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WTF Tapas

L demonstrated his lack of a firm grasp on numbers when he explained how he’ll always be older than S:

L: She’s only 2. I’m 4 now but soon I’ll be 5:30.

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Grandma recently took L to visit his great-uncle in a nursing home. It was time for weekly services, and L seemed puzzled by the congregation’s prayers:

L: What are they doing?

Grandma: They’re praying.

L: [Looks totally bewildered]

Grandma: L, do you know what praying is?

L: Yes, lions prey and jaguars prey….

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How boys play:

L: Here, S, take this magic wand.

S: ‘tay.

L: And this one is mine.

S: ‘tay.

L: And now… FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

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New mantra that I will share with L when he has a 4-year-old son (assuming we both live to see the day, and that my mantra is true enough for some woman to have kids with him):

He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4. He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4….

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Did you know that new moms today can get a digital timer to remind them to feed the baby? Is it just me, or is this the most ridiculous item ever put in front of pregnant women? These poor women are distraught, tired and distracted by their own swollen feet, so they’re vulnerable to absurd and manipulative marketing. Your baby will die if you forget to feed it. Better put that timer on the registry!

In case you have the kind of baby who doesn't cry when hungry, or smell when poopy.

People! You do not need a timer to remind you to feed your baby. Your baby will remind you. Your baby is programmed to do just that. Basically, it is the only thing your baby can do for a long, long time.

Anyway, as I was smugly making fun of this timer, I suddenly remembered an episode from my own crazy first-time-mom past. I somehow blocked this out, preferring to remember a fictional history of myself as a non-panic-stricken individual who did not go over the top with her first baby. But I did. Boy, did I ever.

When I was pregnant with L, T and I wanted to take a baby first aid and CPR class. Not unreasonable, right? Well, we were both full-time students with no money or time to spare for such courses. No worries, because I found the perfect solution! A way we could become baby saving experts on our own time for even less money than a course! I found this:

Maybe the scariest thing I've ever received in a box in the mail.

That’s right. I got my very own plastic baby. (This was a few years ago and ours looked a lot less like a blow up doll and a lot more like a dead baby. A totally freaky thing to live with.) What a great thing to have! We could always freshen up our skills. Just pop in the DVD, inflate the baby and compress to our hearts’ content!

If you think this is where the crazy ends, wait, there’s more.

Then I had my precious baby. He actually did choke once and I had to quickly turn him upside down and pound on his back until he vomited his body weight on the rug. Thanks plastic baby for the practice! (You might have mentioned the vomit and suggested doing it over tile or hard wood.)

Fast forward about 8 months when I’m ready to leave baby L with a babysitter. A random girl (who I grew to love) who I found on a university job board. This made me nervous. These days I’ll leave my kids with anyone willing to take them, but this first time I was so anxious about it! Guess what I made her do?

Yup. I made her come about 1/2 an hour before I was scheduled to leave so she could watch the video and practice on the dummy baby. And she did it graciously, as if it was a perfectly normal and not at all neurotic request, and she didn’t tell me I was a crazy lunatic. God, I love that girl.

I completely forgot all of this, like I said, and was so embarrassed for myself when I remembered. So, if any of you were ever under the impression that I’m at all cool, I give you this story as incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. *Takes bow.*
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I’m excited. I’m excited because one of my good friends is doing something awesome and I’m a part of it. My friend Erin started an organization called Edge of Seven. Edge of Seven organizes volunteers for trips to Nepal to do amazing work. I wrote about her here, and I blogged about my own experience in Nepal here. They’ve built a school, a hostel of girls so they can attend school, and are in the process of doing so much more. You can read about their endeavors on their blog here.

I am part of a campaign to turn pocket change into futures for hundreds and hundreds of children in Nepal. Education is the key to lift the upcoming generations out of poverty, and these children can have that education with our pocket change. How cool is that?

I’m excited to be a part of this because I believe in the power of education, because I’ve seen the children’s faces, and because I have plenty of pocket change lying around and I won’t miss it a bit. Also, I believe in this organization. I know the actual people who will be designing the buildings, digging the foundations, carrying the stones. My name is already on a plaque on one school in Nepal, and I’m happy to have it on another.

For more information, check out this video. Come help me change the world with your pocket change. If you decide to donate, please let me know so I can lavish you with appropriate praise and attention. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

WTF Tapas

Lately L wants to know not only what animal he is eating, but what part of that animal. He became upset yesterday over ham. Not because he was sad that he was eating pig, but because he was sad that the pig’s face had been removed.

Along these lines, when he asks what animal he’s eating, he checks to make sure he understands by doing an impression of the animal.

“What aminal is this from?”

“That’s chicken.”

“As in bok-bok chicken?”

“Yes, as in bok-bok chicken.”

These conversations have permeated S’s consciousness and now whenever she eats anything, she says “bok-bok” and does spastic chicken flapping with her arms.

