Thursday, July 31, 2008
This shitty day comes to us from Delana, a fellow mom whose diet needs a little more, um, balancing. And Hubby needs a swift kick to the groin.
6:00 am — Coffee pot starts.
6:15 am — Baby is up and playing in the crib, so I make him a bottle and a daycare bottle and daycare juice.
6:25 am — Heat a blueberry pancake for baby, break it into 100 miniscule pieces, and put it on his tray. Get him a sippy of water. I eat the edges of the pancake.
7:15 am — Finish getting ready.
7:20 am — Get baby. Change a poopy diaper, grab some toys and tell Hubby to get up. Hubby rolls over, grunts and sleeps.
7:30 am — Drive 30 minutes.
8:00 am — Drop baby at daycare.
8:15 am — Drive to work.
9:30 am — Try to teach class to 20 teenagers. Give them back their exams, tell them how crappy they are.
11:00 am — Back to office.
12:30 pm — Lunch.
1:45 pm — Back to work. Can't get motivated.
3:30 pm — Go to a meeting lead by the one person that is the most cluesess in our department. Try not to roll my eyes too many times.
5:00 pm — Get baby at daycare. Make him a bottle in the car and strap him in. He drinks his bottle and falls asleep.
5:35 pm — Get home. Hubby and our daughter are already home (they left after me and got home before me, how is that fair?) Make dinner for baby while Hubby cuts the grass.
6:00 pm — Feed baby (he self feeds, I just slap it on the tray). Ask Hubby to give baby a bath ‘cause I don't feel good. He says, "I don't do baths" and he goes and plays Xbox.
6:15 pm — Give baby a bath.
6:40 pm — Baby spits up and needs new shirt.
7:10 pm — Hubby makes a bottle for baby, then says he is done with baby duty for the day and goes back to Xbox.
7:35 pm — Put him to bed.
7:42 pm — Eat one chicken nugget and one oreo for dinner.
8 pm — Pick out clothes for next day.
9 pm — In bed.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Yes, I know darlings, it's so very sad, but there's enough bad news in this world and I'm not as eager to spread banality's phlegm as I was when I began My-day-sucks-worse than-yours-Wednesday. (It did have a good run of, um, one week.)
Maybe it's the fact that I listened to a coworker discuss the intimate details of her pap smear all day when I could have been snuggling with Junior. Or maybe it's because I visited the most horrible daycare ever after work and I'm sick about the conditions in which some babies spend their days.
Or hell, maybe it's the heat and onset of August and proliferation of toothless wackos walking past our house on the way to downtown.
Maybe next Wednesday can be My-day's-way-better than-yours-Wednesday?
No, that's just obnoxious.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
To the naked, untrained eye, Junior’s sweet, whimsical birthday castle cake is just that: a sweet, whimsical castle cake.
But as Charles begins packing for his annual pilgrimage to Pennsylvania, this cake makes me want to bust out an AK-47 (borrowed, of course) and blow it to pieces.
Now why, oh why, would I want to do that?
It’s quite simple: This cake is Charles’ Trojan horse, his breadcrumbs dropped in the forest. He’s trying to set the stage, you see, for Junior’s interest in the Medieval.
Because Charles is a wannabe Viking.
If you’re not gasping in surprise then you find this to be as big of a deal as my friend did when I told her. Our conversation actually went like this:
Me: “I have to tell you something about my husband.”
Her: “What? Is everything okay?”
Me: “I guess. I just…it’s pretty bizarre. There’s something he likes to do…a lot.”
Her: “You can tell me…”
Me: “I’ll just come out and say it. He likes…to dress up.”
Her: “Go on…”
Me: “Like…a Viking.”
Her: “You idiot freak. I thought you were going to tell me he likes to wear your underwear.”
So fine, the fact that Charles enjoys Ren fairs and going back in time isn’t that big of a deal but you know what, I think it’s stupid.
Ridiculous and absurd and I’ll shout it from the rooftops of Mulletville!
I have nothing against castles, knights, or alligators floating in moats—as long as they are safely tucked away in picture frames or on storybook pages. But come the fuck on, why would any adult want to dress up in medieval garb and play oh-look-at-me-I’m-back-in-the-Middle-Ages?
And yet there are thousands of them. Take Pennsic—that’s where Charles is going for a week (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the annual event—which is as bizarre to me as Trekkie conventions—it’s an enormous Renaissance fair complete with battlefields, a make believe caste system, and a marketplace where people, excuse me, jesters and wenches, peddle their trinkets).
If I had to go you’d find me strung and quartered in the main square—by my own doing!
