Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The one in which a great big lie is debunked

The great, mysterious “they” always told me that I would become a morning person once I had children. I was dubious, to say the least, but I couldn’t help but become a little bit hopeful that “they” spoke the truth.

Newsflash: THEY lied. Lied right through their stupid teeth.

Apparently, they do not know the definition of “morning person”. Katie’s Dictionary defines “morning person” as such:

Morning Person (morn·ing  per·son; noun)  
1.      A person who greets each dawn with a smile and a chim-chiminee kick in their step.
2.      A person who has no trouble waking up from their slumber and takes on their day refreshed and ready.
3.      I hate you.

I really wanted to turn into a morning person. Badly. I have always, always, always been more of a night owl. This has slightly changed since I’ve gotten older and far less capable of the shenanigans I once enjoyed. I look back to my early bad-girl college days and wonder at the fact that me and my girls did not even begin getting ready to go out until roughly 10 p.m. Do you know what 10 p.m. looks like in my life these days? If we are home, 10 p.m. is about the time I start debating whether or not to go to bed. If we are out with friends, 10 p.m. is the time I start trying to catch Dan’s eye so I can send him the “I’m ready if you are (which means let’s go now, ok thanks)” look.

Slight aside, but sometimes husbands can be so dense. Sometimes he pretends not to understand my look and forces me to mouth the words to him and indicate towards the door with my head. And SOMETIMES even that doesn’t work. Sometimes I have to actually vocalize my request and say in front of EVERYONE, “Are you ready to go babe?” Talk about tres embarrassing.

Safe to say I could not really be considered a true “night owl” anymore. But my brain still wants me to be one. I can be very productive in the evenings. I love to sew, read, craft, whatever, at night. I like doing this stuff during the day too, but seeing as how I work and have toddlers, my life isn’t exactly geared towards day-time creation. So now not only is my brain against me being a morning person, my life is against me, too. And you know what that means? Not my fault.

So yeah, there I was, pregnant with my crazy Lucas, hoping against hope that I would become a morning person when he was born. But as I’m sure you can imagine by now, this did not happen. You know what I became instead? An up-all-the-time person. An “I was up with the baby all night and my jerk job still expects me to show relatively close to the ungodly time at which my work commences” person.

Let me clear up this little misunderstanding once and for all. Being awake in the morning does not a morning person make. It just makes you awake. If I had my choice, I would sleep until 10 each day. (And not go to work, but that’s not really the point of this.)       

Going to bed at night is something I look forward to on a pretty regular basis. That moment when I am all brushed, washed and pajamaed, and I fall into bed ready for some sleep action is one of my most favorite moments.

But I try not to think of the mornings. I hate morning. With. A. PASSION. HATEIT. I have added a temp position in addition to my regular job this summer, which requires me to have myself and both kids out the door before my darling husband gets home from work. And unfortunately, this is no easy task.

If you want to talk about a morning person, my Charlie is primo exhibit A. She’s awake most mornings before anyone else, and she is just thuh-rilled to be alive. She literally hits the ground running and does not stop until someone forces her to go to bed at night. If we can get her to stay still long enough in the afternoon, she will usually nap. But no matter what, she is up and at ‘em with no problem. I used to joke (before children – BC) that I would wake my kids up by singing “Rise and shine and give God your glory glory” over and over again. (It was a joke because there is no way in hell that I will be singing any damn thing in the morning, so don’t even ask.) Well, Charlie pretty much epitomizes that song. She rises, she shines, and she gives God her glory glory. And boy is she happy to do it. If it weren’t so cute, it would be utterly annoying.

Lucas, on the other hand….hmmm….how do I describe Lucas in the morning? Well, to put it nicely, he’s his mother’s son.

You know what? I’m going to tell you a little story to give you a very slight idea of what I’m working with when it comes to Lucas. (Because no blog post would be complete without me rambling on in a million different directions through multiple tangents. Or parenthesis. I defy you to try to find one single blog post in which I have not used parenthesis.) When I was younger, my mom and I were in this thing called Indian Maidens, which was run through the YMCA. My two cousins (aka my sisters from another mister) and my aunt were also a part of this organization, and we were in the same tribe. I can't remember the name of our tribe, but my Indian Maiden name was Moonbeam and my mom’s was Babbling Brooke.

Every year, we took a couple trips with the entire Indian Maiden organization. One year, our tribe organized the weekend, and we opted to go to Birch Run Outlets, aka Heaven on Earth. We stayed in a hotel, which was a nice departure from the slightly more rustic amenities our other trips usually had. My mom and I shared a room with my cousins and aunt, and one night, the fire alarm went off.

Now in the spirit of full transparency, I do not remember this. This is only what I have been told, and it has possibly been slightly exaggerated over the years. But *allegedly*, my family TRIED to wake me up without success. So you know what they did? They LEFT me. LEFT ME. In a possibly burning building. Left me to burn. And when they came back (it was a false alarm), I was *allegedly* trying to put my jeans on. My cousin Allison *allegedly* said, “Katie, what are you doing?!” and I *allegedly* answered, “I’m trying to get out of here!” Then they *allegedly* told me that everything was fine, and I went back to bed and fell asleep immediately.

I want you to take two things away from this story. The first is that you can’t trust my cousins, my aunt, OR my very own mother to carry you out of a burning hotel if you won’t wake up. (And they will laugh every time they tell the story of it.) The second is that I sleep very heavily and do not take kindly to waking up.

So you take me, add about 30 bags of rattle snakes, a huge can of tear gas, and one cup of pure, unadulterated rage and you get Lucas in the morning.

