Saturday, December 5, 2015

They don't change. They really, really do not change


This morning:

"Mom, did you do this? Did you move him? Did you draw this?"

"I—"

"I know you did. Or Dad did. Is it real? Just tell me. It looks like your drawing. I bet you did it. But did you? Did you?"

"I—"

"Just tell me! Fine, ok, don't. Just tell me when I'm, like, 25. Then you can tell me. I just know you did! It just makes sense. You moved him last night. And you drew this."

"I—"

"That looks like your drawing! It's so, like, obvious that you did this. He's not real, I know he's not real. Parents move him."

"I—"

"And besides, it just doesn't make sense. He can't even move or talk. I know you did this! Everyone at school says Santa isn't real and you know what? You know what? I kind of believe them. They all say so."

"I—"

"Fine, just don't tell me. Just tell me when I'm an adult. Then I can move him and my kids won't know. Okay? Okay?"

"I—ok."

This, from my eight year old son. The one who made reading to him virtually impossible. The one who has sustained (with all the ferocity his miniature man body can muster) the friendly-exchange-of-fire type of dialogue he mastered as a toddler.

If the elf makes it to Christmas, it truly will be a miracle.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Making coq au vin avec les mauvais enfants

Once upon a time I was in the French Honor Society.

Oui, c'est vrai.

I was in high school. There was only one French teacher in our school, so I had Madame M—who was legitimately French and took her leçon de français tres seriously—for four straight years. When it came time for our small class to graduate, she invited us to her home for a traditional French soirée. She asked us each to bring a French dish. Because my mother was such a good cook, I signed her up to make coq au vin.

My mother was thrilled. (Not.)

I was a typical self-absorbed teenager. While my mother toiled away, perfecting the dish, I laid on the couch and effed off. I don't remember what we did in the early nineties, before cell phones and the Internet. I probably watched a movie on HBO or dialed someone on my push button house phone.

I do remember that I wasn't in the kitchen helping. I wasn't washing dishes. I wasn't measuring coq or vin or wiping my mother's brow as she cooked the family's dinner alongside my French dish. I probably went into the kitchen at some point and barked that I needed to leave pronto for Madame M's house because I do remember my mother racing around the kitchen like a mad woman.

I also remember standing in the driveway holding the hot dish, which was covered in tin foil, and waiting impatiently for my mother to throw me the car keys. Which she did and—did you see this coming?—when I raised my hand to catch them I dropped her gorgeous vat of coq au vin onto the pavement.

A small fleet of carrots and onions eddied around my feet.

That's as far as my memory goes.

It would have stayed there had I not stumbled upon a note my mother wrote to herself that night. I found the note wedged into a book years later, when I was in college. It was an angry note about the effort and time she'd put into making "the stupid coq au vin." How she didn't care about coq au vin. How she hated French cuisine. How thankless I was. And how the coq au vin met its fate, swirling down the driveway, hot liquid flowing in and around little sticks and dead leaves.

At the ripe age of 21, I kind of got it. Now that I'm 40, with three children, my heart hurts when I think of that note. I don't just get it, I live it. Motherhood is really just one big line of coq au vins. Sometimes it's a single serving, sometimes it's enough to feed a small army.

Most of the time, you make the coq au vin and do the dishes and then, five minutes later, someone wanders in and announces that he's hungry—just as you were about to sit down for the first time that day and eat a small bite of coq au vin, which you really, really fucking deserve.

I have to believe that all the coq au vins that await me won't be in vain. That all the uncelebrated labors of motherhood and the self-centered children whining for more will magically work themselves out in the end.

I have to.

I do remember something now, about that night. I remember showing up with a cheese and cracker plate decorated with miniature French flags and that Madame M clapped her hands in appreciation. And I remember thinking, Stupid woman, you should have seen my mother's coq au vin.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why we love them

A few years ago, I drove to Boston with my husband Chuck and my father to celebrate my brother's birthday. We hadn't planned on spending the night but after many, many drinks, we weren't going to make the drive back to Connecticut.

My brother's friends had already claimed the couches in my brother's apartment so Chuck, my father and I claimed the guest room, which had a double bed and futon in it.

