Saturday, 21 December 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas Reboot by Naomi Elana Zener

Twas four nights before Christmas, and all through my house,
Not a baby was stirring, not even my spouse.
The wine was poured in my glass with care,
In hope eyes would glaze over with drunken stare.

I was nestled in my pjs, lounging lazily on the couch,
Husband doing all chores, fearing angering this grouch.
And mama with remote in hand, DVR full of taped shows,
Settled in for undisturbed TV watching family knows.

When in the kitchen there arose such an awful clatter,
I sprang from the family room to investigate the matter.
There were my dishes, smashed to the floor,
A pattern discontinued, “oh shit” hubby swore.

The light up above beamed on the shards of my favourite plates,
Gave way to baby screaming, sounds every drunk mom hates.
Followed by the appearance to my eyes seemed a ghost,
No wait, twas my toddler sleepwalking, disturbing me most.

All I wanted was one night to myself to watch a chick flick,
That Elf must have reported I was naughty to St Nick.
My hopes for some peace and quiet dashed, such a shame,
On husband’s clumsy shoulders rests all the blame.

Now baby! Now toddler! Get back to bed, go to sleep!
Out of your mouths mama doesn’t want to hear a peep.
To your bed, to your crib, crawl, walk, run, don’t fall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

As my glass was now dry before that tsunami flew in,
Back to the fridge I returned for some Chardonnay chillin’.
Babes tucked back in bed, hubby in basement hiding away,
I decided to online shop for gifts, time for mama to play.

Target, Shopbop, Gilt, racking up charges on my Amex,
Time better spent than engaging in weekly marital sex.
And then, if like magic, noises came from upon my roof,
Twas Amazon drones delivering gifts, tapping each hoof.

At my doorstep neatly piled the bounty of my spending spree,
With such great discounts on all items, they were almost free.
Then arrived a portly FedEx deliveryman carrying a festive sack,
“Sorry ma’am, wrong house, got to deliver Mayor Rob Ford his crack.”

My eyes, how they sparkled, so many gifts I had to carry.
Each box seasonally wrapped with bows in red cherry.
The contents of which gave me a warm glow,
I celebrated my good deed with a glass of Merlot.

How hubby would delight seeing me in the negligee sheath,
A gift for him really, into which he could sink his teeth.
Perfume aromatic, fragrant to get rid of odours so smelly,
Due to baby’s vomit when feeling unwell in her belly.

Fuchsia croc stilettos from Prada, a box I will hide on my shelf,
To hide from the prying eyes of that nefarious Elf.
A twinkle in my eye at the pile of best-selling novels to read,
To get through all, more of nights from my kids need to be freed.

Of spending spree, no word spoken, Amex my kemo sabe,
Angry family if they discover all of the gifts are only for me.
Emerging from man cave, sniffing out shopping with his nose,
Hubby spoke not a word, no point in coming to blows.

For he knows how hard I work as mom, wife, attorney and writer,
Deserving a night off to shop, watch TV, will make my day brighter.
As for denying family Christmas presents, no hopes did I deflate,
We’re Jewish, these are my Chanukah gifts, albeit one month late.

But, like a good mom, my children and family I would never deny,
For them DVDs, toys and an iPad were ordered in good supply.
Happy Belated Chanukah to my family, gifts for each crazy night,
Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all, may your new year excite!

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

I Used to Say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” But Then I Became a Mom by Naomi Elana Zener