Waking Lucas up is akin to terrorist negotiations. It requires a very specific variety of finesse. If you set one teeny, tiny little toenail wrong, you are trucked. I am still navigating the deadly waters of the art that is Waking Up Lucas. Lucas is SO not a morning person. And then you have me. Me, who is also SO not a morning person, but is being forced to become one! The injustice of it all is making me run out of words. There I am, every morning, exhausted because I stayed up too late letting my creative juices flow, and I have to actually be happy and nice and control my temper while I attempt to wake the sleeping bear. And all I really want to do is crawl in bed next to that warm little body and pass out right along with him.

So to the mythical “they” who spout that wisdom of becoming a morning person once you have kids – you better put a sock in it. You are spreading lies and now everyone knows it. Maybe instead of doling out parenting wisdom, you should take up knitting?       

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The birds and the bees

L is 3.5 and C is 2.5ish. L is a boy, C is a girl. They bathe together. Because Mommy hates bath time and wants to get it over with in one fell swoop instead of drawing it out into two separate debacles. As if I could even avoid bathing one kid without the other kid losing his/her everloving mind over the fact that THEY are not getting bathed EITHER. (And confession? I mostly make my darling husband bathe the kids while I lay on my bed, covering my eyes and pretending like I can't hear the shrieks and whines coming from the too-small, too-close-to-my-bedroom bathroom.)

I knew it would happen sooner or later. And the other night was apparently "sooner or later". 

Lucas is morally opposed to being washed in any way, shape or form. That means he hates his hair washed, he hates his body washed...he basically hates doing anything in the tub other than playing with his disgusting bath toys and hoarding them all from his poor sister. When we wash his hair, he screams and cries as if we were pouring nitric acid over his head. And when we make him stand up so we can was his body, he wails, "Don't wash my penis!!!" 

Let me tell you something about me. I'm one of those people who feels nervous walking/driving by a police officer, even though I haven't done anything wrong. Guilt and anxiety are two of the most finely honed reflexes I possess. So when my 3.5 year old son screams, "Don't wash my penis!!!" at the top of his lungs, all these awful thoughts go through my head.

"What if someone with bionic hearing walks by my house when L is screaming that, thinks I'm a child molester and calls CPS on me? Why is he freaking out about me washing his penis? Has something happened to him somewhere else? Ohgodohgodohgod." An onward.

Moral of that little story: bath time is SUPER duper fun in our house. And also, we teach our children the correct terminology for their private parts. (Even though I'm not above referring to them as "weiner" and "pee pee".) 

Back to the other night. L was having his usual melt-down about getting washed (oh the inhumanity!). When the horror of horrors was over, it was C's turn. She stood up, and I began washing her. 

L told me, "Don't forget to wash C's penis, mom." (Translation: You better be subjecting her to the same torture that you inflict on me.)

::Sigh:: There it was, staring me in the face. First reaction? I laughed. Second reaction? A mental conversation with myself. Did I have to tell him the proper terminology for C's privates? Could I just laugh and brush it off with an, "Ok, L, I won't." 

No.  I had to do the right thing. These are what I believe are referred to as "teachable moments". Whenever I daydream about "teachable moments" with my children, I think more along the lines of the after-school special where I point out a poor child being bullied at school, and my child, overcome with determination and charity, races to the child's defense and shames the bullies into apologizing. Then they all become friends forever. The end.

Yeah, I'm beginning to learn that teachable moments aren't quite what I thought they would be. Like this one, for instance.

I had to do the right thing. So I said calmly and with (what I hoped was) an air of relaxed seriousness, "L, C doesn't have a penis. She has a vagina." 

Radio silence. 

Literally, he just stared blankly at me for what felt like a long time. So I said, "Do you understand what I mean?"

He shook his head no. ::Deeper sigh::

"L, look at your penis. Do you see what it looks like?" (Nodding head.") "Great, now look at C. Does she have something like that?" (Shakes head no.) "Right! That's because you are a boy, and C is a girl. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas." (And Blogger's spellcheck is telling me that "vaginas" is not a word. Apparently there are NEVER to be plural vaginas. But "penises" is ok. I feel like there's some sort of symbolism on the state of society in there somewhere.)

He slowly seemed to grasp what I was saying. "So...C has a...a what?" he asked.

"A vagina," I said, as slowly as I could stand. (I really am a 13 year old girl at heart, I think. I was suppressing a nervous giggle this entire time.)

"A....bagina," he said. 

"Yes, that's right," I said, encouragingly. 

Just then, with his impeccable timing, Dan walked in to our closet of a bathroom. 

"Dad! Dad! Charlie doesn't have a penis!" L said gleefully. 

Dan looked at me with a, "What did I miss?" expression on his face. I shrugged back with a, "just wait for it" look. 

"Oh yeah? That's right, buddy, she doesn't," Dan said. 

"Right! She has a........what was it mom?" he asked.

"A vagina," I said, just barely holding back my peals of laughter at this point.

"Yeah! A bagina!" he said, so pleased with himself. 

Dan started laughing, I started laughing, and it was all over from there. L is a clown at heart and LOVES making people laugh, so he started repeating over and over, "Bagina! Bagina!"

To which Charlie, never to be left out, responded, "GINA!!!"

I can't wait for that one to come out in public.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Motherhood is a filthy job

I really wanted to name this post, "Motherhood is a filthy job, or: Why children are disgusting and hospitals should send parents home with hazmat suits" but that is a super long title and directly demonstrates why I try to have my boss write the headlines for my press releases whenever possible.

I'm sure everyone who has ever even heard of children knows that they are yucky, yucky creatures. They crap in their pants and drool so much that bibs had to be invented. Also, many tiny babies are fed formula. Have you ever smelled formula? More importantly, have you ever smelled a formula burp? Mothereffing EW.

Allow me to expound upon how disgusting my daughter in particular is. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. I would rank it as a "medium" on the nasty scale, but then again, my nasty scale has dramatically toughened up since having children. So my nasty scale may not = your nasty scale.

