Monthly Archives: July 2010

Meow.

You know what I like? I like quiet. I like when I walk across the room and nothing attacks my feet, leaving them bloody. I also truly enjoy NOT stepping in vomit that is basically comprised of unchewed food. Oh! And you know what else is cool? Not seeing poop stuck to the ass of your cat.

When Thor and I finally split up and I moved into my own place some asshole recommended that I buy a cat. And since I was vulnerable, weak, and feared loneliness, I considered it. Then one night, as I was leaving school I noticed a sign on the bulletin board, “Cat! Free to a good home,” with a number. So, like a total idiot, I called. (This was back when I believed in signs.) This led to one of the most unnerving experiences I have ever had, which in turn taught me a valuable lesson. Never, and I mean NEVER go to a stranger’s home alone without some sort of weapon on you.

We had agreed that I would be there at 11 am and so at 11:03, I knocked on their door. I had lost my way once on the way there since I had never actually been to the ghetto here before, thus making me just a teensy weensy bit late. A couple, looking (in retrospect) like they were totally wacked out on meth answered the door, and for the next 20 minutes I was made to watch the guy basically let the cat attack him. I am not kidding when I say that his hand was bloody. BLOODY. Basically he trained his kitten to be a killer. A fearless, ruthless killer. And I didn’t really want to live with a fearless killer, but I also couldn’t not take her. They were so intense about it that I really had to commit to taking her. In fact, they wanted to give her to me that day, but I needed to get a few cat-related things, so I arranged to pick her up the following day at an agreed-upon time. The guy looked at me all twitchy-like and said,

“I want you to know that we both just heard you say you would be here at 10am.”

“Right. 10 am.” I replied.

“That is 10 am missy, not 10:10.”

“Right. 10 am.”

“Because today you told us you would be here at 11am and you were late.”

(Oh Jesus, I hope that they never had children!)

The guy was beyond creepy and that evening at one of my classes I told one of my classmates about my experience and she . . . well, basically she told me I was an idiot, and then she made me take her with me the next day. And she brought a knife. When we went to pick up the cat, those lunatics actually put her in a plastic grocery bag and handed her to me. I didn’t know much at the time about pet ownership but something told me that you really should never put a living creature in a plastic bag.

Thus began a life of cat ownership. Turns out I don’t really like cats. Or fish. Or birds. Or dogs. (Any person that can love an animal that goes into the garbage with its mouth, takes out a used maxi pad and then eats it is really quite questionable, if you ask me.) Basically, I don’t really like animals. I told a friend this the other night and she was all, “Oh, come on. How can you not like animals?” And I just stood my ground, people, and I said, “because they suck.” If you like animals, don’t give me any crap. This isn’t about you. And thank goodness that someone likes pets otherwise it would be like living in India, which I’ve been to, and the whole animal situation is out of control.

The funny thing is that Roo, the cat that began this story, is dead. Well, that came out wrong. It isn’t funny that she is dead. Don’t go calling animal control on me or anything. I actually shed some tears when she died because although she remained, for 13 straight years, a total bitch, she was my bitch and I loved her. She was dainty and clean, she sucked on her tail for years because she was weaned too early, she hid for, like, 22 hours a day, and she was really soft. Plus, she hated my next cat, which for some reason was a quality I always respected.

Theo. Oh, Theo. I thought that Roo was lonely. Here is your public service message, people. Cats don’t get lonely. If you think that your cat has the ho-hum-diddley-dums, it doesn’t. It is just being a fucking cat. Don’t go thinking that adding another cat to the mix will be the solution, because I am here to tell you, it isn’t. Before I knew this valuable information, I went to the Humane Society. Say what you will about me, I do have a heart, and it is virtually impossible to walk into the Humane Society and leave without owning a new pet. I was determined to get another cat—a playmate for the psychopath, Roo—but on that day, the animals at the Humane Society were all sick with a horrible stomach parasite. All of them that is, except Theo. So, since I am incapable of deciding to do something and then not do it, I had to buy Theo.

