Category - Candy’s Column

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mom

Republished from September 30, 2009

With Miss Skye turning two months old, I thought I would reflect on the past eight weeks of mommyhood and share my infinite wisdom with all the mamas-to-be out there with this List o’ Lessons Learned thus far:

Do you trust what this woman tells you?  I didn't think so.

The woman imparting her pearls of wisdom. Do you trust her advice? I didn't think so.

10.  There is no way to put this delicately:  My vagina FREAKIN’ HURT after labor.  People tell you how much contractions hurt.  And how much labor hurts.  But nobody tells you that the most pain often comes the days following labor.  Or that a nurse has to accompany you to the bathroom and spray warm water on your vagina while you pee, so that your vagina does not fall off from the burning, overwhelming PAIN.  Yes!  It could fall off, it hurts that bad!  In fact, you are in so much pain, that you do not even care that you are squatting on a toilet and spreading your legs for a stranger who must be thinking to herself, “How did I draw the short straw again?  I became a nurse to help deliver babies.  NOT to hose down this woman’s vagina with a squirt bottle.”

9.  Your family does not care that you are in pain.  They do not care about YOU.  Because there is a NEWBORN in the room.  All of that attention they lavished on you during your pregnancy?  Done, over, finito.  So don’t even bother trying to garner sympathy.  Trust me, I tried everything from pouting to dramatically clutching my privates — it was an exercise in futility.  The most I got out of my husband was, “What?  Why do you look like that?  Is something wrong with THE BABY?!”

8.  Newborns sneeze a lot.  Did you know this?  I did not know this.  Totally normal reflex, apparently.

7.  It does not matter if you wrap your daughter in a pink blanket, stick her in a pink flowered stroller, and write “GIRL” on her forehead with Magic Marker — a stranger will still come up and say, “He is so cute.”

6.  You know the amount of diapers you anticipated changing every day?  Double that number.  Then put a zero at the end.  NOW you know what you will be facing.

5.  Everybody and their dog advised me to “nap when she naps.”  Yeah, um, okay.  The only time that was really possible was during her first few days of life, when she slept like Gary Busey after an all-week bender.  And I was high on Mommy Adrenaline, so I couldn’t sleep anyway.  After that, Skye has slept a few minutes here, an hour there, making it virtually impossible to take a solid nap at the same time.  My solution:  a daily venti iced latte with three espresso shots.  Yes, I nurse my child.  No, the caffeine does not make her fussy or agitated.  This is why I love her.

4.  Remember how your husband didn’t fully “get” your postpartum pain?  Well, that may explain why he will want to have sex before your six-week doctor’s checkup.  And think that YOU are equally as eager.  Delusional horndog, thy name is Hubby.

3.  If people like your baby’s name, they will say so:  “I LOVE that name!”  If they don’t, they will either nod wordlessly or ask, “How did you come up with THAT?”

2.  Breastfed babies can eat too much.  I was told children who nurse only eat when they’re hungry.  WRONG.  My little one has eaten to the point of making herself vomit — not spit up, but vomit – a couple of times, making me realize that she was actually sucking out of bordeom and/or fatigue.  I can now tell when she’s doing this because she appears restless while eating.  And has the same look on her face that I do when Mr. Candy turns on ESPN SportsCenter.

1.  As one who still stares at her child in awe for hours on end, I can confirm it’s true what they say:   Parenthood really is the most amazing blessing we could ever have bestowed upon us.  (Well, with the exception of an invisibility superpower that would enable us to escape speeding tickets and in-laws.  That, we can all agree, would trump anything.)

The Good News/Bad News Bear

A family member with the best of intentions — and eyeglasses with an outdated prescription — gave this homemade bear to Skye for her birthday.  The good news:  I think the proceeds from the sale of the bear went to an animal charity of some sort.  The bad news:  Mr. Bear passed away before we even had a chance to get to know him.  But his memory lives on in my nightmares, where he continues to haunt me (when he’s not doing so from the comfort of our couch… I’m afraid to move him!).