So this past Saturday, I had taken the kids to Target with my mom. As most good mothers do, I had bribed my children into pleasant behavior while in the parking lot before entering the store, telling them that they would get slushies if they were good. They followed through on their end of the bargain, and both got red slushies.

We arrived home and Charlie went down for her nap. Sweet, sweet nap time. Lucas and I were downstairs having quiet time, and Charlie started whining in her crib. I ignored her for a good 10 minutes, hoping she would pipe down so I could finally doze on the couch. She refused to cease, so I went up to her room.

As soon as I opened the door, the smell hit me in the face. Puke. Nasty, disgusting puke. Charlie was so upset that she puked, and my sympathy for her overrode my gag reflex. The poor thing had puked all over her crib, herself, her stuffed animals and her pillow, but she had tried to clean it up. By covering it with a blanket. She was crying uncontrollably, so I lifted her out and cuddled her to me, instantly covering my shirt with the puke that had gotten on her clothes. Which was bright red. Thanks, Target slushie. I could curse you and your super-staining powers, but instead I'll be grateful that your artificial coloring made the puke easy to find on every.freaking.thing. inside the damn crib.

Lucky for me, Dan was sleeping since he was right in the middle of his 7-day swing at work. Yay, I got to clean up both baby AND puke-covered materials! Go me! So I put her in the bath and washed her up, then gathered up the soiled crib contents. Thankfully, God smiled upon me and I found not one but TWO clean crib sheets. I was able to take everything away to be properly washed except for Charlie's "Ellie", her stuffed elephant that she refuses to do just about anything without. So I had to settle for washing Ellie down with a soapy washcloth and sending her back to bed with Charlie, wet and still smelling of puke while the other stuffed animals were sent to the washing machine.

But then, Sunday dawned. Ah, Mother's Day. A day where moms everywhere are lauded and appreciated. A day upon which I was awakened at 6 a.m. by the sounds of my poor Charlie crying. So very uncharacteristic of her. Normally, she wakes up and just starts calling for me, Dan, Lucas, the dog, my mom, my dad, or my in-laws until someone gives up on trying to sleep through it and goes to free her from her plush prison.

I went to her room, bracing myself for the smell of puke to roundhouse kick me in the face as I opened the door, but mercifully...no puke. I went to get her out of her crib and she told me she was going to throw up. I raced her to the bathroom but....can you guess?

That's right, we didn't make it. I made it to her door before she expertly threw up DOWN the INSIDE of my tank top. And do you know what I did? Well, first I dry heaved a little bit. (I'm only human.) Then I looked down at the floor and actually felt a wave of relief that only a tiny bit had gotten on our still-newish carpet.

Let me take a moment for that to sink in for you. I felt RELIEF that my saggy boobs and the weight of my daughter's body against my fat mom belly caught most of the vomit. Inside my shirt. Against my skin. Chunky. (Sorry, but you know what they say - misery loves company.)

I sighed and retreated to the bathroom to take a very unwelcome 6 a.m. shower with my daughter who despises showers. I defiantly put my hair up into a bun, even though I knew some puke had gotten in it (just a little bit! Stop judging me.). I washed our bodies, put a diaper on my nasty daughter, and went back to bed in the vain hopes that she would go back to sleep. She didn't, but she did give me the courtesy of laying still  long enough for me to *just* doze off, then sit hurriedly upright and strike fear in my heart that she was going to puke again.

Dan came home from work at 8:15 and found me semi-passed out next to both my children (oh yeah, Lucas sleeps in bed with me when Dan works. hooray family bed. hooray.). He wished me a Happy Mother's Day, which was infinitely more cheerful than the "Happy FREAKING Mother's Day" I had wished myself just seconds after I was puked upon.

I couldn't understand it. Aside from the puking, Charlie seemed fine! No other symptoms. She was even eating normally. I debated staying home from church, but decided against it since we were meeting my parents and my grandparents for Mother's Day Mass. (It wasn't a grand Mother's Day for me, but I'm making my husband take me to Bar Louie for dinner on Friday. And I did have the pleasure of seeing my grandma, my own mom and my mother-in-law, whom I all love dearly.)

Monday came and went without incident. But then...today. I bet you think you know where this is going. And you are half-right. But I bet you don't know the other half.

We decided to go out for dinner. If you are my friend on FB, you are probably already judging me because I committed to cooking dinner every weeknight for 2 weeks. This lasted all of yesterday. In my defense, my husband literally jumped in the car as soon as I pulled up at the house with the kids after work and told me "DRIVE". So we headed for Applebee's.

We got the 2 for $20 meal, and kids eat free on Tuesdays. (I like to go into painstaking detail to draw out the inevitable when I tell stories.) We got an appetizer with the deal and ordered mozzarella sticks. Charlie can't seem to eat them without choking. So she choked on one. She spit them out in my hand. No harm, no foul.

Until she started coughing a minute later. I lamely held up my hand to her mouth, thinking she had more cheese stick to spit out. And she did, if by cheese stick you mean puke.

She puked in my hand. And all over my pants and shirt, as well as her pants and shirt, my side of the table and the booth we were sitting in. CHUNKS.

And here is where you can see how very indifferent my husband and I have become to ungodly disgusting acts such as these. I looked at my husband as he tried unsuccessfully not to laugh at me, muttered a swear word (I know....I try not to swear in front of my kids, but COME ON. She puked on me IN PUBLIC.) and resignedly got to wiping her up with napkins. After I sopped it all up, I carried her to the bathroom, washed us off as best I could with hand soap and paper towels, then walked back to our booth. There was never any discussion as to whether we would leave the restaurant.

And we just ate our dinner like nothing had ever happened.

And I know what you're thinking - puke on me once, shame on you. Puke on me three times, shame on me. But honestly, she has NO other symptoms. My friend suggested that maybe her belly is upset from nasal drainage, and that makes sense to me. So I don't think it's a crime to carry on life as if she is not sick. I blame her.

