Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Which I Blame Feet

I'm hiding in in my bedroom from my family. Specifically, Zoey. I'm not proud about this, I just think it's my job as a writer to set a realistic scene for you, the reader. So there. I'm hiding because motherhood kicked my ass today. And not for any specific reason. Well . . . not for any specific good reason.

If you must know, Zoey kept putting her grimy feet on me. All day. Beginning at 8 am I said, "Please don't put your feet on me; I don't like it." By 9 am I had said that exact same sentence 5 times. Basically, I had a neon flashing sign on my head that said in Toddlerese: HOT BUTTON. PRESS IT. REPEATEDLY. So, of course, Zoey began following me around with the express purpose of putting her feet on me. Then she had 3 time outs in the space of 15 minutes which, by the way, did nothing to deter her. And if anyone dares to comment "that's not how the book says to do time outs" I will hunt you down, smack you, sit on top of you, and then eat all of your chocolate.

By dinner time, I am done with feet. SO DONE. I am pissy and on edge. We sit down to eat and Zoey scrunches way down in her chair so her big toe can just reach my thigh. And . . . her toe makes contact with my skin. I look at her with the laser-beam-stare-of-doom and say, "Do. Not. Touch. Me. With. Your. Feet. EVER. AGAIN." I then dramatically and nosily scape my chair across the floor and bang my plate of food down into my new spot. My spot that is about as far away from Zoey as I can get. Demetri looks at me like I've served up kittens in cream sauce for dinner (we had pesto, actually). And I know, I know, I am not being a good mom in this moment. I know that Zoey has heard 'no' and 'don't' and 'stop' all day long. I know that today instead of being Fun Mom, I've been Grumpy Mom. And I hate hate hate it.

I started thinking about two moms that I love and admire. Both of them claim to love motherhood. And in my worst moments I think that this can't possibly be true -- Who would love this? I think that maybe they have forgotten what it's like -- they have older kids, all in high school or college. I think that they must be glossing over and making nice. But the thing is, these moms don't do that. They tell it like it is. They have empathy and compassion and just the right amount of cynicism. And here's where things get really hard: if they truly love motherhood and I don't, well . . . this must mean I am a bad mother.

One of these moms talks wistfully about when her kids were small -- she would drop her daughter off at preschool and she and her son would head home to eat grilled cheese sandwiches and watch 'A Baby Story'. And I think, Well, duh, who wouldn't want to do that? But I also see that same mom today really enjoying her kids and enjoying parenting. And being damn good at it. And I think, I wish that could be me. And I make that wish with such intensity that it scares me. Then, of course, this same mom will tell me about the time her kid ate deodorant and it all seems a tad less glamourous. Which, I think, is her point.

The other mom can make homemade cookies without looking at a recipe. And she adores her kids and is adored by them. Adored by teenage boys. Although I do have this memory of her telling me how much she loves motherhood and then saying, "Except for when I had to get a job at The Gap to get out of the house. I mean, I got paid $7 an hour for folding other people's clothes so what does that tell you?" I'm not sure if this is real or not. And I'm too chicken to ask her. I need it to be real. Because I can't be the only one who doesn't love it all the time*, right?


Please, oh please, don't let me be the only one.

* Also, because I am insecure and anxiety prone I need to point out that I said 'it', not 'her'. I do lover 'her' all the time. Even when she puts her feet on me.

"Monster Face"

