The Teal Pumpkin Project: No Pressure Man, But, Like, It Would Be Cool If You Did

The Teal Pumpkin Project: No Pressure Man, But, Like, It Would Be Cool If You Did

On my 30th birthday I got to go see Louis C.K. perform live with about 20 of my best friends from college. It was pretty sweet. At the end of his act, he did his now infamous “Of course… But maybe” bit about kids with nut allergies. We all laughed. I laughed. I felt ashamed, but I still laughed. Fast forward two years and that no good bitch karma caught up with me — my daughter was diagnosed with a peanut allergy.

After that, I did a 180. I went from feeling like a complete ban on peanuts at schools was overkill, to being so thankful it exists. While my daughter is well aware of her allergy, and will avoid anything she knows contains peanuts or peanut butter, she could easily mistake a peanut butter cookie for a sugar cookie and end up in a very scary situation. I know it sucks for everyone else. I get it. But it helps me feel much more at ease when I drop her off every morning. So I’m grateful to those who follow the rule, even if they do it begrudgingly.

I really hate being one of those moms – the allergy mom.

I really hate being one of those moms — the allergy mom. I have to bring it up at birthday parties, play dates, and restaurants. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that one of the most painful things for me to do is ask for special treatment. I don’t like asking for help, special favors, or to be made an exception. I hate to haggle. Just tell me the price, and I’ll pay it, because that’s fair to everyone. I know, I’m a wimp. So when I have to jump in as someone is handing my daughter a treat, “That doesn’t have peanuts, does it?!” I do a full body cringe and recoil shamefully. “Sorry,” I think to myself. “I’m not trying to be a pain.” But I do it because I have to. It’s a better alternative to spending 20 minutes begging her to take some Benadryl as a rash spreads across her cheeks, or even worse, having to stab her with her EpiPen.

I feel this way partly because allergy moms get such a bad wrap. Most of us are normal people, but then there are people like this asshat:

Allergy FlyerYou’ve probably seen this flyer already as it’s making its way across social media today. I can’t think of a worse way to get people on your side than to chastise them for giving out candy most people like and can eat. We took Biscuit trick-or-treating last year, and yeah, she got a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars. But she also got plenty of Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey’s, and even a few small toys. When we got home, I said, “Ok, I need to go through your bag and remove all the best candy for my mommy stash stuff with peanuts in it.” You know what she said? “Yuck! I don’t like peanuts.” Devastated, she was not. She knows what peanuts do to her, so she’s totally cool with giving that stuff up. Whoever posted this flyer sounds like a narcissistic drama queen douche bag (pardon my French).

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This year, I heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project, and thought, “Hey, that’s cool!” We’re participating this year, and here’s how I did it: Step 1, I went to Target (enter at your own risk) and I bought a bunch of candy. I also bought a couple bags from the peanut and gluten-free section (yes, Target sells assorted allergen-free bags of non-gross candy in a very prominent and well-labeled section). Finally, I grabbed a bag of assorted mini Play-Dohs for kids that just can’t have candy at all. I also bought a pumpkin and a bottle of teal acrylic paint. Step 2, I painted the pumpkin teal (which was fun!) and placed it on my doorstep so the allergy parents know they can get some allergen-free stuff at my house. Pretty simple.

If you can grab some allergen-free candy or toys, that would be totally boss.

So here’s what I’ll ask: If you can grab some allergen-free candy or toys, that would be totally boss. it’s an easy way to show kindness to someone who has been deprived of the glory that is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Paint a pumpkin teal so we know where to find you. Or don’t. Maybe you just don’t have the time because, shit, you got a life of your own. That’s cool; we’ll knock on your door anyway.

The Only Easy Thing About 3-Year-Olds

Have you ever played Hide and Seek with a 3-year old?

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It’s honestly the only thing about having a 3-year-old that is actually easy.

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In fact, you will probably have to remind them not to tell you where they are. As if that even matters.