Children are DISGUSTING.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why I'm the lucky one

Back in the days of my youth (what feels like another world ago), I wasn’t too bad to look at. I was particularly proud of my butt and my boobs. I even liked my stomach; it wasn’t particularly spectacular, but I had a line down each side that made it look like I had somewhat toned abs. And I’m allowed to say this without sounding conceited because I’m looking back with an air of longing and no small degree of realization that the “hot number” ship has sailed on a one-way ticket to the mystical land of Not Here Anymore, Sister.

The reason for this bitter little trip down memory lane is not to try to trick you into thinking of me as I was and not as I am (not really…..is it working, though?). Rather, I’m trying to paint a picture. I was young, relatively attractive, and could hold up my end of a fairly entertaining conversation. I like to think I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as a person on a deeper level since those days, but on the surface, I’m pretty sure my glory years were those of my college career.

(If you don’t hate me by now, I’m sure you will after I say what I’m about to say.) Since I thought so highly of myself back then, it should come as no surprise that I thought Dan (my now-husband) was pretty darn lucky to have me. The quiet, shy guy who wouldn’t meet my parents for the first year and a half that we dated, who didn’t pay for my dinner and refused to acknowledge we were even really dating until I threatened to break up with him two years in. And me, a slightly above-average looking girl who got along well with adults, liked children, went to church and loved to read self-help books to make herself a better person. I mean obviously – who was the fortunate one there? I’ll give you a hint: his name rhymes with can, man and van.

(See, told you that you’d hate me!)

I eventually deigned to marry this humble man, and I set out on a path to play wife to the luckiest man in the world. Imagine my complete and utter shock when the myth began to unravel.

Sure, I polished Dan up a bit. And before we had children, I was mostly able to maintain my fantasy of believing that our match always weighed a bit in my favor. But then, Lucas was born. And then, more importantly (for this story’s purposes, anyway – not in the grand scheme of things), Charlie was born. My egotistical myth unraveled in a hurry after that.

We had been thrust head-on into the insanity that is parenting toddlers and making adult decisions that all-too-often play out for the good of the children (read: sacrifices). My body took a major hit and my personal demons rose to the surface more quickly than you can say “psychotic”.

And somewhere between suddenly and gradually, I began to see my husband with clearer vision. The way he plays with our children. The way he sheepishly makes me laugh even when I feel like punching him in the face. The way he is quick to forgive me when I mess up (all the time). The way he works a full time job that required 12-hour shifts at night, and also ran his own landscaping business part-time in the spring/summer/early fall for 8 years. The way he supported me in my decision to take a job that involved a pay cut and more expensive health benefits because it was doing something I enjoy doing. The way I can count on him to take care of things that barely held my interest long enough to communicate them to him (oil changes, car troubles, home repairs, taking the garbage out). The way he carries more than his fair share of cleaning responsibilities. I could go on and on.

And now that the seasons of our lives are shifting slightly, my husband is taking on even more child-rearing responsibilities by staying with our kids part-time during the week. When it dawned on me that he is now a part-time stay at home dad, it blew my mind. That’s when I truly realized what a freaking diamond in the rough I have in him.

The decision for him to “retire” (as we like to joke) from lawns and be with our kids for half the week has not been easy for him. Even though he worked like a madman during lawn season, he enjoyed an enviable schedule during the off-season. On his days off, particularly during the week, the kids would go to daycare, I would go to work, and he would be left to his own devices. He had two or three days in a row to himself to do whatever he pleased. Luckily for me, some of his activities included cleaning the house, doing laundry and grocery shopping. But he also got to play hockey, do some home projects, or just generally relax. For him to give up those days has been a true sacrifice.

But he is taking it completely in stride. He keeps the kids busy, taking them to play at the mall, playing with them outside, or running errands. Instead of being miserable and crabbing about how he misses his days to himself (as I surely would), he looks at each day with a “what can we do today?” attitude. The house is almost always cleaner to some degree than when I leave for work in the morning, and the kids are always fed and happy. He’ll text me pictures of the kids throughout the day, and they always make me smile (and feel ever-so-slightly jealous that I’m not with them).

This is the man I married. This is the man that is getting better as we and our marriage age. Certainly he is not perfect. But I am in the very happy position of only growing more thankful that he is the one I “chose” as the days and years pass. Instead of thinking that he is the lucky one to have an amazing person such as me by his side, I am now thanking God that I managed to lock Dan in for life before my façade of awesomeness fell aside. Not quite a bait and switch, as I’m sure I do bring some things to the table, but I think it’s my attitude that has changed.

Which is obviously a good thing, I think. For me, for my children, and for my husband.    

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The one I'm afraid to post

"Every couple has their ups and downs."  

How many times has this tired piece of wisdom been trotted out, often by someone who is trying to be helpful or comforting.  But so often, the person saying it is speaking from a place of "up".  It seems that deep down (or maybe not so deep), they're thinking, "I'm glad it's not me."  

And it's not really all that comforting, because who ever wants to speak of the real and true "downs"?  It's one thing to gossip with our girlfriends, rolling our eyes at our doofus husbands who drop the ball on our birthdays and bicker with us over what take out to order on any given night.  It's another thing to truly communicate the burdens of our hearts, the things that scare us about the future of our relationships.  

Conventional wisdom teaches that you should not complain about your spouse to another person because, when you forgive your spouse and move on, your confidante does not have the benefit of your positive experience and often builds up a bad opinion of your spouse over time.  There is definite value to this method.  It's important to guard our tongues when we speak to people about our spouse.  It's critical that you speak fondly of your spouse to your family and friends, much more often than you air the complaints.  

However, in my relatively short marriage (almost 5 years), I've come to believe that it's vital to have someone (or a few someones) to confide in about the deep stuff.

