In a market super saturated with toys and children’s items, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the options. I’m so thrilled to have partnered with Walmart, America’s Best Toy Shop, to share with you this Fall’s newest and most highly coveted toys.
Top 7 Parental Pet Peeves
The Never-ending Bedtime Routine
There was a time when I’d tuck my children into bed and whisper sweet nothings like, “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” or “I love you all the way to the moon”. We’d kiss, hug, give each other fist bumps and then they would peacefully drift off to sleep. I really do remember this happening. . . maybe twice. Let’s be honest – more often than not, bedtime consists of negotiating with my tiny, demanding CEOs for different books, sips of water, and last-minute trips the bathroom. This is a seemingly never-ending sequence of events, and once the light turns off and the door gets closed, all hell breaks loose in their secluded mischief chamber. Through their deafening cackling, I can hear them using their mattresses as trampolines as they playfully hurl stuffed animals at each other. The years may be short, but somehow bedtime is 576,923 days long.
Masterful Mess Makers
Whether they’re excitedly rummaging through my makeup drawer or converting the walls of our home to crayon-based mural drawings, only one thing is certain – my toddlers love exploring the world one mess at a time. My very own apprentice demolition crew, I can always count on them for wrecking any semblance of order in our home. Like pint-sized dump trucks, they load up purses and other containers with junk from their play area and haul it to other rooms, where it will be dumped, dismantled and ultimately abandoned. The cumulative effect of this behavior results in the transition of our orderly apartment into a treacherous Lego minefield. And speaking of messes, does anyone else spend an inordinate amount of time daily touching things in your home and wondering why they’re sticky?
Much like the uncertain outcome when leading a horse to water, there is never any guarantee that my children, who have willingly arrived at the dinner table, will actually consume the food they’ve been given. Mealtime wouldn’t be complete without at least one of my kids refusing to eat what’s been served, even if it’s exactly what they asked me to cook for them. Sometimes it even seems like it might just be easier to cut out the middle man, throw away an entire plate of food and squirt ketchup all over the floor. With a promising future in quality control, my toddlers will examine their food, searching for any inconsistencies in color, texture, or shape before protesting anything that fails to resemble the usual mealtime offerings. I wish I was as brave as my 2-year old who proclaims her tummy is too full to eat her dinner, but then asks me for a snack five minutes later.
Walking Petri Dishes
The careless touching of contaminated surfaces is behavior I will never comprehend. Despite my excessive warnings not to touch germy surfaces, my toddlers seemingly can’t resist dangerous play dates with pathogens. A ride on the subway isn’t complete without caressing every square inch of the train car and tracing shapes with their fingers on the murky brown window panels. What better opportunity to taste each finger than after pressing the elevator button inside the Times Square subway station? These unsanitary habits make me cringe, and once the germs enter our home it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves battling a household epidemic. Actually, spending all day recuperating in bed doesn’t sound so bad, Oh wait, I’m a mom! Scratch that idea.
Just once, I’d like to wake up with the same renewed sense of optimism as my 4-year old who just asked me for the 20th day in a row if he can have M&M’s for breakfast. I now realize that all of the things my sweet babies were trying to tell me when they were infants were probably just demands for more snacks and toys. When my 2-year old optimistically asks to bring her tablet into her crib at nap time, she seems genuinely bewildered as I tell her “no” for the 427th time.
Declarations of Independence
Shortly after they begin walking and talking, toddlers develop a ferocious determination to do things on their own. “No, let me! Let me!” is a phrase I’ve heard at least 10 times even before my kids get out the door in the morning. Toddlers seem to have a warped sense of reality when it comes to their physical limitations and often don’t have the necessary skill set to complete more difficult tasks without help (although offers to help are usually met with resistance). For instance, my 2-year old will often demand to change her own diaper even though clearly this is a recipe for disaster. Only after a 5 minute standoff (and maybe bribing her with my phone) does she relinquish diaper changing duties to me. And explaining to my 4-year old why I cannot allow him to drive our car feels like bargaining with a tiny dictator. But I have to be flexible. When he insists on pouring himself a cup of milk from the 1-gallon jug, I take a step back and feign a smile as my whole life flashes before my eyes.
The Backhanded Snot Wipe
Despite frequent hand washing and our best efforts to sanitize everything that comes through our door, it always seems like we are fighting a losing battle against an endless onslaught of runny noses and low-grade fevers. No need to panic, however (or buy tissues, for that matter), as most toddlers have mastered the haphazard movement of snot across their faces by utilizing the back of their perfectly dimpled hands. This maneuver defies all logic and often leads to bothersome irritation of toddlers’ sensitive skin. That glistening coat of dried mucus often masks cheeks that are chafed, crusty, and in dire need of some TLC.
Black Friday: the day when people trample others for deep discounts mere hours after giving thanks for everything they already have. And for those of you itching to deplete your bank accounts even before you consume your colossal plate of food, you’re in luck, as Black Friday sales no longer begin on Friday, but rather on Thanksgiving or even before!! Black Friday is an enigma in the truest form. In a real life manifestation of The Hunger Games, people emerge from their turkey-induced comas and all common decency is abandoned as they compete for price-slashed luxury goods. Unless armed with helmets and shoulder pads, battling hoards of overzealous retailers is a dangerous sport not meant for the faint of heart.
