Friday, June 29, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Mompreneur Erika Levine-Irigoyen

Erika Levine-Irigoyen 
is the owner of BabyCakesbyErika, a custom diaper cake business she started three years ago after being inspired by a family friend who designed diaper cakes.  As a wife and mother with a large extended family, Ms. Levine-Irigoyen has studied cake decorating (the edible kind), much to the delight of her family and friends.  Her artistic talents also included ballet – she performed a duet with the author of Mom’s New Stage in middle school.  Ms. Levine-Irigoyen’s left brain accomplishments include a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Wayne State University and a Masters Degree from SUNY Downstate-Brooklyn in Occupational Therapy.  Currently, she lives in Forest Hills, NY with her husband and son.  A pediatric OT for the New York City Department of Education, she works with children from kindergarten through eighth grade to improve their student functioning.

You have a son, I believe.  How old is he?

I have one almost 6 year old son named Aidan.

Where were you in your career when your son was born? 
I was almost 35 when Aidan was born, so, thankfully, my career was all set by that time.  I was in my second year as an Occupational Therapist working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in New York City.

Tell us a little of the why and how of starting BabyCakes By Erika.  
Believe it or not, I was inspired by my husband’s ex-wife, who is my friend.  I went to my step-daughter’s baby shower and she had made one for her.  I had never seen one before and was in total awe, so I asked her to help me make my first one.  Graciously, she agreed, and I made my first one for a friend’s baby shower in 2009.  It’s given me such a wonderful creative outlet and it makes me feel good to create something special for a mom in the most beautiful time in her life.

Where do you see your custom diaper cake business in five years?
In five years, I hope to see my business a bit busier.  2-3 cakes a month would be perfect. 

Naturally, someone coming to you wants a super unique diaper cake!  What inspires you in your designs?
Many times, the client will want a certain theme such as a ballerina diaper cake or a cake for a mom who listens to country music.  Once I know the theme, I just let the artistic juices flow!  Other times, I will help them come up with ideas by asking them what the sex of the baby is or what the interests of the mother are.


What are your strategies for finding balance between work time, family time and personal time?
Granted, I don’t have two or three kids, but my strategies are pretty straightforward. I made it a goal to simplify my life.  I transferred from a job in Manhattan to one closer to home in order to be nearer to my son’s school.  Deciding to work for the Department of Ed has given me the same schedule as my son, so I’m not scrambling for daycare during school vacations. 

Oh, and did I mention his grandmother lives a block from his school?  Instant family time!  I also don’t over schedule him with activities during the week.  This way he can also have some downtime to just play in the park.  Real family time is on the weekend, of course, and my husband and I are good about giving each other personal time when we want it.  No guilt in that department.  Life is good.

Describe your mothering style in five words or less.
Everything in moderation!

Advice for entrepreneur moms?  
Motherhood has provided me with the most rewarding moments of my life and I wouldn’t trade my role for anything in the world, but it didn’t take long to get completely immersed in it.  I started feeling worried about losing the sense of who I was or what my interests were.  The advice I would give mom entrepreneurs is to not feel guilty about giving some time to yourself once in a while. Reignite that woman you were before you became a mother!  Take advantage of the invite to go out to dinner with your girlfriends, sign up for that pottery class, or just hit the gym.  Make it happen -- you deserve it and you’ll appreciate your kids and hubby when you get home.

To view cakes or place an order, visit BabyCakesbyErika.  

You can also, like BabyCakesbyErika on Facebook!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Notes from a Dancer Mom: My Son's First Ballet Class

He dances all the time at home.  Not emulating pop stars (although he did ask, "Who is Beyoncé?" on the way home from school the other day).

Interesting creative movement with level changes, awareness of his arms and back, and use of space.  Movement that you would expect from the son of a modern dancer and dance teacher.

When the local dance studio, owned by a neighbor and a good friend of mine, offered a class that met our schedule, I was thrilled to sign Mr. R up.  I'd have my Billy Elliot!  He'd start out as some gangly awkward boy and wind up in New York City Ballet, or Ailey, or Broadway.  I would satisfy my career ambitions through him.  I'd stretch his feet and hips daily.  I'd coach him until he was out of my league. He'd be a STAH! (Fanning open jazz hands here.)

