ABOUT ME

About me: I'm 40 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 8-year-old Junior, our 5-year-old Everett, our baby and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Monday, May 23, 2016

In case no one's told you today, on Mother's Day, or on any other day, thank you

I'm still thinking about Mother's Day. Still trying to put into words how I feel about the holiday and all the over-hyped fanfare. I realize that posting about something that happened 15 days ago is, in Internet time, like posting about something that happened in 10 BC, but this is my blog and I make the rules so—evil cackle—here goes.

The day didn't get off to a very good day. Chuck was so tired from camping for two nights with his friends (ahem) in the rain (must have sucked, honey) that he awoke looking like a slitty-eyed serpent. Our morning hello went like this:

Me: You sleep in. You're exhausted.

Chuck: No, you sleep in [yawn]. It's [yawn] Mother's Day.

Me: Well, if you insist.

Chuck: I [yawn] do. It's [yawn] Mother's Day. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Me: Are you actually going to go back to sleep? Didn't you sleep in on your camping trip?

We both got out of bed.

The kids woke up off. Everything turned into a bickering match.

Junior: Everett hit me with his spoon. Mom, he hit me!

Everett: No I didn't! You're lying!

Junior: You did so! I have a mark on my leg.

Everett: No I didn't! You hit me!

Chuck: Guys [yawn] c'mon! It's [yawn] Mother's Day.

Junior: Everett hit me! No one ever believes me.

Everett: No I didn't! You're lying!

Junior: You did so! I have a mark on my leg.

Everett: No I didn't! You hit me!

 Chuck: Guys [yawn] c'mon! It's [yawn] Mother's Day. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Junior: Did Dad just pass out on the floor?

Somewhere in there Cam cried about nothing and everything. The weatherman admitted that the rain would continue until next month. The dog chased a squirrel into the swamp. Junior had a cowlick I couldn't brush out. There was clutter everywhere. I found 50 new gray hairs and 150 new wrinkles. We were out of milk.

You get the idea.

Around two, I decided to abort the Mother's Day mission and go to one of my favorite furniture consignment shops—because nothing says Mother's Day like buying a used bureau—but as soon as I got in the car I burst into tears. Then I shouted "Fuck Mother's Day!" a few hundred times and went back inside.

"We're all going out!" I barked. (Can you picture me? Mascara running, crazy-eyed, runny nose, wild hair?) "Get your shoes!"

They lovingly obliged. After driving around aimlessly for 45 minutes (go ahead, try to find something desirable to do in Connecticut on a rainy holiday), we decided to get ice cream at a stupid little ice cream shop. This is the only picture I took all day:


And you can't even see his face.

We drove home.

It was 5:15 p.m. I told everyone I was going to bed and I did. I got into bed with my phone and Googled "Shitty Mother's Day." There were 774,000 results. I instantly felt better. In fact, after sifting through countless message boards, blog posts and articles and realizing I wasn't alone, I felt the best I had all day. 

You, my fellow mothers, saved Mother's Day. You made it all okay. I'm tearing up just thinking about how much I love you all. It's asinine to think that Mother's Day will be a magical day when children behave perfectly, spouses won't be tired, pets won't get muddy and toddlers won't have meltdowns. It's just absurd.

So now I know for next year. I'm getting the hell out of dodge. Chuck can find a new weekend to camp. And you, I know you are just a few search terms away.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I bet you can't guess what kind of Mother's Day I had from the tone of this post



My friend Andy fixed me up with one of her friends on Facebook.

"She has three boys, like you," Andy said. "And she's funny! You're perfect for each other. I told her about you too."

The next day, I friended the woman. And my friend was right: her friend Sarah was funny. Silly kid pictures, snarky comments, a gorgeous home. I liked seeing her updates—until a few weeks ago when she posted a day-in-the-life-of post, by the minutes. It went something like this:

8:33: Tried to get work done
8:43: Picked kid #2's gum off keyboard. Can't use space bar
8:53: Hit in head by toast thrown by kid #3
9:13: Cat threw up
9:22: Cable's out. Kid #3 drew on wall
9:45: Sitter threw up
9:52: Found kid #1 about to jump off bookcase
10:01: Ate old granola bar off floor
10:11-10:43: Tantrum hell with kids #1 and #3
10:52: Out of milk
11:01: Have I peed today?
11:10: Stepped on LEGO
11:22: Kid #2 won't nap!