The first and most critical rule for Black Friday shopping – STAY HOME. There, I said it. With few exceptions, shoppers extraordinaire can access the same deals online as in stores. This year, stay in your pajamas, grab some spiced cider, and get those fingers ready to furiously type in your credit card numbers.
Below is my ultimate Black Friday Cheat sheet – You’re welcome!
& Other Stories is offering 20% off everything through 11/24.
7 For All Mankind is offering 40% off sitewide through 11/27.
Aritzia is offering 50% off select fall/winter styles through 11/26.
ARO is offering 30% off sitewide with code THANKYOU from 11/22 to 11/26.
Barnes & Noble has a bunch of deals going on: Get 50% off the best young adult books of 2018, toys and games for BOGO 50% off, and 50% off Moleskine items, plus more all through 11/25.
Baublebar is offering 30% off through 11/24.
Betsey Johnson is offering 35% off sitewide through 11/25.
Blank NYC will give you 30% off sidewide with code BLACKFRIDAY from 11/23-11/25.
Bloomingdales is offering 15% off $100+, 20% off $250+, or 25% off $400+ on items labeled “buy more save more” through 11/24.
Boohoo will give you 60% off fashion and accessories with free returns!
Charlotte Russe is offering Select Sweaters for $15 through 11/22 at 3am EST. And get Long Denim, Boxed Shoes, and Outerwear items for $20 from now through 11/25 at 3am EST.
Cole Haan is offering 50% off select boots, bags, and outerwear plus 30% off everything else through 11/24.
Converse is offering 20% off clearance styles through 11/22.
DKNY is offering 30% off your purchase with code YESPLEASE through 11/28.
Dorothy Perkins is offering up to 50% off select lines through 11/22.
Draper James is offering 25% off sitewide with code GATHERROUND through 11/26.
e.l.f. Cosmetics has the following offer: Get a $25 value holiday gift when you spend $25 from 11/19 to 11/26 on elfcosmetics.com.
Express is offering 50% off absolutely everything through 11/24 at 2:59am ET.
Fashion Nova is offering 25% off select styles!
Frances Valentine is offering 30% off orders of $200 or more with code FVGIFTS30; Excludes Kate bags and preorder items.
Gap has the following offer: Black Friday! 50% off Everything! No exclusions! Use code BLKFRIDAY at gap.com. Restrictions apply. Ends 11/24. And get an extra 10% off everything with code TREAT through 11/24.
Garage is offering 40% off all orders from now through 11/26 at 7am EST!
Genuine People is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/26 with code TAKE30.
Giorgio Armani Beauty has the following offer going on: Enjoy 20% off all Giorgio Armani Beauty products. Receive complimentary shipping when you spend $75+. Receive a complimentary full sized lipstick with any order of $125+. In addition, receive a makeup palette with any order of $200+. Use Code ARMANI20. Valid 11/18-11/28.
Gorjana has the following offer: From November 22-24, spend $100 and get $20 off; spend $150 and get $50 off; spend $250 and get $100 off.
Keds is offering 30% off full priced items and 20% off sale items through 11/27.
Kurt Lyle is offering 25% off sitewide with code ART25.
Lands’ End is offering 50% off full price styles plus free shipping on $50+.
Levi’s is offering 40% off all items plus special daily offers through 11/26.
Lululemon is having a big sale with markdowns starting at just $9!
Macy’s is offering 20% off Black Friday Sale items and free shipping on $49 with code BLKFRI through 11/24. Their deals include 40% off Anastasia Glow Kits (through 11/28), 5 pairs of womens boots for $100 (through 11/24), 60% off petite coats (through 11/24), and the UD Naked Smokey Eyeshadow Palette for $25 (through 11/26)!
Maje is offering up to 30% off plus an additional 25% off through 11/25.
Marc Jacobs Beauty is launching an exclusive Black Friday collection! Also, get a Mini Velvet Noir, mini Highliner in Blacquer, and mini Lip Crème in Slow Burn + makeup pochette with orders over $75 through 11/24.
Mavi Jeans is offering 30% off site-wide through 11/26.
M. Gemi is offering 25% off your entire order through 11/26.
Modcloth will give you 30% off $100, 40% off $200, and more! Plus there are tons of items on sale across the site. All valid through 11/25.
Nasty Gal is offering 60% off sitewide!
Net-A-Porter is offering up to 50% off sitewide all week.
Nicole Miller is offering 25% off site-wide from 11/23-11/25.
Nordstrom is offering up to 60% off select items through 11/26!
Nordstrom Rack is launching major new deals every single day this week with prices up to 70% off so check the site daily to save!
Old Navy is offering 50% off your entire purchase through 11/23.
Opening Ceremony is offering an additional 20% off sale items with code OCBLACK20 from 11/23-11/25.
Poppy Lissiman is offering 25% off site-wide (excluding pre-order items) from 11/23-11/26 with code BFCM.
Rag & Bone is offering 25% off sitewide plus free shipping through 11/26.
Reformation is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/26.
Saks Fifth Avenue is offering up to $200 off your purchase with code SAVENOW on 11/21 only! They’re also offering up to $150 off a Women’s Denim purchase with code DENIM2018 through 11/25. They also have the following deal: Black Friday Exclusive! Earn a $75 Gift Card with your $150 purchase. Use code THANKFUL. Valid 11/23-11/24.
Saks Off Fifth is offering 50% off all coats, men’s and women’s cashmere, boots, designer jeans, hats, and gloves and scarves, all through 11/26. Designer sunglasses buy 1, get 1 50% off; 50% off Women’s boots; 50% off cold weather accessories including hats, gloves & scarves, all through 11/26.
