Constance Marie

The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short

Ok, so by this time everyone knows I am an actress and also an older parent….. And as an older parent I admit, I am A LOT more tired! Yes! My knees and back ain’t what they used to be!! Sometimes I regret waiting so long to have a child but, I don’t make the rules. The universe decided it was going to take me a while to get to be a mom! (See infertility blog if you have zero idea about what I’m speaking) Anyhoo! I figure it is the quality of the years and not the quantity. I also realize that some of the amazing benefits of being an older parent are 1) I am a lot more patient than I would have been when I was younger. 2) I get to be like a sponge & LEARN from all my friends who are my age…. And whose kids are teenagers or older!!!! I ask millions of questions… What, when, where & how did they navigate parenthood? Diapers? Teething? Schools? Doctors? And how the heck to deal with teenagers!!! (I hear they can be pretty scary but, if I know this ahead of time, then I know it’s not just my kid who becomes a psycho and I can be more prepared!) Kinda like the Cliff’s notes of parenting!!! It’s pretty awesome!!
But the one thing I hear from almost EVERYONE is “They grow SO FAST!!” I mean when I was a new parent I was like “Fine, fine, FINE! Yes, I get it. It goes fast.” I am sleep deprived and exhausted, this is tough. Enough already!” But now my daughter is 4 and I am in shock!!! Holy crap they were right!!! The weird part? I play moms all the time! I have been doing this for many, many years! Before I had a baby I was vaguely trying to understand being a mom (it’s a hard concept to grasp but I did my best) and now that I am a mom for real and I am also on a show “Switched at Birth” where I play the mom of not one but two teenage girls, it is surreal!!!!!!!!!!!

Because I am doing scenes with teenage girls by day,, and going home to my 4 yr old girl at night!!! On the show my job is to take the leap in my imagination and “pretend” these girls are mine. While shooting I realize as I am doing scenes with these girls,,hugging these actresses, arguing with them, sharing mature girl time with them; THAT is a glimpse into the future with my daughter!!!!!!!!! It is mind boggling to me that my daughter will one day be their size! Speaking like they do, and wearing make up and THOSE clothes!!
I start missing my daughter’s toddler years already!!!!! I swear I even get teary eyed… I go home and I know that I will not always have to deal with the not-able-to-wear-a-princess-dress-in-a- rainstorm drama, or have that little body to cuddle or gently (or not so gently) plop into my lap during dinner time. Or give me “drop hugs” where she races at me and knocks me down to the floor (ow!) or insist that I stop mid stride, while carrying massive amounts of groceries, to see the first star in the night sky and take the time to be fascinated by it!!! All these sweet little girl moments and even the crazy making ones will be gone!!!!

Yes, I know new big girl/ teenage/ grown up moments will all come and take their place but these precious/exhausting times will be gone. And I will miss them SO FRIKKIN MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! I can now say from experience… IT GOES Too FAST!!!!!!!! I mean the fact that I used to carry my daughter in a carrier and now she walks by my side seems simultaneously like yesterday and million years ago!
I have learned that I have to slow down and appreciate that my daughter still needs me, still wants me to help her negotiate everything in her life. I mean EVERYTHING! Be it a problem with sand in her shoes, the potty, teeth brushing or ask me literally a zillion questions after she has seen a new kids TV show… Or make me do voices for all 9 dolls or play princess/doctor/kitty dress up for 1hr while I have a headache at the end of a long day!!!!! I know I won’t ALWAYS have the chance. There will come a time when she does not need or want me!!! Because that is what we are trying to do right? Raise children who don’t need us so much, who can make that big important decision for themselves ( Yes! I will totally and enthusiastically be there for her if she needs me!! Or (gasp!) remembers to call me! (*insert tear here) or who can go against the peer pressure if she feels it isn’t right for her. Or who can do the right thing EVEN when no one is looking…… Independence! But that means,,, less cuddle time, less explaining , cajoling, urging, reprimanding, less everything….omg, I’m gonna miss my baby so much!!!!
And I do already…. Especially when I am at work and see how independent and autonomous my “pretend” girls are!!!! THAT is gonna be my daughter some day! Just like these young women!!!! And I am gonna be so so so proud. But I will miss these baby years!

