Monthly Archives: June 2010

Gotta Have A J-O-B

Like Oprah says (although really, what the hell does she know about it?) being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Some days I am at peace with it, but others seem endless. And I enjoy it in many immeasurable ways and take an enormous amount of pleasure in what I am able to witness in the kids during the day, but it is also the hardest thing I have ever done. I think it’s even harder than things that I haven’t done but can tell are hard. Like roping cattle or, God help me, manning a submarine. Maybe I am wrong in thinking that some people are better equipped for parenthood than I am. Now that doesn’t mean I think I am a bad mother or anything, just that, well, some days I just want to be alone. Or at the very least to have some physical space and the ability to pee without discussing my vagina.

I’ve had a total of 33 jobs in my life. 33. And they all felt exhausting and awful at some point in their own special way. Well, all except one really. The first job I had was the coolest job that any 12-year-old can have. Don’t even think for a second that your first job was cooler. If you can beat being Mr. Kool-Aid for a kids’ birthday party for, like, one hour and making $100 then maybe your first job is passable. Even cooler was the fact that my costume was gigantic. So gigantic, in fact, that I needed to be deflated just to get through a door and then reinflated once inside. I seem to remember that happening a few times. And I am pretty sure that my sister and her friend had to dress as Barney and Fred also. I wish I could remember what the hell kind of whacked-out children’s birthday party this was, but all I really remember is that all of the kids were on the fence about me being the real Mr. Kool-Aid.

Haters.

Besides that one golden moment, I have to say that most of the others on the list were pretty awful. Some were predictable, like the overnight shift at Dunkin Donuts, where I made the doughnuts (for reals) with a depressed alcoholic woman in an abusive relationship. That sucked. And now that I know how doughnuts are made, let’s just say that dream was shattered. And there were some that were painful in some ways and wonderful in others. One gas station job that I had (yes, there was more than one) allowed me to drink coffee, chain smoke, and gab the day away with a wonderful coworker-turned-friend, but we had to do that chatting in front of array of pictures of scantily clad women bending over and holding their breasts and coyly looking over their shoulder. The owner was a perv. A total perv and, really, a big, fat asshole. Oh! And one time? A bat flew into the gas station and flew at my head, getting stuck in my extremely large and sprayed hair. I shook my head so hard that the bat flew out and I pulled a muscle.

Imagine my heartbreak when I found out that an employer of mine had a grading process that he used when hiring the staff. It involved a letter grade which he wrote at the top of the application next to things like “nice boobs” and “attractive face, hair too short.” And “bad teeth” and “great ass,” too. Sadly, I remember that I got a B+ while a friend of mine received a whopping A++. I would tell you the whole story, including how I know this, but then I would have to kill you. Two things made this even worse: (1) he was about 123 years old and loved to flirt and slow dance with the front desk workers (those deemed attractive enough) and (2) he had a younger brother who gave everyone nicknames, including one of the counter girls, whose nickname (“Tits”) motivated me to try and sue them.

I thought that once I had found my place in the massage world things would be easier. Not so, my friend, not so. If you ever want to feel humiliated, try getting hired because someone’s homemade pendulum told them to hire you. I wish I was kidding about this but, really, I couldn’t make this up, it’s so good. I was interviewing for a teaching position at a massage school, and it seemed that, although I had experience and a referral from the instructor leaving the position and I am pretty sure there were no other candidates, the person interviewing me said, “Hmmmm. Give me a minute to meditate on this.” That was fine with me, until she shut her eyes for three full minutes and then opened them and said, “I need to consult my pendulum. Where is it?” As she rummaged through her drawers, I did some meditating of my own. It went something like this, “What the fuck? Is she serious? I’m right here!” And then! THEN! Then she pulls out her telephone headset and a roll of tape. She slides the roll of tape through the cord of the head set and begins to mentally ask it her questions while she lets it dangle. And I am Right. Fucking. There.

Anyway, she hired me. I could have told her that was going to happen.

