Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Don't tell mom the babysitter's fun

Jealousy is not funny, but a three year old bruising the feelings of a 37 year old kind of is.

My latest piece is up on

Her: I don't want you to pick me up at school today!

It was the way she uttered the word you that struck me. A verbal scab I couldn't help but pick.

Me: Why not?

Her: Because I like it when Skylar picks me up.

Me: *silence* except for the sound of my heart breaking

Of course she likes Skylar, who wouldn’t? Our babysitter is young and fun and cool as hell. But that moment wasn’t about Skylar. It was about my worst fear coming true and all I could think was “Usurper!!”
As a stay-at-home-and-work-from-there-sometimes-mom (SAHAWFTSM?), it took me quite a while to reconcile with the concept of a babysitter. What right did I have to need childcare when I was there and available to my child? And yet, what right did I have to take precious time with my child and work during it? A win-win or a lose-lose, depending on my mood.
Eventually, I realized that sitting on the computer next to your child is not the same as being there with your child. Yes, I could prevent any major catastrophe from happening, but I was not engaged, I was distracted.
So with baby #2 on the way, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge. I anticipated a lengthy search for the right person, but by some stroke of luck, a friend of a friend had Skylar filling in for her normal sitter while she was away.
When we met her, it was obvious she was the one. A bundle of energy wrapped in a ray of sunshine, with a little sarcasm thrown in to appeal to my better nature. My daughter fell for her instantly and I wasn’t far behind.
Best of all, she would be available in a month’s time. Just long enough for me to get used to the idea.
Knowing that my girl was in capable hands, but that she didn’t view it as a punishment or a consolation when Mommy couldn’t be around, was a huge relief. I was able to reclaim a few hours of my week, and as a bonus, when my work was done or my errands completed, I was able to chat with another adult. Someone young who, truth be told, made me feel younger than the normal route of school drop-offs and trips to the grocery store did.
But then, this morning, it happened. Skylar surpassed me, as the preference for after-school fun. And why wouldn’t she? I give them money, so when Skylar picks up my daughter, they can always go somewhere new and fun for lunch. As opposed to when I pick her up and head home for a very familiar presentation of turkey, cheese, hummus, cucumbers, and pita bread … again. Skylar takes her to the park, to the carousel, climbing snow mounds, or just singing Frozen on her iPhone at the diner. I rush us home because I’m cold and tired and the park is wet, the carousel is out of our way, the snow mounds are dangerous, and if I sing Frozen one more time, I might be committed. I created this situation: miracle or monster.
Now let’s take a reality time-out: I found a spirited, fun, and funny young lady who genuinely enjoys teaching, playing, and laughing with my daughter. My daughter equally relishes their time together.
What in the world makes me think it’s okay to feel bad about this for even a second?
My daughter is nearly 4 and has no way of understanding how her declaration could hurt me, but it did. It hurt my feelings. What about me? I’m the one that’s here at all hours. I bring her water in the middle of the night and put up with tantrums in the street. I respond to: “I want that to be my yogurt” the only way I know how … by handing over my yogurt.
How low does my self-esteem have to be that this would upset me for even a second? How silly am I that I would sulk all morning about it? Despite many attempts at thickening my skin over the years, this tot took me down with one swift comment.
One part of me wishes I could just have Skylar pick her up every day. It would give me more time to work and would give her what she wants, but unfortunately I can’t. Another small selfish part of me wants to find someone horrible that my daughter will never prefer over me. But thankfully, the rest of me realizes how ridiculous that is.
My daughter is happy, Skylar is happy. My feelings are bruised, but I will recover. I spent 3.5 years as top dog (well, if I’m being honest with myself, a very close second to Daddy). It was fun while it lasted. I know I’m being irrational even allowing my feelings to be hurt … and yet.
I always knew Skylar was fun, I guess I just never really wanted to hear it as a direct comparison to our relationship.
Ridiculous, I know. Not at all something to worry about, but it stopped me in my tracks this morning and made me try a little harder this afternoon. It made me value the time we do get to spend together. It made me soak up the love and adoration in the smile my baby son gives me. It made me realize how very lucky I am.  Maybe it was worth it after all.

I might not be as "hip" as Skylar, but it could be worse...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

You babka be kidding me!

I was barely out the door at Trader Joe's before I reached for my phone.
"I've got a bone to pick with you" I playfully barked into the phone.
"What's wrong?" My mother's typical greeting when answering the phone was put to good use here.
"Why have I been eating babka wrong my whole life?" I pleaded. I was desperate to find out why and how something like this could've happened.
"What?" Her standard response came in handy here, though I'm never quite sure if she wants me to repeat myself because she can't believe how truly ridiculous I am, or if in fact she can't hear me. It is usually the latter.
"Why have I been eating babka wrong all these years? How could you let something like this happen?"
My faux gravity was slowly morphing into genuine concern... as it would. I mean, imagine finding out for the first time in your life that french fries were meant to be eaten hot, after eating them cold your whole life. That would majorly impact your feelings towards french fries. And rightly so.

