About rockmommyct

I am a mother, writer, rock and roll musician, and guitar teacher.

When Two Under Two Get Sick

Caring for two under two at the same time is like any other challenge. It’s hard at first, and seems overwhelming. But then, you get used to a routine: Make food for toddler while baby is sleeping (or toddler is at daycare), turn on Berenstain Bears for toddler so he doesn’t freak out while you nurse the baby, etc. Got it.

Or so I thought.


Just when I thought I had this “two under two” lifestyle down, Nathan threw a wrench in it. Last Tuesday, poor dude was cranky when I brought him home. He didn’t take to me having a guest, and he fussed as I put him in his high chair. Typical toddler, I thought. Two seconds later I picked up baby Logan to nurse him. Dinner for all!

About a minute after I attached Logan to my breast, what looked like a scene in “Alien” transpired: Nathan projectile puked creamy chunks of milky stuff speckled with bits of grape (sorry to get so graphic, foodies!). The high chair was a mess, Nathan was a mess. And as he stared at his puke-covered clothes and chair in disbelief, I knew I had to act quickly! I yanked the baby off the boob, put him in the car seat, ran to the linen closet to grab a towel, and then yanked Nathan out of his high chair. I stripped him down, dried him off, and shuttled him upstairs for a bath.

The timing couldn’t be worse: We had a plumber coming an hour later to fix our shower. I had a baby I left downstairs. Nathan was inconsolable. I said a quick prayer and took him downstairs. Gave him a sippy cup of milk and a veggie pouch (a mistake), and thought the night would only get better.

If only.

Ten minutes later in the living room, a diaper clad Nathan puked again on our rug (thank god it’s not an expensive one), and declared “uh-oh” as he continued to spit up. I called Zack to come home so he could help. There was no way I could care for a sick little dude and properly tend to my baby.

Logan is less than two months old, so while I got up every two hours to nurse him, Zack and I also had to periodically get up to change Nathan’s sheets and toss them in the laundry (either from puke or diarrhea), comfort Nathan, and try to get him to go back to sleep. The next day we were whipped.

I don’t have any tips on how to make dealing with such a scenario easier in the future. What I can say is that I never knew I was capable of handling two sick under-twos until I had to. It’s amazing what we’re capable of when we have no other choice.

The Growing Differences Between How my Child-free Friends and Friends with Kids Think

Last May, about a month before I got knocked up with baby #2, I tried on the most stunning, black-and-floral-print, jaw-dropping Parker dress at Apricot Lane, a super-cute boutique in Fairfield, Conn., where I live. It was a lovely, sunny Sunday, and my dear husband had taken our baby son, Nathan, to his grandparents’ house, so I could have a few hours to myself.

When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I was stunned at how great I still looked, at 37, in a designer dress. It was a real confidence boost to a mom, let me tell you. Then I saw the price tag: $235!!!

Now, it’s not that I don’t have enough money to afford a $235 designer dress. I do. But with Nathan in daycare, and plans to buy a home on the horizon, I knew it had to be a truly special dress to drop that kind of cash spontaneously.

So I called my fashion-forward friend A. to ask her what I should do: Should I fork over the money and splurge on the dress? Should I pass?

“I’d wait, look around a bit, see what else you can find,” said A.

Fair enough. After all, A. always gives me great advice. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account that she is child-free, and therefore, by default, experiences the world a bit differently than I do.

Long story short, I took her advice because it seemed like the “smart” thing to do — I figured later that week I’d find another great dress when I stopped by the mall during my downtime. But two hours of downtime and a trip to the mall never came. And then it was mid June. I desperately trolled the Internet, but the dress was sold out online. The one I had put on hold at Apricot Lane was long gone, too.

Almost a year later, and I’m still thinking about that dress — the Parker Lily dress.

When I recalled the experience, months later, to my friend Karina, who has a son, her response made me seethe even more for listening to my child-free friend: “Oh my god, you should have bought the dress,” she said. “Who has time to go shopping? You have a kid!”

The experience did, however, enlighten me to the reality that there’s a growing gap between how my friends with kids and my friends without kids think about everything.

Take sleep.

Shortly after the dress incident, I headed south for a planned girls getaway with two of my besties and another girl pal. The night before, me and bestie #1 got about four hours of sleep each — me because of the anxiety and insomnia over leaving my then-11-month-old for a beach jaunt, and her because of my uncomfortable air mattress.