I was driving down one of the main roads here today and I saw something I see a lot. A person, dressed in a uniform (pants and a polo, usually) holding a huge sign advertising some store closing in town. It’s 110 degrees. One hundred and ten. You dig? A freakin’ sweat box!  And if anyone out there is thinking to themselves, “well, it’s a dry heat!” you can just suck it. Because if someone told you that you either had to  spend your 8 hour shift (for like, $6.75 an hour) either clothed and in a sweaty armpit or clothed and in the oven I’m pretty confident you would choose neither. I get that there are jobs that you take because they are mentally easy or because it is a means to an end. When I cleaned hotel rooms at the Red Roof Inn, I wasn’t fulfilling a dream or anything. I needed the money and I wanted to do something that would get me out of my head. But after cleaning up other peoples blood, vomit, and diarrhea, I realized that I would much rather be in my head. Pulling back the covers to change the sheets and finding a .357 Magnum was intriguing, but the cracked skin around my nails from the intense cleaning fluids sucked. And there was something sort of familial about working with the other cleaners. They outwardly rejected me at first as some rich kid (which I wasn’t) just there for a week until she realized how hard the work would be but when I was still there months later, they began to accept me, and I have to say: it felt like a nice achievement. All that was great, but when Willie Nelson stayed there and left me a $5 tip for cleaning his room I wanted to poke him in the eye. He could have at least left me a joint.

And now there is massage. I absolutely love my career. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned that once or twice. It is one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and when my thumbs finally give out, I have absolutely no idea what I will do with myself. I’ll have to learn Ahshiatsu, or maybe I can strengthen my pinkies. It’s the most satisfying part of my day, since being with the kids, which is a blast and a half, always leaves me unsure and wondering if I have just scarred them emotionally in some way. With massage, I have few concerns. There is a specific beginning and end, a goal that needs to be reached that is clear and attainable, and since most of the people I work with have been in my life now for years, it is like being with family. Family that doesn’t need their butt wiped or to be put in time out five times a day. No matter what, in bodywork I have found my people, I have found peace, satisfaction, and such an immense amount of all that in return. I would marry it if I could.

When I started this post I felt like a used tampon. Just full up with mess. But now, as I wrote the last paragraph, Luca came up to me and quietly (which, truth be told, is totally out of character) said, “Hi, I need you! I want to hold your hand,” and my heart just sort of popped. Maybe it’s the writing that is cathartic enough to give me the perspective I need. Or maybe it’s just that really, being home with my kids is exactly where I want to be.

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Filed under Before Children.

The seed or the grape?

I’ll never forget the first time I told my husband that I had to go “pee pee in the potty.” I think that I actually smacked my own forehead in disbelief. (Now I say it to be ridiculous, on purpose, but I should probably stop.) I actually have said it to clients. The crumbling of my adult relationships in the face of being a part-time stay-at-home mother sort of crept up on me, since I am the single most stubborn human being on the face of this earth. No lie. Ask John. I had been desperately trying to maintain some sense of a separate identity within the new kid/adult dynamic in the house. But dude, it is freaking hard. You should understand that, when I say that, I don’t mean I was still trying to stay up past 10 pm or have sex with my husband every night or anything, I’m just saying that I tried to at least still watch Oprah every day. It’s the little things, people.

But there were the small shifts in our identities that began to happen. Cracks in the foundation. Referring to one another, even after the children have left the room as “Mama” or “Papa,” for example. No one has called me Sarah in like, 4 years. And I can assure you that nothing kills the romance faster than accidentally referring to your husband as “little chicken” or “bubbies,” two nicknames I have for the children. We talk about poop like most people discuss what’s for dinner. I think that dating a guy that drinks his own urine helped me in this area (yeah, Thor). Now I have kids that ask to see their poop and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the next step has them asking to eat it. Seriously. And you know what? Motherhood is so ripe with inner conflict that there is a slim possibility that I would consider letting them. I can just hear the inner dialogue now: “Well, it is organic. And part of their own body . . . but it’s a little gross. If anyone ever found out they would totally call CPS. But we could discuss the digestive system and it would be a great segue to . . .” You get the picture.