Nobody Puts Mama in a Corner

It’s been a while since I’ve had my picture taken with my daughter.  No surprise there.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from my friends’ baby blogs — other than the fact that Target’s baby apparel department makes a killing off all of us — is that this is not an uncommon occurrence for us moms, who are usually the enthusiastic picture-takers.  Always the photographer, never the star as we deserve to be.  Oh, woe is us!  So I thought what better way to celebrate Labor Day than to put Mr. Candy to work and have him take a few (dozen) snapshots of us.

I happen to love this one.

What you can’t see is that my husband is behind the camera, making his cheeks — those very same chubby cheeks that Skye inherited — flap in a way I thought only existed in cartoons.  Sure, Skye thinks it’s amusing now.  But just wait till he does it when her first date comes to the door.  While wearing his Taekwondo uniform, no doubt.  That’s right — Mr. Candy is a second-degree Black Belt.  With BIZARRELY MALLEABLE CHEEKS.

I can’t lie:  that one-two punch totally sealed the deal for me.  Bad for Skye’s dating life, but good for mama!

Sign of Mommy Brain #1273

via Candy’s Crapcam

You return home from a morning of running errands around town and dropping off your child at daycare, only to realize you have been wearing ONE EARRING the entire time because your child nearly ripped your earlobe off trying to grab the earring earlier in the morning, so you stuffed said earring in your pocket and forgot about it.

This has been your important Mommy Brain Update and Seemingly Endless Run-On Sentence of The Day!

Woman Versus Stroller

There are countless beautiful moments in a mother’s life, none of which involve standing in the middle of a mall parking lot screaming, “HOW THE HELL DO I COLLAPSE THIS STROLLER?!”

Which is to say my afternoon was, well, somewhat ugly on Sunday.

Mr. Candy had already left on yet another one of his “business trips.”  I use quotation marks not because I suspect he is doing something seedy, but because I am convinced he is just holed up in a hotel down the street somewhere and sighing contentedly, “Finally, I’ve escaped the madness!”  I couldn’t blame him.  It is a bit of a madhouse around here lately, what with a moody toddler who’s laughing one minute, angrily pounding on the floor the next — and a wife who is prone to doing the same.  If I ever find out that Mr. Candy’s business trips are actually mental health breaks, I will have no choice but to grab him by the shoulders and scream, “IT’S MY TURN NEXT TIME!”

With my husband on the road — allegedly — and no family within a two-thousand-mile radius, I was unable to live-blog the Emmys because I had to watch Skye and make sure she didn’t do something unwise, like pull a TV on her head.  It was a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, so naturally I took my one-year-old out to get some fresh air at, um, Bloomingdale’s.  (Hey, sometimes Mommy needs to go to her playground, too.)  Skye and I had a lovely time together.  I got my much-needed Bloomie’s fix.   She got to partake of her favorite pastime:  people-watching.  And she has no qualms about openly staring at folks for minutes on end, to the point that I feel the need to interject:  “Ha, ha!  She hasn’t learned her manners yet!”

Of course, what she really needs to learn is that is why sunglasses were invented.

When Skye started wrinkling her nose (loose translation:  Nap.  Now.  Woman!), we headed out to the car, weighed down with brown Bloomingdale’s bags.  Glorious, brown Bloomingdale’s bags.  I rarely get to the mall these days, so I was feeling quite giddy UNTIL… I tried to collapse the stroller.  It is a fairly new Maclaren umbrella stroller that Mr. Candy, our Official Baby-Thingy Expert, had always handled before.  You see, I am not one of those super-moms who can install a car seat with one hand, while juggling a baby and conducting a philharmonic with the other.  Heck, I was prouder than Dina Lohan on prison talent show night when I figured out how to open the stroller — after only fifteen minutes of jiggling and pulling every part of it.  Unfortunately, that same approach did not work with closing Skye’s “simple” umbrella stroller.  I kicked it.  Punched it.  Gave it a time-out.  Nothing worked.  So I did what any mother with a tired, screaming toddler sitting in the backseat and ornery stroller would do:  I tried shoving it, as-is, in the passenger seat.  And when it did not fit there, I scanned the parking lot for my savior.  To my great relief, it did not take long.