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3-year-olds are actually a lot like cats. “I can’t see you, so you can’t see me.”

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I recommend this activity to anyone who’s had a hard day at work and just wants to feel smart for a change.

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Unfortunately, it won’t always be this adorably easy.

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Biscuit and the Black Guy

2014-10-20 08-51-35-510Since the day she was born I have dreaded Biscuit’s first “from the mouths of babes” moment. You know, when they repeat something they heard at home that was not intended for anyone else to hear. (“Mommy says Uncle Mike is a deadbeat.”) Or maybe they share a too personal piece of information. (“Daddy only likes the toilet paper with the lotion in it!”) I’ve been very cautious about what we say around her, and I frequently remind Insurance Boss that words like “douche bag” can be repeated after only a single introduction. So we were completely caught off guard when her first act of mortification was something she came up with all on her own.

Biscuit is a very social little girl and will talk to just about anyone, including the pizza delivery man. In fact, every time we order a pizza she runs to the door and comes up with something, no matter how insignificant, to tell her unsuspecting victim. Fortunately, they are usually good sports and respond with an encouraging, “Wow, that’s so cool!” So the other night when the doorbell rang, she came running right behind me. She stepped into the doorway, looked up at the delivery man, and excitedly exclaimed,

“I found a new show, see! It has the black guy!”

She was pointing at the TV screen where she had just turned on a game show for kids, who’s host was – you guessed it – a black guy. From this statement, it was obvious that the “black guy” was a major point of interest for her. It was a defining characteristic of the show and how she’d chosen to name it, since she hadn’t caught the show’s actual name. It sounded as if this “black guy” were a new, rare, fascinating species she had never encountered before.

The delivery man’s response was silent, open-mouthed, and wide-eyed. I froze, embarrassed and bewildered. I had never heard her refer to anyone that way. What I love about her pure, literal, 3-year-old view of the world is that people are just people. She sees things exactly as they are with no learned biases or nuances. I was certain that if I had pointed to any human being and said that person was “black”, she would have corrected me immediately and said their skin was brown or pink or even gray. So where the hell did this come from?

I could feel the blood rushing to my face, and I blurted out some mumbling, fumbling garbage like, “I don’t think she meant – that – like that – I…” In order to avoid making a big deal out of what she’d just said (at least not yet), I calmly looked down at Biscuit, assumed ignorance, and said, “The black guy? What do you mean? Show me.” Instead of pointing at the face of the host on the TV screen, she grabbed the Apple TV remote, hit the Menu button, and pointed at the show’s icon.

 

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There it was: a human figure that was, literally, black.

Drawn and Quartered: Why I Quit Being a Working Mom

Drawn and QuarteredI considered naming my blog Drawn and Quartered, because that’s how I would describe being a working mom – like each of my limbs were being pulled in a different direction in one of the most brutal forms of execution ever devised (I have a penchant for the hyperbolic). I loved my daughter. I loved my husband. I loved my job. And I was failing all of them.

OK, I wasn’t actually failing any of them, but I felt like they were all getting my B level effort. My daughter was in day care for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I did the math in my head all the time. After subtracting sleeping, commuting, and time spent at work, I was spending less time with my family than I was with my coworkers and clients, some of whom were certifiable. When I was at work, I was thinking about my family. “We need to get serious about potty training. There is so much laundry to do. I need to cook more. We aren’t eating healthy enough.” When I was at home, I was thinking about work. “I need to find a way to get in to work earlier in the morning. I need to do more outside of my client work. I need to show that I deserve the promotion I was just given. More is expected of me now. Am I being judged for leaving the cocktail hour to see my daughter before she goes to bed?” B level effort – there was so much more to be done.

I don’t like getting Bs, especially when I know I’m capable of more. During one semester of undergrad, I accepted a C in Biology so I could focus on getting an A in Calculus. It was better to relieve myself of the obligation to Biology, (who the hell needs to memorize the Krebs Cycle anyway?), and get my A in Calculus, than to work myself into a stress-induced coma only to walk away with two Bs.

