How to be a Fab Working Mom in 2017

Motherhood it exhausting. Like “horse tranq dart to the neck” exhausting. I’m Will Ferrell floating in a pool to “The Sound of Silence” ALL of the time.

[Stay with me.]

Work – while providing a much needed space to finish a whole coffee, pee in silence and talk to other adults (not always at the same time) – can also be exhausting. Especially in lieu of “sleeping at night”.

Whether you do one or both, you might find yourself feeling less than fabulous these days. Especially as everyone around you counts cals along with “days till the beach [sun-wearing-sunglasses emoji]”.

And you’re just over here trying to tuck everything into your high-waisted pants and literally suck snots out of small people’s noses.

You’re just trying to stay awake because it’s 8:59 on a Friday evening and you’re still young and hip, dammit. And you’re wishing the snacks weren’t all the way over there on the coffee table because now you are just going to have to die of hunger.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

WORRY NOT! The gusto of your yesteryears may be waning and you may not have the time/energy/giving-of-a-fuck to “shower daily”, per se… But I have the tools you need to unleash your inner firecracker.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I’m no one’s superhero but… Well, ok, except yours. I’m your superhero. But like, not in a “life-saving” way. *bashful smile*

[GIRL, I’M BOUT’DA SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!]

So here it is…

10 8 WAYS TO BE A FABULOUS WORKING (OR NOT) MOM (OR NOT) IN 2017:

[Ten was a long shot.]

1. It’s All in the Eyebrows

The Kardashians called it way before the rest of us. Big, bushy bad-boys blockin’ out the blistering ball of fire in the sky (#AlliterationOrBust)? It’s what’s up.

The key is, get the waterproof kind with a wand. That way when you wash your face, little balls of brown fabu-glue say clung to your sparce strands reminding you of your fabulousness even when you try to wash it away.

This month I’ve been out of mascara but ZERO bigs; when I’m rocking a jet black, asymmetrical version of Eugene Levy calibre brow fabulousness (self-taught!), no one even sees that I’ve got the lashes of a newborn boy.

2. Bald Spots

You know how you always imagined that, as a mother, you would have the dewy, rosy-cheeked, doe-eyed look of that actress from the old-timey Romeo and Juliet movie? Well good news: you totally will!

[Except it’s not so much dewy as sweaty. And it’s not so much “rosy cheeked” as it is “adult onset acne (henceforth, “AOA”; i.e. #RockinTheAOALikeABoss)”. And it’s not “doe-eyed” so much as “the-look-of-defeat-because-your-life-is-no-longer-your-own”.]

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This is exactly what I look like while trying to take a dump with three people in the room and listening to my four-year-old tell me how I got his snack wrong.

Additionally, you’ll inherit the most adorable triangles of hairline recession;

[as hormones rage through your exhausted shell of a body]

one on each side. Cuuuuuute! But if you’d prefer to get the patches back, you get to use a fun, little hard-toothed scalp brush to really kick-start the ol’ re-growth initiative. And THEN – and this is my favorite part – you’ll have not one but TWO totally fun, totally funky bangs fanning into your forehead toward midline.

I’m all like, “no, you guys, I did not get this professionally done. It’s just motherhood”.

[And then – in this weird, fictional sequence – we all high-five.]

3. Ugly Christmas Sweaters for All Seasons

I did not buy this $20 Christmas sweatshirt (not even a sweater) from Dynamite ironically. I bought it because it’s fucking gold. It’s comfortable as shit and airs out all my places. In fact, I wear it year-round. Some (my husband) might say I wear it every day of the year. And some would be correct.

I feel like I can do anything in this.

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The face (the sweatshirt) of a winner.

Small person puking on you? No problem – there are ZERO washing instructions for such low-quality garments. WIN.

Need to whip out a titty in a hurry? Bam! Nothing to untuck, nothing to unbutton. Just overstretched, crap material with no tailoring.

Without exaggerating, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever purchased.