Yet Charles loves it. He has a tent and outfits and his Viking friends have been calling him all week to talk about the stupid stuff they’re going to pack; he even made me design a banner for him. I don’t think these men got this excited about their own bachelor parties. And from what I’ve seen of the women who go to Ren fairs, the pickings at strip clubs are a lot tastier (if you’re a hot chick who goes to Ren fairs, feel free to send me a picture and prove me wrong).
My mother, Linda, thinks Charles’ passion for all things Viking is hysterical. She bought him Viking figurines for Junior’s party (see the wizard in the photo?). She brings it up at family parties as in, “Haha, has anyone seen Charles’ new battlefield photos?”
She will mysteriously disappear soon if she doesn’t cut the shit.
And my father? My Bob Villa-loving, Mr. Skeptical, feet-firmly-on-the-ground father thinks that Charles golfs every August. When Charles makes shorter treks to his friends’ get-togethers in the winter (now known in our household as “Viking weekends”), he’s camping.
My father and I both know I’m lying. I swear, in the winter, he thinks Charles is having an affair and succeeding in pulling the wool over my eyes.
“Now where is Charles this weekend?”
“But it’s 25 degrees out.”
“Yah, well you know, he and his friends like to rough it.”
“I see…And you said he’s in upperstate New York? In Buffalo? They just got 12 feet of snow.”
“It’s like I said, Dad. He and his friends LIKE THE SNOW.”
Gee, I can’t understand why he’s suspicious. Why didn’t I tell him Charles liked to bowl? Or watch football with his buddies?
I suppose I could tell him the truth: “Charles is a Viking, Dad. He prefers the Middle Ages.”
I realize that at some point we’ll have to break the news to Junior. I guess I’ll sit him down and have Charles walk in the room with his cape and sword and Medieval outfit and we can just bust out with it:
“Daddy likes to go back in time, Sweetie. He’s…he’s…”
Ah, damn. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to tell their child that his father is a Viking?
Monday, July 28, 2008
Kim: "I can't stop yawning. Why do we yawn in the afternoon? I need a nap. Remember when you were a kid and you needed a nap and you never wanted to take one? And now that you're an adult all you want to do is take a nap and you can't. Why is that?"
Eileen (my tanorexic boss): "Because when you're a kid all you want to do is stay awake so you don't miss anything. Now that we're adults, Kim, we know what's out there. We know what we're missing!"
I really, really hope she isn't right. Although that does bring me back to that cheery comment my former co-worker made at happy hour—the one about the repetition of existence and how it turns life into a gray blob of goo.
But look at Junior, he's but a mere hatched chick and he's perfectly content to nap the afternoon away.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It's called Raffi, Singable Songs for the Very Young. It's beautiful and happy and, to be quite honest, I can't believe it's actually from Joyce because everything she's given us so far has been plastic, loud, and annoying. I mean, this is a woman whose entire backyard is decorated with pink flamingos and blinking lights, year round. She wears holiday themed earrings and sweaters and socks.
Anyway, the song "I Wonder if I'm Growing" is a real tear jerker if you're:
a) hungover and trying to cure that with a glass of wine
c) reflecting on the fact that your baby boy is now one year and one week old and has learned how to give the wettest, drooliest kisses ever.
I can't believe what a fricken sap I've become. Seriously, I might as well start buying all pink clothing and carrying hand-sewn handkerchiefs and spritzing myself with rose water on rainy street corners while humming Carly Simon songs.
For fuck's sake.
I broke free of domesticity last night to grab drinks and dinner with Sassy and this chick, Lauren, we meet through meetup.com. Charles actually signed me up for meetup.com because he was tired of listening to me complain about my lack of a social life. But hell, four of my friends moved last summer. And visits to Mulletville from those who remained were getting less and less frequent. So, like an eager parent offering his awkward child to kindergarten, Charles threw me to the bowels of meetup.com.
Luckily I found Sassy. We’re like mail order brides without the language barriers or creepy age difference.
It’s that right.
On my way out the door I thought I was looking pretty foxy until Charles asked me, “Why do you need the cardigan?” I looked down at my stupid capris and cutesy sweater set. I resembled a librarian.
Then and there I decided to get good and loaded.
So I headed over to Sassy’s and chugged some wine.
When Sassy’s kitty appeared from under the couch I had to contain my excitement. I am so used to putting on my high-pitched, joyous, sing-song voice when Junior sees our kitties that I actually kept hearing it in my head: “KIT-TEEEY! Meeeoooow. Look at the KIT-TEEEY!”
I couldn’t stop meowing at it.