Even when we get the kids to sleep we stay up and talk about the kids. It’s like a virus we can’t shake. I know more about dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts than you know about well, pretty much anything. I can change a diaper while my kid is standing, pack a cooler in 3.7 seconds, and write a blog post while making dinner, doing the dishes, and giving Luca a pony ride on my foot. I have to answer questions like, “Mama? Why is your vagina fuzzy?” or real brain teasers like, “Mama? Where do seeds come from?” Today Rowan literally asked me which came first: the seed or the grape? I have to Google his questions at least 10 times a week so that I give him the right answer, because although I am 36 years old, I seriously am stumped by my four-year old.

When John comes home from work I find it difficult to even speak. I have to go through a sort of adult to adult conversion, like an upgrade from Windows 7 to Vista. It’s bizarre, and I used to feel like I should apologize for it, but now it has become almost normal. All day I say things like “Don’t touch your brother’s penis,” which has been amended to “don’t touch your brother’s penis while he is peeing!” Or “please don’t sit on my head!” “don’t put that plastic bag over your head!” and “please stop touching me!” which I actually say a lot. So when John gets home I am just stumped. He is sweet about it but I wonder if he thinks the kids are dumbing me down. Now that I think about it, with all the Googling I am doing, Rowan will probably turn me into a genius by the time I’m 40. An antisocial, blubbering genius.

What is amazing to me is that I (among others, I hope) thought that I was prepared for motherhood. I had been a nanny (though not a live-in one), I have a little sister by 16 years and was home for the first 2 years of her life, I babysat, I volunteered in the toddler room of a pre-school . . . you get the picture. I see now that there is no way to intellectualize what it means to be a mother. I still don’t know, since I can only reflect on 4 years of being a mother, and I know there are many more years to come. If someone asked me to describe it, I couldn’t.  I once lamely described motherhood, for me, as being like running a marathon, at my current weight (which, although I am a dreamboat, is NOT marathon-running weight), naked, in the rain, while spinning plates and having a variety of sharp implements thrown at me. Four years later I stand by that, but it still doesn’t cover it. It is an experience to be had. Or, um, not to be had. I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it. If I could clone my children and give the clones to you, I would consider giving it maybe, three and a half out of four stars. And, people! Be careful who you have children with. I’m bolding and italicizing that—that’s how important it is. If you think you are going to pop out a kid that will be just like you while also maintaining your current lifestyle you are seriously fucked.

Well, that felt good to say! And I meant it.

Slowly John and I are regaining some small adult aspects to our lives. No one sleeps in our room anymore (at least not before 3 am), and while you may immediately think that we couldn’t wait to ravish each other, what we had really missed was being able to be with each other without feeling needed by anyone else. We no longer high-five each other before turning out the lights for bed. Being able to speak to one another above a whisper has been a nice change too. I’m pretty sure that both of my kids like to rock, so I’m not listening to that horrible Raffi guy. Both kids can walk, so my low back is in the recovery phase. My boobs are . . . well, my boobs now that the nursing is done. I can look into the future and see things that were impossible to see when I was only getting three hours of sleep a night. Back then, all I saw was myself, on the roof, with a hand grenade. I’m a little more stable now. And I suppose, if all goes well and I don’t feel like someone has punched me in the face a million times by bedtime tonight, I may just have sex (don’t worry, my tubes are tied) with my husband. Who I will never call “little chicken” again.

Swear.

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Filed under All of them., Children.

Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!

I love my husband. There is just something about him that is irresistible to me. He’s hilarious, smart, he knows the answer to almost every question I ask him, he doesn’t dress like an asshole, he is a wonderful father, and he is extremely supportive of my having time for myself. I find it hard to complain about him. Particularly now that I know some mothers who are struggling with their marriages, because, really, my guy? He’s da bomb.

So, I like him and everything, but you must know (and anyone that has come within 5 feet of a serious relationship, marriage or not, does) that this union of ours isn’t always a Broadway show of love and awesomeness. There have been issues on both ends of our relationship. For example, last night, in a bizarre moment of utter dudeness, my husband asked me if we had ESPN. For those of you who don’t know my husband, his asking me that question would be equivalent to my asking him if he could help me mainline heroin or if he needed anything from Abercrombie and Fitch. So, when just yesterday, for the first time in 11 years of our relationship, John told me that he “loves” the World Cup and then asked me if we had ESPN, I simply replied, “I’m moving out.” Because, dude. Oprah has her no-phone zone and I have my no organized sports zone. And that zone is pretty much anywhere that I am. (I just know that my cousin is feeling a sense of relief right now that he didn’t marry someone like me, and you know what? I’m cool with that.)

