Coming Full Circle At A P!nk Concert

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Running on the treadmill, my feet slam up and down, up and down. My hair bounces against my neck. I can hear the machine roar, a symphony of squeaks, whines, and screeches. Once I am in the groove, my running groove, none of that bothers me. Sweat pours down the back of my neck, into my sports bra and against my stomach. I listen to music, and all I do is run, like nothing can stop me—and nothing can. P!nk is blaring in my ears, inspiring me—to keep going like the little recovery engine that could.  I can feel my heart beating loudly, lub-dub, to the music vibrating through my ears, lub-dub. It’s not about calories; it’s about feeling refreshed and alive, at peace.

That was me at twenty-six, getting back into exercise after the weight restoration process of eating disorder recovery where I wasn’t allowed to exercise anything except my jaw muscles by eating copious amounts of food– for months. Listening to P!nk and getting lost in her inspiring words—became my go to on the days where all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and give up. On the days where the demon in my head was telling me I wasn’t good enough, I was out of control, getting fat, a failure, and I couldn’t go on.

Next week I am seeing P!nk  live in concert. Performing upside down on a trapeze, singing her beautiful heart out. Hair a funky Mohawk. Redefining beauty by just being bravely herself.  In a world filled with mimics being an original is the most daring thing at times. It took me a while to come to the realization that we are all a little broken. Once we accept ourselves as is, flaws and all, it will be possible for us to heal and put all the pieces back together—and become who we really are. And P!nk you did a lot for me during the early years of recovery where I was slowly putting the puzzle pieces that are me back together:

Your lyrics helped me change the voices in my head like how you describe in “Perfect”.

Your lyrics made me feel less alone.

Your lyrics made me feel empowered.

Your lyrics helped be rid me of shame.

I have come full circle from being the girl that took up very little space.

The girl who was harboring so much resentment.

The girl who couldn’t express or identify emotions.

The girl whose greatest fear was upsetting people.

The girl who thought that starving and numbing out were the only ways to get by.

I am now a woman who takes up space and owns the space she is in.

I am now a woman who knows who she is and fights for what she believes in.

I am now a woman who is physically and mentally strong.

I am now a woman who is a mother, and above all else a role model to them.

Five year later P!nk is still a pillar of strength to me. Back then, she was everything I was not. Now that I am a more balanced individual, she is everything I am — a woman living her truth, an original copy not afraid of not fitting into the mold—actually aspiring to be different. I will be cheering for that and her at Madison Square Garden. I will also be rocking out for all the people out there finding their own path to recovery in whatever they are going through. You are stronger than you know. And soon you will be fully you.

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Today I Was Over It

Today I was over it.

My toddler woke up in a mood. While I was pumping she waddled over to my six-month-old in her Rocker and pretended to hit her on the head smiling her mischievous Dennis the Menace smile.

“No, I won’t let you hit the baby.” I said trying to remain calm like Janet Lansbury advises, but getting ready to unhook my polka-dot-Minnie-mouse inspired pumping bra and take action knowing my toddler all too well. She smiled at me again, and hit the baby’s head harder–the baby’s face starting to scrunch up to cry. Okay, Janet, this is where I couldn’t give no reaction anymore.

“That’s it!” I took off the bra, liquid gold spilling everywhere, and swooped her up placing her in her purgatory— time out.

Today I was over it.

I was over the fight to put her diaper on after her bath. Her little kicks into my stomach every time I got close to her and her screams because diaper changes are the worst thing you can do to someone, don’t you know?

 Today I was over it.

When we switched rooms, my toddler ran down the hall instead of to the playroom where we usually convene. Her little body moving from side to side– while I ran after her, baby cuddled into my chest. I caught up to her by the stairs and grabbed her little hand as she tried to pull it away because once you turn two you are totally independent. Turning to bolt again, I forced her up—the toddler in one arm, the baby in the other. We walked down the hall like this.

Today I was over it.

The outfit changes. The baby had a poop explosion while I was feeding her this morning. Mustardy poop covered my shirt and the baby’s clothes. Then I went to art class with my toddler, blue paint covering outfit number two by the time she was midway through finger painting.

