Linky Link Round Up

I’ve been writing less here and more on other sites that, you know, pay me. Here’s a round up of some of my recent stuff:

I updated my piece on being an alcoholic mother for Buzzfeed, adding in more of what it’s like now to be a sober mom.

I’m super excited to be writing a weekly column for Ramshackle Glam about motherhood, anxiety, and those pesky things I sometimes have called “feelings.” I wrote about being the wrong kind of mother a few weeks ago and was pretty floored by the response; apparently I’m not the only one who feels like she has no idea what she’s doing. I also imagined what it’d look like if my 1.5 year old pitched her game concepts to the CEO of Hasbro, and what happened when we took her to the amusement park and lost Monk Monk.

Here are some tips on cool Amazon features you might like if you’re pregnant.

My first and only ever (I’m sure) magazine centerfold for Kiplinger’s is about the gender pay gap (of course).

13164423_10104906486992539_6260503517086750015_n

Advertisements

How to Make Other New Mom Friends

In 2013, Kyle and I were still living in an Upper East Side studio apartment, a 5th floor walk up over a sushi restaurant named after a brand of family sedan, approximately the size of an upper lip mole. We furnished it with an Ikea love seat, very small bed, and two bar stools. I went to bed early every night, the apartment still reeking of food, and Kyle would sit up on the Barbie couch and very quietly sip a Bud Light and try not to disturb me with his typing.

500 square feet would be a generous estimate

500 square feet would be a generous estimate

As romantic as it was to revel in the many smells that emanated from the miniature bathroom into our shared airspace, we saved up to buy ourselves some more room. We decided on Westchester, which offered a relatively quick ride to Manhattan and plenty of adorable towns where things like $7 pickles and steaming bowls of ramen could be sourced.

Until I got pregnant, we both commuted to the city for work. On weekends, we invited our friends to visit, hosting elaborate dinner parties. We didn’t make local friends because there was really no need; we were both still connected to our city roots.

Then pregnancy, then baby, and I found myself feeling very alone in a strange town, with no one to rely on for things like holding the baby for 10 minutes so I could shower. New motherhood feels incredibly isolating even when you haven’t moved: mothers who work full time all of a sudden have maternity leave to contend with (at least, I certainly hope so). You feel every single minute of the day tick by when you’re not sleeping, and a purple raisin baby is screaming and flailing in your face, and you doubt every instinct you have. My best friend in those early days was Google, who was also a very mighty enemy, frequently sending me into a panic spiral. Also, you probably have poop on your face.

Once I got myself together a little bit (because Lucy started sleeping for more than an hour in a row) and Lu lost her veil of newborn delicacy, we ventured out into the world, desperate for some compatriots.

Here’s what we learned about making new mom friends:

1. Storytime at the library is the epicenter of friendless new mom activity.

It’s like speed dating. As soon as your baby is old enough to swim in the germ pool, go to storytime. The very first time I went, I met two other women, both first time mothers with floppy little nuggets just like Lu. As you sit in storytime, awkwardly smiling while trying to remember the words to the itsy bitsy spider, shooting laserbeams of quiet desperation through your eyeballs at other women, remember that they are also half insane right now. You already have no dignity, because you definitely reek of baby barf, so just go talk to them.

please lick all of these disgusting toys individually. oh! good job.

please lick all of these disgusting toys individually. oh! good job.

The proper method of furthering the relationship without seeming like a potential stalker is to trade email addresses. You can then list a phone number in the email, if you wish. Always sign off with your name plus your baby’s name, because otherwise you will never, ever remember. You will probably confuse all the names anyway, and call many babies by the wrong names, but no one can blame you for this: you probably also are only wearing one shoe and have a booger on your eyebrow.

2. Go to every free introductory class.

Baby classes are hilarious, and also very ridiculous. There are all kinds of weird structured activities available for kids these days, and many offer classes for small babies, too. Many of these are outrageously expensive, but most offer the first class for free. Go to all the free classes, meet moms, revel in the ridiculousness, and then never return.

