Coming to peace with serving Eggos on paper plates

I literally wrote a book on entertaining. Now I’m a fan of reheating chicken nuggets. ?

Coming to peace with serving Eggos on paper plates

Crispy chicken, arugula salad, purples grapes, homemade “Compost Cookies” and a chill-able red; also, groovy, mismatched dishes, glassware—and personalities.

That’s how I used to entertain. It was always a deliberate, beautiful mess. An Instagramable mess. I even wrote a book, Apron Anxiety, about how throwing dinner parties was the best possible therapy—at least for my brand of head and heart.

Suffice to say, inviting friends over in a luscious, decadent way was a huge, healthy part of my identity.

Until I had Hazel.

On October 3rd, 2015, my kitchen, and by extension my entire apartment, became a much less attractive environment. We all know the deal: half-eaten applesauce packets, blocks that breed more blocks, scattered remnants of doctor kits and kitchen sets, sparkly balls, sparkly wands, sparkly eyeliner (how’d she find that?!), etc. My oath to be European with only 4 wooden toys never stuck, but the Fig Newtons caked daily on the bottom of my UGG slippers sure do.

My Dumbo, Brooklyn apartment, a one-bedroom, is small. Even when I clean up, it’s dirty. Even when I light my Dyptique candles, lay out my favorite Pendleton sheets and fill a cake plate with delectables sent from good people who want me to write about them—it’s cluttered.

So, I stopped having friends over pretty early on. I was too embarrassed. The thing that forever made me proud, my home, became the thing that made me most self-conscious. The whole thing upset me tremendously.

All winter long, I made all my playdates at other people’s apartments. I mostly stopped cooking, except for Hazel’s meals. To fuel my Apron Anxiety urges, I’d bring over bakery-bought cannolis or farmer’s market flowers. But it wasn't as fun as it sounds. Hauling a toddler around the city, every day or so, via public transportation is physically exhausting. No. It’s torture.

But at least my ego was preserved. Right?

By springtime, a few more friends had babies. My sister delivered my amazing niece, Phoebe. My innate desire to invite women over to cook for them, to nurture them and to invite their children into Hazel’s secret garden, began to override my obsession with the style—or lack of—of my stupid digs.

It didn’t hurt that my boyfriend started bringing home tulips, and that sunlight hits my apartment like the sweetest kiss. With the windows cracked open and the rock music on, my apartment started to feel kind of cool again. Even with the dolls and crayons and tea-cups.

I tested my sea legs with our neighbors, who had all hosted us so many times over the winter that it was getting uncomfortable. As a single mom who works full-time from home, I never had a second to cook or bake for them, so I had to let that go, even though it pained me to do so.

I’d pull together whatever I had in the fridge. Sometimes that was a hunk of Brie and some Granny Smiths; sometimes it was one Corona and half a Kind Bar.

Obviously, no one cared! It was all about our kids, who will hopefully be lifelong friends, playing and bonding.

But I wasn't totally cured. For a while, I’d only invite the neighbors over after the apartment had been professionally cleaned (twice a month—something I will always find the budget for). Eventually, I let that go, too. I guess you can say, I entered the "whatever” stage of playdates. Again, no one cared!

Last weekend, one of my most sophisticated friends —she’s from London and runs a fashion label—wound up in my neighborhood with her young son in the morning. As a testament to my new attitude, I said, “Come right up!”

My bed was not made. The laundry was not done. I doubt the toilet was flushed. Tulips, gonners. The sink had a suspicious smell. My daughter’s crib had a strawberry popsicle melting in the middle of it. This was a rock-bottom scene.

But, Hazel. Ah. Hazel was glorious. As was my friend’s magnificent son. The kids had so much fun digging through her furry, feathered things. Both just under two, they kissed, hugged, danced, went wild and only wacked each other twice.

As we loosely watched our little ones, while catching up on love and life, I made my friend—wait for it—instant coffee and a frozen Eggo waffle. The waffle came without any syrup, because—does it sound like I have room for syrup in my life? We used butter. The whole meal was bought at CVS.

It was a beautiful breakfast, a beautiful mess.

Original story by Alyssa Shelasky for

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.

    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.


    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.


    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.


    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.


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    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.


    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

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    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.


    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.


    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

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    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.


    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.


    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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