I do this really stupid thing. I'll be talking to some man (invariably) about car repairs or new tires or replacing the carpets or, yesterday, a termite and pest control contract. And I'll have gotten all the information about what is involved and the warranties and guarantees and the price, and then the man (invariably) will ask me if I want to buy whatever it is, and I'll tell him I need to speak to my husband.
This is stupid, because my husband doesn't care, and because after 15 years together I've stopped trying to force him to care.
I manage the money around here. I run the house. I pay the bills, deal with the workmen, set up the college funds and the retirement accounts. I've negotiated five mortgages and I'd be shocked if Chris could tell you within $100 what we've paid a month for any of them. He frequently asks me what his salary is. I'm the money person around here. I'm the house-decision person and usually the car-decision person and the kid-decision person. Chris mows the lawn, but when the lawn mower broke, I was the one who got it fixed.
I don't quite know why I tell people I have to speak to my husband. I almost never actually need his input, since either whatever it isn't significant enough to warrant spousal negotiation or we've already discussed it and come to a general agreement. Sometimes it is to give me time to think about whatever it is. Sometimes I do want to at least advise Chris of a major expenditure before I make it. Sometimes I think I want to give the impression that I am not to be taken advantage of or there may be an angry husband coming along behind be to crack some heads. But sometimes, there's no good reason for it. Just habit, I suppose.
Do you hide behind your husband?
On Friday afternoon, I heard the unmistakable sound of "Turkey in the Straw" being tinnily piped through the neighborhood. And since Owen was fed and Chris was home to watch him, I slammed Mia into her shoes and we took off running down the street for her first introduction to the ice cream man. It took her about 10 minutes to select her treat, and sadly it turns out that she doesn't much care for fudgesicles, but all things considered still an enjoyable experience.
(Looks a little like she's flippin' us the bird in that first shot, now don't it?)
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I made Mia a potty chart with five little blanks awaiting stickers and a promise that if she ever managed to fill all of those blanks I would take her to the toy store and she could pick out any one thing that she wanted. Mia was thrilled and spent several hours one afternoon getting the potty chart taped to the perfect spot on her bathroom door, and then it stayed there gathering dust for lo these many months.
And then, Mia decided that well fine, if I was going to continue to insist that she actually remove poop from her body on a regular basis, she was going to show me but good and poop exclusively in the potty. Oooohhh... good one kid. Burn on Mommy.
The result is that 1) my kid appears to be considering potty training herself, 2) I now spend literally my entire life reading the same books over and over to a pants-less toddler perched happily in the middle of my living room (on a potty chair, obviously, give me some credit), and 3) yesterday I had to make good on the toy store promise.
This is what she chose:
Which, whatever, had to happen sometime, right? What amused me was when I noticed that, in what I assume is a bow to Disney's attempt to be "family friendly," Jasmine is wearing panties. Nevermind that if this chick were life-sized her boobs would be bigger than my head, we must protect our innocent children from the concept that people have genitalia. Although, you know, if that is your goal, maybe the mesh panties weren't the best choice.
Also, when you sit her down, she's got some major plumber's crack going on. It appears not even plastic Disney women are safe from the perils of low rise harem pants.
I can never remember where you are supposed to put the stamp on an envelope. Left corner? Right corner? I think I usually get it wrong.
I also can't remember the zip code of the house where I lived for 14 years.
I have a talent for cracking nuts and removing the nut intact and pristine from the shell. I have an exceptional gift when it comes to pecans.
I am very good at cards. Seriously, do not play cards with me unless you want to lose, and badly. Also, dominoes.
However, I suck at Yahtzee.
I can still do the splits. Ok, so only right splits and it hurts like a bitch, but still, not too bad for a 33 year old mother of two.
I am master of all I survey when it comes to there/their/they're and your/you're, but its/it's is the very bane of my existence. (Does anybody have a superfly way to remember that? And don't give me that old dog scratching fleas crap, because that does absolutely no good if you still can't remember which one gets the apostrophe, which I can't.) (Y'all, thanks, but I don't really need an explanation of the contraction vs. possessive deal, which I can (and often do) look up. What I need is a way to actually remember that for longer than two and a half minutes.)
Ok, enough, just ignore that last one, please, I am begging you. Because if one more person gives me the grammatical rule for that I am going to scream. My problem is not that I can't figure out what the rule is, the problem is that I can't remember it, so telling me that "it's" is "it is" does no good since I will not remember that tomorrow. And now enough, no more comments on that subject. Seriously, don't do it, I'm getting crabby here.