Sandro is offering up to 30% off plus an additional 25% off from 11/22-11/25.
Scotch & Soda is offering an additional 25% off sale merchandise through 11/24.
Sephora has select items for 50% off with different items on sale each day until 11/26.
Splendid is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/25.
Sweaty Betty is offering 30% off site-wide from 11/22-11/26.
The Outnet is offering up to 85% off plus additional discounts with code BLACKFRIDAYon 11/23.
Toms is offering 30% off everything, and free shipping when you spend $60, all through 11/27.
Topshop is offering up to 50% off select items from now through 11/26 plus free shipping on all orders!
Under Armour is offering 30% off all fleece and select shoes, plus free shipping!
Urban Outfitters is offering buy one, get one 50% off entire site through 11/23.
Vera Bradley is offering 30% off your entire purchase including already reduced items through 11/27. They also have their Exclusive Bright Tote for $44 through 11/27. And all items ship for free!
Made popular by Versace’s opulent designs, the chain print motif remains one of the most universally recognized clothing patterns. From haute couture to ready-to-wear, we’ve seen this trend blazing down the runways of Versace for decades. These designs are equally feminine and edgy, often incorporating Medusa heads and gold chains, all at a price unattainable for most. But with the evolution of fast fashion and online commerce, this trend that oozes sophisticated glamour is finally accessible for budget-conscious shoppers. The elaborate print has made its revival and brands like Zara, Asos and Topshop are among those designing garments that make an equally bold fashion statement without the sky-high price tag. Scroll down to see some of my favorites at all different price points! Treat yo’self.
We’ve all been there – peacefully meandering through the aisles of your neighborhood food market while pushing a seemingly jubilant toddler in the stroller. As he proudly identifies a myriad of items on the shelves, you think how fortunate you are to have such precocious and blissful offspring. Suddenly, you turn the corner and find yourself entering the dreaded grocery aisle of doom. Kit Kats, Reese’s Pieces, jelly beans, oh my! You desperately attempt to swerve off the path, but it’s too late – he’s already recognized the wrappers prominently gleaming. He begins bucking wildly and lunging at the shelves nearby, determined to escape from the confines of the stroller and dislodge a package of M&M’s from a shelf. The delightful cherub you were amorously admiring 30 seconds ago has morphed into a demon-child, threatening a campaign of terror if not immediately satiated with chocolate. A daunting wave of panic washes over you and as the first bead of sweat trickles down your face, you may experience an overwhelming impulsion to abandon both your shopping cart and your boss baby. But this isn’t the first exhausting, melodramatic temper tantrum, and certainly won’t be the last. Parenting is much like navigating through an emotional minefield with unforeseen hazards at every juncture. And for reasons yet to be revealed to mankind, children prefer to stage such outbursts in public forums, resulting in the maximum destruction of your sanity. However, armed with patience, resilience and an aresenal of my tried-and-tested techniques elaborated below, it is possible to tame the beast and survive even the most shameful moments of public humiliation with your tantrumming toddler.
Hug It Out: Because giving your toddler a spontaneous crash course in anger-management just isn’t feasible during a mega tantrum, I often trust my most primal instinct, which tells to cradle my children in their moments of distress. It’s important, however, to take the proper precautions when attempting this maneuver by promptly removing your child’s shoes or any objects that could potentially become flying projectiles. The next best thing to a size 3T straitjacket, a tight embrace effectively restricts flailing limbs and helps restore the hormonal balance inside an impassioned child’s body. The deep pressure of a tight hug can have an immediate calming effect and can be used to diffuse even the most agitated toddler. Full disclosure – forcibly hugging a child in mid-tantrum can also result in an exacerbation of said tantrum into fiendish demonic possession, as tactile-defensive children may turn hysterical when their movements are thwarted.
Ignore It: Although it’s difficult to ignore your child’s deliberate attempts to sabotage your day and wreak havoc on your eardrums, it’s also inconceivable to fit a 28-minute tantrum into your hectic daily schedule. Ain’t nobody got time for that! In my personal experience, tantrums most commonly occur at moments a child is reminded that he is not the epicenter of the universe, like when you give him a waffle for breakfast despite his demands for ice cream with chocolate syrup (in the green bowl, not the blue one). In my personal experience, the resulting tantrum provides an excellent opportunity for moms to file their nails or indulge in at-home spa treatments while Junior exercises his self-soothing techniques. If you struggle with pervasive mommy guilt, remind yourself that this experience is laying the groundwork for your child’s healthy acceptance of limits, boundaries, and the development of frustration tolerance. If tantrums are consistently met with apathy, a child will learn that throwing a tantrum will fail to produce the desired outcome. And preventing these tantrums from reoccurring should always be your ultimate goal because hell hath no fury like a toddler who wanted a green sippy cup instead of a blue one.
Embrace the Tantrum: Tired of fighting an uphill battle? Try this novel approach. Let the tantrum wash over you and soak up all of its satanic glory. Kick back and let it run its course while you watch from the safety of the sidelines in shock and awe. As your child thrashes uncontrollably on the floor, silently applaud him on his agility and vocal range. He’s going to sleep well tonight. As you see the tantrum de-escalating, calmly ask him if he’s done yet, at which point he will most likely stand up and agree, having already forgotten about the irrational reasons for his volatile public outburst. At this point, indulge your child with affection and praise him for taking control of his emotions and conquering his existential hissy fit like a champ.