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One of S’s favorite songs is Wheel’s on the Bus. Her favorite part is the horn going “toot, toot, toot” complete with horn honking motions. In our house, toots, and tooting have a whole ‘nother meaning. (Can you see where this is going?) Whenever S passes gas, she excitedly acts out honking a bus horn and shouts out “toot, toot, toot!” It’s so cute, it makes me just want to feed the kid beans.

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I’ve mentioned before that S has nothing interesting to say, and yet she talks constantly. I’ve tried explaining to her what ought to be said aloud, and what is not interesting enough to say. For example, while driving in the car in the afternoon, it is not necessary to observe, “Me no see moon.” One need not list all the things one does not see at a given time. I answered, “Me no see elephant.” She is not learning.

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Conversation with T at 6 AM this morning (we aren’t the happiest people at 6AM):

me: I ordered S her own clock so she can know when it’s morning.

T: What? Why?

me: What do you mean why?

T: Can’t we just rig one?

me: Rig one? With paperclips, weights and rubber bands? WTF are you talking about?

T: No, I meant with a lightbulb and a timer.

me: OMG, you’re a crazy man. She can have her own clock. She’s her own whole person.

S: Ya! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy, me me own person! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy! Daddy, me me own person…

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me to T: Maybe you could take L to the market with you and he might S-L-E-E-P in the car.

L (extremely excited): Does that spell “guns in the car”?

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There are days that I just don’t want to be The Mommy. I’m tired. I don’t want today to be all about the kids. Feeding the kids. Dressing the kids. Hearing the constant whines of discontent. Can’t there be a day when they are not discontented? Can’t they go from full to hungry without whining about it? Can they be bored without whining? Cold without whining? Hot without whining? Considering the tone of this paragraph by their mother, the answer is probably not.

This past week of displacement, poor sleep, missing my regular life and schedule has taken its toll on me. Yesterday we were all so happy to be home. S took an extra long nap in her own crib. T and L busied themselves trying to clear the yard of our fallen trees. Home itself was a novelty, so we all self-entertained. It seems that the novelty has worn off by this morning.

The living room that was tremendously clean yesterday is now covered in couch cushions, books, toys and food debris. The kitchen table has remnants of several breakfasts and snacks. Bags have not been properly unpacked and instead overflow their innards in the entry way and each bedroom. The restless, nervous anxiety of what are we going to do with the rest of the day??? has set in.

On our own, T and I would just do whatever. It was so easy. But with kids, it seems like something has to happen. We have to go somewhere, do something, plan something entertaining, enriching, exhausting. We can’t just hang out around the house, maybe run a couple of errands, take a nap, etc. A Sunday just isn’t what it used to be. Without the entertainment, enrichment and exhaustion, the kids just circle us like hungry hyenas. Each taking a turn at pouncing with a complaint or tantrum. On tired days like today, they’re more like vultures. They know I’m near my end, and they’ll wait. Creeping ever closer, attentive. I cannot shoo them away to play on their own.

I know that there are kids out there who can entertain themselves. Who can play together for more than 3 minutes without blood shed or tears. There are kids who can sit for hours doing crafts. So why didn’t I have a couple of those kids? The only thing that can occupy my kids for any length of time is destruction of my house. Purposeful destruction with the end goal of getting a parent angry and involved.

They’re outside now with T. Soon they’ll be in demanding hot cocoa and T will hand the unwanted parenting baton to me.

Kids, it’s Sunday for goodness sake! A day off. You are my job every other day, so today I get to rest from you. Get your own food. Find your own freaking socks! Figure out a way to put your own underpants back on after peeing, or just skip them altogether. I don’t care! Also, if you are strong enough to get the cushions off the couch, I know you are strong enough to put them back on. Don’t give me that bs. No, you are not hungry, just bored. Go play. You are a child. Outside are a couple of acres of fallen leaves, snow patches, woods, swings, bikes, scooters, balls and so much more! Figure it out already and leave me alone!

OK. I can feel the outdoor activity coming to an end. Someone is crying. My time here is done. Regardless of how much I don’t want to, I will not put on my own coat and boots and join the family out there. Sundays just aren’t Sundays anymore.

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S has memorized the How To Be An Annoying Younger Sibling Handbook. Hell, she may have revised the thing, adding new chapters such as “Sitting on Big Brother’s Head – Appropriate Situations to Employ This Most Dangerous Tactic,” and “When Hurting Yourself is Worth it in the Spririt of Getting Big Brother in Trouble,” and “Let’s Make Sure Mom Drinks Tonight.” My sweet little girl pulls hair, claws eyeballs and puts her own fingers into L’s mouth for him to bite. In her defense, she only does this stuff when she’s bored. And she will handle a whole minute of boredom before resorting to these measures.

She’s most bored when L watches TV. This is problematic for me because I plug L into the TV when I have something to do. Like cook dinner, make a phone call, or not kill him. So while I’m super busy cooking, talking on the phone, or not killing, S is in the other room stirring things up. She’s instigating a monster, and she knows it. She will sit on his head, (keep in mind, she’s usually not wearing anything on her bottom half,) pull his hair and claw at his eyes until he retaliates. In his defense, he has a HUGE tolerance for this type of crap. I have seen him watch an entire Wild Kratts with his sister on his head. When he does retaliate though, he does so with gusto. A swift twist, push and throwing maneuver and S is thrown from the couch altogether. He may leave it at that, or he may leap down after her and then the two are a blur of legs and arms as they wrestle it out on the floor.

