What’s With all the Play Date Hate?

It’s popular in the blogosphere these days to hate on play dates – you know, those double dates between moms and kids, which, depending on your personality, are either super awkward or total lifesavers. I fall into the second camp. Here’s why.

When my four-year-old comes home from school and announces, “Mommy, let’s play!” I’m good for about 20 minutes. That’s how long I can pretend to be an evil queen, rebuild the same puzzle we made yesterday or play Candy Land with made up rules that she changes on the fly. Then I get itchy and start tidying up or trying to make dinner, never mind that it’s only 3:15pm. But my kid wants to play! And play she should. With another kid. Since she doesn’t have a sibling (yet), our best option is a play date.

play date

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Kids’ Extracurriculars: Expectations vs. Reality

Why do we enroll our little kids in extracurricular activities? I mean, seriously, why?

My daughter’s only four, so it’s not about padding her college applications. And there’s certainly no pressure coming from my kid, who’d be just as happy digging in the dirt all afternoon. Yet I couldn’t resist signing her up for swim lessons. My logic: kids need to learn how to swim for safety’s sake. Plus maybe she’d get good at it, join the swim team, and who knows, get an athletic scholarship to college? And then one day she could be up on the podium, telling Bob Costas how she owes it all to her mom, just like Michael Phelps.

swimmer

As you might have guessed, the reality of swim class was a little different from the Olympic dreams in my head. My kid couldn’t focus, scrambling out of the pool every five minutes to find me and the snacks in my purse. And she wouldn’t put her face in the water the entire summer. I’d say she learned nothing, except I noticed that at bath time, she became quite expert at flooding the whole bathroom with water, which must have been due to her improved kicking.

When it comes to extracurriculars, our high parental hopes are often crushed by kids being, well, kids. For example:

KARATE

What we hope they’ll learn: Self-discipline, confidence and respect for their elders

What they really learn: Creative ways to inflict pain on their siblings

GYMNASTICS

What we hope they’ll learn: Coordination, balance and following directions

What they really learn: That the couch at home is great for trampoline practice and—good news‚ it is possible to scale the bookcase to reach the highly breakable knick knacks on top

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But, Wait, I Thought You Wanted a Little Sister!

My preschooler knew I was pregnant long before I planned to tell her. I’d been waiting to pass the genetic screening before I rocked my kid’s world, yet when I was only five weeks along, she threw her arms around me, looked deeply into my eyes and implored, “Mommy, what are you going to name your baby?”

Kids and animals, right? They know things, like when an earthquake is coming, if there’s a ghost present, and whether mom is smuggling an embryo.

I assumed my little psychic would be thrilled about our baby news. For at least a year, she’d been requesting a sibling — specifically, a little sister.  Unfortunately, I’d been having trouble conceiving, and her inquiries hurt my heart. I wanted to deliver so badly (pun intended). So once I finally got pregnant — with a girl, as ordered — I thought I was going to win Mom of the Year. Not so fast.

That old adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” seems to have been written for my 4-year-old, who has very mixed feelings about welcoming a new addition.

Sometimes she kisses my belly, murmuring “I love you, little baby.”

belly talk

Other times she “accidentally” jumps on my bump. (That ain’t no trampoline, kid.)

When we’re shopping, she’ll notice teeny baby clothes and want desperately to buy them for little sister.

But when I unpacked her old clothes to take inventory, she squeezed herself into a size 12 months dress, exclaiming, “Mommy, this still fits me. It’s mine! Mine!”

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7 Secret Perks of Pregnancy Bed Rest

Those of you who knew me when I was on bed rest with Viv will not believe I am glorifying it now (I hated it!).  But the grass is always greener.  I’d give anything to lay down right now!

Most moms will tell you that pregnancy bed rest blows. You’re stuck home alone, like a prisoner wearing an ankle monitor, and the only person who gets to see your fabulous pregnancy glow is the UPS guy.

But I’m here to tell you, bed rest is not all bad.

Amy on bed rest

I was confined to the couch from weeks 22-36 while pregnant with my 4-year-old. Now that I’m knocked up again, I’ve been expecting the same doctor’s orders, but incredibly, I’m still up and around. (My incompetent cervix gained competence. Must have been those graduate school courses I made it take.)

While I’m grateful to have my freedom, there are a few things I genuinely miss about bed rest, like never getting dressed. If you or someone you love has been sent to bed, here are some things to look forward to:

1) A Vacation from Work – Why bring home the bacon when you could be eating it? Getting sent home from your job when you’re hugely pregnant can be a real blessing. It’s a guilt-free excuse to escape the grind and put your feet up, just when you need to the most. I worked freelance, so I was actually able to quit my job and receive Disability—a.k.a. a weekly check for just laying there. Best. Thing. Ever.

2) Who Needs Maternity Clothes? – When you’re trying to save your cash for that fancy stroller, it can be annoying buying yourself a whole new wardrobe that you’re only going to wear for a few months. On bed rest, you barely need any maternity clothes because no one will see how ridiculous you look with your belly button and ass crack hanging out.

3) Taking Naps Whenever You Like – Pregnancy symptoms? What pregnancy symptoms? When you’re bed-bound, fatigue and back pain are non-issues. Now that I know what it feels like to chase a hyper preschooler while big as a whale, I can’t tell you how much I’d like a prescription to lay down.

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My Husband Thinks I’m a Hoarder

I’ll admit it—I’ve saved every letter written to me at sleepaway camp circa 1984. And all of my concert t-shirts. And my sixth grade sticker collection. And the satin unicorn with rainbow streamers that hung over my childhood bed.

My husband, on the other hand, recently threw out a working humidifier because it looked “grungy.”

I’ve filled three closets with my in-season clothes, yet they’re still spilling out the doors.

My husband purges his wardrobe annually and there is enough leftover room in his drawers for a baby to sleep.

You see where I’m going with this?

They say opposites attract. That must be true, since depending on whom you ask, one of us is a compulsive neat freak and the other one is a hoarder. In my defense, I’m not the kind of hoarder who would get cast on a reality show, hiding cat corpses beneath the rubble. Everything around here smells good. I just have a lot of stuff.

IMG_0592

Our different styles didn’t used to be a big deal. If anything, we rubbed off on each other in positive ways. He helped me get organized, and we had some oddly romantic evenings drinking wine while cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. I helped him relax a little and see the beauty in an unmade bed (it’s always nap ready.)

Then we had a kid and all hell broke loose.

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