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I often see other moms -- in person, on Facebook, where ever -- and these other moms often look put together. I suspect they have showered and brushed their hair. And maybe even folded and put away their laundry before every piece of clean clothing becomes a wrinkled mess from sitting in the laundry basket for 3 days. Also, they seem to have a faint and lovely glow. Hopefully, this glow comes from make-up and not from the joyous fulfillment that motherhood provides. If it's the latter . . . well. I give up. These moms, they are also wearing cute clothes. Clothes that seem to, you know, fit. And jewelry. Beaded necklaces, silver bracelets, dangly earrings. These put-together moms seem like they're . . . winning. Winning the battle against sleep depravation, toddler tantrums, and general momness.
I, on the other hand, am not so much winning as slogging along. I am the epitome of frumpiness. My hair is sort of straggly. My clothes are either too big or pull too tight in unflattering places. It goes without saying that everything is wrinkled. No make-up. No jewelry. I do, however, shower. Occasionally. And sometimes I even remember to brush my hair.
Some of my disheveledness is by choice. I often don't invest much time in my appearance (like applying make-up or flat ironing my hair) because I would rather be doing other things -- sleeping, picnicking, eating chocolate. I don't need to be matchy-matchy every time I go out. A hat and a pont-tail often suit me just fine. I'm OK wearing yoga pants to the grocery store.
The thing is, even when I try to look put-together, I still somehow fail. I get deodorant streaks on the side of my navy dress. And I don't notice them until we have left the house. There's part of a smooshed granola bar on the butt of my grey slacks. My hair won't stay in place. The blush, which I thought I was applying on my cheek bones at home in the dim light of the bathroom, now seems to be smeared randomly all over my face. . Somehow I only have lipstick on my bottom lip. I couldn't find my other black sandal so I had to wear the brown ones that are missing a buckle. I forgot to put on a belt and my pants are falling off. And there is just no way that one can seem put-together while constantly hitching up one's pants. NO. WAY.
So . . . how do you do it? How do you look so put-together? While I await your answers I might go fold some laundry. Laundry that's been in the dryer for 3 days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

10 Reasons It Might Possibly Be Hard to be Married to Me

Our 5th anniversary is approaching. So in honor of our wedding I now present a brief and in no way complete list of some of the numerous reasons it might maybe possibly be hard to be married to me*.

1. I will demand that you tell me I'm a good wife. You will be required to follow-up this statement with numerous examples. If the example don't come fast enough you will be in Big Trouble.

2. At the end of the day my clothes always end up on the floor. Always. And, why yes! They are on the floor right in front of the hooks you hung for me. You know, the hooks for hanging my clothes on.

3. It's ok for me to give our child juice with dinner, but of you do it I''ll go . . . what's the word? Oh yeah . . . ape shit.

4. I'll spy on you via the baby video monitor when it's your turn to put our child to bed. Then I will make fun of you for your made-up version of "American Pie". Also, I will demand that you acknowledge that I have a unique and highly marketable skill because I know all the real lyrics -- unlike some people.

5. Before bed every night I will require you to participate in 'talking time'. This is a time during which I can ask you weird and sentimental questions and then get jealous about your answers. Like so:
me: So who did you go to prom with?
you: Laurie Smith.
me: Was she pretty?
you: Yeah, kind of.
me: Stupid garden tool!
you: Uuuuh . . .

6. I will put my cold feet on you. Every night.

7. When you wear mock turtlenecks I will mock you -- to your face and on Facebook.

8. I will promise that half of the shelves in the bathroom are for your stuff. But, slowly and stealthily, I will begin to put some of my stuff on your shelves. Until you only have half a shelf. I will not feel bad about it.

9. On a regular basis I will rip ''The New Yorker" out of your hands and screech, "PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!'

10. I will demand you keep a hidden stash of emergency chocolate. I will actively look for this stash. If I find it, I will eat it all and not tell you. Then, when I demand a piece of emergency chocolate and you find that it's gone, I will get mad.

* Also, I am trying butter up Demetri so I can do a post next week about a blue salamander, Zoey's nose, and someone's parenting fail.

Monday, May 16, 2011

#9 on the Suck It List: Butterflies!

A few weeks ago I took Zoey to the Butterfly Gardens for her birthday. I imagined that she and I would stroll the climate-controlled paths amongst the blooming flowers and lush foliage hand in hand marveling at all the beautiful butterflies. I imagined that Zoey would jump up and down in excitement and wonder. I even dared to dream that my newly minted 3 year-old daughter would whisper to me, "You are the best mom in the whole world! I will never whine again and I will always do what you tell me to do and I'll never stop napping and I'll even learn to wipe my own butt . . . All because you took me HERE!" Yes, we would spend hours of butterfly bliss together!

