...because I've got to be dreaming, right? Yes, one of those horrible nightmares that leaves you unsettled long after you've already realized it was all in your head. Either that or I've done something really fucked up to someone and am now paying for it in laundry karma.
When you have small children, much of your life revolves around firsts. First word. First step. First “I love you.” Well, we had a first the other night that I hadn’t really had on my list of kiddie milestones.
My beautiful baby boy. Almost two. Adorably (and loudly) playing with his bath toys with his wet hair matted down on his forehead. "Aaaaaaah! Joooooh!” he screamed, dumping a cup of water over his head. Squeals of delight and laughter ricocheted off the tiles. I giggled along with him, kissed him, and went to grab a clean towel. All of the sudden, quiet. I peeked my head back in and saw him clutching the side of the tub, staring at me with a blank expression on his face.
“Honey, ready to get out?” I asked.
“No. No Mama.”
“No, Mama,” he responded, shaking his head vigorously.
Wait a second. My brow furrowed. Wait a gosh darn second here. That “No, Mama” wasn’t your average “No, Mama.” Not a “No, Mama” he lobs my way when he doesn’t want to do something I’ve asked him to do or doesn’t want to stop doing something I’ve asked him to stop doing. This “No, Mama” had an all-too-familiar leave-me-alone-I-need-privacy shaky tone to it.
Still. It couldn’t be. He wouldn’t. He would never.
Or would he?
I squinted, looking into the tub. And, suddenly...the horror. The unspeakable, unfathomable horror. Holy shit. I mean, literally, holy shit.
Two small turds stared back at me as they happily bubbled to the surface of the tub water. I screamed. Grabbing J quickly out of the tub, I froze, not quite knowing what to do about Dooce and Dooceling.
“What, what happened?” T yelled from downstairs. “Everything ok?” I heard his feet bounding up the stairs. He appeared at the doorway to the bathroom just as the scene turned from ugly to macabre. Jack looked into my eyes one last time, his face turning beet red. And, before any of us could even wrap our brains around the two initial brown trouts (or in this case brown goldfish) swimming around the tub, there it was: The Log.
“EEEEEEEW! GRRRRROSSSS!” yelled The Chorus, otherwise known as our 4-year-old. “EEEEEW. JACKY POOPED ON THE FLOOR!”
“Oh, Christ,” T groaned.
“Oh. My. God.” I whispered.
“Ew. Poopy. Ew. Ew. Ew,” said the culprit, looking around at all of us as if the shit banana on the floor came out of someone else’s ass and not his.
It only took a minute for us to divide and conquer. I took J, still shaking his head as if he was an innocent bystander, to his room to clean him up. And, ladies and gentleman, I’d like to take this moment to personally thank my husband for strapping on his hazmat suit and jumping in as First in Command for Operation Turd Removal. Not only did the task at hand involve flushing, but also disinfecting. And more disinfecting. Not easy. Or fun.
And for those of you puking in your mouths as a result of this story, I apologize. Ok, not really. Come on people. You can’t have a mommy blog and not talk shit.
As evidence that I need another brain in addition to that second set of hands, I packed a Tupperware filled with three raw (yes, as in uncooked) eggs in M's lunch last week.I can only imagine her teacher's confusion over the exotic preparation of the eggs ("Um, this is how we eat eggs in Thailand?").
My babysitter texted me early afternoon: "Did you know you packed M raw eggs for lunch?" What the fuck? What is the babysitter talking about and, more importantly, what in the hell is she smoking? Raw eggs? No way, no how would I give my child uncooked, disease-carrying food for lunch. Some other phantom, irresponsible, inept mother must have snuck into our kitchen after I finished preparing her lunch this morning and switched out the apples (peeled and sliced just the way she likes them, thank you very much)and replaced them with some raw-ass eggs.
Same plastic container. Peeled apples are white-ish. Eggs are for-sure, white. I switched our three remaining eggs out of the carton into a plastic container because the carton had torn.
Shit, shit, shit.
Poor M. She is now forever known as the weird kid who brings raw eggs to school for lunch (she didn't really eat them). Her teacher at least had the sense (someone's got to) to crack the eggs (all three of them) before letting M touch them. And, she had her turkey sandwich, which thankfully wasn't switched up for some raw ground beef or something.
My roommate in grad school used to call these moments, when it seems your brain has completely vacated the cavity right above your eyebrows, "head up ass" moments. I actually think my head was so far up my ass that it might have qualified as a head-in-stomach moment.
And, so I offer this as a mea culpa to my 4-year-old:
Dear M, The fact that I packed you raw eggs for lunch doesn't mean I don't love you. It just means I'm a moron. You will have your moron moments too as a fully grown human being, and I promise that if you let me of the hook for this bad boy, I'll let you off the hook for yours.
Now that it's launched, and I actually have a couple of clients knocking...I don't think life is going to get less busy. And, what falls by the wayside? My mommy blog. I used to write multiple times in one week and now I'm lucky if I get one blog entry in. I feel schizophrenic these days. Do I want to be a writer/journalist? Do I want to be a stylist/fashionista? I even contemplated hanging up my mommy blogging skates. Then I thought better of it. I do want M to read this blog one day. Honestly. Maybe not when she's 14, but when she's an adult. I want her to know all the crazy-ass shit running around in her mom's head as she was chasing two little kids around. I want her to know all the beauty, sacrifice, joy and frustration that comes with parenting.
So, I'll keep going.
And, for now, I hope you'll settle for some pictures of my weekend in New York with just the girls...little girls. One of the joys of having M grow older is that you get to do really cool shit like this. It's not just about the swinging at the park, building blocks, or tossing her around in the air. We discover things together now and it is amazing. To see her walking around the city, not a baby or toddler, but an actual little girl...one that has real, true thoughts, feelings, questions, and opinions. I can hardly believe it.
Then she asks me to pee and I remember, we have a ways to go. And I smile.
M doing my hair on the train. I lost a significant amount of hair during the creation of the scalp-torture device also known as a ponytail, but also got natural botox on my forehead from all the pulling. At one point, I was convinced my scalp was bleeding.
We took a cab to see an off-broadway musical performance of Pinkalicious. Kitty came too.
Soooooo excited for Pinkalicious, I may have tinkled myself.
"I've died and gone to heaven."
Of course we had to pretend to be Tom Hanks.
...and even Mommy got in on the action...
And, finally, hailing a cab to head back to the hotel for pizza and sleep. We heart NY.
I've been angry. Not outwardly angry, but angry nonetheless. Getting stabbed in the back by an ex-business partner sucks balls.
And that's where I've been. Pissed. Furious. Dreaming up not-very-nice, not-very-constructive and not-very-grown-up ways to deal with the situation (usually involving toilet paper, eggs or both).
No matter how mad you get with circumstances in your life, though, there They are. I find myself always thinking of the better way to do the better thing. The better way to deal with stress. The better way to handle the unexpected and unfortunate. The better way to...live. I don't know if I actually better myself by this constant barrage of betterment. Most of the time, it ends up producing more stress.
And then there are moments like this morning. No rushing to get to school this a.m. Was up early, got dressed at a leisurely pace. Had breakfast. Drank my coffee. Even had time for a book with M. It's a beautiful fall day so decide, since we have time, to walk to school.
"Let's sing a song Mama!"
"What should we sing?"
"Five little ducks."
I start the chorus...
"Five little ducks went out to play..."
"Over the hills and far away.."
I pushed J as M skipped alongside -- happy to be walking to school and singing with her mommy.
I didn't want the song to end. So, we kept going. We sang it again and followed up with Where is Thumbkin?, ABCs, and This Old Man. The two of us belted out the songs with a passion and verve not commonly seen in either of us before 10 a.m. (It should be noted that M taught me the words to all these songs. My personal catalog of children's songs is woefully lacking. Case in point: I've been known to sing her Lady GaGa before bed.)
