Fantasies of a Busy Surgeon Mom

 

  1. Driving past runners donning their night gear just shy of 6am as I head into work, I think, “I would love to be hitting the pavement every morning before work. My days always go better if they begin with run.” Alas, I just can’t make myself do it and be ready for work on time. And, after 12-16 hour days (when I am not on call, 26-40 hours when I am) I am usually too tired and hungry to get it together after work.  Embed from Getty Images
  2. Looking at this month’s calendar and seeing the school curriculum night this Wednesday and dinner with visiting professor next Wednesday and kids’ activities past 7:30pm every Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri, I muse “Wouldn’t it be great to actually go do that couple’s rock climbing class or attend the cheese making workshop one of these nights?” Between work, kids, and work-related travel the idea of making it out, just the two of us, at least twice a month has completely fallen by the wayside. Embed from Getty Images
  3. Seeing all the pictures of fabulous girls’ nights marching along my Facebook feed I contemplate “I would love to go for mani/pedis or finally try paint night with the girls.” Unfortunately, ‘the girls’ don’t exist in my life. Alas, a group of women (heck, even just one woman) in my age range with similar interests, who get(s) me, would love to hang out with me, and have/has a schedule that allows for regular get togethers with me just don’t/doesn’t exist in my life. Embed from Getty Images
  4. Waking up, yet again, in a little pool of drool on the couch with the DVR at the end of the show, I think to myself “I wonder what it’s like to not fall asleep during a much anticipated episode of a binge-watchable series or the football game or the Emmys…” Unfortunately, with my chronic sleep deficit putting me in a semi-recumbant position for any period of time soon leads to a slumber, mind you not a restful slumber just one that will subsequently mess up any hope I have of regaining a reasonable sleep wake cycle. Embed from Getty Images
  5. Having another frustrating call with my father about a health issue I think to myself “I would really like to be one of those children who goes to appointments with their aging parents.” I do my best but often work gets in the way (as it also does for my own doctor and dentist visits). So much gets lost in the translation between me, my parents, and their healthcare providers that I suspect that it leads to more stress and anxiety among all of us and the benefit of me having purposely settled near my family is lost. Embed from Getty Images

To be sure there are ways to overcome to all of these issues. My adult life has essentially been a series of work arounds to fit it all in. Some days I succeed and other days I just fantasize about what it would be like to not have to put so much mental energy into these work arounds so I could just let life unfold with me being the socializing, fitness buff, present mother, attentive daughter, and effective TV watcher that I dream of being.

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My Kids Have Hijacked My Weekends

There is a high level alert going on in our household these days. What’s terrorizing me, you ask?

My kids’ activities.

I recall the time BK (before kids) when my time off of work was my time. Time to plan and to do (or to not). Sometimes I just spent all day in my pjs if I was lucky enough to have a weekend off. No agenda. Just a day away from the frenetic pace that  was the hallmark of my day job (and my night job and my weekend job!).

IMG_4007Then came the kids. Okay, it was work when they were infants. They had to be fed and diapered and generally kept alive. But their needs were simple and if I didn’t need to be in to be at work on a Sunday, I could sip a cup of coffee and read the Times while the baby (and later the toddler and the baby) were in my proximity. I kept them from sticking a fork in an outlet but essentially got IMG_4006to do my own, grown-up thing that made me happy. And when everyone was old enough, I was even lucky enough to sleep past 8am–a true luxury for a surgeon.

No longer true. Every weekend is now consumed by my kids activities.

Whether it’s 8am baseball practice or a 9am Field Hockey tournament over an hour away, forget sleeping in even though no one is awaiting a soggy overnight diaper change. Then mid-day rolls around and there is likely a dance show, a classmate’s birthday party, and another practice that vie for my kids’ time. And they don’t drive yet.

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IMG_3656We are forced to divide and conquer (thus separating me from my awesome husband who I actually like to spend time with when I am off). We are forced to eat in the car on the run when there just isn’t enough time between activities to sit down to a meal. We guzzle gallons upon gallons of gas going to and fro from event to event, some of which are on opposite sides of the state.

I can’t remember the last time I had an unscheduled weekend for myself. I struggle trying find time to get together with friends who are experiencing the same level of terror in their homes. I literally have gone years without seeing friends who live in the same very small state because with our kids we just don’t have time to be with anyone else on the weekends. In fact, I was so pleased with myself heading into this weekend. I managed to arrange both a work outing on Friday and a Sunday BBQ with my Ragnar van mates. I planned this as soon as the call schedule came out. And wouldn’t you know, out comes the email that the make-up baseball game starts a half hour before the work event and the playoff coincides exactly with Ragnar reunion.

Aaaaaaaaaargh!