So all this to say: Whenever you are a new parent, or thinking about becoming one, or like me at one time, TRYING desperately to become one,,, let me be ANOTHER parent two tells you “it goes really fast and please take the time to stop and appreciate these little beings who won’t be little forever.”

Till next time… C

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I Was Anti-Princess

Often times my blogs start with a confession. This one is no different. My name is Constance Marie and I am anti-princess.
That’s right I said it.  I am anti-princess. Well, I guess the more correct statement would be: I was anti-princess.

And here is my reasoning: Many of the old princess stories emphasize beauty, wardrobe and much too much emphasis on how you look on the outside! This to me was a recipe for shallow thinking and way to many opportunities for me to squander my money on accessories. So when Luna Marie was young, I thought , I am not having any of that!
I was a tomboy as a child! I much wanted my daughter to be a scrapper and not so dainty.

But then I was snapped back to reality! I realized my daughter did not live in a bubble.  She wasn’t so little anymore and she heard princess stories EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! All her friends, all the kids from school, everywhere!  Everyone had dress-up shoes, tiaras, wands, plastic shoes, stickers and books.  Like I said EVERY-Frikkin-Where!!!!!!!!!!  It was like a princess avalanche that I could not stop no matter how much I tried to avoid it.  Oh yes.  It was a losing battle…… I did not stand a chance.

So, I set myself down and had a good think. I mean all her friends were on the princess train.  I didn’t want my daughter to feel left out.  I mean we’re not Amish for gosh sakes!!!! So I sucked it up and started with one princess dress.  Then  of course, I saw another one in a different color this time.  And then there was this sparkly one that was SO cute! It was as if I had been bitten by the princess bug too!!!  I thought to myself, “Okay, I’ll just dabble a little.  Not too much princess.  I’ll balance it with a little bit of doctor dress-up and superhero dress-up.  I even succeeded in distracting her with a Wonder Woman outfit- Ka-pow! I was so impressed with myself!  At least for a little while.

Then,,,, it happened.  We were invited to a party and low and behold, it was, you guessed it,,  a princess themed party… With a real live human princess dressed in all the sparkle and flowery regalia that they wear!!!  My daughter and I were done for.  Seriously, she walked around like a dazed zombie just staring at this princess adoring her from afar because she was too shy to go up close. Princesses 1, Mama 0.

So once again I sat down and had a good think.  I realized this anti-princess battle was not going to be won by me…..
FYI, I don’t take losing very well.  I  was a tomboy remember,, a scrapper,,, & in all honesty, I loved to win!!!   These princesses were not going to take me down!  At least not without a proper battle!   I may have not be able to avoid this princess vortex, but I was going to find a way to spin this princess thing to my advantage, even if I had to choke down a tiara or two.

After many hours of analyzing my options…, I realized most often the princesses started in non-fancy clothes, had to deal with a lot of adversity, and in the end they always came out on top.  They may not have looked like princesses on the outside but inside their behavior was totally princess like…

Ha ha, I said to myself.  I have my hook!  Being a princess is all about how you behave and how you are on the INSIDE!  I mean they weren’t all bad… Most often them have a positive attitude.  They are kind to animals.  They are brave.  They work hard.  They tolerate adversity pretty well.  And they have excellent manners!  So I decided to teach my daughter that being a princess was more than what you wear or how you look.

I forgot to mention that this princess thing happened at around age 3.5… And as I mentioned in a previous blog, we never got the terrible twos but we got hit by the terrible threes but good!  As luck would have it ,,, I found a book called “Polite as a Princess”  It was perfect.  Every parent’s dream!  It had all the well-known princesses and it also talked about how they had manners!!!!!!  They said please, they said thank you, they didn’t interrupt, they shared, yada yada yada.  The terrible threes were about to be over!!!! (Insert diabolical laugh here).
As parents we have to use every tool that we can find, right?!!!! We’re way older and don’t have as much stamina  as they do!!!

So I implemented my plan.  If I couldn’t fight the princesses I was going to use them to help squash the terrible threes…. I read this book to my daughter at every opportunity.  At the dinner table, in the car, before bed, potty time.  She (and I) had it memorized. NOW I was ready to do battle!