My husband and I lived with my parents for 2 years, which ended when we moved back to our house this past June.  It was wonderful, but it was also extremely difficult at times.  Our marriage and family life took place in front of an audience, and our children were toddlers who daily (every other minute, to be more accurate) tested us as we learned how to be parents to two bundles of energy and activity.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety for more than three years, and that has also taken a toll on my marriage.  It has been far from easy. 

But you aren't supposed to talk about the dark stuff.  You're supposed to laugh and smile and put your big girl panties on for the world, so you don't look weak.  You're supposed to pick the trivialist of the trivial to discuss with your friends over drinks, and you must always qualify it with, "Oh it's so funny.  He's so crazy.  But I love him, though."  

You must not talk too much with your mom about it, because this is her son-in-law and the father of her grandchildren.  You don't want her to hate your husband, and worse, you don't want her to side with him.  You don't want to tell her the things your husband gets upset with you about, because then she might validate his points and you come out the loser.  Then you find out that what your husband says must be true, and you are lazy or selfish or demanding or impatient or just plain wrong.  And that hurts too much.  

You don't want to tell anyone about it, really, because that is exposing your jugular - the soft underbelly of your grittiest self.  So you tuck it away inside.  And slowly, it builds.  Without you seeing it at first, it starts to grow and take on a shape all its own.  The pressure mounts and expands to every nook and cranny of your heart, and suddenly you're screaming at your husband about the fact that he bought the off-brand of brownie mix and why in the mother effing hell would he ever do something so insanely stupid and selfish?  And you know you're wrong, and he knows you're wrong, but your heart is a bottle full of baking soda and vinegar and the top is about to blow.

And you can't talk to anyone about this, because you're just looking at the superficial wound.  You tell your friend that you're pissed about brownie mix, and they laugh because they think you're doing one of those trivial wine stories again, so you quickly shift into "drinks with the girls" mode and do the standard eye rolling, performing, "He's a goof but he's my goof" bit.  And the baking soda and vinegar get pushed back down, ignored; you hope it'll just go away on its own.  

One evening, I had a disagreement with my husband that, on the surface seemed minor.  But lurking below were a thousand frustrations and insecurities - some tied to the specific argument, some unrelated but untreated that had festered and become infected over time.  I stormed off to my friends to exercise, slamming the door behind me and stewing the entire way over.  But as soon as she answered the door, I pasted that smile on my face and once again pushed the baking soda below the surface.

But afterward, as we sat in her kitchen chatting, I felt this uncontrollable need to be listened to and understood.  This woman was one of my closest friends, and we had known each other a long time.  She knew who I was and she liked me in spite of it.  I decided to risk it.

Tentatively, I put out the statement, "Um...I kind of having a tough time with something, and I'd really like to talk about it."  When someone tells me they really need to talk, something inside me opens up to them immediately, honored that they chose me to talk to and ready to do what I can to be what they need me to be to them at that time.  I hoped it would do the same to my friend.

Terrified, I mentally willed myself to say what I wanted to say, exactly the way I wanted to say it.  "Um....do you ever....like....hate your husband sometimes?"  And then it was out there and I felt immediately nauseous.  Who hates their husband?  Further, who hates their husband and admits it openly?  

But my dear friend, she immediately said, "Yes.  Yes I do."  And the volcano erupted and I poured my heart out to her.  And she understood and she related to me.  And she told me some of her own experiences and it was beautiful. 

That talk lasted no more than 20 minutes.  But those 20 minutes were among the most therapeutic minutes I can recall in my recent life.  I felt heard.  I felt normal.  I didn't feel ugly or shameful or embarrassed, which I believe are typical fears that surround the act of admitting that marriage can be downright sucky at times.  

In this world of divorce and broken relationships, we are afraid to confess that our marriages are troubled.  We don't want to appear as though we don't have it all together.  We hate the thought of people thinking poorly of us and our spouses.  We don't want to betray our marriage by confessing the troubles that plague it.

It is good to be prudent when discussing our marriages with anyone other than our spouse.  It is crucial to be prudent when choosing who to discuss our marriages with.  But it is necessary to have someone to have these discussions with.  

Some might read this post and scold me for over-sharing, for revealing my dirty laundry to the world.  But I am tired of paying the emotional and mental price for burying the truth inside of myself.  The fact is, we all have dirty laundry, and sometimes in order to get that laundry clean, you need to bring in outside help.  

It has become my personal mission to try very hard to be open with people.  This is my natural inclination anyway, and for quite sometime, I was ashamed of it.  It felt like immature attention whoring.  But I have realized that being open with people sometimes has the effect of opening them up to me in return.  I can't stand the thought that I might understand what someone is going through, but that they'll never know it because it never came up.  And they'll carry their secret pain for who knows how long, as it whittles away at their soul.  

So I'm going to click "publish" on this post, even though I had every intention of relegating it to the "draft" heap when I started it.  And I'm going to share it on Facebook, even though it's going to scare the shit out of me and I'm going to be beating myself up all night for doing so.  And tomorrow I'll read over it again and mentally kick myself for being such a shameless open book.  But maybe someone will read it and have the relief of knowing that they're ok, and that I understand what they're feeling.  Because I do.  

Marriage is great, but sometimes it sucks big fat donkey balls.                  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ode to Eating Out

It's an odd thing - cooking.  I don't mind the actual process.  In fact, I often  quite enjoy it.  There's something satisfying about bringing a pile of raw ingredients together to create a (hopefully) delicious meal.  It's the planning that kills me.  Which is funny, because if you'd ask me if I'm more of a planner or more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl, I'd definitely say I'm a planner.  But planning meals?  Not my strength.  It's ok.  I'm owning it.  And I'm trying to work on that.

In the meantime, my family eats out a lot.  We're getting better about this, because it turns out that eating in restaurants is a tad pricey.  But when I drag myself through the door at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, and the kids are tired and crabby from daycare and my husband is 2 seconds away from losing his mind because the house is a mess and the dog won't stop pacing around and getting in the way....cooking a delicious meal seems about as possible as me losing 30 pounds overnight and getting into single-digit pants.

