Tag Archives: working mother

The gods must be crazy…

Okay. So I’m back. Hopefully for good, but you know I’ve found out that god has a sense of humor recently, so you never know.

So where have I been? What have I been doing?

Remember all my posts that detail what a good mother I am? Like the one about how I didn’t breastfeed and the one about how I feed my kids McDonalds once a week and how my two year old feels me up in Target?

And then remember how I had that really mind bending post entitled, “Hellz Yaz” about whether its better to have huge puss-filled zits all over my chin or have a sex drive? And everyone voted that I remain a sex kitten with zits? And my big-boobed sister warned me that natural family planning was a very bad idea?

And then remember when I told you the story about when I had to tell Professor Bourbon I was pregnant after they let me into the PhD program?

Do you see where this is going? Yeah. Surprise!! I’m preggers. Not really what I was planning for 2010, or 2011 – 2050.  And my angel didn’t even have the balls to warn me this time. The news hit right after New Years Day (same day I got my new job offer, so my new boss got to be the second to know) and I don’t think I’ve been quite the same since. I can’t figure out whether the nausea is from the pregnancy hormones or the idea that the gods thought it would be a good idea to put another human on this earth who has me for its mother. When I found out, BD was so worried about my mental state (probably because he’d never seen anybody catatonic before) he promised to stay sober with me this whole pregnancy, which is awesome. The other two times I was the designated driver and it was not awesome. It actually does make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who will be suffering the next nine months, which I think is what makes BD love me so much.

So I won’t lie – the change of plans has had me in a tail spin for the last two months, which I probably could have recovered from in a week if wine could have been involved, but without alcohol, and with nausea and a new job and exhaustion, I could sum up my life perfectly in one non-word: “meh”. Which is why you haven’t heard from me. The juice has been gone.

However…the good news is that I’m over it now. I’m going to be a mother yet again, and red wine no longer calls to me during my long, sleepless nights and now I have a third chance to make a first impression. Maybe I’ll try breastfeeding this time. Or maybe I’ll freak out and change my mind a month before like I did the last time. No promises there.

And maybe this kid will be the one who winds up changing my diapers when I’m 92 and I’ll be like “Oh, now I get it, God. You’re the best!” And lets not forget about the nightly “happiness” I have to look forward to in the coming months. This time I will make buying porn a part of the getting ready for baby checklist, just so we don’t have to go through the histrionics of yesteryear.

So I’m psyched. I didn’t think we’d have any more kids but now that it has been determined that we will indeed, I’m stoked. And I haven’t seen an episode of Oprah in two months, and its given me a strength I didn’t know I had. I think I might be okay when she stops the show now. I think I might survive. And that goes for everything – the pregnancy, the delivery, the new job, the new house we’ll have to buy and even the…GULP…minivan? (okay, that last one was really hard for me to say)

It’s a new world order.

Welcome back to my life. I’ve missed you guys.

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Love’s PhD Trilogy: Numbers

I told you about how and why I came to the conclusion that I needed to be a business professor in the Genesis part of the story. That thinking deep thoughts all day and having the esteem of millions would beat working for a living any day of the week.  So I did everything necessary to get into the PhD program at the University where I was getting my MBA. I switched into their full-time program, I quit my sales job, I started having interviews with current faculty to talk about the process and the career AND I got pregnant.  YUP. Yup.  That last part wasn’t really what most aspiring PhDs do right away, but hey! Why not make it that much more difficult? You know, so when there is a movie made about my life, I’ll have even more adversity  to overcome (maybe I’m the only one who considers motherhood adversity?) on my quest to solve all of the worlds deepest, most elusive marketing questions. (And P.S., I vote for one of Gwen Stefani’s sons to play mine in the movie).  It makes a lot of sense if you think about it that way. No.  I know – it actually it doesn’t.

Okay, so I have to beat out a lot of people to get into this program.  So I sat in front of all my MBA classes and I talked to all of my marketing professors about their jobs and they all told me it was really weird for an MBA to want to be a professor.  And that it was a lot of hard work and would take a lot of dedication and yada, yada, yada. I’m all about hard work and dedication, so what is the issue? I got the feeling that they thought the Type A, overachiever, know-it-all MBA assholes they taught most of time wouldn’t have the patience or temperament to make it as a grad student.  I couldn’t really figure out why. I mean, I was an MBA student and I really wanted to do it.  I was good at school and I loved it in a fairly unnatural way, so I didn’t understand why they all said stuff like that.

