Things that would make me feel great…

#1 – Leaving the house feeling at least a LITTLE put-together in the morning.  Usually my hair is wet, my shirt is wrinkled, and I’m sans make-up.  I would guess that most folks think I look fine, but it isn’t how I look that irks me, it’s how I feel.  I feel like a running-behind, I-guess-this-shirt-is-clean mess most days.  Today it was cold, so I used that as an excuse to turn up the heat and the fan in my car.  Please raise your hand if you’ve ever attempted to use your car’s heating system as a blow-dryer.  (Sheepishly raises hand.)  More times than I’d like to admit.  Even in the summer.

#2 – Exercising more.  This is a no-brainer.  In addition to the physical and mental benefits, it would also allow me to catch up on the 175 podcasts that I have not yet listened to.  These poor, unheard podcasts cause me to suffer from psychic guilt.  A little time on the elliptical –> podcast listening –> a minor item checked off my to-do list every day + the feeling like I am not falling completely behind when it comes to popular culture.

#3 – Putting on make-up.  Even typing that makes me cringe.  I’m not the made-up type.  I regularly leave the house un-showered, wearing outfits that make me turn and run from anyone I recognize in the grocery store, lest they see me and wonder what has happened to my sanity.  But a little eyeliner, a little mascara does make me feel a little better – like I made a small effort not to look so tired and frazzled.  Instead, I always feel tired and frazzled, like I’m running behind the put-together train shouting, “Wait for me!”

I have one child.  A woman I know has three children under the age of four.  She always looks perfect.  And I’m pretty sure she exercises and is caught up on her podcasts.  In order to accomplish these things,  I imagine that she either has to (a) ply the kids with caramels, lollipops and TV; (b) lock them all in a small, child-proofed room for 30 minutes every day and allow the sound of the blow dryer to drown out their pleas and screams; or (c) wake up at 4am.  Maybe all three.  Actually, she’s probably already up at 4am sewing their little matching Halloween costumes, ironing her husband’s shirts and baking mini-souffles for her mommy-and-me group.  Me?  I’ll sleep as long as my little one will let me, and attempt to remember mascara tomorrow.  Baby steps, right?

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It’s All Wrong!

Ah parenting. And guilt.

I’m not really a guilt-ridden type of broad.  But now that I am a parent, it is a constant choice every day to avoid the guilt.

One thing I learned quickly after Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was born – before he was born actually! –  is that every choice you make for your child can be judged. By someone.  And it usually is.  To have fetal genetic testing or not?  To circumcise or not? To breast-feed exclusively, or not? Cloth diapers, disposable, or some sort of hybrid? Co-sleep or not? Whatever choice you make as a parent someone you know has made a different choice and won’t hesitate to tell you, kindly, with a concerned look on their face, why their choice is just a little bit better.

It can make you crazy.

So I tell all new mothers to give up the guilt.  There are a million different ways to parent, there are a million decisions to make every day.  Do your very best, don’t worry too much, and realize that some kids with all organic toys will grow up to be psychopaths, some will grow up to be world leaders most will grow up somewhere in-between.  Make the choices that work for you.

Guilt be gone!

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An upcoming post will deal with the other side of this coin – judging!