En route to Dewey Beach, Bestie #1 marveled at my ability to pump breast milk while driving, and when we arrived at the beach, it was rainy so we decided to get pedicures. That’s when she hit a wall. “I have to take a nap!” she lamented. The mood had changed so quickly, and she was cranky. I pondered this in disbelief: Was she really that exhausted over four hours of sleep for one night? Did people between the ages of 16 and 50 get exhausted over one bad night?

The answer, apparently, is yes.

But as any parent knows, when you have a kid you learn to bank sleep: a good night is four straight hours, interrupted once, followed by two hours, which gives you about six total. A bad night is two hours, or half-hour sleep segments spaced out by infant grunting. Parents learn to survive at 50 percent sleep capacity — or four hours a night total (including interruptions) — for weeks on end.

Child-free friends of mine don’t understand these bootcamp-like conditions, so they convince themselves they “need” sleep because they are used to a high level of sleep (it’s similar to how those of us who grew up in the middle-class suburbs “needed” new clothes every few months).

It’s not that I fault my bestie for needing so much sleep, or for taking care of herself. I did the same thing before I got pregnant with my first son. But when you have a baby, your views on sleep change from that point forward: Sleep is a beautiful thing; it’s great when you can get it but if you can’t, you won’t die.

Here is how those of us with kids “think” in various situations (versus those of us without them):

#1: 10 p.m. on a Tuesday

Friends with Children: Bedtime!

Child-free friends: “Just finished dinner after a grueling spin session at the gym. Time to catch up on missed shows. Where’s the remote?”

#2: 10 p.m. on a Friday

Friends with Children: “Where’s the remote? Honey, can you pour me some wine?”

Child-free friends: “I’ll meet you at the bar after dinner. The band goes on at 11 — let’s try to get a spot up front.”

#3: Working out at 6 a.m. 

Friends with Children: “Not happening until he sleeps through the night.”

Child-free friends: (Posts to Facebook): “So proud of myself for waking up at the crack of dawn to get in a spin class. Yay to me!”

#4: Trip from D.C. to New York/NY to D.C.

Friends with Children: “Did I pump enough milk for Saturday and Sunday morning if the train gets stuck?”

Child-free friends: “Maybe I will go shopping when I get to the city. Or have brunch.”

#5: Going out with the girls

Friends with Children: “Holy moly, this night better be awesome now that I forked over $150 for a babysitter, bought new makeup/got my hair done because I won’t have another night like this for six months!”

Child-free friends: “I wonder what club we should go to when Marisa gets to town? Do we have to go out at all? I go out all the time. I kind of want a night in.”

Other thoughts?

Week One, Son Two

As I start to type this, little Logan Alexander is in my arms. I’ve long since mastered the art of nursing and using the Internet (and holding baby and typing). I’m exhausted and waiting for a roofing contractor to wipe a buttload of snow off our roof, and he’s 20 minutes late.

I’m not gonna lie: Caring for a newborn baby is much easier this time, but the experience of being home has been much harder.

As most of you who read this know, I started Rockmommy shortly after I gave birth to my first son, Nathan Mariano, in July 2012. I was just learning the ropes of mommyhood and how to balance being a mom with being Marisa, the rocker/writer/exercise lover.

When Nathan came home, my husband was so sweet and considerate; everyone I knew was oh, so helpful, and when hubs went to work at 7, Nathan and I slept peacefully till 10 or so, when we’d start our day (which, since it was summertime, consisted of a nice walk, nursing, and various errands). This time, I returned home on Sunday to a clingy but cute toddler who couldn’t deal with me nursing our infant, a husband who seemed to find fault with everything from how I spoke to child #1 to how I handled dinner (and since I’m hormonal, I’m extra sensitive). That, and a ground full of snow. So much for nice walks. And so much for the love fest!


me and baby Logan on his birthday

Yet, I must be grateful for the plusses: I know what I’m doing. I don’t think nursing and not sleeping is the hardest thing in the world (which is what all new moms, myself included, think). I have a lovely, spacious-but-not-too-big house (albeit with a leaky roof, but a house, nonetheless). I have this blog and a wonderful career as a writer and a guitar teacher. Most importantly, I have two little dudes and  one big dude who love me. It’s going to be life in a frathouse for the next 18 years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some initial things I’m noticing about little Logan:

1.) He’s VERY alert. Loves to look from side to side when I nurse him.

2.) He does the grunting/headbutting thing when he’s hungry (and he is just as hungry as Nathan was, every hour, so perhaps my milk isn’t creamy enough).

3.) He seems to be okay with being fully swaddled. Last night he got up every two hours (as opposed to every hour). And my husband didn’t have to promise to buy him a BMW to get him to go back to sleep.