My kids have hijacked my weekends and it’s infuriating. I want to support their interests (trust me I’m no Tiger mom; other than encouraging physical activity and retaining some cultural interests these kids a choosing to over-extend themselves with extra-curriculars and parties and playdates) but I can’t say I would shed a tear if they up and quit dance or ball or hockey.

Well maybe I would. If my kids end up too unidimensional to get into college then they’ll have nowhere to go after high school and I really need to get my weekends back.

Dear GAP: Stop torturing Moms

Dear GAP and GAPKids executive,

I am not sure if you are a male or a female, or whether or not you have children.  Since that is the case, I would like to share with you a little bit about the shopping experience you have created for mothers.

I work outside the home as a full-time trauma surgeon.  Therefore, I do most of my shopping online (and also because you have better sales online that your stores do not honor, but that’s a whole other story).  Anyways, well, a month or so ago, I needed to go into one of your GAPKids stores with my almost 3 year old to try on some clothes, and see what sizes I would need for the summer.  I planned this shopping trip out – brought toys, the requisite iPad, limited his fluid intake that morning to prevent a “clean-up on aisle 4” moment, and even timed the trip so as not to interfere with his nap.  I found some items on sale, and joined the line to purchase them.

And that is where it all went downhill.  The young mother in front of me stepped up to the cashier, juggling a clearly unhappy baby, a stroller with a carseat attached, her diaper bag, and other shopping bags.  As she places her items onto the counter, and attempts to calm her infant, the salesperson asks, “Will you be using your GAP card today?”.  The mother replies “No, thank you”.  The whimpering has now turned to outright crying, and the sales lady asks again (before even beginning to ready or ring this poor woman’s purchases) “Would you like to open an account today?”  This mother, clearly frustrated, replies again, “NO thank you.”  The screeching then turned into all out red-faced bawling interspersed with moments of silence required for the small human to regain its breath.  The volume of the crying then requires the salesperson to actually raise her voice to be heard over the probably hungry and forced to breastfeed in a bathroom baby (sorry, that’s another story)  in order to launch into the spiel on “Don’t you want to save x percent on your purchase today, and here are all of the benefits of the card, blah blah.”  This mother, who is much more patient than I, as she is juggling her bags, her hungry baby, and her stroller, replies “NO!”

Then, and only then, does the salesperson begin to ring her purchases.  This wasn’t even happening to me, and I was beyond irritated.

Throughout this, my almost 3 year old starts to get antsy, and is upset by the wailing baby.  So, after watching this interchange, I figure I could bypass the credit card crap, get my purchases, and be out the door before Niagara Falls suddenly appears from my kid’s shorts and onto your floor.

I ready myself.  I step up to the plate, place my purchases on the counter.  The salesperson begins, “Will you be using your GAP Card today?”  I respond, “No, and no I don’t want to open one, and yes I am aware of all of its benefits, Thank you.”  Polite, but firm.  In my head, I’m like, “SCORE!”.  But yet, I underestimated my opponent.  She responds, “Oh, well I’ve never had someone do that before.”  In my head I reply, “Oh, well I’ve never watched someone torture a baby before”, but instead I just simply smile and begin to de-hanger the clothing I want to purchase as a hint to move this along.  Yet again, I have underestimated her.  She then says, “Have you ever worked in retail?”.  And since I in fact have, at 3 different clothing stores during college, I respond in the affirmative.  “Well,” she says, “Then you understand – we get in trouble if we don’t ask all these questions and say these things.”  Although I am lucky enough to have not worked for a company that requires the torment of their customers, I didn’t respond to this insane comment other than to simply smile and bite my tongue in half.

So here is where I am going to break it down for you, GAP executive.

Moms are the ones doing the shopping for their infants and young children.  Moms represent a more than 2 TRILLION dollar market.  The vast majority of the time, moms bring their children with them to shop.

There is no running in and out of a store when you are shopping with your children.  Shopping with young children is like shopping with ticking time bombs… filled with tears, pee, poop, breast milk and/or formula… which at any moment could explode and send bodily fluids onto any and every possible surface.  Shopping with young children is like a military expedition with a ticking time bomb: There are checklists to confirm supplies; timing of naps, feedings, and potty sessions are carefully considered; local nursing and bathroom facilities have to be identified… and God forbid, the iPad isn’t fully charged.

So why are you making it more difficult for us?  Why are you slowing down the checkout process?  Why are you ignoring your customers who are juggling at least 5 humans and/or objects at once?  And WHY are your employees getting in “trouble” if they don’t harass and harangue us?

You are not the only clothing store with fashionable clothing for children.  But you are the only store in which the checkout process is slowed in order to harass the customers.  I’m not sure what your marketing plan is, but this doesn’t work.  Trust me, moms would be way more enthusiastic about a rewards program.  Just ask Gymboree or Carter’s – I think they are doing pretty okay financially.

