ABOUT ME

About me: My husband Chuck, our six-year-old Junior, our three-year-old Everette 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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

All the little boobies

My days of being a part-time stay at home mom (I guess I should use the proper vernacular here: SAHM) are numbered. Until the day of reckoning (33 to be exact), I decided I should drag Junior to as many play dates/get-togethers/what-have-yous as possible.

I didn’t do this from the beginning. Instead I bugged the bejesus out of my retired father to take walks. Ditto for my stay at home mother, Linda, my grandmother, aunts, brother, his girlfriend, friends who work but won’t call in sick even though it’s gorgeous out, etc.

When Junior was a mere babe I had high hopes of play dates, I really did. I even tried to join a local mommy group. But the activities depressed me. Who the hell wants to meet at a run-down mall to push around strollers of whining, snotty babies? And then ferry them off to the indoor playground to watch them lick germ-infested furniture and playground apparatuses while the mommies sit around and discuss their child’s inclination towards runny bowel movements?

Am I painting an overly unflattering picture? Yes. But I realized I preferred my father’s obsession with bird species (“Oh look, a common grackle!”) to organized stroller brigades.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the point of this post. The point is that I finally dragged Junior out to a local drop-in playgroup at a store everyone in the area has raved about, Papoose (good luck getting the links on their website to work).

As there was no one participating in the playgroup—which was fine, Junior fell asleep on the 45 minute car ride there—I had ample time to peruse the store’s goods. I didn’t even know they made teething necklaces for babies. Apparently the amber has a natural analgesic power. I'm more James Randi than not so I'm going to have to say phooey.

I decided on an organic cotton shirt and stood patiently at the register. I cleared my throat and coughed a little but the cashier was no where to be found. There was no bell to ring, nor crystal ball to tap, so I peeked around a corner and found the cashier and another woman sitting next to each other on the couch.

Breastfeeding.

Suddenly a song popped into my head. Way up high in the apple tree, four little boobies smiled at me. I shook that tree as hard as I could. Down they came…

Just what exactly is the etiquette when the cashier is in the midst of breastfeeding?

“Excuse me, could you…remove your child from your naked, exposed breast and ring me out?”

I didn’t say that. Instead I gave the women a lame, awkward wave, put the shirt back on the rack and headed out. And do you know that on the way home a blue jay landed on my hood while I was sitting at a stoplight? I kid you not.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Complete with lid

You know your husband has changed when you invite a couple over for dinner and they leave behind an expensive Tupperware container and your husband looks at it in the sink and says, "Score!"

Excited about Tupperware. This made me melt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh Oprah

I’ve been on leave from work for one year. I’m one of the lucky ones. Every time I bemoan the fact that I have to return in July, another mother trumps me.

“I had to go back after four months.”
“Two months.”
“Six weeks.”

On Friday I visited a daycare people in town had raved about. I dressed my son in his best clothes. Prepared a list of questions to ask. Wore lipgloss.

I was unprepared for what I saw. Toys and empty bottles littered the floor. The dank room was windowless. The furniture was ragged, at best. A beautiful baby boy sat in a swing in the corner. A little girl in pink, with a barrette on top of her head, was writhing on her stomach on the dirty linoleum, precariously close to a metal chair. A woman in her late thirties with long black hair who looked like she despised children was feeding another baby girl. She did not speak, smile, or make eye contact.

The room monitor, a girl who couldn’t have been more than 18, asked if she could hold my son; she wanted to see how he interacted with strangers. He didn’t cry, he just sat there as she launched into her speech about the personal attention every child receives. I asked if I could pick up the little girl now crying on the floor. She laughed and said yes; the irony of her previous statement was lost.

I didn’t hear the rest of what she said. Instead I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t cry. I wanted to take all those children home with me.

I still haven’t found childcare. When I’m home with my son, kissing him and making him laugh, I look at the clock. If it’s noon or two o’clock—an hour I will soon be at work—I think, Soon I won’t be able to do this. Every night I calculate the hours I’ll be away from him and how I can make it up. I think about sick time and vacation time and holidays and tell myself that it won’t be five days a week every week.

I also think about ways I can make money at night, after my husband gets home from work. I tell him I’ll waitress, work retail, anything! Then he reminds me that I have my Masters. That we need the money to pay bills, replace windows, buy food. I suggest selling the house, canceling cable, growing our own food. I won’t buy new clothes. I won’t drive anywhere.

“That doesn’t sound like much of a life.” He’s right.

“What if I write to Oprah?” I ask him. “Maybe she’ll find my cause worthy and pay our mortgage?”

“Call her.”

But I don’t. In a world of poverty, disease, war, and global warming, a wanna-be stay-at-home mom would be a gnat on her radar screen.

Websites and studies that extol the evils of daycare make me ill. Don’t they understand? I know no one loves my son like I do.

I know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We should have accepted donations...

