Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh No He Didn't

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...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lessons from a Virgin Triathlete

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.


*Check out more pictures.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Bow and a Curtsy

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 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.

Since we’re talkin’ blogs, though, I have a few that I really, seriously love. These bloggers all walk that magical line of telling it like it is in a no-holds-barred fashion, but with oodles of vulnerability and heart. Plus they can write their mutha fuckin' asses off: Whisky in My Sippy Cup, Knotty Yarn , Motherhood Uncensored, and Cry It Out: Memoirs of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

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.

I’m tagging Momisodes, Asian Mommy, and The Suite Life of Lucy and Ethel, but feel free to do it even if you weren’t tagged.

Next up? Iron Girl!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Would Be a Fitting Challenge for an Iron Girl, Though, Wouldn't It?

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.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Funk

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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

From the Mind of a Borderline-OCD Mom

Sometimes you gotta just say, "Fuck it...let's play."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stay Your A^% in Bed

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 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.

Pajamas on, lights off, fingers crossed...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

14 Days and Counting...

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.

"Sorry, J."

And with that, I trudged home.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sugar and Cream With Your Coffee?

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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Best. Daughter. Ever.

"Mommy...I think you are getting even stronger than Daddy!!!! Seriously!"

- What my 4-year-old yelled out to me from the Doodlebug during this morning's run.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mommy Guilt

Everyday I am a mother, I experience new emotions I never knew I had. Today was an emotion I could have done without. This morning, my toddler scaled the side of his crib and went head-to-head with the hardwood floor below. The floor won.

I knew I was in for some broken bones somewhere down the line as the mother of a rambunctious boy who would be best off wearing a hazmat suit, helmet, shin guards, and elbow pads on a daily basis. But, I was thinking 10, 11, maybe even 13 -- not one-and-a-half.

T was out for a swim and I was home alone with the kids when I put J down for a morning cat nap. He had gotten up at 5:30 a.m. (yes, a.m.) and was already losing steam. Put him in his crib. An "I love you," kiss and hug later, I shut his door. He did the obligatory cry, which he always does before he conks out. But, this time was different. The crying went on for only about a minute when I heard the thud.

I rushed upstairs in a panic to find J walking out of his room, screaming. "Oh no!!" I cried, clasping my hand to my mouth. As if it wasn't shocking enough to see him OUTSIDE his crib, his mouth was smeared with blood. I'm a huge wuss when it comes to blood anyhow, but there is nothing quite like seeing your child bleeding. It's horrifying. Especially if you're not yet sure how bad things are.

I scooped him up in my arms immediately, held him, and kissed him. Don't cry. He needs you. Pull your shit together. I sat down and checked his mouth to see if he'd knocked any teeth out. Everything looked intact. Just a cut. Sigh of relief. Then, I noticed the arm.

His lower forearm, right above his wrist, looked...funny. There was a noticeable dent on the side and he wasn't moving it. At this point, the screaming had turned into sobbing. It wasn't manic, but soft and steady as if to say, "It hurts, Mommy. It really, really hurts." I choked back tears, took a deep breath, and yelled out to M, "Honey, get your shoes on, we have to take J to the hospital. He hurt his arm."

"But, I'm watching my cartoons!" she yelled back. I suddenly had this visual of dragging my preschooler out to the car by her hair. "Sweetie, you can watch your cartoons when you get home, but right now J is hurt and we need to have a doctor take a look so he can make him better." She humored me, slipped on her sandals, and we scrambled out the door with the tinkling piano from Angelina Ballerina still on in the background.

We quickly got in the car and drove to the same hospital where I gave birth to both kids -- which luckily is three minutes from our house. Stay calm. He's going to be fine. You're his mother. You are going to take care of him.

Got into the pediatric ward pretty efficiently and had J's arm x-rayed. I held down his hand while trying to keep the heavy x-ray apron/blanket thing that weighs about 560 pounds on top of his little body. It suddenly occurred to me how small his nails were. His hand looked so tiny and fragile on that cold, white table. Why didn't I just get him from his crib the minute he started crying?

"Hold it like this," the technician directed. He wanted me to hold his broken little arm at an angle. I can't. I can't. I can't. He's in so much pain. I can't. But I did. I held that little arm down with my son kicking and screaming, his face covered in snot and tears. Hurry up and take the fucking x-ray, dammit! My eyes welled up. I breathed in and blew out with my lips pursed.

"Got it," he said.

Meanwhile, M is in the x-ray booth with the technician. "What's that beep? What's that red light on his arm? Is his Jacky's arm broken? How broken? Is it bleeding? Can you tape it together? Are you a doctor? "

The technician showed me the x-ray and there it was. The white line across his forearm. Evidence of his pain and my failure.

The three of us headed back to our E.R. room and saw Daddy headed toward us. He had gotten my messages and his face was pale and worried. J immediately reached for his father. T held him tight, kissed him, whispered, "You're fine. You're going to be just fine." I held my 4-year-old's hand as she reached up to stroke her baby brother's foot. "It's OK, Jacky. It's OK."

Lucky for us, said the doctor, the break was clean. No need to set the arm, which would have meant putting J under. The nurse put his toddler arm in a toddler splint and fastened a toddler sling to it. He was ready to go. The pain reliever must have kicked in because the boy was suddenly all smiles, flirting with nurses, and babbling into his Daddy's cell phone. Me? I was still huddled in the corner rocking back and forth, waiting for someone to take me away in a straight jacket.

Oh yeah, that Mommy Guilt is a powerful thing. It will stop you in your tracks and make you second-guess everything you know to be true about yourself as a mother and a human being. It's all completely ludicrous. I know, logically, I am a good mother. Keeping my children safe is a priority, as it is for pretty much all parents. Still, I can't help it. I'm still haunted by his pained cries and not being able to take his hurt away. It's not "Could I have done something differently?" It's "WHAT could I have done differently?"

I know I can't control it all...I can't stop every accident, spill, bump, scrape, scuffle. They can and will happen. Hello, they DID happen. What I can do is be thankful he didn't hurt himself more seriously...and move on. The only thing that can come out of too much Mommy Guilt is Neurotic Control-Freak Mommy, which is sort of what happens when Bruce Banner gets super pissed off and turns into that green, muscle-bound maniac in ripped clothing.

I'll keep reminding myself of this as I purchase a crib tent to SEAL Spiderman in his crib.