L weighs 45 lbs. S weighs 23. Fighting is in L’s DNA. S doesn’t stand a chance.

This morning, L is plugged into a movie while I try to pack up all of our stuff as we can finally head home after a week of living with my parents. We have our electricity back and I can’t wait to get back to our normal lives. S does not want to watch a movie. So, naturally, she grabs a handful of eyeball. Like a pitbull, once she’s latched on, nothing can get her off. L is screaming and I’m yanking on S but she’s glued onto that eyeball. I finally free L from her clutches and put S into a time out. She does not stay in time outs so I am re-putting her in the corner again and again and then something strange happened.

A man came in and scooped her up. He gave her a hug and asked her if she will promise to be good. Through pathetic fake tears, she promises. He then releases her back into her freedom. WTF? Who is this man? He looks like my dad, but can’t be.

When I was growing up, my dad was the scary one. When we were naughty we quickly asked our mother, “Please don’t tell dad??” I think he still doesn’t know about the brand new ski jacket I lost in the 5th grade. (Sorry, Dad.) So who’s this softy letting my daughter out of her time out? I could have used this guy 30 years ago.

I guess the moral here is that we all have to wait about 30 years. Then when our terrible children have terrible children of their own, we can do whatever the eff we want. We can be the nice guy if we used to be the mean guy. We can give them Sugar Puff Honey Crack O’s for breakfast and then give them back to their parents. We can babysit and keep them up way past bedtime. All this is to say, that one day, we will have our revenge. Good things come to those who wait.

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Merry Halloween!

We got nearly 2 feet of snow between the 29th and 30th of this month, which is October in case you’ve become disoriented. It’s funny that I never dreamed of a white Halloween. Never really thought about it before. And to be honest, it’s beautiful.

In the beginning...

The snow is of the heavy, wet variety and it’s piled on the trees and every surface in thick, white pillows. The problem is that it’s October and the trees weren’t quite ready for those pillows. With their leaves still on, the poor trees are bending, bowing and breaking under the weight of the snow.

Broken trees = broken power lines = no power anywhere near me = no heat, no running water, no coffee.

This is still early on. Around 4PM on Saturday.

We did try to make the most of the situation though and had a great time playing in the snow as it fell.

Superman-Jack-O-Lantern-Snowman, naturally

Then night fell on us and with it a few trees, several branches and any hopes I had of sleeping. I made several middle of the night rounds with my flashlight in my freezing house checking on the trees outside. At 2AM I got T out of bed to help me shake off a tree that was resting on our back deck. A few good shakes and it sprang back up, only to lean against L’s window.

Morning came, and with it two extremely excited kids and a few extremely tired adults. Did I mention the no coffee thing? Also, there might have been some hot buttered rum the day before and a fair amount of red wine. (Hey, we had to keep warm!) We had our work cut out for us.

My nerves were fried and I was too frazzled, tired, and busy to take the pictures I should have. Like the picture of the huge old tree that fell down at some point in stealthy silence, about 6 feet from our house. Had the tree’s trajectory been a degree or two different, L’s room would have been crushed. I did take a couple on my phone though.

Back deck, sheltered from snowfall, in the morning

Pumpkin-Head Snowman after we unburied him in the morning

Holy Sh!t

I did learn some things though. Like just about anything, the crappy stuff related to an October snowstorm can be broken down to a top 5 list. So, here I give you:

The Top 5 Craptastic Things Caused by an October Snowstorm:

5. One is not prepared and has not yet removed the snow blower from its storage space under the back deck. It took lots and lots and lots of shoveling to get to that thing.

4. One is not prepared and has to dig out winter clothes from their storage place in the dark basement, by flashlight, helped by super-excited-to-play-in-the-snow-and-bonkers-wildly-excited-to-be-in-the-cold-dark-basement-with-flashlights kids.

3. No electricity means it’s dark. Very dark. Darkness and flashlights at bedtime with small children causes exceptional hyperness, excitement and fear.

2. No heat. It’s cold. Turns out our fireplace is purely decorative and supplies no heat to the house whatsoever. Last I checked on Sunday afternoon it was 55 and dropping inside.

1. The worst thing about it by far was the lack of running water. We have our own well, so no power = no water = no flushing, no washing. That expansive dinner we made on Saturday before the power went out? Hello piles of dirty dishes, bowls, pots and pans that can’t be washed. Those giant poops that my kids make? Still in the toilets waiting for a flush. YUCK!

By late afternoon on Sunday we had enough. We packed ourselves up and escaped to my parents’ house a couple of hours away. Our power is due to be restored at 11:45PM on Thursday, November 3rd. Until then we’ll stay here where it’s warm. On Friday, I will have to face a house full of old dirty dishes, a fridge full of rotten food, and those toilets.

