Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Everything is going to come out just fine

In every parent’s journey, there are certain challenges and struggles that you accept as part of the parenting process. When I was weaning Adam from breast milk to formula at six months, for example, I assumed it would be a tough transition — but never in a million years knew just how tough. It never once dawned on me that he might have an allergy to the cow’s milk protein in formula, which meant he would have to drink expensive soy formula until he was one, and then avoid all foods containing cow’s milk (fortunately, he outgrew his allergy and now loves cheese, asks for milk before bed, and would eat butter by the spoons-full if we let him).
We thought we were going to be in for a fight when we transitioned him from co-sleeping in our bed to sleeping alone in his ‘big boy bed’ which is one of the reasons we avoided it for so long. I had nightmares of doing the whole Super Nanny thing and silently walking him back to his room over and over again until we were both crying out of frustration and sleep-deprivation. I envisioned him screaming and sobbing until he threw up. I thought he would hate us.
He surprised us and transitioned effortlessly. He has never climbed out of his bed in the middle of the night (it’s like he doesn’t realize he can get out of his bed unless he’s waking up on his own), and now, when we stay overnight somewhere, he wants us to make him a bed on the floor rather than sleep between us. If I had known how easy it would be, I would’ve bought him his own bed much, much sooner.

The pacifier was another bad habit we knew we had to break, yet put it off because we dreaded his reaction. (Really it was just me who dreaded his reaction. Aaron was ready to do whatever it took to get him to stop using a Nuk.) Adam was so attached to his “Nukies” that I expected a great big sob-fest when we took them away. Would he be able to sleep without them? Would he try to steal Ben’s pacifier? Would he start acting out? We told him that babies used Nuks and he told us he’d get rid of them when the baby came – surprise, surprise — that didn’t happen. Then he told us he’d get rid of them when he turned three and, to be honest, that day might have come and gone if not for our daycare provider making the decision for us. The day after he turned three, his Nuks were in the trash at daycare. He didn’t cry without them that first day, and that night he only asked for his Nukies two or three times. Each time I told him the garbage man brought them to the garbage dump and they were gone and he accepted this answer. A few times he’d ask me, “Are my Nukies in the garbage truck?” And I’d somberly nod yes and he’d answer “Ohhh” in a sad way, and that was the end of that. It didn’t dawn on him that we could buy new ones at Target.
Getting him into his own bed and getting him to give up his Nuks were two battles we were prepared to fight — two battles that weren’t battles at all. The potty thing, though, could easily become a real battle. We haven’t pushed the issue too much because, from everything I’ve read, if a kid isn’t ready, no amount of bribing with Skittles or asking him if he wants to be a big boy or praising his cousins or reading potty books or promising him a toy will do any good. It will cause the parents to stress out and feel frustrated and the child to feel stressed out and frustrated and who has the energy for that?
But Adam is three now, and he’s smart enough to know when he’s going and there’s really no reason for him NOT to use the potty. Aaron is getting impatient and pushing the issue more and more and I have to admit, the idea of having just one kid in diapers is very appealing (less work, less expense) so I need to buck up and get on board, too. We recently bought him big boy underwear and he was bursting with pride in his Thomas the Train undies … until he peed on the floor. I'm hoping that he just needs to have one successful experience for it to click. My mom said she potty trained me by stripping me down and putting the potty chair in the living room. We're willing to try this tactic. Fingers crossed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I am not invisible

At the "Best of" party with my hubby Aaron, SIL Trish and big brother Shawn.

I wish there was a better pic of the dress, but you get the general idea.