But instead, I spent $24 for 10 minutes of . . . not bliss. That's right, we only lasted 10 minutes. Zoey was so afraid of the butterflies that she whined and cried and cringed and repeatedly yelled, "DON'T LET THEM GET ME, MOMMY!" The first two minutes of our visit are captured below. Shortly after these shots were taken, Zoey made a, uh, forceful and violent break for the exit. Unfortunately I happened to be standing between her and the exit. My darling daughter put her head down, squared her shoulders, and charged. I ended up sprawled on the pavement flat on my face while Zoey repeatedly pushed her weight against a door that pulled open. I checked to make sure I wasn't bleeding and then, well, we got the heck out of there. You know the saying: quit while you're ahead . . . or emotionally and physically damaged. Frickin' butterflies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Rambling Debunking of an Inconsequential Theory

In theory, it should be a good thing to start the day with a dishwasher full of clean dishes. Hey! Look! Dishes! And they're clean! And you didn't have to wash them! It's like a dish fairy visited the house during the night. Or a dish robot. But robots are more creepy (creepier?) so let's stick with the fairy idea.

But here's what happens next: you have the best intentions of unloading the dishwasher before breakfast. You even put away a couple of glasses. But then the shortest member of your household decides to pee on the floor and rub her dripping wet butt on the couch. And, clearly, getting the pee off the couch trumps unloading the dishwasher. Then breakfasts must be made. Because if the floor-pee-er doesn't get fed, the morning will take an even more drastic turn for the worse. But, as it turns out, you end up making four breakfasts: 3 for Shorty and one for yourself. The cereal is spilled and the banana is accidentally stepped on. Joy! More clean up!

Then, while placing the dirty breakfast dishes on the counter, you smash your shin into the corner of the dishwasher which you left open. So you karate kick the freaky robot fairy dishwashing device closed and, perhaps, you swear. And a tiny voice repeats your swear. Now you're having a conversation about bad and hurty words and you hear yourself offering to give yourself a consequence. So you're sitting on the stairs in a self imposed, tiny-dictator approved time-out. You find yourself actually kind of liking it because, hey, at least you're alone and it's kind of quiet.

Suddenly, it's not so quiet. Shorty has fallen off the couch because, probably, she was jumping on it, but you're not really sure because you were in time out. There are hugs and back patting and endless discussing and play-by-play recountings of The Terrible Fall. Yes, that is what is is called. Then there is PBS kids to stop the tears. And suddenly you find yourself still not unloading the dishwasher but combing out hair tangles and getting yelled at. You are trying to be gentle. Really. But you're not feeling very gentle at this point. You briefly wonder what it would be like to be a delicate pink flower blowing in a warm breeze but then you realize that's the dumbest thought ever and move on to wondering what it would be like to be a hippo.

You shove yourself and the couch-butt-wiper into clothes because if you don't get out of the house you may have to stab your eyes out with a spoon just for something to do. Someone forgets to brush their teeth but decides that morning breath can be masked with a mostly-still-wrapped Star Burst found at the bottom of the diaper bag. Yes, you still call it a diaper bag even though you no longer carry around diapers.

You go to the library. How educational! And wholesome! As you are walking out your front door you remember that the dishwasher still has not been unloaded. Then you prentend that you didn't remember what you just remembered and begin to wonder if you can really trick yourself. You decide that no, you can't trick yourself and instead reason that if you let the dishes sit longer they will get drier and you won't have to use a cloth when putting them away. Win!

You come home 100 minutes later and make dinner in the crock pot. Then you make lunch -- grilled cheese and soup. Pots and pans are involved. The areas next to the sink and the sink itself are now piled with dirty dishes. And you have no where to put them because the clean dishes are still in the dishwasher. Also, you are tired and don't feel like doing any more cleaning or putting or care taking. Now you worry that you are a bad parent and, yes, a bad person because you lack the willpower to unload the dishwasher. Plus, there are so many dirty dishes! There are only 3 people in your house -- how does this happen? You make a mental note not to have another child. And you think about how, in theory, it should be a good thing, a miraculous thing, to wake up to a dishwasher full of clean dishes.

But, somehow, it's not.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh, baby!