At any time there was behavior that was, well, basically driving me insane, behavior that I had tried to correct like 300 times before but to no avail.. I could quote the Princess book.  Does Snow White get up in the middle of a meal?  Is Ariel good at sharing? etc etc etc. This line of questioning would stop my daughter in her tracks.  Luna Marie wanted NOTHING MORE  than to be like a princess!!!  She would look at me stunned/tortured as if I had some kind of special power.  And like a brainwashed little soldier, she immediately behaved like a proper princess.  She would sit still,, she would use her napkin,, she would share.  It was amazing!!!!!!!  I was almost drunk with power!!!!!!! Princess 1 – Mama 47!

I know…. it does sound a little “evil step mother-y” but come on, a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do.

So now,,, when we are out getting our playdate on.. or somewhere in public… strangers often compliment me on my daughter’s manners.  To which I look at them, and say a polite princess “Thank you” and then with a little twinkle in my eye I say “Let me tell you about my philosophy but more importantly this book!”…..
The parents response? “I REALLY gotta go get that book!”

So now, I’m just trying to pay it forward…. sadly,,, word on the street is that there is no boy equivalent for this book…. like “Polite as a Prince” or  “Polite as a Pirate,” wait that last one doesn’t make sense.  Anyhoo, maybe some day there will be!!!! Till then, Stay strong Mommies and Daddies… !

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In this corner, the All-time Champion, Little Tommy, weighing in at 40 lbs!  And in the other corner, packed full of vitamins and gently sauteed in butter… Señor Green Bean!!

I know this is a sore subject for many, many moms!  Moms trying to get their kids to eat vegetables or eat healthy or just eat anything!   As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I was an overwhelmed, exhausted, and totally terrified new mom who realized I was in way over my head.  So, I dragged myself to a mommy group when my daughter was three months old.  I admitted I NEEDED HELP!  One of the many great things about this mommy group was it was run by a therapist.  And while I was sitting there in a sleep deprived, cracked nipples breast feeding  haze..  I heard this therapist say “If you make your child’s food intake a battle, it will be a battle you will be fighting with them for the rest of their lives.”  I thought to myself  “Wait, what was that?!”  It apparently was SO important she said it again for which I was very very thankful.

I wasn’t really sure what she meant by this but, I do remember watching moms over the years trying to get their children to eat and how the children really, really, really enjoyed saying NO.
Thankfully this therapist from the mommy group showed us an exercise and said “We need to teach our children that their hunger needs to be more important to them than to their mothers. Thus, ending the power struggle.”  Oh!  And she also added, “Whatever you do, be CONSISTENT!”

I realized a lot of children don’t like their vegetables.  NEWSFLASH: I am a vegetarian.  I also wanted to raise my child vegetarian, there was no way I was going to raise a vegetarian who hated vegetables.  C’mon! That would just be wrong!  I also learned that children eat how WE parents eat.  Sad to say, if you want your child to eat healthy, we parents have to eat healthy!  I KNOW!!!! I’m not happy about it either.  Gone are the easy, breezy, awesome  days of “Do as I say, not as I do!”  So, when Luna Marie was about seven months old, I used the exercise the therapist taught us.  And here it goes.

Full disclosure, I was completely terrified and a nervous wreck before I tried this but I did it anyway.  I prepared some steamed broccoli. I put it in one large bowl in the center of the table.  I put my daughter in her highchair.  I grabbed two plates and set them down in the center of the table.  Then I took a deep breath and sat down.  I took one plate from the stack, put it in front of myself, left my daughter’s place empty, and started to serve myself some broccoli.  I did not offer my daughter anything.  I just sat there and ate my broccoli contentedly.  Of course I hammed it up a bit like it was the greatest broccoli I had ever eaten in my entire life (if anyone saw me, they would have called the acting police!) Needless to say she did not like being ignored.  She started to crane her neck to look into the bowl of broccoli like, I can only guess her thinking, “What is in that bowl that is so yummy and making my mommy so happy?”  Her next thought, “Why isn’t she giving me any?!”  And then the one I was waiting for, “I want some of that!!”  Then there was a lot of baby pointing and whining to which I responded innocently,  “Oh! You want some broccoli?”

That was exactly the moment I was waiting for!  DING! DING! DING! DING!  The first round goes to Mama!

She learned that if she wanted to eat she was going to have to make sure she got some.  I wasn’t going to force it on her.  If she didn’t eat she would just have to wait till the next mealtime.
I also need to tell you, my daughter eats five times a day.  Because she is a vegetarian, she needs to eat more often…. I have also read that it is healthier to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day…  She eats breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner…..