I don’t need to be bullied into getting your credit card.  Guess what?  If I want it, I will gladly sign up for it, and don’t need to be talked into it.  And when I say “No”, guess what?  I mean it.  You guys are worse than my 3 year at listening… but at least I can put him in a time out for making me repeat myself.

In closing, please re-think your checkout process.  Please put yourselves in our shoes, your customers with offspring.  I think you can do this better.

Sincerely,

A non-GAP card holding customer

“The World Ain’t All Sunshine and Rainbows, Sweetie.”

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“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” – Rocky Balboa

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I have written before about how I think we over-coddle our kids these days, always making them feel like winners even when all they are is a solid mediocre. It’s rare these days for our children to feel like they did anything less than come in first; so, the sucker punch of not winning, when you tried really hard and truly, deeply thought you deserved to win, is a totally unfamiliar feeling.

Recently, my 11 year old daughter and her tween ethnic dance group participated in a competition. These girls practiced on their own well in excess of what the teacher demanded. They propped each other up. They were ready to hit is out of the park on the day of the show. And you know what? They did. It was a well-coordinated symphony of smiles and movement with pops of color in an eye-pleasing fashion. It was truly a joy to watch.

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The girls were the last in their age group and genre to perform so when they hit the final dazzling pose of the dance I thought for sure they were going to win. But they did not. They didn’t even place. Everyone, girls and parents alike, was very disappointed. Like many, I was not sure why the girls didn’t win and it did bug me. So I said to my daughter in the aftermath of the dance competition, “That sucks but you practiced a ton, did a great job, and should be proud of that and move on.”

Personally, I thought this was a parenting highlight for me.

Someday my kid might not get into Harvard and she will be disappointed. She may not ever know the algorithm of the admissions committee but I want her to be proud of the accomplishments that gave her the feeling that she was competitive enough to apply. Someday the guy she has a crush on may end up dating another girl and she will be disappointed. She may not ever know what he saw in the other girl that she lacks but I want her to know that she is charming and beautiful and worthy of so many boys’ interests. Someday my adult daughter will apply for a job and walk away from the interviewing thinking she nailed it. But she still might not get the job.

Sometimes no matter how great and amazing and talented we are, we don’t get chosen. Occasionally, it is because we actually think we are better or more competitive than we really are; but, more often there is just an idiosyncratic way that these things play out in they eyes of those doing the choosing whether or not the choosers are utilizing strict guidelines.  In the weeks after the competition, I have silently followed along as a number of other parents a launched an email trail of their disappointment. The initial disappointment brimmed into anger and then to demands to know what the judging criteria were, what the ethnicities of the judges were (in case they could bias the results), etc. There is a draft letter now that is presumably being sent to the leadership of the organization that hosted the event.

I get the disappointment but I don’t get the zeal to defend the girls’ honor so to speak. I have no idea if the other girls feel that same way as their parents. But, I do know that I don’t want my daughter to expect her parents to get into fighting mode whenever things play out in a way that doesn’t go her way because it’s a life skill to know when to move on. And, while I do want her to be brave enough to fight the fight when warranted (think Civil Rights Movement, Marriage Equality….,) I don’t want her to get worked up in a tizzy every single time things don’t go the way she was hoping.  Life is simply too short to be in fighting mode that often. Rather I want her to learn to be proud of the interest, and the effort, and the lessons learned from each and every experience whether or not she walks away with a championship ribbon.

If we don’t let our kids experience disappointment and maybe even occasional heartache–fair or unfair– they will always believe that life is all sunshine and rainbows. I hope I am raising my kid to weather the clouds and storms that will surely occasionally cast a shadow on her adult life so that she can be resilient and keep moving forward. “That’s how winning is done.”

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available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/386746686722545123/

7 Indisputable Facts for Moms of 7 Year-old Boys

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My little guy won’t be 7 much longer but here’s what I have learned in the past year about 7 year old boys.

Embed from Getty Images1) They don’t have an off switch. It’s constant full speed ahead until, of course, they spontaneously combust. For both the hyperactivity and the ensuing meltdowns, I suggest you invest in a good pair of ear plugs and an eye mask. There’s not point in fighting it and these tools will make you better at ignoring it.

Embed from Getty Images2) They have no fear. They will jump off of, charge into, ski down…, just about anything without consideration of the bones, ligaments, or internal organs at risk. The good news is, 7 year old boys are pretty resilient and most wounds at this age will heal without consequence. So enforce basic common sense and personal safety (e.g., helmets, no diving in shallow water, look both ways before charging forward) but let them wear their wounds like badges of honor.

