Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight I thought I'd share a smattering of the WTF scenarios that are responsible for the ugly furrows currently raked across my forehead.

Second to last day of school:
The grandfather of a child who was continually picked up late throughout the year despite conversation after conversation about the importance of being on time, says to me at drop off that morning: "I sure hope I won't be late today." (read: "I'm probably going to be late today, so I hope that's okay. I know you've been put out before and that little "Johnny" gets anxious when all the other kids have left and there is still no grown up here to claim him, but my agenda is waaaaay more important than any of that crap.")
Guess that was my cue to assume role of stereotypical, submissive female and let him know it's fine if he needs to be late even though I have been clear about my boundaries. Yeeeaaah. Here's what, pig, unless you can produce wings from underneath that size XXL shirt, I suggest you synchronize your watch right now.
My response: "Me too!" Big smile. Blink. Blink. Your move, asshat...
He replies: "Ah, you don't have to be anywhere after this but home, anyways."
Me (still smiling, Stepford style): "Well, that's a pretty important place to me."
WTF??? My imagined response: "I sure hope I don't lose control of this foot and send it sailing into your droopy, shriveled up 'nads you conceited, self-involved fucktard. See you at 1:15!"

The Six Year Old:
He's watching television as I pass through with the Little Viking in my arms and I say: "First is J's bath and then you're up. 10 minutes - got it?"
He makes some slack-jawed zombie noise intended to acknowledge I have yammered some words in his direction. I reiterate and ask for eye contact as I repeat what I said. (Who knows if eye contact means the information went in - but it makes me feel better and less like leaving him in the yard over night covered in something to attract the coyotes.)
Next, from the bathroom, as the water is thundering in my ears and I am trying to wrestle a shirt off the Little Viking (who has two fistfuls of Matchbox cars he'll die before giving up), I hear him yell "Mom?!" from the living room where he has the television on super loud.
We do the obvious "What? I can't hear you!" followed by "I said..." once or twice before I scream for him to come to me so I can hear him. He continues to try and convey whatever he needs to from the living room and I snap (surprise!).
The actual conversation goes like this:

Me (screeching): "Are you stuck to something in there!?!?"
Six Y/O: "No..."
Me: "Then come into the bathroom for God's sake!" (less screechy, more yelling/exasperation)
Here's what he needed to know.
Six Y/O: "Is this the kind of gum I like?"
Folks, I kid you not, this child is holding a chewed up piece of gum on the end of a popsicle stick for me to examine...

The Little Viking:
The Little Viking refers to my cleavage as "backpack." I can't figure out how this association has come to be, especially because when I ask him to show me anyone else's backpack, he points behind them. At different times as I am schlepping him from one place to another, he requires that I carry a Matchbox car or a handful of Goldfish crackers in my bra... Kinda cute - no big deal. Until recently...
The other day it was hotter than a fuck and I made last minute plans to go over to a friend's to swim. I knew I had a small window of time before the Little Viking reached the screeching hour and could hear him winding up in the kitchen as I ran around the house collecting towels, suits, swimmy diapers etc. The Six Year-Old is a real gem. Drives me nuts for sure, but has a heart of gold. When I re-entered the kitchen, arms laden with pool paraphernalia I saw that he'd given his little brother a piece of cheese to snack on. A phone call and a 10 minute search for keys later, and I had them both in the car and we were on our way.
Within seconds I was aware of a hot car and vomit odor... Now, anyone who has seen the inside of my car would assume the offending odor was coming from an old sippy cup filled with chunky milk, or a few travel mugs sporting moldy coffee shrubberies beneath the lids. Hell, that's what I figured it was. However....
I may already be too late in saying "long story, short..." but as I stripped off my shirt to change into my suit, the source of the car vomit smell (which I only then registered had not stayed in the car) hit my foot. A 2"x 2" inch slab of good old, Kraft American cheese... Apparently he'd swapped out the cheese for the binky he'd put in there sometime earlier. I can't wait for winter and turtlenecks.

I turned 34 this year and am desperately trying to embrace my lines and wrinkles and get motivated to take better care of myself. I give way more money than I should to the people at Olay and Garnier. I wear a giant floppy (and very cute) sun hat and Jackie O. sunglasses to keep the crows feet and sun damage at bay, but I can't escape the lines on my forehead that are exercised daily as a result of my WTF face. I pray for a little bit of grace and am reminded of these lyrics written by the incomparable, Amy and Emily: "with every lesson learned, a line upon your beautiful face. We'll amuse ourselves one day - these memories we'll trace..."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buckle up, folks this is a looooong one....