And so on.

She stopped at noon.

The next day, she picked up at 12:15, and it was more of the same. She ended at 5 p.m.. The day after that, she detailed 5:15 p.m. to bed time.

People loved it. They ROFL and LMAO at it. They wanted more. 

Me? I felt depressed by the insanity of it all. I could relate to everything; seeing it recounted item by item depressed the hell out of me. 

The plain truth is that sometimes parenthood sounds horrible and is horrible. I'm still traumatized by a friend's description of the time all five—FIVE—of her kids had the stomach bug at the same time. Seriously, it makes me twitch just thinking about it. And I'll never forget the time I saw a child run screaming from his own birthday party at a park because he wanted to go to the water park across the lawn right then. The parents had the look of deer about to be creamed by a double-wide; again, I twitch just thinking about it. 

Sure, we can try to laugh our way through it, but some days the sheer depth of what children need from us is—how do I say this?—well, it can make you feel like a mouse trying to suck Niagara Falls through a straw. The sheer bipolar nature of children is maddening. And hello, sometimes eating an old granola bar off the floor (or worse, someone's shirt) isn't funny because you realize Holy shit, I can't even meet my own basic needs—like going to the bathroom or eating something that's new.

My new Facebook friend Sarah ended her day three post at 8:45 p.m. with: Climbed into bed with kid #2, snuggled him and realized kisses make everything worth it."

I wanted to write "bullshit" or "yah, right." I wanted to tell her that her sappy and cliché ending reminded me of Cinderella or Snow White. Are kisses from your children really enough for a happily ever after? I mean, really?

Of course, since we had just started "dating" I didn't write anything. I liked her post, because yes, sometimes that stupid "like" button is validation that we're doing okay. That people find us funny. That we're not alone. That our mundane days have an over-arching meaning that we've yet to see with our own eyes. That our cats aren't the only ones vomiting. That our kids aren't wretched cretins. That granola bars have an exceptional shelf life.

Yes! The "like" button means all that.

Then, as I do most nights, I twitched myself to sleep.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pre-gaming Mother's Day

Sleep regression. I had forgotten all about it.

My father calls it a state of temporary imbalance.

I call it living torture.

Cam, at 14 months, has suddenly decided he hates to go to sleep. He throws his stuffed dog on the ground and screams for it. When I go in to give it back to him, he throws it down again. I've let him cry. I've soothed him. I've taken the dog away. I've hidden it. I've rocked him (Cam, not the dog). I've sung. I've read. I've fed him. I've put lights on. I've turned lights off. I've watched minutes turn into hours.

HOURS.

I've rubbed his stomach. I've rubbed his back. I've rubbed my aching temples. And when he finally falls asleep, I slump down on my bed and punch my pillow.

I know the stage will pass, but I marvel at how much of this I blacked out. This is when things get dicey. This, when your child is age 1 to 3, is when you find out what you're made of.

It's also when the guy at the liquor store starts giving you the You again? look.

So when Chuck asks me for the umpteenth time what I want to do for Mother's Day this is what I tell him: I want to drive to the woods—alone—lay out a sleeping bag in the back of the Beast, lie in a ball and sleep and cry. He and the kids can stop by for coffee but the sleeping bag is mine.

A few years ago, when the idea of Mother's Day was still new to me, I might have felt horrible guilt for admitting that I just want to be alone for Mother's Day. But now I know the truth: Everyone experiences a state of temporary imbalance. Even mothers. And even on Mother's Day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A sappy but somewhat urgent post about open fields



I just got back from a pre-school field trip to a farm.

Advil? Yes, please. 

I had to rearrange my work schedule and call in the sitter for Cam so I could take Everett all by myself, but I'm glad I did. Everett goes to kindergarten next year and ever since Cam came along, he hasn't had much one-on-one time with me or Chuck. And I had my own selfish motivation (i.e., I didn't want to spend two hours carrying a baby around a farm or break my back as he tried to leap from my arms so he could crawl—in cow dung).

Repeat after me: Toddlers are fun.

The kids weren't too juiced about the animals, but they did spend a solid 20 minutes jumping from one dirt mound to another right by the dove's cage.

After the animal tour, we made our way through the woods to an open field so the kids could eat lunch.