I fell asleep quickly but awoke a few hours later to the sound of a grumbling bear. Actually, two grumbling bears. I sat up and squinted in the darkness. What the hell. It hit me: I wasn't hearing bears. Chuck and my father were simultaneously sawing wood. Actually, no. They were snoring in a hellish duet. No sooner would Chuck finish his GGGGGGgggrrrrrrrrrr, snort, snort than my father would pick up the tail end with his own GGGGGGgggrrrrrrrrrr, snort, snort.

I literally was encased in snores. Bookended by nasal grumbles and gravelly honks. Seesawing back and forth, back and forth, on a tide of snores!

I did the only thing I could. I grabbed a pillow and blanket and slept in the bathtub.

Sadly it didn't offer much respite. After a heavy night of drinking, the toilet got a lot of action. Side note: Only one person noticed me in the tub and thankfully my father never had to use the bathroom.

If you're a snorer, you probably have no idea how common this scenario is (minus the, uh, bears and bathtub). You're probably oblivious to the pain and suffering you cause your poor, light-sleeper of a partner. Yes, you might get jabbed in the gut a few times a night or asked to roll over, but at least you're getting more sleep than the person who has to lie there listening to the incessant GGGGGGgggrrrrrrrrrr, snort, snort...GGGGGGgggrrrrrrrrrr, snort, snort...

It's brutal.

Now that we've put away the air conditioners in our house it's only gotten worse—even with white noise machines and floor fans. And you know I always have to have my fan.

I've been left no choice but to adopt the flight response in my own home. As soon as Chuck starts his horrible GGGGGGgggrrrrrrrrrr, snort, snorting around 3 a.m., I take off for the couch. Except last night—there was nowhere to go. My mother and step-father were on our sleeper sofa.

I ran through the list of possibilities, rating them from least to most attractive. Dog bed? Not big enough. Tub? Too cold. Cam's floor? Too hard. Junior's bed? He flops like a fish. Everrett's bed? Bingo.

I stumbled into the kids' room, where they share bunk beds, and crawled into the bottom bunk with Everett. I laid down next to him, burrowing into the blankets and stuffed animals.

He rolled over and smiled at me. His face was bathed in blue from the night light.

"Mom," he sighed contentedly. "Did you really come to see me?" Even half-asleep, he looked delighted. Dreamy.

I was struck by the moment. First by the absolute absurdity—that he would believe I would actually get up in the middle of the night just to say hello. Just to see him. I mean my gawd, there are days when bedtime can't come soon enough I've seen the kids so much. Second by the blissful innocence of his love—that he would be delighted to see me. Me, the woman he sees every day. The woman of no novelty.

"Yes," I whispered. "I came to see you."

He rolled into me and kissed my cheek. "I love you."

I lay there, amazed. What a little gift. Unexpected adoration. Professions of love. This is why we do it, I thought. This kind of love—in all it's fleeting and precious and intoxicating waves—fixes everything.

He didn't snore once.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just what size breasts should my frog-person have anyway?

As I was drawing the Halloween costume for my frog-person for my blog banner, I kept having the same thought:

This is the most time I've spent on myself in a long time...and it's not even really me. It's a drawing of a frog. 

This is the most time I've spent on myself in a long time...and it's not even really me. It's a drawing of a frog. 

This is the most time I've spent on myself in a long time...and it's not even really me. It's a drawing of a frog. 

And so on.  

Chuck? I think it's time for an All Girls weekend for Mrs. Mullet. And I'm taking my ^*$#ing cape.

P.S. Chuck's frog-man finally lost some weight and gained some muscle. Swoon away, ladies, swoon away.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things you [probably] won't see on the NutriBullet box

So Chuck's birthday.

Blah, blah, blaaaaah. That's so two weeks ago.

Let's talk about how I just gave Everett and Cam a bath together, instead of Everett and Junior, which I've been doing for four years. It was like a changing of the guards. I kept thinking, Where's Junior? (He was playing Minecraft.) Everett didn't seem to grasp the emotional magnitude of the moment (i.e., he didn't really care that I'd swapped one brother for another, all he knew was that he was suddenly the Big Cheese in the "deep end"), but I was lamely choked up about it.

Everything is changing. Everything.