There was a time not so long ago when all I wanted was for S to talk. I worried, fretted and blogged about it. As everyone promised, she eventually did start talking. Now I have a different, somewhat predictable problem: I can’t get her to stop! She chatters constant nonsense from the second she opens her eyes until she finally falls asleep.

She is loud and has nothing interesting to say.

The unceasing high-pitched noise has me overstimulated at all times. I can’t think straight. I swear we could replace water-boarding with 24-hour recordings of her and prisoners would confess everything.

She does say cute things. My favorite is that she calls animals by the sounds they make. When she sees a monkey she calls it “ah-ah-hoo-hoo.” Obviously, I show her monkeys all the time. She thinks the happy birthday song is actually “happy cake,” but she can’t pronounce cake very well. She proudly belted out her version at my father’s birthday recently:

Happy cock is Papa! Happy cock is Papa! Happy co-ock is Papa, Happy cock is Papa!

What drives me crazy is the noise she fills all quiet space with. The talking for no reason, with nothing to say. We can drive for 20 minutes with her repeating, “Go home, Mommy? Me in? Go home, Mommy? Me in? Go home, Mommy? Me in?” The fact that I answer her has no impact on her continuing to question if we are in fact going home, and if I’m going to let her inside rather than leave her out in the car. (WTF?) Worse is when we’re not going home, then we have this conversation:

S: Go home, Mommy?

me: No, S. We’re going to the market, then we’re going to pick up L, then home.

S: Go home, Mommy?

me: No. First the market, then L, then home.

S: Pick up Unna? [Her name for L]

me: Yes. First the market, then L, then home.

S: Go home Mommy?

me: $#%&*@!

This can go on forever. Nothing makes it stop, except one thing that is even more loathsome than this conversation – playing a certain children’s CD, but only repeating an irritatingly chipper version of “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” I try not to do that until I’m considering driving into a lake.

So, be careful what you wish for. I wanted her to talk and I got it. Apparently she’s making up for lost time. God willing, her neck will grow soon and her vocal chords with it and the pitch of her voice will come down a bit. I’m not even going to bother hoping for the volume to come down. She and her brother have 2 volumes: shouting and screaming.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of Kate Takes 5‘s listography posts, but this one has caught my fancy. As a blogger, I am slightly obsessed with my site’s statistics. How many page hits have I had? What links do people click on from my site? How to people find me? Although I can’t see any identifying information about who clicked on what, I can see how many people came from X site, how many people found me searching for X, how many people voted for me at Top Mommy Blogs or Babble (ahem), etc. So without further ado, I give you:

My Top 5 Keyword Searches of all time (excluding blog name):

  1. Charlie Sheen YoungThis post is really about make-up and aging. Charlie Sheen is a hot ticket in the world of SEO. Using his photo was actually one of my very few deliberate uses of SEO. It works. Generally I choose content over optimization though, SEO be damned!
  2. Terrible Mom – Thank you, thank you very much. Am I psyched that I come up on the top of a Google search of “terrible mom“? Kind of, yeah. If the person searching is a mother feeling inadequate, I am happy to provide a soft landing place for her to realize that she’s not alone – I suck too.
  3. Mom Exposed – this one actually leads people to the same post as #2, but it is an entirely different group of people doing the search. The people typing this into their browser are looking for websites where “moms” actually expose themselves. I get a few other porn searches that lead people to my blog. I think it’s funny that a person seeking porn is so easily diverted by a mommy blog.
  4. Missing Spoons – I guess this is a common problem! But what are people hoping to gain from searching online for their missing spoons?
  5. Annoying Questions – Another common problem I suppose. Again I’m left wondering why people are searching online for this? Do they not have enough annoying questions in their lives? Are they looking for annoying conversation starters? Or are they checking to make sure their children are developmentally annoying enough?
No matter how people find my blog, I’m happy to have you all here. If you like this post, check out the other blogs participating in this week’s Listography.

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WTF Tapas

Conversation over dinner the day after I came home from my spa weekend, proof that T watched hours Food TV with the kids while I was away:

L: Mommy, this is so good!

me: Thanks, L, glad you like it.

L: The pasta is cooked perfectly. And I love how the sauce is sweet and peppery at the same time. It tastes really good in my mouth. (This is all said with utmost seriousness, like a bona-fide food critic.)

me: Wow, thanks, L. That’s a really nice complement.

L: Yes. The sauce is very complemented.

On another night:

“All this flavorment is so great and awesome! I love the flavors and the, like, YUM.”

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S is fully potty trained. Yay! She now drops trou wherever and whenever she needs to pee. I have to keep a steady eye on this. Middle of the playground? In the library? Supermarket? Some places are better than others for this. Also, she is very independent and doesn’t always tell me when she’s going to go. I was outside with both kids and naturally paying attention only to my iPhone. I look up and S is running around with pants around her ankles. Soaking wet pants around her ankles. She’s not good at aiming, or pulling pants up apparently, but she’s perfectly willing to pee on the grass. Atta girl!

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Conversation in the car:

L: Mommy, did you know that peregrine falcons eat their own poop?

me: Really? Is that true? Did you learn that on Wild Kratts?

