Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman

Welcome to the random (and sometimes ratchet) ramblings in my head about life, love and pop culture.

Tag: fatherhood

Introducing “AskThePRGirl”

dear-abby-sample

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t left you …

Soooooooo … it’s been a few weeks!  Life got really busy for me.  Work has been so busy I’ve barely had time to breathe!  Trying to manage my personal and professional life has been a seriously difficult task.  Thank the good Lord for my husband who has stepped in to be Mr. Mom.  He’s been taking the baby to school and picking him up.  He’s been “cooking” :-).  He’s been my right hand.  My  rock.  I couldn’t do this … be this brilliant … shine this bright without his support.  I love you, Bryan … more than anything in this world.

When I was a little girl, I used to LOVE the “Dear Abby” column in the newspaper.  I would wonder, “Who is this woman who knows everything from the best cleaning tips to etiquette to relationship and family advice?! She’s amazing!”  She was my idea of the “perfect” woman.  Well … my Mom, Claire Huxtable and Abby.  They were my top three.  Abby was sensible and never chastised too harshly.  She seemed loving, and from what I remember, showed an endearing level of honesty that I truly respected.  I always dreamed that one day I would be her.  I just knew that I would be able to eventually provide my own quirky, tell-it-like-it-is advice to all people.  So today feels pretty cool to realize that dream in my own little way.

Allow me to introduce “AskThePRGirl”, a place where you can talk to me about anything.  I’m a wife, mother, sister, friend, executive and woman of God (when I’m not being incredibly ratchet).  I have experienced SO many things in my life and one of my “gifts” (and we all have many) is prescribing a good dose of loving and common sense advice for just about anything.  I’m not always right, but that’s not my goal.  My goal is to listen, or rather, let you know there’s someone here to listen.

This is a judgment free zone so feel free to ask me anything.  Your identity will be protected so never worry about that. If I know, I’ll share. If I don’t, I’ll tell you, and even better, I’ll pray with you.  I’m not here to solve your problems.  I’m here to be an objective, loving sounding board or simply provide best practices that I’ve learned through ALL of the roles I carry.  Once a month (or as my schedule allows), I’ll answer a few of the questions submitted through DM on Twitter (follow me @AskThePRGirl) or email (dhaley@haleygroupllc.com). And don’t fret! This is in addition to my other schedule weekly posts :-).

Let’s get started!  Below are a few questions that I received the past few weeks:

Dear AskThePRGirl – My man and I have been together for many years.  It seems that since the birth of our children, we don’t talk or hang out as much as we used to.  And our love life has slowed as well. I really miss that.  I miss him and us. What should I do to turn things around before too much time goes by and we just don’t know each other anymore?

Thanks, WorriedAboutUs*

Dear WorriedAboutUs – First, you should know that you’re experiencing something that every relationship encounters, especially once you introduce children: a lack of intimacy.  I would first caution against a few things that women tend to do when our men ain’t (yes I said “ain’t”) acting right or when the relationship is not giving us what we need.

  1. Don’t nag him. Much like you, he’s tired and doing his best to take care of the family and make it to the weekend. Nagging him makes him likely to avoid communication with you at ALL costs which defeats the point. By nagging, I mean complaining about the state of the relationship at really inappropriate times. For example, when he FIRST steps in the door after work.  He doesn’t want to hear your mouth as soon as he gets home any more than you want him climbing on top of you after a day of house cleaning, wrangling the children and the 365 million other things you take care of in a day. #RealTalk
  2. Don’t communicate the issue using EVERY OTHER communication tool BUT communication.  What do I mean? He asks you to pass the salt at the dinner table and you angrily slide it down the table.  You snap at him for the smallest things.  You start fights about things you wouldn’t normally fight about. Don’t cower to your feelings and insert randomness and chaos into your relationship by refusing to clearly communicate your concerns.
  3. Don’t withhold sex as punishment. Sex is where you two can commune, look into each other’s eyes and speak without speaking.  It’s such a critical part of your relationship and certainly the part that speaks the loudest to your man.  Please believe … what I can’t audibly tell my husband is communicated when we are intimate. I make sure he “feels” me. Understand? 😉