ON Tuesday night we had a work event at the swanky W Hotel — our annual “Best Of” party when we celebrate those who have been chosen as the “best in the cities” (best new fitness class, pastry chef, hat-maker, perfume shop, you get the idea). It’s basically a “who’s who” hip party scene; an event that makes me proud to say I work at this mag.
I went to our company’s inaugural “Best Of” party in 2008, missed the party last year due to a family funeral, and was so excited to go this year that we lined up babysitters (my parents) so Aaron could meet me there. My brother Shawn and fun sister-in-law Trish were meeting us there, as were our friends Jodi and Walter.
When I was choosing my attire a few nights in advance of the fiesta, I pulled a dress out of my closet (one I had purchased years ago and never worn), tried it on, thought it looked fine, and basically put it out of my mind. The morning of the event, I packed up my curling iron, some makeup, the brown dress, my comfortable brown Mary Janes, and headed out the door.
Within an hour of being at work, it started. The questions.
“What are you wearing tonight, Kelly?” “Julie, what are you wearing?” “Alex, can I see your dress?” “Will this dress look OK?” “Should I wear the black tights or the grey ones?”
There definitely wasn’t this much buzz the first year we had the event. Some people dressed up, some didn’t. But this was the third year. And my coworkers were all about the fancy.
My friend Kelly’s dress was hanging in a bag in her cube. When I asked to see it, she slipped the plastic bag off the hanger and underneath was a very stylish royal blue strapless cocktail dress. I overheard Julie describing her dress as a little silver and black number that she was going to pair with some tall black boots. Mallika was going home to change into a satiny one-shouldered black dress. Alex’s dress was an adorable LBD with ruffles around the neckline.
“I’m starting to think I’m going to be underdressed” I wrote in an email to my friend Kirsten.
“I am not cocktaily at all... I’m Graysville,” she wrote back. “Gray boots, gray skirt, gray and purple little jacket thing. I never had time to go shopping. I wouldn’t worry about being underdressed!”
I went over to my friend Amanda’s cube. “I think I’m going to be underdressed,” I told her. (Amanda is often my voice of reason here at work.)
“Mary is wearing what she has on right now,” she pointed out.
Mary was wearing pants. Mary is very practical.
Jamie sent me an email asking, “Should I wear pants or a dress?”
“Wear a dress!” I wrote back.
Tabitha emailed me an image of a short, tight, sassy dress she was considering for the party. “Is this going to be OK?”
“Definitely! Sassy is good!” I wrote back.
I was about to realize that I was the one who needed fashion advice.