I am now a mother of two, thus I’ve been a new mom and can now be considered an old pro.
Certainly, when I had my first child, I looked for expert advice from my kid’s pediatrician, reading information on everything from parenting to childhood illnesses in a few books or on credible websites, such as “The Wonder Weeks” or I’ve raised my kids to date relying on a combination of gut instinct, listening to and observing my children to assess their needs and good old fashioned research as described above. Research like we did as kids: buying or going to the library to borrow books, looking things up in encyclopedias and only asking if we really couldn’t find the answer ourselves.
Growing up in a fairly Luddite environment, if I asked my parents or teachers a question, I was told to find the answer myself. I was not spoon-fed the material. Only if I hit a dead end brick wall was I then lent a helping hand to find the right answer. During my time in the mommyhood trenches, I’ve wandered into an online mom forum or two to see what they were all about. I can even admit that I have posted a question or two in an online mom forum, where I’ve sought the opinion of other moms, but only after careful research and due diligence were done first on my part, and even then the question mostly pertained to non-baby related questions, such as recommendations for a nanny referral on a short-notice basis or reviews on a doctor or daycare, all of which were taken with a giant bag of salt.
As they say, opinions are like a certain body part, everyone has one. Thus, through that lens I filtered the information contained in each opinion using my own intelligent and rational mind, logic and common sense.
Today, thanks to the advent of modern technology, at the click of one’s fingertips, whether your pleasure may be Google or Bing or some other search engine, all of the information can be easily accessed without leaving the comfort of one’s own home. However, during both tours of duty fighting the good fight, I came to realize that thanks to the digitization of our lives, sadly people have become lazy, especially many moms, who rather than doing their computer finger tapping to look something up online from a trustworthy source of information, they waste the energy asking a multitude of questions, often the same ones, in online mom forums. Worse still, is that many forums have search tools contained within enabling one to look to see if the question they are thinking of asking has been asked before. Do you know how many times I’ve seen the same question asked several times over within a few or even same day period when the answers have already been provided? This cannot be attributed to ineptitude or lack of smarts, but rather laziness. And, I am not alone in my opinion.
Before everybody throws their arms up in rage and begins to type a vitriolic comment in response to my post, please note that I know very well that moms are a subset of octopus who have to grow multiple arms to multi-task at a million tasks taking care of oneself and kid(s) while maintaining home and career all in the same twenty-four hour period that existed B.C. (before children). Motherhood, especially when on maternity leave, can be an overwhelming and isolating experience regardless of whether you are having your first or nineteenth child. However, in the amount of time used to post the question and going back to review every shade of grey answer provided, had the mom in question taken half of that time to Google the answer to her question, their time and energy would have been better served. Given how accessible and readily available information has become and provided in digestible easy-to-read formats, one could find this material, read and understand it and even read a few more articles and discuss them with a trusted friend or two during a baby’s nap.  Polling a plethora of strangers and raising one’s child by committee is not the same as relying on the maxim that it takes a village to raise a child, especially if that village is full of idiots.
I am not a sanctimonious or preachy person by nature. I really don’t care what others do in their life so long as it’s legal and doesn’t negatively affect mine. However, when I read the grating questions that defy logic and reason, prompting me to question whether one should have a license to prove their fitness to become a mother (or a father if the offender is a man), it affects me because these are the same people raising kids who will co-exist with mine, leading one to worry that we will have a generation of lazy kids who won’t think for themselves on our hands because they followed the example lead by their parents.
In the spirit of all things satirical and jest, I’ve composed a composite of my top five favourite, often duplicated, online mom questions of all time and provided the answers that many wish to provide, but tact prevents them from doing so. For the sake of clarity, the answers provided are not to be followed, nor are they parenting advice. Well, tact be out the window and away we go.
Question 5:
My toddler fell today. He cut his forehead wide open and it gushed a ton of blood, and he now has a goose egg sized bump where his left temporal lobe used to be. I didn’t take him to the ER because he seemed sleepy, and I didn’t want to waste an opportunity for him to nap, so I let him drift off in the car. The munchkin was so good that he didn’t even wake when being moved from car to crib.  What a peaceful sleeper. The bleeding stopped, but should the doctor see him in the morning?
Answer: Poor baby! Didn’t anyone ever tell you never to wake a sleeping baby? Definitely let him sleep it off, but don’t try to give him Tylenol or Advil in his sleep because then he may NEVER wake up. Take advantage of his long slumber for some much deserved “me” time – get a mani-pedi, read a book or focus on losing the pesky baby weight that never came off. You never get to do that when he’s up! It’s so great that the bleeding stopped on it’s own, but you may want to consult a plastic surgeon so that your sweet sleeping angel doesn’t have a nasty scar.