Match the Intensity: Parenting toddlers is a real-life depiction of the whack-a-mole carnival game. Igniting metaphorical fires wherever they go, my toddlers are mischievous, fearless, and strong-willed. As soon as I extinguish one flame, another one appears while the last one is still smoldering. Sometimes the inherent frustration of parenting causes us (myself included) to be dismissive of our children, especially when they unabashedly launch into inconvenient torrents of rage for reasons which seem preposterous to us. But while we may not think dropping a cookie on the street warrants a 15 minute temper tantrum, we must be careful not to trivialize our children’s feelings. “I know, you were so excited to eat it and now it’s gone. It’s OK, blah blah blah…” Most parents would suggest keeping calm and whispering words of understanding and encouragement to your child, but validating your child’s emotions alone isn’t always a silver bullet. In order to show your children that you truly comprehend their feelings, sometimes you need to match their intensity. While huffing and puffing and arms flailing, “You’re UPSET! You wanted to eat the cookie, but then you dropped it and I won’t allow you to eat it off the dirty street! IT’S TERRIBLE! That delicious cookie just lying in the street! You’re just plain ANGRY! The absolute HORROR of it all!” Such a grandiose display of emotions will show your kid that you understand precisely what he’s been trying to tell you for the past 15 minutes. Tantrum over.
Let’s Make A Deal: Move over, Houdini. There’s a new escape artist in town, and her most perilous breakouts typically ensue during the apex of her most explosive temper tantrums. Having mastered the art of shimmying free of her stroller’s shoulder straps, my 2-year-old doll-faced fugitive will attempt to kamikaze-dive out of a moving stroller when her demands for my cell phone prove unsuccessful. Because her safety is my foremost priority, in these unique situations I often resort to bargaining with the twenty-pound terrorist to prevent her from swan-diving from her stroller onto Second Avenue. I confess to promising her everything but ten million dollars and a getaway helicopter so long as she remains safely seated in her stroller. I am not at all above bribery and let’s be honest – parenting toddlers is fundamentally an amateur form of hostage negotiation.
Bait & Switch: As most parents can attest, there is a very brief window of time at the onset of agitation where steps can be taken to prevent escalation into a temper tantrum of epic proportions. But all too often we miss these tell-tale signs and instead find ourselves face-to-face with a bona fide demonic possession. Fear not – the same tactics we use to prevent a temper tantrum can also be helpful for abolishing them. At any given time, my diaper bag contains an arsenal of small toys and snacks that would pacify even the most discerning toddler. Some could crudely interpret the desperate introduction of novel objects as inadvertently rewarding bad behavior – to which I would respond – nobody likes your unsolicited advice anyways… haters. If a bag of cheddar bunnies distracts my child from a rage-fuelled burst while forcibly putting on winter jacket in below freezing temperatures, how can this be a bad thing?
Surrender: Admit defeat and give him/her your phone.
One of the most valuable pearls of wisdom I’ve acquired along this journey is that we must seek out our own moments of gratification, and that sometimes this can be found in the most unexpected places. For instance, one of my guiltiest pleasures is stumbling upon other toddlers in my neighborhood whose unabashed lack of impulse control rivals that of my own toddlers. In these moments I savor the confirmation that there are others who share my children’s penchant for gratuitous tears, inconceivable contortions and fondness for writhing on the floor. If you see me discreetly chuckling as I pass by, please rest assured – I’m laughing with you, not at you.
WHAT WE’RE WEARING:
VIIcode Eye Mask
As a busy mom of two very active toddlers, it’s difficult to get as much sleep as I’d like and it sometimes feels like I’m burning the candle at both ends. Much to my dismay, my first glimpse of the mirror in the morning often reveals unsightly dark under-eye circles and puffiness. Eager to combat the signs of aging while desperately clinging to my youthful appearance, I embarked on a quest to find a product that would erase my under-eye bags and tired expression. After discovering the VIIcode product line, I was most intrigued by the VIIcode O2M Oxygen Eye Mask, an 8-hour overnight treatment. I experimented with these masks 2-3 times per week over the course of three weeks, and it couldn’t have been easier – simply peel, stick and sleep! I stored the masks in my refrigerator and the cool jelly strip was so refreshing upon application. Despite clocking an average of only 6-7 hours of sleep most nights, my under-eye areas appeared visibly replenished with increased elasticity and hydration. Why hide behind dark sunglasses when you can trick people into thinking your kids let you get 8 hours of beauty sleep every night?
VOLO GO Cordless Hairdryer
Imagine a world where you can pack your child’s lunch for school and blow-dry your hair at the same time. Introducing the VOLO GO – the world’s very first cordless hairdryer that enables moms everywhere to further fine-tune their multitasking abilities! The VOLO Go’s innovative technology and sleek design allow you to move around freely without being tethered to an electrical outlet, and you can forget about tripping over bothersome tangled cords! Powered by the same lithium-ion battery cells found in electric cars, the VOLO Go is energy efficient and utilizes quartz infrared light and heat to dry hair from the inside out, reducing the time you spend drying your hair. Not only is VOLO Go faster, but its also protects your tresses from breakage and nourishes hair like no other dryer on the market. Click here to pre-order your own!