The strangest things stick with me and become my most vivid memories. Like my freshman year of college, climbing the stairs to my fourth floor dorm room during a torrential rain storm and looking out the second story window to see that the security light mounted just below it made the raindrops look like needles of molten silver. Or hanging out the window at my parents' house to smoke a cigarette and lighting the filter end because I had no idea what I was doing. Or running around and around the trees in my front yard while the sun went down, knowing I was going to be forced inside and wishing the dusk would never deepen.
I would like to add this one: two nights ago, lying in bed with Mia listening to her new cd from Daddy, the first one where she requested "real" music. Mia had a handful of pretend ladybugs and I taught her to blow on them to make them fly away and then hold out her hand to let them come back. Those few minutes of blowing on our hands, staring with wonder towards the ceiling as our ladybugs flew away, and then gently catching them again so we could start again - I would like to remember that forever, please.
And this one: Owen nursing, holding my shirt, desperately tired and almost asleep, suddenly smiling just because he is happy and his life is good, and then sighing off to sleep with his cheek pressed against me. I'd like to keep that one too.
(P.S. Do any of you know who cut my grass today? A long shot, yes, but I don't know and Chris doesn't know, so I figure asking the internet makes as much sense as anything else. So, any thoughts?)
We had a (cute, young) guy out to do a little work on the house yesterday, and in the first five minutes he was here he introduced himself to me three times. Since he didn't appear to be stoned (the signs of which I know only from what I have seen in movies, naturally), I assume that this repetition means one of two things. Either a) he thought I was so totally hawt that he lost control of his tongue, or b) he thought I was so totally old that I must be suffering some form of hearing loss and he was just trying to be considerate of his elders.
Considering I hadn't showered, I'm going to have to go with option b.
The crab apple tree just outside the bay window is so covered in fat, pink blossoms that it is nearly vulgar - no tree should be so ostentatious. The frogs have returned to our pond, but have yet to be joined by the mosquitoes. Both children are
locked in their rooms finally done screaming sleeping peacefully, and I have decided to forgo my naptime date with the treadmill in favor of a pile of M&Ms and maybe some weeding. My nose is slightly pink from spending the past two mornings chasing a pile of kids around local playgrounds and farms and finally giving up and buying them all ice cream so they would sit still for five minutes and give their moms a break. Next week, we hit the zoo. They have ice cream there too.
Mia has developed a terror of all bugs, most especially the carpenter bees in our back yard. I have nearly convinced her that a hat will protect her, but she is still likely to stop in the middle of the back yard, clutch her outgrown sun hat to her head, and scream until I agree to rescue her from the ant she spied climbing a tree ten yards away. The best distractions are her giraffe-print gardening gloves, rake and shovel (her "tools"), which she has used to dig hundreds of holes in my flower beds in the past week. We consider it aerating the soil. She loves to help with the weeding too, although tends to uproot daffodils and azaleas rather than dandelions.
Owen giggles and coos and smiles and is happiest lying in a sunbeam without benefit of pants. He was thrilled to discover his naked toes buried in our far too long grass. He bounces around town with us tucked far into the Moby wrap, emerging only to nurse or be briefly startled by an especially loud cow or angry duck. He grumpily turns his face from the too-bright sun, but turns it into the breeze whenever he can.
One of the things my children have given me is the opportunity to enjoy Spring.
Well now, I didn't mean that I thought my blog was boring (but to everyone who told me "oh honey, it's ok that your blog is boring right now because we totally understand," um, thanks?). My blog probably is boring, but I don't care, because hey, I pay the hosting fees here, I can be boring if I want to. And I'm not bored. Well certainly, I am intermittently bored because this gig gets a little monotonous, but overall I am having a hell of a lot of fun at this mom thing. And I'm not blue, which frankly just isn't part of my makeup. Let's hear it for genetics, right? Eczema, fat thighs, bad eyesight, and stable brain chemistry.
I am witty and interesting on any number of topics directly related to infants and toddlers. I can wax rhapsodic about poop, and let me assure you that my sphincter soliloquy is not to be missed. And I read books and have a vague concept of current events and strong opinions on any number of topics which I am not reluctant to expound upon at great length. (But no, I haven't seen that movie. Haven't seen that one either. Or that one. Nope. Uh-uh.) But oh man, am I boring.