But what they were getting at (that I found out only much, much later) is that being a PhD candidate is really best suited for Type A, overachiever, know-it-all assholes who will put up with getting emotionally, intellectually and financially bitch slapped on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  It’s for people who revel in being told they are a constant disappointment and that they can barely read or write or theorize better than a retarded goat.  It’s really great for people who don’t require sunlight, like to read journal articles for 15 hours each day, act as their advisor’s bitch for another 5 (including cleaning their office) and be publicly chastised for their work by faculty during the other four.   There isn’t a whole lot of time left over for any sort of healthy, normal relationships outside the four cinderblock, windowless walls of the PhD room.  No, they can’t have that or you might come to your senses and tell them to go to hell instead of respectfully listening when they maniacally laugh as they tear apart your precious ego and illusions of future grandeur. Yes, you get all that, plus paid less than a deformed hooker at the Greyhound station. That’s why MBAs should not become PhD candidates.  Because they are used to giving and getting ass kisses for 10 to 12 hours a day, sleeping for 6 and fucking around for the rest. Oh, and making 6 figures while doing so. Trust me on this one – I know.  So the two entail fairly different lifestyles, you see?

Okay, but I wasn’t aware of any of this at the time.  So I made it very clear to several marketing faculty members that I wanted to be in the program, I filled out my applications, wrote my essays, crossed my fingers and prayed like hell.  Meanwhile, I got pregnanter and pregnanter.

May I just say that being pregnant in an MBA school like the one I went to is about the same level of offense as raising a nine iron over your head and slamming it down into a green, creating gaping three inch crater only a foot away from the hole, for absolutely no reason at all.  It’s one of those things that say a few things about you: a) you’re a jackass, b) you’ve just proved you shouldn’t even be there in the first place, and c) you’re ruining it for everyone else.  That’s kind of the way I think most of my peers felt about it, but I’m probably projecting because nobody actually said that to me. I came to the party late, and they had their friends already, so people didn’t talk to me unless they had to. They mostly just looked at me with either pity, wonder or disdain, reactions which hit points a, b and c rather nicely.  I did not win the Most Popular prize for sure.  I couldn’t go out and get wasted with them and/or talk about how many consulting firms or investment banks would be begging me to work for them in 9 months, which is what I gathered were the most common social activities. So I was a bit of an outcast. But that’s okay because I was a rebel on a mission to pure intellectual awesomeness.

Then one day I get a call from the chair of the marketing department (one who I actually feared and adored at the same time and with equal intensity – lets call him Professor Bourbon) saying they were letting me in. AWESOME! SERIOUSLY? AWESOME. Because I was so close to getting my big wooden office with floor to ceiling bookshelves and those little ladders I would have to climb to get all the books off the high shelves. Big pimpin’.  If they made maternity twill jackets with corduroy patches on it, I so would have bought one at that moment.  But the joy was short-lived.  Now I realized that I probably sort of had to tell them I was pregnant and I was pretty sure this wasn’t news that would be particularly well received.

I told myself that it should be fine, because my son was due the day I graduated from MBA school (indeed, his birthday and the date on my diploma match perfectly), and I’d have the summer off before the PhD program started.  So it didn’t really affect them at all. I didn’t need to ask for special treatment or anything, but still…when they found out I was pregnant, I could imagine them likening my pregnancy to slamming my nine iron into their little academic green.

When I’m about 8 months along, Professor Bourbon invites everybody who was accepted into the program for a little orientation day.  I figure it is at this moment when all of the professors and my future mentors are going to see me and be thinking, “The fuck?! I already hate her bitch ass. Is it too late to rescind the offer and give the spot to someone who is serious about being an academic?”  So rather than have my big reveal on orientation day and have it be the big surprise of the day, I decided to call up Professor Bourbon and schedule a meeting with him beforehand and tell him my dirty little secret.  It was my intention to have him as my advisor, so I thought I should just get it out on the table and give him the option to kick me out in private, rather than in front of the group that would be my cohort. You know, all the Aspergers kids from China.

So that day, I don all black to make my big belly less noticeable and because I may be going to my newest, shiniest dream’s funeral and I have what I think is going to be one of the most awkward and hard conversations ever.  Something along the lines of , “so I got knocked up, but please don’t change your mind because I’m a total geek and if I can’t be a professor then you are shattering my dreams forever and I might go postal.”

But what I actually said was:

“Thank you so much for letting me in the program and I’m so excited and I’m ready to work really hard and I’m definitely going to accept the offer but I feel like I have to tell you something that you should know but I don’t know whether or not you care or if it affects your decision or what you think of me or whatever and it wasn’t like I planned it or anything but really I think you should know before the orientation that I’m…I’m….um….I’m….kind of….um….pregnant. BUT! I’m due in June and I’ll totally be back in September and ready for school and I’ll have a daycare and everything worked out and I’m very serious and I really want to do this and….are you still okay with me being in the program and working with you?”

Little beads of sweat had formed on my forehead and on my big belly under the big gross panels they put to cover your belly on those damn maternity pants.  All I wanted to do was take that fucking thing off my stomach and let it just cool in the breeze, but I think that would have been very unwise under the circumstances.  I was about to hear whether or not my questionable family planning was going to take away my chance to be one of the smartest, well-known, famous fucking people in the universe, or at least among the 1000 or so marketing professors in the US.

I put it all on the table and I held my breath for my fate to be revealed. And this is what he said:

“Congratulations! Of course we still want you. Having children is one of the greatest gifts in the world! I have three of my own.  On top of that, I would argue that you’ll have even greater marketing insights as a parent.  Never apologize for bringing another life into this world. This is great news and you should enjoy it. Congratulations!”