Outdoor Voices Compression Leggings
As expectant moms, we know our lives will never be the same, but we are seldom prepared to accept our post-baby bodies. For nine months we endure the rigorous physical hardships of pregnancy, but then our babies are born and we are expected to immediately snap back into our pre-baby shape. In reality, new moms have little energy to care for their newborns, and understandably exercise is no longer a priority. New moms – fear not! I’ve discovered game-changing active wear that will help you fake it ’til you make it. Outdoor Voices’ line of compression leggings sculpts, lifts and tones to conceal problem areas and give you an instant confidence boost. Rest assured, these leggings aren’t manufactured from conventional stretchy mesh. The thick textured polyester/spandex blend applies gentle pressure that not only makes you feel locked and loaded, but also improves blood flow and circulation.
Bellabeat Health Tracker
To the unassuming onlooker, the Bellabeat Health Tracker appears to be nothing more than a decorative pendant. Only upon further digging did I discover the wide range of capabilities this pendant boasts, all designed for monitoring and optimizing women’s health. The perfect harmony of beauty and functionality, the Bellabeat Health Tracker is poised to revolutionize women’s preventative healthcare. Much like other activity trackers on the market, the leaf tracks steps taken and sleep quality. When paired with the app, however, you are also given the opportunity to view your ovulation, premenstrual and period days at a glance. And a soothing voice offers guided breathing and meditation exercises to help you take control of stressful situations, setting it apart from other fitness offerings. Finally, women everywhere are able to take their health by the reigns without having to wear a bulky plastic apparatus!
The blazer is truly the most transformative article of clothing. No other wardrobe staple will instantaneously upgrade your ensemble to chic and polished quite like the blazer. Even denim becomes dressy with the addition of this universal wardrobe staple. A blazer’s flattering, streamlined silhouette is timeless, elegant, and oh-so-feminine. Layer over a basic tee and pair with destroyed denim and booties for a look that is equal parts sophisticated and edgy. With Spring in full bloom, I’ve scoured the racks of my favorite Upper East side boutiques and mega retailers in search of the most fabulous pink blazers. Below are a some of my favorites and all below $200! Treat yo’self.
1. Ivanka Trump Zip Pocket Open Front Crepe Jacket 2. Forever 21 Buttoned Bell-Sleeve Blazer 3. LOFT Sateen Long Blazer 4. Bardot Tuck Sleeve Blazer 5. Banana Republic Classic-Fit Lightweight Blazer 6. Women’s Willow & Clay Quilted Blazer 7. Forever 21 Striped Double-Breasted Blazer 8. Vince Camuto Ruffle-Sleeve Jacket 9. BCBGeneration Drape Front Jacket 10. Miss Selfridge Military Blazer 11. AQUA Open-Front Blazer 12. Ivanka Trump Ruffle Full-Zip Top 13. Free People Uptown Girl Blazer 14. Mural Slouchy Boyfriend Blazer
It’s highly improbable to traverse a few blocks in Manhattan’s Upper East Side without encountering bubbly mother-daughter duos jointly pushing strollers along the avenue, bonding within these precious moments, the lines of mother/daughter having blurred. I recognize them virtually everywhere I go, these tickled twosomes creating indelible memories while hand-picking baby’s layette, enjoying dual pedicures, or brunching at Bergdorf’s. Peering in on such enviable moments now tugs tenderly on my heartstrings. At the store I lift up a pair of 6-inch studded Louboutin wedges for closer inspection. “Are you out of your mind?” emphatically reverberates from within an internal monologue. I could always count on my mother’s unfiltered opinions to dissuade me from making capricious purchases and guide me through a myriad of life’s more crucial dilemmas. It’s been exactly 365 days since my mother’s sudden passing. Only now am I beginning to soak in the magnitude of my loss.
Although death is arguably the most unpredictable event of life, the loss of a parent is truly an inescapable rite of passage, an all too tangible manifestation of the circle of life. As children, we are taught that we must all lose our parents, but take comfort in the likelihood that it will be 7, 8 or even 9 decades before needing to cope with that loss. My mother’s startling and premature death obliterated the timeline I had always envisioned, leaving me feeling as if I had recklessly spun out of orbit. My mother was “home” – the first place I ever lived and the universe from whose substance I was created. Now that she’s gone, I’ll never be able to truly return. I’m untethered, yet expected to safeguard my own children in today’s turbulent world. It’s bewildering to ponder that I’m their stability while often feeling like a palm tree swaying in hurricane-force winds. I often wonder if my mother ever felt this way – dismantled by life’s circumstances, but resolute to persevere for the sake of her children. There are so many things I wish I could ask her.
Life after a loss is simply perplexing. One of the greatest ironies, I’ve discovered, is that the loss of your mother typically constitutes the most grown-up experience you’ll ever have, yet there is no other experience that will make you feel more like a child. The trauma following such a tragedy is a quintessential ordeal she would have helped us to overcome. Yet somehow, we are expected to absorb the initial trauma, endure the heartache, and re-emerge more resilient. But grief does not follow a linear trajectory and is, in all actuality, a dynamic fluid process. It has long been said that time heals all wounds, but we seldom consider the residual scars that remain. In my personal experience, the more time elapses, the more deeply I ache for the past. I stitch together flickers of childhood memories into hazy photographs, as if illuminated by a crackling, vintage projector. And I fear that as time continues to pass, the latticework of these fragmented memories will dissolve, slipping through my fingers like sand in an hourglass.
