even though they know you are waiting for them to completely cross before you can move your vehicle. I get it- they have the right of way. But, every time I know someone is waiting for me, I put a little “pep in my step” out of courtesy. Can’t everyone else do the same? Scary Sneezers. I can’t stand people who do not control the loudness of their bodily functions. There’s a vendor in my building at work who is the loudest freaking sneezer I’ve heard in my life. So loud, that when I was pregnant, my daughter would jump IN UTERO every time she sneezed. It’s rude, unnecessary, and obnoxious. If you wouldn’t sneeze that loudly in church or at an important meeting, then give everyone else the courtesy. El Cheapos. If someone buys a round of drinks and you are a recipient, then eventually it will be your turn to buy a round. I don’t know how I can make this more clear. We aren’t in college anymore. If you can’t afford to go out and you have to mooch, then stay home. If you borrow money from someone or if someone “covers” you for something, then reimburse them before they have to feel awkward by asking you for the money. (See also: if you owe someone money, then don’t let them see you running around town wearing fancy new clothes and dining at expensive places). You are putting a bulls eye on your back for people to secretly hate you. I-Don’t-Know-My-Audiencers. These are the people who brag to public servants about their country club memberships, luxury vehicles, champagne wishes and caviar dreams. They are the people who discuss their valuable stocks, 401k plans, and prenuptial agreements to people who are struggling to make ends meet. Aside from the fact that it’s rude and tacky, it makes you look like a schmuck. My-Social-Media-Life-is-Perfecters. These people have been written about ad nauseam, but I couldn’t resist. Use your imaginations. There you have it, the nine types of people who drive me bananas. Did I leave anybody out? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.    

      What to do When You have the Boss from Hell: Quit!


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      When you have the boss from hell, don’t stick around hoping things will get better with some perseverance. Don’t stick around hoping, by some miracle, the boss from hell will leave you alone and turn his negative attention on somebody else. Instead, find another job. You don’t deserve to put up with that garbage.

      I’ve experienced the boss from hell. Let’s call him Lucifer. He tried to make my life [read: everyone’s life] a nightmare and he temporarily succeeded. I once worked at the dysfunctional law firm of Satan & Hitler, LLP, where Lucifer was a young partner notorious for preying on newbie associates (like me!), berating them, making them feel insecure about their legal abilities, and running them off. Lucifer must not have gotten a lot of hugs from his mom when he was growing up because he was a hateful, ugly person, who had no life or friends outside of the office. Heck, he had no friends inside the office, as his colleagues- whom he considered to be friends- frequently gossiped behind his back. There was an instance where Lucifer called me into his office to explain a Memorandum of Law that I prepared, which he believed was pure crapola. To demonstrate how I was a “baby attorney” who was metamorphosing into an “adult attorney,” Lucifer literally got down on his hands and knees and crawled around the room like an infant. It was the Twilight Zone. In the three years I was an associate at Satan & Hitler, LLP, I would walk around the office looking for hidden cameras, thinking I was on some crazy reality show because SURELY a professional work environment could not truly be this nutty. It was.

      I stayed at Satan & Hitler, LLP, too long because of paralyzation of the lie that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to go anywhere else and be successful. At the time, the economy was in shambles, major “silk-stocking” firms were having historical layoffs, and I was worried that I would have to take a pay cut (and still be unhappy) somewhere else. I was a battered work wife.

      According to a 2013 article posted in the LinkedIn Influencer program, two-thirds of employees aren’t fully engaged in their careers. The number one reason for the disengagement? Their boss sucks. In other words, if you have a bad boss, you are in good company. However, you can do something about it by taking control of your life and peacing out.