So in March of this year, I quit my job. Not like a Jerry Maguire “Who’s comin’ with me?!” kind of quit, but more of a teary, “I’m so sorry!” kind of quit. It was so much harder to cut my employer loose than my thick-German-accented, jerk of a Biology professor. I really did cry, which made me feel embarrassed, unprofessional, and stereotypically feminine. I tried so hard to hold it in. I started off diplomatic and matter of fact. But my boss was so incredibly understanding, proud even, that I couldn’t help it. He told me that he thought what I was doing was brave. BRAVE?! That thought had never occurred to me.

I assumed that what I was doing was selfish and weak. Here I am, after generations of women have had to fight for the right to have a career, I’m throwing it away. I’m choosing to stay at home and care for my family. I’m choosing to spend my time on my own terms, and maybe even a little bit on myself. How dare I? How dare I put the full financial burden on my husband? How dare I abandon my employer, who praised me, promoted me, and needed more from me? How dare I waste the MBA I’d just spent two years to get? So what if I’m stressed? Isn’t everyone? Is B-level effort really so bad? Everyone else can do it, why can’t I?

But it’s not like one day I just threw my hands up and said, “I give up.” It was an extremely difficult decision. I spent months worrying about the repercussions. Despite my husband’s pushing me toward it, I worried that he would resent me for quitting. I worried that my friends and family would come to see me as a lazy housewife, lying on the couch all day eating bonbons. I worried that I would get bored. Grocery shopping, wiping up spilled milk, and watching 3-year-olds on the playground didn’t sound nearly as challenging and exciting as management consulting (granted, that depends on who you ask!). “What if no one will hire me once I decide to go back to work? What if I don’t live up to my own expectations? What if I’m not as good at all this as I want to be? What if I change my mind???”

In the end, this is what I wanted to do. The guilt was consuming me, and I needed it to stop. This is what I needed to do to be happy, now. I suppose I could have spent another decade of my life forcing myself to be OK with B-level effort, but so far I haven’t been successful. (If anyone has been successful changing a long ingrained, potentially inherited personality trait, please let me know!) I’d rather look back on my life and know that I always did what I needed to do in order to be happy at that moment, instead of making decisions that I hoped I’d be happy with in the future.

I still struggle with those fears. But overall, I am happier. I am a better mother. I am a better wife. And some day, when I’m read, I’ll be a better – whatever I wanna be when I grow up. I trusted my gut. I suppose that making the decision that makes me happy, in spite of all the fears I had, is brave.

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I braveheart. I am.

Biscuit on Her Favorite Pastime

Biscuit: [suddenly, angrily, from the backseat] MOMMY! It’s WINDY today!!!

Me: You need to try that again. Nicely please.

Biscuit: Mommy, it’s windy today.

Me: Yeah, it is a little breezy.

Biscuit: No! You say, “It’s NOT windy!”

Me: Are you trying to argue with me on purpose?

Biscuit: Yes.

Me: No, don’t do that. Arguing isn’t fun.

Biscuit: It IS fun!!!

Me: No, it’s not.

Biscuit: Yes it is.

Outsmarted by a 3-year-old. I’ll just hang my head now.

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Biscuit on Patience

 “I’m just gonna lay on the floor and wait.”

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Biscuit has a serious blueberry muffin addiction. Once they go into the oven she’s a jittery, sweating ball of anticipation. She looks in the oven and announces that they are done, even though they are still very wet plops of raw egg and oil. Once they come out, I have to physically restrain her so she doesn’t sear her little fingers on the pan.

“Wait,” I say. “They need to cool.”

“But I want them NOW! I WAAAAANT them!!!”

“Well, you have to wait. You need to work on being patient. They are too hot, and you need to wait.” So she sprawls out in protest of this whole “waiting” thing.

At least now she’s silently protesting.