Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Read This: Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos

So I'm not really into parental advice books.  The truth is, I'm really busy and I actually don't care.  But I do enjoy the occasional parenting humor book, and I recently re-read Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos and you should read it too.  It's hilarious!  It's written by Laura Bennett who was a Project Runway finalist who had elegant cocktail dresses.  She has six kids (and she was baking the 6th during Project Runway) and lives in a two bedroom apartment in NYC.  

In the first chapter, she is on a plane with her six children.  Which frankly, seems like a miracle to me--I hardly want to get on a plane with my kids and there's only two of them.
Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother's Guide to Sanity in StilettosI noticed over the cacophony that a woman in an ill-fitting polyester pant suit was tanding in the front of the cabin, making strange hand gestures and was trying to tell me something.  I also noticed that she was holding an oxygen mask  My interest was piqued and her droning words came into focus.

"When traveling with children, please secure your own mask before assisting a child." Clearly, this woman was an oracle. 
The other passengers seemed to have missed her message, but it made such clear sense to me:  provide yourself with oxygen first, or you will be of no use to your children.  If you run your own life, pursuing your own successes and coping with your own failures, you won't find yourself dwelling on missed opportunities or attempting to undo mistakes on the back of your kids.  
As you know, I have two kids, a husband, and a full time job.  It was amazing to me the pressure that people put on me to be a stay at home mom once I had my daughter.  As if once I had produced this other person, my own career goals were no longer important and I needed to become someone else.  My husband knew going into our marriage that I didn't want to be a stay at home mom.  (I did offer him the opportunity to be a stay at home dad, which he politely declined.)

My new BFF Laura was interviewed by Parents.com, where she talked about the help she has with her kids (a housekeeper and an assortment of nannies.)  She was slaughtered on the site's chat boards by stay at home moms who said that by having help, she didn't love her kids.  Laura's take:
Experiencing the pain of childbirth does not make me love my children more; that's why God invented epidurals.  Changing every diaper, cooking every meal, and doing every pickup and drop-off will not make me love them more, either.  Choosing not to do so hardly makes me incompetent.  
When I was pregnant, I found a really wonderful preschool that both of my kids attend, which has some sort of early childhood certification, meaning a large percentage of the teachers have some significant amount of early childhood educational training.  I have zero education in children.  I do have a BA in politics, and could help walk my children through an election strategy or making a bill into a law, which is fairly useless at this time.

The fact that someone once told me that I was "abandoning my children in daycare every day" still stings years later.  But the fact is, I'm really happy!  My kids are really neat people and well behaved.  I'm happy and they are happy.   And guess what?  Studies show that if mom is happy, everyone is happy!  I've got my oxygen and I can make sure everyone else has theirs too!

Laura also dishes on her Project Runway experience in the book, which, since I am not a reality star, and would probably suck at being at one (we'll talk about this later) I couldn't relate to, but is still fascinating. She talks more about her husband and coordinating their kids, and it's a great read.