L: Yep. They eat it because they don’t have any other food.

me: Huh.

L: I mean, they have food. But they don’t have any money.

me: Peregrine falcons don’t have any money?

L: In their whole country there’s not enough money to buy a car to get the food home from the store.

me: And that’s why they eat their own poop?

L: It’s to survive.

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The fact that S blows kisses to me when she says goodbye has lost a little bit of its meaning ever since I saw her saying “bye-bye pee-pee” and blowing kisses towards the toilet as she flushed.

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I’ve mentioned before L’s favoring T over me. Nothing has changed on this front. On a recent Friday night L said to me at bedtime, “Daddy’s getting me up tomorrow. Can you please sleep or just stay in your room for a long long time?”

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S is proudly showing L all of her “artwork.” Instead of ignoring her and paying attention to the movie he’s watching. He hops off the couch and sits down in front of S. With each piece she displays, he exclaims, “It’s wonderful! That’s so beautiful! You made that?”

Heart melts. In moments like these I can almost (almost) forgive him for teaching S to say “Mommy is a stupid idiot.”
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Ahhhh, the Spaaaa

I’m tired. Not in the usual way though. I’m tired from staying up late and laughing too hard. I’m tired in a wonderfully refreshing way because I spent a weekend at a SPA with FRIENDS, WITHOUT KIDS! Somehow, it seemed appropriate for me to crash someone else’s girls weekend. This is out of character for me, but it felt like the right thing to do and I’m so glad I did.

The number one most awesome and unexpected thing (from a long list of awesome and unexpected things) to come from my blog is the relationships I’ve formed with a handful of other bloggers. I count these women among my friends, even though I have not met all of them in ‘real life.’ Kim, from Let Me Start By Saying is one of these bloggers. I don’t remember how our online friendship started, how we first found each other, but I was lucky enough to meet her in person at a blog conference. She is a tall, blonde, coffee-guzzling, hilariously funny, snarky, camera-wielding, lovely, moderately obscene soul mate for me who I couldn’t possibly not be friends with. So when she extended the invite to join her and her friends on their annual spa weekend, I jumped at the chance.

Over the course of 2 days the following things may have happened:

  • 4/4 of us had a face drawn on our chins with eyeliner. We may have then performed various solos and duets while upside-down wearing a pillow case over our heads, (What? That’s totally normal,);
  • 1/4 of us peed in her pants;
  • 4/4 of us fell on the floor laughing;
  • 1/4 of us took off her pants in public, twice, unrelated to the aforementioned pee incident;
  • 2/4 of us found ourselves running from compost;
  • 1/4 of us got I-love-you-drunk and spent hours looking through all of the photos of her kids on her phone;
  • 3/4 of us did not;
  • 4/4 of us ate, drank, and were merry.
I feel all filled-up in a way I haven’t for a long time. I feel calibrated. I have a song about clavicles stuck in my head. I gained 3 pounds and yet I feel lighter. I have two new friends who I have inside jokes with. And I have a video of a couple of chins singing “Mahna-Mahna.” “What’s that?” you say? I’ll let the professionals show you:

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A Morality Tale

L really doesn’t need as much sleep as we need him to have. We need the full 12 hours of rest from him and that’s why we put him to bed at 7. His natural time to sleep isn’t until about 8:30. That’s problematic because his parents’ natural time to sleep is 9:30. One hour of wakeful reprieve is simply not enough. So, we put S down at 6:30 and tell L he’s staying up late when he gets that extra 1/2 hour until 7. Then we slog through a bedtime routine full of more manipulations, chases, battles and tears than I care to think about. By 8:00 we’re ready to be on our own, relaxing. We expect our fully wakeful son to just stay in his room relatively quietly until he’s ready to go to sleep on his own. He does not do as we expect. (Which, really, is what we expect.)

All this is a long way of saying that when he comes out of his room every 22 seconds to tell us of an urgent need for water, a last hug, a toy he forgot downstairs, a band-aid, some itchy cream, etfuckingcetera, we are displeased. Instead of hearing a cute little voice in that annoying fake-sweet voice he puts on, we hear the manipulative little devil that he is.

But last night, I had a decent amount of wine. I was in a good mood. Also, yesterday I had 7 full child-free hours! So, I was in a really excellent mood. Instead of just yelling upstairs, I went upstairs. Instead of just unceremoniously marching him back into his room, I smiled at him, held his hand, and sat on his bed.

He then explained to me that he and his two teddy bears are lions. The big teddy bear is his brother lion and the little teddy bear is his baby son who he has to take care of. And they are a family. But they had no food to eat. And they already ate all the sticks. But they were still hungry. So they ate his brother, the big bear. They cut him right here and here and drank up all his blood, because that is what some people do. He then lovingly set up a bed at the foot of his own bed in which he tucked the small bear, his son. He sang a lullaby, kissed him, and gently covered him with one of his own lovies. His own lovey, people! 