      It was probably the tenth time that I came home after work crying because of something horrible that Lucifer did when my husband grabbed me, looked me in the face, and said “What are you doing? Find another job. Your misery isn’t worth it.” He was right. I finally left Satan & Hitler, LLP. Not because I had the chutzpah to leave on my own volition, but because a major client had left the firm, leaving me and several other associates with no work and no job. Fortunately, I secured another position in a couple days, where I have been for the last four years. It’s a great work environment. Maybe this is God paying me back for the three years of hell that I endured at the other firm, but it’s refreshing to be at a place where I am valued, appreciated, and respected, and the only workplace politics involve getting your work done.

      When I reflect on the abuse I put up with from Lucifer, it makes me feel sickened that I’d allow someone to treat me that way. Maybe I have a different perspective because I’m older, more experienced, have kids, and a different outlook about life and myself, but I’d never let someone treat me that way again. Ever.

      The bottom line? When you have a horrible boss, it will never get better. Leave. Run out the door as fast as you can. You will find another job. You are good enough, you are smart enough, and, dangit, you deserve better.

      Cheers to that!

        Mothers: Go to the Dark Side with your Daughters


        Back Alone

        Teenage girls can be cruel, but pre-school age girls can be pretty darn cruel as well. I recently took my two year old, Arden, for a play date at a park with three other moms who all have four year old daughters. The four year old girls were friends since birth, regularly spent time together, and their moms considered them to be best friends. When I arrived at the park, I was appalled by what I saw. The girls were acting plain evil, saying things to each other like “I hate you,” “you’re ugly,” and I even witnessed one girl spit on another. Yes, spit. It’s critical to mention that these girls’ mothers are kind, religious, educated women- not the type that I ordinarily would have stereotyped as raising children who behave this way. The mothers were frustrated and intolerant of this behavior, routinely separating their daughters and threatening to leave the park if it continued.

        This was my first dose of pre-school “Mean Girls” and it was daunting. I realize girls can be mean to each other, but never would have imagined it starting as early as four (and from what I’ve heard, even earlier). When I was in fourth grade, a fifth grade girl named Dana bullied me. My maiden name is Daku (pronounced Day-koo) and when I would walk into the school cafeteria for lunch, Dana would loudly and repeatedly chant in front of all the other kids, “Eeeew, It’s Daku.” It was mortifying. That was 25 years ago, and I still remember the feeling that overcame me when the clock struck “lunchtime” and I knew I’d be ridiculed on my way to the table. We’ve all had a Dana in our life, and at some point, we’ve probably been a Dana. The point is that you don’t easily forget the crappy way our Danas made us feel.

        Back to the playground. Arden was unaffected by the Mean Girls, and was playing in a sand box with another child who was closer to her age. I watched her as she played and became consumed with her innocence because, at two, she doesn’t know the pain of being hurt or rejected. She only knows that she prefers to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, get goldfish crackers in her lunch, and wear her Minnie Mouse nightgown to bed.

        Weeks after this play date, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Mean Girls and the reality that my daughters will eventually face the heartbreak of rejection.  I wanted to know the best way to address the pain that they- and I- would feel when they were excluded from the lunch table, didn’t make cuts for a sports team, or weren’t invited to a birthday party. What would I say? What would I do? How would I be able to protect them? I combed over this issue for a solution ad nauseam with girlfriends who have young daughters and nobody could offer an easy answer other than “they’ll grow out of it.”

        I think somebody else figured out the solution.  A couple years ago, I stumbled upon Brene Brown, Ph.D. while watching a TED Talk about the power of vulnerability. Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. In her recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she completely nailed the “what to do when my daughter is rejected” issue. Nailed. It. The solution is to sit with your daughter in the dark.

        In the book, Brene’s adolescent daughter came home from school feeling hurt after repeatedly being one of the last kids picked for soccer teams at recess. Her daughter advised, “two popular kids are the captains and they pick teams… after all the cool kids are named, the popular kids decide to split the others. I’m always one of the others. I never get to be named.” As her daughter sat in her unlit bedroom crying, Brene resisted the urge to turn on the lights to alleviate her own discomfort and, instead, sat with her in the literal and emotional dark. She put her hand around her daughter’s shoulder and said, “I know what it’s like to be the other.” Brene and her daughter went on to connect about some of Brene’s own experiences in life when otherness was both powerful and painful. Fast forward several pages, Brene’s daughter used Brene’s example of empathy to connect with Brene when she was featured as one of “The Others” on a publicity poster for a speaking engagement. This opportunity for connection would have been lost if Brene wouldn’t have first sat with her daughter in the dark.