It turns out that the small, fluffy little kitten that I bought that day would turn into a 30-pound (Call Ellen! She loves fat cats!), 6 toed, long haired, dander-sporting cat. Roo hated him, and in true bitch fashion, never relented. When Theo was a kitten, he was so small that he would hold on to my roommate’s leg as she did her Jane Fonda video workout, going up and down with each leg lift. He used to crawl up onto my head and nibble on my forehead, which at the time seemed cute, but now just seems creepy. Before I brought him home, he went in to get neutered—which they do “in house” at the Humane Society. Unfortunately for Theo, they had run out of blue index cards, which is their highly sophisticated way of labeling gender, so they wrote BOY in big letters, on a pink index card. In the end when he went in for his surgery they first tried to (PINK CARD!) take out his ovaries and when they didn’t find any, they chopped off his family jewels. What misery! He was both spayed and neutered! Poor guy.

Over the years, he has proven to be a fierce competitor. Once, when he was still an outdoor cat he came home totally fucked up. And I mean, like, totally. Fucked. Up. The stray in our neighborhood showed no mercy and not only gave him a huge cut on his leg but, he removed a part of his ear and sliced both of Theo’s eyelids. It was like he was a professional hit man (er, hit cat?). Theo rebounded and decided to retire.

Since he is so nasty, I take him to get groomed every other month or so. Yes, he gets bathed, clipped and shaved. And he freaking loves it. Spa day for Theo! I stayed and watched once, because I couldn’t quite believe that he just lay down and took it but I swear to God he just lays down and takes it. I think I saw him drool. He’s come a looong way from being attacked by alley cats.

Now he lives indoors, unless I finally make good on my threat to hand him over to the bobcat that lives in our current neighborhood. The poor bastard looks hungry. The bobcat, not Theo. Theo looks like Ricki Lake circa 1993. He is popular with my friends, and that’s because—of all the crazy things—he loves to be spanked. And spanked hard. If he had a car, he would drive over to the local erotica shop and buy a leather whip, I shit you not. When people come over (since I won’t spank him anymore) he literally puts his ass in the air, and his head on the ground and waits to be punished. I am relieved he can’t talk. because I have a feeling it would go something like, “I’ve been a bad boy. I need to be spanked. Harder. HARDER. HARDER!!!!!”. Perv.

He’s alright with kids, so I will keep him until he bites it. Well, actually, the other day he bit a little girl that tried to smack him, but he didn’t draw blood, so I gave  him a pass. That said, the other night I walked by him to get my cup of water and he reached out, claws open, and sliced the top of my foot open. Little bastard. Maybe I will feed him to the bobcat after all.

Addendum:

Tonight, the boys were running around naked, sort of like they were on speed, and Luca ran past Theo and the bastard reached out and sliced Luca’s tiny little leg open. It’s like he knew I was writing this. Anyone want a cat?

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Filed under All of them., My cat's an asshole.

Mommie Dearest

So I’m going on a trip. Big whoop, right? Well, it is a pretty big whoop. It’s downright whooptastic! You know why it’s a big whoop? Because for the first time since I became pregnant with Rowan, I am going to leave the boys. So . . . math . . . that makes it about 5 years now. And to be honest, I am totally freaking out.

We all make choices when we have kids. It begins with the OBGYN and then really, it never stops. And of course, when you make a choice as a parent, you do so blindly, with only the advice of a few chosen people (or unchosen because let’s face it, people love to tell you how to raise your children) and the occasional book. One choice that we made early on was that we wanted to raise our kids to be serial killers. No, that isn’t true! While Rowan was still an infant we read a Dr. Sears book called The Baby Book, which promoted “attachment parenting,” and felt an instant kinship with the approach that he recommended within all dynamics of a family. Mostly, it was full of things we were doing anyway; how we slept, our approach to food, discipline, and the level of involvement that we felt we wanted with our children. (The only thing that we didn’t do was cloth-diaper the kids, mainly because we couldn’t find enough clarity between the waste of the disposable or the waste of water, and being desert dwellers, we had to strongly consider this.) We coslept and  “wore” our boys, and I breast-fed them, as a lot of families do. I have devoted my days and nights to my kids, and although there were moments of intense . . . well, let’s just say not-so-flattering mother moments, I believe that I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve worked since my kids were infants, but I’ve never put them in day care, and I consider myself a stay-at home mother. A bold and revolutionary concept, yet just as bold as making the choice to work full time and hire a nanny, or put your child in day care. As hard as it is to be home with the kids, and knowing I wouldn’t have it any other way, I sometimes wonder if it is more of a challenge to continue on a career path that takes you away from your child 40 or more hours a week. I think that there is an assumption that people who choose that route must be cold or unfeeling, but I’ve always felt that emotionally, the challenges of being a working mother are far greater, and it is impossible not to feel the emotions associated with that decision. Unless you’re Hitler, or possibly Satan. Or are they the same person?