4. Master that Smoldering Gaze 

Don’t be fooled. That smokey-eye effect is totally still in. But not the kind that takes, you know, “eyeshadow” and “skill”. Nay!

In three easy steps you can have that sexy, sultry look of the sassy minx in the photo above.

Step 1. Use mascara wand to scrape the inner walls of the 1.5-year-old empty mascara tube. Step 2. Wiggle dry flakes of old mascara crumbs through lashes haphazardly. Step 3. Anxiety-sweat your way through the day, taking care to rub your eyes as often as possible, forgetting about the mascara. Step 4. Bam! Is there a fire in here? Because that’s smoke, baby!

Bonus tip: Compliment those shadowy peepers with a fuzzy updo – don’t forget the tousled neck hair – and a vibrant sweatshirt. What is that, Vuarnet? You go, girl!

5. Maternity Clothes Forever

You don’t have to be “pregnant” or “a mom” to avail of the limitless give of maternity clothes. Maternity = Forgiving when it comes to fashion. So buy all of the things (once they go on sale, of course. That shit’s expensive!)!

6. Zero Subnavel Grooming Until After Canada Day

For my out-of-country besties [I think mom has an uncle in Pennsylvania], that means July 1.

Nothing makes you feel sexy and summer-ready like taking zero care of your furry gams before the last frost. Because when you finally zip that pelt off? Wow. Unstoppable fabulosity.

7. Vent the Volcano

If you’re like me, being a mother means daily rage black-outs masked as silly banter with your beloved(ly demandy) offspring.

When I’m at my wit’s end because I haven’t slept longer than three consecutive hours in  a year and a half and my youngster is crying because “everything smells like eggs”… I don’t lose my cool. I don’t erupt. I “vent the volcano”. I belt out shitty Disney songs, like Let it Go, as loudly as I can. Outside your register? Even better!

Your daily nervous breakdowns are now fun for the whole family!

[Minus your partner. This is not fun for them.].

8. Screwdrivers

Because day-appropriate alcohol.

Also, Caesars.

LIFE

Day drinking: because children suck the meat from your tits. #emptytubesocks

You. Are. Welcome.

Go now, you fierce n’ fabulous femme (#AlliterationIsAWordThatMakesMeFeelSmart). You got dis! xo

~ HOAR

Chilli n’ Children n’ (no) Chill

You have every right to be mad at me. I keep promising “I’ll be right back” and then I bail. In all honesty I have tried. If you could see my screen right now, you’d see two draft posts entitled Exhibitionism and Afterbirth and My Biannual Identity Crisis. The titles pretty much sum up where I was going with those.

[There was also a third unfinished post about my new years resolutions which isn’t even worth mentioning. But since I’m mentioning it, it went something like…1. Call people ‘fam’ more; 2. Be more breathy and Irish when singing because that’s a thing; 3. Re-join the gym.]

[Just kidding about #3.]

But today, the universe forced my hand. I am no longer blogging for the fun of it (read: so that someday Ellen can discover me and buy me a Kia or something). I am blogging out of necessity. I must get this off my chest.

I used to be a pretty calm person. You might even say I was “laid back”. I’d earned the right to wear those giant, slouchy hats, even to fancy places like resonably-priced restaurants featuring free bread. But I lost all that since becoming a mother. Take note all you nulliparous (yes, it’s my favorite word) adventurers out there: all of your chill comes out with the afterbirth.

Motherhood makes me constantly question myself…

I am never doing enough – he is essentially growing up without a mother.

I am doing too much – I am going to turn him into a spoiled brat.

We should be doing more family stuff; at least once a week there should be a baby in a backpack and we should be hiking somewhere and taking photos of it.

But we’re doing too much; the baby is going to have attention problems because we won’t just let him be.

Pick up the baby. Let him self-soothe. Read to the baby. Play with the three-year old. Leave them alone, they’re fine.