I am sitting here staring at a stark white rectangle where I really want some witty, snarky, super funny words to be but my hips hurt and I am distracted by trying to keep my ass out of the refrigerator where I know there is left over cake... So of course, the longer I sit here, the louder my inner A.D.D. eight year old gets as she announces other things I could be doing right now, "Hey! remember you wanted to clip the guinea pigs' claws? Weren't you going to clean out your school bag? Oh yeah! And what about the laundry? You could put that away... Awwww.... I remember this picture. You should really get it into the Viking's scrapbook."

Well, look... I've been a procrastinator way longer than I have been acknowledging my inner A.D.D. kid, sooooo... the laundry is still hastily piled up next to the guinea pig cage where I can hear the little fuckers "clicking" as they walk up their little plastic barn. I stubbed my toe on the still full school bag as I went to grab some scrapbook paper to put together a page for The Viking's book. Fuck it... cake is inevitable. I'll be right back.

Please excuse this interuption for the following Public Service Announcement: Never believe a chubby, angry gal who tells you to get rid of the cake so she doesn't have to see it the next time she passes the kitchen. File this away with the "Of course your butt doesn't look too fat in those pants." default setting.

So while I was avoiding motherly and domestic responsibilities, I remembered a piece of writing I started right after my oldest was born. I finished it when he was 19 months old. Next month, on the second, the Viking will be 19 months old. I'll try to attach the piece below this paragragh. As you read it, envision what I came upon this morning: The Viking standing on a chair at the kitchen table drumming on a tin box with a wide open pair of shears (not just ANY kind of scissors...) and a steak knife. From the room I was half-ignoring him from it sounded just like his metal Matchbox cars crashing into the rattly thing at the bottom of the fridge. Hmmm... the Mother of the Year Award is an elusive little sucker... I don't think I've ever been a contender. So have I evolved into a less neurotic mother or has there been a serious downward spiral, here? You tell me...

Afraid of the Dark
12 Days and Counting…

I haven’t been afraid of the dark since I was seven years old… until now. The daylight hours slip by steadily and by four o’clock I can feel the night breathing pure fear, moist and cold down the back of my neck. I dread the hours ahead of me. In the darkness, fear keeps me vigilant. Sleeping by way of putting my head to pillow and closing my eyes is impossible, and so for many hours, I simply lie awake holding my breath and waiting, as the weight of the blackness presses on my chest. The late night hours are ticked off slowly as I drift off and then am startled awake again and again, ever aware of it’s presence, and a servant to it‘s every need. Exhaustion is a strong and blessed adversary and I am forced to give in around four-thirty or so. Each morning is the same. I wake up, feeling insane and reconciled to the fact that the cycle has begun all over again; the sands slipping through the glass at lightning speed, hurtling me ever forward toward another white-knuckle night. The reason for my nights of eternity is never more than a few feet from me at any given moment, but it is in the seemingly endless nights that his presence truly tortures me. I hear every breath. I hear every absence of breath for that matter. Every shift, every twitch, each utterance is registered in my spine and makes it’s way as a shiver to the base of my skull.

There is no monster in my closet, no stalker fogging up my bedroom window. There is not even a semi-ferocious dog snarling at the foot of my bed. No, this is like no terror I have ever experienced. I gave birth 12 days ago. I have an 8 lb. 13 oz., burrito of need, and my only qualification for the job of “mother” is that I finally managed to expel this poor creature from my body after fifty-five hours of labor. My husband, God love him, was far less qualified for his new position in our family. Somehow attending some birthing classes and cutting the umbilical cord had earned him the title of “father.”

Three days after our son’s arrival we finally appreciated the full scope of our new job, and we were terrified. We had been home for approximately three hours when I found myself asking my husband if he thought the nurses at the hospital would let us live there if we went back right away. I was near panic and half serious. The hospital represented safety and the last bastion of comfort I would feel for almost two whole weeks - after all, at the hospital someone was always awake, always available to take the baby while I slept, they were ever capable of resuscitation should the need arise, as I was sure that it would. It seemed inevitable that my baby would cease to breathe the very moment that I took my eyes off of him, which I did not do for the first 1 ½ days that he lived at home. My eyes were in shock. Not only had I nearly pushed them out of their sockets during delivery, but the combination of constant crying and the fact that they had not closed in over 24 hours was causing them to spasm and sting.

Sure, it’s funny now…

Our tiny baby seemed so fragile, and in those first two weeks, I was positive that there was some sort of finite formula involved in keeping him alive. We nursed, changed his diaper (got peed on), changed the romper he had peed on, carefully applied Vaseline to his circumcision, and carefully applied alcohol to his umbilical stump. (This process was finished just in time to nurse again) I was so tired that I often forgot to eat and take my pain medications on time and I sometimes forgot to alcohol the stump and Vaseline the penis. I was certain that infection was imminent… My only consolation was that I never Vaselined the stump and alcoholed the penis.