Then there is me. I’m obnoxious. Sometimes I listen to myself as I talk relentlessly about something or other, and I actually find my own self annoying. Do you ever realize something about yourself that is fairly unattractive but while you are realizing it you simultaneously realize that you have been this way your whole life and it is pretty much too late to change it? And don’t tell me that anyone can change anything about themselves if they work hard enough, because while that may be true, it is also true that I get tired just thinking about changing certain things about myself. I can’t even shave my legs, for the love of all things holy. All of you can just adapt to me. Plus, I’m adorable the way I am.

Apparently, I don’t wash the bottoms of pots and pans. And that is gross to John. It isn’t like I vomit on them first. And who licks the bottom of pots or pans? I’m chatty in the shower and never about anything urgent, just mostly things like, “Hi!” and maybe, “what is the temperature going to be today?” When I need help with something I never just ask for help. If I can’t reach something, instead of just asking him to get it for me I ask, “John, how tall are you?” or in lifting something heavy, “John, how strong are you?”

Or there is always this:

“Babe?”

“Yes?”

“Can I ask you a favor?”

“Sure.”

“Can you pass the salt?”

I don’t know why I do it. But I do, and quite honestly, although it has been a small issue at times, it isn’t high on my list of priorities to change it.

I have a zero-tolerance policy about some things, and I have had to use tough love about them. No generic Ritz crackers or tampons for example. You may call that preference, plain and simple, but for me it’s the law. Have you ever had a generic Ritz? Do a taste test. Don’t taste the tampons. No country music, and no idiotic jokes with racial or derogatory gender punch lines told in my presence, please. (This is not a problem in our house, but I think I included it so that you never come into my house playing Toby Keith and saying, “three whores and a wetback walk into a bar . . .”)

(And just so you know, I typed in “Country music asshole” when I couldn’t remember Toby Keith’s name and it came up.)

Not that John is a freaking prince. He’s cute and all, but . . . sweet Jesus! I can ask him to grab something from the other room and he says, “sure!” He leaves the room and comes back seven seconds later without the thing and starts to do something else. In nine seconds he has forgotten the reason he left the room. Nine seconds, people! He loads the dishwasher like he is on crack (which I know I’ve mentioned in the past but it still alarms me every time I open the dishwasher), and he will complain that I haven’t made a vegetable with dinner, but two hours later, he will eat two bowls of Cocoa Krispies. When he feels strongly about something, even if it is, say (to honor an old family gripe) liquid soap, he will speak to you as if you are both hard of hearing and the devil. Now Rowan will get upset and tell him to use a different voice, and I just nod at John like I now have proof that he talks like he is at a town hall meeting.

Both John and I are very quiet (you can close your mouth now) and introverted people. We cherish our alone time, would rather read a book all night than go to a party, and we appreciate autonomy. We bonded over this as we began to date and it is the reason, I believe, that we will stay married until one of us dies from cancer (since it seems to be killing everyone). We have more similarities than differences, and I feel confident saying that we appreciate the nuances of our differences. I find him fascinating and so socially conscious that it is inspirational. There are so many people in my life and family that know only one fraction of a tenth of him, and mostly I feel bad for them. I’m still thankful that I was almost able to clone him by having two boys. Okay, clearly I love him but, dude, I have been washing my own pots and pans without contracting dysentery for years before I met John! What sacrifices we make!

I say all of this because apparently, I will be watching the World Cup. Or at least hearing about the World Cup. I would rather devein myself, but alas, this is love . . . and if I watch the World Cup, maybe, just maybe, he will let me chat with him while I am in the shower.

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Filed under Confessions., Love & Marriage.

Smash! Crash! Boom! Bash!