Life is full of so many unexpected things. I certainly didn’t expect to get pregnant twice or have TWO boys (I figured I’d have a daughter). I didn’t expect to marry the person I did, or to spend my parenting years in Connecticut (which, so far, is how I’m spending them).

Today, I’m so thankful for all I’ve been given.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Complex Sadness of Loving, and Losing, an Addict

I never saw “Capote,” “Magnolia,” or “The Big Lebowski.” But watching Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Boogie Nights” — one of my all-time favorite movies — was enough to make me a fan. It doesn’t take a film critic to know that every movie he ever acted in was brilliant.

So much has been written and posted on Hoffman’s tragic death, and about heroin addiction. And I agree with a lot of it.

For me, Hoffman’s death feels particularly painful because it reminds me of Bruce, the junkie I once called my boyfriend.

I’ve always been more than a little attracted to bad boys. And in my teens and 20s, I needed mine with more than just a faint hint of danger. They were my escape.

Bruce was no exception. I was 25 when we met. One look at his tattoos and a conversation about guitars during his cigarette break and I knew I wanted more. He turned out to be a total romantic, the kind of guy who showed up with roses before a dinner, who wanted to go to all the rock shows I wanted to go to.  

Little did I know that his dating me would contribute to his heroin relapse.

I could go on and on about the time he overdosed and missed seeing me perform, or the month-long rehab stint at NIH (I’m from DC), when I brought him pumpkin pie and we made snow angels on the lawn. Instead, I’ll fast forward to February 13, 2002, one day before Valentine’s Day. Bruce had supposedly been sober for almost three months, though unable to find a job. We had tentative plans to go to dinner somewhere. Hours after I dropped him off at his group house, I left my office with plans to hang out with friends. But as soon as I hit the parking lot, I discovered my car was gone.

Long story short, Bruce stole my car to cop dope in Baltimore. It took cops three weeks to find and catch up with him — after my car had been repossessed he stole another — and I only visited him in jail once to break up with him.

But the damage was done. When I found my car, I also found the belt he’d used to squeeze his arm and pop a vein out, and the maroon bookbag stuffed with orange-tipped syringes. In my trunk, his eyeglasses case was stuffed with three more syringes and brown-speckled baggies of junk. While I shudder now at the memory, at the time I found myself consumed with morbid fascination over the contents of his eyeglasses case.

Which brings me back to Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was found with a syringe stuck in his arm, and something like 50 empty bags of what is believed to have been heroin.

Most people mourn the loss of a brilliant actor. I mourn the loss of a father. I can’t imagine being seven, or even ten, and losing my father in that way. And even as I vacillate between feeling anger toward his “selfish” behavior — as a mom I cannot imagine how anyone could use heroin when they have children — and compassion for him as an addict, I can’t help but reflect on the tragedy of all of it.

Most everyone I know who is an alcoholic or a junkie is misjudged. Bruce wasn’t a super-talented actor, but he was a tremendously talented guitarist, and a truly kind, charismatic person. He was funny as hell, possessing a raw intelligence that begged to be tapped. He was an amazing sous chef who taught me how to roll sushi. He inspired me to write so much music.

Bruce died nearly ten years ago. We weren’t together at the time, but his passing made me so sad. Like Hoffman’s death, Bruce’s death was such a waste.

I’m not sure what the answer is for junkies like Bruce or Philip Seymour Hoffman. I have seen addicts with five, ten, 15 years of sobriety go out. Addiction never truly leaves your psyche; if you’re lucky you just learn how to manage it. And it doesn’t take much to lose everything you’ve worked for. From what media reports are claiming, an encounter with prescription meds was all it took for Hoffman to sink into a full-blown relapse.

Unfortunately, most addicts who die won’t get obituaries on the front page of The New York Times. But hopefully the death of someone with so much clean time will inspire those who are getting help to keep fighting for their sobriety. 

On P!nk Envy and Finding Time to Work Out


Image P!nk’s 2014 Grammy performance.

Did you watch the Grammy awards the other night? Unsurprisingly, I fell asleep after Paul McCartney (so bummed I missed the Macklemore marriage performance/ceremony) but from what I heard, I didn’t miss much else that was worth watching.

 In a nutshell, pop-rocker P!nk blew everyone away with her circus acrobatics and suspension escapades. Pretty much set the bar at a new high for pop musicians. In comparison, Katy Perry’s performance was pretty ordinary. 

 Instead of being totally inspired by P!nk, though, I have to admit I was a bit envious. I’m a mom, she’s a mom. And yes — it’s her job (and not my job) to perform. But when I read interviews where the reporter’s all “P!nk, you’re balancing music and motherhood — how do you do it?!” I have to roll my eyes. No real mom — one who has a job, or is a fulltime mother and therefore has to care for at least one child while keeping up with bills and chores — could ever have the time or finances to reach the level of P!nkness that P!nk has achieved since birthing her daughter Willow.  