I never had much skill for small talk, or chit chat, or so much as opening my fool mouth around anyone I haven't known for no less than two years (or gotten very drunk with, six of one, etc.), and I have lost whatever limited ability I had in that area. Partly due to lack of practice, but mostly due to lack of topics. Parenting is my lead story. My children are beautiful and brilliant and talented and impressive. And that is what I do. All the time, every minute of every day, I parent. When faced with a situation where I feel like trying a conversation not directly related to how amazing my (or your) children are, I have no idea where to start.
Where do you start? What do people talk about? I honestly don't remember.
I feel boring.
I feel so boring I can't even adequately explain how boring I am. Possibly that is because everyone reading this is over six years old, and I no longer have anything to say to people over six years old. I do child care, and laundry, and grocery shopping, and preschool applications and precious little else. I feel like I've lost the ability to discuss anything other than children.
I don't mean that I'm unhappy, because I am enjoying the mommy thing. I just would also enjoy feeling like I had something to contribute to an adult conversation.
How do you stop being boring?
You were two months old yesterday, and are running circles around all of the typical baby book milestones for a two month old. You weigh 15 lbs 9 ounces and are 24 inches long, a growth of 6 and a half pounds and two and a half inches since birth. You smile regularly, roll from your tummy to your back at every opportunity, and have started using your hands to bat and and grab toys, sometimes even picking something up, entirely by chance and then gazing it in wonder until it escapes your grip. Your legs are hams on the top and sausages at the bottom. Your chest and stomach are huge, even your hands and feet are chubby. You may blame me for many things later in life, but you will never be able to say that I didn't feed you well.
You sleep. Can I get a hallelujah? That deserves a hallelujah. Last night you went 12 hours with one feeding and you regularly do a six to seven hour stretch at night. You usually take your morning nap in your car seat while Mia and I drag you around town, your afternoon nap in your swing, and then fall asleep on our bed and are easily transferred to your co-sleeper for a few hours when we come to bed. Once you wake up to eat you spend the rest of the night tucked against my shoulder and those few hours spent with your sticky-outy hair tickling my neck and nose are some of the best moments of my life. You already have a bedtime, usually around 9:00 and once you are down we rarely hear from you again before 3 AM.
You almost never cry. Pretty much the only time you do is when you are tired and want to be put to bed. You do sometimes yell or grouse if you want to be picked up or entertained, but usually you are just happy to do whatever, whenever, and are generally content to register your desire and then hang out and wait for someone to get to you. You don't even cry when you wake up, which, come to think of it, is sort of annoying because I feel I need to check on you frequently to make sure you aren't awake and lonely but just too polite to mention it.
Don't think you get left on your own a lot, though, merely because you are willing. It might happen more if anybody were able to pull themselves away from the power of your smile. And boy how you smile. All we have to do is speak to you or even look with you and you break out that amazing grin and nearly kick and wiggle yourself to bits from the sheer excitement of being alive. You like to chill in the Baby Papasan and admire yourself in the mirror or chase whatever toy I've strapped on, to lie on the floor and let Mia poke and prod and kiss and tickle you, or to ride around in the Moby wrap ogling the world.
Baby boy, I have been slowly learning not to compare you to any other child of my acquaintance. I spent the first few weeks trying to apply the hard-won lessons from your sister's infancy, and it just didn't work. The fact is that every (minor) problem we have had with you, every grumpy day or extended fussing session has been directly caused by expecting you to be like Mia. Once I got focused on figuring you out as entirely new entity, everything just slipped into place. The truth is, I never learned to tell the difference between the hungry cry and the tired cry and the just pissed at the world cry, but for some reason your no-cry approach connects for me. I know the reluctant grunt you make when you need to burp while nursing but don't want to give up the boob in order to do it. I know the wicked look you get in your eyes just before you poop. I can tell the difference between when you really don't want to eat and when you really do want to eat but just want to make me work for it first. It has been hard to adjust again to a child who cannot speak to me, but once I figured out how to listen I learned to hear what you were saying.
Sweet Owen, you are a very happy baby. Joyful and a joy, and I hope you will always find as much simple pleasure in being alive as you do right now. I joke sometimes that I earned you, that I deserve an easy baby, but the truth is that I can't imagine anything I could ever have done that was good enough to earn you. I had a hard time adjusting to the idea of a second child, and a hard time adjusting to the idea of a son, mostly because it was outside of my experience. I was worried about how things would change, how you would fit into the family, how we would bond. Those worries are now memories, nothing more. You are a wonder and a marvel and I am so glad that you are here and that you are you.