Zoey is into babies. She can make anything a baby -- a rock, a used tissue, a piece of broccoli. "Oh, look at my baby," she'll coo while cradling a snot filled tissue in the palm of her hand. "Isn't she cuuute?" Then she'll tickle the baby's, uh, "chin" and whisper, "Cutchie-Cutchie-CooooOOOO!" Our days basically consist of Zoey following me around and saying, "Wanna play baby, Mommy? Huh? Wanna?" Or, when I say no, of Zoey dumping a doll into my lap and declaring, "Mommy! Your baby is CRYING! You better DO SOMETHING!" And, if that fails, Zoey will cram her nose into the baby's rear end and yell, "Ew! I smell POO in YOUR BABY'S butt! Change his diaper. NOW." She looks at me with such shock -- like I'm the worst mom in the history of the world because I am not moved into immediate action to change a fake diaper filled with the fake poo of a fake baby*.

Zoey's current favorite baby is a recent addition to the household. The baby came with a hat, a blanket, a bottle, and the baby sings a song. Zoey has declared this baby to be "very very special." Zoey, in a stroke of minimalist genius, has named her . . . Baby. I'm not a huge fan. Baby does not generally make the world an easier place for me. In other words, Baby is a pain in the ass.

It started small. Baby was curious -- she had to stick her hands in the basil plants and whoops! a bunch of dirt happened to make its way out of the pot. Then baby decided that she needs her own place at the table at EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. Of course Baby needs her own plate of food and, because she is "such a leeetle baby", she needs her food cut up. Small. In the correct shape. Baby is also not a big napper. Zoey throws up her hands in exasperation, "Well! Mommy! Baby says she does not want to nap so I can't either!" Ah, what's a mother to do!

But then the real trouble started -- Baby began to branch out. She became curious about knives and toilet water. And, apparently, Baby is the one who dumped out an entire bottle of shampoo on the floor of the bathroom. Zoey shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well! Baby needed to get clean so she had to do it."** Baby and her caretaker got to bond over the injustice of a time out.

Then Baby got mean. Zoey, who speaks fluent baby, came up to me and whispered, "Mommy, Baby said she's gonna get you." I smiled, thinking it was a game, "Oh! Not if I get her first!" and then I pretended to tickle baby. "No," Zoey gasped and wrenched Baby out of my reach. "Baby does NOT like that. BE CAREFUL, MOMMY." Zoey put her hand on my back as if to comfort me, "No . . . Baby said she is going to get you -- like baaad people." My mind flashed to a movie preview I had seen once while babysitting back in 1988 and all I could think was, Just like Chucky. I am a horror movie wimp and this movie preview scared me so much that I still remember it; I've never even seen the whole movie. "Um, well," I stammered, "Uh, that's not very nice of baby, is it? Maybe you need to put her in time out." Yeah, like time out in the trunk of the car tonight so she can't hack me up with a butcher knife while I'm sleeping.

Zoey thought about the idea of putting Baby in time out. I could see her thinking thinking thinking and then wham! there it was, a look of barely contained glee. My evil/genius idea had taken hold -- Zoey realized she could have (wait for it . . .) PARENTAL POWER. Zoey pursed her lips together and muttered, "Yeah, yeah, that could be goood."

There was a brief pause where I could feel my daughter doing what any good mother does: gathering the unseen forces of the universe -- the deep hush before the storm. And then, "BABY. GO. TO. TIME. OUT." She pointed her finger and everything. Zoey plopped her bad baby down on the stairs (the designated time out spot) and then came and sat beside me on the couch. She absently patted my knee, sighed, and said in broken-down sort of way, "It can be hard when your baby is not so good. But then you put them in time out, right?" I nodded my head wisely. Zoey continued, "And then you let them out and hug them and go on, right?" At that moment, while Zoey's hand rested on my knee, there was a tightness in my chest and something inside me cracked. Just a small crack -- the kind that makes things seemed fragile and loved. And I realized that maybe the world is sometimes a hard place for both of us.

* It should be noted that I spend a fair amount of time (as in hours) each day playing baby. You know, just in case you were imagining that I never play baby and were wondering how I could be so cold and heartless what with my real baby growing up so fast that she'll be graduating from high school any minute and I'll be watching her walk across the stage while dabbing my eyes in the front row of a gym that smells like socks and adolescent boys going, oh how I wish I had played baby more with my baby! So, yeah, I play. And I am a very good fake diaper changer BY THE WAY.

** It should be noted that during this incident, Zoey was supposed to be sitting on the potty doing her business which, sometimes, she refuses to do if she does not have privacy. So I have to pick between having a the kid crap in her pants and letting her be in the bathroom with a shut door. Clearly I picked the latter.

