Stories from February 2011

Mommy Playgroups: Awesome or CrazyTown? 

Note from the Editor: A few weeks ago an act of kismet brought us in touch with the wonderful Moms over at Rants from Mommyland when we published a story that was strangely akin to a post that they had published some months ago. Thankfully, Kate and Lydia saw it for the manic-mom-induced coincidence that it was and did not threaten to have us hung up by our toenails… and low and behold, a beautiful new online relationship has blossomed. We are thrilled to have them here today to guest rant. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Hi and waving! It’s Kate and Lydia from Rants from Mommyland. Today Momicillin invited us to share a Rant with all you fabulous moms. Our topic of the day? Mommy Groups. You know, those larger ones that are specially organized to create playdates for our little kid-lets. Recently, we’ve heard some horror stories about these groups—which was shocking because we both think they’re awesome. (When Lydia first became a parent, it was an impromptu group of four other new moms that saved her from a trip to the Nervous Hospital.)

For many of us, the first few months of motherhood brought a loneliness and remoteness that maybe we weren’t prepared for.  You’re suddenly at the mercy of an adorable yet strangely diabolical little cupcake bent on depriving you of sleep, coherency and a clean shirt. So the knowledge that there’s a group of women just like you getting together at a house nearby can start to look like a lifeline.  Not only can they offer coffee and a reason to put on a clean(er) shirt, but they can also keep you from self-narrating everything you do because, so far, the baby can’t talk and you feel a need to fill the silence. [Or, maybe that was just me. I remember once narrating about brushing my teeth. It was a proud moment. -Kate]

That being said, both Kate and Lydia had shall we say, *strange* experiences trying to join organized Mommy Groups. Kate went to one on a whim, only to be greeted by a woman who thrust a clipboard at her with a form that seemed more invasive than a pap smear and then was told that “maybe she should have come prepared” because she didn’t bring her driver’s license and her then-3-month old daughter’s vaccination records.

After moving away from her beloved group of mommy-friends, Lydia tried to join a local Mom Group in the new town. But she had the wrong zip code for one and for some unknown reason, was forbidden from joining the other when she told them the name of the her street.  Seems that the two ever-so-close-yet-not-quite-close-enough neighborhood groups had a small gap in their coverage. Their gap was apparently Lydia’s house.

What we’ve discovered is that the majority of Mommy Groups out there (and the Leader Mommies who run them) are wonderful, supportive, inclusive opportunities for little biddies to play near each other while their moms get some much-needed adult conversation.  But not always.  Sometimes, there’s a Mommy Group and a Mommy Leader who take it all a little too seriously and veer dangerously off course into CrazyTown. Case in point? This application we just made up to be stupid came across on the internet:

We like to think that the whole point of Mommy Groups is to provide a little comfort during a time in our lives when we’re so deep in The Blur that we can barely remember the last time we took a shower.  But when the gift of mom friends comes wrapped in a whucktastic wrapping paper of arbitrary exclusions and bizarre rules these playgroups result in doing the exact opposite of what they’re intended to. They make new moms feel more isolated from their pre-mommy selves and unsure if they want any part of this brave new social world of the Stroller Set. And that stinks, because we all deserve better than that.

And really, don’t the diapers stink enough?

For more fun and hilarious rants from Kate & Lydia, be sure to visit them on their blog and “like” them on theirFacebook page.

The Parenting Tipping Point

Angie McCullagh

I started writing for Momicillin almost two years ago. Back then, I had a three-year-old and a five-year-old and my days were a whole lot different than they are now. For one thing, I wasn’t working much. Milo was in Kindergarten and Belle had just started preschool, which occupied her three mornings a week.

While the lazy afternoons with Belle were wonderful in many ways, I didn’t have a whole lot of balance in my life. We were still together much more often than not. Now that she’s in elementary school with Milo, though, I’ve regained some freedom to write, grocery shop in peace, work, and putz around doing laundry while blasting Imogen Heap if I want.

But it’s not only the newfound hours that have changed in two years.

At the risk of sounding like a cigarette ad, “We’ve come a long way, baby.”

Kids morph fast. Here are some of the ways in which our world is vastly different than it was in 2009:

• I can drop off both Milo and Belle somewhere unfamiliar (at a new playdate or camp) without apocalyptic meltdowns. They may be nervous, but they are worldly enough now to know they can get through, and probably even enjoy, new experiences.

• One kid knows how to read, the other is getting there, which makes everything from quiet Sundays to bedtime easier.