Chuck poked his head in at one point, and I was about to share the sappy moment with him when he said, "Why is my NutriBullet cup in the bathroom?"

Actually, he kind of spat it.

There was no denying it, there it was:



"I, uh, use it to rinse the kids' heads in the bath. It's the perfect size."

"Can you not?" he asked.

"Of course," I lied. It's not like it's just taking up space in the kitchen cabinet. "Of course!"

My mind immediately went to the conversation I'd had with Chuck's best friend—the one who wanted me to take ski lessons, even after all I've been through—about his NutriBullet.

"Mrs. Mullet," he'd said, "the NutriBullet is so effective I don't even need toilet paper anymore. Not.One.Single.Sheet. My poops are that perfect because of it."

I looked at the NutriBullet. I looked at the toilet paper. 

Of course. 

It wasn't my fault I'd brought the NutriBullet into the bathroom. It was Perfect Poop's fault. He'd made the association, not me. If it wasn't for him I'd think of vegetables when I saw the NutriBullet, not poop pellets and bathrooms.

"Chuck," I said. "About your NutriBullet..."

"Yes?"

A sea of chatty children separated us, followed by a sea of cats and dogs, laundry and homework, dinner and dishes. Explaining the Perfect Poop story to him would take hours.

"Can you just read my blog sometime?"

"I already do."

I love you, Chuck. 

(And until you break out the broccoli I'll probably keep using the NutriBullet in the bathroom.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

I guess I'll be beaming Chuck up again

Chuck's birthday is this weekend. Truth be told, I've helped him celebrate in some pretty epic ways. There was the surprise party with ghoulish decor. Then there was the thoughtful brick. One year I beamed him back up. Then there was the boob cake, which I guess I never blogged about it—but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Every year I try to remember how we celebrated his previous birthday, so I can do something cooler. I'm awesome like that. But because my memory often fails me, I have to outsource the task to others, say, to Chuck, and sometimes he proves to be an unreliable narrator. Take last night, for example.

Me: Your birthday's coming up. What do you want to do?

Chuck: You're so amazing. It doesn't matter.

Me: But baby, I'll do anything to make your birthday spectacular! Just name it!

Chuck: You do so much already, please, don't make a fuss. In fact, you are present enough. Hold me.

Me: Hold on. What did we do last year? I can't remember...

Chuck: [Looking nervous] I actually don't remember either. What's for dinner?

Me: No, hold on, I was pregnant and...

And that's when it all came flooding back to me.

See, Chuck and I both work in the same city in Connecticut, about an hour away from home. He had left work and was on his way home. I had just left work and was heading home myself when my mother—who was babysitting—called and said, "Chuck's birthday is this weekend. Why don't you two get a hotel room?"

Even though I was four months pregnant, exhausted and racked with constant bouts of nausea and crying, I thought this sounded like a fabulous idea. I eagerly called Chuck.

Me: Let's get a room for your birthday!

Chuck: [Long pause] We could do that...

Me: Don't sound so excited.

Chuck: It's just that...

Me: It's just that what?

Chuck: Wouldn't it be nicer if we waited until you were feeling better? You're usually out cold by nine...

He kept talking, but in my heightened hormonal state all I heard was I DON'T LOVE YOU.

Me: I have to go now.

I spent the next few hours driving around, crying and shopping. I sat outside Pier One, sniveling, for a solid 30 minutes before venturing inside. I stopped crying long enough to buy two sequined pumpkins and an oil reed diffuser, then sat back in the driver's seat and bawled all over again.

Soon it was 9:30 p.m. 

Chuck called, I didn't pick up. My mother called, I picked up. She suggested, delicately, that I get a room by myself and get a good night's sleep. I tried to check myself into the nearest hotel only to be told they were booked. I drove to a package store and sat in the parking lot. I cried some more—mostly over how I couldn't drink any more.

I j--j--j--ust ne--ee---ee-ed v--v--v--odka...

Then, just like it was when I was pregnant with Junior and having a Bruce Banner moment—when he comes to, wearing his shredded clothing?!—it was over. I called Chuck and calmly explained that I was going to sleep at my girlfriend's, instead of make the hour drive home. He said he thought that was a good idea, and that he loved me very much. I sped away into the night and slept for a solid 10 hours.