One of our first nights went something like this:

9:30 pm: Nursed and asleep, we place him in his crib and I wonder: “Are his pajamas too big… could he wriggle them up around his airway in the middle of the night?”

9:35 pm: Smaller PJ’s on, baby is sound asleep. Yeah!

9:40 pm: I settle on the couch and look over the log where we track his feedings, diapers etc.. and I realize that I forgot to record his last 3 feedings and I forgot to alcohol the belly button. So much for the “Mother of the Year” award. I start to obsess: Is he eating as much as he should ? Am I producing enough milk? How do I know how much he’s getting when he nurses? I remember reading that dehydration in infants is marked by lethargy. He sleeps 20 hours a day… what exactly does a lethargic infant look like?

10:00 pm: Baby is awake and wailing. The diaper gives us no clues - he’s dry. Is he crying because he’s hungry or tired? Is it gas? What do we do if it’s gas? Is this colic? Is this what colicky babies do? Oh, God I bet he’s sick.

This is the point where I break down for the first time… Exhausted and getting surlier by the minute I curse the fact that breast feeding is a task which excludes my husband and I bark at him to pick up his dirty laundry (I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the only one awake right now.)

11:00 pm.: fed (again), changed and asleep, I place my baby back into the crib.

11:03 pm.: I change my shirt - I’ve been peed on and my right breast leaked all over when I was nursing him on the left. Super!

11:05 pm.: I climb into bed and stare at the ceiling tensely waiting for the next cry and straining to hear the moment that he’ll forget to breathe. I muse: “I’m going to have worry about him for the rest of my life… my God, this job never ends…”

Between 11:05 and 3:15am: I toss and turn, weep and sniffle worrying about SIDS, ear infections, infected belly button, bullies, drugs, perverts, broken bones, getting lost at the beach, driving, drinking, staying out late… Clearly, I am insane.

4:00 am: baby is awake and wants to be fed - I am awake and I want to stab my snoring husband.

4:30 am: baby is asleep, I am so tired I feel like vomiting. Thinking of my stitches makes me pray desperately that I don’t.

4:30 - 6:30: Who am I kidding… I blacked out. This state of semi - consciousness which I managed to sustain for a couple of hours cannot possibly be referred to as “sleep.” A voice in the black of my head whispers that formula-fed babies sleep longer than breast-fed babies and I make a mental note to get to the grocery store for some formula.

Three days later I gave up on breast-feeding and delighted in turning over the midnight feeding routine to my husband. My son is now 19 months old and gratefully, has survived his crazy mother - so far. We all sleep through the night now and have done so for a long time. Granted, we have disassembled the crib and purchased a king-sized bed. The once-upon-a-time burrito of need is now a “do-it-myself” kind of guy except when it comes to sleeping alone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anyone who knows me should have some understanding that I love language. (If you know me and this has never crossed your mind, be gone. You're clearly not paying attention.) I love words that are BIG and fun to say, like flabbergasted, debauchery, and cantankerous. I have been known to use a fascinating word incorrectly because I couldn't wait for an appropriate opportunity to come up. I love made up words and Seuss-ish rhymes and... I really, really love swear words. I adore an accent of any kind and will pick it up instantaneously. The summer that I read Bridget Jones' Diary, I was thinking with a British accent for three weeks. In high school my senior English teacher read parts of Dante's Inferno to us in Italian... my underwear stuck to me when I left third period that day. Hearing someone stumble lamely through a reading of Green Eggs and Ham and seeing text-ese ("r u ready 2 go yet?") in places it has no business being, like a note to your child's teacher, makes little pieces of my soul die. You're getting the picture, no?

Another day I will expound on all things linguistic and literary that make me purr, but today I was thinking about language in terms of how we choose to use our words. As a school professional, choosing language, especially when interacting with parents is crucial. Political correctness impacts our language choices, as does a healthy understanding that you must cover your ass at all times.

Children have the blessed privilege of being new at language and therefore don't have to censor or second guess their thoughts. What's rolling around in those little noggins is exactly what comes out of their tiny pie holes. In an utterance of as little as 3-4 words you know exactly what a child's perspective is and where they are developmentally. And now here's the anecdote that inspired all this blather today.