And that’s just within the first ten minutes of being home from work…

So it’s “Winter Carnival” in Corner Brook now. Think: snow sculptures and local bands and  scrambled eggs in church halls. Yesterday at work, riding my now-normal, motherhood-induced, emotional rollercoaster, I was telling my patient that I might take my three-year old to today’s “Chilli Cook-off” in the park. I asked her if she thought I should (because, also since becoming a mother, I am confident in no decision ever and seek constant validation… Is that ok?).

To which she replied, “Your three-year old? Who are you doing it for – him or you?”

Him… Right?

I kept him home from music class and everything. I was being the mom that social media would be proud of. Er, I mean my son. The mother that my son would be proud of. What did I say, social media? What? Heh heh heh…heh heh…ergh…

We bundled up. I knew we would be walking to the park and that it was blustery so I wore the perfect knee-length woolen turtleneck with zero breathability.

Jokes on you, winter – I’m wearing a God-damn pelt that keeps my body at a damp 40°C. Bring it!

M really wasn’t digging the idea of walking to the park in the snow, but this was going to be a mother-son adventure. Bring on the flurries! We’re ready!

By the time we got to the end of our street, I was carrying him. The snow was blowing horizontally, directly into our faces. Navigating the snow-covered sidewalks with an extra 40lbs in my arms suddenly enchanced the tickle of the emerging back sweat I was struggling to ignore. This paired perfectly with the all-consuming itchiness of my aforementioned chin-to-shin afghan.

“Don’t worry”, I told him, with painfully forced pep. “We’re Newfoundlanders. We can handle a little snow! We’re tough”.

“…mommy, we should have taken the car!”

“Pardon, honey?!” I yelled. His small voice was muted by the wind. And by my downfilled parka (over the pelt) into which he buried his face.

“I think I want to go home!”

*sweaty guffaw failing to convey the intended fun-loving nature I was going for* “Oh don’t be silly, we’re almost there! I can see the giant tents!”

I trudged on, just letting myself go with the flow of the sweat as fighting it made me sweat more. At the parking lot of the park, M finally agreed to walk.

“Mommy, I’m cold”.

“Don’t worry sweety, we’ll be nice and cozy in the tent in a minute”.

And for a moment I saw, in his eyes, wonder and, dare I say, excitement (?) as he looked upon the three-peaked tent.

I knew it. This was totally worth it.

We entered the tent. The air smelled delicious. Unfortunately there was not much “air available for breathing”, per se. The place was packed; bodies – adults mostly – shoulder to shoulder, face to back-of-head. I paid my $7 and got my styrofoam bowl and spoon and score card for voting for best chilli.

“Oooooo, this is exciting, huh?” I tried my best to look genuinely thrilled but I’m pretty sure it was 100% prom-face palsy.

Out went his lower lip, down went his eyebrows.

“Mommy, where are all my friends?”

Oh Christ.

“What do you mean, sweety?” *open-mouthed, prom-face palsy smile* “This is mommy and M day!”

The lip protruded further.

Overwhelmed by the heat and the itch and the back sweat and the overall “life failure”, yet bobbing like an asshole to the music to let M know we’re having fun!!! I tore off my mittens and his.

I was holding two pairs of mittens, my bowl, my spoon and my score card. If he tried to flee right now, I couldn’t even stop him.

It’s too late to turn back. Just start eating chilli.

I stared at the back of two adult heads for what couldn’t have been more than eighteen minutes, tapping my foot and swaying like a goddamn champion (and not a defeatest in the throes of a panic attack), pretending not to notice that M was still pouting, staring at the ground and mumbling, “this is the worst day ever” over and over.

Finally we got to the first chilli vendor who scooped chilli into my bowl.

*painfully over-animated* “Ooooooo, yummy, this looks good, hey M?”

*to the ground*”…just the worst day…”

“Mmmmm, smells good too, wanna try some?”

“You dropped my mitten!”