With every word, every note, I felt the frustration I'd been holding onto over the last few weeks, dissipating...at least a little. Losing money sucks. Feeling like a chump sucks even more. But, when you get down to it, this is life. Singing Five Little Ducks on the way to preschool. Simple and easy as pie.
And as I skipped along with M, pushing the stroller with not a care in the world, I was thankful. Thankful for what I have instead of dwelling on what I've lost. Who knew my four-year-old was the one who actually knew the real better way?
Oh miracle of miracles! Blessed of all events! Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
The boy slept.
I know I may very well be jinxing myself here, but after nearly two years of night wakings, the boy slept. Like from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. Like without me having to haul my creaky, cranky, hobble-dee-gee ass out of bed to give him a few pats on the back and a comforting "Nigh, nigh." Come on, I need a collective "hell to the yeah" for this one.
How it went down was even more superbly magnificent. I didn't sit in my bed, white-knuckled, listening to him do The Torture Scream for half an hour. He didn't hurl himself out of his bed in a fit of rage over the injustice of bed time. I didn't end up a festering dump of emotional garbage, sobbing on the bathroom floor and crying to the heavens, "Why me?!?" (Trust me, sleep deprivation with no forseeable end in sight will make your world apocalyptic on a good day.)
In fact, there was little fuss.
I pranced and sashayed around the office today like I was Miss Fucking America because, well, I was. I mean, I might as well have been. Little, imp-like publisher who is always full of nonsensical editorial questions started in on one of my stories first thing in the morning, firing 15 questions in a row that were (and I'm not just saying this because I wrote the damn thing), stupid and worthless. I smiled coquettishly, giggled, straightened my make-believe tiara and said, "No problem. Get right to it. By the way, I really think the shirt tucked into your jeans that are pulled up to your nipples is totally working for you. Zexy." La dee da. Nothing can bother me today. I slept for eight hours straight. Doodeedeedoo.
What did I do to finally get a full night's sleep without waking up? Well, you wouldn't believe it, but I eliminated the before-bed bottle. For those of you who have followed my bottle trials and tribulations (along with the sleep ones), you know I've been a sucker from day one (cue post-joke cymbal). When I decided this week was the week, I braced myself. I looked in the cupboard at the two clean bottles and pondered if I should ditch them all or keep one "just in case." Just in case what? Just in case I decided to strap on my granny panties mid-fight and call it a night? Fuck that. After taking a deep breath, I tied them up in a plastic bag and bid them adieu. Goodbye bottles. You've served us well, but your time is officially finito.
As the evening went on (with husband at football game, I was going solo tonight, which can sort of be a blessing in disguise when you're tackling life-changing, schedule-altering humps involving a child...managing his stress over the situation can often times be even more stressful), I found myself glancing nervously at the clock and longing for the tied bag of bottles.
I took a deep breath and dug deep. Must show no fear.
Read him a book, gave him a cup of milk, brushed his teeth, and put him down. He cuddled with his furry buddies, and I kissed him goodnight. I crept out of the dark room, my eyes squinting and body tensing in preparation for the inevitable Scream Heard 'Round the World. The inevitable never came. Nothing. Silence. After 15 minutes, there was a little whimpering that ceased after about two minutes.
Holy shit. That was too easy. It's been so hard in the past. What happened? Did he finally realize that sleep is not his enemy?
Not wanting to question this unfathomable, but fortuiuous, turn of events, I went to take a shower. I giggled like a school girl as I lathered up my hair. I'm not kidding when I say the sound "teeheehee" actually, and literally, came out of my mouth as I thought about my head hitting the pillow.
The last thing I remember is getting my pajamas on, the dirty dishes in the sink that would just have to wait until morning, and my toes wiggling blissfully under the covers.
Holy shit, I've been busy. I haven't had any time to blog and I'm seriously missing it. I mean, where else do I get to light and set off f-bombs with reckless abandon?
Anyhow, I am at work right now and supposedly writing a story about group travel for the over-50 set (and, no, we're not talking Carnival Cruises here. I'm talking Gramps and Grans heading off for 21 days to Iran with a bunch of other thrill-seeking grey-haireds). I'm putting aside bungee jumping outings for the geriatric crowd for a few and getting back to...life.
Yesterday was a shit storm of a day. It was indicative of how things have been the last month, and I think I may need to revisit (again) the juggling act that I call motherhood and career. I know I waxed poetic about the joys of a simple, straightforward part-time gig writing for my sweet, huggable little local paper. No pressure, no work in the evenings or on weekends, no drama. But, then, something happened. I got kick-started in another direction. Long story short, friend recommended me for a start-up styling gig associated with a nationally recognized lady who loves to tell people what not to wear. Went to an initial interview that went well and waiting to see if there will be a second.
In the meantime, inspiration hit. Why not just go ahead and start my own personal shopping/styling business? I have the know-how from my former days with the boutique, there is no overhead, and, I'm really, really, really good at spending other people's money.
So, off I went. I roped a few friends into being guinea pigs for my styling efforts. Over the last three weeks, I've been shopping at a maniacal pace, rabidly foaming at the mouth over the perfect piece for my clients (initial shop, try on, returns/exchanges, follow-up, pictures, etc.) That doesn't even count thinking of a name for my new business, coming up with a logo, starting work on building a Web site, coming up with a marketing plan, drafting legal documents...Wait, wait, wait just a gosh darn second. What the fuck is going on here? What happened to my Zen-style approach to work and motherhood?
Pile on top of that my part-time job at the paper AND freelance writing gigs that I can't seem to turn down (why, I'm not sure). Oh, and I also have two kids under five. Zen? I'm full-speed ahead into The Work Overload Zone, which is sort of like a fun house. You're running at warp speed and the excitement of it all can be intoxicating. But, at the same time, everything looks completely twisted and fucked up from the chaos.
Back to yesterday...I got up as usual with the kids and we got them ready for the day. M heads off to school with Daddy and I take J to return equipment to our old cable company. Then we go on a shop. Shopping with a toddler is not only no fun whatsoever, but a feat akin to walking a tightrope while balancing a glass vase on the tip of your nose. Just picture trying to look for clothing for someone else (which takes a lot more thought and concentration than just looking for yourself) while hoping the cookies you keep plying the toddler with will make him want to be in the stroller for, like, an hour.
Now imagine removing yelling toddler from stroller (after he took the last cookie, hurled it across the floor and exclaimed, "NO!") and chasing him through the aisles of a department store while periodically stopping to feel a cashmere cardigan that would be so to-die-for on Margy. Fuck. Me.
Dragged bags of clothes with toddler out door and headed back to pick up preschooler from school to take her to ballet by 3. Made a pit-stop at library pre-ballet. (Hey, those little stops may seem like nothing, but try doing them with a 28-lb wiggly toddler and preschooler who keeps whining, "But, my legs are tiiiiiiired..." Awesome.)
Made it to ballet. Walked outside, hoping J would doze off in his stroller so I can actually focus on my 3:15 p.m. interview for a news story. No dice. Pulled out my laptop, made the phone call and prayed for the best. Please, God, let the shooting water fountains in front of us keep him busy for 20 minutes so I can ask my five questions and be done.
"Ooooooh, preeeeeeeeetty waaaaater!! Priiity, pritty, priiiiity!! Oh, um, good afternoon Mr. County Executive. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to answer some questions about the biotech campus plan that is coming before the County Council this month."
Meanwhile, I'm sweating (it's 75 in October) doing a two-step jig much to the delight of both my kid and strangers walking by. "That bitch done lost her mind," there eyes seemed to say. No arguing with that assessment.