        In our own lives, events like these are critical because they become “teaching moments” for our children to learn about the power of compassion and connection. Brene easily could have done what I likely would have done in a similar situation, which is to dismiss her daughter’s feelings by saying something to the tune of “if so-and-so isn’t picking you for the soccer team, then play tennis with so-and-so instead.” Or maybe I would have said, “it doesn’t matter what they think…” Or perhaps I would have instinctively regurgitated the biggest load of garbage that our parents told us about sticks and stones breaking our bones.

        It will be easy if my daughters end up being resilient and unfazed by rejection, but if they are not, I don’t want to make them feel wrong or invalidated for caring. I don’t want to make them feel silly for not immediately “getting over it.” I want to help them understand that rejection is something that everybody faces. I hope there never is a “dark” for my daughters, but if and when there is, I dang sure am going to sit with them in it.

        What are effective ways you’ve dealt with your children facing rejection?

          Stop Prefacing your Statements and Start Owning Them


           

          I cringe when I see it on my social media newsfeed. Awesome, educated, intelligent people who feel the need to preface their status updates about a controversial or potentially unpopular subject with “I don’t usually post about <religion/ politics/ race relations/ gender equality/ my expensive new car/ superstitious chain mail> but…” This little phrase appears most frequently during election seasons, but I’ve seen it in a variety of other situations.

          I think people use this preface for different reasons. It’s because they think it serves as an advance apology for writing something that others might find offensive. It’s because they think their readers will give more credence to their opinion about the subject because of their usual silence. It’s because they want to lighten the blow of the statements that follow. Or, it’s because they’re unnecessarily verbose.

          Stop it already. Just stop.

          If you want to make a statement about something (without being plain unkind), then own that statement! You are entitled to present your complete opinions without an advance caveat. Without the preface. There is nothing more powerful than hearing (or reading) someone speak from the heart.

            My Theme for 2015: Just Say No!


            SayNo

            Happy 2015 everybody! I hope everyone is having a nice start to the new year and had a good time ringing it in last night.

            A new year always triggers a need for me to reflect on what worked in my life and what didn’t in the last year, including what I want to change and what should stay the same. This can be tough because it forces me take a long, honest look at my weaknesses, which is never fun. I’ve taken a personal vow to remain completely authentic 100% of the time with total disregard about what other people think (my first step: putting myself out there on the internet). I’ve come to realize, in this journey to authenticity, that many of my actions were performed out of fear, obligation, or guilt, rather than a sincere desire to do them. I was taking on too many commitments and it was straining my career, marriage, and friendships. For instance, I was so stressed about accepting five consecutive after-work dinner invitations in one week that I wasn’t enjoying the brief time I had at home with my family after work- all I could focus on was getting myself dressed and out the door on time for whatever obligation I shouldn’t have accepted in the first place. I was constantly saying “yes” when I really wanted to say “no,” but feared that the “no” would let other people down or would cause the invitations to stop coming. I can’t let myself be guided by fear.

            My theme for 2015 is “just say no!” I will just say no to committing myself to doing things I don’t truly want to do.  I will just say no to spending time with people who I don’t genuinely want to spend time with. I will just say no to allowing myself to be distracted by technology during what should be “quality time” with my daughters. I will just say no to overextending myself through membership in organizations that no longer suit my interests or further my goals.  I will just say no to allowing myself to feel guilty for declining invitations to dinners, weddings, showers, or birthday parties unless these events are things I completely want to attend.

            What are your goals for 2015?

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