• When Milo and Belle argue (often), I encourage them to work it out rather than worrying that my older boy is going to pummel my toddler girl.

• They’re better company. Their observations are more astute and rational. They can hold conversations and engage me more than ever before.

• Milo actually has a better sense of direction than I do and has several times, when I’ve made a wrong turn, helped me find my way.

• Belle occasionally manages to match her clothes and can emerge from her room without looking like clowns have dressed her.

• They can help. Not that they’re more willing to, say, fold a basket of laundry. But if I ask, “Milo, will you please put these clean socks in your drawer?” he’s likely to agree.

It’s fun watching them blossom. The best part of parenting, by far. And from my first Momicillin column to my last (this one), it’s only gotten better.

I feel like we’re at a point of equilibrium now. Milo and Belle will still hold my hand and give me public hugs. They like to be with me, yet they don’t need my constant presence. Soon enough, I will annoy them just by blinking and breathing.

So, before we tip toward the side of “big kids” and “Mom, please drop me off a block up the street”, I’m going to enjoy this.

This is what it’s all about.

Adventures in Catching the Plague from Your Kids

Lisa Douglas

For three solid weeks, I endured one illness after another. My six-year-old unfortunately is “that kid” that goes to school healthy but comes home with every bug on the block, which then further infects others in our home—usually my two toddlers. And when toddlers get sick, it’s pretty much like pandemonium on steroids. How do you control the snot-factor? The sneezing and coughing? How do you control the poop and the puke? You can’t. They simply don’t understand what is happening to their baby bodies, and so you’re left with buttloads of laundry, a diseased house, and prayers that you’re not the next victim.

But of course, you are.

In true Murphy’s Law fashion (because constantly cleaning all of it up, lack of sleep, lack of social life, lack of light-of-day-except-to-go-to-the-doctor’s isn’t enough) you’re the next (and usually last) one. And, for whatever reason, doesn’t it always seem like eleventy-billion times worse when you get it? When the kids are sick, they still want to eat, to drink, to play. For crying out loud, it takes an act of Congress, meds that make them sleepy, or a staple gun to get them to rest and recuperate properly. But not us! For us, it’s like the plague has reached its hand down, scooped us up in its grip, squeezing the ever-loving life out of us, until we’re one big flattened ball of parent, shivering on the couch wanting our mothers. Right?

And even worse, when we’re the sick ones, they’re the healthy ones. With lots of pent-up energy. Oh yes! It’s go time!

“Let’s go outside, mom!”

“To the park, mama!”

“Can we take a walk today?”

“Watch me ride my bike!”

Meanwhile, you’re limping from room-to-room, bracing the walls in attempt to not fall over while striving to keep your eyes open, hoping to drug yourself into a stupor so you can semi-function. But they’re too young to understand, let alone to take care of you.

Until your youngest brings you a roll of toilet tissue when you sneeze. “Hue ya doe (Here ya go), mama!”

Sigh. Cute little stinkers they are. Too bad they can’t keep their germs to themselves.

Real Moms Eat Humble Pie

Linda Kennard

I sometimes feel like I’m not a real mom; I’m just playing the part of Mom in real life. I’m doing the best I can, but without an instruction manual, I’m winging it. I’m a student without a professor, an apprentice without an employer, a resident-in-training without an expert guide. If I’d been trained, I wouldn’t make so many mistakes—or so it seems, sometimes.

But most of the time, I recognize that real moms aren’t perfect. Real moms make real mistakes (and vice versa), some of them colossal. The secret is to uncover the mothering lesson lurking in every blunder.

Years ago, Jay complained about an earache, and I suspected she had an infection that needed an antibiotic. Since we were broke and (at the time) uninsured, I didn’t want to visit the doctor unnecessarily, so I ignored my instincts and kept her home. That mistake prolonged Jay’s pain. Lesson learned: trust my gut!

Some mistakes leave me wondering whether I’ve got the sense to keep my kids alive, let alone healthy. I once booted C&T out of my car at their friend’s house when, unbeknownst to me, no one was home. I left my boys standing bewildered and alone for over an hour, while I read trashy magazines waiting for Jay to have her hair cut and dried. Lesson learned: safety first! Confirm plans the kids make; they’re hazy on details, like dates and times.

When Jay was little, I called my mom to confess every mistake. “I’m the worst mother ever,” I sobbed into the phone. (Read more…)

Next Page »
Momicillin on Facebook

This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.