In accordance with traditional male ballet attire bought him three pairs of black biker shorts to accompany a white undershirt. He'd have to be in white socks, however.  Though a dreamer, I was not a moron.  I refused to spend $20 on black or white ballet slippers for an activity  he might very well loathe, especially when his sister would insist upon PINK slippers.  

We prepared emotionally and physically.  We galloped, i.e. chasséed, in the house.  We practiced arabesque.  We had animal-move dance parties.  With an expression so animated so as to make a Disney performer look like a cadaver, I'd get all up in his face and cry, "You have dance class in (insert number here) days!"

He was ready!

I picked him up early from school.  In the car, I gave him a snack and some water - couldn't have my little dancer with low energy!  We changed clothes in the studio bathroom.  I had the camera ready.  I felt nervous and proud!

Miss Julie invited the students and parents, the latter of whom were permitted to observe the first class, into the studio.  The girls began happily improvising to a children's ballet CD.  I put our things in the observation area.  But instead of joining the other students, my son clung to me like The Donald to the birther argument.

A friend, a little girl who had taken the class during the school year, came over and took R's hand.  He shook her off angrily.

Dang it to heck!

"What's wrong?" I asked. "You were so excited!"

R sat on my lap stonily. 

"Come on, sweetie. Please." Class began.  Miss Julie came to try to coax R into the opening circle.

He shook his head furiously and made his 30 pounds feel like 80 on my lap.

It was a very girlie situation, I had to admit.  R was the only boy surrounded by a sea of girls in pink leotards, tights and slippers.  "Are you upset because there are no boys?" I asked.

"There aren't any boys!" R growled.  I knew I had just given him the reason he needed to refuse.

Class looked great.  Despite the undeniable pinkness of everything, it was a typical ballet-based creative movement class.  Ballet vocabulary interspersed with age-appropriate imagery-based movement.  The girls were smiling and moving, while my mule of a son tried to bury himself in my lap.  I was becoming enraged. It was like the gods were using me as their personal soccer ball and relishing my pain.  How was it that I -- a dancer mom-- had the son whose first ballet class was a no-go?

I must have said "please" thirty times.  Seething, I tried to shove him off my lap, to no avail. I tried effusive narration (Bear walks! Wow!  YOU LOVE THOSE!). I wanted to drag him into the space like that poor kid in Sixteen Candles at the school dance.  I began to empathize with those crazy sports dads who feel shame for their sons' poor performance on the field.  I began promising him things -- Thomas figures, ice cream.

A pony.

I fucking promised the child A PONY.   I was ready to promise him a castle in the sky if he would just DANCE!!!!!!!!!

The girls began galloping across the floor.  With the deft grace of an experienced preschool ballet teacher, Miss Julie grabbed R off my lap and led him into his turn.

Everyone applauded! O, bliss! O, rapture!  HE WAS TAKING CLASS!

That was at 4:25.  Class was over at 4:30.  

After class, I gushed over him as though he had just won the Youth Grand Prix.  He left class thrilled about the action figures.  Thankfully, not the pony.  

That night, before bed, he showed his dad movement from the entire class, just to torment me.  

The next week, J brought him to class. He held Miss Julie's hand the whole time, but he did participate.  

Will he keep dancing?  We'll see.  I'd love it if he did, but as a dancer mom, would I be able to step back?  To avoid being the hover dancer mom?  

Maybe he should try something I know nothing about.  

Like fencing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Julia Richter

Julia Richter is an active teacher and performer in the Chicago area. She holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Portland State University and a Master of Music Degree from the University of North Texas. Julia teaches flute lessons at DePaul University Community Music Division and is an adjunct professor of music at Elgin Community College. As a performer, Julia is a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and performs regularly with many other orchestras including the Milwaukee Symphony, Illinois Symphony, and Rockford Symphony. In addition, Julia was 3rd Flute/Piccolo of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra & the newly reformed Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. 

You have a daughter, I believe?  How old is she?
I have a daughter, Netta, who is almost 5 years old. 

Where were you in your career when your daughter was born? 
I had established a career as a freelance musician and teacher in the Chicago area. This is mostly because I was 38 years old when I had Netta.