One of the reasons I chose "frogs" in my formula is that when Junior jumps in his doorway jumper he looks like a graceful frog. After close to six months of jumping he’s become quite proficient in his various jumper moves. He points his toes and kicks out one foot, then the other. He tucks his legs up under him and swings back and forth. He also springs up and down like a mini cannonball.

Unfortunately, the saddest thing about having a baby is that they keep on growing. Junior’s been eating like a pig lately, which means he’s getting close to the weight limit on the one thing that has brought him (and me) hours upon hour of enjoyment (i.e., peace and quiet).

My other regret is that he’s been jumping all this time in the bathroom doorway. (It was the only doorframe that had molding short enough to hold the jumper’s clamps, I swear.) He’s had a bird’s eye view of the vanity and shower stall; fortunately the toilet is behind a wall. I could make an obvious assumption: that all the months of bathroom jumping might lead to a profession involving plumping. Hello, Roto Rooter. But I could just as easily come to a different conclusion because of his acrobatic ease. Perhaps he’ll be a famous ballet-man ala Vaslav Nijinsky? (I had to Google that—I have no idea who tops the list of famous male dancers.)

We don’t quite know who Junior is yet. It’s a fascinating unfolding, one that yields new discoveries every day. For example, I discovered that a lot of people who visit don’t mind waiting to use the bathroom until Junior’s finished his last Holubetz (I Googled that, too). He’s that damn graceful.

Or, more probably, they were too polite to say otherwise.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peg the dreg


My mother Linda and I decided to take Junior to the senior center to see my grandmother (my mother's mother) for her birthday. We brought the camera and a chocolate cake. We were told by the director of the center that my grandmother would be in the crafts room at 11 and that we could have the cake there.

Oh how mistaken we were!

For one, you cannot bring a small cake to the center. You must bring a large sheet cake so that everyone may have a piece. Second, you cannot go into the kitchen and get silverware and plates yourself. You must wait for Peg, the official supply-getter. And if Peg is outside smoking cigarettes and flirting with the custodian then you had better sit your caboose down and wait.

For an hour. I could exaggerate and say that little old people were slinking down in their chairs, foaming at the mouth as they waited for their miniscule slice of cake (we had brought a tiny cake) but they were fine.

My mother, however, was not. She seethed. Fumed. Slapped the tops of tables so hard that people jumped in their seats.

“I can’t get a ^&*ing fork and serve this $%^&ing cake myself? I have to wait for %^#*ing Peg?”

To be fair, she didn’t swear. She’s too prissy to swear, in fact she’s never even smoked a cigarette. She did have to go to her car to take a blood pressure pill. During which time the elders and I commiserated about life under Peg’s heavy thumb.

“She’s a bitch!” someone shouted. “Serve the damn cake.”

Finally Peg appeared. I’d like to say she was booed but people quieted down as she started serving. She was so concerned that there wouldn’t be enough to go around that she cut teeny tiny pieces. There was actually cake leftover. When Peg pointed this out to my mother I thought my mother’s head might explode. Thankfully it was time for the variety show: Earl was going to play the piano and my grandmother was going to sing.

They both had chocolate cake stuck in their teeth. It was the perfect time to leave.

Cheesy holiday

My first Mother’s Day. I have to admit—sadly—that I was anticipating some disappointment as far as gifts, accolades, sleep. Two days beforehand, the mother’s message board I sometimes visit had posted a “don’t expect too much” thread in which the mothers told each other what a great job they were doing, in case they didn’t hear it from anyone else on Mother’s Day.

I found that to be particularly discouraging.

What I also found to be ahem, disappointing was my husband’s stance on Mother’s Day. We mutually agree that Valentine’s Day is an evil holiday. Just as you wind down from the gross commercialism of Christmas you are barraged with more ads about how you must buy your loved one something to show you care.

But I was taken aback to find that he had similar feelings about Mother’s Day. How dare he!

“What if I don’t get you anything for Father’s Day?” I asked him. (And then pinched him.)

“That’s fine.”

“Hah! We’ll see.” (As much as I’d like to prove him wrong I already got him a present, jackass.)

The rest of the day proved to be interesting. After I slept until 9, we packed up the car and drove down to New Haven, aka civilization.

Halfway into our stroll around the city I walked into a convenience store to buy some water. Two minutes later I was stuck in the middle of a shoplifting heist. It ended well—the shoplifter was conciliatory and swore he would never steal cheese again. Why cheese?

After all that excitement we decided to hit the road and meet my mother at a restaurant along route one in Westbrook. We were starving. Apparently everyone else was too because unless you had a reservation you couldn’t get food: they had run out.

So, to recap…I slept until 9. Got a Mother’s Day card that was given out of some sense of commercial obligation. Was caught in a cheese bust. Went to a restaurant that advertised “Mother’s Day specials” but was told there was no food.

Thankfully there was liquor. And I did love dressing Junior in a shirt that said, “Mom” on it. He’s starting to fight—to assert his independence. I fear these days are numbered.