After this whole strange scene I left thinking, “What a loving, caring and imaginative son I have!” Normally, I’d leave a scene like this fretting about my blood-sucking-sociopath 4-year-old. But like I said, I had a decent amount of wine.

Moral of the story? I think the moral is that I should drink more, but that seems like a weird moral. I’ll have to look further to see if there might be some other moral in there somewhere.

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We’ve all heard that the contents of a woman’s purse can tell you a lot about the woman. Unfortunately, I think this is probably true. It’s only unfortunate because of what the contents of my purse say about me.

The current contents of my purse:

  • my wallet
  • my phone
  • my keys
  • 2 tubes of Aquaphor (one small, one medium)
  • 1 packet of tissues
  • hand sanitizer
  • 1 emergency granola bar, squished
  • 1 emergency zip lock baggie of Goldfish, squished
  • 4 pennies
  • 1 pretend coin of unknown denomination
  • 1 leg of a small Lego person
  • 1 Cookie Monster phone
  • crumbs of various and unknown origins
  • something sticky and small stuck to the lining
  • empty sippy cup, but not quite empty enough to not leak milk
  • 1 pair of clean underpants for S
  • 2 pair of wet underpants from S
The addition of pee-soaked underpants prompted me to take inventory. I felt that actual urine, someone else’s no less, in my purse probably says something pretty loud and clear about me. Gone are the days of tiny bags with just a wallet, phone and lip gloss. So, what’s in your wallet?

Motherhood is a multifaceted job – much like a gemstone that you hold in your hand turning in the light watching the angles and corners and surfaces glimmer and shine different, unexpected ways, only with more poop. As a mom I’m both hero and villain. I’m playmate and disciplinarian, teacher and student, and a bunch of other less glamorous things like chef, maid, coffee-chugger, insomniac, bathroom coach, and budding alcoholic. I have more roles than I can list because new ones arise every day. Am I an expert nail cutter, splinter-getter-outer? I am now. And, as a feather in my lovely mom-cap, as one last sexy thing I do, I plunge toilets. Often.

Indoor plumbing was not made with L in mind. His small body produces surprisingly unflushable waste. And to exacerbate the unflushable situation further, he apparently cannot learn the appropriate amount of toilet paper one needs. Although he frequently throws his dirty toilet paper in the garbage, (Oh, yeah, I’m also dirty toilet paper garbage digger. I’m so hot.)  he does sometimes remember to dispose of these enormous bunches of paper in the toilet.

We all watch the toilet flush murmuring “please, please, please” under our collective breaths.

Usually I catch it in time before an actual overflow. I can plunge while holding that ball thing up in the back while defensively body checking small curious people out of the way. Sometimes I’m too late. Then I’m standing in a growing puddle of horror, while plunging, and screaming for small curious people to go far far away.

I hate this job.

This job, and so many others like it, is what it means to be a grown-up. As a kid I really wanted to be a grown-up. I had romantic ideas of doing whatever I wanted (ha!) whenever I wanted (haha!) and staying up late (hahaha!). I thought I’d wear fabulous clothes (snort!) and lead and exciting life (sob!). Had I known that being a grown-up actually entailed so much toilet plunging and other people’s body parts and fluids then I might have relished my childhood a little more. I might have enjoyed my irresponsibility, the fact that the buck never stopped here.

What are your responsibilities that let you know you’ve finally arrived at adulthood?
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Cyber-Punished

Today I was banned from Facebook. Don’t panic! My Facebook rights should be reinstated tomorrow. As this was my first offense, I only got a 24 hour ban. I guess that repeat offenders get banned for good.

So, what did I do that was so wrong? I posted this photo:

Clearly scandalous, no?

My reprimand and subsequent time-out from Facebook has put me through a range of emotions today not dissimilar to the 5 Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial: What? I’m banned? Can’t be. Let me update my status about that. WTF? I can’t update my status?? Can’t be. Let me try again.
  2. AngerWTF? I didn’t do anything wrong! Who is the idiot in charge of this ridiculous process? Did someone actually report this picture as inappropriate? What kind of sick person would think that way? This is not fair! I have something to say about it! But I’ve been muted! ARRRGGGH!
  3. BargainingMaybe I can send an email to someone explaining the misunderstanding. Obviously the carefully crafted rules and regulations regarding offensive or nude photos did not have this photo in mind. There’s been a mistake. We can work this out, surely!
  4. DepressionThere is no way to contact an actual person at Facebook. Figures. What about all the funny stuff that keeps popping in my head? These are gems that are just going to be lost to my own poor memory. What should I do now? Hmmm. I have nothing to do. My life is empty. Wow. I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I’m pathetic.
  5. AcceptanceOK, deep breaths. The rules are there to protect my very own naked children against pervs. Yes, I think banning me for this is an overreaction, but it is what it is. It’s just a day. Do I have a Facebook habit? Sure. But it could be worse. I could be doing meth.
What did I learn about myself today? That I actually grieved the loss of my ability to post on Facebook as ‘Motherhood, WTF?’ for 24 hours. I’m going to go ahead and call this a First-World Problem. My takeaway is that I’m fortunate enough for this to be my biggest problem today.