For years I have been telling people that I have been in eleven car accidents.  Tsk tsk.  I think that there must be something that has happened eleven times to me but, it isn’t car accidents.  Nine (I went back and counted) is actually the correct number.  Unless you count all the times that I have spun out in my old driveway (due to black ice) and after getting wedged between two trees, needing to get towed out.  If we count those we are looking at more like thirteen.  And we probably shouldn’t count those because, besides being a total pain in the ass to deal with, it was sort of fun to just spin and spin and then gently hit a tree.

I’ll have you know that none of these accidents were my fault.  And I wasn’t actually the driver in all of them either.  Well, one was my fault but only because I fell asleep at the wheel for JUST A SECOND while driving on the interstate in Virginia on my way to band practice after a long day of work.  I was on my way to rehearse “Baby Got Back” about 37 times with “Pearl,” the R&B band I was briefly in, and obviously the excitement of this was overwhelming enough to lull me into a deep albeit, brief sleep.  I hit the guardrail and was pretty much alert after that.

I do hold myself partially responsible for a car accident that my friends Scott, Brian, and I were in while on our way home from our high school graduation rehearsal.  I’ve never asked but always dreaded the day that he sends me the bill for the repairs he had to make to his almost fully restored 1973 Buick Apollo.  It had all been beautifully finished with the final detail (the hood, of course) being the only thing missing.  Oh!  That and there wasn’t a back seat.  Which didn’t stop us from having our friend Brian, all 220 pounds of him,  sit in the non–back seat because, well, where else would he have sat?  We couldn’t have even put him on the hood!  So, when I accidentally distracted Scott by saying the one thing you should never say to a jittery driver of an incomplete and possibly illegal car, “Oh, was that a cop?” causing him to look over his shoulder, thus slamming into the back of the car that had stopped in front of him, all 220 pounds of Brian came forward, literally ripping my seat out of the frame of the car.  That was just a little funny.  Or a lot funny.  The front end of his car looking like scrap metal was not funny.

Most of my accidents have had a glimmer of comedy about them (always looking on the bright side, me!).  Like the time I was rear ended at high speed in Norfolk, and when the driver of the other car and I pulled into the nearest parking lot, which just happened to be a very lively apartment complex, all these children came running up to me asking me for my autograph.  “Mariah!  We love you music!  Please to sign!  Can I touch your hair?”  So, that was cool.  And getting hit by a van six months before our wedding sucked in the moment, but we were able to use the repair money from the insurance company on our wedding.  We still have that unrepaired car, and every day it reminds us of our love and our gross irresponsibility.

I suppose now, in retrospect, that not telling my Dad that I had smashed my friend’s windshield with my head in yet another accident (actually, the first) was not the brightest thing I’ve ever withheld.  I see now that I suffered a concussion, whiplash, and possibly a major vertebral misalignment.  But, whatev.  I didn’t want to get grounded for taking off my seatbelt (in my house that was as big of a no-no as knifing someone) to grab my mix tape off the floor.  There isn’t much funny about that, except it makes me giddy to think about mixed tapes.

The worst one was the hit and run.  Nothing says, “I hate humans” like smashing into the driver’s (um, me . . . the driver being smashed into) side of a car, practically totaling it, looking the driver (um, me . . . the driver being looked at) of that car in the eye, backing up, turning your car around and driving away.  Quickly.  (Not quick enough for the elderly, shirtless, insane, yet spry witness (who never ONCE stopped watering his lawn) to start shouting “YRB-765!  YRB-765! Remember that license!” over and over again until it was forever seared into my memory.  That accident sucked.  I sat, dumbfounded, in my car (with YRB-765! being screamed at me) for a full two minutes, just sort of waiting for the guy that hit me to come back with help.  A few months after the accident, I received a nice but very pathetic letter (in Spanish, which John translated for me) from him, apologizing.  Although I am pretty sure he was more sorry that he (1) didn’t have a license, (2) didn’t have insurance, (3) wasn’t old enough to drive, and (4) got caught.

It reminds me now of another out-of-body experience.  My friend Matt (hi, Matt!) and I were in downtown Syracuse getting coffee.  When we left the coffee shop we decided to climb up a fire escape that was overlooking the parking lot where I had parked my (very visible) car.  We were high enough up, though, that you wouldn’t have noticed us, and we were talking pretty quietly, this being before I became the loud, obnoxious woman I am today.  Anyhoo, as we were chatting, this kid walks up to my car, looks both ways all fidgety-like and proceeds to start trying to break into my car. I thought to myself and then said out loud, “Seriously?  IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?  You are seriously going to break into my car right now?” and the kid ran off.  What the fuck is wrong with people?