Losing my mother so suddenly has moved me to contemplate the transient nature of all things living, acutely aware of our world reeling on its axis. As summer passed, for the very first time I wholly appreciated vibrantly colored leaves fluttering to the ground, and in the depths of the New York City winter, I felt comforted by the promise of Spring’s technicolor aura. Through unfathomable heartbreak I’ve found meaning in life more rich and profound than ever before. Every instant of joy feels more pure – its undiluted beauty radiating throughout each fiber of my being. I am often overcome with elation as I watch my children erupt into unbridled laughter. And as I tuck them into bed for the night, the sensation of undeniable warmth envelopes me. Inside me churns a cauldron of heightened emotions and I drink them all in – the despair, the exhilaration, the sorrow and yes, the happiness. My life is now far more beautiful, impassioned and complete, not despite my loss, but because of it.
“If cabin pressure should change, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. Please secure your own mask before helping others.” It is a script that seasoned jetsetters could recite verbatim in their sleep. But even though these instructions are disseminated to travelers on daily commercial flights world-wide, the notion of putting ourselves before others seems to contradict our most basic maternal instincts.
Contrary to the aviation regulations, motherhood is an all-consuming role consisting of, but not limited to, endless diaper changes, everlasting snotty noses and a myriad of sacrifices. We sacrifice a good night’s sleep, our ability to fit into size 2 skinny jeans, and a substantial part of our bank accounts all in the name of doing what is best for our children. By putting their needs above our own, we are offering our children more opportunities for growth and enrichment, and perhaps even shaping the minds and hearts of future world leaders.
It’s far too often that we obsess about the minutiae of parenting only to realize that an entire day went by without a single moment of solitude. Maybe your baby refuses to wear his mittens in cold weather, or maybe he ingested some dirt from your neighborhood sandbox. Perhaps your toddler even used the walls of your home to create crayon-based mural drawings. In the grand scheme of things these are only minor grievances, but they distract us from some of the most fundamental basics of healthy living – assuring that our own needs are met and exercising self-compassion. It’s imperative that despite our perpetually demanding role as mothers, we refrain from becoming so narrowly focused on the upbringing of our children that we neglect to take time for ourselves.
Spending time engaging in self-care rituals can sometimes feel selfish and overly-indulgent when there are little ones vying for your attention. You may ask yourself how you can possibly justify a spa day when the kids so desperately need you, but that’s where you’re wrong. Only after we are able to replenish our own spirits do we have the capacity to be fully present and address the needs of our children with authenticity. Denying ourselves of the opportunity to practice self-care habits is like treading water in a rip current and will almost always result in parental burnout.
Self-care is a broad term that encompasses anything we do to maintain our emotional and physical well-being. Practicing meditation, taking a bubble bath, indulging in our favorite meal, or spa treatments are popular self-care activities among some of my closest friends. But so many of us (myself included) often need a reminder to get off the hamster wheel of our chaotic lives and actually do something to pamper ourselves and recharge our batteries.
As a self-professed shopaholic, nothing soothes my soul quite like a quick jaunt around Bloomingdales or any of my other favorite mega retailers. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Mindlessly meandering through racks of my most beloved designers is my most preferred way to purge my mind of the chaos of everyday life. Escapism at its best, retail therapy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Although “comfort buys” certainly put a spring in my step, it’s not always necessary to purchase anything to achieve a similar degree of inner-peace. Window shopping, or what I like to refer to as “research,” is a mood-boosting multi-sensory experience. Running delicate fabrics between my fingers or taking in the fragrance of buttery-soft leather transports me to a place of pure relaxation.
What are some of the things you do to self-soothe?
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As we schlep along through the remaining weeks of sub-zero temperatures and continue to painstakingly safeguard ourselves against the flu, it seems inconceivable that brighter days lay ahead. But back away from the hand sanitizer for just one moment and take solace in knowing that soon we will basking in the delight of warmer temperatures. As retailers begin to reveal their magnificent Spring collections, it can be tempting to embark on a bona fide shopping frenzy. Out with the old and in with the new, right? Not exactly. This Spring is all about updated classics. Rather than splurging on here-today, gone-tomorrow trends, the most seasoned fashionistas are foraging for timeless pieces with contemporary updates.
One of the best investments for this Spring is undoubtedly the always-in-vogue trench coat. Never has there been another garment so universally embraced and undeniably chic. Although the military-inspired trend is synonymous with rainy weather dressing, its sleek silhouette, classic aesthetic and neutral palette create a runway-ready look perfect for the transitional seasons of Spring and Fall. The trench coat is such a bold fashion statement on its own that it’s even inconsequential what ensemble you’re wearing underneath.
This season, the traditional khaki trench is getting major luxe updates that have fashion enthusiasts everywhere swooning. Ruffle detailing, jeweled buttons, cropped lengths, and unexpected necklines are just some of what we’ve seen on the Spring 2018 runways. Below I’ve linked my comprehensive directory of trench coats that will instantly catapult you to it-girl status.