Um, whaaaaaaat?? May I just say I love you more than Angelina and Milo put together, Professor Bourbon? Will you marry me? For real? For really real? Oh wait, that is what got me into this predicament in the first place.  For the record, I should tell you that this was one of those pivotal conversations that I will remember my entire life and why I will love Professor Bourbon like Take 5 bars and TiVo forever.

Whew. So I was in. And my advisor was going to be kind of kick ass. He thought I was even cooler for having a kid.  So now I just had to meet my new classmates. I was pretty sure they’d probably all be a lot fucking smarter and less cool than me. But that would be okay because maybe I’d learn something.  I just hoped they weren’t d-bags. And that they were US Weekly subscribers.  And that some of them were Americans or Canadians, because my Mandarin really sucks. Oh yeah, and maybe someone there would also count Oprah as their personal savior too.

I actually think I got a little of everything…

To be continued in Love’s PhD Trilogy: Judges

Adventures in Babysitting, the Finale

If you are just joining me, start here.  For the other three of you following the story and want to know what happens when Love insists on choosing a daycare run by a woman who shares none of her interests or philosophies in life, here goes:

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a 10 page signed contract, Miss Amalia decides that we are a good enough family to admit into her daycare and even agrees to take our son at 10 weeks, instead of 6 months, with a little extra charge.  I liked Miss Amalia and her sister, who ran the daycare, but Miss Amalia and I had very different M.O.s.  Miss Amalia loved rules. LOVED rules. I, on the other hand, love to ignore rules, especially when they appear to be arbitrary, which many of Miss Amalia’s were. So when I would visit before my son started I would kind of laugh to myself about how amusing it was the way she clung to her random rules. You know, no shoes in the house. No coming more than 15 minutes early or later than she expected you. No calling during nap time. No breaking any of her 600 breast milk handling rules (thank GOD I didn’t have to deal with that). The list went on and on.  And on.  And on.

So my son is born in June and he turns out to be the easiest, most even-tempered and laid back baby ever born.  God only gives you what you can handle, and that is when I realized that God thinks I’m a total loser, because honestly, the kid never cried, he drank his formula without complaint, he had no gas, he slept all the time, he nailed all his weight and height checks at the doctor. He didn’t even cry when he got his immunizations. I had no idea what motherhood was going to be like, but after the first few weeks with my little guy I was wondering what so many new moms were complaining about.  Everyone was always talking about how hard it was and how they never got to sleep or shower or catch their breath.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Taking care of an infant was so easy.

When I was on maternity leave, I probably read 100 books and even started watching Dr. Phil (a moustached man who is not a police officer, leaving only one other possibility) just to fill the time.  Seriously.  I was tethered to the house because my baby was always sleeping.  There was nothing for me to do except make a few bottles and change a few diapers every few hours.  And Oprah was in re-runs, so I turned to Dr.Phil. I was totally intrigued desperate.  My son would wake up, eat, be cute for 30 minutes, sleep for a couple of hours and then do it all over again. At  7 weeks he slept through the night.

These facts clearly prove that I must have been the best damn mother in the universe. I had the perfect baby, so that must have meant that every decision I had made had been the right one. If I wasn’t doing everything exactly right then how could my baby be so awesome? You’re stumped. I can tell.  All those moms whose kids cried a lot or didn’t sleep or had acid reflux – it was probably because they weren’t doing it right. I started fancying myself as an authority.  I thought maybe I should write a book about being a perfect parent and I would prove to the world that formula fed babies and their working mothers weren’t all that bad. Scratch that. Formula fed babies and their working mothers were superior! I was a perfect parent*, as evidenced by my perfect child.

(*I think I actually may have believed in my post-partum stupor that my parenting had something to do with my son’s temperament, until I was graced with my second son. The one that feels me up in Target. I now have no such illusions.)

Okay, so now that you know that I am a perfect mother and I have a perfect baby who is about to go to a perfect daycare, you might understand my surprise when my baby went to daycare and Miss Amalia reported that he cried all day.  Ummm? My baby? Impossible. My child does not cry.  “No, he does. All day.” deadpanned Miss Amalia.  “Well, I don’t understand. Are you feeding him? Is he dry?  He never cries with us. Never!”  I was wondering whether she was trying to shake me down for more money. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.  And yet everyday when I came to pick him up (and he seemed to be docile and happy as ever then), she would claim he spent most of the day crying and fussing.

Not to worry, though.  Miss Amalia knew why.  She suspected that perhaps we let him sleep whenever he wanted to. Yes, we did.  She suspected that sometimes he fell asleep in our arms or in a swing but not in a crib. Well, yes. Sometimes.  She suspected we didn’t have him on a strict schedule. No. At two months old we did not.  “Well”, she said, “you’re going to have to get him on my schedule or this isn’t going to work.”  Your schedule? Um? What the hell are we paying you $375 a week for? I’m not giving up all things fun in this world to pay you just so that you get to be the boss of me, thankyouverymuch.