Water fountain/Mama making an ass of herself entertainment lasts for a minute. I need to sit down and type notes while this dude rambles on and on and on and on. Get to the point, man! Can't you see we're on borrowed time? The kid...is going...to blow! Initial baby giggles inevitably devolve into over-tired whining (again, my bad for dragging the poor kid around all day and expecting him to get proper rest in a car seat). I ask one last question, which launches Mr. County Executive into a I'm-a-politician spiel that literally brought me to my knees. The interview that I thought would never end, finally did -- with five minutes to spare.
Take J out for a quick cuddle. "I'm sorry sweets; you've been soooooooo patient today with mommy." (Not really, but hey, did I really expect that he would be on his best behavior at the cable office building, shopping and while I'm on the phone? I mean come on, the kid shits his pants, thinks the height of entertainment is sticking both fingers up his nose and snorting, and would like nothing better than for me to allow him to root through the kitchen garbage can, uninterrupted.)
Scoop M from ballet class. We all drive home in silence. Dinner, bath, bed by 7:15. (They usually go to bed at 8, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)
As I cuddled with M before bed, watching her pig nightlight glow in the dim room and listening to the dishwasher downstairs humming, it came to me. The answer to the stress and busyness of the last month? Just Say No. After this month, only one freelance project every two weeks. After this month, only one style/personal shopping client every two weeks. After this month, back to sanity.
I smiled, nuzzled my daughter's hair, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Every now and again, you'll be coasting through life thinking, "Hey, shit's aaaaalright" and then something happens that knocks you off balance for a second. That something, for me, happened this morning. After a particularly hectic, busy, and emotionally draining morning, I was driving home and stopped at a crosswalk. There was an older caucasian gentleman standing as if he was going to cross. He stood there for some time, probably not realizing I was even there, waiting for him to make his move.
Finally, figuring he was a.) waiting for someone and not crossing or b.) just taking a rest or c.) just plain zoning out because, shit, life is long...I pulled up a bit. Well, the second I inched my car up, he stepped into the crosswalk and proceeded to start yelling at me from the street.
Being in the state of mind I was in (bigger fish to fry, etc.), I ignored him. Plus, I felt kind of bad that I freaked the old guy out. I put up my hand to say, "Go ahead. Walk." He crossed, I pulled up to the red light a few feet up. He hobbled up to the corner where the red light was and continued yelling. "Oh GOD, i thought. This guy's done lost it. I'm so embarassed. Is he going to start in on my windshield with his cane? Holy shit, I can't believe the light is still red."
As I was sitting there, seeing if there was a way to run the light or jump the curb, I heard it.
"Why don't you learn to read English! I know you don't even speak English! Go back to your country!"
All the stress of the morning and then having this guy cock his arm back and hurl these mean, racist curve balls straight at my gut...my mind started spinning. Before I even knew what was happening, I had rolled down the window, flipped the guy the bird and yelled, "I do speak English. Why don't YOU go to hell you old, racist fuck."
I immediately gasped. I couldn't believe those words had come out of my mouth. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love cursing, but usually in a silly, ridiculous, cheeky way. And, I don't do it much these days except, well, here. In real, technicolor 3-D life, I'm just not a highly confrontational person and don't typically yell things out at people in anger, particularly strangers. Really loud noise freaks me out.
The light turned green and I made my escape. I didn't look back, but imagined that he was sitting there, watching me drive away and waving his cane in fury at being told off by one of Them Thar Foreigners.
So, I try to learn from different experiences and think of ways I could have handled them better. I really, truly do. It's something I started focusing on four years ago. Children will have that effect on you. So, it's no surprise that once my skyrocketing blood pressure simmered, one of the first things I thought of was my daughter.
What if she had been in the car? How could I have explained what the man was saying? How could I have explained to her why mommy said a bad, bad word. And, how would I explain to her the other, more difficult word -- "racist"?
I immediately knew that I needed to do better. I needed to know that there are people in this world who are going to say nasty, hateful things, and I don't want to teach my daughter that the answer is to spew the same nasty hatred back. The best thing in that situation would have been to just drive away. Not engage. Or, if I really felt like I wanted to say something, why not something less venomous? Picture this alternate scenario: "Angry Sir, I do read English. In fact, I was an English major in college and have a master's degree in Journalism, which, incidentally, was all in English as well. My favorite book is an American classic -- The Great Gatsby. I thought you weren't crossing the street; just a misjudgement on my part. Plus, let's look on the bright side, shall we? I didn't run you over. Have a nice day."
I mean seriously, did it make me feel better to call him a name? (Ok, maybe a little.) But, mostly I still felt pretty crappy. Was I really going to teach this guy a lesson about respect for other races, nationalities...human beings? No. I mean, dude was about 80 years old. He was going to go to his grave with those beliefs and a million "fuck yous" were not going to change that. I needed to put aside my V for Racial Vengeance superhero (who I think probably looks something like the Incredible Hulk except totally ethnic) and consider what I wanted to teach my child: there are constructive, peaceful ways to deal with hate.
And then there's this little detail: my daughter is half caucasian. Her father comes from good ol' American white boy stock. As her Asian mother, I'm used to pumping up that half of her. Telling her how beautiful her brown skin is, her almond-shaped eyes, etc. She looks a lot like me so sometimes it's easy to forget...she is only half me. And her other half can't be colored with the same shallow, blanket, narrow-minded views that the old fuck on the street corner (sorry, can't deny name-calling can be ever so slightly gratifying in these situations) painted me with.
So, back to the drawing board. I'm off to put together a list of "constructive, peaceful ways to deal with hate." Wish me luck. But, before I do that, I want to say that racist attitudes can be funny. Really. Well, at least when you have Ricky Gervais poking fun at them...
I'm having a moment. Could it be? Could I really? Could it be possible?
I'm getting The Baby Urge.
With my youngest racing full-speed toward two and my oldest starting kindergarten next year, my memory is clouding. Yup. The memory of feedings every two hours; baby blues the first few months that had me just a hop-skip-and-jump away from The Big D; that medieval torture device that is used to extract milk from lactating mammaries (breast pump, not the baby's mouth); paranoia about the baby doing something potentially life threatening like rolling over on her stomach while she sleeps; hair loss; and the ungodly, unholy, unfathomable sleep deprivation that had me shuffling through streets, hallways and parks like the undead.
I got The Question last night. Ok, not the question, but a pretty hard one nonetheless.
"Mommy, why weren't they playing with me?"
And there you go. We have officially entered the land of frenemies. My four-year-old was in the company of a group of kids last night, most of whom were school-age, and felt what it is to be shunned.
"I wanted to play, but they wouldn't play with me."
I sat there for a second and just stared at her, taking in the quizzical look on her face. She didn't seem hurt by the shunning, but more wondering, in the most innocent, 4-year-old way possible, "Dub T Eff. I wanted to dress-up, cook some plastic food, and run around pretending like I'm a fairy on crack. Why wouldn't these beeyotches work with me?"
I wasn't completely unaware of the interactions that had taken place last night at our neighbor's home between my kid and The Others, all of whom probably thought nothing more than that this little four-year-old was too "babyish." M's one little friend -- who she's glommed onto in a sometimes overbearing, borderline single-white-female love affair since she was about three -- was off to the races with the big girls, leaving M confused and bewildered.
"But, we were playing the night before," M stated, matter-of-factly.
Yeah, but last night she didn't have these new, shinier options. Wake up, sweetheart. You're only good enough if there ain't no one else around.
"I know honey. But sometimes you just have to give her space. Just do your own thing."
Not one to take "no" for an answer, M often decides the best modus operandi to deal with a lukewarm response to a "let's play" offer is to really force the issue. Like psychotically grabbing the object of her affection's hand, calling his/her name over and over and over again (yeah, that one's awesome. I think I'll give it a shot next time I feel like someone isn't listening to me), or horror of horrors, asking the other child "Why don't you want to play with me?" It's one thing to watch your kid get the shaft, but then quite another to watch them socially implode attempting to deal with it.