Mia informed me yesterday that if you have lots of babies, you need to have three hands. I thought that was entirely reasonable. She also decreed that you would need lots of breasts and suggested you could keep them on your back.
So! This has been quite a week. Yes indeed, it sure has. I'm not going to get into it, but I will give you a hint. Mia ate M&Ms for breakfast this morning and has already watched two hours of tv today and will be watching another hour tonight while she feasts on another bowl of M&Ms. These are uncommon events in her life, I assure you.
Hey! Did you know that two-year-olds are immune to reason and there is no amount of talking you can do to make them stop screaming long enough to take the damned x-ray when they have decided they are not interested in participating in the damned x-ray? Fortunately though, two-year-olds are not immune to stickers.
Hey again! This entire paragraph (on a different subject) was just redacted based on the realization that I can't tell you guys about that either!
Owen is two months old today. Yay him! Letter coming tomorrow once I a) get his weight and stuff from his well check tomorrow and b) am able to pull my face out of the bag of M&Ms long enough to type it. Guess what? Turns out I stress eat! Who knew?
Also, the cleaning lady came today, and every time she shows up it takes all my willpower to stop myself from making out with her. People (ok, just my mom really) keep asking if she does a good job, but I don't even care. She could bring her own dirt from home and spread it liberally around my house and I would still want to make out with her because the fact that I am paying someone to clean my house excuses me from ever doing it no matter what a pig sty the place is at any given time. At least, it does in my mind.
Oh screw it, let's all just agree to give up on this one, ok? I'll be back once I have crossed the hurdle of the two medical-type people I have to deal with tomorrow (which will bring the grand total of medical-type people contact for this week to... 9? 10? I've lost count). And man, you know it's serious when I am having all these dealings with medical-type people and can't even work up the energy to pretend I have the hots for a single one of them. If I start telling you how boring firemen are, it may be time to stage an intervention.
Sometimes, I think this really sucks. That all I do is change diapers and wipe up puke and do laundry and then more laundry since the hampers are full again as soon as I empty them. And sometimes I want to say, no, you keep two children fed, clean, happy and entertained while stemming the endless tide of toys taking over ever inch of the floor and cooking dinner that at least half of the intended audience will refuse to eat while I go get my nails done or out for drinks or whatever it is I've decided to do with no thought to the impact on your life. Sometimes I get so fed up with being the default parent, so tired of being unable to even go to the bathroom, much less leave the house without making some level of arrangements for their care or well-being. Sometimes when the one kid spends the entire morning puking on my shirt and pants and the floor and the other kid spends the entire morning whining and telling me I may no longer use the pet name I have called her since birth, I can't help but see this as far more punishment than reward. Sometimes I want to quit, to let all the annoying and boring little bits of this life be someone else's problem, to not be the one who is somehow supposed to have all the answers when I don't even understand the questions.
And then sometimes, when I am rocking a warm, sleeping baby who I know will, with a minimum of prodding, soon be taking a totally reliable two-hour nap while listening to my daughter singing in her room; or when she says she wants to tell me a secret and whispers in my ear that she loves me very much or that I am pretty; or when I can't get the baby to nurse because all he wants to do is smile at me with rivulets of milk pouring out of his mouth and spilling over his chin; well sometimes I feel like this, right here, this is the best part. Sometimes I think these long, slow, hard days with these children are the happiest of my life.
I'm glad we decided to spring for the upgrade, because the "actually sleeps for longer than 20 minutes at a time" feature is very handy. Now, if I could just figure out how to disable the factory-installed "poops every 5 god-damned minutes" function, we'd really be in business.
- You know when your first child is born and you are trying to do everything so perfectly and you swear that your precious, precious child will never eat Doritos or drink soda? Yeah, well sooner or later you will get to the point where you will feed that child McDonald's french fries for lunch two days in a row and consider yourself a mothering success because at least that is two consecutive lunches at which you managed to present a food that the child actually agreed to eat. At least today she chased her french fries with organic (chocolate) milk rather than the all-chemicals all-the-time milkshake.
- There are no items with which you can fill a grocery cart that will disguise the fact that you are purchasing a large and varied assortment of enemas and laxatives, so don't even try. That, by they way, is also the answer to the question "Hey Beth, how was the Pediatric Gastroenterologist?"
- It is a moral victory to throw away the last of the shitty cupcakes. Or rather, the last of the shitty cupcake once you have eaten two of the three remaining shitty cupcakes. In fact, when faced with the dilemma of what to do with a collection of six shitty cupcakes, I strongly recommend eating five of them and then throwing the last firmly away because that is nothing but willpower, baby, plain and simple.