Question 4:
Where do I buy/find [insert ANY good or service]?
Answer: Don’t you just wish that a searchable database existed, whether in print or online, where you could find that answer? Better yet, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a way that whatever we wanted could just appear when we thought of it? As for where to actually buy something, I’ve been told that there are these mythical places that stock such items, and it’s called a “store.” The “store” may have what you are looking for. Regarding the service, I think that there are people who perform them. They may even drive trucks with their company name and phone number on them or advertise on bus benches and maybe even online. Good luck on your search and if you do find your precious item or service please share it with the rest of us so we can create a directory and share it with the world. I can’t believe that one doesn’t already exist!

Question 3:
My baby is twelve months old and two days. At what age can I feed my baby [insert ANY type of food]?
Answer: Babies need to eat food? Just kidding, I don’t eat only milk so I know that they have to eat food. I thought that they only drank milk forever and ever. It’s really too bad that doctors don’t tell us moms what and when babies can eat different types of food. I would really hate it if I accidentally gave my baby botulism by feeding it honey before it was a year old. Is your baby a year yet? You said it was twelve months and two days old, but is that the same thing? I wonder how other moms figured out what to feed their babies. I guess I am just not a super smart genius mom. I think it is great that you are asking other moms because there must be at least one of those super smart genius moms in this forum who has the answer. What if my kid is lactose intolerant? Shit, then I’m screwed.

Question 2:
My baby won’t sleep! She keeps waking up and I never get to sleep because she never does. How do I get my baby to sleep?
Answer: OMG, I have the same issue. Not only could I not sleep because my baby wouldn’t sleep, but the baby kept crying and waking up the dog that would bark non-stop. I spoke to my doctor, the one who never told me what to feed my baby, and he told me to take two Valium at night right before bed. It worked for a while to help me fall asleep, but it didn’t prevent me from waking to the baby-dog duet. Then a light bulb went off in my head and figured that if Valium worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for my dog and kid for that matter? A careful and responsible mom, I tested my theory out first on my dog, giving him a Valium at night when I went to bed and he fell and stayed fast asleep until noon the next day. Since he woke up, I figured that as a human, the drug should also work on my baby if it worked on a canine. I’ve never been great at math, but doing some rough calculations, figuring that I am five feet tall and my baby is a little over 27 inches long, the baby could take 1 pill. I used the same theory for my dog and it worked. I left weight out of the equation because I am still losing baby weight. Last night, the three of  us our cocktail and we all fell asleep and I woke up refreshed this morning. The only issue is that now it is 3:00p.m. and the baby is still asleep and breathing (of course I checked, what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t), but she won’t wake up. But, do you think  I should try to wake her or call the doctor?

Question 1:
My baby is CRYING! What do I do???
Answer: Have you tried asking your baby what is wrong and why she is crying? Obviously, you checked the baby’s diaper, fed her, put her down to sleep, rocked her, cuddled her, put her in the baby swing, taken her for a walk and done everything you can to settle her, including ensuring that she is not sick. That little whiner has some nerve to still cry! Maybe she’s had a super hard day being your baby and needs a glass of wine. Not a whole glass that would be irresponsible if not negligent parenting, but maybe a few ounces? It’s really tough being the baby of a mama who is constantly trying to parent by asking other moms on the Internet how to settle the baby down. Hell, I’d cry too. Have you tried calling your pediatrician for a referral to a psychiatrist to help get to the root of the crying issue? Just know that thing with psychiatrists is that their first question is always “what was your relationship with your mother like?” Are you prepared for the answer? It might make you cry. Maybe ask for a joint referral.

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All rights reserved.
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Friday, 13 December 2013

The Joneses Called & Said You Can’t Keep Up by Naomi Elana Zener

Flashbulbs blinded the patrons, which were made worse by the jeers and catcalls of the hordes of autograph seekers, naysayers and paparazzi pressed up like sardines against the trendy Beverly Hills’ restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling window. The world renowned and infamous couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, were sitting in the tony eatery supping on a divinely decadent elaborate meal prepared especially for them, with no expense spared. Accustomed to the glares and stares, the Joneses dined as though they were the only two people in the restaurant, let alone on the planet, cleansing their palates between courses with a healthy swig of Cristale, blissfully unaware of the masses watching their every move. Without warning and to the Jones’ horror, a plebian reporter abruptly disrupted their oasis by commandeering a neighbouring table’s chair, pulling it up to their table and joining them.