When I see this happening, it's like I'm having an out-of-body experience and watching my child train wreck in slow motion.
"Wanna play in the kitchen? Wanna cook some food? Hello? Whyyyy woooon't youuu plaaaay with meeeee?"
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" I yell in that creepy, deep slow motion voice as I hurl myself through the air to save her from further humiliation.
We try and explain the ways of the world, boiled down for a 4-year-old. Teach her that there are going to be kids in this world she's going to like more, some kids that are going to like her more, et cetera, et cetera. Not every kid is always going to play what she wants to play every time she wants to play it. So, the best way is to leave it, and that kid, alone.
Still, as a mom, it's hard think about her bruised little feelings.
So, I got a little sad. She didn't seem all that bummed by the diss, but it didn't matter. My heart sank for her. Because, looking at it through the lens of a mother, it's not just little kids playing and carelessly disregarding my child. It's people hurting her. I wanted to hug her and tell her that one day, she will have more friends than she knows what to do with and, in the meantime, she's really lucky to have such a bitchin' mom.
"They were probably doing some big-girl stuff. Sometimes bigger girls have a different way of playing than little girls," I finally answered. And then I tickled her.
She threw her head back, laughed, wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed.
God help both of us when someone breaks her heart for the first time...
So, I've been feeling old lately. Not like pass-the-Depends old, but more like, "Shit, that's in style again?" old.
There are obvious signs of age...lines on my face that weren't there before, a metabolism that used to be my friend and now betrays me any chance it gets, and early morning stiffness that takes about 15 minutes to dissipate. (Seriously, all I want at 6:30 a.m. is a fucking cane.) Then there are other signs like the fact that you find yourself looking backwards...a lot.
"Hey! Remember when we blah, blah, blah? Or, the time we went to blah, blah, blah?" Yes. I'm one of those "Remember when" people now. And then there's the music. Lately, I have listening to stuff I listened to in high school and college more than checking out any new stuff. (You know things have gone awry when you've listened to The Cure more than once in five-day time period.)
Occasionally, I'll hear from out of nowhere,"Gosh darn whipper snappers! They don't make music like they used to!" I'll roll my eyes, glance around to see who let the old fogey in, and then realize that I'm by myself. That was my voice and, yes, my words. I'll glance down and see two confused faces looking up at me and realize it's only the first of many times I will leave my children scratching their heads.
I grew up a child of the '80s and '90s. I spent my childhood with scrunchies, Smurfs, and the Cosby kids. I spent my college years swimming in an intoxicating mixture of self-empowered angst and youthful exuberance, which exploded in a flurry of plaid and Doc Martens. What I remember most about 17 to 20 is dancing. Lights, music, friends, laughter, and dancing. Driving home at 5 a.m., watching the sun come up, laughing at the poor shmos on their way to work as we made our way home, feeling the wind on my face and not having a care in the world.
The freedom, spontaneity and absence of responsibility during that time can never be duplicated.
Then it was time to grow up. But I really didn't want to. So, I went to graduate school in Colorado. Man that was a great decision. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, the party continued. I emerged with a master's degree and a killer hangover. Got a job at a paper and moved in with two girlfriends, while Cyndi Lauper continued to be the soundtrack of my life 'cause, you know, girls just wanna have some friggin' fun.
Then it was really time to grow up. Moved home to the D.C. area for better job opportunities. Met, or shall I say re-met, my husband. Part of my past (my little brother's childhood best friend), it was easy to see a future. Falling in love is one thing, but falling in love and seeing something beyond the giddiness of infatuation is something else entirely. I knew. He knew. Cliche or not, that was it. This time, I was ready to grow up.
So, I get it. I'll never be that young girl again with no one to think of but myself. No longer will I have the raucous laughter and silliness of youthful irresponsibility punctuated by a soundtrack of loud, throbbing music.
Today, I'm a mom and wife first. I have responsibilities. I have commitments. I have love.
That is, except for Fridays mornings in my car. After dropping M off at school and J off at Grandma's, I turn up New Order, really loud, roll the windows down and...dance.
Five days a week. That's how often my little girl is in school these days. She had her first day last week. We did the obligatory first-day snapshot and off she went. And there I was. Left with just one.
I've had two for almost two years now. It was hard to comprehend a world when my arms weren't jumping apart in two different directions, story time didn't turn into a wrestling match because one lap just simply was not going to cut it, and my ears weren't ringing from the sheer volume of two children talking, crying, yelling, whining, laughing.
But there I was. With one. I wasn't sure what to do with him because I was so used to the frantic pace of the two of them.
So we went for a walk. Small puddles lined the path that is a short-cut to one of our many neighborhood parks (we don't have jack-shit for a yard, but for a consolation prize, we got parks, parks, and more parks). J ran ahead of me and stomped his way through the first puddle, sending tiny flecks of water flying.
He squealed in delight and proceeded to keep stomping. I watched him for a moment and then, out of habit, turned to look for her. Wait. She's not here. It's just us. And in that moment, I missed my first baby.
I turned to look at J's smiling, gleeful face and then, also out of the habit of rushing around with two, went to move him along to our final destination. When you have more than one child, sometimes you feel like your job is to "herd" them, move them along to the park, grocery store, inside the house, into the car, to the pool, wherever. But, then something curious happened. I stopped. What was the rush? We had all morning. We didn't have anyone else's schedule, needs, wants, desires to attend to.
"Go ahead honey. Stomp, stomp, stomp!" I said as I started to move my legs up and down. J laughed and jumped vigorously into another puddle, dampening the bottoms of his jeans.
His needs so often come second not only because she's bigger and louder, but also because activities with preschoolers are just more interesting than stuff with toddlers and infants. When we go out, usually it's to places geared toward M's interests and J is just along for the ride.
Given the freedom, though, all this guy really wants to do is stomp his little heart out in some mutha' fuckin' puddles. So we did -- for a solid 20 minutes.
When he was done (and I waited until he was done), I gave him some Goldfish crackers to munch on, we held hands, and walked on.
I'm a pants pooper. When I say that, I don't mean that you should be checking my drawers for chocolate swirls. I mean I can sometimes (fine, often times) have a glass-is-half-empty outlook on life. My husband is the opposite.
I'm always skeptical of T's hair-brained ideas when it comes to family activities. I'm freaked out by messes, injuries, and activities that I perceive to be "more trouble than they're worth." Nine times out of ten, though, when we follow through on them, I am transported to a magical place where I'm 9 years old again. Then, inevitably, I tuck my poop tail between my legs and say to him, "Yes, honey, you were right. That was fun. I had fun."
Our recent trip to Duck was no exception.
We had planned to check out the sand dunes, which if you are not familiar, are pretty fucking impressive. We're talking mountains upon mountains of sand. We went to the beach in the morning and planned to hit up the dunes in the afternoon. But, with a toddler nap time on the horizon, I was wondering how the heck we were going to swing it all.
"If he falls asleep on the way, we'll just carry him in, bring some towels, and let him sleep on the sand."
Easy, peasy, Japanesey. Right? Not when you have anal-retentive tendencies and are used to being hyper-scheduled, hyper-controlled, and just plain hyper. I reluctantly agreed.
The second issue was the boogy board. T was insistent that we bring it to ride the sand dunes, brah. Seriously? Do we really need to bring in a boogy board? Can't we just take leisurely walks around the dunes?
I relented. The boogy board came with...and so did my untrusting, unbelieving, unsure face, which T likens to an expression you'd make if you'd suddenly and unsuspectingly gotten a whiff of something foul-smelling.