It's like a game between D and I.  We start by saying, "What do you want for dinner?"  And we run down the list of what's in the house.  It's a short list, and usually goes something like this:  Moldy leftovers from 3 weeks ago, chicken that was purchased an unknown number of months ago and is still frozen rock solid, the broken bits of a box of cereal, and not enough milk to use even if we had enough cereal for everyone.  It's times like this where I wonder, "Where the heck does that $150 go at the grocery store and why can't I get the hang of this 'responsible mother' thing?"

So after going down the list of options, it's like the first one to suggest eating out loses in some way.  Like you're giving up.  And also you're afraid to get shot down because you don't know what the other person is thinking.  Are they thinking they want to eat out too, or is this going to be one of those times where they're on a "we need to save money and eat healthier" kick and are going to shoot down the suggestion of eating out?  And then you got yourself all excited to eat out and are thinking where you want to go, and they're sitting there all pissy because they just want what's best for the family and you're sitting there sabotaging their efforts and you are the bad guy and they are the martyr who wants what's best for the family but is willing to sacrifice the best for the sake of compromise.  And you're sitting there thinking, "Sheesh, it's just a restaurant for crying out loud, not peace in the Middle East."

So then you go out to eat.  And you're happy and warm and excited at the reality of no cooking and the delicious food you're going to order, and you smile at the thought of enjoying a nice meal with your sweet family.

And then you get to the restaurant and are seated at your table.  And somehow your husband gets to sit by the older toddler who is quite content to play games on husband's cell phone, or do one of the puzzles you wisely put in your purse before leaving the house.  And you have to sit in the booth with the younger toddler who would rather walk through fire than sit still for any quantifiable amount of time.  And you begin to wonder why you wanted to eat out in the first place, but you resolve to enjoy it and pray that the waitress knows what it's like to have young kids and that she'll bring the bread and chocolate milk quickly so that Toddler 2 will switch from dumping salt all over the sugar packets to stuffing her face.

But the bread only occupies Toddler 2 briefly, and she quickly decides that the yummy, warm, soft bread is not as interesting as the disgusting floor under the table.  So you have to turn your attention away from said delicious bread and try to find things to occupy Toddler 2 so the crabby couple at the table next to you will stop giving you the stink eye.  You vacillate between embarrassment and indignation.  You desperately try to think of games that will entertain toddler.  Tiredness begins to creep in, and you start to wonder why you thought eating out was such a good idea.  You make a mental note to just order in next time.

Finally, the food arrives.  You and Husband resume your man-to-man defense, as he prepares Toddler 1's food (who is freaking pissed that he has to stop whatever he was doing to be forced to eat the food he didn't ask for and certainly doesn't want).  You cut up Toddler 2's food, who is still way more interested in the salt shaker than her food.  Being the ninja that she is, she senses your weakness and begins her defcon 5 op against whatever side dish came with her meal.  Fries, fruit, etc. are shoveled into her mouth at an alarming rate, and your day late and dollar short efforts to take away the side dish are met with ear splitting shrieks.  Normally you don't give in to these tantrums, but you're tired from a long day at work and from the mental beat down you're giving yourself for deciding to eat out.  So you give the stupid french fries back and decide you don't give a tiny rat's ass whether she eats her food, as long as you get a few minutes put together to try to enjoy your meal.

So you regroup and decide to make an effort to talk to your husband, in some semblance of having a nice family meal.  Husband is busy trying to coerce Toddler 1 to eat his food, and your attempts at drawing Toddler 1 out of his needlessly crabby mood are met with attitude.  Attitude is met with threats of punishment, and you pray to sweet baby Jesus that Toddler 1 doesn't push you to follow through on said threats, because you really, really don't want to take him to sit in the car while Husband pays the bill and boxes the food.  It's just not the same when you have to eat the food at home.

The small inklings of tired turn to fall on waves of exhaustion, and you notice that your waitress has chosen that inopportune time to disappear from the face of the earth.  You pray that the kids will keep it together just for a little bit longer.  You snap at your husband for no reason, because the anxiety and frustration is building inside you like a volcano, and since he is tired and frustrated too, he snaps back and now everyone hates everyone at the table and isn't this lovely.

Finally.  Finally.  The waitress brings the bill.  Husband pays and you box up the food so you can throw it away at home in a week.  You tiredly walk to the car, and make your way home to do baths.  You wearily look at the clock and count the minutes till bedtime.

You walk in the door, and decide that maybe it would be a good idea to take up cooking.    

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And I thought grocery shopping was hard back then

There's a bloggy-type website that I found when I was pregnant with C called "Baby Bunching", which is about having 2 kids under 2. (And for the record, 2u2 from here on out will mean 2 kids under 2.) One of the things that Baby Bunching mentioned was that it would probably be a good idea if longer errands (such as grocery shopping) were done either on your own or with just one kid.

To which I say, good luck with that! As much as I would adore the chance to grocery shop alone (or do anything alone, for that matter), it doesn't appear that that will be in the cards for at least 15 years. Which, now that I've actually put that little truth nugget in print, seems rather bleak to me.

So last week was one of those times where I had to do the bi-weekly grocery shopping by myself, with the kids (and if that isn't the biggest oxymoron I've ever written or read, then....I don't know what.). I always do my grocery shopping on a Thursday. We get paid on Thursdays, and there is no way in heck I am sacrificing one red little second of my weekend at the suburban jungle known as Kroger. So no matter how busy I am on the Thursdays we get paid, I am going to the grocery store.