My husband fell asleep with the Viking earlier today and while napping, the Viking's Crocs slipped off his feet. When he woke up, one of them got a ride around the living room in the dump truck and the other stayed on the couch with the still sleeping dad. Later, we were about to leave the house to visit friends and I asked the six year-old to find the other Croc, as I has already recovered the one from the dump truck. I told him it was somewhere on the couch with Dad and it may still be on his lap. Side note: the six year old typically looks for things like any creature with a penis: by keeping one eye on the television and scanning a large, general area with the other eye, while simultaneously yelling to the closest female that he can't find it.
Knowing this, I clarify that it may be underneath Dad and he can just ask Dad to move a bit so he can find it.
The conversation that I might have heard would go something like this:
 "Dad, can you lift up a bit I gotta find J's shoe."
"Oh, here it is. It was under him."
But...... here's the monologue I actually heard (word for word, seriously.)
"Dad. (pause to look at the T.V.) Dad! Can you open your butt?"
Repeats this, as Dad does not hear or perhaps is pretending to sleep extra soundly because he has no idea how to respond to this request...
Dad finally shifts a bit and sure enough the shoe was right underneath him somewhere near his crotch.
"I got it! His penis was on it..."
PLEASE UNDERSTAND my husband was entirely clothed during this search!!

While today I appreciate and giggle about the frank and literal thinking that resulted in that ridiculous scene, I am still cringing from the day in the grocery store two years ago when he heard someone say something about her mother's angina and announced to the customers in our line and the next that his "mom has a ba-gina."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Ass is Never Too Little for Karma to Kick...

I was a preschool teacher before I was a parent and I'm grateful for that experience because it afforded me the calm to deal with situations that I've seen other moms gasp over. Those ugly little instances when somebody gets feisty and grabs a toy, or snatches a binky, or follows your child around just so he can get in a good position to whale on him from behind... all can be a bit alarming for a first time mom or someone with limited exposure to young children. I know this stuff happens and that reacting with some grace and a sense of humor can make all the difference. I'm gearing up for all kinds of these interactions as my littlest begins to navigate more and more of the world. He is stubborn and has his listening ears set to "5th Time She Says It."

Recently "the Little Viking" has been trying out some "smack and run" techniques on his older brother. The six year old has never had anyone in his life who hurts him just to find out what he'll do and is reduced to a whiney tattle tale (basically he becomes a 4 year old girl...) each time this happens. We tell the Viking "No!" and sit him down. He gets up and yells "OOOOHHH! RAAAAAHHH!" His next move is wicked slick - he grabs a ball or a pillow and wings directly in his brother's face and just as it hits, says "Catch!" Abuse disguised as play. His only mistake is that he's predictable and doesn't know it yet. So now when I say, "Do NOT throw a ball at your brother! Play nice." He looks at me bewildered that I could have read his mind, and cocks his arm back anyways... I am on the verge of teaching the six year old how to pinch or push him.

The Universe is always righting wrongs, my friends and every now and again we get to appreciate a little Karma. I visited a friend who runs a home day care this week and one of her "charges" is a beefy little corker with curly hair and dimples. He immediately took an interest in the Viking. He got a little too close right off the bat and got a stiff arm, which usually is all the six year old needs to understand "back off."  Well........ The Little Viking learned this week that some kids hit you back. Some kids then follow you around the yard in an attempt to separate you from your mom and your binky. Some kids will take everything you want to play with.
I gave the chubby little enforcer about three minutes to educate my baby before hip checking him "by accident" when I bent down to pick up my keys. Yes indeed... your ass is never too little to be bitten by your own actions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

FIRST blog and this feels like a terrifying commitment

I'm not sure the world needs to hear from another mommy... But here I am - just another asshat who feels sure she has something to say and I am tentatively going to go right ahead and say it. I haven't read many blogs, with the exception of Jen Lancaster's. www.jennsylvania.com
I don't really know what shape this will take, if any at all, but I know what it won't be.
I don't want to yammer on about how exceptional my kids are, and I don't want to tell you how I sneak vegetables into their mac-n-cheese. (Christ, if I get my six year old to lick a vegetable once a week I feel like Super Mom.)
You won't get crock pot recipes here or tips on the best baking temperature for brownies. (I always eat the batter 'til I feel like barfing and then toss the rest so I don't have to remember that I just did that.)
I am not confrontational but I won't post anything I can't or won't defend. What's lovely about this set up is that of the 4 people who will wind up reading this, those that find it not to their liking can move on.
That being said...
I will cop to not even liking my children sometimes... lots of times.
I will use this place to be sarcastic and to say the shit that really goes through my head when I smile my "this is me tolerating you" smile.
I am about to spend the entire summer with my children. I teach and my classroom just closed. Normally, my shift is 7 - 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 - 9:00 p.m. And seriously? That already feels like alot. I'm not sure we're gonna make it. I have been home with the 18 month old, who for purposes of anonymity will be refered to as "Leif" as in Ericson, not Garret (the only Viking name I can think of at the moment) for two weeks. He is testosterone in a diaper... grunting, growling, and literally stomping around yelling "YAAARRR!" this child wears me out.
The six year old has 8 more school days..... which means not much more than there are only 8 more days during which my husband (home during the day b/c he works nights) and I can have "naptime nookie." The little viking still takes a nap and at least until the six year old is home for the summer, the house is ours from 11-1 every day!
Wish us luck...