1. Diane Von Furstenberg Belted Trench | 2. Karl Lagerfeld Ruffle-Trim Trench Coat | 3. Marissa Webb Ellen Off the Shoulder Trench Coat | 4. Mackage Estela Belted Trench Coat w/ Contrast Zippers | 5. Joseph Aquila oversized-pocket belted trench coat | 6. Joie Gila Button-Front Belted Trench Coat | 7. RED Valentino Double Breasted Cotton Cape Trench Coat | 8. MOSCHINO COUTURE Overcoats | 9. Rebecca Taylor Cotton-Faille Belted Trench Coat | 10. Adam Lippes embellished button trench coat | 11. Citizens of Humanity Sleeveless Trench | 12. Burberry Eastheath Laminated Check Trench Coat | 13. alice + olivia Candace Off Shoulder Trench Coat | 14. Alexander McQueen Double-Breasted Cotton Short Trench Coat | 15. Banana Republic Water-Resistant Tie-Sleeve Trench
From the moment a woman finds out she’s expecting, she begins to search for women nearby who by sheer coincidence or twist of fate will also soon be welcoming a baby. Together, pregnant women can commiserate over the physical hardships and hormonal outbursts that may complicate even the most uneventful pregnancies and share in the excitement of picking out diaper bags, creating their baby registries, and putting the finishing touches on baby’s nursery. Nobody understands both the joys and struggles of raising tiny humans quite like other moms. But acquiring a posse of like-minded moms isn’t quite as easy as some may think. In fact, at times it may seem virtually impossible to find women who share the same values, sense of humor and a similar approach to parenting. In efforts to accrue an inner-circle of mom friends, women everywhere must gracefully navigate through a series of frequently awkward encounters and social obligations that most closely resemble traditional “dating.” Hi, I’m Melissa – your classic “two-under-two” mom whose hobbies include cooking meals that end up on the floor, counting to three and battling chronic sleep deprivation.
Motherhood is a magical, life-altering journey, but let’s be honest – the first few years resemble a science experiment on how long the human body can function with severe sleep deprivation. We emerge from our homes even on cloudy days wearing dark sunglasses to disguise our tired eyes in order to peruse the racks at Bloomingdales in a catatonic haze while our newborn snoozes nearby in a stroller bassinette. Even a 40% off sale at the 4th floor shoe salon fails to generate any excitation. You would have never passed up $195 Prada flats in your pre-baby world, but suddenly even designer footwear leaves you feeling uninspired. “How could I have ever let this happen?” you ask yourself as you steal a glimpse of yourself in the mirror – fatigued, disheveled, and ghastly – a mere shell of your former self. “Oh wait, is that a grey hair?” Suddenly you realize you’ve gone from Bombshell to “Mom-shell” in only a matter of 9 months and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The stressors of new motherhood can feel insurmountable, and without the support of peer moms, these feelings can vanquish even the most well-prepared, level-headed moms. Having a few close mom friends will aid in preserving your sanity and finding some solitude even in your most agitated moments. That’s right – I’m talking to you, mom cowering behind a locked bathroom door, texting your mom squad with rapid-fire speed while hiding from your tantruming toddler.
It’s true what they say, you know – the best accessories a girl can have are her closest friends. While a beautiful handbag or new pair of Louboutins will certainly put some spring in your step, nothing is more valuable than the camaraderie of other women enjoined on a parallel journey. The mutual appreciation for nap time and adult beverages often lay the bedrock upon which deeper and endearing relationships are cultivated. But it’s a mom-eat-mom world out there. The overwhelming pressure to maintain connections can leave some moms feeling painfully isolated whereas others are bonded by their shared joys and struggles. All friendships are unique in their synergy, but there are recognizable motifs and themes that emerge in such relationships as we observe specific personality traits and tendencies. In New York City, the fashion capital and potpourri of artistic influence and overly-fierce attitude, it seems apropos that we would discuss handbags that most closely represent distinctive archetypes of mom-friends we encounter along our journey.
The Hermes Birkin
These mom friends are rare in nature and true enigmas, much like the handbag from which their name is derived. The Hermès Birkin is indisputably the most highly sought after bag on the planet and obtaining one is no small feat. Even if you’re able to plop down a minimum of $10k for this uber-exclusive status symbol, much mystery surrounds the clandestine endeavor of acquiring the Holy Grail of handbags. Similarly, the Hermes Birkin mom is enigmatic in her own right. While working full time, she frequents the gym every day, always appears well-dressed with a fresh blowout and flawless makeup, and through secretive machinations manages to spend quality time with the kids every day. At get-togethers, her kids are the consummate playmates – perpetually mild-mannered and eager to share their toys, even while your kids are more interested in base-jumping off furniture and competing to flush household artifacts down the toilet. A cross between Martha Stewart-on-steroids and a Stepford wife, the Birkin mom has the patience of a saint and remains calm even in the midst of abject pandemonium. Her baby books are impeccably crafted and her home always smells like freshly baked cookies. When in need of sage advice, this is the friend to meet for coffee – somehow she will find the time! “How does she pull it off?” you ask yourself, awestruck every time you’re in her presence. Being in her aura may cause you to feel inadequate, but just keep reminding yourself that she’s merely extra-terrestrial.
The Canal Street Counterfeit
These mom friends are quite perhaps the most dangerous of them all. Much like a Canal Street Handbag, these women can exude an air of authenticity, but upon closer inspection prove to be nothing but disingenuous. You will frequently observe these mature women cowering behind their Bugaboo strollers and lattes while flashing a phony smile at their peers, whom they will most certainly be badmouthing later that evening. The Canal Street Counterfeit Mom friends represent the epitome of opportunistic, sociopathic exploitation of “friends” and can blindside even the most discriminating moms. Perhaps you’ve offered to watch her kids while she runs an errand, loaned her your favorite LBD, helped her plan her baby’s birthday party or even hand-delivered 40 Carrots froyo when she was sick. Whereas a true friend recognizes unsolicited kindness and reciprocates when able, the Canal Street Counterfeit is nowhere to be found in your time of need, but will predictably resurface if only to siphon more favors from you. If you fail to recognize the warning signs, you may be surprised when the Canal Street Counterfeit ultimately decides she has no further need for you and permanently discards you with no warning. Consider it a blessing!