Yesterday, I needed something to do. It was veterans day and the libraries were closed, so I googled around and found: a baby gym. This gym offers classes once a week to babies under 10 months old for $850 per 6 months.

Apparently 6 months of baby gym time are worth more than my car.

Anyway, we went to the free session, and oh my god. The session started with Coach Claudia talking us through “baby stretches,” where you hold your baby’s legs and gently extend their “quads” and “hamstrings.” We did baby flips which apparently did something to the vestibular something in their inner ears. I’m not sure if the pseudoscience was included or cost extra.

IMG_8244

The highlight was the gym “free time,” where babies could explore their own routines, and by routines I mean crawling around licking stuff.

3. Reconnect with old friends who are new moms.

This one is sort of cheating, but it helps. You know all those people you lost touch with after high school? The ones who also have kids are very fun to reconnect with after you join their parental ranks. A digital support network is a big help on the days you can’t seem to leave the house, or need someone to remind you that you’re not doomed to spend an eternity in a blazing inferno of hellfire because you let the baby watch 15 minutes of Sesame Street so you could look at Instagrams and chug coffee in peace.

Love you, Sarah

Love you, Sarah

4. Maybe don’t wear embossed sweatpants and a leather baseball hat on your first mom meet up.

On the one hand, it’s a good gauge for who will truly understand your soul. On the other hand, it matters very little how much your new mom friends immediately understand your soul, because they will understand why your boob is hanging out of your shirt at a restaurant, or why you haven’t showered in 3 days, and that is more important.

Your new mom friends will not be your old college friends, the ones who know you inside and out, and remember staying up all night with you drinking 99 Bananas liquor and watching repeats of Friends while you eat a very large bag of bagels. While you were in a punk band, they were in a very good small town production of Fiddler on the Roof, or while you are a vegetarian, they might bake whole pig in a pit in their backyard. Maybe you’re an atheist, and they give it up to Jesus.

We can work with this. As different as everyone will be in your brand new ragtag team of sleep-deprived zombie moms, you need each other. These weirdos will become your closest allies, the ones who babysit for you at the very last minute because you desperately need help, who tell you how great you look when your eyeballs are about to fall out of your face, who don’t judge you for feeding your 8 month old nothing but white bread for lunch.

mm!

mm!

Find them. They’re out there, and they need you, too.

Flying on a Plane with an Infant: It’s Not That Fun

Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no way not to panic about flying on a plane with a baby for the first time, unless you are a Buddhist monk or so filthy rich that you have eight nannies tending to her tiny highness while you sit in first class and get bombed on morning bourbons. I spent the weeks before my five flights with Lucy (FIVE) in an increasing state of sheer terror.

I knew, logically, that everything would be fine. The worst that could happen was she’d annoy passengers by bleating like a tyrannical, satanic goat for three straight hours, and then I’d never see those people again. Telling myself that offered little comfort; logic was eclipsed by emotionally-provoked certainty that nothing would ever be okay again ever.

But of course, everything was totally fine. Here are my tips:

1. Don’t spend a lot of money on new toys. Do download a bunch of videos.

does not care

does not care

Every advice post I read before I left said to buy Lu a bunch of new toys for the plane, which would magically entertain her for dozens of in-flight hours. I would estimate that each new toy I bought entertained her for an extra 14 seconds. Skip the expense and save your money for gallons of life-sustaining airport coffee.

More helpful than new toys: we maxed out the memory on an old iPad with free Baby Einstein videos downloaded from YouTube. Be sure to give the double stink eye to anyone who gives you a disapproving glance because you’re letting a tiny angel wither into zombie dust due to five hours of screen time. Screen time saves lives (yours).

2. Once you are seated on the plane, make sure that all of your personal (for you) items are readily accessible. Your baby may pass out at any time, and once she does, you will not be able to move.

whatever you do, do not wake this thing

whatever you do, do not wake this thing

I brought two books with me on this trip, which was unbelievably ambitious. When a 20 pound chicken nugget is sleeping on your lap, do not attempt to move your arms for a page turn! Think of yourself as a T-rex: you have two disproportionate hand-claws you can sort of use to poke or drop things, and that’s it.