But I didn’t say that. I asked for the schedule.  Here is a great example of BD and I saying “Sure, Miss Amalia. Give us a copy of your schedule and we’ll make sure we keep to it on the weekends.” (wink, wink, roll eyes, giggles).  She gave us the schedule and I’m pretty sure we used it to pick up the dog’s poop on the way home.  Our kid was younger than 3/4 of the food in my pantry. What did he know about schedules? If he needs to sleep, let him. When he wants to eat, we’ll feed him.  We’re his parents for God’s sake. What does this single woman in her thirties without children know about taking care of children? (Actually – not such a good question to ask yourself when you hired her to do just that). Her unyielding anal retentiveness was really cramping my style and pissing me off.

So a month goes by and he has about 4 bad days and 1 good day a week. After his first four weeks there, Miss Amalia tells us that we need to have an “evaluation” meeting at Starbucks.  We thought this was another one of her random administration rule-y things and we begrudgingly went to our meeting, but were eager to hear about our perfect son’s progress.

She got straight to the point. Our son won’t go to sleep unless she is holding his hand. He fusses and cries a lot and she has other kids to watch, so it’s very distracting.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good match.  Perhaps he’d be happy somewhere else. Perhaps we would all be happy somewhere else.  It just wasn’t working out.  Maybe we’d all made a mistake.  Somewhere in the background the sound of a needle scratches a record.  Oh no she did ent. I saw her lips moving, but I couldn’t really make out the words.  We were getting kicked out of day care.  Oh, helllls no!  After my brief blackout as she was kicking our infant out of the only daycare in Chicago I could find for him, the fighting spirit came back into my body and I begged her not to kick us out. We had nowhere to go, and plus, it made no sense that this baby that was so calm and perfect with us could be such a pain in the ass for her.  I mean, if our kid couldn’t meet her standards, then nobody’s could.  We just couldn’t comprehend the situation we were in, but we promised we would do anything, anything to stay in.

She wasn’t a monster. She only made us beg for 15 minutes until said she would give us another four weeks to either clean up our 3 month old’s behavior or find a new daycare.  Aw, fuck.  I mean, was I supposed to take away his car keys? How do you “fix” a 3 month old who is on probation at daycare and yet an easy, laid back angel at home?

Miss Amalia said she’d work with us. She told us she suspected we weren’t following her schedule. She suspected we were still letting him sleep whenever and wherever and often in our arms. We kind of demurred, but it was probably clear to her that we weren’t doing anything she told us to do.  We sheepishly asked for another copy of the schedule.  We thought it was completely absurd voodoo to have to a kid this small on her strict schedule, but we had no choice. We had to feed him, sleep him, play with him, change him and practice sign language with him, all on this schedule she had.  He had to take all naps in his crib, alone and he couldn’t already be asleep when we put him in there.  No more falling asleep on daddy’s chest, or in the swing or a free bottle here or there.  Obviously, there was no way this was going to work, but we had no other choice, so we decided to do it her way. I really wanted to be right that she was wrong – that the schedule was meaningless — because after all, in just three months I was already a perfect mother with all the answers. So we watched the clock and followed her schedule over the weekend, no exceptions.  Except the yoga part. We weren’t sure how a 3 month old gets the most out of his yoga session, so we substituted Baby Mozart.

On Monday she said he had a good day. “You followed the schedule, didn’t you?” Um. (eyes downward) Yes. On Tuesday another good day. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday.  It had to be a coincidence.  Maybe he had a sense that he was on probation and was on his best behavior. But the next weekend we stuck to the schedule again. And suddenly Miss Amalia is reporting that our kid seems to be so happy and she has never seen him so calm.  Really?  Finally the son we’d always known was showing up at daycare. But only after we went against everything we wanted to do and put him on a schedule. On her schedule. I could tell Miss Amalia was gloating. Because she knew she was right and that we were just punk new parents.  She scared us straight, and she knew it.

Miss Amalia – 1, Love Family – 0. Well played, Miss Amalia, well played.

Eventually our son worked his way off the probation list and we stuck with Miss Amalia for a year. It wasn’t without days that I wanted to punch her in the face because she was so sure she knew everything (and unfortunately, most times she was right).  When she decided she was so awesome that daycare was going to cost $400/week even with 7 other kids there, we gave up.  We couldn’t afford it and she told us she was quite sure that other people could.  We had to move somewhere we could find affordable daycare.  We had to change everything.

So thanks to Miss Amalia, we sold our condo at the height of the real estate bubble and bought a single family in a great neighborhood.  I had to look for new daycare and discovered my Mom Crush in the process and another parent at Miss Amalia’s gave us the lead on the new daycare we found that was almost half of what Miss Amalia was demanding. And we’re still with that daycare. She didn’t make us sign a contract, or tell me how to mother, or make me feel guilty I’ve never seen the inside of Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure she has never done yoga and when the kids get dirty, she washes their clothes, instead of sending them home in a plastic bag. And she loves our kids and they love her. And none of it would have been possible without all Miss Amalia’s rules.  And Starbucks.