Before I go on, I have to tell you that one of my happiest childhood memories is of an open, hilly field (hey, it was the seventies). The field was a quick drive from our house. I remember sitting in the parking lot, hand on the door, waiting for my parents to turn off the car so I could book it.

All I wanted to do was spin around like Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music.

If I drove by the field now, I'd probably be devastated to see that it's actually the size of a postage stamp, but in my memory that field is pure magic. Hazy, dreamy, bliss.

I felt a little of that awe when we stumbled out of the dark, buggy woods today into the vast, open field. It was like something out of a painting: bright yellow dandelions dotted the wide expanse of green. There were gentle hills to roll down. The sun literally beamed off the lush blades of grass. The kids, of course, broke into a run and spread their arms out like birds.

I was about to have a Julie Andrews flashback when it started.

Slow down! 

Not so fast!

Watch out for your friend!

Don't run too far!

Don't get too dizzy!

One mother turned to me in disbelief and said, "Can you believe it? She didn't even look at me before she started running, to see if it was okay."

I looked around to see if I'd missed a hidden freeway or poisonous snake pit, but there was nothing in the immediate vicinity that screamed DANGER. To me, anyway.

I can't lie: I hated us parents just then. I hated us for what we've become and for what we're doing to our children. For feeding our children's egos by lavishing them with goodie bags, toys and trophies for everyone when what we really need to do is feed their souls with freedom.

Delicious, worry-less freedom. 

Why did we have children? To constantly remind them that their lives are in danger? Why can't they run free in a fucking field? Why can't we stop reminding them of the consequences of every action?

When else in their lives will they be able to experience the true beauty of living in the moment and feeling free? I mean, call me crazy, but isn't that the very experience so many of us are trying to recapture as adults? Isn't that why 20,000,000,000 people do yoga?

I jest. Kind of.

My feelings aren't new (or that unique). I know that. I wrote a very similar post in 2009 about "No running up the slide!" at the playground and again a few weeks ago about my children's—and my own—fear of riding in the way back of the Beast.

But I can't do it anymore.

I need to break up with the voices. Or, at the very least, start traveling with armfuls of poisonous snakes so when everyone starts screaming I'll finally understand why.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I don't know when we'll be together again but...



Dear Hammock,

There you are, as you are so often, face down in the grass. You were a gift to me a few years ago for Mother's Day and truth be told, you're looking a little ratty. When Chuck first set you up in the yard, you were all pretty and shiny and I had such high hopes for us. Cocktails at three. Lazy hours with a book and a blanket. A springtime rendezvous with the peepers in our ear.

But we both know the truth: I spend very little time with you.

I'm sorry. It's not my fault. It's those little people's fault—you know, those waist-high folk who run and jump on you. Who ride you like a ship on a choppy sea and then jump from the safety of your fluttering fabric onto the grass below. There's mud. Granola bar crumbs. Dog hair. Water guns.

Gum.

Sometimes, because we live in a modest neighborhood of even more modest lawn adornment (i.e., there ain't a playscape for miles), children flock to you and so there are as many as 6 or 7 children on you at once.

But I protect you, don't I? I run outside and shoo them away.

At least we have that.

This weekend was nice, though, wasn't it? The two older boys spent a few days with their grandparents. The baby, Cam, napped for almost two hours and then we had some time together, didn't we? There was bright sunshine. A lovely, cool breeze.

I laid down and looked around, but no one ran over to rock me or flip me or jump on my head. I read a magazine. The dog lay underneath us, breathing heavy sighs of contentment. I sipped a gin and tonic. Hours—not minutes—passed.

Hours.

Here's the thing: I knew it could be good, I just didn't know it could be so good. And I realized something. I'm going to fight for us, baby! I'm going to fight for us to be together more, and no one's going to mess you up anymore with their sticky fingers or drooling tongues or muddy feet! You're mine. All mine. And we belong together.

Just like me and my bed.

Sigh. Why didn't anyone ever tell me that 40 would be a constant fight to get horizontal?

Oh shut up, Chuck.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Quick. Is there a sale on razors somewhere?

I love my bed. I have a down comforter that's fluffy and smushy. I have about 17 pillows. I have a soft, faux fur throw that I wrap around my neck like an oversized scarf. I have flannel sheets for winter and soft, silky sheets for summer.

I love me some bed.