Then of course my mind wandered to all the other animals on the farm and the noises they make: What does the cow say? Mooooooooo. Moooooooo. And the sheep? Baaaaaa. Baaaaaaaa.
The only thing that quieted the voices was, yes, more wine.
After we polished off a few bottles, Sassy, Lauren, and I walked to a restaurant downtown (I’ve never walked the streets of Mulletville before; I felt a bit like a hooker but maybe that’s because I had removed my trusty cardigan). Hungry from our harrowing jaunt (the sidewalks were like rock quarries), I decided to treat myself to a hot lobster roll which ended up costing $18. Wretched Mulletville! How dare you charge $18 for a lobster roll on a white hot dog bun!
Thankfully Coronas were only $4 a pop. And the wine back at Sassy’s? Free. Free and plentiful.
Which leads me to this morning and my pounding head. In a few hours we’re leaving for the old age home to visit Charles’ grandmother. I have dibs on the couch in the lobby.
And Charles? Well, like an eager parent offering his child to kindergarten, he’ll be busy throwing Junior to the bowels of the assisted living community.
Friday, July 25, 2008
And suggest corrections!
According to Charles, my list of his top five most thoughtful deeds didn’t include enough of his recent niceness. I forgot to mention how he let me sleep until 9 a.m. last weekend. How he calls me every day at work to say hi (correction, to make notations on my postings). And how he spontaneously brings me chocolate.
Yes, last week he did bring me a bonbon but I didn’t count that because the gesture wasn’t entirely altruistic.
Let me explain. Charles does a lot of schmoozing for his job as a Business Developer. Said schmoozing is done mostly after five. At hotels. Business cards are exchanged. (Do you see where this is going?) You can’t blame me, then, for asking why my husband came home one night with glitter in his beard.
And not just a few specks—he was lit up like the Milky Way.
When he said he had eaten a glitter-covered bonbon while business developing I nearly fell on the floor laughing.
“You expect me to believe you ate food covered in glitter? That’s a health code violation. Why don’t you tell me what really happened.”
“What do you think happened?”
I put down my wine and leaned against the counter (you should always put down your wine before accusing your husband of shenanigans —looking like a lush does nothing for your cause).
“I think that you went to a hotel for a business function”—air quotes—“and that there was a bachelor party in the next ballroom and that you had too much to drink and wandered over to check out the entertainment and found yourself on the receiving end of a lap dance from an exotic dancer whose inner thighs were coated in glitter. Go ahead. Tell me I’m wrong.”
“What was her name, Charles? Stardust? Jem?”
“And you’re busted.”
Of course I apologized when he brought home the glitter-covered bonbon a week later. But you see, don’t you, how that bonbon doesn’t really count as a gift? A gift cannot be introduced as Exhibit A. Or B or C.
Especially not D. D stands for Dancer. And that’s what got him into trouble in the first place.
P.S. In Googling "exotic dancer names" (I was kind of bored with Stardust and Jem, but they did grow on me), I found this darling piece of info. Honk my hooters that's handy!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
No message. Nuttin’.
So I did what any concerned wife would do: I emailed him back and wrote, “I know.”
Then my phone rang.
“Everyone is going to think I am a jerk,” he said.
“What are you talking about?”
He proceeded to launch into a tirade using the high-pitched voice he reserves for mimicking his mother and me. “Oh, Charles watches Law and Order, blah blah, and he doesn’t play with his kid and he doesn’t do anything around the house, blah blah, men suck.”
Uh oh. I was so proud of the sign I made that I sent Charles an email a few weeks ago and told him he had to check it out. (Dinner chat has been pretty quiet on the “let’s talk about blogging” front so I assumed he took a peek and moved on.)
Alas, he lingered.
“Honey, you’re a great husband and father. No one thinks you’re a jerk.”
“You rock my world?”
“I don’t appreciate being misrepresented. Or mocked.”
Double oops. Even though my anecdotes are 99.998% natural, I may have occasionally erred on the side of dipshitedness.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, I’m offering this: the five most fabulously sweet things Charles has done for me in the 11 years we’ve been bound together in bliss (shit, I really should shake this sarcasm thing before he dumps my sorry ass).
1. On our first date he sprayed my fried-to-a-crisp self down with Solarcaine in the women’s bathroom without trying to take advantage of me in my precarious state (although he did admit years later that yes, he snuck a peek at my boobies).
2. One year into our relationship, he moved to another state to be with me even though I had told him a month before that I wanted to try being on my own.