The plan was for Kelly and I to meet the rest of our marketing team at 5 p.m. to finish stuffing gift bags. At 4 p.m. I headed over to the bathroom to get ready. Plugged in my curling iron, took my dress out of my Lunds/Byerly’s bag (not nice enough to require an actual hanger), set my makeup on the counter. Awesome. I was going to be ahead of schedule. That never happens.
As soon as I had my dress on, I knew it was all wrong. It wrapped around my waist and came down to a few inches below my knees. A silky tank top underneath did an excellent job of covering me up. My chunky heels were way too casual. I stepped in front of the full-length mirror and examined myself from the front and side. These are the words that ran through my head: “Dowdy. Frumpy. Boring. Plain, plain, plain.”
I was glad I was alone in the bathroom. In a split second I hurried back into the stall and took the dress off. It was an alright dress, for a casual business lunch, maybe. But this wasn’t a casual business lunch. This was going to be a cocktail party with no shortage of cleavage and legs — a cocktail party crawling with hip, young, HOT coworkers and clients wearing spiky heels and trendy dresses.
Fuck it. I was not going to wear that thing. I was tired of blending in. I always blend in. I wanted to feel hip and trendy and maybe (gasp, gasp) even sexy.
I feel like I need to preface what I’m about to write by saying that I am madly in love with my husband, he makes me feel beautiful, and I don’t have a burning desire to morph into Kim Kardashian (or some other Hollywood bombshell) just to see what it’s like to be your average guy’s wet dream. But, I don’t know, when you’re married and you have kids and you become comfortable in your routine, you start to feel sort of invisible. The problem is, I have always blended in — even when I was younger (I was never the girl getting hit on. If a guy ever bought me a drink, it was most likely because he was hitting on one of my friends and didn’t want me to feel left out) — and now that I’m 35 (!) and have two kids, I’m a little bit bored with playing it safe and being the “good girl.” I’m finally ready to step out of the box and take certain risks.
I honestly think it took having two kids to get to this point, as backwards as that may be. I am a lot less modest now, that’s for sure. (Breastfeeding will do that to you.)
As soon as I made the decision to reject my dress, my mission became urgent. I just had to find a replacement dress. This was a fashion emergency!!
Even though I couldn’t afford it.
Even though I was supposed to be helping my department stuff gift bags in less than 45 minutes.
I threw my pants and sweater back on, stuffed my brown dress into my work bag (sorry, brown dress!), gathered up my makeup, and prepared to do some serious shopping in record time. (Gotta love the fact that 50 city blocks are connected through the skyway system!) Do I go to Macy’s? Target? Where was I guaranteed to find a fun outfit that wouldn’t break the bank?
I decided to check out the sales racks at Sak’s Off Fifth. I tried on a purple bubble dress with a low back that was straight out of Sex and the City. Price tag = $80 (on sale). I instantly felt hip. It was perfect! I put it on hold. I couldn’t quite commit but I didn’t want to put it back, either.
It’s funny how your priorities shift when you’re in a mad rush to buy something. Normally I wouldn’t even consider spending $80 on a dress like that. And then the rational side of my brain kicked in. How many times would I wear it? Was the quality worth $80? Was it as cute as I thought or was I just desperate? Would it look like I was wearing a short purple bag?
If I couldn’t find anything else, I would buy that dress. And eat PBJ until my next paycheck. “But it’s just a dress,” the rational side of me hissed. “Right now it seems like a necessity, but it’s not going to matter in a few days, once people start forgetting about this party.”
“I don’t care,” said the ‘this-is-how-I-got-into-credit-card-debt-back-in-college’ side of me. “I want to feel cute!”
And with that, off I went to Len Druskin for some shoes. I found a pair of black velvet heels on sale for $20 (half off). They had my size. These shoes were a million times better than my original choice. I was so distracted at the register that the cashier had to prompt me to sign my check card slip. “Long day?” she asked with a smile. If I would’ve been honest, I would’ve told her “No, I’m frantically trying to buy an entire outfit in 15 minutes, even though I’ve had months to prepare for this event because, turns out, I hate the outfit I brought. And guess what? I have about $200 in my account to last me the next few weeks. And yet here I am out shopping! Ha ha! Isn’t that funny?”
“Yeah, long day,” I replied.
I raced down to Marshall’s and went directly to the dresses. In record time I had six dresses piled over my arms. I didn’t really want to buy a black dress since I knew most people would be wearing black (plus I have a number of black dresses in my closet) but when I tried on the dresses, the fun, colorful ones did nothing for me.
The last dress I tried on was a black dress, and as soon as it was on I knew it was the dress: A black tank-style dress with layers of ruffles and little sparkles in the fabric. It was form fitting but not too tight. It was short but not slutty. It showed just the right amount of cleavage without being all 'Hey, everyone, check out these DDs!' It was comfortable. It had just the right amount of glitter to be fun without being obnoxious. And it was only $25! SCORE!
I hurried back to work, changed in record time, put powder on my sweaty face, sprayed on some Flowerbomb perfume, and tried to do something with my pathetic hair (I am not a long hair person and I know deep down that my hair looks a million times better when I have short hair — but it’s taken me so long to grow it out that I’m not quite ready to cut it just yet). I put on the dress, the heels, some dangly earrings and lipstick, all ‘special occasion items,’ and when I was all put together I felt GOOD about myself. I didn’t feel boring and frumpy. I actually felt kind of fun.
I’m not as thin or as toned as I’d like to be, but you know what? I’m not as heavy as I used to be, either. Just a little over three months ago I had an extra 40 pounds on my frame and a nearly 10 pound baby chillin’ in my uterus. And maybe, when I’m older, I’ll wish I had the figure I have right now (imperfections and all) and I’ll be glad I bought a dress that didn’t hide my body but actually highlighted some of it. The questions were: Did I have the confidence to wear the dress without feeling like I needed to keep my coat on all night? Could I wear it without self-consciously pulling it down or tugging it up?
Yes I could.
And I did.
And you know what? I had an absolute blast.