There was this one time? At band camp? No, really it was on the interstate through Pennsylvania during a snowstorm.  I was the only car on the road, and I was most likely going my version of the speed limit, which, I am sure you can imagine, is not the actual speed limit.  I was an idiot.  A total and complete, fearless, and, as I thought at the time, invincible idiot.  So imagine my surprise when I started to spin.  And spin, and spin at a high speed, alone on a snowy interstate in the early evening.  If it weren’t for the snow, I would not be here to be as awesome as I am because it made hitting the guardrail more like hitting a blow-up guardrail.  It was sort of pleasant, actually.  Not pleasant?  That would be when the COP that had been chasing me (the snow was so thick that I hadn’t seen him) to warn me of the danger of driving at high speeds in the middle of a snowstorm finally caught up to me.  He must have had an idiot for a daughter because he was pretty nice to me and helped me get towed and all that.  Lesson learned, again.

Oh, relax.  The truth of the matter is that I am actually a fantastic driver.  A bit of a control freak (shocker!) and maybe a bit too aggressive but all in all, safe.  (I just remembered the time I ran a red light because I was trying to find the right Radiohead song.  Don’t judge me on that one, I learned another  lesson.)  Now that I have kids I feel like everyone else on the road is out to kill me with their horrible vehicles of death so I am more cautious and I stay well within the speed limits.  And, let’s not forget how cute I am!  So that automatically makes me a better driver than you.

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Filed under Before Children., Confessions.

Time keeps on tickin’….

I’ve had a lot of feedback lately about time.  My time, in particular.  Things like, “what are you doing calling me during the day?  I’m working!”  or “What, do you sit in front of your computer all day?” or “how do you find time to write a freaking blog?”  Things like that.  It would seem to most people that I have a lot of free time.  Which is absolutely HILARIOUS. It is akin to the old assumption that stay-at-home mothers sit around all day eating bon bons (what the hell ever happened to bon bons?) and watching soap operas.  (I’ve got to say that I totally should have done more of that before I had kids.  Because that is not fucking happening over here now—it takes me an hour to finish my coffee.)  It used to be a pet peeve of mine, all of the assumptions and judgments made about parenting and things associated with it.  I feel a little less violent toward those people now, probably because I am medicated (due to parenting), but either way, I very rarely want to kick anyone in the ding ding any more.  I guess that is a good thing.

I do have a lot of free time.  If you add it all up.  Not that the time actually belongs to me anymore or anything.  I think it is important to give you an idea of how my time “rolls” if you will.  For example, I will sit down to write a post and I will type, say, two lines.  Then I get up to find out why Luca is crying, comfort him, come back and type one sentence, Luca crawls up on my lap and I type while he tries to pull my shirt up and stick his finger in my belly button.  He thinks it is hilarious, so I humor him for six seconds and then tell him to quit it. No, really. Then Rowan comes in and says that he wants to get on my lap too so I put Luca on one leg, Rowan on the other and type 3 words while also answering the question, “how can a dog talk?” I convince the children to get off my lap by saying, “What is that?  Is that a T-Rex coming?  YOU BETTER RUUUUUUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and they hop off my lap and run away.  I turn to the computer and type in a few sentences until Rowan comes in and asks me for some milk.  I get up and get his milk and on the way see that I forgot to put the wash in the dryer two days ago so I quickly do that and while I am in the middle of doing that Luca falls while running from a “comet” and I go see if he is alright.  On the way back to the laundry I glance at the computer and see that someone has e-mailed me so I quickly check to see if it is anyone I like.  While I am looking at the e-mail I think of another thing I want to type so I flip to that window, type it, and when I am almost done, Luca comes in and tells me he has to go pee-pee in the potty.  So, we run to that bathroom and do that, I put a clean diaper on him ONLY after chasing him around the house until I catch him, go back to the laundry and keep transferring that to the dryer.  Done with that, I go back to the e-mail so I can respond.  I respond to the e-mail, and as I hit send, I remember that I have to feed the kids.  I make a quick lunch for them and once they start eating I load the dishwasher.  I put one cup in and Luca starts to cry because his noodle fell on the floor.  I pick up the noodle and he asks me to feed him.  So, I scoop one bite in his mouth and then load a plate, another bite, load two cups….another bite, then I think of something else I want to write so I head to the computer and on the way notice that Luca’s milk cup has spilled a little on the floor so I head back to the kitchen, grab a towel, put a bite in Luca’s mouth, clean up the spill and then . . . I check Facebook, and just as I do, Rowan says something like, “Mama?  Where is your vagina?” and voila!  I have a status.