The Signature Jacquard Coach Shoulder Bag
Renowned for their classic all-American designs, Coach is universally recognized for their supple leather and not-so-discreet signature jacquard handbags. But let’s not mince words – carrying a Coach handbag is akin to driving 55mph on the highway – conservative, perhaps even overly cautious. Much like their namesake, the Coach Bag mom friends are usually a safe, reliable choice. While there may not be much evidence of mommy chemistry at your get-togethers, the play dates are drama-free and child-focused, and the minimal effort required on your part enhances her coolness factor tenfold. This mutually beneficial friendship is quite similar to a friends-with-benefits arrangement in the sense that neither party has much interest in pursuing a deeper relationship. Because you may have little else in common other than the ages of your children, these friendships are often geographically determined and are predicated on a mutual receptivity to last-minute play-dates.
The Louis Vuitton Neverfull
The Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” exemplifies a pragmatic and straightforward approach to life. Ideal for women with a grab-and-go lifestyle, the tote’s design promotes easy packing of personal items and facilitates the effortless location of articles inside. Filled to capacity with Chedder Bunnies, diapers, and hand sanitizer, the Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” is a multipurpose tote seemingly designed for the no-fuss mom and all of her essentials. Similarly, the LV Neverfull mom friends are practical, down-to-earth and tell it like it is. Unwilling to sugar-coat even the ugliest truths, they can always be called upon for an honest, unfiltered opinion. Their ability to find humor within the daily pandemonium of parenting reminds us not to sweat the small stuff and her candid, unvarnished observations of child rearing are a refreshing departure from the Pinterest-perfect mom. Feeling guilty about how much television your toddler watches or the dirty little secret that your three-year-old exists on a diet of pizza and chicken fingers? This keeping-it-real mom will see your mommy struggles and raise you a teething story, never failing to put things into perspective.
Judith Leiber Couture Clutch Bag
If boasting about our children was an Olympic sport, these mom friends would undeniably “bring home the gold” time and time again. Much like one of Judith Leiber’s crystallized kaleidoscopic creations, these women excel at unabashedly soliciting attention to themselves and their offspring. Though blissfully unaware, these moms usually earn themselves an unenviable reputation for bombarding others with saccharine broadcasts about their child’s brilliant accomplishments. Your two-year old can recite the alphabet backwards? While hopping on one foot? Bravo! While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being proud of your child, incessantly over-sharing of your child’s accomplishments is perceived as tactless overkill and should be reserved only for phone calls with Grandma – know your audience. Spending time with these mom friends can feel like a laborious task requiring infinite patience. Most moms react to gratuitous gloating in the same tiresome manner – you know, that artificial smile, once reserved exclusively for peak moments when your toddler regales you with a complex synopsis of the Paw Patrol characters and their respective super powers. Although you may wish to restrict time spent with such repeat offenders, it’s important to remember that the intense focus on their children’s achievements may represent an unconscious attempt to reconcile their own unresolved emotional conflicts.
The Vintage Chanel Clutch
These moms have kids slightly older than yours and have transitioned into the next stage of motherhood, but their friendship is equally valuable. Just as a vintage handbag’s sophistication tells a unique story, more experienced mothers are your most trusted purveyors of child-rearing advice. Let’s be honest – the responsibilities of parenthood can be experienced as daunting and downright intimidating, especially for new first-time moms. Whether it’s clipping a newborn’s itty-bitty fingernails, introducing solid foods, or potty training, resist the impulse to panic. Instead, call upon these been-there-done-that veterans. Calmness is contagious and their unflappable, laid-back presence will chillax your inner neuroses, guide you through harrowing “first times,” and dish out protected tidbits such as elite “mommy and me” classes, superior preschools and nearby child-friendly restaurants. The wealth of knowledge bestowed upon you from more experienced moms will empower you to navigate the most challenging mommy moments with brimming confidence.
The Chanel 2.55 Classic Flap bag
The Chanel 2.55 is arguably the most iconic and most photographed ladies fashion accessory of all time. With a price increase of approximately 30% annually, it can be assumed that this handbag is a better investment than the stock market or even gold. Similarly to this exquisitely crafted bag, befriending a Chanel 2.55 mom friend constitutes a smart investment worthy of both your time and energy. These are the ladies with whom you would lunch even on days when your kids are with a babysitter. In the whirlwind of hectic, day-to-day parenting, it’s a true testament to your friendship that you choose to spend your child-free hours together rather than waist-deep in a bubble bath while soaking up precious moments of silence at home. The Chanel 2.55 mom always makes you a priority and somehow finds a way to carve out some time from her jam-packed schedule for a mani/pedi date and gossip sesh. Genuinely interested in whatever you have on your mind, these are the friends that enable you to feel seen, heard and validated. As such, these moms are your most trusted confidantes. They rejoice in your triumphs and hoist you back up during life’s most difficult moments. Mom friendships come and go, but these women are guaranteed to stand the test of time. Together, you co-navigate through all of life’s peaks and valleys and share your most personal and private struggles and pains.