PAN OVER TO:  A family of five, with a FATHER PUSHING A MACLAREN STROLLER!

ME:  (SENDING UP SMOKE SIGNALS) Excuse me?  Help!  Help!

THE FATHER:  (SPOTS THE STROLLER TAKING A TIME-OUT IN THE CORNER)  Just a sec.  Let me get my wife.

This woman, I kid you not, had that stroller collapsed in two seconds flat.  And it probably wasn’t even her best time.  Her hands and feet did things to that stroller that cannot be legal in most states.  Thankfully, however, this is California where those things are not only legal, but encouraged.  I wanted to hug that woman with the mad mommy skillz and dexterous limbs.  But I did not want to frighten her so I simply cried, “THANK YOU!  OH MY GOD, YOU SAVED MY LIFE, THANK YOU, THANK YOOOUUUU!”

Oh yeah. Much more normal.

Pride & Prejudice: The Tale of One Toddler’s Triumph

Many people believe the three-feet-and-under set have it easy, what with having around-the-clock butt wipers, booger-picking servants and personal chefs and all.  However, toddlers suffer prejudice, too — and nowhere is that more evident than the furniture industry, which continues to produce chairs and sofas that are largely inaccessible to these little people, forcing them to reach up and grunt at the adults smugly lounging on the furniture, in hopes that the adults will take pity on them and give ‘em a lift.  Yes!  They grunt!  Simply humiliating.

Just look at the heartbreaking effect this bias has had on my daughter.  Why, over the past month, I have discovered her relegated to sitting in shoeboxes…

Her devastation is evident.

And suitcases…

Skye bravely disguises her pain

And, perhaps most embarrassingly of all, plastic containers.

"My dinner...?"

We knew we had to take action before we found the child forced to sit in, say, the cats’ litter box.  Because that would just be a hilarious photo op terrible.  So we finally ordered a chair custom-made for somebody of her diminutive stature:

Needless to say, Skye now thinks she’s the hottest thing since Suri Cruise in high heels.  The perfect place to kick up her soft-soled sandals… after a morning of playing in the cats’ litter box.  (You know it’s only a matter of time.)

The Family That Facebooks Together…

Much has been made of parents “friending” their children on Facebook — Like, OMG, Mom posted a message calling me “hon!” – but it is important to note that parents aren’t the only family members Facebookers should worry about.  No, sir.  For example, you could also be friended — and this is, um TOTALLY hypothetical (*AHEM*) — by an 11-year-old niece and you think, Oh, this is nice.  We can keep in closer touch now!, only your niece peruses everything you have ever posted on Facebook and it turns out you used the word “hell” in one of your wall posts last year, and had posted photos of you and your husband toasting with various intoxicating libations during your European travels, and your niece — who once looked up to you — is horrified by your surprisingly sinful ways and TATTLES on you, you bad person you, to your sister and mother and you feel so awful about corrupting this young mind that you can’t sleep for several nights and begin to censor EVERYTHING you do and write on Facebook, to the point that even 7th Heaven reruns are edgier than your Facebook musings.

SO stressful.  Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I know, I know… I’m thinking the same thing.  This TOTALLY calls for a Venn Diagram:

The main take-away here being, obviously, that garden gnomes are oddly arousing.  (It must be the beard.)

The Battle of Snow Globe

The sparkly battle lines have been drawn

You know those neighbors who still have Christmas lights hanging from the edge of their roof, and every time you drive by, you cluck to your spouse, “It’s August, for heaven’s sake.  WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO TAKE DOWN THOSE FREAKING LIGHTS?”

Well, I happen to know the answer: When the responsible party — likely a married couple — decides to actually communicate about the lights.  Also known as: never.