“Oh, hahahaha” [Get me the fuck out of here], “Silly mommy!” *bending down to get mitten, scalding hand, making a pained “wooooo” sound but trying to pass it off as part of my general zeal for this joyful fucking day!* “Yummyyyy” *shovelling mouthful of chilli into my face, large flap of melted cheese slaps me in the chin and sticks there the way only volcanic hot cheese can; no free hand to remove it*

“I want to go home, mommy”. He’s almost crying now.

Breathing through the second degree (and counting) burns, I can barely hear/see him; I am literally grinding my body into the backside of the person in front of me with someone else breathing into the back of my neck. I just know he’s down there somewhere. And, terrified to drop one of the twenty-seven items in my hands (because, apparently, bringing a purse was not part of bonding day), I move as little as possible, save my top teeth frantically gnawing at my chin, trying to scrape the firey cheese back into my mouth. I  was like a petrified beaver.

I can’t even get nearer to him to reassure him; to remind him that, despite how he feels, we are having a great time.

Long story (not so) short, I cut the line and skipped right over to the table where my co-worker was serving his chilli. Thankfully, my sunglasses masked the sweat and tears and self-loathing which now, no doubt, made me look like I was coming off a three-day bender.

“Spicy?” he asked.

“Sure!” I exclaimed with feigned excitement for M’s benefit. I forced a celebratory ear-to-ear grin down to M who was not even looking at me but, rather, still frowning at his feet; still mumbling something about how terrible this was.

“Cheese?”

“I love cheese!!!” *projecting the excitement and volume of a lottery winner* [Please save me!]

I stood there and ate it “casually”. As if operating a spoon with two pairs of mittens and a score card and a bowl of piping hot, cheesey meat soup is no bigs. As if my three-year old is not being body-checked by blissfully oblivious chilli chuggers and begging me to take him home. As if I’m not wearing Leo’s exact costume from The Revenant inside a Russian steam bath.

me-in-my-turtleneck

actual photo of me entering the chilli tent.

I took my time, eating every last bite. And I made myself chew. And I made myself breathe. I could control those things. And I let the waterfall of sweat consume my chest and back. And, for a moment, everything went silent.

And then my bowl was empty and the whir of chilli/carnival mania resurged in full force. I took M’s hand and ran out through the side-exit, gulping in the cold, oxygen-rich air of the outdoors. I gave my score card to a girl I recognized and asked her to cast my vote for me. There was no way I was ever going back in there.

We walked back up the snow-covered hill. M reminded me several times that he is “never going to carnival again”. I felt numb. Defeated. I attempted to give him the “bad attitude” talk but I was done. Spent. Drenched. Exhausted.

[Did I mention I am up all night, every night, nursing his five-month old baby brother? But it’s ok because, great news, according to most older people, “these are the best years” so…there you go! *desperate, borderline-maniacal laugh…but also crying a little*]

Most of the eight-minute walk home was silent on my end. I carried him when the wind hit. He said, “thanks, mommy”.

The walk gave me time to think. What had I expected? A three-year old to enjoy a mostly-adult chilli cook-off? He doesn’t even like chilli! Neither do I, for that matter. Not that much.

My patient asked the right question – who was I doing this for? Not for M. And sure as hell not for me. But rather, I think, for the illusion I (we all?) feel pressured to create; “the family that does things”. The family that goes to chilli cook-offs during winter carnival.

When we got home, after I removed our eighty-five layers of clothing, I went to the playroom where M had, understandably, isolated himself for a moment of silent recovery. I apologized for taking him to a hot, tent with a bunch of grown-ups and told him that it’s ok that he didn’t like it.

And, no joke, he paused for a moment, and then looked at me and said, “I’m sorry I said all those awful things, mommy. That wasn’t very nice. I love you”. He said those exact words.

All he needed was for me to understand. To be real. To stop trying so hard.

I felt so proud. And so fucking glad to be home.

Then I went to the fridge and grabbed a pat-myself-on-the-back beer. At twelve-thirty in the afternoon. Because,  well, chilli.

beer

Heineken: Brought to you by parenting. And my short, man nails.