Embed from Getty Images3) They are always hot. They will wear shorts to school until December. In the middle of winter they will be shirt less when everyone else is clad in fleece. It will be -11 out (yes, that’s a minus sign and I don’t live in Antarctica) and they will refuse to wear a jacket. Be grateful for heated throws, Northface, and UGGs and just agree to disagree on the actual ambient temperature.

Embed from Getty Images4) They love all sports. Even if you never encourage athleticism they will beg until they are blue in the face to do gymnastics, and football, and lacrosse, and skiing, and baseball, and karate, and soccer, and golf…. (You will wonder how they even learned about lacrosse.) Before you know it you will have committed all of your weekends for the next decade to your kid’s athletic pursuits so find a good family calendar.

Embed from Getty Images5) They know more about technology than you do. You may think you are savvy at limiting screen time but when your iPhone is on the futz they can fix it. If you want to rally for family movie night, you will have to rely on them to change the input on your AV system to Netflix. Oh well, you suck at IT but you may have future engineer on your hand.

Embed from Getty Images]6) They have fleeting interests (other than sports). Your dog will get a bowel obstruction from all the elastics that no longer are needed in that damn loom. You will realize the deep, searing pain of stepping on legos because all of those elaborate sets never make it back into their original boxes. You wonder is it Pokemon they are obsessed with or Minecraft… and one day you will find him doing Sudoku?! Well at least none of the above involve screen time.

Embed from Getty Images7) They don’t really want to snuggle anymore. They have too much kinetic energy to want to curl up with their mammas. They’d rather be doing something dangerous. They’re too hot to be tucked into your heated throw with you. You won’t be able to overcome the House Hunters vs. SportsCenter divide necessary for the TV watching snuggle. They are mad at you because in your technology errant ways you unintentionally offed one of their favorite tech toys. They are more interested in being big boys than little boys. You miss the old days.

And your heart breaks just a little as that 8th birthday approaches. Sniff.

A trip to Target: In 51 thoughts

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I love Target.

In fact, if you ask my husband, he will tell you I love Target maybe a little too much.  Here is a typical trip to Target for me… in 51 thoughts.

 

1.  Okay, I only need toothpaste and lightbulbs.

2.  This will only take 15 minutes.

3.  Mmmm, that popcorn smells good.

4.  Nope, resist the slushie, resist the slushie.

5.  This will be it – this will be the trip where I leave this dang store and only spend $25.

6.  Stay focused, toothpaste and lightbulbs, toothpaste and lightbulbs.

7.  Let me check my FitBit.

8.  Cool! I only need 1,000 more steps today to reach my goal.

9.  I’m going to take the long way around towards the toothpaste.

10.  Socks – I totally could use some new socks.

11.  Actually, the whole family could use new socks.

12.  I swear my dryer uses socks for fuel instead of electricity.

13.  Why not?  I’m already here, I might as well stock up.

14.  Target has the cutest maternity clothes.

15.  Thank God I’m not pregnant anymore…

16.  Probably should get some more diapers while I’m here.

17.  Ooh, that’s a cute swimsuit.

18.  Dang, they have sunscreen on sale!

19.  Wait – It’s 20 degrees outside, don’t buy the sunscreen.

20.  That picture frame would look perfect in my office.

21.  I really, really, need to organize my photos.

22.  I wonder if I could pay someone to organize my photos…

23.  And put them in that cute photo album.

24.  Office… that reminds me – I really should pick up some pens while I’m here…

25.  And, some post-it notes.

26.  I could totally use that desk organizer.

27.  Those dishes are cute.

28.  That reminds me – we need more spoons.

29.  Ugh, why do we always seem to need spoons?

30.  I think the dishwasher eats them.

31.  Oh yeah, we are almost out of dishwasher detergent.

32.  I’m thirsty – I totally should have gotten the slushie.

33.  Wait, why am I thirsty?

34.  How long have I been here?

35.  An hour, I’ve been here an hour?!?

36.  Don’t forget… toothpaste and lightbulbs.

37.  Dang, I forgot the toothpaste.

38.  Well, at least I made my 1,000 steps crossing the store…again.

39.  Wow, this cart is heavy.

40.  Maybe this counts as exercise?

41.  Toothpaste aisle – maybe I should try a new one?

42.  Might as well get two tubes

43.  Ooh – I’ve always wanted to try that Eos lip balm.

44.  Hmm – those Yes to Cucumbers face wipes won the Allure Beauty award.

45.  Yep, I should try those face wipes.

46.  Okay, I really need to get out of here.

47.  My total is $150?!?!

48.  (*%^*!  My husband is going to kill me.