I used to have the luxury of being one half of the good old American dream called the DINK (dual income, no kids) and would wait till D went to work and go grocery shopping at around 7:30 on whatever Thursday night. I loved it. The store was always relatively empty and there was something satisfying in being able to linger over the produce to select the least bruised apples without worrying about getting out of the way of fellow shoppers or stock boys. (It's funny how your idea of paradise changes when you have kids. Before kids, paradise is a tropical vacation. After kids, it's the ability to go out by yourself after 7 p.m. to grocery shop without having to arrange a babysitter or rush back home because your husband is "babysitting" and is counting the minutes till your return.)

These days, now that I'm a DITK (or a DICK if you change "two" to "couple" ha ha ha. I'm such a child.) I have to come home from work and immediately get the kids in the car to go. If we wait even 10 minutes after I get home, we are in trouble because we are nearing the danger zone of dinner time. But the benefit to this plan is that D is almost always available to come with me, which is great because he can distract L and I can focus on wearing C in the carrier and selecting our groceries. Plus, D always unloads the cart so I can sort through my coupons while we're checking out. Our team effort of grocery shopping is one of my favorite things about being married to him. Which is way less depressing than it sounds, I promise.

But on this particular Thursday last week, I happened to have the day off. And since D is in the middle of Kamikaze Season (aka lawn season), he was exhausted. He had worked the night before and had gotten only 2 hours of sleep before he went out to do lawns. I knew the last thing he'd want to do was go grocery shopping, and that by the time he was done with lawns, it would probably be dinner time anyway. So I braced myself and decided to take the kids in the morning.

I have gone many places by myself with the kids, but the grocery store is by far the most challenging. If you are going to just pick up a few things, you can put the big kid in the seat up front of the cart and put the baby's car seat in the basket of the cart. But if you're going for a big trip....I'd turn back if I were you.

But, it had to be done. So I wore C in the carrier and put L in the cart and off we went. Of course, I had selected a cart with a wonky wheel. But I didn't realize this until my cart became so laden down with food that I would have preferred to poke myself in the eye with a pencil than transfer both groceries and toddler into another cart. Instead, I chose to deal with it and throw my entire body weight into turning the cart. Not an easy task when you're wearing a 13 pound baby on your front.

So we went to the fruit first. L is crazy over fruit and would probably live on blueberries, peaches, bananas, strawberries...basically any fruit (and graham crackers) if we let him. He loves fruit. And it was really cute because he was pointing to all the fruit and saying his version of their names.

Now, in the old days before C was born, I often went grocery shopping with just L. I used to give him whatever grocery I had just selected to hold, and then I'd say "Ok, let's put it in the cart!" and take it from him and put it in the basket. Or sometimes I'd let him hold it and thank him profusely for helping and tell him what a good boy he was. I liked doing that and making him feel involved in the errand. Plus, it kept him interested and prevented boredom from setting in, which is always disastrous.

So we went to the first display and got two plastic boxes of blueberries. You know the kind of boxes, right? The ones that have the little slots in the bottom so when you wash them the water drains out? Ok. So I got those and put one on either side of him in the seat. Then we went directly to the apples and I got a bag and started counting them out to him as I put them in the bag. I got two bags of apples and put them on top of the blueberries. Then we headed for the bread.

As I was trying to find the very specific brand and type of bread that my not-at-all-picky husband likes, I kept up a running "dialogue" with L. But I wasn't looking at him. I walked about 5 feet away from the cart to get the bread, and as I turned back, I saw him throwing the bags of apples in the basket. And then I remembered how D keeps L entertained by giving him things to "put" (aka throw) in the basket. And just as I remembered that, it suddenly occurred to me what was about to happen.

I saw him lift the box of blueberries and as he swiveled in his seat to toss them in the cart, I tried to say "L NO!" But it was too late. The blueberries hit the mostly empty bottom of the basket and the container popped open, exploding like a blueberry nuke. And little, tiny blueberries rolled EV.ERY.WHERE like little blueberry prisoners who finally had their chance to make an escape.

I remind you that I was wearing C in the carrier. This is more awkward than being pregnant, because when you're pregnant, you don't have to worry about your baby falling out if you bend or move the wrong way. Plus if you fall when you're wearing your baby in a carrier, the chances of them getting hurt are much higher than if you fall while pregnant since there is no placenta or huge boobs to help cushion the fall.

So what was I supposed to do? I couldn't just push the car at warp speed to make a quick getaway, since there was a blueberry graveyard under the cart. If I moved the cart even a centimeter, I would have run over the blueberries and squashed them, leaving a trail of evidence in the form of blueberry juice.

I briefly considered walking 10 feet away and looking disapprovingly at L and saying loudly, "UGH! Who does that kid belong to??" But I'm pretty sure there were witnesses who could place me at the scene of the crime, and I've never been a good liar anyway. Plus it would totally blow my cover when L looked directly at me and said "wa-wa-la-la, mama!" as he pointed at the watermelons.

So I just looked around helplessly and prayed that a Kroger employee would happen along my path. In order to make them not totally hate me when they did happen along my path, I made the effort to squat down and try to balance and pick up blueberries at the same time. It didn't go great, but I managed to pick up a handful.

Poor L, he just looked at me like "What did I do wrong Mama?" So I summoned some real effort and drop-kicked the annoyance and the "arrrrrrgh!!!" out of my head. Instead, I called up a smile and said, "That's ok baby, I know you were just trying to help. But next time we won't throw the blueberries, right?" And he slowly shook his head "no" because he doesn't know how to say "yes" yet, but I took it as a yes anyway.

Finally some poor Kroger employee happened upon us and mercifully told me she'd clean up the berries. I told her I didn't want to push the cart away because I didn't want to leave the blood of the slain blueberries in my wake, but she waved me off, told me not to worry about it and even went to get me a new package of berries. I was so appreciative that I even plan to write a letter to Kroger about her. And I hope this plan is more successful than my plan to start toning my arms up, which has been in "plan" mode since, oh probably April.