My quick and dirty advice: be the example and tell him how you feel. Don’t start the conversation when he’s tired and he’s had a LONG day.  Schedule a date night.  Get someone to watch the kids and make reservations at a nice restaurant.  Use that time to talk about things.  Not just about what’s “wrong” with the relationship, but about everything!  Ask him how he’s been.  Ask about how work is going and if he’s still happy at work.  Plug into him and show him (rather than tell him) the type of communication and intimacy you’re seeking.  Do for him exactly what you’d like done for you.  And do it often!  The best way to teach behavior is to demonstrate it again and again.

Know that it will take time and it will not happen overnight, but the more you invest the effort, the more it will become clear that you need this shift in your relationship.  And while men are simple and sometimes must be hit by a rock to get things, I’m sure your man will eventually tune back in to the need to restore intimacy in your relationship.

dividerDear AskThePRGirl,

I feel an insane amount of guilt every time I stop at a drive-thru window on the way home from work to feed my family.  There is simply not enough time in the day to do everything and I find myself having to cut corners on the things I deem important like cooking for my kids and taking care of my home.  My house has been a mess for weeks now. I clean as much as I can, but my focus tends to be on what’s necessary to make it through the week.  You’re a Mom. Do you feel guilty when you can’t be the “perfect” Mom?

Thanks, Imperfect Mom*

Dear Imperfect Mom,

Join the club, lady! I hear you and I feel you.  My house looks like a modern day war zone on most days. My kid has eaten more fast food than ANY parent should deem safe.  My family used to get home cooked meals at least 4 – 5 days a week. These days, we eat out WAY too often.  I can’t seem to get the laundry done before it piles up and needs to be done ALL over again. My friends tease that I need a nanny and a housekeeper, but I’m not comfortable having another woman in my house doing the work that I’m supposed to handle.  I know it’s crazy, but as I discussed in my past blog entry “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, I wanted to be just like my Mom. She worked, raised us and took care of everything in the home.  And she was a single parent! I have help and I’m still beyond exhausted most days. But, my desire is to be my family’s hero. I want my husband to beam with pride that I bring home a little bacon and I STILL cook in the bedroom. I want my son to think Mom can leap tall buildings and still make his lunch every day.  The reality is that life just doesn’t work that way.  The good thing is that my husband sees my flaws daily and he still thinks I’m perfect.  And, my son still hangs the moon on all of my words whether he eats McDonald’s or Mama’s meatballs.  I’m learning (and I’m still a work in progress) to let myself off the hook.  As long as there is love in my home, it doesn’t have to look perfect.  As long as my family is healthy and smiling, then my most important job has been done.

So … damn the laundry.  When I can’t get to it, I buy my son new stuff. Is it smart? No. Does it make my life easier? Yes!  Research healthier fast food options or on-the-go meals like they those at Trader Joes and Whole Foods so that you don’t feel so bad that you didn’t hand make the meatballs.  Hire a housekeeper. Even if she only comes once a month, that’s better than nothing at all and certainly, if you’re anything like me, more times than you’ve actually cleaned that month.

Let yourself off the hook.  You don’t have to be THE perfect Mom to be a perfect Mom. Cross my heart. 🙂

dividerHey AskThePRGirl! What are you reading these days? Thanks, NeedAGoodBook*

Dear NeedAGoodBook,

When I have a moment to read, I am ALL ABOUT author Beth Kery’s new series When I’m With You. It’s an eight part romance series and it is hot as all hell. I like my romance and I like it dirty … and NO ONE is more deliciously dirty that my girl @BethKery.  If you like a little kink with your love story, I definitely suggest you try her work.  She is absolutely brilliant and will keep the sizzle in any relationship. I think my husband would kiss her if he could just to say THANKS! 🙂

If you’re looking for something a bit more self-help-ish / “I am woman hear me roar”, I would suggest Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. My friend @MsRobertsIsThe1 suggested it to me and I can’t wait to dig in.  It’s next up on my Kindle. I have heard of Sandberg’s infamous TEDTalk and I look forward to learning how this “Wonder Woman” addresses women in business and our potential to be true leaders. I’ll be sure to review it on my blog real soon.