49.  Well, at least it was less than $200.

50.  I still don’t understand, how did I spend $150, I only needed toothpaste and lightbulbs.

51.  F*&!  I forgot the lightbulbs 😦

Pregnancy at age 25 vs 35

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In recent conversations with friends of mine who are pregnant, it became abundantly clear whether this was their first child or third, pregnancy in your 30’s tends to be pretty different than pregnancy in your 20’s.  As a shout out to all my AMA (advanced maternal age) moms out there, and as an attempt to humorously remind people to be sensitive to their friends undergoing fertility struggles (no matter what age!)…

 

Pregnancy at 25:

“Honey, maybe we should start trying for a baby?”

2 days later + 1 fancy digital pregnancy test + 2 margaritas

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= “Oh my gosh Honey we are pregnant!”

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Pregnancy at 35:

“Honey, maybe we should start trying for a baby?”

8 months + 15 ovulation predictor kits + two visits to a fertility specialist + ovarian reserve blood work + 500 cheapie strip pregnancy tests because those digital ones are so dang expensive

First_Response_Digital_Ovulation_Test

= “There’s still next month…”

 

Pregnancy at 25:

25 minutes after positive pregnancy test, Facebook announcement is made.

Pregnancy at 35:

12 weeks, 3 ultrasounds and genetic testing performed after positive pregnancy test, Facebook announcement is made.

 

Pregnancy at 25:

“Aren’t you a little too young to be pregnant?”

Pregnancy at 35:

“Aren’t you a little too old to be pregnant?”

 

Pregnancy at 25:

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Side view: 8 months pregnant

“Congratulations, when are you due?”  “Next week.”  “Oh, wow!  You barely look pregnant.”  “I know, right?  I didn’t even start showing until I was 8 months.”

Pregnancy at 35:

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Side view: 8 weeks pregnant

“Congratulations, when are you due?” “Oh, about 8 months from now.”

 

Pregnancy at 25:

3 weeks after delivery…

“Honey, where are my bikinis?  I want to take the baby for swim lessons.”

Pregnancy at 35:

3 months after delivery…

“Honey, vintage is sooo popular right now, I swear.”

 

 

Happy babymaking everybody!

 

 

* Ovulation predictor kit photo from http://www.firstresponse.com/products.

Top 8 Reasons My MommyDoc Rocks!

8) Some mommies wear yoga pants, my mommy wears scrubs. More cost effective than Athleta. Less see through than Lulu.

7) I always have a pro to go to for help with my homework. After all, she had to ace test after test to get into med school. And, she studies hard even now to maintain certification.

6) She’s taught me to suck it up. To quote “Unless there’s visible brain matter don’t cry!” I think this is because, in the absence of head injury, there were no days off during her many years of medical training.

5) But, for minor boo boos she always has a stick of dermabond handy to mend my wounds. Hours in urgent care purgatory thus avoided.

4) No episodes of Grey’s Anatomy wasting space on the DVR. Because you know, like she says “That *stuff* ain’t real!”

3) She doesn’t over think the parenting advice out there. She doesn’t have time to. So if I need a little screen time to give her a chance to to rest I get screen time. If I need to stay up late to get a chance to see her I get to stay up late. If I need toilet water…. There are no rules to MommyDoc parenting.

2) She understands science. So, I am up to date on all my vaccines.

1) She is a great role model. I know she feels guilty that she spends less time with me than other mommies spend with their kiddos. I hope she doesn’t get sucked into the mommy wars because those kids don’t have her to look up to.

Let them eat frozen pizza

As I have noted in the past, I am not accustomed to taking care of my own basic needs for food and shelter or those of my progeny.

Last time my husband left town for work (which was truly one of the first times I had ever needed to be alone with my children and responsible for feeding and watering them), I almost set the house on fire with my attempt to heat up a frozen pizza.

So when he recently left town again for back to back business meetings I was on a quest to not make frozen pizza (or set the house on fire). Here were my challenges:

1) My husband drives by our local grocery store on his way home from work every day and picks up what he will need whip up a quick meal. What he is going to cook is based on a scheme we devised a couple of years ago (because a lack of a scheme meant that even he was too often defaulting to frozen pizza or other pre-made processed foods for dinner) that involves “meatless Monday,” “taco Tuesday,” “wildlife Wednesday,” etc. As a result, we rarely have a meal we haven’t had before and we never have ingredients on hand to do a meal on the fly but he is always able to concoct a reasonably home cooked meal on a nightly basis. And, if I am not on call, I get to prance in whenever my 12 or 14 or 16 hour day is over to a warm meal.  I am ravenous after these long days at work. Stopping at a grocery store in such a state would be an utter disaster. Plus, my days are long enough (even when I modify them because my husband won’t be home by 6pm every evening) I don’t really have the time to get into the store and home in time to relieve the sitter. So lack of ingredients was clearly barrier #1.