3. The next year, he moved back to Connecticut to be with me after I freaked out and left the other state.
4. He held my hand during my C-section after seeing me through 24 hours of labor, two epidurals, painkillers, vomiting, hyperventilating, and elephantitis of the body (I'm not kidding, I couldn't even fit into my maternity clothes I was retaining so much water).
5. On Junior's first birthday, Charles bought him a frog kiddie pool and stuffed frog in honor of Frogs in my Formula.
Charles, this Stella’s for you, baby (Bud sucks).
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
At 8:45 a.m., Charles would wail from the comfort of the covers, “I don’t waaaaaant to get up.” Then he would drop out of the bed, roll to the shower, slither into his clothes, and run out the door.
How very convenient. (I love the article “Chores Can Cause Conflict in Your Marriage”—this headline is as profound as, “The sky is blue” and the cutesy couple in the photo makes me want to puke).
Thankfully, now that I work, life’s a little hunky dorier on the shared responsibilities front. Charles gets out of bed when I do. He washes dishes and makes dinner and Swiffers. He does so much more, in fact, that lately our conversations remind me of two children fighting over whose chores are more pressing. Like this morning:
Charles: “You give him breakfast. I have to iron my shirt” (passes Junior to me).
Me: “But I have a load of laundry in the machine. And I still have to put on my make-up” (pass Junior back).
Charles: “You look fine without it. I have to bring in the recycling container, unload the dishwasher, shave, and sort the mail” (passes Junior back).
Me: “You never sort the mail. And I just look 'fine?' Fine is so…tepid.” (pass Junior back).
Charles: “I do too sort the mail. Plus I have to wash the car” (passes Junior back).
Me: “Oh yah? Well I have to pay the bills, churn the butter, wash my hair, wax the floor, and mend your socks” (pass Junior back).
Charles: “Well I have to poo” (smiles and then passes Junior back).
Dammit! When it comes to who feeds the kid breakfast, nothing trumps bodily functions.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Junior's first birthday party was yesterday and he got his very first taste of frosting. As you can see, he's perfected the pincer grasp so well he's moved on to using his entire palm.
I'm happy to report there was no family drama, thanks to a few strategically placed beverage stations (i.e., there was always an opportunity to ask, "Would you care for a beer? There's a funnel right here," if you wanted to leave a conversation). No, it wasn't a kegger but yes, alcohol is the salve that brings my family and Charles' family closer together. So close, in fact, that his brother-in-law gave me a vacuum-sealed embrace before he left and told me he wanted to "wrap me up."
(I'm going to attribute his comment and the "mmmmm" that preceded said comment to general present wrapping excitement and leave it at that.)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
At the time I thought, what a buzzkill. Give me another vodka tonic, fast.
But now, a day before Junior turns one, I find myself thinking back to that moment. Junior’s starting to notice the world around him: birds, bugs, trucks, fish. And it’s like I get to see it all again, too.
I'm not trying to be overly sappy about this: Sometimes I do find myself thinking, all this feigned excitement over a smelly, nasty truck? But other times I catch myself wondering where I've been? My coworker was right about the repetition of existence. The world becomes so familiar and expected, you're on autopilot and you don't even know it.
And then you have a baby.
And realize everyone was right: everything changes.
Because really, can you remember the last time you wanted to show someone the world?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I went to a hairdresser in Mulletville.
For obvious reasons, this was as risky as say, dousing a lit firework with gasoline. I feared I would leave with a rat tail or duo-toned mullet or worse, that I would resemble a gym teacher.
The reason I went had everything to do with Sunday, when we got together with our wonderful, thoughtful, fabulous friends, Amy, and her husband, Des, who moonlights as a hair savant. We had lunch and drinks. Many, many drinks.
Afterward, relaxing in our living room, Des offered to give Junior his very first haircut.
I don’t know if I can accurately convey how happy I was about this. To have Junior kick back in his Exersaucer and have a friend cut his hair was a gift. And Des was so gentle and sweet about the whole thing, darting this way and that while Junior spun his fat little head and arms around trying to grab the scissors, like some kind of obese octopus.
When Desm turned to me and told me he would highlight and cut my hair next I was overjoyed. I felt like a celebrity. The wine and beer only added to my euphoria.
Out came the foil, the bleach, the booze.
I need to add something here, to put what happened next into context. When I was in high school, people actually thought I was Amish because I dressed like such a prude (nothing against Amish people). For a teenager, I had an abnormally vast collection of mock turtlenecks. I preferred the “natural” look (would a little blush or mascara have killed me?). Modesty was the name of my game (at least in appearance: I drank a lot on the weekends and made out with random boys in the McDonald’s parking lot. I was your classic prude/slut).