That’s all for now folks!  Be sure to submit your questions through DM to @AskThePRGirl or email them to dhaley@haleygroupllc.com.

Love you. Mean it.

P.S. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this moment is. I just got a chance to be “Dear Abby”. I hope I made her proud 🙂

*Names created by AskThePRGirl to protect the identity of submission

Potty Hell

PottyTraining

Parenthood is teaching me a LOT about myself.  I didn’t know that I would have to juggle so many things at once and yet still feel like nothing has been done.  I didn’t know that I could operate on such a small amount of sleep.  Seriously! Lawmakers rightfully place a lot of focus on drunk drivers.  They should add sleep-deprived parents to the list.  I’ve literally woken up, bathed, bathed the baby, dressed us both, fed us both and arrived at work with no memory of doing ANY of these tasks.  One time I actually sat at my desk to send an email and jolted to reality as I realized I was at work.  I didn’t remember anything about my morning including the commute or dropping the baby at daycare.  I literally called the school in a panic asking if my son was there and then spent the next 10 minutes crying in the bathroom feeling utterly hopeless.  Yeah … parenthood is a beast!  I often tell new Moms that motherhood is like jumping into a cold pool on a summer day.  When you first hit the water, the temperature shocks your system; but, before you know it, you’re splashing around having the time of your life not feeling the cold at all.

Even still, my son has been my greatest accomplishment.  He’s so bright.  It amazes me how much he consumes in a day and literally spits it all back to show how much he’s learned.  He’s a little “me” walking around.  Amazing!  I wish he were a bit more like my husband.  My Hubby Honey is calm, quiet and reserved, while I’m loud, full of life and care-free.  That’s my son all day long.  He is a ball of energy and not simply because he’s three.  The way he talks to people.  The way he regards you if he doesn’t know you.  The way he corrects you when he feels you’re speaking complete nonsense.  The way he gravitates towards music.  His soul.  His … everything.  He’s me.  Through and through.  And while he amazes me, I’m also stumped by him. He has to be the most willful, stubborn little thing I’ve EVER encountered.

Before having our son, I was really only nervous about one thing: potty training.  I’d heard the stories.  I heard how boys are harder and that it’s a test of patience. I’d heard all of the different techniques including reward them with a song or reward them with a small piece of candy.  I’d also been told to put colorful cereal in the toilet and make a game of him hitting it with his urine.  Let him walk around naked because he’ll likely stop before going potty on your floor (TOTALLY not true for our son). I read all of the books and did tons of chatting on parenting sites. I became the most prepared unprepared parent in the history of parenthood.

I delayed it as long as possible because I didn’t want to deal.  I transitioned my son from diapers to pull-ups all the while telling myself that pull-ups were underwear.  Yeah.  They’re not.  They are diapers for kids who are not potty trained and money suckers for parents who refuse to face potty training.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a genius invention.  Whoever thought of it deserves some sort of Nobel Peace Prize or something.  We weren’t ready to face the responsibility and pull-ups gave us time to get brave.  Everything was “good in the hood” until Noah experienced an extreme growth spurt.  He went from looking like a 2-year-old to looking like a 4-year-old in the matter of weeks.  And it aint cute when your 2-year-old who looks like a 4-year-old squats in middle of a store to take a crap.  Good grief …

So, we broke down and finally began the process of trying to train our son.  We set a timer and would take him every hour on the hour and at least 20 minutes after he would eat or drink.  We literally kept up this process for MONTHS with zero progress.  He would go pee pee if we took him, but refused to indicate that he had to go.  So if I didn’t keep a timer and control of his liquids, he would just pee on himself.  I should note that he was also still wearing pull-ups while we were potty training which I now know vastly slowed the process because he was basically still wearing a diaper.  It was a disaster.