So thank you, Starbucks and Miss Amalia — for everything.

Adventures in Babysitting, Part I

I was due with my first baby in mid-June, just about the time I graduated from MBA school and about 10 weeks before I started my PhD program, a time frame which turned out to be perfectly suited for maternity leave.  I planned to find childcare during that time and I figured it would be like finding a doctor – you go on a website somewhere that lists all the doctors within a certain radius, you check their qualifications and then you pick one based on who has the best decorated waiting room and hope like hell they are in-network.

We lived just a mile outside of downtown Chicago, just down the street from Oprah, and I was pretty sure there had to be like 66 million daycares and each of them were pining for the chance to take care of my infant.  So then one day when I’m about 7 months along, I was in a deli minding my own business, eating my farm raised, low mercury salmon and asparagus sandwich and reading a Harvard Business Review case for class and two ladies on their lunch break sat down next to me.  They were talking about office gossip, which was way more interesting than my reading, so I was listening in. And they probably noticed I was pregnant and listening to them so suddenly they began talking about how annoying another woman was at work because all she did was freak out everyday about how there were no slots for infants in any daycare centers anywhere in Chicago and she was only 3 months pregnant and what a dumb ass for not realizing this before she got preggers. Hmmm.  I looked down at my belly and winced as two things happened concurrently: my fetus/son gave me a swift kick to my kidney, and I had an epiphany. I’m fucked.

The search for a daycare commenced immediately.  I went to Google to find the website that listed all of the daycare centers/ family daycares / nannys / nanny-shares within a 1 mile radius of my house.  We only had one car and I would have it most of the time at school.  BD would have to be able to walk from work, to daycare, to home with the baby.  I thought maybe 1 mile might be too large a radius, but we could start there and then figure out how to narrow down our choices.

I opened up Google. Now to find the website…..this nice, informational website….I’m sure it’s here somewhere….Hmm…wait, where is the website?….Nope, not it….Not this…..(My kid kicks my bladder at the same moment as if to say “you’re doing a helluva job so far, Mom) um, no. nonononononononono. NO…..

There. is. no. magical-daycare-finding website.

I am alone in the vast urban and Internet wilderness. Google has forsaken me. I had to sift through a tangle of daycare websites and dead ends and phone numbers. The whole finding-childcare-for-your-perfect-beautiful-newborn-that-you-can-afford-without-selling-your-kidney-and-is-located-somewhere-in-the-state-of-Illinois journey was kind of like the Trail of Tears for new parents.  At least finding the big daycare center chains was easy. They were nowhere near my condo, but I called anyway.  They had nine month waiting lists for infants.  Okay…I’m not great at math, but I think that means that on the day of conception you sure as hell better reserve your spot at Kindercare. Now I finally realized why God sent an angel to tell me of my children’s conceptions – so they could get a spot in daycare on time.  It would have been nice if he had mentioned that as well.

Well, this is bad news. I need infant care starting five and half months from now, and apparently this is really late notice for the whole childcare world.  I mean, I haven’t even met this kid I’m going to have. I know nothing about being a parent or about babies or about my specific baby or what I’m going to feel like in five months and I have to find a perfect childcare situation now, or I can’t go back to school. I’m not going to get my PhD. I’ll have to be a stay at home mother. One thing I knew for sure was that being at stay at home mother was out of the question, because I already loved my unborn child. I would not subject him to the psycho mother he would come to know if he were in my care 24-7.  So I re-doubled my efforts and kept coming up short.

I grew up in a home daycare. And I loved it. It was like having a second family, and we didn’t have any family nearby, so it was awesome. I guess I wanted something similar for my son, so I was partial to the idea of having my baby go to a home daycare nearby. But searching for home daycares on Google is futile and I was really starting to lose hope that the baby I was about to have wouldn’t be some kind of juvenile delinquent due to my poor parenting (non)decisions made while he was still in the womb.  So I went to the Starbucks in the building next door. It was an odd choice because I don’t drink coffee, but I felt like I needed something warm in my belly for the next few hours I planned to spend curled up in bed crying and worrying about what a bad mother I already was. And Starbucks kind of seemed like a church to so many yuppies, I thought maybe they sprinkled you with calming fairy dust when you went in and I might find some peace there.

No visible fairy dust, but as I waited patiently for my Caramel Apple Cider, I wandered over to the little bulletin board they have by where you pick up your drinks.  There was a lime green flyer right in the middle of it. My stomach did a flip and my knees kind of buckled and my brain said, “You are fucking kidding me, GOD!” (Yes, I have ongoing conversations with God in my head like “Oh God! You’re so unpredictable sometimes!”  or “God, why did encourage me to have the third glass of wine? I feel like ass this morning. You should have stopped me!”).

There on the board was a flyer for a new home daycare starting up in the condo building next to mine. I know, right?  Seriously.  I grabbed the flyer and ran home. I forgot my Caramel Apple Cider.  I was panting when I called BD.