You see, Mr. Candy and I have our own version of the inappropriate Christmas lights, a perfectly lovely holiday snow globe that should have been packed away seven months ago.  Being the eagle-eyed observer that I am, I realized around Easter that it was still lingering in our living room — presumably having escaped from the box also containing my wild-eyed, violin-playing Santa doll.  Because no decoration could have been thrilled about sharing such tight quarters with THAT creepy guy for eleven straight months.

WHAT I SAID TO MR. CANDY:  “Why is this snow globe still in here?”

WHAT I WANTED HIM TO HEAR: “You were supposed to take this down to storage months ago.  Please do so now.”

WHAT MR. CANDY SAID IN RESPONSE:  “Dunno.”

WHAT MR. CANDY WANTED ME TO HEAR:  “I have no idea what you just said.  Can’t you see I’m trying to watch the Sixers game here, woman?”

Both of us emerged from this exchange, satisfied that we were on the same page.  After all, we had made our feelings crystal clear!  Only, strangely, something got lost in translation.  Because the snow globe remained in our house.  And I “innocently” changed the channel from the basketball game to E! News Daily that day.

Weird, right?

And it only gets weirder.  No matter how many times I ask, Why is this snow globe still in here?, and regardless of how many accusatory glances I shoot his way while standing next to the snow globe, MR. CANDY DOES NOT TAKE THE SNOW GLOBE TO OUR STORAGE SHED.

It’s like I need to ask him to take it to storage or something.  I just don’t get it.

I’ve even tried putting the offending decoration on top of my box of maternity clothes, in hopes that bundling them would inspire Mr. Candy to finally give in, and carry the box AND the snow globe down to the garage.  He kindly put away the box of clothes — and left the snow globe on our coffee table.

Oh, this was war.  And, believe you me, I let him know so:

Why is this snow globe on the coffee table?” I asked, eyebrow arched menacingly.

“Dunno,” Mr. Candy shrugged, thinking to himself, “What is it with her and the snow globe? And that eyebrow thing — does that mean she wants sex now?  WOO-HOO!”

Sure, I could have taken the thing down to storage myself.  But that would be admitting defeat!  So I exercised the only other rational option — and placed the snow globe in various prominent spots around the house, going as far as to rearrange our console table to showcase the damn thing, believing that the very SIGHT of the Christmas decoration in July would be enough to push Mr. Candy over the edge.

WHAT I THINK WHEN I SEE THE DAMN THING:  “Gah!  Eyesore!”

WHAT MR. CANDY THINKS:  “You know, if we got rid of that table, we’d have room for a bigger TV.”

Needless to say, the snow globe still resides in our house and will no doubt remain here until Christmas.  Once the New Year rolls around, I’m going to settle this “battle” once and for all… and dump it in the plastic Jack-o-Lantern outside our door.

The N-Word

No!  Mommy’s shoulder is not for teething purposes.

No!  Don’t drink the cats’ water.

No!  Pound on daddy‘s laptop instead.

Lately we’ve been saying “no” ’round here even more frequently than we sigh, “The Kardashians are on TV again?!”  Oh yes, we say it THAT MUCH.

Miss Skye is no dummy; the one-year-old knows exactly what “no” means: that she should immediately disengage from the cats’ water bowl, smile sweetly to let us know she is an angel who would never intentionally seek out trouble, then wait for us to get distracted so she can finally return to lapping up the cats’ fur-filled water.

Can’t blame her.  The kid needs to drink something to wash down the fleshy chunks of my shoulder.

But wait…!  According to something I overheard at a party, I am supposed to refrain from saying the N-word anywhere near my child.

“We try to say ‘that’s not for babies’ or ‘that’s not a good idea’ instead of no,” the parent of a 14-month-old divulged to a circle of fellow parents, who all nodded in agreement.  “We don’t think it’s good for children to learn that word.”

That word.  Said in hushed tones, as if she were referring to something really and truly horrific.  Like the flood in Pakistan.  Or life without chocolate.