Today I was over it.

Always having to have my shit together. Getting the bottles prepped, everyone changed, bathed, cleaned—out the door on time. Not having any time for myself.

Today I was over it.

When bedtime approached I was so relieved. After putting them both down I got into bed myself to unwind when five minutes later I heard through the monitor a cry from the toddler’s room. I ran down the hall, feet pounding like a dinosaur.

“What baby?” I asked as I entered the room.

She gave me a soft hug saying “tissue tissue” as salty snot dripped from her button nose. I wiped. “Book, book. Please.” Please! Just like I had been teaching her…

“Okay just one.” I grabbed the one on top of the pile.

I read her The Very Hungry Caterpillar as she turned the pages.

“Thank you mommy,” she said in her sweet husky voice.

“Your welcome baby.” I kissed her forehead, placing the blanket over her lower half, the shushers’ soothing sound playing in the background. I closed the door.

I heard soft cries come in echoes “neh, neh” from the baby’s room across the hall. NOOOOO. I ran back down the hall, as I tried to decipher the meaning behind the cry—maybe she lost her pacifier? Then I saw her scrunched up face. All she needed was to see me, her mommy, and her frown turned into a magnetic smile as I couldn’t help but smile back at her sweet little face. As I stroked her little head, she leaned to the side, falling right back to sleep.

That’s when I knew

Today I was over it but I am never over both of you.

You are my heart.

F You Mickey Mouse

IMG_0083There I was waiting to eat breakfast with my family at the Royal Table in the postcardesque Cinderella’s castle. My toddler warmly smiled at a woman dressed elegantly in a light blue ball gown. Her blonde hair was pulled up in a high tight bun and her pink shadowed eyelids had long black lashes dueling as fans making her blue eyes pop. I swear I felt a magically refreshing breeze cool down my face-how Disney! Cinderella just finished ballroom dancing with a forty-five year old man to my husband’s complete horror—how not Disney and poor Cinderelly!

“What a creep,” he whispered to me, as I shushed him.

“Ella” my toddler screeched reaching out to give her favorite Disney princess a hug as the forty-five year old walked away happy as a clam that he got to be prince charming for five minutes.

We were in Disney for my daughter’s second birthday and this was the reaction I was so hoping for. Though my inner feminist wasn’t digging her recent obsession with Disney princesses’ this was what this trip was all about. This moment, like in the Disney commercials where your child is so in awe of her surroundings. Then getting that perfect photo and everything—the expensive price tag, the travel, the exhaustion— becomes worth it.

“What a sweet little mouse you are,” Cinderella mused as she swooped my “little mouse” up into her arms with her white gloves as flashes from a professional camera captured the picture perfect moment. My sweet five-month-old was cooing on in the background like Cinderella’s doting humming birds. HA-wouldn’t this be great…

Instead, this was the scene.

My daughter, terrified of Cinderella, refused to take a picture while my five-month-old was hysterical for her bottle—plugged her—then we looked on at my toddler freaking out as Cinderella tried to make nice with said now rabid mouse toddler. My toddler had a cold/cough coupled with her two-year-old molars coming in, turning her into a complete demon in need of an exorcism five minutes ago since our arrival. My boobs were starting to throb from how full they were. So after the initial chaos when we sat down to order food, it was time for mommy to be milked! I handed off my five-month old to Mimi. I then took my pump to a bathroom stall, pumping on the not so royal or clean floor of the castle bathroom. I worried about my tribe at the table while listening to the soft rhythm of the pump. When I left them the toddler still wasn’t feeling so hot. Ten minutes later and an entire new bottle filled (I have an oversupply problem), I packed up my pump and headed into the castle dining area to meet my family.

I saw my five-month-old with big doe eyes smiling at me, like the sweet happy baby she is.

Then my mom interrupted my delight, “Dan, I think Diana had an explosion.” I grabbed her into my arms and saw mustardy colored poop lining my mother’s zip up sweatshirt and Diana’s pants. Shit.

I carried her back to the bathroom and put her down on the changing table searching my bag for the change of clothes I packed her this morning.