Love: “I found a daycare for our baby!”

BD: “Cool.”

Love: “It’s in the building next door! And they do yoga! And its all organic food! Oh my GOD!”

BD: “You don’t even do yoga or know anything about organic food.”

Love: “What? Um. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that my prayers have been answered. I must call her immediately. She is The One.”

BD: “Go for it.”

I got off the phone with my heart beating fast and I immediately dialed Miss Amalia’s Place.  No answer, but the long-winded, rambling, breathless message I left went a little like this:

Hello! My name is Love and I have a baby. No, I mean I’m pregnant with a baby that I will have in a few months and I need a daycare in August and I just love home daycares and I saw your flyer at Starbucks and I took it but I will definitely bring it back but I was wondering whether you had a spot for a newborn and I’m sure he is going to be a really good kid because I didn’t cry a lot when I was a kid, but I guess we won’t know till he gets here  — heh, heh — but anyway I really think we should talk and I just love that I’m in the building next door so we’re neighbors and what great timing that I found your flyer and I will bring it back because I forgot to pick up my caramel apple cider anyway, so I’ll put it back but I really think we should talk and my baby should go to your daycare and please call me back.

I hung up and thought, “Seriously? What was that? You idiot. You sound crazy. Maybe you should call back again and explain that you aren’t crazy. Or would that be crazier? ” I hung my head.  But then I brightened knowing that stalking people who need to be in my life is one of my most valuable talents and Miss Amalia’s Place just moved up to the top spot on that list.

I waited five minutes with my hand clutching the phone receiver. No call back. Ten minutes. No call. Maybe I should call again? Just to say I’m not crazy? Fifteen minutes — the phone rings. It’s her!! The woman sent by God to take care of my unborn child, as soon as he gets born.

Love: “Hello?!”

M.A.: “Hi. This is Miss Amalia. You called about needing daycare in August for an infant?” (slight Korean accent)

Love: “Yes! Yes! Where do I sign up?”

M.A: “Ha ha. You are funny. It’s not that easy.  I will  interview you to see whether you’re the family I want to take.”

Love: “You’re going to interview us?”

M.A: “Yes. There is no other way. Can you and your husband come interview with me in a couple of days at 6pm @ Starbucks? You’ll both need to be present.  I have a long waiting list, but I will choose who gets the spot based on my interviews.”

Love: “Oh. I didn’t know this is how it worked. Here I thought I should interview you.”

M.A: “You should. Part of my decision will be based on the questions you ask me.”

Love: “Um. My son isn’t even born yet, and we’re new parents, so I’m not really sure what we’ll have to say.”

M.A: “I find my relationship with the parents is as important as with the child. This is the way I do things. If you’re uncomfortable with the process —”

Love: “No! No! Heh, heh. No! We’ll definitely be there. With good questions.”

M.A: “Great. Don’t be late.”

Love: “Right.”

Okay, so the world had changed from the time I went to daycare. Up to that point, I had spent my whole life competing to get in the best schools, in the best programs, hired by the best companies for the most exclusive jobs and I always won the things I set out to get. Because I loved those games and I was really good at them. No matter that I usually ended up not really wanting all the things I’d won, but who doesn’t like winning games? I wasn’t going to let a home daycare lady be the first to reject me or my unborn child. I wasn’t losing this game. She was our only hope and clearly God led me to Starbucks and this whole thing was meant to be.

We were going to be the family she chose. Period. Now I just had to figure out how to morph us into the “right” family for our interview.  I quickly opened my browser and searched for “yoga” and “organic food”.

Part II

Love Bites. Love’s Mom Crush Part II

Please forgive the delay in getting back to my Mom Crush story, but I have a good excuse.

It was my birthday and anniversary this week, so my husband has been busy taking care of all of my whims and most don’t involve my laptop.  One of those whims included the cutest Coach bag EVER. So I’ve been spending hours in front of a mirror admiring myself wearing it.  I’m a one purse kind of girl, and I haven’t had a new bag in three years, so it was so long overdue.  I feel like now that it is mine, maybe people will think I have some idea of how to dress myself.  But probably all they have to do is look at my shoes and realize I’m hopeless.  Forgive me for hating designer high heels – I like how they look on other people but I look like I’m a drunk prostitute when I wear them because I’m walking down the street tripping and swearing like a sailor and my clothes have fallen off and my hair is all tousled in the process because it takes a lot of energy to make the walk from the train to my office and then bandage up my mashed up, bloodied feet. So I stick with simple Naturalizer kitten heels, the favorites of corporate butch lesbians everywhere. I’ve explained how one of my greatest fears is being butch, but I have to side with those ladies on this one.

All of that was almost enough to take my mind off my mom crush story for a few days.  Okay, so I think where I left off was how I met this sparkly, beautiful rarity (you know, a mom I might actually welcome a play date with) named Kirsten through a daycare forum. So we had our conversation where I fell in love with her, and then it all came to an abrupt end when the conversation about the daycare we were thinking about sending our sons to was over.  Then I vowed to make her mine.