Later, after I take the laundry out of the dryer, I will smell it and remember that it sat in the washer for two days, and I start that all over again.

That is the kind of time I have, beyotch.

I tend to bathe in the gray area of most things (as I pointed out in my first blog post), so I like to sit back and observe the righteousness that a lot of moms give off, as a very interesting social experiment.  (Okay, and every once in a while I get really, really, really pissed.  But for the most part, I just find the whole thing fascinating.) And I have an enormous amount to say about motherhood.  The first thing is that I have learned that most people feel about their decisions within the family as they feel about their politics and/or religion. There is surprisingly little grey area to work with.  I see now that women who make decisions to breastfeed (for example) feel as if they need to guard and defend that choice, likewise women who either choose not to breastfeed or can’t breastfeed. (For me, I just felt lucky that my body worked in that way, since the actual birth process went to shit in a shit-basket . . .)

I understand now that early motherhood is the most vulnerable time for a woman.  Everything seems so tenuous—even things that seemed so settled before children.  Old friends fade quickly into the background, you are confined (or feel confined) to home for weeks and weeks, you get maybe 1.2 hours of sleep a night for months on end, you feel your marriage changing, you never feel sure that the decisions you are making are the right ones, your body feels as if someone popped a giant fucking balloon and you are the end result . . . And on top of all of that, you are utterly alone in it all.  In this most vulnerable state you enter into the world of “other mothers,” who, unbeknownst to you, are feeling mostly the same way.  But the really terrifying thing to me in all of this is that NO ONE wants to tell each other the truth about this. I once said to my mother something like, “How is it possible that people have continued to procreate for hundreds of thousands of years?!  Didn’t anyone tell them how much it SUCKS?”  (I was having a rough day.)  My Mom, bless her heart, sighed and said, “Oh, honey!  But your kids are so sweet!”  She was missing the point—I wasn’t talking about my kids specifically, I was speaking in general.  I don’t give a shit how cute kids are or even if they are mine; being a mother has been like taking every aspect of my life and sticking it into a giant machine of suck.  I went through such a difficult time the first few months with Rowan, and after Luca, I struggled for the whole first year.  “Who was I before kids, who am I now?  How do they fit together?  Who do I present to the newer people in my life?  What can I share, what should I withhold?  Can I be vulnerable around strangers?  Can I ask for help?  Do I take that advice?  Why is my kid’s poop green?”  And then, added to that was the judgment from others (spoken and unspoken), the days that passed without a word spoken to another adult for hours at a time, and the fact that no one was telling the fucking truth.

Now, though, I see the glory in being a mother.  I’m more patient with the righteous for the most part—well, as long as they actually have (or at one time had) children, and I am able to step back and observe without judgment and without wanting to move to an island in a remote part of Shutthefuckupa.  I see a new mother and know to be gentle, loving, and supportive. My relationships with friends that don’t have kids has improved since I realized that they actually don’t think that my kid’s poop shooting  across the room and hitting the wall is awesome, so I leave that out.  I relish the women who have entered this new life of mine and hold them as close as I can without freaking them out. And I look at my children and think, oh yes, this is the best thing I will ever do in my life.

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Filed under All of them., Children.

College…who needs it?