There you have it, I’m a wee bit uptight with my appearance.So I was unprepared—gulp—for the blond woman—gulp—staring back at me when Desmond unveiled my new look.
Charles loved it. Everyone, even Junior, loved it. Amy told me to give it until the morning and see how I liked it after putting on some mascara (I was wearing mascara at the time but my sparing, Amish application must have made it seem otherwise).
I went to bed and awaited the morning, when I would see myself anew and embrace my bad blond self. I would wear something leopard-striped to work. Don red lipstick. Smoke.
But sadly, I couldn’t pull it off. The Amish gal in me craved plain, mousy brown. And so, after asking around, I stumbled upon a local hairdresser who promised to make me boring again.
For a derelict strip mall store with a horrendous name, the salon wasn’t that bad. The hairdresser, Joey, assured me he knew hair color, though his blond tips on black hair made me wonder…
After all was said and done, I was quite happy with the results. Everything was going fine. I was blond, but not really. I had a newfound appreciation for Mulletville. Maybe I had misjudged the town after all.
Then Joey whipped out the hairspray and shellacked my hair behind my ears, “so the style would hold.” He teased out a cowlick and shot it again with the spray.
The bouffant mullet. Now there’s a look an Amish gal can wear with pride.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Well, here’s my Wednesday salute, just in time to celebrate my third week at work and newfound affinity for a Screwdriver in my morning travel mug. Actually, affinity is too lukewarm. Let’s be honest and call it what it is: infatuation.
My salute has nothing to do with nicey-nicey tips for making life easier. Instead it has everything to do with how much suckitude there is in the everyday routines of some of this country’s (day I say world’s?) working mothers.
And so I give you “My-day-sucks-worse than-yours-Wednesday.”
Mom Jill was nice enough to share one of her typical days with me so that I could post it. I wish I had something to send her; hopefully she’ll settle for an authentic Mulletville postcard signed by the town drunk/s. Hats off to you, Jill. Your day truly does suck (and I mean that in the nicest way possible).
Here’s how it all goes down:
4:30 am – Baby (age one year) wakes screaming. Make her a bottle, sprint up the stairs to get her before she wakes up the other two kids. Tend to baby. Let dog out, feed the dog and cats.
5 am – Daughter #1 (age 5) and daughter #2 (3) float downstairs, #1 complaining that #2 woke her up. Child #2 whines that she is hungry and throws herself on floor when Cheerios aren't made for her by the time she reaches the bottom step.
5:10 am – Child #2 is done with cereal and wants more food. Baby has a poopy diaper. Change baby. Let dog out again. Darling husband gets up, showers, fixes himself bowl of cereal, retreats to computer/email.
5:15 am - Round three of breakfast. Feed baby her food. Take out trash, empty dishwasher, throw in load of laundry.
5:30 am – Child #1 and #2 are still hungry. Start begging for cheese sticks.
6 am - More laundry and other household chores. Hubby escapes to work.
6:30 am - Shower with child #1 and #2 while baby bangs on glass shower door.
6:45 am - Get dressed, get kids dressed, put baby back down for nap just in time for babysitter to show up.
7:10 am - Babysitter shows up late (as usual), kids whine for more food, bicker over trivial things (who lays claim to which chair at the kitchen table, who is in charge of the crayons, etc.). Catch up with sitter, leave for work.
Tired yet? Jill’s not even at work yet, people!
7:30 am - 7 pm - Work consists of patients who want to bite me (to clarify, Jill works with animals, not people).
The new receptionist interrupts me every five minutes because she doesn't understand the concept of taking messages while the doctor is in with patients. I deal with clients who are upset with the cost of taking care of their pets, endure the wrath of the occasional person who calls at 5:50 pm and lives 30 minutes away and doesn't understand why you can't keep the staff there an extra hour because Fifi might have an infected wart, or the one who is upset because the diarrhea medicine I sent home two hours ago has not started working YET!!!!
So I squeeze half a dozen "emergencies" into my lunch hour and an already overbooked schedule until 6 pm, then stay at the office to finish charts and calls until at least 7 pm.
7:30-8 pm – Arrive home. Three kids are in bed. Clean kitchen mess left from dinner, start dishwasher, pick up clothes, socks, and shoes strewn everywhere. Check email, etc.
9 pm – Lie in bed for two hours trying to go to sleep, dreading 4:30 am’s arrival.
And there you have it. Our first installment of “My-day-sucks-worse than-yours-Wednesday.”
As I only know a handful of working moms who might generously volunteer the dirty details of their days, this Wednesday thing may be short-lived. But rest assured, Rocks in my Dryer will still be there as we work out the kinks. So everyone can just relax.