This took some strategy.  I went about it much like I would pursue a boy crush – and let me tell you, BD didn’t make it easy for me to land him, so I thought this might be a piece of cake compared to my stalking pursuit of BD back in the day.

So here is an outline of my general pursuit strategy:

  1. Find someone/something that I absolutely cannot live without.
  2. Make sure said someone knows who I am, and ideally wants me to stalk them even if they don’t know it yet. You can determine this by whether or not they file a restraining order. If no restraining order, proceed to Step 3. If restraining order, abort mission. Chances of success are quite low.
  3. Find a common interest. If none exists, manufacture one.
  4. Ask for their help, preferably on something that requires a lot of quality time with them.
  5. Show them how cool I am and subtly persuade them that they cannot live without me.
    1. Try sober humor first.
    2. Follow up with lunch/dinner/cocktail invitation. Drinks optional.
    3. If 5.1. or 5.2 fail, get drunk and dial, unless you know where they are.  Then get drunk, find them and profess your love. (You’ll see this one in action here)
    4. If 5.3. doesn’t work, flash boobs.
      1. Avoid 5.4 if this is a mom crush, unless you are currently breastfeeding a child under 12 months old.
      2. Avoid 5.4 if you don’t have big boobs.
      3. In other words, 5.4 is totally out of the question for me, but some others might find this a useful strategy.
  6. Get target to declare their love for me. Solidify bond through exchange of bodily fluids.
    1. In the case of a non-sexual pursuit, a secret handshake will suffice.
    2. In the case of a food item, gentle mastication and prolonged digestion will suffice.
    3. In the case of a celebrity of the same sex who has her own talk show, write emails to her or her producers every day/every other day about why you should be a guest on her show and write a blog that proves the depth of your loyalty by giving her a shout-out every day, along with constructive criticism.  When she finally sees you are The One and invites you to be on her show, admire, then touch, then ask exactly how she did her hair (see example here).
  7. Never let them go. Never. Remember how much work it was to land them?

Simple plan, right? Oh, and for those of you who can see the genius in this strategy, all this stuff is copyrighted and will be in my memoir one day, so don’t even think about reproducing it in written form.  I know it’s a risk to publish that list now, since they are ideas that the world has not seen, coupled with the fact that they have been proven to work every time, in every situation.  However, by all means, use this strategy in your own life and then tell Oprah about how it changed your life and who told you to do it.  Don’t forget that part about who told you to do it.  Oprah and I are still struggling to get through step 6.3, but I have total faith one day it will happen. Perhaps with your help.

So sorry – back to Kirsten. My dearest Kirsten. The Mom that was born to be my best friend. Okay, so we get off the phone and I decide that if Kirsten is sending her baby to that daycare, then I should probably send mine there too. I trust her judgment. Her little boy started there only a few weeks before our first call and mine was due to start within the next few weeks.  This daycare was a home daycare where the lady made you spend two days with her and your kid there before the kid could go on their own.  Kind of a pain in the ass, but it seemed like a good idea and it turned out to be for sure.  When I went there I met Kirsten’s little boy, E.  E was the cutest baby (besides mine) in the world. But he was unhappy at that place. He cried a lot and the lady said he was just really hard to soothe. I agreed with her. Whenever she just put him in a saucer by himself, he cried. Whenever I gave him attention or picked him up and played with him he giggled. Go figure. He may have been giggling because he was happy to get love and affection, or it could have been because he wanted me to be best friends with his mother and call me Aunt Love one day. I’m pretty sure it was the latter. But still, it bugged me that it didn’t seem like this daycare lady was very compassionate to this little guy. He did not like her. So after my first couple of “observation days” there, I called Kirsten.

I told her that E didn’t seem that happy at the daycare and I was a little concerned. Was he always cranky? She said he was the happiest baby ever, but he’d been home all summer full-time with his dad, so there was probably just an adjustment happening.  The daycare lady’s assistant was very kind and I saw that E liked her. Kirsten noticed too. She was a little nervous, but was pretty sure it was all good since he liked the assistant so much. I suggested we keep talking and keeping tabs on the place. Pursuit strategy step 2 – check.

(Note: I kept looking but didn’t find any better daycare options and I was running out of time for my guy, so I paid the deposit for this daycare.   To make a super long tangential story short, I didn’t wind up sending my son there. That lady was just too batty. By the grace of God, the day before we were supposed to start, I found another daycare that I loved.)

I called Kirsten again, but only got voice mail. I told her what we decided and suggested she come over to our new daycare. She emailed me back. She was going to stick it out at the one she was at. CRAP. No, FUCK.  Now Kirsten and I no longer had a reason to become BFF, besides that destiny dictated it.  Still though, I think I cleared the Pursuit Strategy hurdle Step 3.