Anyway, we finally got to move along and continue with our shopping. By this point, I was pretty wary. When something goes so wrong like that right at the beginning, it doesn't really bode well for the rest of the trip.

On we went, the bockety cart wheel growing bocketier by the minute. By about aisle 5, I realized that C seemed to be sinking lower and lower in the carrier. I put my hand under her butt to boost her, and felt an adorable little foot peeking out from the bottom of the carrier. Which is when I realized that I hadn't adjusted or otherwise tightened the straps on the carrier since I had adjusted them back in February when I was 22 pounds heavier (thank you Weight Watchers). And then I realized that these realizations were really kicking my butt that day.

But what the heck was I going to do? I had to take C out of the carrier and use both hands to take off the carrier, tighten the straps and then put her back into the carrier. There was literally no place I could (or wanted to) lay her down so I could do the necessary tightening. I even briefly considered telling L to hold her and then laying her in his lap. But I dismissed that bright idea as quickly as it had occurred to me because I'm pretty sure if I asked her, C would tell me that she prefers to never fall from the cart to the floor of the grocery store.

So instead, I had to make the tough choice and do something that would eternally mortify my husband if he were with me. (Except, if he were with me, I wouldn't have been in that pickle in the first place.) I stood there for a second, watching people walk by. And when I saw the right kind of lady walk by (old because old ladies love babies, not old enough that she'd drop C, friendly looking, and not in a hurry) I stopped her and said, "Excuse me, but would you mind holding my baby for a second?"

She gave me a look that said that she knew I was talking but couldn't believe that I'd said what I said and asked me, "What?"

"I'm sorry," I stammered. "I know this is really weird, but my carrier is super loose and I really need to fix it but I can't hold her while I do that. Would you mind holding her for just a few seconds?"

"OHHHH HONEY SURE!!!!!!!!!!" she squealed. Like I was asking her if she wouldn't mind if I gave her 10 million dollars. And then I got a bit nervous. But the carrier needed to be tightened, so I handed C over. And then the really sweet old lady proceeded to chatter to me at a speed of approximately 30 words per second.

"Oh my daughter has five kids she adopted three of them you know and she has every carrier you can think of oh are those kids ever sweet so I know just what you're going through with that carrier she has every stroller you can think of too and why I bet you are the same way with these precious little ones and oh how old is your little boy why what a sweetie he is too but oh I bet he gets into mischief bless his heart and look at him that big boy helping you with your shopping oh now make sure you get that carrier tight enough honey we don't want this little angel falling out I bet they keep you busy bless your heart and look at you you look like the sweetest little mommy ever just like my daughter with her five precious ones she lives in Florida you know so I don't get to see them often but I sure do love seeing them and you know when I'm done with my visit I am ready to be done because five sweethearts is a lot you know but I bet you know that because two babies this little must keep you hopping!"

By the point she stopped for breath, I had tightened the carrier, replaced it on my body, baked a cake and went with L to pick out a coming-home outfit for the birth of his third child. I had been standing there with my arms out to have C returned to me but the very sweet lady wasn't even paying attention. She was just staring at C the whole time.

After holding my arms out for about a minute, it dawned on me the reality of the situation. I was standing in the middle of Kroger while a complete stranger was holding my baby and not giving her back to me. I began to get a little alarmed.

As if reading my thoughts she smiled at me and said, "Now don't you worry, I promise I'll give her back. I thought about taking off with her, but I think you could probably catch me" Ha. Ha. Ha. Not a very funny joke to make when you're actually holding my baby. Maybe funny if I'm holding her and you're walking by and saying "Aw, she's so sweet, I wish I could take her home with me!" NOT funny when you actually are in a position where you could probably take her home with you if you tried hard enough.

Just as I was about to reach out and snatch C back, the lady handed her over to me. I quickly put her in the carrier, thanked the lady, resisted telling her that I was sorry, she couldn't have the baby but was she interested in my toddler? and took off.

By the time I finished pushing the bockety-ass cart through the store, I was literally sweating. I wearily dragged myself to the checkout, where I realized that I had forgotten at least 30% of the things that had been on my list. But I was not pushing that cart back through the store for ANYTHING.

I loaded the groceries onto the checkout belt (missing my husband keenly at that moment) and tried not to punch the checkout clerk in the face when she asked for my ID as she scanned the beer. I mean, I know that wasn't a rational reaction because it's her job and everything, but I felt like she could have helped me out by seeing any of the following:

1) I have 2 kids and clearly need the alcohol, so even if I wasn't 21 she should throw me a bone.
2) I am sweating my kiester off so maybe she could scan the beer last so I'll have time to get my ID out.
3) My outfit is an assortment of Land's End and Kohl's so I am CLEARLY over 21 (but still as hip as the day I was 18, booyah!).

(And the sad thing is, I don't even drink beer. It was for D.)

While I was fishing my ID out of my wallet, C decided that it would be the ideal time to start melting down. And lately, L has found it fun and/or funny to join in the melee and whine when C whines, sort of like how a dog howls along when someone sings really badly.

So I'm bouncing and swaying and shushing, trying to calm C down before L starts his crocodile tears and pretending like I don't see the laser eyes the cashier is giving me. And this is totally a change of pace for me because usually I get the "Awww how old are the babies?" and "My, your children are so well-behaved! And trust me, we get some bad ones through here." I'm used to people bowing at the feet of my maternal awesomeness, not giving me That look, the one that says "Your kids are really chapping my ass today lady."

So FINALLY the groceries are bagged, placed in my basket and paid for. I muster my last spark of energy and head for the van. I thank sweet baby Jesus for the person who invented the buttons on the key fob that open the doors and hatch automatically and wearily put the kids in car. I load the groceries into the van and then sink into the driver's seat, thankful that the ordeal is over.

And then I get home and realize that I still have to unload and put away the groceries, and what the heck am I supposed to do with the kids while I'm doing that?

Strike 100, you're out.