Of course if she didn’t eat I moved up the next mealtime a little.  But I never told her that!!!  I wasn’t going to give away my secrets.  That would have wrecked my entire master plan!  She didn’t have to feel hungry for a long, but she did learn what her hunger felt like (I in turn, also learned how to breathe and tolerate the anxiety of knowing my daughter didn’t eat as much as I would have liked her to).  And I only had to do this two times to get this to work.

The other thing I learned was to course the meal out:
First, I served the vegetable.  Then, I served protein.  In our case, beans, tofu and veggie meat.  Then come the yummy carbs… ya know all the things kids/moms crave!!!!!  Lastly, the fruit!
Another main point, keep the rest of the meal hidden in the kitchen because if  kids see there’s something else, those little suckers want that instead, thus continuing the power struggle!
I am not a nutritionist or a doctor.  I am just a mom trying to give my child a balanced meal.  Raise your hands if you hear me.
And we parents know that it can be so hard to follow our own rules.
Especially in today’s modern age of no time, limited budgets, prepackaged foods with lots of chemicals and sugar in everything!!!!!

The last thing that I learned was a very simple rule.  My kitchen is not a restaurant and I am not a chef.  Let me say that again.  I am SO not a chef.  I THINK CHEFS AND COOKS ARE SOME OF THE MOST UNDER RATED, UNDER APPRECIATED, AND TALENTED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!!, And I am NOT one of those people!  My daughter knows we eat what I have prepared and that’s it.  If she’s really hungry she will eat what I have made.  If she doesn’t want to eat what I have made,  she does not have to.  But that’s all there is.  It’s her choice.
I grew up the daughter of a single mom with very limited resources, we had what we had and if I was hungry I ate it. There really WAS nothing else….  So I have applied these lessons to my daughter.  She knows if she doesn’t like what I have prepared, she has the choice not to eat it.  But she WILL be hungry.  That is her choice.  And I use all my strength and patience to be okay when she says “NO THANK YOU” (Yes, she is that polite when she rejects my cooking).  Every once in a while, I also hear “I don’t like this!”  But I also learned that you have to introduce an new food to a child at least 10 times before making a proper evaluation whether they truly do not like that food or if they are just in a mood.  If my daughter consistently hated something after 10 times I would remove it from the menu but try to make up the vitamins with some other kind of food….
Honestly in the beginning it was a complete learning experience for me too, I realized that I was measuring my worth as a mother by whether my child ate or not.  I also learned that as a mom,, it is almost impossible not to do that.

I know to some parents this approach to food may sound hard-core but I also know it worked for me…. It has saved me so many struggles and a lot of worry… Both my daughter and I know what to expect at meal time.  As a result of this, my daughter is an amazing eater!!!! (just like her mama!)  Yes! This worked for me and I do not take ANY credit.   This was taught to me and now I am sharing it with you.

My daughter eats green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, raw beets etc… she will eat all of them,, and the best part, she also likes them!   That part I had no control over.  My daughter learned she doesn’t have to eat her vegetables if she doesn’t want to, but she will not get to the next course if she doesn’t.  Also I have her eat vegetables with lunch and dinner…. Because,,come on!  none of us really wants to eat vegetables for breakfast!  Unless it’s spinach, in a yummy omelette sautéed with garlic in a little olive oil and some cheese……… Wait! I digress! (I told you I love to eat!)

I know I will not be able to control what my daughter eats for the rest of her life, but I can for now!  I also know that someday, after she has has lulled me into a false sense of security, a mealtime will come where my daughter’s head will spin all the way around and peas will come flying out at me like the movie the Exorcist!!  Children are these little feisty creatures that are constantly evolving and we as parents are constantly having to adjust to that.  DAH-MIT!!!

I learned somewhere that the first five years of your child’s life are so important and set the stage for how they will live in the world ….  Also, that is the time when you as a parent get to set their eating patterns …..

Our children can accomplish amazing things if they just have a healthy body fueled by healthy food.  What ever you choose to do, and however you do it, I wish you all the strength and courage in the world because you’re going to need it.  Being the rule maker is hard!  I also applaud you for taking the time to read and research how other moms do things! It truly does take a village!

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