2) While you might think I don’t cook because my husband is so good at it, the truth is I don’t really know how to cook. My immigrant parents were so into me and my sister being studious that our mother never imparted her amazing cooking skills onto us. (We are honestly both total domestic failures beyond even cooking!) I do think I might enjoy cooking in concept and have tried on occasion to help out with meals say for a party or a holiday event. But,  I have a hard time following recipes and, on the rare occasions that when I do attempt to cook, I simply toss things in and see what happens. With the advent of the internet, my go to method for meal prep is googling a meal I am craving and picking and choosing which parts of a series of recipes seem good to me. Sometimes the result is edible. Sometimes not. This failure of a single component of a meal or a spread might be acceptable for a dinner where my mom or my husband or my mother-in-law, or an event where the guests with “an appetizer or dessert of your choice,” make up the difference; but it won’t work if my kids are counting on this meal to fill their gnawing bellies. Absence of even rudimentary culinary skills was a high second. 

Here’s what I did:

First, I snuck out of work once to pick up a couple of things at the store that might help me through meal prep. Next, I spent far to much time during the work day contemplating what I might do for dinner. When I got home each night I rummaged through the fridge and pantry to see which of my ambitious dinner plots I could pull off. Finally, when it came to meal time, I made it clear to my kids that they would eat whatever I managed to make without complaining no matter how much it sucked. They were sufficiently frightened by my frenzied state that they dutifully complied.

IMG_2980.JPGDay 1: I cube some marinaded chicken, open a bottle of marinara sauce, toss in a shredded vegetable mix that was about to expire in the veggie drawer and cook it all up in a single pot. I find some “vegetable” farfalle that clearly predates our conversion to a low carbohydrate lifestyle and cooked it up as described on the box. I make my older kid shred the block of parmesan (my husband would never have a cheese drawer without a block of high end parm) while I cook hoping she doesn’t shred her phalanges into the mix. She does remarkably well. The result is a pretty edible pasta dish with added protein.

Day 2: We have some eggs in the fridge and some potatoes in the pot drawer (Why, I wonder does my husband keep potatoes there? Why do we even have potatoes in the house. We haven’t had potatoes in over 2 years for any meal? Oh wait, thanksgiving was a week ago and we did have mashed potatoes and lots of other carbs for that occasion.) Okay now that I have gotten beyond the existence of potatoes in my home I move on to “breakfast for dinner.” I look up a few recipes for “breakfast potatoes” online and decide to cube them, IMG_2983.JPGtoss on a bit of canola oil, sprinkle on a “French blend” I picked up a Penzy’s a while back for no apparent reason and speed cook them in the Advantium oven. I make 3 incredibly variable omelets with 2% American cheese slices as the main dish. I end up tossing in my mom’s left over apple sabzi from Thanksgiving for an added touch (I didn’t make it but it was yummy and I would feel awful if I let it go bad.) The result is a pretty okay but not so pretty breakfast for dinner.

IMG_2997.JPGDay 3: This is one of my grocery shopping days. I had picked up McCormick’s stir fry sauce and packaged stir-fry veggies from the produce section. I had grilled chicken left over from my husband’s last taco tuesday and I figured the kids wouldn’t notice any lingering lime marinade. And though I am sure there is a giant vat of basmati somewhere in the house because, well, my mom has been there, I am not sure where it is since rice has been banished along with most grains and pastas. Plus,  I am intimidated by raw ingredients that come out of burlap bags that are later turned into purses at Anthropologie so I also bought box of Jasmine rice from the store. So though not quite from scratch I did have to put some work in. I saute up the veggies in the wok with a bit of oil while I cook the rice in a pot (not the crazy two-tier rice cooker/vegetable steamer we registered for 15 years ago and have used 3 times but just a basic Farberware pot).  I follow the sauce instructions and mix it and the chicken together with the veggies and boom a dinner is born. This was perhaps the most edible of the meals reviewed here in since I didn’t challenge myself very much. It was more veggies than my kids usually eat to boot. Total win for the chicken teriyaki stir-fry over jasmine rice and I recycle the rice box (though not as a pocketbook!).

Day 4: During my previous trip to the store I had picked up some tricolor tortellini. The kids love ravioli and I thought the shape of the tortellini would tickle them. I know, yet another moment of weakness for my otherwise low-carb life (we literally stopped eating pasta at home in 2011 and haven’t looked back) but I’d been on a carb bender all week so what was there to lose? Turns out that I had used the last jar of pasta sauce on Day #1. What?!? What the hell kind of yuppie American household doesn’t have multiple jars of Newman’s Own Marinara in reserve in the pantry! Argh. I am already ravenous. My mind is set on the tortellini. I have no time to leave home and go back to store lest I buy its entire contents due to IMG_3004.JPGmy hungry state. So I find a can of tomato paste and some milk and some cream that have yet to expire (if my husband were he home these would have otherwise been in his coffee). I dump them together in a pot while the older child puts her shredding skills to work yet again. I look in the spice drawer and toss in some dried oregano and garlic and later I mix in the cheese in an attempt to make some sort of a tomato cream sauce. I slice the remaining taco tuesday chicken and serve them a really, truly, awful chicken with a side of tortellini in a tomato cream sauce. Luckily, my kids are so pumped by the overdose of carbs that they ignore the hideous taste of the sauce.