J did fall asleep in the car on the way to the dunes. T carried him in, we laid him down on a towel and covered him with another. This is what he did while we took turns climbing the dunes:
M rocked it out, all the while squealing, yelling and laughing.
Take one with Daddy.
Take two, solo.
And as much as it pains me to write this, the boogy board was pure genius.
When J woke up, he promptly got into the dunage.
Fun with Dunes was a blast. And with most things that I resist because I'm scared, tired or can't relinquish the monster need to control, I am glad I conceded to the Powers of Fun. As a mom, sometimes I can get wrapped really tight about meals, naps, messes, routines, and all the other things that help me make sense of my day-to-day life with two small children. What was that line from Ferris Bueller's Day Off about inserting a piece of coal into Cameron's ass, twisting and getting a diamond? Well, you get the picture. It is a conscious effort for me to let loose and enjoy those carefree moments with my family.
So, with that being said, I'm glad I have Mr. Would You Please Fucking Relax nudging me from time to time....even though I don't always know it.
Plus, the boogy board did come in handy when we needed to transport an exhausted and extremely whiny preschooler back to the car.
First week as an intern at For Your Old Eyes Only newspaper went swimmingly. Had some highlights and lowlights, but overall currently having a blast in my new position as Ass-Girl Extraordinaire.
Day 1: "You are the best intern we've ever had." - My New Editor/Boss Almost as sweet of a compliment as when someone says, "Wow, you look really good for someone your age."
Day 2: "You sound so comfortable interacting on the phone." - Administrative Dude Does he really think I'm a college junior? Listen up, MAN, I'm edumacated.
Day 3: Assigned to profile winner of this year's Ms. Senior Beauty pageant. I'll say that again. Assigned to profile winner of this year's Ms. Senior Beauty pageant. Best. Assignment. Ever. I'll say that again. Best. Assignment. EVER.
Day 3, Part Deux: Viewed a number of pictures to go along with health piece on the importance of regular prostate exams. Holy shit. My ass cheeks still spontaneously clench together when I think of the close-up of that white-gloved hand-- and I'm not even a dude.
Day 4: Promotion from Intern to Staff Writer. I just did like the Little Engine and said to myself, "I think I can, I think I can."
Oh, and today, had to leave my internship early because both kids flared up with fevers of over 100 degrees. That's right. The intern had to leave because her kids were sick.
I could possibly be enjoying all this a little too much.
My husband and I were recently informed (by accident) that a friend of ours didn’t really enjoy hanging around us because he found our kids to be “stressful.” Yup. Stressful. How could he say such a thing about our little sweethearts, our angels, our chocolate-covered peanut butter balls of perfection? Fuck wad.
After some I'm-so-offended sputtering and some “Who the hell does he think he is?” rants, I calmed down and took a second to remember. I remembered what life was like before kids, and how I felt about kids before I had my own. It wasn’t that long ago that it was just me and the Mister, but it is challenging to remember life pre-rugrats when much of your current life is by and for rugrats. (Except the bliss of sleeping in until 10 a.m.; I’ll never forget that feeling.)
So, I thought and thought and thought and then thought some more. And suddenly, it hit me. I don’t like kids. I know. Fucked up statement coming from the mother of two kids. But I’m not kidding. Ok, fine. I concede that there are two big exceptions to the Sorry, Don’t Like That Kid, That Kid, and Yeah, Even That Kid rule, but in general...yup, don’t really like ‘em.
Since I’ve had a couple of my own, that has softened, but I’m still not one to ogle over a newborn or engage in an impromptu game of ring around the rosy. Newborns make me nervous with their oversized heads perched on their wobbly, unstable necks. It’s like one wrong move and that head just pitches backwards or off to the side. Way too nerve-wracking.
As for little kids -- like toddlers and preschoolers and such -- they’re loud. They talk too much. They produce too much mucus, and it’s always oozing out of some orifice in a multitude of toxic green and yellow hues. They’re also always prone to saying the most random, rude things that leave you in the ultimate Larry David-type awkward situations.
“Why does your tummy poke out like you’re having a baby?”
I'm not sure you little shit bird. Why do you allow snot to run freely down your face? Not cute. Find a tissue. Or a sleeve.
“Oh, I’m not sure honey. I think it’s just my shirt pouffing out.”
My husband says I have no patience. For example, when we swim laps at our pool, which without-a-doubt is run and occupied by anarchists, he 100 percent expects me to get my panties in a full knot up my ass over some kid jumping in the middle of my lap lane. And I inevitably do.
Some little shit always decides it’s a great idea to do a cannonball right in my lane with his noodle flotation device and start splashing around like he’s in the middle of a motherfuckin’ bird bath. Beat it bird, before feathers start flying.
Then there was last week. The two kids and I headed to the mall get M a new pair of kicks. Afterwards, we grab the obligatory mall meal - Mickey D’s. No sooner had they finished ingesting the pure lard from their Happy Meals when M made the request.
“Mommy, can we go play at that little inside park?”
Ew. You might as well go climb a jungle gym made of poo poo.
“Ok, honey we can go for a bit,” I said as I mentally clubbed myself for forgetting the sanitary wipes.
So, we stroll over and the little indoor play area is crawling, I mean like ant-farm crawling, with kids. And, they’re not just running around playing, climbing, etc. These kids were out for blood. We're talking Lord of the mutha' fuckin' Flies here.
Kids were tearing at each other. Climbing over one another. Straddling the giant plastic animals and beating their chests. Howling. Tackling each other. Scaling the wall surrounding the play area and then jumping off. Screaming for raw meat.
M and J jumped right in. I sat on the perimeter of the play area, nervously and skeptically watching my children, wondering if they were going to partake in the blood-lust or just observe. I looked around and saw parents, babysitters and grandparents all looking on with the same blank, glazed-over expressions that all said one thing and one thing only: We give up.
As I observed the chaos -- my kids part of it, mind you -- I started to laugh. Savages, heathens. Every last one of them. Angels and sweethearts. Every last one of them. As M jumped off the wall into the melee, I remembered her earlier in the morning with her arms wrapped around her brother, kissing him on the head and saying, “Come here, Jacky. Sit next to me and I’m going to read you a little story.” Hard to imagine that was the same little girl as the flailing, wild-eyed, cackling child before me.
And, that my friends, is the craziest thing about kids. They’ll have you rolling your eyes one minute and marveling in wonder the next. They’ll blow out your eardrums with a temper tantrum and then whisper “I love you.” You’ll be writhing in pain over a dog-whistle whine session and then have the most amazing conversation all the while thinking to yourself, “How in the heck did she get so smart?”
I know kids can be...difficult. Even with a couple of my own, I still think they are, by and large, a pain in the ass. The difference now? They aren't just a pain in the ass. They're a heck of a lot more. They're people. Kind of unreasonable and prone-to-flights-of-fancy people, but still people. They have their good days, bad days, moments of beauty and moments of ugliness. They're just like us.
So, with that said, Mr. Stressed Out By My Kids, I ain't mad atcha. Just don't let me catch you talking shit again...
I woke up at 3 a.m. the morning of the Iron Girl, courtesy of my toddler. It was really thoughtful of him. He must have known that in several hours, I was embarking on the most challenging physical feat since passing his melon head through my pelvis a year-and-a-half ago, and wanted to wish me a hearty "good luck" -- in the form of some night-time yelling.
My husband was on duty since he didn't have to swim 1,100 meters, bike 17 miles and run three later that day. But, I still woke up. Can't keep a momma down. I retreated to the quiet of the basement in an attempt to continue past five hours of sleep, but the damage was done.
When I left the house groggily at 5:40 a.m., I found them like this...
"Good luck, honey. You're going to do great," the big one said. "We'll be cheering for you."
And with that, I was off.