A better bet: download a bunch of music or podcasts to your phone and have headphones out and ready.

3. Bring extra clothes. For both of you.

was it something i ate?

was it something i ate?

Since you asked, I will divulge to you that Lucy has had some issues in the past with constipation. At one point, we tried everything to help her: water, prune juice, special formula, massage, and so on. As it turns out, the secret to getting her to empty her bowels with the force of a royal army is: put her on a plane.

The least awful way to change a baby in a teeny tiny airplane bathroom is by sitting down on the toilet (lid on) and changing them on your lap. However, I would not recommend this during jolting turbulence (that was fun) or when your baby has shit herself up to her ears (even more fun). Use the changing table. Also, bring a change of clothes for both of you to the bathroom, just to be on the safe side. I had to carry my mostly nude baby down the entire length of the plane and dress her in dirty pajamas at my seat.

4. The best airplane game is “contract an exotic disease game”.

i taste hints of biscoff cookie and polio

i taste hints of biscoff cookie and polio

When all else failed, Lucy’s number one favorite method of in-flight entertainment was pulling all of the ancient safety manuals, barf bags, and Sky Magazines out of the seat pouch in front of her and alternately throwing them on the floor or licking them. I tried SO HARD not to let her put all of these disgusting things in her mouth, until I gave up and let her put all of these disgusting things in her mouth. What is wrong with babies?

5. If you’re alone, ask the stewardesses for help.

You will need someone to hold the baby while you fold up the stroller at gate check or pee for the 40th time (see above gallon of airport coffee). I found the stewardesses to be mostly willing to hold a cute baby while mom frantically does a thing and tries not to lose her shit. No need to be more of a hero than you already are; take advantage of all available uniformed strangers.

IMG_7398

see that arm next to lu? that belongs to a 22 year old male who no longer wants to have children of his own.

—–

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s going to be great, but it’s definitely way less bad than you think it will be. The worrying is the worst part.

And who knows, maybe you gave birth to one of those unicorns that just sleeps the entire flight. If so, please let me know when your baby is available to give my baby lessons.

How To: Embroider a Celebrity Portrait

Is this cheating? Because I basically already wrote this post when I shared how to create Australopithecus fan art for your unborn. The only real difference is that today I stitched a moody portrait of Tom Waits instead of an extinct genus of hominid.

FullSizeRender-14

Here’s how to make your own:

1. Draw a picture of whoever you want to stitch:

IMG_4758

2. Tape the drawing onto your material. I usually stitch on felt, but any fabric will do.

IMG_4759

3. Prick an inky pen through the lines of the drawing, to create dots on the felt (which you’ll later connect with embroidery floss).

IMG_4761

4. Remove the drawing. Thread your weird big needle with embroidery floss (here’s a cool video on how to do that).One strand of embroidery floss is composed of six little threads. I separate one long piece into two long pieces with three threads each, because the thread gets doubled-over and you don’t want it to be too thick.

IMG_4763

5. Start stitching. You’re basically just connecting the dots.

IMG_4766

IMG_4770

You’ll need to tie off your thread when it gets low and re-up your needle a few times to get everything sewn.

6. That’s it! Add some freehand text if you want, like this quote which I don’t think is actually accurate? Close enough.

IMG_4774

7. Frame your masterpiece and reward yourself with two pieces of sourdough toast with butter and strawberry jam, like I did.

IMG_4777

I made this little guy for my favorite person’s husband, who is graduating from business school tomorrow (his favorite musician is Tom Waits). Is there any gift nicer than a janky, homemade craft? I don’t think so.

If you’re not up to making one of your own, I’ll stitch your favorite celebrity, frame it, and mail it to you for two twenty dollar bills. Email me at eringoosecamp at gmail and we’ll talk.