Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Praise Be!

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.  

Sleep, glorious sleep.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is That a Chicken...With No Head?

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.

"Sweet dreams, Mama."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That's It...Someone Put Me on a Boat Back to My Country

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...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quick, Someone Smack Me...Or Throw Some Cold Water In My Face

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.

But then there's this...

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Pray for me...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Little Aretha Please

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...