- Hey, two-year-olds say inappropriate things at inopportune times. News flash!
- Chris used to live in his car in New York. Mia told me so, it must be true.
- The following conversation will improve any week:
Mia: Mommy, where is Daddy's hooker?
Me: Daddy had to take his hooker to work, honey. He can't get into his office without his hooker.
This has been a hard week. Nothing major, just one little thing after another, like Monday being an incredibly hectic day and then Chris wrecking his car a little requiring me to be his chauffeur and also not being home much so I've been largely single parenting and Mia has decided that every single thing that exists in the entire world has to be strewn all over the floor at all times so my house is always and absolute wreck, which stresses me out. And oh, just about 100 other things that I can usually manage but this week can't seem to get on top of.
And then there is this story (updated here). You really ought to go read those posts, but the short version is that there is a little girl named Emily, sixteen months old, who went on vacation with her family, had a seizure that turned out to be caused by a large tumor in her brain, and was discovered to have a very rare, highly malignant form of cancer.
The thing is, I know this kid. She is in one of Mia's classes. (Turns out I know the blogger telling her story too, or at least that I spend about an hour a week in her presence.) We all know that kids get sick, but we tell ourselves that it won't happen to us, it won't be our kid. It is the only way we can make it through the day. But it could be, it could be so easily. And this, I feel like one kid to the left and this is my kid. One kid to the right and maybe it is yours. I am suddenly less concerned about the toys in my kitchen.
So go read about her, would you? And do what you can to help, whether that's donating a few bucks to help her parents or praying for Emily or just asking the universe to back off this one little kid.
This is not the bit of video I wanted to show you. The bit of video I wanted to show you was directly after this particular bit, but do you know what I had for lunch today? Three chocolate cupcakes. And they aren't even good cupcakes. I mean, they were shitty cupcakes to start with, but at least the frosting was good but then the frosting got all melted and now it is shitty too but nevertheless I ate three of them. And then I ate some stark cold french fries, and I don't mean warmish or room temperature but so cold that you could add then to a warm drink if you had a hankering for a cold, refreshing beverage and they would cool that bad boy right down. I also drank part of a melted vanilla milkshake, and I don't like vanilla milkshakes under the best of circumstances, which this clearly was not. But you see, it has been that kind of week. It has been the kind of week where there are three of those shitty cupcakes left in my kitchen and I am giving serious thought to polishing them off as soon as I finish typing because at least they are something similar to chocolate and that has to help, right?
And anyway, I have been trying to post this video (by which I mean not this particular video, of course, but the video I actually wanted to post) for three days now and when I finally got this bit accessible for posting and realized I could not access the next bit that I really wanted I realized that I was very close to tears and decided to just give it up and post this and you, dear internet, will LIKE IT and BE HAPPY WITH IT and TELL ME HOW ADORABLE MY CHILDREN ARE, got it? Because I could get the next bit, I could, I know just what it would take, but then I really would cry and I am already covered in vomit and crying while covered in vomit after a lunch of shitty cupcakes and three hour old McDonald's take out is too pitiful even for me. And now if you will excuse me, there are cupcakes calling my name.
People, I am trying SO HARD to post a video of Owen smiling and cooing, but the laptop will not speak to the analog video camera, the desktop is not functioning at all due to someone's proclivity for downloading and installing any damned thing on it, and my attempt to burn a DVD through the TV resulted in a blank DVD and language that my children should not be forced to hear. I'll keep at it, because the world should not be deprived, but we may be looking at an Owen Thursday this week.
(Hey, what's the etiquette when your kid spits up on a library book?)
- In five and a half years, you are going to change careers.
- You may use the next five and a half years to seek education or training in support of your chosen new career. You live in an area where education or training is available for pretty much anything you could want to do. However, you are required to continue meeting all the commitments of your current full-time life for the next five and a half years. A graduate degree would be possible, running off to med school would not.
- The money you make will be helpful to your family but is not necessary to pay the bills. Salary is therefore a relevant concern, but not a critical one.
- You are not willing to work an 80 hour week. You may not even be willing to work a 40 hour week, at least for the first few years, but that bit is negotiable. You are not willing to move or travel extensively.
- You will be pushing 40, the owner of a small collection of young children, and likely lacking in any relevant work experience.
- You may have just a bit of trouble with authority. You can deal with it, you just don't tend to like it. Mostly this means that you make a really terrible secretary.
Given that those are your only limitations, what would you do?