“Well, if it isn’t the elusive Joneses,” the reporter exclaimed. “I’m Joe Public, a reporter, not the plumber, from the Main Street Everyman’s Gazette. In light of the ongoing economic crisis crippling the planet, I wondered, hoped really, that I could interview you both to get your take on the sad state of the World’s financial affairs.”

“What sad state?” Mr. Jones inquired as he proceeded to take a delicate bite of caviar on toast point.

“Every country, especially the United States, has been downtrodden and underwater financially ever since the Great Recession hit. Albeit, housing prices are showing some gains of late and job numbers are mildly improving, so many people have lost their homes, jobs, life savings, all in their pursuit of the ‘American Dream’ bought on credit,” Joe replied. “All to keep up with the Joneses. To keep up with you.”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones shared a perplexed look as they digested Joe’s comments and then quickly tossed their heads back in guttural laughter.

“Is that a joke?” Mr. Jones asked.

“Is what a joke?” Joe responded.

“How can you even suggest that anyone can keep up with us?” Mr. Jones exclaimed. “We drive an Aston Martin Vanquish. Do you know how fast that thing goes? Even if someone buys a BMW M5 they have no way of keeping up or even catching us.”

“You, with your designer clothes, overpriced automobiles, flawless diamonds and multiple homes have set the tone for an ideal that people are chasing to their detriment. An ideal that only the top one percent can achieve,” Joe stated. “They see you with your black Amex free from the shackles of a limit, and your Cartier Love bracelet, and then go to the mall with their ten credit cards with low limits and high interest rates, maxing them out trying to emulate your blinged out lifestyle by buying jewelry at Zales. Then, they sit at home  in the house they can’t afford on the couch bought on a ‘buy now pay later deal,’ wondering how they are going to pay for groceries or the mortgage. Don’t you feel responsible?”

“How can we be responsible for anyone who chooses to shop at any store where the diamond quality is less than VVS1?” Mrs. Jones retorted. “I wouldn’t even let my maid buy diamonds at the mall.”

“May I ask what that shiny diamond Cartier Love bracelet hanging from your wrist cost?” Joe asked.

“If you have to ask what it cost, then you shouldn’t be buying it!” Mrs. Jones admonished.

“You must agree that you have created an image that others follow. Like a god, people revere your lifestyle and want to recreate themselves in your image no matter the cost,” Joe advised. “They want to dress like you, vacation like you, buy homes like yours.”

“Dress like us?” Mrs. Jones asked rhetorically. “What a crazy notion.  These people are wearing shmatas that are at least two seasons old bought either on sale at TJ Maxx or at a clothing graveyard.”

“What is a ‘clothing graveyard’?” Joe queried.

“A consignment store, you know, second-hand,” Mrs. Jones advised.

“I’m shocked you even know what that is,” Joe stated.

“Where do you think I recycle items in my wardrobe that I’ve been spotted or photographed in?” Mrs. Jones replied. “Plus, I use the money earned from resale to pay for our staff’s Christmas gifts. I have financial management skills. Also, you could even say that I am an environmentalist because by consigning my clothes I am enabling people to reduce, reuse and recycle, rather than going out and wastefully spending on brand new clothes at full price. Plus, people who buy my items look chic in them, so in fact I am actually doing a civic service by beautifying the Earth by populating it with well-heeled women.”

Ignoring Mrs. Jones blatant arrogance, Joe decided to follow another line of questioning directed at Mr. Jones.

“Sir, you must know that all of the technological gadgets that you’ve amassed, giant flat screen TVs, cable and high speed Internet, Netflix, tablets and the like are all luxuries you enjoy, but are not necessities?” Joe asked.