What is your strategy for remaining artistically viable?
Adjusting Netta into our lives -- not so much the other way around. Of course sacrifices and changes are necessary when you have a child, but overall this was and still is my strategy.

I stayed artistically viable mostly because I had to, both financially and mentally.  As a freelance musician, you don't have maternity leave or paid time off, so I had to go right back to work. I remember giving birth on a Thursday and going back to teaching my Music Appreciation class Monday morning! But, also for me, I needed (mentally) to go back to work. To get back in the classroom and start talking about Tchaikovsky, etc., was refreshing and energizing.

Also, I think for most artists/musicians, your work/practice is your very self, so it's just not an option to stop doing it for a few months or altogether.

You were performing with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra - a major artistic and geographic victory! Can you talk about long distance parenting, especially as a performer?
I was able to be in Hawaii to play in the Hawaii Symphony for two months mainly because I have a husband who was willing to take on full parenting duties for all that time.  My husband, who is also a musician, understands the importance of the opportunity to play in a major orchestra.

The job in Hawaii was from March to June and we spent a lot of time discussing various scenarios.  Would we all go? Would I just go with Netta, even though that would mean pulling her out of school? Could I go out there a few times and keep all my various gigs in Chicago?  

In the end we decided that I would go by myself and Matt and Netta would take care of each other in Chicago.

Being away from Netta for all that time was very difficult, but I knew and trusted Matt could handle it.

As far as long distance parenting goes, really the only thing I could do was stay in touch with Netta on the phone and re-enforce where I was and that I was coming home on a specific date in June and that I missed and loved her very much.

What I couldn't do was have any control over when she went to bed, if she had her homework done, if she brushed her teeth before bed, what she was eating - you know, that sort of thing.  I didn't bother me at all, though, to not have any control over those things for a time.

I would also add that Netta has been used to her parents being traveling/gigging musicians her whole life.  She is used to being in the car, often times for several hours at a stretch,  as we drive all over the Chicago area and beyond. The benefit of this is that she gets to experience things like sitting in on the Martha Graham classes Daddy plays percussion for, or listening to Wagner in the car with me. She's a very flexible little girl.

You and your husband are both musicians.  Pardon the pun, but how does music play into your parenting?
Music plays into our parenting in that it is always on in our house and in the car for Netta to absorb. The biggest thing I've noticed with sharing music with Netta is she naturally becomes engaged or aware of her environment. She'll ask questions about the music or sing along, or, if at home, dance along.

Best FML mommy moment?
Breastfeeding.  Don't even get me started. I just hated the whole process & the pressure to do it.

These days it seems that even against one’s better judgment parents feel compelled to sign their kids up for a million activities.  As a musician who obviously found her “thing,” her calling, what is your stance on this? 
Rather than have Netta enrolled in a million isolated activities, I'd rather we do things like get on the subway and go downtown to the museums or Millennium Park and explore life. Just taking a ride on a city bus is endless excitement for Netta as she engages everyone around her.

We did have Netta in ballet class last year, but only that one activity, and it was really a special thing for her. Plus, because Matt and I have erratic work schedules and limited financial means, that prevents us from signing Netta up for too much stuff.

Do you hope your daughter plays an instrument?  Is she playing one already?  
Netta freely plays her drum set and the piano we have in the house. She plays either one of those instruments and sings along a song she makes up. She'll start piano lessons soon and I'm sure she'll always have music in her life.

I did ask her once while we were watching a video of the Los Angeles Philharmonic if she wanted to learn to play one of the various instruments of the orchestra and she watched and listened for a while and said she wanted to be the conductor and "throw out big booms like Dudamel." (Gustavo Dudamel is the conductor for the LA Philharmonic).

Happy Family!  Netta, Julia and
musician Dad, Matt Cordier.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Dance Lesson for Mothers

Photo: Cheryl Mann

Anyone who has studied ballet, or any ballet-based form knows that some people won the genetic lottery.  They were born to dance.  They still have to work hard, but if they receive good training and are passionate and smart, they will achieve enviable, textbook lines, beautiful execution, and brilliant and sensitive artistry. They will have a career.