“I swear I put it in here.” I muttered to myself digging through the diaper bag contents: NeatCheeks, wipes, WubbaNub. Not there. My husband decided to re-organize my diaper bag the leading cause of divorce I hear and accidently left it out.

With that realization, I took her pants, wiping them off trying to save them, as I had some choice words for my husband circulating in my head. Then as that was going on, my mom came into the bathroom with my hysterical toddler. I quickly finished changing/dressing the baby and switched with my mom as I took my toddler and gave her motrin. I then escorted my toddler around the room trying to find distractions, “look Viv another princess” to calm her down until the motrin kicked. Let’s just say I didn’t touch the oatmeal I ordered and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of this Mickey filled hell. Oh and this was the first day of our trip.

I mean nothing is ever this perfect Disney, I see right through you. I don’t trust a place that has no insects except butterflies. So here are the top three reasons why after this vacation I want to look Mickey Mouse dead in the face and say “F you, you stupid rodent.”

1). Pumping was more annoying AF than usual.

Okay Disney, I do appreciate that you have Baby Care Centers but it would be helpful if you had more of them. I wasn’t going to go all the way across the park just to pump. Hello, waste of time. So I found myself pumping on many bathroom floors. I carried my pump with a battery and my nursing bra and set up shop wherever I could. I pumped in many bathrooms, sitting in many bathroom stalls, missing meals because after I got back to the table someone needed me for a diaper change, bottle feed, to be rocked to sleep, a break down. “So Mickey F you for making me miss your delicious and way too expensive meals because I was pumping.”

2). My toddler is now a Demon.

Disney, my toddler came back from vacation a complete dick. I even caught myself explaining these asshole symptoms to the nurse when I got her a recheck for her cold/cough when we got back.

“It seems that her behavior has changed too. So either she has an ear infection or she came back from vacation a complete dick.” Shit did I say that? Yes I did, and guess what? No ear infection…

She was so used to go, go, go and getting her way, because there were way too many people (Mimi, Papa, Auntie, Dad…) making excuses for her bratty behavior and mommy was too busy on baby duty to discipline—wearing her in the Bjorn the whole freaking trip because she hates the car seat. Oh, on that note Disney you owe me a chiropractor. Now that we are back and my bratty toddler doesn’t get her way she throws a fit of epic proportions—kicking, screaming and crying. “So Disney F you for changing my daughter for the worse. I know this will be short lived because I am nipping it in the butt as we speak, but for making me even have to temporarily deal with this evil Demogorgon. F you!”

3). Driving me to the drink.

So Mickey, ever since my second daughter was born I have found myself sober because wine in small doses and large doses but I don’t want to talk about that makes me nauseous plus I am pumping, waking up to feed at night and find it easier when I am not completely shit faced/ hate wasting precious breast milk A.K.A. dumping. Well after a long day filled with breakdowns, no naps or routine, snot, too much walking, and way too many tears my new ‘tude was bring on the vino. When the girls were finally sleeping, my husband would go up to the concierge floor and get himself a beer and me a nice big glass of wine–and I drank up, oh Mickey, I drank up. “So Mickey, F you for not only driving me to the drink, but making it harder for me to wake up in the middle of the night and the early morning to start the day because of it. I blame you completely!”

So Disney, next time you play your enticing commercials in front of my daughters, know that I, Dani Sherman-Lazar, am on to your rouse. I am exposing you so the next mom will know to stay clear and just say “no” to your promise of visiting the happiest place on earth. Okay, I will most likely be back next year, so the real F you is on me. But until then, and until your kids sucker you in too, all you moms out there hold on tight to your credit cards and sanity and join me in a big F you to the leader of the Disney World cult, Mickey eff-in Mouse!

 

 

First Born I See You Completely Always

IMG_2940             I see my daughter entertaining herself, playing with a plastic car—up and down a toy ramp. Then she purposely knocks the ramp on the floor taking out two puzzle sets with it…BOOM. The baby startles herself out of her milk coma, eyes so wide she resembles a pop eyes out squeeze toy mid squeeze.

“Viv, please don’t throw your toys on the floor!” I sigh with frustration, looking at the mess she made on the floor.