But back to last night, and my conversation with Chuck about what he wants to do for his birthday this year.

Me: So what do you want to do????

Chuck: Whisper whisper whisper whisper whisper whisper.

Me: Really? That again?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Loving and hating your partner (it's all their fault!)



And just like that, my vertigo disappeared. I'm doing great.*

However, Junior, my oldest, has not been doing so great. After informing me that he wasn't going to his school's meet and greet because they "aren't going to rob me of my last few days of freedom" —drama, anyone?—he promptly came down with a 103 degree fever and the puke bug and missed the first week of school.

Sneaky bastard.

This wouldn't have been such a big deal except for the fact that it's the first week that Cam has started sleeping through the night. 

The first week. In six months.

For many, many, many months—SIX—I've been waking up one to two times a night to feed Cam (Chuck? Who's that? Was he supposed to help or something?)

Six agonizing months. Waking and sleeping. Sleeping and waking, all the while listening to Chuck's fake snores as the monitor crackled with cries. And if I kicked Chuck to wake him up? He'd mumble "Huh? Wha?" and act dazed and helpless, like a little orphan adrift at sea.

I came to hate the "Huh? Wha?" face so much that I stopped kicking him. 

Sneaky bastard.

Even worse—yes, there's more!—I'm not the kind of person who can wake up, be awake for half an hour and then instantaneously fall back asleep the minute my head hits the pillow. Nope, that's Chuck's magic trick. Sometimes I lay awake for hours after feeding Cam, thinking and thinking and thinking:

How could I have had THREE children with someone who fake snores through the crying? How can Chuck lie there, pretending to sleep through all these feedings? How could I have spent eight years co-parenting with someone who hasn't woken up to feed one baby? What kind of sadomasochist am I to have married and spawned multiple times with this man?  

Etc., etc., etc.

SIX fucking months x three kids = a not-so-pleased Mrs. Mullet

But it's ok! It's all over now. I survived two nights of Junior waking up every two hours to barf and whimper because Chuck, that darling man, redeemed himself by getting up with Junior while I lay in wait for Cam—except that Cam didn't wake up.

Mwahahaha. Don't you love when you pick the right child to oversee? I was giddy. And Chuck was exhausted. It was a beautiful thing.

The best part is that Junior is better and Cam has slept through the night for four nights in a row so perhaps—per chance?—it isn't a fluke.

Yes, we're staying married and keeping the kids!

This calls for champagne.

*Because I can drink again.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Parenthood sucked the life out of the peaceful unknown; vertigo has brought it back

I don't want to write about what I thought I wanted to write about—how working from home while having vertigo and trying to tend to three children, even with the help of a sitter, is insanity—because bleh, that's what it is, insanity.

Cruel, cruel insanity.

No, I want to write about my BPPV physical therapy session and a piece of advice given to me by the therapist which was, "Don't walk around a lot with your eyes closed."

At the time I'd scoffed. Who the hell walks around a lot with her eyes closed, even without vertigo? When I recounted it to Chuck we both scoffed.

"Lame," he'd said.

But then the wise ass part of me wondered, Why not? So I tried it.

First, inside my house. I tripped over Legos and the dog, of course, but there's something soothing about slowing your gait and feeling your way around. Even something stupid like reaching for butter in the refrigerator made me feel calmer. My hand felt textures. My face sensed the cold. I could lose myself in a quick daydream about falling asleep on that smushy loaf of bread.

Things slowed down.

I slowed down.

And outside, the grass underfoot was wonderfully soft. I didn't know if I was walking in a straight line. I didn't care. Added bonus: I could hear my children shrieking across the lawn but I couldn't see them, which made it easier to pretend they belonged to someone else.

I'm not sure why I ended up with vertigo—and truthfully, it's been a huge pain in the ass—but it did confirm something I realized at the beginning of summer, when the kids spent the weekend at my mother's and Chuck and I were in charge of only Cam; it was quieter, it was less frantic, and I actually heard my own inner thoughts.
We slowed down.

That weekend I'd realized that I don't want to wear the over-crazed, neurotic suit of motherhood anymore. I don't want to give in to the manic speed of it, and as much as my children try to drag me there, I'm going to push back. I'm going fight for the health of my brain cells. I'm going to fight for myself.