The ride down to the event with my neighbor, her sister, and my sister-in-law was filled with chatter. For some it was excited chatter (them) and for some (me) it was nervous chatter. Was I really ready for this? Was I going to make it? Was my body going to spontaneously shut down in reaction to such concentrated, strenuous and lengthy physical activity? Would I emerge from said physical activity a mere shell of my former self? What was the other option? Throwing up my hands right then and there and saying, "Sorry guys. I'm a big, steaming load of chicken shit...mind taking me home?"
We continued on, got stuck in some traffic, parked the car illegally, and ran into the transition area where our bikes were -- just minutes before it closed. Got my shoes, Gatorade, etc. set up next my bike and was ready to rumble.
I was in the 35-39 age group, which was the largest and had to actually be split into two groups because there were so many women. My theory is that women my age -- particularly if you've squeezed out a couple kids and are living a nice, quiet life in the 'burbs -- are hitting that critical "I still got it" point in life. Except this time around, the ever-elusive "it" doesn't manifest itself in sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, but triathlons and 10K runs.
I put on my yellow swim cap and waded into the crowd. Pretty soon we were off. I'm not going to say a whole lot about the swim because, honestly, it was pretty uneventful. I grew up swimming, trained well, and had participated in the trial event. I was ready to kill it.
And here I am finishing. Pay close attention to that smile on my face because it didn't stick around for long. Little did I know things were about to head in a drastically different direction.
First lesson in triathlon biking: Don't expect to be able to keep up with someone riding this...
...when you are riding something like this...
Oh, and while you’re at it, you may want to consider NOT underestimating the power of actually getting on your bike as part of your training regimen...well, at least more than twice. My anxiety had always been with the running and, shit, I just figured if I could Mary Poppins my way along on the bike, that would be just dandy.
I never expected to jump out the water, hop on my bike, and get passed a devastating 134 times (I counted). There also is nothing quite as humbling as getting your gears blown off by a 58-year-old she-devil on a bike -- when you’re only 36. I was moseying along on my beach cruiser when I heard an aggressive, “ON YOUR LEFT!” only to turn and see friggin’ Dorothy Zbornak whizzing by me in a fiery red and black bike short/top ensemble.
My eyes followed her until she disappeared into the band of bikers up ahead. Wow.I mean, wow.
I decided to pick up the pace, but found something curious about my legs and how fast my bike as moving. As much as I spun my legs in an effort to propel myself and my big wheel forward, I never could quite get there. Then I looked up ahead and saw a hill. If I could make it up without my thighs spontaneously combusting from the chemical burning reaction taking place inside them, then I could really, really get some momentum going and make that slope downhill work for me.
I wiped my brow. This was my chance to show those 60-year-olds what I was made of. Come on Sophia! Bring it Rose!
I cycled up the hill...slowly. Then I hit the top and changed gears to pick up the pace. Lookin’ good, lookin’ good. I began to race down the hill at full speed. My cheeks and lips blew backwards, my face naturally botoxed from the sheer force of the wind. I was flying. “Hahahahahahaha!” I cackled. “Take that bike bitches!” And just as I thought, "Man I am going seriously fast," I heard those dreaded words: On. Your. LEFT!
Three bikes zoomed past me. No amount of strength, will, and determination could make me and my preschool bike with training wheels go any faster. I resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take me a really, really, really, really long time to finish the bike portion of the event.
I must have looked like the saddest most pathetic little person on wheels, since my fellow bikers kept yelling out words of encouragement that felt like "Good job, you sweet little beginner" pats on the head: "Almost there!" "Keep movin'!" "You're doing great!" "Lookin' good!" Now, who were we kidding? You knew and I knew and everyone watching knew that I looked anything but "good" as I grunted up the hill on my bike with some strange rebel force occasionally jerking my front wheel suddenly to the right or left at the most inopportune times. There was one particular biker that shot me a look of death when she passed me, and I inexplicably jerked toward her almost causing a calamity of spokes and pedals. "Oh, um, sorry, biker lady, ma'am, miss. Oh. Yeah. Whoa! Get back here front wheel!"
Since I’d actually done decently on the swim portion, family and friends that had come to see if I was going to make it out alive/cheer me on, thought they’d missed me on the bike. Clearly, I must have passed by already. Had to. No way I could be taking that long. As they were about to move on to the finish line, lo and behold, there I was. Legs spinning frantically, bike moving nowhere.
I did finish the bike ride after what seemed like an eternity. When I went to disengage and start my run, I found that the bike seat had actually lodged itself inside my ass. That felt really good. It took me a minute, but once I was able to separate the two, I was ready to run (3.2 miles, thank you very much) and even ended up passing some of those bikers that had initially passed me. Take that mo' fos!
So, how do I feel about the whole experience? Honestly, and I say this with not a hint of sarcasam (a rare moment, so enjoy), I loved every second. I even loved the horrendous bike part. The entire time, I was just so frickin'tickled (yes, as in pink) because I could not believe I was actually doing it.
The icing on the cake? My daughter meeting me a couple of meters before the finish line. She stood there with my husband, beaming. As I ran up, they both screamed and jumped up-and-down like maniacs. I saw her face explode in excitement, love, and wonder. There I was. Her mommy. Not the mommy of library books and afternoons of imagination and dress-up. But a sweaty, tired running mommy who decided to do something different...and finished it.
T shoved M toward me. She grabbed my hand and off we went.
“Mommy, why did it take you SO long to finish? And, why are you SO sweaty?”
“Oh, honey, Mommy just finished a super, duper long race.”
“Sooooper, doooper long?
“Yes, sooooper, dooooper long.”
“Well, we’re almost there, Mama. We’re almost there.”
P.S. Since we were both up at 3 a.m., I thought it only fitting to show you what J was doing when I crossed the finish line.
My Asian-ness says to be humble. My American-ness says to yell, "Aaaaaw snap!" Between the two, I'd like to say, from the bottom of my blogging heart, "Thank you" to Jessica of This is Worthwhile, who chose little ol' me for for a hearty slap on the back. Jessica acknowledged my Chronicles this week with a writer's meme and, of course, I accepted. Read, weep, and feel free to do it yourself (don't forget to tag me).
Which words do you use too much in your writing? so, fuck, shit, drama
Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read? therefore, in the end, at the end of the day
What’s your favourite piece of writing by you? A post I did about my mother, which was painful, cathartic, uplifting and sadder for me than any of the words I typed. I also like writing about poop, sleep, and poop.
What blog post do you wish you’d written? I wish I would have, could have written this because I think it is such a beautiful tribute to parenthood. I'm not sure I wish I’d have written this , just because of the horror of the content. But, it is undeniably hysterical. Seriously as funny as farts.
Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn’t written? No regrets...yet. I am pretty new to the game, though. There are things I wish I could write about, but at this time need to stay within the confines of my family. Maybe someday, though, maybe someday...
How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing? I’m not sure if my writing has made a difference. That sounds so...big and important. One of the reasons I write is because I’m, by nature, shy. It is a way for me to just go ahead and say what I want to say in a voice that is louder than how I speak in real life. So, if someone finds my stories to be funny, touching, entertaining, or relatable in any way, then that is all the “difference” I’m looking to make. My most important piece of writing? Sheesh. That’s just way too much pressure. I think I’ll just say this one...
Name three favorite words sinuous, pejorative, jocular
…And three words you’re not so keen on moist, starts with "c" and rhymes with "punt," and smushy (I realize how that sounds and, no, I don't mean to use them together...)
Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration? I don’t know if I have a mentor or role model, but I definitely have inspirations. I was an English major in college and then studied Journalism in grad school so I’ve read a LOT of stuff. I do like literature...like really serious literature that reaches the nth degree of pretentiousness, but I naturally gravitate more toward stories about real people. I’m a sucker for memoirs. One of the most searing ones I’ve ever read is Wasted by a young Marya Hornbacher who has since penned another memoir chronicling her struggle with manic depression.