I remember watching an episode of Oprah years ago, before having kids, that featured the wife of an author that I liked. Her name was Ayelet Waldman, and she had written a very controversial article about motherhood. She sat on stage next to Oprah and was verbally assaulted by mothers for almost the entire show. Her basic stance was (and still is) that she loves her children but she isn’t in love with her children, she is in love with her husband. And to quote, “It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.” At the time I was watching this verbal stoning, I sincerely felt that I should have been in the audience. I don’t remember hearing a single mother express anything but disdain for her. No one seemed to understand that she wasn’t attacking them, only expressing what I think many mothers feel, but suppress. Everyone seemed to be reacting so defensively and emotionally to her! They were losing their freaking minds! Like, for real!

Then I had kids.

Even now I get her point and respect her for the truly gigantic balls it took to shout it to the world. In fact, I think that her truth is a fantastic albeit dangerous conversation starter. I wish that I could find a way to be as clear in my own life about what being a mother means for me and in some ways I actually have.  But for me, motherhood also surprised me and showed me that who I thought I would be is simply not who I actually am. While watching that Oprah, I  felt so sure that I would never be the kind of mother who makes her children dependent on her for all things. I had no doubts that my marriage wouldn’t change, that my deep connection to my husband would continue to be the strongest force for me. What a fucking idiot.

Before I knew it, I was flailing in the pool of motherhood. I’m only able to write about it now because I am no longer struggling as I once was, but the struggle was a great one. A flaming ball of poo. In the end, I had to surrender to it (motherhood, not the poo). For example, as I have been writing this, I’ve also had to make a mountain and some snow so that we could have an avalanche come down and crush all the prehistoric beasts in the house. And I’m a huge fan of cuddling, but I shit you not, I have had to cuddle with Luca for a total of at least 2 hours today. It’s that kind of day. I actually can’t sit down to write this because if I do, Luca will demand to sit on my lap, and since this is a laptop . . . well, you see where that’s headed. So, I surrender. And it makes every single thing easier. ( I just changed Luca’s diaper, and the entire time I was doing it, he played the kazoo. How can you not love this kid?)

I can remember about a year and a half ago calling John at work and telling him that if he didn’t come home I was afraid I would hurt the children. I have never hit my boys; I have never put them in a position where they were unsafe. But in that moment, I felt so lost. It is extremely hard for me to put this out there—it leaves me very vulnerable to judgment. But as a friend once said, “Just tell people the truth, and if they judge you for it, it’s their problem. You only have the truth.” And you can judge me if you’d like. It is a part of the human process. I only hope that in the future, when you are struggling, you remember what an asshole you’ve been. Wait! I mean, I only hope that you look back and feel like a horrible troll. No, no. What I really mean is that when you feel lost don’t fucking come to me. There. That’s better.

Where am I in all of this? Some days I really don’t know. Other days I feel like I have been destined for this my entire life. Of course I am not romantically in love with my children but I am utterly devoted to them. At the end of the day, when they are asleep, it is as if I come to after some kind of binge. I sort of have to shake it off, all the touching and comforting, all of the frustration and head butting, all the struggles against my instinct to control and then letting go of it, answering questions like, “what is an embryo?” or “why is my poop brown?”, all the little bursts of free time in which I begin everything and finish nothing, all the messes and clean-ups, the stretching of my imagination so that my kids can actually feel as if a dinosaur is chasing them, the errands run, the dinner cooked, books read over and over and over, the moments in which I hang my head at my total uselessness as a mother, the conversations with the kids that leave me starving for an IV full of inappropriate and intellectually stimulating conversations, the tears and arguments between the boys, the moments that make me want to die with absolute happiness . . . it is endless, but I shake it off. And after about an hour of this, I start to look forward to them waking up.

And now, a trip. I know that I will struggle, yet I yearn to get away. I am probably the luckiest person in the world in that five wonderful women will be joining me. (Little do they know that I may be vomiting out the window as we drive off to Sedona.) I just need to remember what it feels like to be one person in the world. Just one. I want to think complete thoughts and finish sentences. I want to pee with the door shut, please. And I want more than anything to miss my kids.

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Filed under All of them., Children.