And for now I'm going to keep walking around with my eyes closed. Just for a few seconds here and there. Just for that quick little burst of a time out. Just because it's nice, for a change, to not see what's in front of me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Pssst, who's the hot mom with the huge tongue and bulging eyes? Why, it's me, Mrs. Mullet

I'm sorry it's been a while since my last post. I know my readers (hi Mom!) have been wondering where I've been.

Are you ready?

I've been at home.

No, wait, it gets better! I've been at home, walking around my house with the careful trepidation of someone who belongs in a nursing home. Why? Because....

Because...

I have had terrible vertigo. At my lowest points I've had to shuffle down the hall holding onto the walls, lest I go cross-eyed and collapse.

Gasp

It feels like the room is spinning all the time. Look too quickly to the left? Spin, spin, spin. Stand up too fast? Spin, spin, spin. My eyes feel kind of twitchy in my head, too. For those of you who like to consume copious amounts of alcohol, like moi, it's the equivalent of the drunken spins, minus the enjoyable pre-gaming. 

At first I thought I was just tired and/or dehydrated. I have many children, one who doesn't yet sleep through the night, and I like my coffee and vodka. But after two weeks of shuffling and moaning my husband Chuck had finally had enough. 

I went to the same doctor who told me I had an enlarged tongue (I know I'm painting a super sexy picture of myself right now, what with my wall clinging, gigantic tongue growing self). 

He asked me a lot of questions (e.g., "Have your children hit you in the head with blocks lately?"), then made me lie back quickly so he could look into my eyes. 

"I know what you have!" he said. "It's benign paroxysmal positional vertigo."

Gasp


Apparently benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is (a) annoying but not life-threatening and (b) annoying but not life-threatening. It's known on the street as BPPV, and I have to go to Mulletville Hospital for physical therapy (happily, the treatment has an 85% success rate). 

Because Chuck is such a peach, he went onto Youtube and found some exercises I can do right at home, right away. Specifically one by Dr. Jo (quick synopsis, she has the annoying cheeriness of an overeager gym teacher, but she grows on you).



I tried the exercises last night, after the kids went to bed. Chuck played me the video and when I went horizontal on the couch he (a) knowing he wasn't going to get any action and (b) knowing I'd want him to count from 1-30 for me 10 times announced he was going to the neighbors' for a beer. 

I felt somewhat worse.

This morning I tried the exercise after the kids had eaten breakfast. Junior happily operated the timer on my phone so I didn't have to count and Everett actually dragged a kitchen chair into the den so he could watch. Cam bounced and babbled in his exersaucer next to me.

I felt a lot better. I was surrounded by my little gaggle of supporters. All the times they'd puked me on or slept on me or cried on me—all that time and energy came back tenfold with their concern: "Is it working, Mom?" and "Do you feel any better?"

It's weird, this parenting gig. I couldn't see straight but man, for those few seconds everything was crystal clear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What to do when your children want to eat in the bathroom

Overheard in the bathroom:

Junior: Look, cheese!

Everett: Cheese!

Junior: This is mine. Get your own.

Everett: No fair, I want some.

Junior: I found it. It's my cheese. Go ask Mom for more.

Everett: I found it!

Junior: No you didn't. You always do this. You always try to take things from me. I found it.

Everett: Give me the cheese!

Junior: I told you, I found it. It's mine! Moooooom!

Everett: Moooooom!

Junior: Moooooom, Everett's trying to take my cheese!

Everett: Moooooom, I want cheese too!

Me, bursting into the bathroom: What the heck is going on in here?

Junior: I found this cheese. It's mine!

Me: What cheese? And we don't eat in the bathroom.

Junior: This cheese.




Me: Uh....

Junior: I found it, it's mine.

Everett: No, I did!

Me: Uh, guys, GUYS! That's not cheese.

Junior: What is it?

Everett: Yes it is! I want cheese!

Me: It's...it's....um....something you can't eat.

Junior: Why not?

Me: It just is.

Junior: What is it? Mom why can't we have it?

Everett: I want cheese! No fair!