What’s your writing ambition? To bring humanity to everything I write -- even if it is a little bit on a local 89-year-old farmer that just loves, loves, loves his snowpeas. My blog is part of that journey. It helps me laugh at the stress of motherhood, reflect on how far I’ve come, remember from whence I came, figure out where I fit in, and on a good day, it reminds me to take a deep breath, close my eyes and...jump in.
If people enjoy and relate to it? Well, just keep pourin’ the gravy.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever gotten about your writing? There have been two: “I’m sitting at my desk crying as I’m reading your latest post” and “I just laughed so hard I peed my pants.”
The rules: Please link to my original, then link to three to five other bloggers and pass it on, asking them to answer your questions and link to you. You can add, remove or change one question as you go. You absolutely do not have to be what you may think of as a “published” or “successful” writer to respond to this meme, I hope people can take the time to reflect on what their blogging has brought them and how it has been useful to others.
Oh please God, no...say it isn't so. I'm bloated, eating like a horse and mean as a viper. Please hold off. Just until Monday. I can't, can't, can't be hosting Aunt Flo come Sunday.
I'm lighting a candle tonight and praying to a shrine of Always overnighters with wings. Oh holy maxi, please have mercy. Save the cramps, nausea and bloating until Monday. I promise, I'll never roll my eyes, mutter "Fucking hell," or curse my womanhood ever again.
There's something rotten in Denmark and that something is my toddler's arm, or rather, the thing currently holding his arm in place.
We were sent home two weeks ago from the orthopedist with simple instructions: Don't get the cast wet. They might as well have sent us home with a bucket of water and instructions to dip his arm in it every hour on the hour.
So, no secret here. Cast got wet. It happened several nights ago during bath time. We diligently wrapped his arm in a trashbag (yes, a trashbag), knotting it above the elbow. J threw his prerequisite What-the-Hell-Are-You-Crazy-People-Doing- Tying-a-Garbage -Bag-Around-My-Arm/Thanks-for-the-Awesome-Elephant-Arm/Ever-Heard-of-a-Ziplock screaming fit. Don't ask why we didn't just use a smaller bag. T started in with the trash bag and even though the site of my toddler with an enormous balloon as an appendage was beyond ridiculous, I decided to defer to his father (Lesson #327 in marriage: Pick your battles).
Crazy looking, or not, the trash bag method had worked...up until now. Who was to know we had a faulty Hefty on our hands? As I took J from T and started to dry him off, I noticed a little pool of water at the bottom of the bag.
"T! This bag has water in it!" I yelled.
"What? Look, I did my best OK????? How was I to know the bag had a hole in it?!?" (Lesson #399 in marriage: Accusing your husband -- even if it is not on purpose -- of doing something stupid will get you nothing but a big water balloon of defensive-man ego thrown in your face. )
I mopped J's hand with a towel and had a moment of clarity: hairdryer. Took the hairdryer out and started blowing it on the inside of the cast. Things were looking good.
"Wow, honey, great idea," said the Peanut Gallery. That's right it was a great idea. I'm the brains of the operation, buddy, and don't you forget it.
(Lesson #421 in marriage: Eventually, it will have to be enough for you, and you alone, to know who's the smarter one.)
I thought I'd gotten it pretty dry, but a couple days later, as my child hugged me -- his arm strategically placed near my nose -- I immediately knew things had NOT gotten completely dry. Dirty gym socks? Rotten cheese? A toxic combination of the two? My body immediately pulled back, knowing instinctively that it was in the presence of evil.
I called the doctor as a precaution. Stinky, wet cast is one thing. But, stinky, infected arm is quite another. He asked a few questions about the duration, strength and offensiveness of the odor. After a couple of minutes, he labeled our case a "low-grade" cast stank and recommended we let it go a couple days since the odor only elicited a physical reaction when you got up there and sniffed his arm.
Still, if it gets really bad, we may have to go in and have it replaced.
So, not only does the kid have to run around left-handed for another couple of weeks, but he also smells like an armpit. Poor, stinky little J. And, to think...he hasn't even hit puberty yet.
After my toddler decided to treat the side of his crib like a rock climbing wall -- that drops straight down the other side -- we immediately moved him to a toddler bed. We assembled M's old bed, which uses the same crib mattress, and I reluctantly said my goodbyes to Mr. Sandman.
Since then, the boy has gotten up on average once a night (twice if I'm super, duper lucky). I walk him back to bed, he cries. I help him back in, he cries. I kiss him goodnight, he cries. Repeat 54 times. Yes, I said 54. The worst night (second night) I did it for two hours straight -- from 3 a.m. - 5 a.m. Walk, cry, kiss, bed, up. Walk, cry, kiss, bed, up. Walk, cry, kiss, bed, up.
I was in a zone, though. Determined, yet gentle. Stern, yet kind. Unbending, yet loving. You know it was like competing in a triathlon (I promise to stop harping on the Iron Girl thing once it's over. Promise. Only another 10 days of obsessing left). I had my eyes on the prize (the prize being nights of uninterrupted sleep for both of us), I knew what I had to do to get there, and nothing and no one was going to stop me. Not his whining, not the easy-way-out bottle beckoning from the fridge, not my legs already sore from a 17-mile bike ride (again, only another 10 days).
He finally caved, just as I could hear birds outside my window, and let his body do what it's supposed to do at that time of day: sleep.
It happens from time to time...I parent without emotion. When I say "parent without emotion," I mean that in the best way possible. I don't mean that I don't care about my kids or I don't feel for them. It's that I'm not getting completely sucked into the wave of chaos that is toddler and/or preschooler drama. Because you know, when you get sucked in, that's when they take you down. And all you're left with is the unshakeable feeling that you just got played...by someone who still shits his pants.
So, I tell myself, "Go 'head girl! You're the head bitch in charge! You know what's best! Stick to it and don't let ol' Doody Drawers over there tell you what's what!"
It usually happens when I'm so tired that I've hit the wall. I've taken all I can take and I can't take it any more. So, I parent without emotion. I say, "This is what is going to happen and this is how we're going to make it happen." In this particular new-bed situation, I psych myself up before bedtime by looking in the mirror and yelling, "Victory and sleep will be mine!" -- 10 times in a row. Then I brush my teeth. As my head hits the pillow and I drift off to sleep, I know what I have to do.
So, about a week later, he's still getting up. Before you say, "God, maybe I should just drive on over and put this poor girl out of her misery," there is good news. The good news is that the time it takes for him to go back to sleep has shortened. Instead of two hours, we're down to about half-an-hour. Hey, beggars can't be choosers.
And so I remain optimistic (what do they say about girls learning things faster than boys?) and know that if I hang in there, the boy will sleep.
Went for a run today and it was hard. Start with the fact that I took the Doodlebug out with both kids, add in that it was some ungodly temperature somewhere near 90, multiply by the fact that I'm getting a little nervous about the actual event and there you have it -- a difficult run.
And the hits just kept on comin'...
1. First, M's headphones (i-pod + Michael Jackson = quiet run for mommy) kept falling off, which would elicit whining from inside the jogger the likes of which I've never experienced. I'm not talking put-me-in-a-straight-jacket-I-can't-take-it-anymore whining. I'm talking end-it-all-now-it's-too-painful-to-go-on whining.
2. Apparently it was social hour on the bike path today and our invite got lost in the mail.Everybody was convening on the path, blocking it and begging me to use their dogs, small children and grandmothers as jump ramps.
3. Some lady who looked like the very definition of instability on her bike and, in my opinion, should have been pulled over for a DUI, wouldn't let me by -- twice. Coming up behind her and then again, running toward her. Yes, running toward her. She kept weaving into my side of the path, resulting in me having to take the jogger off-road into the grass. Is there such as a thing as bike path etiquette school? There should be.