And so there it was, at Trader Joe's that fateful day, that I discovered that every babka I had ever just sliced and eaten, I had eaten all wrong. In hindsight, my indifferent opinion towards babka seems likely, nay probable, if that was how I'd been eating it my whole life. Until the babka from Trader Joe's warmed its way into my belly and then into my heart, forever.

Not surprisingly, this is the best thing I ate this week. I could have just put this as another entry on that page, and I will. However, I feel so strongly about this travesty, that I also believe it is necessary to give a quick public service announcement on the topic of babka.

If you're anything like me, your feelings towards babka veer in neither direction. It is okay, I guess. Not exactly what I would want for dessert, and rarely my choice from a holiday cookie/cake tray scenario. It's meh, a bit dry really. Never been sure what all the fuss is all about. After doing a brief recount of all the babka I have consumed in my life (a lot really, especially considering my insouciance), I realized that my opinion must be based on the fact that I can not, at least in recent memory, remember eating my babka hot.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can now say with certainty, if you aren't eating your babka hot, you aren't eating your babka correctly.

A quick moment of praise for the specific babka that brought this into the light for me: Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka. Dense, chocolatey to a fault, and moist. Yes, I hate that word as much as you do, but the damn thing was so full of moisture, I find myself short of synonyms that would do it justice. Both ooey and gooey, almost caramelized when warmed up, which it should be... or haven't you been paying attention? Yet another fine offering from our friends at Trader Joe's.*

I am a huge Trader Joe's fan. So much so, that if we've ever spoken in real life, we more than likely have spoken about Trader Joe's. I find it to be a phenomenal conversation starter, middler and ender... way better than the weather or sports. I love Trader Joe's. I love talking about Trader Joe's. I talk about their produce not being so good, but that the pre-washed bag of organic spinach is pretty cheap. I talk about how my daughter wouldn't know branded Cheerios as such, due to the fact that we've always called her cereal from there Cheerios. I talk about the frozen food section, the cheap cheese, the Applegate Organic turkey being $3 less than at any other market, the cinnamon roll bread, the granola bars, the nuts... oh I talk about the nuts, the sweet potato tortilla chips, the dark chocolate caramels (seriously, if you don't know, you need to), and their affordable frozen fruit. I talk about how nice their staff is, the fact that they give my toddler stickers, the organic milk being $3 less than anywhere else, and their blondie bar mix. I joke about the line situation and I talk about the free samples.

Hi, my name is Lindsey, and I loves me some free samples. My local Trader Joe's provides us with a small cup of coffee and whatever delightful treat they've decided to clue us in on that week. Mac and cheese balls dipped in pizza sauce, who knew? Dumplings in gyoza dipping sauce at 9:30 am, yum! Mini pecan pies that, despite my claiming to dislike pecan pies, I loved. I will try anything, especially if it's free. Which is how and why I grabbed a sample of their babka.

I was walking away from the tasting station when I tasted it because I rarely actually buy the stuff they're slinging. That bite stopped me dead in my tracks. Not because it was so crazy delicious, but because it was warm. I wasn't expecting that. I went back to inspect further and noticed they had entire babkas warming in their little tasting oven. I confirmed with the lady that she was, in fact, warming them up, and then I did something I don't usually do, I took one to purchase and bring home.

I can now attest, having consumed the whole thing (ok, I shared a little), that warmed up babka is not the better way of eating babka. It is the only way.

Even if you're not a huge babka fan, I suggest you give it one more warmed-up try. I'm not saying everyone will all of a sudden like babka because of this. That would be silly. I'm just saying that warm babka is the way forward for me, and I would be doing a disservice to you, my seven readers, and babkas everywhere if I didn't spread this word like gospel.


*As of publication, I am not sponsored or compensated in any way by Trader Joe's... but come to think of it, I should be! I am a huge supporter. I talk about them so much, they should give me a little kickback. I wish I knew how to make something like that happen and would be happy for any tips. I will state here, for the record, that the first opportunity to receive money or gifts from them I will take. Hello?! I definitely do enough promoting on their behalf that they should give me something. I don't know if that will lead to a conflict of interest, but probably not since I am willing to state their flaws with their gems. For now I will just admit to taking the free samples that they offer in the store every day. So far that's all I've gotten.