“What do you mean they aren’t necessities?” Mr. Jones asked. “They are the basic lifeblood required to remain digitally apprised of what’s going on in the world. How else does one expect to stay informed? And, for the record, your attack on my wife ignores the basic principle that you get what you pay for in life. If people were smart and saved up to buy just one pair of Louboutins or Manolos, then they would save their feet from damage by not wearing crap from Payless, saving themselves from having to shell out big bucks on chiropody treatments.”

“So, then what is a luxury in your opinion?” Joe asked.

“The Emirati royal family’s new yacht, the Azzam.  No one needs a five hundred and ninety foot yacht,” Mr. Jones explained. “At six hundred and five million dollars, just think of the real estate you could buy that doesn’t depreciate like a boat does.”

“That boat is just so gauche!” Mrs. Jones exclaimed. “Since you must still watch free over-the-air TV, you don’t understand how Netflix is a necessity. Time is money, and who wants to waste time watching useless commercials.”

Joe, realizing he had made no headway at trying to get the Joneses to accept any responsibility for setting a dangerous lifestyle precedent, decided to dumb down his cross-examination of them in the hopes that they would finally see the error of their ways.

“Ok, so we agree to disagree about the clothes, cars and toys you buy, but what about your homes? Do you really need so many? And, do they need to be equipped with the highest end restaurant-grade appliances when you don’t even cook?” Joe queried.

“Why should we apologize for having good taste and wanting to have the finer things in life?” Mr. Jones asked.

“Of course we use our appliances. Every time we have a dinner party, our chef or the catering staff prepares each meal with them, “ Mrs. Jones explained. “The better the appliance, the better the food tastes.”

“As for the number of homes we own, well that makes solid financial sense. Real estate is a safe investment,” Mr. Jones offered.

“Plus, one could go mad looking at the same scenery and d├ęcor day in and day out. Vacation homes are important tools to promote good mental health,” Mrs. Jones stated. “Next you’ll try to argue that having a maid or a gardener is a luxury.”

“Aren’t they?” Joe asked.

“You could sprain an ankle or have a heart attack engaging in such physical manual labour! Why do you think they invented in ground sprinkler systems?  Having a staff is a necessity borne by you and your fellow media comrades by publicizing all of these so-called studies telling everyone what is good and bad for our health. In fact, it’s you people causing us to hire nannies and housekeepers. The flip side is that we are creating jobs, thus lowering unemployment,” Mrs. Jones advised.

“How can you say that by performing manual labour you run the risk of having a heart attack when you workout and exercise?” Joe laughed.

“Because, we hire trainers to oversee our every move so as to prevent any injury from happening,” Mrs. Jones retorted.

Joe shook his head realizing that the Joneses would not have an epiphany recognizing their frivolity and wastefulness. They would continue to buy their own hype and the masses would continue to run like caged hamsters in a spinning wheel perpetuating the vicious debt cycle.

“I give up. You think it’s ok for people to go broke trying to keep up with you,” Joe sighed.

“Hell no!” Mr. Jones roared. “We don’t have large mortgages, if any at all. We own our cars. We don’t lease them. My wife’s jewels are family heirlooms inherited over the years. The people you talk about have no financial management skills, but we do. They should hire financial planners to help advise them.”

“How can they afford that when they are in debt up to their eyeballs?” Joe fumed.

“Please, people have access to cheap credit and with government policies keeping interest rates at historical lows, they can afford a planner instead of a new pair of shoes. If you want to blame someone for the World’s debt crisis, blame the government, not us.”

“For the record, if you can’t afford a bank loan, luxury purses make for excellent collateral. Just look at China where the ‘Yes Lady Finance Co’ gives loans against designer handbags. Only, you must ensure that the security is in the form of Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Channel or Gucci,” Mrs. Jones offered. “But, think twice before giving up a Birkin. Those damn waitlists for a new one are a bitch!”

“You people are unbelievable!” Joe exclaimed. “You tell people that it’s ok to fake it until they make it, the hell with keeping a roof over your head or food in their belly. What do you say to them when they can’t feed their family?”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones gave pause to Joe’s question, unsure of what they would do if they had no food to eat.

“Let them eat cake” Mrs. Jones offered.

© 2013 Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.