She then hands me her sticker book and I am struggling with one hand to pull the sticker off while feeding the baby with the other–my four month olds body cradled into my chest. My toddler gets frustrated and says, “st-i-i-i-cker, st-i-i-i-cker,” not understanding I am trying my very best to get said “st-i-i-i-cker”. I finally get it off. Before I can pat myself on the back—that is, if I had hands to– she wants another. Crap.

I see my daughter trying to get my attention while I am pumping. She holds onto my back hugging it tightly and chanting, “boobies, boobies, boobies.”

I see her during music class wanting to get thrown around while we dance like we used to— she likes to rough house– but I can only pick her up and rock her back and fourth on my hip because I have the baby on my chest.

This is why when we are alone I soak up every second.

I leave my phone in the car and give her my 100 percent attention. She has rarely gotten it since the day her little sister was born. We went from a duo to a trio. She became a reluctant third musketeer—she didn’t ask for this new squad we became.

So I am the mom playing in the balls with her, her little playmate. We go down the slides together, side-by-side, holding hands into the multicolored ball pit. “Red, yellow, green-e, blue,” my daughter goes through her repertoire like it’s Joseph’s Technicolor dream coat—full of so many colors, and it is—it’s her dream coat because she has mommy’s full attention in that colorful ball pit.

I am the mom that crawls into the tunnel when my daughter bossily points to it saying “do it, do it,” because there are so many things I can’t do with her when I am taking care of her sister at the same time. I reluctantly army crawl in as my daughter laughs on–my body flat like a pancake while my arms and legs struggle to propel myself forward. When I get through I am out of breath and then I hear my daughter’s loud cackle while giving me a hug—“momm-eee hug-eee”—It was worth it.

I am the mom that chases my daughter around when she says “catch you” which sounds a lot like cashew, but that’s besides the point. I know she wants me to chase her around saying “I am going to catch you.” I do and when I catch her, I flip her upside down and tickle her little tummy, as she lets out the cutest belly laugh.

As much as I love our family of four and plan to have more, there is something sad about not having as much one-on-one time with my first-born.

So oldest daughter please know I see you and I love you. You will always be my first and for that I am grateful. You taught me how special motherhood can be, because you are so special. You taught me how much I could love another human being. You made me want to have more like you because I love you that much. And just because you think I am not paying 100 percent attention, know that I am. I see you completely–always.

 

 

Because She Will Never Be The Same…

IMG_3004This summer I will start the dreaded process that most stay at home moms who have never left their kids before don’t like to talk about—separation. My daughter is starting preschool in the fall and I signed her up for a transitional summer camp program three days a week for three hours. I am dreading it like a high school reunion I never wanted to attend. Dreading it to the point where I have been bringing the topic up to fellow moms. The conversation goes something like this:

“Ugh, I can’t stop thinking about separating. I mean, I just want to protect her forever.” I’d muse as I hold onto my four-month old for dear life in her Bjorn—she still has time.

“But it will be good for her. It will help shape her and make her stronger.” A fellow mom says as we watch our kids playing with a farm, my daughter stuffing markers through the farm doors and windows, because her farm totally would be a marker farm—girl is obsessed with her art.

“I know.” I say I know, but I am not really sure I really mean it.

I do know some things. I know my daughter will be fine physically separating. It may be rough the first couple of goodbyes and tears will be shed no doubt, but eventually she will be okay and so will I. It will become our new routine, our new normal. If anything, it will probably be me having to get pulled away, maybe a security guard or two will be called, maybe I will camp out and spy on her with binoculars. We will see, but we will both get through it one way or another.

My daughter is very social and active so she will love everything about summer days filled with sports, swimming, other kids—I can’t even make an argument to not let her go. There is one thing I worry about. When I hear it’s good for them to separate the reasons I hear are: so they can become more independent, stronger, it toughens them up. I hate all of these reasons. Why do we live in a world where kids have to be tough? Is it bad that I want my kids to keep their innocence as long as possible? Is it bad that going to school to me means it’s the start of this shedding of innocence process taking form?

