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.