Me: Guys, GUYS! Take a deep breath. If you want cheese I will get you some...from the refrigerator. Now please, hand over the...cheese.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Soon it will overtake my mouth and engulf my head and I'll be able to lick, like, 300 lollipops at once

I went and hired myself a babysitter. Right now, she's downstairs listening to Junior and Everett wax on (and on and on and on) about Lego Ninjago. I can hear her Oh, wow-ing and neat-ing them as I type. She's also squealing excitedly at baby Cam's coughs, coos and hiccups.

I appreciate her enthusiasm. She's only 23, you know; her brain cells are ripe for the challenge. Unlike mine, which have parachuted out of my head in search of more relaxing places, like the toilet bowl.

I also appreciate her for allowing me to do exciting, me-time activities, like going to the post office and a doctor's appointment without three children in tow. I just came from the ear, nose, and throat doctor, in fact. He shoved a mini mirror down my throat and told me, with no obvious sign of concern, that my larynx is eroding and that my tongue is enlarged due to acid reflux.

When he gave me the diagnosis and subsequently prescribed me a protein pump inhibitor, I couldn't stop envisioning my poor little larynx and tongue. I thought about what they go through on a daily basis as my children wax on (and on and on and on) about Lego Ninjago and I say "Oh, really?!" five thousand times a day—

"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"

 —and how when baby Cam coughs, coos and hiccups and I say "Sweetie!" five thousand times a day—

"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"

I don't have a degree in medicine, but isn't it obvious? My swollen tongue isn't caused by GERD. My children are the reason my tongue has swelled up to the size of a large bakery roll—and if I'm not careful, by the time they're in their teens it will be the size of a minivan.

And do you know who'll be thrilled? Who'll be looking at me like, Oh, baby where have you been all my life? Yes, Chuck.

Men!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm starring in the new Stephen King book!

After Chuck and I had been dating for a few years but before we had kids, family excursions consisted of me, Chuck, my younger brother and my father. This worked out well for my father. Chuck is a fellow history buff so when we'd do our guided tours of dusty, historic homes/plantations/mills/settlements, Chuck and my father would listen intently to the tour guide and try to drink in as much knowledge as they could.

My brother and I, on the other hand, would usually mock the tour guide—discreetly, of course—make lewd comments about our fellow tourees—again, discreetly—and/or escape the guided tour via an open window so we could make a run for it.

Like I said, my father was in heaven when Chuck came along. Until he'd had a comrade, he'd literally pass out from the exertion of trying to listen intently to the tour guide while simultaneously expressing his disgust at our juvenile behavior. Our trips usually ended with him throwing his hands up in the air and swearing at us under his breath.

Things changed as my brother got older. Chuck seemed cooler to him, I guess, so our family excursions began to feel more like "sausage and cheese" trips, with me starring as the cheese who stands alone (I'd certainly rethink that trip to France).

Then Junior came along—and there was more testosterone.

Then Everett came along—Ibid.

Then I found out I was having another boy. And I kid you not, when I turned 40 this winter and they all stood there singing me happy birthday—Chuck, my brother, my father, Junior and Everett—and I rubbed my 8 month pregnant belly—which contained another sausage—I felt like I was in some crazy Stephen King book in which every woman on the planet, save myself, had been eaten and I was the lone survivor of Womankind.

I wish this blog wasn't anonymous because I took a picture of all of them standing there and it's a lot of dudes.

Late at night, when the house is quiet, I think about why it is that I'm surrounded by men. Is my astrological star aligned not just with Orion but with his 25 brothers? Was I a tragic wannabe football player in a former life and so the universe is making amends by giving me my own team, so to speak? Or am I part of a psychological study conducted by Thomas the Train, in which researchers try to gauge the exact moment a mother's brain will explode after a decade of exposure to Percy, Edward and Gordon?

Of course, there is no real answer. I love all the men in my life and that's the only thing that matters. And I'd worry that our future family trips (with me, Chuck and our sons) are going to feel like "sausage and cheese" trips part deux, but hell, why start worrying now? Cam is only four months. By the time our boys are tweens and interested in spending weeks playing Laser Tag or camping, I'll be ready—to fly myself to a swim-up bar with some girlfriends.

Until then, I just need to remember to keep my hand out of my pants. Must...not...assimilate...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just a day. Alternate title: We need a new diaper bag

"Two p.m. deadline?" I ask my boss. "No problem."

