Rant

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    For the past eight years, I have been a work-at-home mom. In the early years, I was freelance, which meant that I did have a great deal of flexibility and could hang out with my kids during the day while working at night. But eventually I became staff, and with that my freedom was gone.

    What that means to you, oh dear stay-at-home mom friend whom I love? It means I'm sorry, but I can't meet you at the pool at 1:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. Or the coffee shop. Or your house. Or pretty much anywhere.

    Not this week. Not ever. Unless I take the day off. Got that?

    But that won't stop her (and countless others) from asking. Hell, even my own husband took a few years to grasp that I really didn't have time to do all the laundry, clean up after the kids, and drop off his dry cleaning. I'm working here, people!

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    These days, parents will name their kids after just about anything, it seems. Take the trend of naming babies after characters on HBO's Game of Thrones. Who looks at the new life they created and thinks of a show about grisly death? Do you honestly think your child wants to be named after a dragon-mother from medieval times? From a TV show?

    It's like lacing up a corset on her childhood and pulling it tight. Really tight. There's no way she will make it through school without someone skewering or mocking her (totally made up) name.

    Common sense should prevail when it comes to the baby naming process. Planes, trains, and automobiles don't make good monikers. Cleaning products are also a no-no (sorry, Ajax). But baby naming has gone berserk in recent years, and it's time to rein it in!

    Here are 10 things Americans need to stop naming babies after ... starting NOW.

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    I have a confession: I've never been camping. Not because I haven't been invited, but because I've never wanted to go. In fact, when I vacation, my idea of roughing it is when I'm forced to stay at a hotel that doesn't have an ice machine on each floor. 

    Recently, I traveled to Canada and didn't really feel relaxed until I was safely within walking distance of the gentle neon glow of a Starbucks sign

    Now, I get it, nature can be absolutely breathtaking. But so can a plush suite with a cavernous bathroom featuring blue and white tile cloud mosiacs and five shower heads. I'll create my own rain forest experience, thank you very much, and I'll probably follow it up with room service.  

    But what if you could combine the best of both worlds? Have you heard about the new "glamping" trend which marries the folksy outdoor fun of camping with the "someone else will do the heavy lifting" glamour of a 5-star hotel?

    Sorry, I'm still not buying it. Glamping can take a hike.

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    Somewhere out there, I'm sure there are mothers who spend an hour or more each morning taking a sudsy warm shower, carefully applying mascara, and even straightening their hair and putting product in it. 

    Those moms aren't me. Nor are they anyone I know.

    I haven't gotten myself "ready" in the morning in eight years since I quit my full-time, in-office job to stay home with the kids. Morning shower? I don't even know what that feels like anymore.

    My daily routine looks more like this: My husband brings the baby to me at 5 a.m. She nurses for an hour while I fall in and out of sleep. By 6 a.m. all three of my children are in my bed, piled up like puppies on top of my husband. If the baby falls back asleep, I carefully place a pillow beside her so she won't roll away and climb over the rest of my sleeping brood.

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    Hello fellow parents. It's me, that total slob at dropoff. And you know what? I don't care if you don't like it.

    Once upon a time I had a sense of propriety. I wouldn't step out the door in yoga pants unless I were actually going to yoga class. I brushed my hair. I put on makeup. Verily, I pulled myself together before I walked my son to the school bus stop every morning. Why? Because I had standards.

    And then I got a life.

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    When my daughter was born, my circle of friends changed. There were the old friends but new ones too: moms I met on the playground or at story hour, moms who I ran into at pre-school drop-off. Having kids tends to bring you together. But as many of those friends have gone on to have more kids, just as many of those friendships have fallen by the wayside.

    There's a divide that seems to exist with many between me -- mother of one -- and them -- mothers of many. It's to a point where I simply don't talk about my parenting struggles much, even as other moms pour out tales of trying to wrestle three over-tired little ones into bed.

    I could talk about my exhaustion, about being over-extended and at my wits' end, but with all but my closest friends, I've found I sense a palpable air of disdain.

    "What does she know about hard? She's only got one kid!"

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    If you've been feeling guilty about failing to serve your family a perfect, home-cooked meal night after night, I have wonderful news for you: According to a new study, the home-cooked meal is seriously overrated. Pass the takeout menu!

    For a year and a half, a group of sociologists looked at all the hassle moms go through to put a nutritious meal on the table. They followed women from all walks of life as they went grocery shopping and as they cooked (or tried to cook) dinner for their families. "Cooking is at times joyful," their report says, "but it is also filled with time pressures, tradeoffs designed to save money, and the burden of pleasing others."

    Well no kidding. I could've told them that myself. I used to be one of those moms who always put a home-cooked meal on the table night after night.

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    Could you imagine President Obama taking the subway in Chicago? Or First Lady Michelle Obama taking her morning jog on the streets of New York City? Utter chaos would probably ensue, because let’s face it, the people running our country usually don’t take public transportation and, quite honestly, they shouldn’t.

    Across the pond, it looks like Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting some pretty harsh criticism for doing just that while going underground with their latest travel arrangements

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    Local schools don't start until tomorrow, so it's been quite a while since homework has been part of our routine. I'm sure my kids' brains have been rotting in their skulls all summer like brown bananas, but I can't say I've missed dealing with school worksheets -- even though only one kid had homework last year, and compared to what I've heard from other second grade parents, his workload was relatively light.

    It's not the time involved in completing assignments that I dislike about homework, nor is it the fact that it exists in the first place. It's the spectacularly boring repetition of it, which seems almost custom-designed to make kids hate school and forget that learning can actually be fun and rewarding.

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    "Dear parent, due to increasing budget gaps, we seek additional funding to support your child's educational enrichment programs. This year, instead of asking your children -- and thus, yourself -- to hawk overpriced wrapping paper, high-calorie snack foods, and unwanted knickknacks, we're simply asking you to donate what you're able. Attached is a comprehensive spreadsheet detailing this year's budget, our funding goals, and how we'll use the money."

    This is the sort of letter I'd love to see from my kids' school ... but I doubt I ever will. Instead, my kids will come home with catalogues of garbage that no one needs, which we're supposed to foist upon our friends, family, and neighbors. Not only that, they'll be teased with "prize incentives" they can win if only they sell enough of this crap.

    I. Hate. School. Fundraising.

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