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The Brutal, Ugly Truth

L comes up with new, crazy-ass ways to be bad on a daily basis. It’s 9:45 PM and we hear him walking around after he had been sleeping. I go upstairs to check on him. He’s happy, gives me a big hug. His hair is wet. Really wet.

“Why is your hair wet?”

“Because I’m so cold.”

Hmmm. Not a good answer. I go into his room to tuck him back into his bed. His bed is soaked. The whole bed. From pillow right on down.

“Why is your bed wet?” No answer. “Did you pee?” (All over it?) No answer. I need to investigate further. I go into the bathroom where I find a soaking wet towel in the sink. Shit. What did he do??

Back in his room I begin to strip the bed. As I do I feel my blood pressure increase. My temper rises. Suddenly I’m seeing red. Here I go. I’m about to lose it…

“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO LIVE IN A HOUSE WHERE YOU HAVE ACCESS TO A BATHROOM??? ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO START LOCKING THE BATHROOM DOORS? WE’VE ALREADY LOCKED AWAY YOUR SOAP AND YOUR TOOTHPASTE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED WITH THOSE, BUT NOW YOU CAN’T EVEN BE TRUSTED WITH PLUMBING??!!”

I can tell I’ve lost it completely. I am now officially crazed. I can’t stop. My anger is overwhelming. I keep screaming. It’s like a freight train. Unstoppable. L is crying. As I move around his bed, remaking it, I step on something wet. Underpants, lying next to a wet pair of shorts.

“What’s this?” No answer. “WHAT IS THIS?”

“I peed.”

“How did you manage to pee in underpants and shorts when you’re wearing a pull-up?” No answer. Uh-oh. Here comes the red again. I can feel the surge, my heart pounding. Suddenly I’m screaming again…

“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?? WHY DO YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO?? WHY DON’T YOU THINK? DO YOU THINK I WANT TO BE HERE SCREAMING AT YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? DO YOU THINK THIS IS WHAT I WANT? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BEHAVE?”

I went on and on with no sign that this tirade was ever going to end. T finally came in and ushered me out of L’s room. And now I’m here writing this while T finishes with L upstairs and puts him back to bed. Adrenaline flows through me. My hands shake as I type. I still don’t know the full story of what happened: what was water, what was pee or why. All I know is that I seem to be hanging on to the very last shred of the last tiny millimeter of the end of my rope.  I no longer have a cushion of patience, understanding or perspective.

I am well aware that I overreacted tonight in a big way. I screamed like a crazy person. Like a very bad mother. My throat hurts. I’m sure my neighbors heard through the open windows, even though their houses are far from mine. L is now back in bed sleeping, not 15 minutes after this whole episode. Clearly he was not terribly distressed by my tantrum, which only means that he’s seen it before. That he’s not shocked like he really ought to be.

This is The Ugly. This is what happens here that I’m sure doesn’t happen in your houses.

I’m so sick and tired of fighting all the time, of the constant vigilance I have to keep with L, the nonstop battles over every little thing all day long every single day. It’s just too hard. It feels so unfair sometimes. Like I was given the wrong child. This kid needs a better mother – someone with more patience and kindness. I give up.

Hello, Universe? You made a mistake. You didn’t give me a challenge I could rise to, but one that has totally destroyed me. Please check your records and make the appropriate adjustments. 

OK, the adrenaline has subsided. My tantrum is over. Now I’m just stuck with the shitty emotional cocktail of failure, weakness, guilt and sadness. Really, what was the big deal all about? He played with water? What the fuck is the matter with me anyway?

Here’s a problem I have: I like to be expressive, really expressive. In the English language there are few words or phrases with more oomph than “fuck” and “Jesus Christ.” So, naturally, I say these and some other unsavory words a lot.

I realize that people might find these words offensive. Sorry. I don’t mean any offense. They’re just words to me.

I realize that some people might think I lack creativity if I can’t express myself without resorting to these. Maybe I do. But I like these words, and choose them on purpose.

My frequent swearing hasn’t been a huge problem for me since I was a kid myself. Back then, I got in trouble a lot, and there was not a single authority figure who was at all interested in my defense of, “But they’re just words!” At the ripe old age of 35, I’ve gone many years where the biggest repercussion I’ve suffered from my language is that I’ve probably repelled some people and made some lousy first impressions. Not terrific, but not a big deal.

Suddenly though, these very words are coming from the mouth of my 4-year-old. He is a frequent user of “damn” and “Jesus Christ;” thankfully, he’s backed off on his use of the f-word. For the first time I’m hearing these words in a different way. They’re fine coming from me to add some extra punch or humor, but from my preschooler? They sound so so wrong.

I could probably kick the habit, in front of the kids at least, if only I could avoid being aggravated, angry, frustrated and physically hurt. Considering who my 4-year-old is, avoiding these things is just not in the cards. So, do I teach him to do as I say not as I do? That would have bugged the hell out of me when I was a kid, so no. Do I stop saying them even when I step on a Lego after finding L stealing gum from my purse? I just don’t see that happening, so no. Do I teach him that there’s a time and a place for different kinds of language use? This is what makes the most sense to me, and it’s what I actually believe, but is there a time and place for a young kid to swear? Probably not.