Sometimes I stand in my doorway and look at it longingly, like a long-lost lover. "Soon we'll be together," I whisper. Other times I look at it like a vacation place I'd love to travel to. The hours until bedtime are the flight time. "Six hours. I will be under your covers in six hours!"

Barring turbulence.

Nope, I don't care about Hawaii or Rome. I want my fricken bed. 

Now that all three kids sleep through the night—knock on wood, dear gawd, knock on wood—you'd think I could hop right on into it as soon as their little heads hit the pillow but...no, not so much.

Take last week. Junior had the stomach bug and Chuck had to work the next day so I kept vigil next to Junior on the couch while he barfed. (Feather in my cap: I'm so numb to puke that I actually ate a sandwich while holding the puke bin and consoling him. "Mom," he cried, "that salami is making it worse." "I'm sorry," I lied, and kept on chewing. )

Two nights later, my mother and step-father spent the night. While he'd never complain aloud about the hard sleeper sofa, he often holds his back all the next day and sighs. Subtle. I couched it and gave them my bed.

Three nights after that, my brother Ted and his fiancee spent the night because his shower exploded all over his apartment. No, they didn't get my bed but Chuck did.

See, he was snoring again and even though I kicked him and punched him a bunch of times, he wouldn't wake up. He was pulling the "I'm snoring so you think I'm asleep" move he employed when the kids used to be babies and cry during the night, but this time he'd perfected it. He was impervious to pain. (Touche Chuck, touche.)

He was snoring so loudly that the sound machine I'd nestled into my neck and the pillow I'd placed over my exposed ear made no difference.

I assessed my options and again settled on the bottom bunk with Everett. Instead of squeezing in next to him I laid down at the other end and put my feet up near his head. It was bliss.

Until about 3 a.m. when I felt him rubbing my calf.

"Dad?" he asked innocently. Then, as he woke up more, "Ok, WHO is in my bed? Whose leg is this??"

"It's just me," I said. "Dad was snoring. It's me, your mother."

He went back to sleep.

The next morning at breakfast we joked about the musical beds. At least, everyone who'd slept more than two hours did. I just lay on the floor and let people step over me as they reached for the cereal.

"Yah," Everett giggled, "I thought Dad was sleeping with me!"

"Why? Does he get into bed with you a lot?" Ted asked.

"No! Because when I felt the leg in my bed it was so hairy!"

"I'll make eggs!" I cried, springing up from the floor.

Strangely, no one was hungry anymore.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

So many hitchhikers in my driveway. So.Many. Also, I like argyle socks



My younger brother Ted is engaged.

This happened once before, in 2009. He was engaged to a delightful young woman named Holly who spent way too many hours with me and Junior watching Junior puff. Sadly, things didn't quite work out for them (if your relationship is on the rocks, don't miss the post I dedicated to her: "The one book that can save your marriage"). When they broke up—at Christmas!—I was devastated.

Luckily for him, he is a serial dater. Soon he was inviting other women—foreign women who liked to eat donuts, for example—into my home to watch Junior puff some more.

Over the years it's become a bit of a routine. Ted meets someone, dates her for a bit then brings her round the house to meet the family. Then while we're all still in the getting to know you phase, he decides to drop her off with me so he can play golf. Or see the dermatologist.
 
He's conveniently gone for hours; sometimes he takes Chuck.

While he's out—and while I'm awkwardly entertaining some perky 20-something while simultaneously trying to care for my children—I get a text message from him that goes something like this: "Not really into her" or "Never coming back HAH!"

This has happened more than I'd like to admit. In fact, I started documenting it for shits and giggles. I actually have a photo of one of his "girlfriends" sitting in my driveway on a lawn chair, getting some sun; my laundry hanging on the clothesline behind her makes for a compelling juxtaposition between our lives.

She looks lost and I don't blame her.

(That was the one and only photo I ever took because um, if you caught your boyfriend's older sister hiding in a bush and snapping your photo when you weren't looking you'd call the cops too, right?)

Anyway, this little game of leaving dud girlfriends in my care has been going on for years.

A few weeks ago, I finally told Ted that I was on to him. My timing may have been poor. He and his new fiancee, Emma, who was in Connecticut for the weekend, were visiting on a Friday night when I jokingly mentioned his penchant for disappearing for hours and leaving strange women in my care.

"And it always means you're going to dump them!" I said. "The gig is up!"

The next night Ted had a work emergency that was going to keep him tied up for hours. Emma didn't know anyone in town. He felt badly leaving her alone at his apartment all night. He called me.