I am afraid because I won’t be there to fiercely protect her the way I have been since she was born. The second she was put on my chest and we did skin-to-skin I knew she was the new love of my life. I would do anything for this little being and as a mother I have been. If a classmate is being mean, I won’t be there to pull her away from that little asshole and tell the kid “pushing is not nice. Be gentle.” I won’t be there to comfort my daughter when she is crying, tears racing down her cherub cheeks. I think about this constantly and all I want to do is hold on to these next couple of months, take her back into my womb, and never let her experience rejection of any kind.

Part of this thinking probably stems from my own experiences. I am five years in recovery from a long-standing battle with eating disorders. I used my eating disorder as protection—to numb out when life got hard, a coping mechanism. If I was bingeing and purging, I didn’t have to deal with mean kids or not fitting in. If I was focused on my eating disorder I wouldn’t get hurt. The reality is, I did get hurt, worse than another person could ever hurt me. I always wonder if I were in a world where you didn’t have to armor up–become stronger and tougher—and too nice wasn’t a weakness, would I even have an eating disorder? Probably not.

What if my daughters are too sensitive like me? Now, I am strong because I have been through a lot— I became strong, learned new coping mechanisms, learned how to defend myself and not people please up the wahzoo, but I don’t want my daughters to go through what I went through to deal with this world. I’d love them to be able to keep their innocence yet I know that is impossible.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the date approaches.

So when I drop my daughter off and she runs off playing with her soon to be new friends or holds onto me for dear life, I don’t know how I will get myself out of the classroom door. I know she is not me. She is already a way better version. She is sweet and sensitive but has an amazing sense of humor mixed with a little pizazz-girl has some spice! I know she will be okay. I will have to give her a big hug and kiss and be strong for her. I will size up her pint sized classmates and pray they are a nice bunch or call a hit out on each one of them. And I will always be there to support her and hold her hand on the sidelines, guiding her as best as I can, so she doesn’t fall victim to self-destruction in the face of adversity like I once did.

I just can’t help but be sad because I know the day I drop her off it is inevitable that my daughter will never be the same.

 

My Name Is ______ and I have Momnesia

So I have a confession to make, and no Foo Fighters it’s not that I’m your fool, because I am nobodies fool, besides my two daughters of course, but that’s not by choice. That’s called biology or chemistry— or science in general? Ah. You see what is happening? I heard that your brain actually shrinks during pregnancy and doesn’t repair immediately after baby. Some research says six months after, others say two years after—point is, Momnesia is a real thing. The theory I have about myself from having two kids within a two-year period is that my brain is now actually extra small because it never recovered the first time around. As a result, I have found myself increasingly dumber, stupider, denser- I can use all the synonyms in the world to try to soften the blow–but bottom line is I have become a complete idiot.

Take today as an example. My daughter and I do a Toddler and Me class, much like a nursery school class, but no separation—the way this mama likes it. I wear my three month old in the Bjorn to these classes. Anyway, it was a little chaotic getting out of the house per usual, loading and unloading my clan in and out of the car, and into class. Then I started to smell a familiar smell—a foul smell.

I pulled my toddler aside, stretched her hot pink leggings peaking into her diaper, and Bingo, just as I suspected, she had a poop.

“You got poopsies little one,” I said grabbing her little hand, intertwining our fingers–leading her towards my denim diaper bag.

“Poopy, poopy,poopy,” my toddler parroted while chanting in a circle.

I escorted her out of the classroom and down the hall, where we stopped to see Mocha the bunny—we both said “hop, hop” jumping up and down to greet him. We continued on, her saying “uppy” twice along the way, but really not wanting to be held after hoisting her up, my littlest still in the carrier—a lot going on. We eventually made it to the bathroom, me eyeing the changing table in solidarity—it was us against the toddler. I quickly swooped her up, checked to make sure her foot didn’t kick my three-month old in the process—and listened to her whine because nothing in this entire world is worse than a diaper change when you are 21 months old. Nothing!

In my peripheral I heard loud footsteps enter the bathroom and use the facilities. Then the faucet next to me turned on trickling water, drip dropping onto the bottom of the sink. I turned to acknowledge the woman next to me. The problem was—I was pretty sure that was not a woman—but who am I to judge? Maybe she was just against waxing. I mean, you should have seen me that day. Now, a normal human with a properly functioning brain would think, “oh damn, maybe I am in the wrong bathroom.” But no, I didn’t give it a second thought. The woman gave me a bizarre look and a nod, but I chalked it up to the made up songs I was singing to distract my daughter from diaper changing hell.