It was such a stressful time in our household.  My Hubby and I don’t fight.  Ever.  But potty training this kid was pushing us to the breaking point.  We were snapping at each other for no good reason.  We weren’t having sex as often and weren’t in agreement about the path to take to get the kid trained.  Every time he peed on himself it was like a slap in the face reminder that we were failing our kid and failing as parents.  It was an emotional drain.  Every parent we encountered would say, “He’s gonna get it eventually.  Hang in there.  It’s a long road, but there is an end.  Don’t give up.  We feel you!”  I wanted to punch them all in the face.  I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE F*** UP!!!  HOW COULD YOU SMILE AT THIS SITUATION WHEN WE ARE LITERALLY FALLING APART??!?”  We were living in hell alone.  It felt like no one understood our pain and frustration.

What hurt the most was the judgment we experienced.  We got it from parents who didn’t have potty training issues, my mother (albeit unintentional, but I still felt it), friends, family and our church!  For example, we drop our son at the nursery at church so that we can actually enjoy the service.  In order for our son to attend the older classroom, he must be potty trained, but since he isn’t he’s still in the nursery. However, he’s really tall and looks like he should be in the older classroom, so EVERY week we’d have to explain the situation.  The worse was when one of the teachers said, “He really should be potty trained by now?! What’s the problem?!”  I wanted to tackle her right there in the vestibule and bash her head against the concrete.  I wanted to scream, “B*tch! Don’t you think I know that?! Don’t you think I want that?! Stay out of my f****** business!”  Instead, I swallowed my shame and hurt and decided not to return until he was potty trained.  Yeah, we haven’t been to church in months.  How sad is that? I’m watching my church service online because I’m sick of being judged about this shameful parenting moment.

I finally got sick of torturing myself and was tired of seeing my husband’s defeated face.  I decided to release it thanks to the loving advice from two people: my cousin Tyrone and my pediatrician Dr. Hassel.  At our son’s 3rd birthday party a few weeks ago, my cousin Tyrone said, “I don’t know any adults that pee and poo on themselves. Take it easy. He’ll get it when he gets it.”  Our pediatrician said, “Your son is excelling in EVERY other developmental area. He spells his name, he’s beginning to read, he speaks clearer than most five-year-olds and he’s incredibly perceptive.  Refusing to potty is the one area where he’s showing he’s still just a baby … and that’s okay.”  Hearing those words finally allowed me to let go of the frustration.  I realized that my son would get it eventually and I didn’t have to feel that his inability to get it TODAY didn’t mean I was failing him as a parent.  It just meant that he needed more practice.  He needed patience.  He needed me not to pressure him like the world was pressuring me.  He needed me to chill the f*** out.  And so I did.

No sooner than I decided to chill out did my baby boy came to me and said, “Mommy, I need to go pee pee … and maybe boo boo.”  He runs upstairs, lifts the seat, goes pee pee, sets the seat down and climbs up to go boo boo.  It was like a miracle.  I think Christ the Mighty King came in the room and said, “It is time, my son. Go. Go potty.”  And he hasn’t looked back.  He tells us every time and he hasn’t had any accidents!  Now, I do bribe him a bit.  If he goes #1, he gets one M&M.  If he goes #2, he gets three M&Ms. If he does both unprompted, he gets three M&Ms and 20 minutes of iPad time.  And it’s working like a charm.  This week I stopped giving him any prize for bathroom time with exception to the potty song we made up and he hasn’t noticed.  He still goes like a champ.  It’s really incredible!

Now, I know pottying (if that’s even a word) is not an extremely interesting or sexy topic, especially for those of you who don’t have children; but, I share it because there are so many things in this world that push us to feel as though we’re failing because we don’t measure up to some invisible standard we are placing upon ourselves.  We forget that this life we are living is a universal human experience and there’s nothing new under the sun.  If you’re experiencing it, it’s a safe bet that so is someone else.  You’re not failing just because you don’t accomplish something at the same rate as other people.  Your will to continue pushing forward is evidence of your success.  You only fail when you quit trying.

Parenthood really is teaching me a lot about myself.  I’m learning that I’m extremely resilient and that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff … even when the small stuff involves poo.

Love you. Mean It.  ~AskThePRGirl