Day 5: A weaker woman might have lost steam after day 4 but not me. I am determined. So I bounce back intent to use the ready made pie crusts that are still in the fridge from Thanksgiving. We caved at the last minute and bought an apple pie so the crusts remained. According to the packaging these unopened crusts should have already been frozen but like expiration dates on meds I don’t take this too seriously. And, for some reason (probably because I hate broccoli more than any other vegetable in the world) my husband has left 2 giant bags of broccoli florets in the vegetable drawer. There is also a half cut white onion.  There are still a couple of eggs left and the open carton of egg whites only expired 48 hours previously. No biggie. And of course we have parmesan. I spend all day contemplating a quiche. I google a few recipes. There a many options but essentially eggs, cheese, dairy, flour, +/- crust, heat and voila a quiche is born. But should a crustless quiche be cooked for as long as one with a crust? Will a glass or metal pie pan make a difference? I quickly sort through this. I settle on 25 minutes in the Advantium in the Pyrex pie plate. I let my little guy whip together the two eggs with the egg whites and the place is not a total mess. The older one is on parmesan duty again. I reach into the kitchen for the gallon of milk that I swear was half full when I left that morning and it’s gone. I send the other kid to the garage fridge, no back up milk. What!? No dairy for my quiche. Dammit but I really want quiche! Luckily there is also a soon to expire half empty carton of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. I just toss caution to the culinary wind and go for it. I mix the eggs with diced onions and broccoli that I sauteed with a touIMG_3005.JPGch of olive oil in the wok that is my new best friend and add in the yogurt, a cup of shredded parm, and two tablespoons of quick mixing/gravy thickening floor. I am not sure if this is or isn’t the same as the all-purpose flour noted on multiple recipes I consulted but I don’t bother finding out. I am too flustered by the dairy debacle. My kids no never to drink the last of the skim milk ever again.  25 minutes later there is a sort of watery mess in the center of my pie plate but after cooling for a bit it hardens up. My older one’s only complaint is that the onion pieces were too big. My little one says he hates cheese and refuses to eat it. He went to be hungry that night. I proceeded to have quiche for lunch for 3 additional days. I really loved it. I think it was the yogurt.

Day 6: I am craving Indian food. This is the one thing my husband hasn’t tried to tackle but my ego is getting the best of me after 5 days of being super mom. All the dishes were done and the kitchen was spotless after each of these previous meals. Each was consumed with the three of us at the table (often I take my meals on the chaise where I eat in a half crumpled, totally exhausted state while the kids have typically already eaten or are still finishing up at the table) actually interacting. I am reminded of my youth and the family meals of my mother and I am set on Indian food. I have freeze dried chana masala and I have canned chick peas. I opt for the latter because, you know, I am feeling like a total badass by now. How to make the sauce I wonder? I don’t bother to look it up. I have no sauce ingredients and my kids won’t like anything spicy. I find another half onion in a different part of the fridge. There are also these miniature bell peppers strewn about the bottom of the vegetable drawer. I chop them all up. I once again pull out my trusty wok and saute it all up with a bit of olive oil and several pinches of spices that smell Indian when I open the jars then I toss in the chick peas and a can of Campbell’s Plain tomato soup. While I am doing this I mix up from whole wheat flour, oil, and warm water as suggested by a googled recipe to make dough for rotis. I apparently add in too much water and it becomes a gross tacky mess. There is no more whole wheat flour and my hands are covered. I ask my little guy to help get some all-purpose flour (of course, now I find it!) mixed into my sticky mess of dough. He proceeds create a snow scape on our kitchen island but we finally get to the point where texture of the dough sort of reminds me of when I used to beg my mom to help roll out rotis as a kid. Now my own child is begging to help me do that same but I think she must have failed geometry because clearly she does not know what a circle is. So I take out the flat pan that my mom clearly put in my pot drawer for roti making and proceed to make a series of rorschaIMG_3006.JPGch test rotis for accompany the bizzaro tomato soup chana. I also made some jasmine rice again which was a piece of cake compared to everything else. The kitchen looks like a storm came through and this whole process takes me a full 90 minutes. The result is reasonably tasty rotis, a decent mild chick pea something that is decidedly not chana masala and, well, thank god for that box of rice.