"Bring her over," I sighed. "We can watch a movie until you're done."

"She won't go to your house alone," he said.

"Why not?" I asked, insulted. What was wrong with my house?

"Because, asshole, she said she knows what happens when girlfriends get dropped off at my sister's."

I burst out laughing. "She really won't come?"

"She said she'd rather sit here alone and talk to the wall, thank you very much."

Ordinarily a comment like that would piss me off. Choose a wall over me, will you? But under the circumstances it made me like her more.

"It's about time!" I told Ted. "You finally got a girl with some moxie."

Congrats, you crazy kids!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Is it too soon to be sick of egg salad?


I'm proud to say that we colored eggs this year. Last year at Easter Cam was only one month old, and Chuck and I were too tired to do it—color eggs, I mean. Ehem. When I reminded the kids that we "forgot" to color eggs they said, "We did?"

Their hazy memory puts things into perspective. Like, if you're stressing about something or feeling guilty (like how you have a newborn and how caring for him/her is preventing you from celebrating certain holiday traditions with your other children), it's probably good to take a deep breath and remind yourself that a year later no one will remember.

Of course, this isn't a full-proof plan. Please don't go crazy not baking birthday cakes or not sharing Christmas presents with your children because Mrs. Mullet said it's ok, in one year no one will remember. 

Children aren't that dim-witted.

No, they're pretty astute in fact. It was Junior who pointed to the pink egg in the carton and said, "Mom, you're that only pink egg" before I'd realized that our household palette was greens, blues and well, more greens and blues and that yes, the pink egg was the cheese standing alone (i.e., me in a house of four boys).

"When it's egg salad tomorrow it won't matter," I told him.

"Huh?" he said.

He'd already gone on to something else, which makes me wonder if my aforementioned de-stressor mantra needs an addendum: It's probably good to take a deep breath and remind yourself that a mere second later no one will remember.

Ah hell, adjust accordingly. And go eat those eggs!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Parenting is just the postponement of the inevitable

I really meant what I wrote in my last post. I'm not going to be such a worried parent.  I'm going to give them more freedom.

I'm actually not that bad. I let Junior and Everett run with sticks. They have free reign over the swampy area behind our house, as long as they call when we yell to them. I don't freak out at the park if they run ahead and I can't see them for a few minutes. Hell, I even let Junior ride his bike, alone, down the street to the neighbor's house.

Naked.

With his hair on fire.

It's a good time to give the older boys a little freedom.

Some (me, me, me!) might say it's the perfect time.

And why is that? Because...

OMG having a toddler is so much work OMG he's kicking my ass I don't even have time to watch Everett and Junior anymore OMG I never sit down he's into EVERYTHING he has eight arms and legs and crawls at the speed of a rocket OMG OMG OMG.

Seriously, Cam is the wild child Chuck and I have feared since we started popping out boys. Junior was a handful as a toddler, yes, but despite that one time at Chili's I never contemplated taking up smoking. Everett was a little strong-willed, but he never had meltdowns in public or took off in parking lots. They kept me busy, but I do remember sitting down from time to time. I think I even chewed a meal in 2013.

Cam, on the other hand, can level a room in 20 seconds. Books come off shelves. Hair comes off the cat. Remotes get thrown into windows. Clothes come out of drawers. Blocks get toppled. We have safety locks on everything.

There is no rest.

And bathing. I strip down to a tank-top and shorts, pin up my hair and set Cam free in an inch of water—"Release the kraken!" He does 60 mile an hour laps of the tub. If a bath toy gets in his way, he thrashes it with both arms, like an angry shark blowing through chum. When I tip him back to rinse his hair, he puts his legs together and slams them into the water, sending waves everywhere.

We've started calling him "Destructor"—affectionately, of course—and he's not even walking yet. 

So you see, I don't have the time or energy to worry about Junior and Everett as much. They're in the perfect place to gain some freedom from my watchful eye. Mostly because it's exploded on my face. They also don't have to listen to me blubbering as much about them not being babies anymore because, you know, I'm so pre-occupied with one.

Hah. And there it is. It's easier to set them free a little—to watch them ride their bikes into the sunset or disappear into the woods—when you're holding sweet baby bliss under your nose and you know you have another five years or so of someone still needing you.

Ouch. Even I didn't see that one coming.