Don’t Lick My Face

When I was in the fifth grade and nine years old, my parents sent me to Paris for 3 weeks. I can assure you of a few things: we weren’t rich, Paris is nice, Paris is far, and nine is really, really young. Oh, not to mention that French is a really hard language. And I was nine. Did I mention that? My older sister had gone as part of the same exchange program—which I am pretty sure my father, as a school administrator, had brought to our school—so when it was my turn, I went. And in all honesty, as hard as it is to write publicly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, it sort of sucked.

First of all, I was nine. I’m not sure I’ve made that clear. If you look at a nine-year-olds now, they all look like little tramps ready for college, but nine-year-olds in the 80s were not wearing g-strings, that much I can guarantee. Oh, and we didn’t have any idea what oral sex was either. Moving on . . . the whole foundation of the program was to take kids to Paris for three weeks, set them up with families that were as close to their own as possible, put them in school during the week, and show them all there is to see in Paris. Once we returned home, we had a few weeks before the kids that we stayed with came to our town—which was not Paris—and stay with us, go to our school, and see our, er, “city.” Problem number one for me was that my parents had just recently divorced,  a trauma that I had yet to recover from at that point. So, when they matched kids up with families, they (I don’t have any idea who actually did this part) thought it would be super to put me with a family that was also divorced. The difference was that I went from my family—which had my father in the primary parent role and my now-stepmother, who was (and is) amazing, in the supporting role (we were dysfunctional but stable)—to a family with the mother in the primary parent role dating a total and complete freakazoid. No, seriously. Not to mention that Leah, the girl that was my “match” was a total A-hole, and her older sister was so much like my older sister that I lived in fear for much of the time I was there.

Let’s take a station break here. Some of you may know my sister. To know her now is to love her and feel so proud of all of the things she has accomplished and is accomplishing. We are friends and I love her. But, dude. When I was a kid? She was a total lunatic with me. She once invented a game that involved her crawling around on all fours, chasing me until she caught me and then attacking me. This included her biting me, and not play biting either. She called this game “Baby Bob Cat” and there wasn’t a single time that I was the bob cat. She used to slam my fingers so hard in the cupboards in our house that I learned how to splint my own fingers. Popsicle sticks and tape—just in case you’re ever in a bind. Whenever we had company, they would stay in my room and I would have to sleep, one eye open, with my sister. I wish to God I was exaggerating, but if I rolled over in my sleep and so much as brushed up against her in my sleep, she would punch me right in the stomach. Or arm. She denies this still, and I am sure that I am remembering it partially incorrectly, but I actually have a memory of her tying me up and putting me in a cardboard box when I was 7 or 8. Now imagine this, in France, with someone that I (1) have never met and (2) can’t even speak to.

But the worst part for me was the boyfriend. Let’s call him Pierre, simply because it sounds French. He was creepy in a way that now, as an adult, makes me wonder if he was some sort of pedophile. The mother had him over a lot, but he didn’t live there, so you never knew when he would sneak up on you. They slept on the floor and had very loud sex, leaving the door open so there really was no mystery.

He was also the kind of adult who loves to tease children, relentlessly so—the kind of teasing that now makes me want to puke. And then, one day, as I was in the kitchen he came in and asked me in really bad English if I liked dogs. I said, “Oui, I have a dog at home named Pita,” and he leaned over and licked me. All the way up one side of my face, barked and walked away laughing. I will never forget it because it was one of the first times in my life that I had ever really hated an adult.

What kinds of choices will I make for my kids that have them writing about it years later? For years I have remembered this story with a little bit (okay, a lot) of resentment toward my dad. This was before I had kids. Now I can add it to the list of realizations that I have had about parenthood. My poor dad, deciding to provide us with this great opportunity, finding a way to pay for it, orchestrating it, and then putting me on a plane and saying goodbye to me. Cute, little me. All these years I have assumed that I was the only one sick for home, but he probably worried about me, and missed me. Beyond that, and knowing him, he simply thought he was providing me with the opportunity of a lifetime. I suppose in a lot of ways it was. Paris is beautiful, and I did see a lot of it. I had my first kiss with a French boy during the spaghetti game (whoot!), I had fun in the schoolyard pretending to be Michael Jackson because my hair had a perm and I thought I was tan enough to be believable. Seriously. The plane ride was cool, I saw my first prostitute,  and let me just say that they seriously know how to feed the children in France. We had a seven-course meal at lunch time during school. Seven courses, people! And a few of them ended with chocolate mousse! So, see? It wasn’t all bad.

I just could have done without the licking.

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Filed under Before Children., Childhood.