Others, unfortunately, may have the same intelligence as their more physically gifted counterparts, but are more suited to be bricklayers, or the mascot of a hoagie restaurant.


Several months ago, during my spring break, I somehow summoned the wherewithal to get to ballet class.  I took with a woman – a Chicago legend -- I’ll refer to as Madame B. Any dancer in Chicago swears by her.  She has trained many in leading companies, and is counted upon to teach company class for companies such as Ailey when they come to town. She is a straight shooter who has no problem calling you out for not working your ass off no matter who you are.

While adhering to strict technique, she insists that everyone from the ABT level ballerina, to the modern dancer, to the dancer past her prime (ahem!) works hard and works correctly.

I consider her my ballet mom.  I only wonder what my career would have been like had I met her in my teens.

Anyway, after this class I took so long ago, Madame B began scolding a young man for his poor attendance. He had a litany of excuses – his jobs, rehearsals, blah, blah, blah. 

Then he started in on his not exemplary, yet far from hoagie-mascot body.

“Stop it!” Madame B said. “Margot Fonteyn had no extension. International ballet star.  Ulanova had no neck.  International ballet star.”  She continued to list the flaws of people who despite their physical attributes, made it big in ballet.

“Yes, but,” the gentleman continued.

“But, nothing!” said Madame B.  “You take class like, ‘Oh, I don’t have any feet,” “Oh, I don’t have any turn out,” “Oh, my butt sticks out,”  “Oh, my legs are short,” “Oh, I am fat,” “Oh, look at my big thighs,” “Oh, look at my short neck,” “And what about my broad shoulders?”  Then you never enjoy it, and you’ve spent the whole class worrying instead of working.  What good is that?”

No different from what I was doing with motherhood, I realized as I sat eating lunch with my chirpy, sweet little girl, feeling unable to fully relish the moment.

Many moms wish to God they could inhabit someone else's motherhood.  Be that perfect mom with a fab house, gorgeous clothes and a hot bod.  The mom who crafts and cooks everything from scratch. One of those women who was born to mother -- who with three kids can still cook for/run errands for/advise a friend with new babies without breaking a sweat.

As a dancer, I had been a master of negative thinking, and as a mom, I was repeating the mistake. My internal momologue, pardon the pun, included some combination of the following:

  • My house is a shambles.
  • My clothes are style-free.
  • My life is a car going 100 m.p.h. and I am hanging onto the door handle.
  • My body looks like Barney’s – not the store.
  • My kids eat like they’re in a carbohydrate commercial.
  • I couldn’t get the kids out of the house/in bed on time with a cattle prod.

No wonder I couldn’t mother happily -- not like in a fairy tale, with birds chirping around my head-- but merely contentedly.

I needed to be genuinely happy with what I had.  My beautiful, intelligent, healthy, happy children.  My handsome and tremendously supportive husband.  My loving home.  My amazing group of friends.  My creativity. My career. 


Sure, we moms could do better at certain things - cleaning, cooking, better disciplining, organizing or even relaxing. But the heart of the issue is acknowledging and accepting our “Mom M.O.” 

Like the spitfire dancer who knows that adagio work isn’t her forté, but knows she can make it work, the chaotic mom needs to realize she is organized enough to get her family where they need to be.  Almost Pigpen Mama needs to know her kids have fun at home, and her house -- provided it is vermin free -- is a fun and relaxed place. The frazzled momarina needs to stop apologizing and to have confidence in her abilities.

And she needs to remember when thinking about that mom who seems to have and to do it all... She may be enviably fantastic, but in dance as in motherhood, nobody's perfect.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Mother's Promise: (How To Be a Sane S.A.H.M.)

In the spirit of A Prayer for My Daughter in the book Bossypants, (which if you haven’t read you must read right now!) by one of the smartest, wittiest women alive today, Tina Fey, I have written a little something for myself as a mother.

I, _________________, do solemnly swear to fulfill to the best of my sleep-depraved (yes, depraved) ability this covenant between me and my child(ren) 24/7, 365 days a year.

I will strive to create days that are filled with laughter, bonding, play, new experiences, learning, nutritious meals and snacks and on-schedule rest for all. I will make playdates with other mamas and babes, for they keep us all sane.