(If there are any stay at home moms out there who'd like to share, please drop me a line—this blog is all about the Koombaya of motherhood.)
Monday, July 14, 2008
In the oooooother corner, Joyce. Topping the charts at 100 pounds, five feet tall. Famous for saying "no" at family functions when asked to hand Junior over.
And so two titans meet.
This Sunday, we will have Junior’s first birthday party. My mother, Linda, and Charles’ mother, Joyce, will be in the same room with Junior—for the first time ever.
Charles and I are both scared of these women. When Junior was three months old, we took him to Charles’ brother’s house and his mother literally grabbed Junior from me and would not give him back. The only reason I got my child back (a mere two hours later) was so she could pee. And oh the look she gave me when she handed him back, betrayed by her very own bladder.
Just this Saturday, I had no sooner pulled up to the curb for a family picnic when I noticed my mother standing next to the car. She had materialized like something out of the Terminator.
Ever seen Rebecca De Mornay in the Hand that Rocks the Cradle? Well, these women are both blonde and they both want my baby. If I was asthmatic and we had a greenhouse, I’d seriously consider a move to Alaska (why Alaska? Because Alaska is one of the few states where men outnumber women, which means fewer psychotic blonde women will be materializing outside my windows).
Party day, I’m contemplating affixing my son to my chest with Crazy Glue. I’ll beat them back with plastic forks if I have to. Tie helium balloons to their feet when they’re not looking so they float away. Far, far away.
Where is the chapter "Granny's Gonna Get You?" in “What to Expect the First Year?” Where the hell is that chapter?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Summer picnic #398.
Today, my 92-year-old grandmother sat across from us and taught Junior to stick out his tongue, then tried to feed him a Freezie Pop. My step-sister ridiculed me for feeding Junior “specks” of hamburg (she has four kids so she knows). And I snapped at my mother for snatching my son from me one too many times (I couldn’t help it—I’m working now and I wanted to hold my baby, dammit!).
Junior kept pointing at the inground pool and the kids splashing around.
“Not yet, sweetie,” I told him.
Everyone at the table looked at me with that face: you know, the you’re-so-over-protective-your-kid-might-as-well-be-in-a-bubble face.
“He’s too little!”
So I marched us over to the pool and sat on the steps in the shallow end. Then I swished Junior around. He was euphoric. He sat on one of the steps and splashed and shrieked and flailed his arms. People I didn’t even know came over to remark on what a good time he was having.
All the while I kept looking down at the back of his overalls—which were criss-crossed in my hands so he wouldn’t slip through my fingers—his curly hair, the nape of his neck. And I kept thinking, I am pouring my soul into this child and every day letting him go and it is enough to burst and break my heart at the same time.
He’ll be one in a week. He’s not a newborn, he’s not even a baby. He’s a little boy. And this is just the beginning.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I got out of work early today and met my friend at a park near her house (her town's facilities are so much nicer than the old-tennis-ball-tied-to-a-pole plaything in my town). There were little swings there—the kind with the holes for the legs—and I thought, "Hooray, Junior can swing!"
Then I thought, "Shit. Is Junior too little to swing? He’s almost a year but what if someone sees me putting my baby in the swing and calls DCF because the swings are meant for toddlers and here I am sticking my helpless child in the Jaws of Death?"
My friend, also being a first-time parent (but to a five-month-old), didn't know about swinging etiquette either. We actually looked on the bottom of the swing for age guidelines but—shocking—there were none.
Finally, we agreed that it was probably fine (the whole exchange took about 15 minutes; I've never felt so sketchy standing in front of a swing in my life).
So I took a deep breath and stuck Junior in the swing. And gave him a feeble push. And yes, I waited for someone to shout, "Are you freakin crazy putting a baby in that swing? You shouldn’t be a parent!"
Then another mother came along. She casually plopped her baby in a swing and then turned her attention to her toddler, who was eating the sand next to the swing set.
“Christ, Billy. No!”
She looked at me and my friend. What a pair we were: my friend clutching her baby, who was covered from head to toe so as to avoid any exposure to the sun—and sweating his miniscule nuts off—and me, hovering over Junior as he waited for the slightest breeze to add some excitement to his swinging (hell, I didn’t know how high I should push him! What if he got a stomach ache from swinging too high?)
She smiled. I had to ask.
“Um, when can you put babies in swings?”
“Whenever you want. I mean, as long as they can hold their heads up.”
I did the math. Poor Junior could have been swinging his heart out from age six months! All that missed swinging!
My friend shrugged her shoulders.