Uh-oh.  Only twelve months into this parenting gig, and I am already guilty of teaching my child habits that are universally frowned upon?  (Well, besides the Ben & Jerry’s for lunch and Gossip Girl for pre-bedtime entertainment.  Also known as Meltdown Preemption.  Skye gets very cranky when she’s not kept apprised of the latest in Upper East Side tights and headband trends.)  Yet, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I couldn’t help but wonder… aren’t there times when a firm N-O is necessary and more effective than, say, a shake of my head and tsk-tsk*?

Confused, I turned to the No-Fail, Totally Credible Holy Grail of Parenting for answers.  And, when my Google search for “saying no to kids is bad?” proved inconclusive, I turned to my mom.

“You young parents crack me up with your alternative discipline and crap,” Mom responded.  “Of course you should say no.  Kids have to learn right from wrong.”

“But what if Skye starts saying ‘no’ back to me?”

“Not if.  When.”

“Then what?”

“Then I sit back and laugh.”

The take-away here is clear:  we all have different parenting techniques — most of them well-intentioned — but kids should learn to say “no,” if only to refuse drugs and to react the inevitable return of acid wash jeans in their lifetime.  Also, never seek parental advice from a grandparent.  Their only mission is karma-driven revenge.

*To the mother who used this technique when her child kicked the back of my seat for most of a five-hour flight:  Next time I am going to SIC MY CHILD ON YOUR SHOULDER.

A mother should always be prepared

ME:  Could you please, um, move your car?  Please…?

MAN IN 7-ELEVEN PARKING LOT:  [BLANK STARE]

ME:  [GESTURING]  You’re parked too close.  I can’t open my door.

MAN:  Why don’t you get in the passenger side and crawl the f*ck over?

NOTE TO SELF:  Load up trunk with ammunition — I mean, of course, a pile of ripe, window-ready dirty diapers — as soon as I get home for such situations in the future.

Your recommended daily dose of sappiness

Since the day those two pink lines (See what I just did there?  This here’s a fancy-schmancy high-tech blog, I tell ya!) appeared on my home pregnancy test, I have become a big sentimental mess of an individual.  A look shared between mother and baby on a diaper commercial can reduce me to tears.  The discovery of Skye’s hat from the hospital found in the back of her baby hat drawer (yes, we have an entire drawer full of just hats) catapults me on a trip down blubbery memory lane.  The realization that Starbucks has sold out of cinnamon swirl coffee cakes before I was able to snag one causes me to fall to the floor in a puddle of tears.

Okay, so the last one isn’t exactly a sentimental reaction or a new development.  But it is how I started my day today.

Being Sappy McSappyPants and all, I created a video celebrating Miss Skye’s first year of life.  I wasn’t going to post it here because it feels oddly intimate — and, other than my hair in the post-birth photos, it isn’t particularly humorous.  However, you guys and this site are such a big part of the journey that it only seems right to share it with you. And, hell, let’s be honest: I’m so freakin’ crazy about this kid that I can’t stop myself from telling anyone who will humor me. (Those Starbucks baristas more than earn their pay, believe you me.)

Not to mention we’ve already had the mucus plug talk; hard to get much more “intimate” than that.

Don’t worry, I won’t *SOB* make this sappiness thing *SOB* a *SOB* habit.  (My apologies… a pregnancy hemorrhoids ad is getting me all choked up. Ah, memories.)

Mr. C’s big day

It is Mr. Candy’s birthday today, a day that sort of went unnoticed last year because we were too busy gazing at the new eight-pound resident in our house and asking each other with wonder, “Whom does SHE belong to?  And when are they coming to change her diaper?”  So I plan to make it up to my husband this year by taking him out to dinner with his two girls and maybe, just maybe, treating him to a little somethin’-somethin’ that he wasn’t getting last year at this time, if you catch my drift.

Uh-huh, you guessed it: a big, wet chocolate martini!