Yet if there be a day filled with crying, sibling rivalry, boredom, junk food and failed naps, I will accept this, and work for a better tomorrow. I will not consume an entire bag of M&Ms/chips/gummy bears to erase my pain, as that will merely expand my ass. I will rely via text on the comfort of my friends, and get the kids out of doors immediately. And if there be rain and we cannot go outside, I will not feel persecuted by the universe. I will devise another plan, even if that plan consists only of a visit to Target.

I will endeavor to be frugal, in the hallowed halls of Target as well as in other stores. I will not be led into temptation by an $8 box of organic cookies at Whole Paycheck. I will employ the aid of the Internet, magazines and word-of-mouth for free or low cost things to do. I will actively enlist the word of Groupon on my quest to never pay full price for any activity.

I will avoid the Land of No, turning instead to the land of positive requests. I will demonstrate the wisdom to empathize, not chastise, to tell, not yell, to supervise, not patronize and to breathe, not seethe. Thank you, Jesse Jackson.

I will schedule myself time to exercise so as to avoid bitchiness and the 4-months-pregnant belly that necessitates a new wardrobe. I will have the sense to schedule personal time for myself at regular intervals. And if this personal time come not soon enough, and I feel desperation creeping in, I will make a plan, enlist childcare, don exercise wear or cocktail wear and leave my residence.

In case of meltdowns, I will remain calm and firm. I will not get sucked into the tornado into which my child has morphed. I will give him/her time alone or hold him/her as the situation merits. I will keep him/her from breaking bones by stealthily placing a blanket or towel nearby as he thrashes like a junkie with the DTs.

I will, come Sunday, organize a list of dinners for the upcoming week so that I am not a stressed out mess every day at 5:00 p.m.

I will get as much sleep as possible. If I plan to rest, I will take this rest, AS SOON AS THE CHILDREN GO DOWN FOR THEIR NAP. I will not clean, write, make phone calls, answer e-mails, search the Web, or go astray on the pages of Facebook, only to find that my unpredictable napper has awoken earlier than estimated and stolen my sleep. I will set an alarm if need be, so that I can putter about or prep dinner(!) after some power zzz’s.

I will realize that potty training is a process and that, long though it may take, my children will not cast their first presidential election ballot in diapers.

I will enlist the power of the elephant-in-the-armoire, the TV, in moderation. And I will not be afraid to do so, for PBS is good.

I will endeavor to devote some energy to my relationship with my husband so that we might enjoy our co-existence as husband and wife, and not only mother and father.

I will remain educated and up to date on the latest scholarship and ideas in parenting. I will strive to be more June Cleaver than Roseanne. I will refuse to, however, beat myself up for the forgot to dos, could not do under the circumstances and cannot dos. I will remember that though I may fail, though I may yell, though my kids might watch over an hour of Caillou daily, I am a good mother, dammit.

Bow. exit stage left.

*Adapted from MNS post "The Mother's Promise," premiere July 20, 2011.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mom in "Rehearsal": Paige Cunningham Caldarella

Photo: William Frederking

Paige Cunningham Caldarella studied at Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts. She received her B.F.A. from the Juilliard School and went on to dance for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, touringthroughout Europe, Australia and the U.S. Mrs. Caldarella holds an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an Assistant Professor at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. She has performed with among others The Seldoms, Colleen Halloran Performance Group, Linda Lehovec, Darrell Jones and Sara Hook. Her choreography has been seen at Chicago's Cultural Center as a recipient of the DanceBridge program, the Krannert Center, Links Hall, the Aronoff Center and Summer Stages Dance in Concord, Massachusetts. Additionally, Mrs. Caldarella has guest taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Florida, Gainesville, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Beloit College and Boston Ballet's summer program.

How many weeks pregnant are you (as of)?

As of today, June 10, I am twenty-one weeks pregnant.

Did you find out the baby's sex or not? 

Yes, we just found out! It's a girl! I could't take the suspense of waiting.

Do you, or did you, see yourself as the parent of one sex more than the other?  

No, my husband and I would be happy either way. Although, admittedly, at first, the thought of a girl intimidated me a little bit!