Friday, May 6, 2011


So . . . Zoey turned 3 two days ago. Which means there are 363 days left until she turns 4. And I'm quite sure that if I don't blog during this time that something bad, very bad, will happen. Because, in case you haven't heard, the year of three-ness blows. I mean, I think it's pretty much a given that on a daily basis my head will explode and I'll want to scoop my ear drums out with a dull spoon. At this point, (yes, that's right, just two days in) I'm pretty much over cohabitating with an irrational, emotional, manipulative, what's the word? Oh yeah. WACK JOB.

Let me give you a brief and in no way complete outline of our morning today:
7:15 am: Zoey yells, "I WAKED UP!"

7:16 am: Zoey throws herself on the floor kicking and screaming because, and I quote, "You don't have enough HANDS so I DON'T LIKE YOU." Alas, alac, I was unable to carry Zoey, her sippy cup, 4 stuffed animals, 2 books and a blanket down the stairs all at the same time.

7:23 am: Zoey throws herself on the floor because I am eating cereal. "NO!" She wails, "I don't want you to be hungry!"

7:45 am: After pouring Zoey 2 different bowls of cereal and getting the cereal to milk ratio right (after 3 tries), the cereal is dumped on the floor because (wait for it . . .) I didn't give her the blue spoon.

7:46 am: Zoey is in timeout yelling, "I want to huuuuug you, Mommy!! I juuust want a huuuuuug!"

7:46:30 am: I consider taking up head banging as a new hobby

7:50 am: Zoey watches PBS kids so that I don't cry before 8 am

8:00 am: Zoey screams while I wrestle her into clothes and shoes. After getting her in a pair of panties she yells, "I HAVE A WEDGIE!!! YOU GET IT OUT OF MY BUTT, MOMMY! YOU DO IT!"

8:01 am: I explain to Zoey that wedgie picking is not in my job description. The usual crying and throwing herself upon the floor ensues.

8: 30 am: Zoey sits on the potty, does her business and then yells, "MOMMY WIPE MY BUTT! NOW!" There is a brief conversation about using a nice voice, I wipe her butt and simultaneously wonder if Demetri would miss me if I moved to Seattle.

8:33 am: I lure Zoey into her car seat with the promise of a Starburst.

8:34 am: I back out of the driveway to cries of, "NOOOOOO! I don't want to go where you want to go!"

8:47 am: We arrive at the YMCA. We enter with Zoey clinging to my leg, which I am dragging ungracefully, behind me. That's right -- I'M DRAGGING MY FRICKIN" LEG BEHIND ME like some kind of crazy-ass pirate with a peg leg. Except there's A KID on my leg.

8:49 am: While limping down the hall to the childcare room Zoey changes tactics and takes hold of my pants and underwear. She pulls down with all her weight.

8:50 am: My white, cottage-cheese-like back-with-a-crack is exposed to those unlucky enough to be in the hallway.
8:52 am: I leave my child happily playing with Barbie in the care of the Y childcare workers. I realize I am not sad to be apart from her.

8:53 am: I am seized by guilt that I don't want to be around my own child.
9:00 am: I begin spin class and worry that I am a bad mother for the entire hour. I think about asking the other mothers in the class about their 3 year-olds but then decide that they are all most certainly really good moms and none of them probably had their butts exposed in the hallway that morning. Plus, they all have really good hair so I don't think I'm allowed to talk to them. So I just pedal and sweat pedal and sweat. I briefly wonder if I am perhaps too old to really "get" Lady Gaga.

10:12 am: I walk down the hall to retrieve my daughter and wonder who I will find: Sweet Zoey? Angry Zoey? There is an actual flutter of fear in my chest.

10:13 am: Zoey proudly presents me with the Mother's Day card she made. I gush over it. And her. We touch noses. She pats me on the back. I think, "Ok. Ok. I can do this a little longer."

10:15 am: We walk out into the sun holding hands.

10: 17 am: We drive to a friend's house because, well, sometimes you just need to eat too much pizza and too many M&M's with another mom who loves you and your kid. Even on your bad days.

Tell me your 3 year-old horror stories. Please.