I didn’t go to college really, but I did go to Bookman’s Used Books when I moved to Tucson, and a love affair began.  A love affair and an education.  After living in the storage unit (which allowed me to save up some money) I decide that I would wait on working until I found the PERFECT job.  So I stalked Bookman’s.  With no computer (come on people!  I hadn’t even had a toilet for MONTHS!) I had to write out a resume.  I think I added a flowered border around the colored paper.  Without a past address to put down, I borrowed a friend’s and, with trepidation, I decided that I needed a phone in the house we had rented here.  It felt like I was signing a deal with the devil the first time I called the phone company—one step closer to being mainstream.  Such HORROR!

Once I started working there (they must have loved my pluck!) I began to read.  I read like binge eater at Furr’s cafeteria.  I bathed in books, read while driving, read while eating, read while walking, and without a television (we hadn’t crossed over THAT far) I read almost every moment I was at home.  I probably read 4–5 books a week at that point.  I read so much and so fast that I would dream in the rhythm of the dialogue.  I could read you under the table with my hands tied.  (I nursed my children, so I am very adept at turning the pages with my tongue, or nose.) I would have made out with them if I could have.  I suppose I could have . . . but, really, that would have felt sort of odd.  A friend once accused me of “escaping” through books and never allowing myself to be present in the moment.  To that, at the time, I thought, “fuck you!”

It drove me nutso that Thor didn’t read books.  We shared a love for music but not genres and we had the same verve for life but, as far as any other compatibility we literally grew apart.  When I was single, in between Thor and John, I wrote a list of qualities that I was looking for in a man.  If I was a better blogger, I would find the list for you and scan it, but I’m not.  I can tell you that “must read books” was at the top of the list with “must own a car” right on its heels.  Also,  “has no desire to go to strip clubs and won’t or wouldn’t have a bachelor party including naked women.”  What can I say?  I know what I want.

It is hard to articulate why I love books as I do.  I know that many people enjoy book clubs and discussions but I despise the thought.  It pleases me to no end to know that there are people in the world that read books, so I don’t have anything against books clubs, but for me, a book is such a personal thing.  Its effects, lessons, insight, humor—its energy (if you will) is completely mine.  The thought of trying to share something so personal with a group of people makes me itch.  I feel the same way watching people Karaoke.

Eventually I was allowed into the frat house of the Book Department at Bookman’s.  When I say frat house I totally mean it.  I had to transfer stores just to get into it!  It was the most elitist, most hardcore work aspect that I had ever experienced.  What getting into that department meant for me was that I could be on the buying counter.  All day long, people brought in books (and CDs, tapes, DVDs, etc . . . but who gives a shit?)—boxes and boxes of books.  And I could choose whether or not to buy them for the store.  The perk?  Anytime a book came over the counter that I liked, I bought it for the store, stuck it under the counter and bought it for myself later. Huzzah!  Any time I moved apartments over the next few years, I toted about 15 boxes of books with me.

I have fallen in love with my husband a million times since we met (and we met at Bookman’s:  Ka-ching!).  I keep falling in love with him—for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that he isn’t an annoying prick—but one of the first times was when I saw him open a book, stick his nose in it, take a deep breath, shut the book, and smile.  He had no idea I was watching him and that made it all the better.  My relationship with books pales in comparison to the one that my husband has with literature.  Next to him I am a book pauper.  Just 3 hours ago, as he was dropping my car at the shop, he called me while he waited for 10 minutes until the shuttle could bring him back.  He was mortified that he had forgotten to bring a book.  How COULD he!  This is a man that rarely leaves the house without one nonfiction and one fiction.  As he was being taken out on a stretcher  to the ambulance this weekend (back attack), his bag (“you can call it my man purse if you want”), with two books inside, was safely tucked between his legs.

Now we have children.  Children with parents who read while parenting—we read our books in the little moments that the boys are occupied with mischief.  And we read to them too, of course.  I rarely say no when they ask me to read to them, and I don’t think that in four years I have left a bookstore without a new book for the kids.  Through nature AND nurture, we have designed children who share this love of books with us.  Rowan is at an age where he carries books to the car with him and reads on the toilet (who doesn’t?). Last night, past the boys’ bedtime, we had to say no to Rowan’s request for one more book. As he climbed up into his bunk bed, he sighed and said, “Well, the thing is . . . I just love reading books!”

Well said, Sir.

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Filed under Before Children., Children., Confessions.