Only when we exited the bathroom and I saw the sign on the door in white lettering—Men—was when I finally realized “damn I was in the wrong bathroom.” And no, the row of urinals didn’t tip me off. It’s like my brain forgot that another gender existed and they have a separate bathroom. No wonder that man gave me a “WTF are you doing in here lady and waving at me like it’s no big deal” look.

Then even better, I was talking to a mother in my class who is due in March with twins, a boy and a girl.

“How are you feeling? Last week there was a man in our class whose wife has twins due in March as well! She wasn’t feeling well so she didn’t come to class.” I mused as I guided my daughter’s hand as she was scribbling with a green marker on blue construction paper. I looked up at her and she must have been thinking, moron, he was with the same kid I have been taking here every freaking week and he is my husband. But she politely said “that is my husband.”

“Awe your husband is so nice and my brain is officially shot. That I didn’t realize he was your husband and with sweet Jack (her son) is beyond me!” Talk about stupid! The teachers, everyone in the class, roared with laughter and then were making excuses for me: You are tired, you have a three-month old and a toddler, and it’s totally understandable. How I didn’t know it was the same kid, with the same name, is a mystery beyond me. Maybe those metal alloys from the UFO’s have the answer. Maybe not.

So here I am hoping that if we share our experiences, strength and hope with each other we can get through this incredibly dumb period in our lives together. Say it with me if this behavior applies to you as well: “My name is __________ and I have Momnesia. Pray for me.”

Holy Sh!t I Am Sue Heck…And You May Be Too…

Eyes wide, lashes beating against my forehead (thanks lash extensions!), my dark baby browns stare my rejection dead in the face—head on, whatever it is. My smile becomes lopsided-a smirk—not quite a frown… at least yet. Why? Because I was expecting it anyway. I set myself up for the rejection; just praying for the 1% chance it wouldn’t be, so the blow isn’t as harsh. Newsflash: it always stings.

Ever feel like you keep putting yourself out there only to get the same bad results every time? Let’s say you are a mom trying to get your toddler to eat vegetables and you disguise them in the sauce but your toddler screams “yucky!” and spits them all over her highchair. So then what do you do? The next day, you try the same thing but a different dish, with the same “yucky” “spit” result. You will also probably try it again the day after. It could be because motherhood and insanity are by definition the same things–obviously.

Look I am a fighter, I fight for what I believe in, but when enough times you don’t get positive feedback, you may start feeling like a failure. When do you give up? Never! Then when you keep trying, doing, trying it again and again you may have what Oprah coined an “Aha!” momentI had this yesterday. This became my “Holy sh!t, I am Sue Heck” moment. Why? Well, for those who aren’t familiar with The Middle, Sue is the lovable character who puts herself out there and fails spectacularly every single time, but none the less never stops trying. That is us, mamas—we are all Sue Heck’s!

Do I want to be like that? Sometimes. Unlike Sue, I am not an eternal optimist who doesn’t get deterred in the face of adversity. Let’s be real, most of us aren’t cheerful optimists to the Sue-extreme, so the outcome isn’t so “oh well”. I mean I have never met a person so unaffected quite like Sue! While she quickly rebounds with her next grandiose idea, I unfortunately can’t. After a while, I do what my almost two year old would do—throw a tantrum of epic proportions or sulk.

But yet as moms, we keep trying and trying because we have bigger goals then just our pride: our kids. We want them to be healthy and thriving individuals so we put that beyond our sanity. And you know what? The one thing to love about Sue is that one day she will make her mark because she won’t give up and that will be us—and because we worked so hard our victory will be even sweeter.

So mama, when your toddler does one day eat your healthy cooking or actually goes to the bathroom on the potty—those are the days when you think, “it’s good to be Sue Heck.” When you’re a mom being a Sue will eventually pay off and like the Heck clan, your whole family will love you because of your dedication and heart.