You rehearsed and performed a pretty physically and emotionally intense piece of choreography while pregnant.  What was that like?

Yes, actually, I performed two strenuous works while pregnant. The first, "The Drift League" by Ashleigh Leite, I performed with Same Planet Different World but it was very early in my pregnancy so, I hadn't told anyone yet. The funny thing was, Joanna Rosenthal, who was also doing the piece was like 16 weeks pregnant at that point. Looking back, we were nuts. It was probably one of the hardest pieces I've ever done in my life and I've performed some hard work in my day! We started rehearsing it before I even knew I was pregnant and I kept wondering why I couldn't get through the dance. Then, once I knew, it was hard for me not to tell people because I was struggling so much in rehearsals yet I couldn't say why I was struggling and I felt like such a wimp because as I said, Joanna was in her second trimester kicking butt in the dance.

Then, just this May, I performed in Colleen Halloran's "Power in the Streets." This was at the start of my second trimester. It was harder for me because I was a bit bigger at that point! I had to be careful and couldn't quite go full throttle like I am used to. I was going in and out of the floor and jumping but definitely felt myself trying to stay calm which, in general, is something I could work on anyway in my dancing!

How are you modifying your dance activities?  What is taking class like?  Teaching?

Oh, it's changing!! I took ballet class the other day and that was an entirely new experience for me. I love to jump and allegro work, which is why I love going to ballet class to begin with, but I had to modify a lot of things. Petit allegro was doable--but on a much smaller scale than I'm used to. Admittedly, it is very difficult for me to hold back, but I think pregnancy is actually helping me focus on other aspects of my dancing, like the subtleties. I tend to overexert myself when I dance.  Now I realize that it's not just me dancing in class--there's two of us! 

As far as teaching, well, I've always been a very active teacher. I always demonstrate exercises full out.  Now, I still demonstrate, but on a modified level. Pregnancy is forcing me to be clearer in my words and descriptions of movement. Come September, when I am eight months pregnant, we'll see. That will be a good test for me!

The Chicago dance community is bursting with new moms.  How are you feeling with so many examples of dance motherhood around you?

It's so exciting and inspiring. You don't feel so alone. I feel like there was a time when it was considered a career ender if you were a dancer and got pregnant. Growing up in the dance world I didn't have a lot of role models of women dancing while pregnant or dancers with newborns and it wasn't until grad school that that started to shift and I watched my professors bring their babies to rehearsal or teach while pregnant. 

The Chicago dance community is so welcoming now to motherhood and we have so many examples of women who are doing it all. Everyone is very supportive and it's such a relief to know that there is this network of women who understand and know what you're going through.

What are your plans to continue being artistically viable?  And if you don't know yet, that's okay too!

Well, I have several projects on the horizon that are going to keep me busy over the next year. Mostly, choreographic works. I will be on maternity leave for 8 weeks in the fall, but I'll be back at work in January for the start of the spring semester at Columbia. I envision focusing more on my choreography in the next few years and performing in projects from time to time, schedule permitting! I also fully realize that my priorities are going to have to shift and I will have to find a balance. Something I am not very good at right now! Once junior is born I figure it will be day by day and planning too far in advance may be next to impossible!

Will you tell people the name if they ask, or will you keep it secret?

We are keeping that a secret though we have some ideas…

What's surprised you the most about pregnancy?

The level of exhaustion! I am slowly coming out of that phase but my goodness, through the first trimester and into the second I could barely hold my head up come 2pm! I've been in bed by 8pm most nights simply because I cannot stay awake!

Also, the rate at which your body changes. I swear this kid grows by the minute some days! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Mom Volatility Index

If you read this blog regularly, you know that recently I was described as volatile by a relative stranger.  

While my husband was not thrilled with the bats--t-crazy-mental-hospital-fugitive tenor of the email, he couldn't disagree with the fact that his wife errs on the mouthy and impulsive side. 

I was a bit indignant about this, until I saw myself storming out of my house to shout at some frat boys, who in uncharacteristically University of Chicago (where fun comes to die) fashion, decided to spew profanities and pelt each other with a bag of Harold's Chicken (and fries), and left the remnants of their shenanigans on the sidewalk in front of my house.