It's 7:45 a.m. Two p.m. feels like next week.

I pack lunches for Junior and Everett. I drop Junior off at day camp, then schlep Everett and Cam to Everett's preschool for a 9:30 drop-off. (Side note: I still dislike the pre-school teacher who, after eight months of greeting my child with a somber "Heeeeeey buuuuuddy' seems to be a better fit for a convalescent home.)

I say good-bye to Everett then schlep Cam to a 10:15 a.m. doctor's appointment because he's been waking up the last two nights screaming and has now developed pink eye. Am I cutting it close to my deadline? Yes, but I can do this. I can.

We finish up at the doctor's. It's an ear infection. I get back out to the car and rifle through my bag for the keys. I don't see them. Nooooooo. I put Cam's car carrier down and empty the contents of the diaper bag onto the trunk. Empty wrappers. Diapers (clean, thanks). Matchbox cars. Old crayons. Chapstick. A maxi pad. Squished granola bars. DSW coupons.

No keys.

I bring Cam back inside and ask if I left my keys in the office. Nope. Cam is getting fussy. He's not going to make it much longer without eating. I ask if I can feed him in one of the rooms.


While I feel Cam, I tear apart the car carrier, hoping the key slipped behind a cushion. Nope.

I call my brother. Can he grab a spare house key from my neighbor and meet me at the doctors with the spare car key? Yes. But no one answers at the neighbor's. I call Chuck. He offers to drive the hour home and bring me the spare key. I tell him that's crazy. I call AAA and schedule assistance. They tell me it'll be an hour.

I finish feeding Cam. It's 11:45. I empty the diaper bag one last time. No key.

I take Cam outside to wait for AAA by the car. I search my pockets. I scan the passenger seat for something glinting in the sun. Nothing. I decide to empty the bag one real, real last time. I feel something square shaped way down in the lining, way over on the side. Holy shit. It's a set of keys I thought I lost two years ago. I shove my hand deeper, pushing my way past crumbs and broken crayons and there, I find the car key.

Thank you, I say aloud, even though it's now 12:15. 

I call AAA and cancel the call.

"It will still count as one of your service calls," the woman tells me.

Bite me, I think.

I call Chuck and tell him the good news.

"I always hated that diaper bag," he says.

"We got it when Junior was born," I remind him. "Seven years is a long time to hate something."

"It's trimmed in pink. Can we get one that's cooler? More...manly?" he asks.

"With, like, boobs on it or something?"

"Sure," he says.

I drive home. I haven't eaten anything all day, so I shove an old granola bar from the diaper bag into my mouth. Cam misses his nap. I miss my deadline. I'm almost late to pick up Junior. But I'm giddy about a diaper bag with breasts on it, if only for its functionality: Nipples would make damn good key ring holders.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Yoga is for sissies

I forgot about this thing. Everett was four when we had Cam this February; the most taxing thing about getting him around was stopping mid-grocery shop to get him to the bathroom.

I've been carrying this thing around for three months now. My back hurts. My neck hurts. These damn carriers are heavy and there's no easy way to carry them when you're walking. You can't exactly throw it over your shoulder like a handbag. If you lean to one side, you pull all your glueteus sideus muscles. If you lean forward you chance kicking the carrier with your knees as you walk.

They're such a part of your baby's life though, you can't get around it.

I'm wondering, why the fuck don't more hospitals incorporate these into their Intro to Birthing workshops? No, really. Instead of wasting your time breathing and writing birthing plans, why aren't women (and men) wrapping up watermelons, placing them into the carriers and then doing sprints around the hospital parking lot? Mastering that is a tangible skill.

Yes, that would be the first class: Intro to Your Aching Back. Class II, Intermediate Pains: Your Back and Your Thighs, would focus on getting an even larger watermelon and bouncing the damn thing in the carrier on your knee for 20 minutes (yes, you can use doorwells for support).

That's all. I just wanted to vomit my ire at the dreaded &*^#%^#&*%@ carrier. Happy Friday!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Having three children is kind of kicking my ass

Which is why I haven't posted since, um, winter.