4. Two old men yelled out at me, "Lookin' good! Lookin' good!" (Ok, that wasn't bad. After expanding at an exponential rate of 30-35 pounds -- twice, catcalls = compliments. Even the dirty old man sort.)
5. Jack's water cup kept falling onto the floor of the jogger. Fine, I realize the child's arm is broken and his manual dexterity cut in half. Hall pass.
6. My shoe came untied. How a double-knotted shoe came undone, I'll never know.
7. The face-sweating factor became debilitating mid-run. Yes, I am a face-sweater. I don't sweat a whole lot anywhere else, but it all comes out above the neck. So, imagine what happens on a 90-degree day. Not even a headband, wristband, etc. could control what had been my face, but was now a flesh-colored waterfall.
I finished the run, though. Hotter and sweatier and more exhausted than I'd been in a long time. As I took a swig of water on the side of the road, I looked up and saw the people in the car that had pulled up to the red light...smiling. Laughing in fact. I looked down and realized I'd snatched a sippy cup straight out of my toddler's hands and downed his water. Nice.
I'm working for peanuts. I'm the low-man on the totem pole. I'm starting from scratch and following my dreams. I'm the intern.
No, I'm not reminiscing about my college years or even my graduate school years when I worked my ass off for sweatshop wages that barely covered my rent. I'm talking about the here and now. Former journalist, former retail business owner, current freelance writer, blogger, wife, and mother of two is the latest intern at the local paper.
I'm not kidding. I am the coffee-fetching, copy-making, ass-kissing intern. And, no, not even at the Washington Post, but at a local paper...for old people. (Cue ass-slappin, booty-bumpin', fist-pumpin' shake.)
What the hell am I doing interning, you ask? Well, shit, it pays. And it's only 15 hours a week, which is what I can handle right now as the primary caregiver for our two children. And it's easy and familiar.
Since I left the boutique about a year ago, I've been freelance writing and editing. It's not easy. In fact, it's hard. Hard as shit, particularly when the bulk of your time is spent attending to two extremely small and needy people clawing at you for...everything. Pitching, persisting, interviewing, pestering takes time and motivation. I've been finding that I am lacking in both areas as of late. I want to continue to freelance, but I also want somewhere to go a couple days a week, be told exactly what to do, and get paid.
I'm tired of dreaming up story ideas, crafting the perfect pitch, and then getting shot down. I'm tired of the fact that the most attainable freelance work is Web-based...which pays jack shit. I'm getting paid per hit? Per page view? Are you kidding me? Do people actually make a living this way? Fuck this. I'm tired of having a "regular" freelance gig that can skip a month. It takes a special breed of person to keep at it. I'm beginning to find that I am NOT that special breed of person...not right now. And maybe not anymore.
I'm amazed that I'm living this life, writing these words, and making decisions that run, smack, head-first into the face of my well-cultivated, spit-shined and ever-expanding hubris. Welcome to motherhood -- The Hubris Killer.
First, let me put out there that I am not a mother who has to work full-time to support my family. My husband's income has afforded us the flexibility to look at a variety of options for me, our children, our family. I choose to be at home with them...most of the time. That is, in more ways that I can describe, a gift.
I have many friends who work full-time out of financial necessity and ache to be more available for their children. And, I have friends that choose to have flourishing full-time careers and raise a family -- all in the same breath. And, I have stay-at-home mom friends who embrace the joys and challenges of being with kids day in and day out. In the great mommy debate that rages on year after year after year, from working moms vs. stay-at-home moms to working moms vs. childless professionals to work-at-home moms to work-outside-the-home moms, we're pitted against each other in an all-out race to see Who Does It Best.
I have no clue who does it best. I think any way you slice it, motherhood is challenging and not like a difficult crossword puzzle or a mini-triathlon. I'm talking challenging in the most extreme sense of the word. The sort of soul-searching challenge where you ask all those questions about yourself that you never even considered before those little people entered your life. Who am I? What am I? Where am I? What do I have to give? What have I given? Have I given enough? Am I good enough? What happens next? Seriously, what in the hell is going on here? And you're trying to do it all without the sanity and clarity that a decent night's sleep brings.
In a nutshell..we all have our proud moments and our not-so-proud moments. We do the best we can with what we got.
For me, as the primary caregiver to our children, my career does come second. But, I'd be lying if I said I'm not doing everything in my power to keep my professional life from flatlining under the weight of dirty diapers, snotty noses, hugs, reassurances, table manners, pleases, thank yous, never-ending laundry, and bowls upon bowls of macaroni and cheese. I keep my career afloat for a variety of unselfish reasons, namely, "What if something were to happen to my husband's job or, God forbid, my husband? Shouldn't I have the ability to financially support my family at a moment's notice, much in the same way my husband does?" Makes sense. Sounds good. But, let's be honest -- I do it mostly for me. To maintain a sense of self and a connection to who I was before children. This is what works for me. Makes me feel whole. Makes me feel complete.
By the same token, I know a huge part of who I am now is defined by the fact that I got pregnant, gave birth, and fell in love with two of the most amazing people under five feet that you'll ever meet. I am devoted. Not just to their school events and illnesses, but to reading books, going to the park, making cupcakes, sitting on the porch tickling feet, blowing bubbles, and giving kisses before bed.
Which brings me back to my internship...and my ego.
Six months ago, I interviewed for one full-time position on a whim. I got pretty far, and actually thought if I got it, I'd go back...all the way. I didn't get the job and felt both disappointed (no surprise) and relieved (surprise). I thought long and hard about the "relieved" part. Why did I suddenly feel thankful that I didn't get a job that I had wanted? Am I nuts? What is wrong with me? The truth of the matter is that I knew I could not do it all. At least not in the way that I wanted. And that scared me. Hello, I've always thought I could do it all -- have kids, grow the career of my dreams, and still be the same girl my husband married. I'm not the first to find out, quickly and harshly, that things don't always work out the way you think they will.I'm not Supermom although I do like to front like I am...a lot.
At that point, I stopped my full-time job search and focused on the part-time, joining the growing fleet of moms with one foot in the workplace and one foot at home. I continued to freelance and look for steady, part-time editorial work with pretty straightforward criteria: fits into my my life as a mother of young children, makes enough to cover childcare and some of our smaller bills, keeps the career doors open for when I am ready to go back full-time.
Not lots of part-time editorial work out there, period, much less the kind that is family-friendly. Then I stumbled upon a Craig's List ad for an editorial intern. Correction. A PAID editorial intern. It was for a local paper with offices near my house and offered surprisingly generous pay for 15 hours a week. I'd write features for the paper, help edit, assist with layout, and more. All the things I've done a million times before. And most perfect of all? I could make my own hours.
Not so perfect? The whole "intern" thing. Ugh. Could I really do a job that relegated me to the same category as the awkward, bespectacled college junior sitting next to me at the interview? And that's when it dawned on me. I had to get over myself. I had to accept the fact that despite popular belief (popular belief being the the massive ball of pride living inside me) that tells me my shit doesn't stink -- it does. At least sometimes. My career, much like motherhood, is not always going to come in a perfect pink bow for me to unwrap when I feel ready for it. And, like motherhood, my career would experience peaks and valleys. And even the valleys count for something.
I have to set aside those notions of where I should be, and do what works today -- in this life with this house, this husband and these children. It doesn't have to be the crowned jewel of career moves. It just has to be a step, even a small one, that works for all of us. And, get ready for this one, I can be happy...with less. At least that's how I feel at this very moment.
And, so, I start in two weeks as The World's Oldest Intern. I'm bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on the world...with my pride intact. Ok, maybe not entirely intact. I'm still sort of hoping they'll call me "part-time reporter" instead.