 I’m not blasting it out on social media sites, but I’m pregnant. Really, really pregnant. Gonna-pop-out-that-baby-in-two-weeks pregnant. So time to exercise is scarce. Not only am I pregnant, but I am a mom of a little toddler. And in recent weeks, I’ve “scaled back” to just being a mom with one job (freelance writing and guitar teaching is on hold because I can hardly move!). Still, I barely have enough time to work out 4-5 times a week. I use the term “work out” loosely. Sometimes it’s a 40-minute Skype session with my trainer or an hour-long Pilates class; other times it’s 15 minutes on the treadmill in my jeans because there isn’t enough time to change AND get 15 minutes in before I have to pick up my son from daycare.  

 I wish magazines like People and Us Weekly featured the occasional “real” woman, post-pregnancy. The one who has little to no help in raising her kids, stresses over money, and can’t afford a personal trainer. 

I worked my butt off to lose the baby weight for #1, therefore I feel my results were more inspiring than P!nk’s or Gwen Stefani’s or any other celeb’s results. Still, I’ll never get to try circus acrobatics because they require so much time. I doubt I’ll get to run another marathon before 40 (thank God for jogging strollers!). Perhaps I will get to do another 10K, maybe even a half marathon. One can only hope. 


10 Things I’m Grateful I Did Before I Settled Down

Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. Mine was, as it always is, chaotic. 

I had, as expected, zero time to do anything moms of the 1980s seemed to have time to do (ahem, shopping!). So I purchased most all of my presents online. I made it to Crate & Barrel just once to get a few little do dads, but that was about it. 

A lot of good things happened, though: 1.) I got to spend a ton of time with my mom, dad, brother, and his baby girl. 2.) My husband and son were super sweet. 3.) I was reminded how lucky I am to have such cool inlaws. 

Yet, as time is of the essence, I can’t help but think about all of the things I would never have time to do now — from traveling to other countries to playing weekly shows with a band. And to anyone in their 20s and early 30s who wants to marry and breed, these are things that have contributed, ultimately, to my satisfaction. I don’t feel like I didn’t missed out on much. 

 And now, the top ten things I am grateful I did before I “settled down”: 

  1. Traveled to London in 2001, on a whim, to see my friend Jason. And I hit up Amsterdam on the same trip (what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam). 
  2. Enjoyed a trip to Paris with my whole family, and to Scotland, with my parents. 
  3. Toured the East Coast (twice!) for two weeks — once solo and once with my band. Speaking of bands, I had about six of them. Grandma’s Mini, which I formed in 1999 with Ann Brandstadter, was my first one! 
  4. Dated a lot of interesting, and not so interesting, dudes. Made for good writing inspiration (“Eggs” and “S&G” are two of my best tunes). 
  5. Lived in four culturally rich, interesting, and diverse cities — Washington, D.C., New Orleans, La., Chicago, Ill., and Brooklyn, N.Y. Perhaps that’s why, on some days, Fairfield, Conn., seems so suburban. 
  6. Enjoyed dozens of media/magazine/rockstar parties as a super-connected, music-arts writer living in New York. I can’t believe I actually felt “old” at 29!
  7. Wrote for dozens of major media outlets while living the freelance lifestyle in Brooklyn. As in Brooklyn, N.Y., where everyone cool lives or aspires to live. 
  8. Attended graduate school at Northwestern University and was only one of 20 students accepted to the magazine journalism program. Ah, magazines … 
  9. Accidentally discovered a second career I am passionate about — guitar teaching — through chance encounters and volunteer work.  
  10. In 2006, after a soccer match on the west side, swung by Dorothea’s super-fun birthday party. There, I happened to meet the man who would ultimately become my husband. It took two years for me to see he had all the qualities I ever really needed in a man, but I’m so glad I saw the light eventually. 

Ok, so, I never got to study abroad or backpack across Europe. I’ve yet to record and produce an amazing, full-length album, though I do have a sub-par album and a smattering of perfectly recorded singles. I am only 60 percent through my novel, and I cannot imagine when there will be enough time to finish it (see previous entry). There’s still some stuff left to do. But today I have a dream for a son, incredible guitar students, and an amazing writing career (though I’m less than perfectly prolific when it comes to my personal stuff, or so it seems). I also own an adorable little house with said husband. 

Life is, ultimately, about experiencing amazing things. What have you done? And what are you holding back from doing?