So, okay. I have a temper.  I'll own it.  I am not insane.  I am not dangerous. I will not wind up the bunkmate of Shoot-up Sheila  in Cell Block F.

But if you piss me off, I'm going to say something.  

And I think all parents, especially moms, would agree. We want things right for our families.  And we're TIRED.  What mom can hold it together in the face of bad behavior after a day of not even sitting down to pee, repeatedly asking children to eat/brush their teeth/get dressed/go to bed/leave the park, putting a girlchild's hair in pigtails while running down the hall, and holding down a job?

Not the chicks I run with. And to my friends who are like, "No way! I am ZEN!" cut the crap, okay?

If you're wondering about your coping tactics, or need to have a laugh, take my little quiz, and find your place on the M.V.I., or Mommy Volatility Index!

Your driving most closely resembles ____________ 
a.  Cruella deVil.
b.  Mr. Halsey, a.k.a Mr. Ten&Two, your Driver's Ed instructor in high school.
c.  Mr. Magoo.

When someone sends you a rude email and ends it with case closed, you________
a.  immediately call her up with the intent of giving a certain orifice a second location.
b.  write an angry message in return which you delete, then go exorcise your demons with a yoga/meditation video.
c.  wonder what she meant.  Who said anything about a suitcase?

When a bitchy mompetitor makes a barbed statement about one of your parenting choices, you__________
a.  kick her balykies, before pointing out that her child is on track to be the Son of Sam/the town pump/Forrest Gump.
b.  firmly, yet kindly, remind her that each parent makes the choices that are right for her child and family at the time.
c.  seek out her advice, because after all, she just wants to help and probably knows more than you do.

Your discipline icon is ___________ 
a. Joan Crawford.
b. Supernanny.
c. Dena Lohan.

A boy, whose guardian is nowhere to be found, is mean to your kid at the playground. A witness would likely find you____________________
a. whispering to him that you'll sell him into child slavery so fast his head'll spin if he so much looks at your kid again.
b. mediating a discussion between aggressor and victim. 
c. lying on the ground, with the baby bully holding your diaper bag victoriously in the air and standing on your back.

After poring over kiddie cookbooks for a suitable recipe, then shopping for and preparing the meal, your two year old takes one bite, says, "I no like it," and sends her dish sailing across the table.  You _______
a.  hurl your own dish and glass at the wall, before taking a large swig from your hip flask of Wild Turkey.
b.  take a deep breath and ignore her for several moments.  Then tell her what she did wrong, before giving a time out.
c.  crawl under the table, and begin wailing so loud the neighbors call for a patrol car.  

You visit an establishment and have a less than stellar experience. Back at home you ___________
a. immediately go to Yelp and bang out a review that will sting the great grandchildren of the owner of that place.
b.  call the manager to discuss your concerns.
c.  assume that they wouldn't do this to you if you were richer/didn't have the fashion sense and hygiene of the average thirteenth-century peasant.

You are rushing around the house like a maniac to get the kids ready to leave/eat/go to bed.  You find your husband nonchalantly perusing the Internet.  For the sake of keepin' it real, you __________ 
a. give him a beatdown worthy of a Mel Gibson movie. 
b. calmly issue a request or two to get things back on track.
c. plop down on the floor and massage his feet.  

Mostly As:  Mount Vesuvius  
Damn, lady!  No one knows when you are going to erupt.  Everything, from spilled milk to the slow-as-a-tortoise barista, sets you off.  You is one scary lady.  So scary I've forgotten basic conjugation.  Seriously, you need a yoga class, some valium, an anger management session, or maybe just a hug.  I'd give you one but you might pummel me.

Mostly Bs:  The Age of Reason
Wow!  You make the Dalai Lama look like Larry David.  You are amazingly in control of your emotions, which you acknowledge and then deal with appropriately.  What is your secret, Mama? Write a book and make some cash!

Mostly Cs:   Out to Lunch Without a Sandwich
Bless your little heart, honey!  I'd tell you to go buy some confidence, but you might believe me.  Trust your instincts.  Read a decent book once in a while. Stand up for yourself and don't take s--t.  Just don't become the chick who picked all letter As.  

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