“Your kid’s fine,” she told me. Then she looked at me like I was a nutcase.
Freakish or not, I learned a valuable lesson today. And I do think someone should put together some kind of manual. If they don’t, Junior may be 55 before he tries the monkey bars.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I'm in a bad mood today and, crazily enough, it has nothing to do with the male species and everything to do with the female: the ones who are supposed to be the nurturers, the healers, the nicey-nicers.
To be more specific, I'm pointing my finger at the women in their forties and fifties who stayed home with their kids and are now back in the workforce a mere 20 years later for the sole reason of driving me insane with their f*&^ing questions.
“How aaaaaaaare you?”
“How is the baaaaaaaaaaaby?”
“Who is watching him?” (Instead of explaining the work-from-home dad/babysitter/grandma arrangement, I am going to start saying, “I’m not sure” and shrug my shoulders).
Look, my issue is not with the questions themselves. I remind myself that they come from a place of concern. It’s the way they’re posed—it reminds me of those bottomfeeder reporters on the news who ask a murdered victim’s family how they feel:
“How does it feel to see your slain brother lying on the sidewalk, knowing that the killer is probably sitting at Friendly’s right now eating a Jubilee ice cream roll while you and your family struggle to pick up the pieces?”
The absolute worst are the women who ask you the details of your workweek under the pretense of empathizing. Cut the shit. You don’t give a shit about my workweek. You just want to hear the dirty details so you can pat me on the shoulder and say, “I could never do what you do”—like I’m some kind of vigilant out there fighting for the greater good while you sit on your ass eating S’Mores and Spam, cuddling the wee ones by the fire.
I’m so brave. So tough.
Well screw you.
Who said having a child meant surrendering your entire self? Forgive me for liking adult interaction. For deriving a sense of purpose from professional accomplishments.
What happened to “Live and let live?” Or “Give me liberty or give me death?” (that was Patrick Henry and no, I’m not a history buff, I’m trying to lighten the mood—is it a little, um, hot in here?).
Can’t we all just hold hands and sing Koombaya?
More importantly, can’t we all just stop asking each other how we are?
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Around 10 a.m. I got a phone call.
“I’m trapped in the house. I can’t get out.”
“Mom? Is that you?”
“Your husband locked me in and turned on the alarm and didn’t leave me the code. I’d like to open a window if that’s all right. Your son and I are starving for some contact with the outdoors.”
My mother leans heavily towards the melodramatic. People aren’t thin, they’re emaciated. Junior doesn’t look tired, he looks like he’s about to collapse from fatigue.
I was surprised to find that the mental image of my mother and Junior locked in the house all day gave me immense pleasure, mainly because I was jealous that she got to spend the day with him while I pissed away my time at my stupid desk in my stupid office doing work I could really give a flying butt crack about.
“What’s the code? Hurry.”
“Hold on a minute, I’m trying to remember.”
I had a thought. What if I didn’t give her the code and she had to spend the entire day in the house with Junior? No walks with the stroller, no sitting out on the front steps to count mullets. Trapped inside all day, Junior could get cranky. Intolerable even.
“Should I call Charles?”
“No, I have it written down. Somewhere.” While I shuffled papers around I heard Junior shrieking in the background. Linda cooed to him.
“Has he had his nap?” I snapped.
“We’re just about to do that,” she sang.
I sighed. Even without the code and open windows she and Junior would be fine because when it comes to entertaining my child, my mother is the embodiment of Julie Andrews, the Energizer bunny, Mr. Rogers, Barney, and a puppy dog. Junior could spend ten years inside with Linda and he’d be just fine. A little neurotic and controlling and paranoid but juuuuust fine.
(Did I just describe myself by default?)
I gave her the code.
“Oh thank you. Thank you. I was starting to feel like...like that squirrel. Remember that squirrel that climbed into the chimney when you were in high school? When we were on vacation in Florida? Remember? It clawed all the windowpanes, down to the glass? You were dating Doug and he went through the house with that stupid baseball bat trying to find that poor squirrel?”
“Mom? I really have to go now.”
Monday, July 7, 2008
Before I get to the explosions, let me preface with this: Charles and I agreed on Thursday that we would enjoy a few days of holiday picnics and that Sunday would be the Day to Get Things Done. We also agreed that we would take turns watching Junior whilst sharing the chores.
Key words here: sharing and agreeing.
Sunday morning I hopped out of bed and fed Junior. I even let Charles sleep in an extra hour. At nine I handed him Junior so I could vacuum the shit out of the upstairs. When I popped my head into the living room an hour later and found Charles zombied out to the Law and Order marathon while Junior played in his exersaucer, I was mildly annoyed.