I think I’ll just have to add this to my growing list of parenting fails. Unless he stops swearing, L will see the inside of many principal offices, just like his mother did. For his sake, I hope he quickly accepts that certain language is just not acceptable in certain situations. I hope that he does not take his mother’s childhood position of: I will continue to say these words to express myself until all the people around me realize they are just words, so they can lose their ridiculous, artificial power.

Hmm, I wonder where he gets his stubborn streak and his penchant to disobey authority?
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Rain, Rain Go the F Away

It’s raining. It’s been raining for days now.

There’s a huge fair that’s been setting up on the town common for the last week that I have to drive by daily. Rides galore.

Every day L wakes up, “Is it fair day yet?” Every day I say something vague about not yet, lots of rain and maybe never.

Today the fair opened in the pouring rain. People who are much more keen than I am are on those rides despite the rain. Bumper to bumper barely moving traffic with L in the car begging to go to the fair that he can clearly see is now open = so not fun. I’m hoping for a break in the weather tomorrow morning so we can stop by the fair on our way out of town for the weekend. Otherwise we’ll miss the entire thing.

Until then, it’s just me sending the kids out in the weather while I stay dry on the porch. I’d totally go out there and play with them; it’s just that I really don’t want to.

Hey, at least I provide snacks!

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Baby Haters?

Actual Facebook status of a college (clearly childless) friend:

Note to all you parents out there: if you can’t get your baby to stop crying for more than 30 seconds at a time throughout a 2 1/2 hour flight, maybe you should hold off on flying because people like me hate people like you. On an unrelated note, I think it’s about time for a vasectomy.

After a mix of comments, none of which were a hand reaching out of his screen and smacking him, he followed up with:

Listen, I’m not anti child, I am anti shitty parent. If you can’t shut your kid up for more than 30 seconds on a 3 hour flight, I guarantee you that all 20 people sitting within earshot from you think you aren’t trying hard enough.

Am I naive to be shocked by this? Am I so far gone into parenthood that I’ve forgotten how people without kids think and feel? Did I feel this way? Is it normal?

My question to him was, “How exactly should these shitty parents make their baby shut up?” I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

Do childless people really think parents can make our kids and babies do anything? Or is it just a matter of not thinking it through? Obviously we can’t make them do anything. If we could, parenting would be easy. We could make them eat what they’re served, make them go on the potty, make them behave in public places, make them go to sleep and make them stop crying. If only!

Then again, that would mean that our children had no wills of their own, that they were not their own people, that they were not capable of exerting themselves or having independent thought. I’m the first to raise my hand to tell you that my kids’ will and independent thought are often entirely frustrating to me, but I’m still happy that they have them!

As for the crying baby on the plane, I hope that before I had kids I was smart enough to know that despite how entirely annoying to me a crying baby might be, there’s nothing that the parents could do about it. Those poor parents were surely trying all they could think of, and certainly felt the judgement of all the people around them. I’m positive that the parents were more stressed and unhappy about the whole ordeal than anyone else, baby included.

As for my college friend, not sure if I want him to get that vasectomy immediately, or to have a baby of his own!

Thank You

I want you all to know that I read every comment I get here and on my FB page and every single email. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the feedback, support, advice and points of view. There are too many awesome points for me to respond to each one, so I’m writing this as a general response:

  • Yes, I am still going to go forward with having L evaluated by someone who is not that douche-bag doctor we saw the other day. My objective is to find out what makes L tick, so I can help him tick in a way that will not piss me off is more socially acceptable.
  • You’re right, all kids behave worse at home. I should be happy and proud that L can behave so well at school. It does mean, at the very least, that he’s not a psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of terrible-path. And it also shows that he trusts me enough to never really sell him on eBay.
  • I will try to look at L’s ransacking the baking/junkfood cabinet and the freezer at dawn today as a step towards his becoming an independent, self-reliant man. (Damn, some of you are very glass-half-full people!)
  • I had an aha moment today when I read this comment:

….I’ve found my kids doing the exact same things. They ignore rules they’ve known for years, make messes just for the sake of being messy, and misbehave for me while acting the angel for everyone else. I’ve also come to realize that every time they act this way, it’s because they know they can get away with it. I realize I’ve fallen into the parent trap of frustrated speech, not following through, and trying to plead with them to do what I told them. When I follow through with discipline and kind words, all goes back to normal…

Dean is totally right on. Things were bad with L a year ago, I got really strict and mean, things got better. Things were so good that I thought I was out of the woods. I let my guard down. I let small things slide. Small things snowballed into an avalanche of bad, and now I’m here. Time to bring back mean mommy. This will not be fun, but will probably provide blog-fodder.

So, watch out, L! Mean-Mommy is back. And Daddy’s going to bring back Hammer-T. I will try very, very, very hard not to react emotionally. I will suppress my inner combustible self. I will be nonplussed, calm, and mean.

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