It's not the kids themselves who are giving me a good ole ass whoopin' (they've actually been dolls), it's all the stuff that goes along with them: the lack of sleep, packing lunches, the laundry, the mud pies, the LEGOs, the baths, reminding them not to wipe boogers on each other...you get the drift.

Never mind the dog that needs walking, the cat that needs petting (all 25 pounds of her) and the husband that's looking at me like Hey, remember when we used to use our bed for things other than storing clean laundry?.

On top of it all, Chuck was away for work in April when I came down with a sinus infection, upper respiratory infection and double ear infection. At night, when I fed Cam, I'd shove tissues into my nostrils to stop my runny nose and I'd let the tissue drape down over my mouth so I didn't cough on him. Genius, ey? I was doing pretty well with that until I got pink eye and had to watch him eat with the one eye that wasn't glued shut.

I believe my exact words to my mother the next morning were PLEASE COME HELP ME.

But that's behind us now. Now, three months after Cam's birth, I finally feel like I'm getting my sea legs. I'm back to work (from home), I interviewed some sitters (love you, Care.com), the sun is shining—well, it was this weekend—and instead of making myself miserable all summer by wearing maternity clothes, I treated myself to some forgiving tops that I can hide under until I lose that last 10 pounds (thank you, billowy Bohemian look, for being in style right now).

Ok, it's 15. I forgot how much I hate the lumpy post-baby body.

The only thing that's kind of terrifying me right now is the end of school. Yup, just me, the kids, the pets and the garden hose.

And vodka. Lots of vodka.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Deep thoughts from the trenches of sleep deprivation

Last year at this time, I was taking our then 3-year-old, Everett, to the hospital to visit my 96-year-old grandmother on a daily basis. She had cancer and was admitted when she could no longer stay on her own. I would pack Everett snacks and coloring books and we'd spend a few hours sitting in the chairs in her room, whispering and visiting with other family who stopped in.

My grandmother was in and out of consciousness but she'd wake every once and awhile and see us and smile. It was the most congenial I've ever seen her. As I've written before, she wasn't the nicest grandmother. In all fairness she lived a rough life, but she never sugar coated anything. You never knew what was going to come out of her mouth, but you could bet it was something...prickly (fond holiday memories? Nope, none here!)

When things took a turn for the worse, I brought both kids to say good-bye. We didn't make a big production of it, just a gentle hand squeeze and soft good-bye. As we stood there, she opened her eyes and said, "Would it really be so terrible to have another?" It might seem obvious since I was standing there with the boys that she meant another child, but at the time I didn't understand what she was referring to.

"Another what?" I asked.

"Another one," she said, looking at Everett and Junior. 

I shrugged. Having another baby was the furthest thing from my mind.

She died two days later.

Now, a year later, as I'm dragging my tired ass out of bed at 3 a.m. to tend to Cam, I hear her question again and again. And I hear my answer when I snuggle up to his delicious babyness, feel the warmth from his head under my chin. No. It's not terrible at all, in fact it's quite wonderful. 

It is the best thing she left me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So, holy shit, I had a baby

And jumping jack crackers, there aren't enough hours in the day. Breakfast with three kids is a shitstorm of breastfeeding, cereal, packing school lunches and trying to remember what day it is. Dinner is even worse. Before Chuck gets home? When it's just me and the three kids and the dog and the cat? Forget it. We've had more "breakfast" dinners than I care to admit. But at least people are eating.

I keep calling the baby, whom we named Cameron, Evron (Cameron + Everett, our middle son's name). There's enough laundry in the basket to topple a small building. I'm afraid that if I sit down in the shower I'll never get up.

There just aren't words.

But, remarkably, I've never been happier. In the middle of the night, I can't get enough of Cameron.  Even though it's 2:35 a.m. and I've been up for an hour and I know he'll be awake again at 4:15, I know it won't be like this forever. (Right, right??) He's our last baby. I know that with 100% certainty—this really is it. So there's a bittersweet sweetness to it all.

Know what else is sweet? Having a drink at my own fricken bar. Hell ya.

I wish I could write more. I miss everything this blog used to be but the sun is out and the snow is melting and it's time to get back out into the world.

In defense of adoration—even in the deli line

The toddler was all over his mother. Cam and I were in line at the deli at Mulletville Lite's town grocery store, watching the lov...