An Open Letter to MAM

Dear MAM,
I've been doing this whole mom thing for almost a year now, and amongst the plethora of parenting knowledge I've gained over the last year, one thing has rang especially true for me: MAM binkies are the best. I constantly hear from friends that they are the only binkies their children will take. This has certainly been true for my little boy from day one. 
Dayen, one week old, with his favorite bunny binky.
Now please don't get me wrong here: I am grateful for your binkies. They have saved me from a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of tantrums, and I'm not ashamed to admit that they seem to work as a literal plug when he starts crying. It's incredible. 
It's just that, and call me cynical, but I can't help but wonder: Why only MAM? Why are children everywhere in agreement that MAM binkies are far superior to other binkies? How do they know?
I don't mean to sound ungrateful here, but I do feel like I was tricked into using your product in the first place. Dayen's favorite bunny binky actually came free in our bag of stuff from registering at Target. I figured hey, free binky. It's a little girly, but whatever. I actually threw it in the bottom of our bassinet in case the binkies I was planning on using got lost. But somehow, it ended up being the only binky he would use! 
And let's not forget the time this binky appeared on How I Met Your Mother! 
We were excited for it to make a cameo, sure, but I was also starting to feel like it was haunting me.
And you know what? That much would be ok. I could handle the MAM company big-brothering me for whatever reason because in the end, I have a happy baby. But there is an undeniable flaw in your product design, something unnoticed by babies but surely I can't be the first mother to notice that nearly all your binkies are white or clear. 
I get it: it's like what shampoo companies do when they try to get us to lather, rinse, and repeat. Only suckers repeat. And only suckers buy binkies that go missing so easily!
Let me tell you, we took care of that thing almost as good as we took care of our kid. I actually dropped him off at my brothers once with the instructions, "if something happens to Dayen, I will be upset. But if you lose this binky, we are going to have some major problems."
And of course, inevitably, it happened anyway. Christmas Eve at the new Star Wars movie, Dayen dropped it and it must have dissolved or transferred to another dimension or something cause I'm telling you, that thing was gone. We had half the theater looking for it before we decided we'd better cut our losses and make it to the store for a new binky before it closed.
(When I gave him his new binky, he took it hesitantly, then smiled like, "oh good. It's a MAM.")
And even once I had a backup binky, they seemed to disappear in pairs. Dayen wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and all I have to do is give him his binky, and we can both fall right back asleep. But somehow it always goes missing. I tear his crib apart, shaking out blankets and tossing out stuffed animals, crawling on my hands and knees feeling every corner of the room for that stupid, invisible binky.
And that's what I'm really writing about. Because it's 2016. If you guys are going to be the best and somehow convince infants nationwide that those weird circle binkies that let you see inside their mouth while they suck, or the funny binkies with fake moustaches glued to the outsides pale in comparison to your binkies, then I need you to make them light up! I need them to have a homing device, and an alarm. I need them to sprout wheels and drive themselves into his mouth at the sound of his cry. I need them to be a color easily seen in my half-asleep state at 2:00 am. We've invented reflectors for bicycles and safety vests for hunters: it's irresponsible that this hasn't happened yet. 
Anndee Fonnesbeck, the mom
and Dayen Fonnesbeck, who is probably going to secretly pack this binky when he goes to college.
If he can find it. 

Baking Cupcakes for the Dog

When Caleb started his new job, I planned to find another nanny job and keep working. I am lucky to be able to bring Dayen with me, and there didn't seem to be any reason not to work. So, I started a new job and after the first day I realized: this isn't what I want anymore. I was so attached to the last little girl I nannied, and she just got me. She knew what to expect from me, and vice versa. As the little boy was throwing a tantrum about not wanting the sandwich he had just begged me for, I just felt myself totally deflate. I just thought: I don't want to start over with another one. 
So, despite how much I've always loved being a nanny, I decided to try this stay at home mom thing, while focusing on my photography business. 
I was a little nervous because I've never just stayed home before. But I decided, if I'm going to do this thing, I'm going to to it right. 
And let me tell you, that first week was magical. 
I woke up early every day. I took Dega for a walk all while feeding Dayen in the stroller. I came home, exercised, and was totally ready for the day by 9 am. So I did the dishes, vacuumed, watered flowers, played with Dayen, edited pictures, vacuumed again... After awhile that Tangled song started to get stuck in my head... "7 am the usual morning lineup..."
I'm not complaining about any of that. I might be single handedly setting feminism back about 50 years with this statement, but I genuinely enjoy taking care of my house and family. I get enough satisfaction from that to feel accomplished every day. 
But the whole supermom thing is bound to fall apart sometime, and for me it didn't take nearly as long as it should have. 
Saturday I spent the whole day cleaning and baking for Dayens birthday party. I made these beautiful cupcakes, arranged them on a platter, then rushed off to do two back to back photoshoots. And I wasn't complaining. I felt like I was juggling everything like a pro.
Then it happened: while I was in the shower that night, our dog Dega ate the cupcakes. 
Like, almost all of them. 
At least 2 dozen cupcakes, and the wrappers. He didn't even make a big mess of the tray, almost like he was daintily picking them up one after one... "Ok, I'll just have ONE more."
I don't think anyone out there would be surprised to hear that I was upset. Even though it was inconvenient and Dega was sick for the next two days (and our backyard is now spotted with shreds of colorful papers) it wasn't that hard to make more cupcakes. It was an easily solvable problem. What really bothered me was that I realized it was a perfect metaphor for what I had been feeling lately: like everything I do is basically just making cupcakes for the dog. 
I spend hours planning and preparing dinner, and it's gone within minutes and I'm left with a dirty kitchen that I spent an hour that morning cleaning. 
I am patient and kind and loving to Dayen day after day, but then in one moment I get upset with him and feel like I undo everything else I've ever done. 
I hop out of bed in the morning, do 10,000 things, then look around at the end of the night and it all looks pretty much the same. Because that's what I signed up for: the behind the scenes stuff. The closets and drawers are always full of clean clothes. The muddy paw prints on the floor disappear like magic. The fridge and pantry refill to keep us well fed. And like any good director, I'm never actually seen in the final product. 
Don't get me wrong, its not a thankless job. My sweet husband always makes a point to acknowledge me for what I do. It's just that sometimes, all I'm doing is baking cupcakes for the dog.
But it's helped me to learn to step back and just enjoy the fruits of my labors. Stop trying to find distractions for Dayen so I can work, and instead spend some time enjoying his cute laugh while we play with the same old toys and read his favorite book for the thousandth time. Not everything I do is going to be monumental and life-changing, but I am still building a really beautiful life.