Day 7: And on the 7th day I was brimming with pride but exhausted. So I sat on my chaise nursing a sea salt dark chocolate caramel and let my 11yo set the house on fire with the frozen pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does my husband rant about me?

It’s 2014. Men and women are sharing, though perhaps not equally, more of the household and parenting responsibilities than ever before. So I was aghast when I recently read on a doctor mom site I have been following recently a “husband rant” from an exasperated woman who literally does everything in terms of home upkeep (cooking, cleaning, organizing, bill paying) and childcare (feeding, bedtimes, school drop offs) while her husband apparently enjoys his recliner and a beer. Whoa!

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Are there modern men who really do not help around the house or with the kids? At all?

I am struggling to wrap my head around this unbalanced relationship because I have honestly not witnessed this in my generation of women friends across many different career paths. Even among my friends who have chosen to be housewives (if you want to know why I didn’t use the term “stay-at-home mom” read here) their husbands go out of their way when they get home from work or a business trip or just a day on the golf course to help with the kids or do some chores around the house–and not just the traditional male household tasks like lawn mowing and snow shoveling. Among my surgeon mom friends, even among some who are married to other surgeons, the balance of homemaking and child rearing falls on their husbands though there is often a village or a metropolis involved in making it all work.

sea-salt-dark-chocolate-caramelsAs I was reflecting upon this husband rant, I was obvious to me that I am that person in my relationship. “Does my husband rant about me?” I wondered. I don’t have a recliner and I don’t drink beer but if you replace the former with a chaise on the sectional and a dark chocolate salted caramel…..yup, that’s me.

He was travelling for work last week and I was a fish out of water keeping the house and the kids afloat. I had to fend for myself for a variety of daily tasks (making my morning cup of coffee, making my lunch, taking out the trash, charging my phone, setting my alarm, going to the grocery store, putting gas in the car, walking the dog, getting the kids do their homework or take a shower or go to bed or do anything that involved not annoying me, getting the kids to school, making an evening meal that doesn’t involve a frozen pizza, cleaning up after said meal, paying the nanny and the house cleaner, doing my delicates [yes he does my delicates, I am that lucky!]) that I too often take for granted because he gets them done without me ever asking. It’s as if he always has and I honestly don’t know another way of life.

Sure this way of our life started because I was always working a lot more than him. Early on, there were so many days where I was just too tired to even brush my teeth or walk the 10 steps from the couch to my bed that chipping in with housework did not even occur to me. At first, I tried to use my one weekend off to help with household chores but it quickly became apparent that such precious moments away from work were best spent enjoying each others’ company and building memories that didn’t involve Lysol or writing checks (recall, this was the pre-online banking era).

Since my husband’s mom had raised him well, he was able to take over most all of the housework even though both he and I were raised by a generation where fathers were not particularly involved in household responsibilities unless there was a power tool involved. In our life he does everything that his mom and my mom traditionally did around the home and everything that our dads did too. Luckily, as we have grown older and more financially stable, we have been able to outsource some of the more onerous household tasks.

When we had kids, I couldn’t be the one who stayed at home. It’s just not something that exists in the career path that I chose. So, he did. He was a great stay-at-home dad and I was not that person who came home after 37 straight hours at work and offered to take the kids off his hand so he could have a break. I suppose in retrospect it wasn’t fair for me to do nothing (though I did supply 26 months of breast milk that I hoped  offset the fact that I changed <1% of my two kids’ diapers) but I was in survival mode during those years. And he’s done 99% of the school drop offs, doctors appointments, etc. since these kids were born, even when he was back in the work force full time because his 40-50 hour work weeks were always more forgiving and flexible than my 60-120 hour work weeks.

So, as hard as this life must have been for him, we fell into survival mode together. He and I fell into a routine together where he was the rock of our domestic life. It continues to this day. As an attending surgeon with a research focus I have some more flexibility to attend to homemaking and childrearing but still a lot less than him. And, he’s just a natural at it after all this years while I am, well, a fish out of water.

Embed from Getty ImagesI find it heartbreaking that this woman is in a position where she feels so unsupported in her home life and in her work as a parent from the person she is hoping to share the rest of her life with; but I am grateful to her for making me take a moment to really appreciate how lucky I am to have found a partner who makes it so very easy for me to do the many, many other things that I do when I am away from our home and our family. Is it perfect? No. Do we ever fight about chores or kids? Hell yes. Do I say thank you often enough? Nope, definitely not.

I am fortunate that I don’t really have much to rant about when it comes to our home and our family. So, really, does he ever rant about me?

He should. But only after he brings me my dark chocolate sea salt caramels as I lounge sleep on my chaise.

asleep on couch