It was time to up the ante move on to Step 4.  Asking for assistance.  So at this time I’m a PhD student and I’m in a class based on ethnographic research in marketing.  For simplicity’s sake, ethnographic research involves interviewing people as a form of research and observing them in their natural habitat.  I decided that my paper for that class was going to be called “A Postmodern Exploration of an Emotional Consumption Experience” which really meant that I had a really good excuse to ask Kirsten to be a participant in my new study, because it was about choosing daycare.  So I emailed her about it and asked her if she would be willing to be a subject in my research. Actually, she was the only person I emailed about it. And she said she would do it and she suggested we meet at ——- wait for it ———– McDonalds.   My heart leapt out of my chest. McDonalds!? Kirsten likes McDonalds?! We are so, so right for one another. Pursuit Strategy step 4 – mission accomplished.

Before you thought this story was creepy, but now you can see the genius of this plan, no? So I have to interview her about her decision as a mother to choose a daycare and now I can ask her all kinds of background questions so I can figure out if her husband is right for mine and make totally, completely sure that she and I agree on all things.  So far, we were totally in sync.  And she was willing to give me 90 minutes of her weekend – a huge deal for a working mom.  I was beginning to think she was starting to fall in love with me too.  And I was doing research. Killing two birds with one genius stone.  God, sometimes I can’t believe how good I am.

We met at a McDonalds playland, sans kids, and I bought her lunch. She ordered a salad. Not a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.  But maybe she only ordered a salad because that maybe that is what I was going to order and she didn’t want to seem like the sort of person who loved Value Meal #2.  Well, that is what I told myself. I was a little disappointed with her choice, but I remembered that she was the one who picked McDonalds, and there is nothing wrong with salads, right? Right? Right. Of course not. It’s all good.  She and I were the same height, she was probably a dress size smaller (salads, probably) and she was good looking in an all-American kind of way. She would look really good at the family J.Crew inspired garden parties I had been fantasizing about for so long.

After I got over all of my nervous giggling and tongue-tiedness, we were finally able to make it through the interview.  I learned much more about her life and circumstances and I loved her even more and her husband and her kids and I think at that point I was pretty pissed that I hadn’t gone out to Jared the Galleria of Jewelery and bought matching half heart pendants that had “Best Friends” written on it when you put the two together, because I was ready to get down on my knee and present it to her if I had it.  I mean, Step # 5 had come for sure.  It was time to ask her out. But I couldn’t do it then because I was thinking that maybe she would think my research was bogus and that I just asked her because I was obsessed with her which was true. I had to be professional and not let her know the depth of my personal interest. Plus, I had to buy some time to pick out our matching pendants.  Silver or gold? I just wasn’t sure what she’d prefer. It would take many more hours of thought to make such an important decision.

So a week later, I decided to plan “The Kirsten Party” at my house (I kept the theme to myself). The only problem was that the only people I knew that would come to a party I had were people I’ve known my whole life or were my neighbors or were my colleagues at school, who all knew each other.  She’d be the only person there who didn’t know anyone. And that might be fishy. But what the hell? I had to get her and the family to my house.  So I planned a BBQ, in her honor. But I didn’t tell anybody except BD, who told me I was psycho. He warned me against it. But I think that he was secretly afraid that her husband was going to turn out to be his BFF after all and he just wasn’t ready for the emotional depth a commitment like that might require. Or he thought I was psycho.

I sent out Evites. And waited. Some people said they’d come, but they weren’t really important except as proof that I had a life and friends that Kirsten could easily assimilate into.  Kirsten didn’t reply. Not Yes, No OR Maybe. So I made Evite do that thing where it reminds you that you haven’t replied.  And no reply. IN FACT, there wasn’t even a record that she had viewed the Evite. But I had the right email address. What to do? Did this mean she didn’t realize that we were meant to be? Or that it just went into her junk mail? Or that Evite was blocked on her work email?  It seemed like I’d be forced to call her.  And you know how I hate the phone. And if I called, what if she said no or sounded like she wanted to say no but didn’t know how to and it was totally awkward when I started sobbing and moaning softly on the other end? I didn’t have her home address, so a paper invite was out of the question.  While I have no moral dilemmas to stalking someone if I’m only trying to give them the gift of me, I don’t want it to be obvious to them. Step 5.2 was not working as well as I had hoped. It was almost time for the drunk dial as required in Step 5.3.  I had two glasses of wine. I was feeling a bit more bold. I was going to call her, dammit, because it was really for the good of everyone involved.  So I did. And I dialed the wrong number and the person was mean and my swagger dissipated and I drank another glass of wine and passed out. And then I tried to cancel my party. But BD wouldn’t let me.  So we had it. And Kirsten didn’t come. But my other friends did and they were cool and why did I need another friend anyway? I am SO busy. I mean SO BUSY.  I don’t even have TIME for another friend, you know?

So I let go of my dream of Kirsten…kind of.  Except for when two years later and eight months pregnant with my second son I decided it was time to rekindle my love affair with her.  I’ll save that for my next post: Hysteria! Love’s Mom Crush Part III.  My fingers hurt now. And my ego too. But it gets better…