I play with Junior. I don’t jingle toys in front of his face while staring at the TV.
Explosion #1. Some simple Roman candles. Standard sparklers. Nothing that would scare the kiddies.
An hour and a half later, after I had dusted and folded laundry and Charles was still enjoying Law and Order, I was profoundly—and justifiably—annoyed. And instead of calmly approaching him with this information I charged at him like a bull with burrs and hot sauce in his rectum.
“Enjoying your show?”
“Mmmmm. You almost done?”
Explosion #2. A stunning display of red, blue and purple. Loud, but not loud enough that you’d cover your ears.
Through clenched teeth I said: “Just about. Would you like to finish painting the sun porch while I watch Junior?”
“I kind of have a headache.”
“But it needs to get done. We said we would work on the house today. We agreed.”
“I know. I’ll do it later.”
Explosion #3. A more vibrant display of white, gold, and green. A few thundering booms. The sky was now smoking.
“Never mind. I’ll do it myself.”
I took a deep breath, stormed onto the sun porch, and started painting, all the while cursing my lazy ass, prima donna husband. The pelting sun and lack of oxygen didn’t help. By the time Charles came out to check on my progress I was dripping in sweat and hallucinating mirages.
He walked over to the window and pointed.
“You missed a spot.”
Explosion #4. The Grand Finale. Deafening bursts of color, cursing, and tears. Thrown brushes. White paint everywhere. The cats were now under the couch.
And here I was worried that the crummy weather would mean no fireworks.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
"I'm Peggy," the neighbor said, her crackly brown hair glinting in the sun.
Of course I was hesitant.
We've had some interesting neighbors in the two-family house next to us. First there was Lee, who took the bus from Mulletville to New Haven, where he went to college. He had a car but was trying to do his environmentally friendly part, which I applaud. But when he told us he was also heating his apartment with kerosene canisters, ala the ones you use for camping, Charles and I were a little nervous.
Lee was also an insomniac who had an affinity for pleasuring himself in the wee hours of the morning on his living room floor. He didn't like curtains and he loved candles. That really sucked because our kitchen looked right into his living room.
Trust me, when it's 3:30 a.m. and you're trying to heat up a bottle for a screaming infant, the last thing you want to see is some skinny, greasy granola guy tugging on his junk by candlelight.
Luckily Lee had a disagreement with the landlord and moved out on Halloween. Unluckily he was so angry with the landlord that he told all the sweet little Trick 'o Treaters just what he thought of her as he was moving his furniture from the house to his car.
Trust me, when it's your kid's first Halloween and he's crying because you dressed him up as a penguin and it's 75 degrees out, the last thing you want to see is some skinny, greasy granola guy yelling at kids who just want candy.
Anyhoo, Peggy told me that the neighborhood seemed nice.
“It is,” I said. “But be careful. We were just robbed.”
She shook her head and smiled.
“In the middle of the day. Someone broke in.”
“They took our stuff. We…are…very…scared...now.”
“I’d make sure you lock your doors.”
It struck me: the woman’s brain was caterpillars and marshmallow. Maybe some poppy seeds.
“Nice to meet you,” I said. Then I backed slowly away.
When Charles gets home I am going to tell him about Peggy and he’s going to say he misses Lee. At least Lee had some character. And then I am going to suggest—again—that we put the house on the market.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This is going to take some getting used to.
In addition to the terrible pangs I am getting for Junior—who seems to be handling this new arrangement a lot better than I— noxious office chatter is slowly eating my insides…
For instance, Kim informed everyone standing by the photo copier that she learned more from watching HBO’s series John Adams than she did from all her years of social studies in high school. And she was pissed about it!
“I never knew John Adams’ wife was depressed!” (Unfortunately she just got braces so her statement actually sounded more like, “I schnever schknew John schladams slwife schlwas dseplessed!”
Things I also learned from Kim today:
She’s having leftover fish for dinner. It was fine last night, it’ll be fine tonight.
If your neighbor moves and leaves behind all her farm animals, Animal Control still considers that neglect, even though domestic livestock falls under a different category than regular pets.
She likes the new packaging of the Kraft salad dressing (Kraft, if you’re reading this, Kim is your best candidate for a focus group). Call her vain but it makes eating salads more fun!
As weary as I am from listening to this drivel, it’s a nice distraction from the inquiries about my mental health. If they haven’t stopped by this afternoon I’m making a sign for my door that says, “If you ask me how I am doing/what arrangements I have made for childcare/how it feels to be back/if I miss my child I am going to punch your effin lights out.”
Ah Hump Day!
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