Friday, January 27, 2017

Can love trump vomit?

Minutes after I wrote my last post in early January, Chuck ran upstairs and said he felt sick. He covered his mouth with his hand—for dramatic effect of course—and sprinted to the bathroom.

One man down. (Loudly and with much fanfare, I might add).

Minutes after that, toddler Cam raced into the room and started doing a weird hiccup + half burp thing. I knew from experience that it meant one thing: toddler spew.

Second man down.

Two days later, Junior came home from school and said he wasn't feeling right. He'd already had the bug (around the time of my birthday), so I wasn't too concerned. Then he dashed to the bathroom and yep, you guessed it, yacked.

Third man down. 

One day later, Everett got off the bus looking positively green. He'd already had the bug (on my birthday), so I didn't pay much attention to it. Then he grabbed the puke pan from Junior and proceeded to vomit.

Fourth man down.

That left me, the cheese, standing alone. I ran to the bathroom (what else was there to do?) and started jogging in place, humming the theme song to Rocky. I punched the air. I bleached the toilet. I did jumping jacks. I Lysoled the cat.

"You can do this! This bug won't take you down!" I shouted.

I called Chuck and boldly announced that "I am the one person who has not gotten this bug! I am woman!"

I had earned my bragging rights. I've had three children vomit in my bed on several different occasions. They've breathed on me. Whimpered onto my shoulder. I've laundered their soiled clothing. Fed them Jello through straws. And so on. And so on.

And then on inauguration day, I felt decidedly queasy. I texted Chuck an SOS while he was at work. Junior, Everett and Cam looked on (yes, everyone was home from school) as I finally got intimate with the puke pan I had so meticulously been cleaning for the last six days.

On television, the inauguration made for an interesting backdrop to my yack attack.

"Mom!" Junior and Everett cried. "Are you okay?"

I looked up over the brim of the pan and watched Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (see also Anita Hill) swear Mike Pence into office as Bill Clinton (see also Monica Lewinsky and/or impeachment) stood rows away smiling like a Cheshire cat. It was almost time for Donald Trump (see also lewd comments) to descend into the stands. 

No, I definitely wasn't okay.

My three sons gathered around me. 

"Get her ice!" Junior shouted to Everett. 

"Yes! And she needs a popsicle!" Cam raced around their gangly legs, thrilled to be part of the action. When he saw his brothers pull the blanket over my feet, he threw me his stuffed bear.

"We'll get you water!" Junior and Everett shouted as they went to the kitchen. "We'll take care of you now."

And they did. With kindness, thoughtfulness and tenderness.

I may have been deathly sick but what I realized is that these little men have more class and dignity than some of our fearless leaders. It makes me proud. It makes me want to scream again that I'm doing my part. It makes me believe in all the reasons I ever had for wanting to become a mother. 

Most of all it makes me sad and embarrassed. We have every damn right to demand better from them...and from ourselves. But hey, silver lining: No one's been sick in a week. Small victories, right? 

I'll take them.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

You can lie down with me if you want (I told you, I'm a pervert!)

A good friend of mine loaned me this book before Christmas:

Normally I shy away from "self-help" books because they tend to be heavy handed and bossy, and I hate when other people tell me what to do ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born and a Capricorn").

But I picked up the book and started reading, and some of the content really struck a chord, specifically her chapters on how productivity can be a compulsion for some people ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn and a Type A").

Until I read this book, I generously patted myself on the back for my productivity. Because of inconsistent childcare as of late—oh, the things I'd love to tell you—I've basically been managing a full-time freelance graphic design job during my toddler's nap time and after bed time. I also work a part-time, on-site job and I handle all the housework, grocery shopping, meal prep, clothes shopping, homework and transportation tasks for three children. Oh, and we have a cat and a dog.

My husband Chuck helps when and if he can but he works more than an hour away and easily logs 50-85 hours a week, which means that during the week I am essentially a single parent. And I almost forgot—we also help run a family restaurant.

(Good Lord! Does anyone else need an energy drink?)

Like I said, I've been cranking along, applauding myself for my ability to be busy—and be successful at being busy—when along came this book. It really blew some fresh air under my skirt.

There's one passage that, if I can be crass for a moment, blew not just fresh air under my skirt but a rip-roaring, cow-tossing tornado. And not just under my skirt but into my unmentionables ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A and a pervert"). It reads:

"Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful...If you're tired, you're tired, no matter what. If the life you've crafted for yourself is too heavy, it's too heavy, no natter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less."

Here's why that hit me: I realized that because I am no longer working full-time in an office, I have been overcompensating with extra work and duties—because I feel guilty. I feel guilty for my flexible schedule. For grocery shopping during the day with my toddler. For not slugging to an office every day at 8: 30 a.m. Even though I'm making more money freelancing than I did I Mulletville Corp, I try to skimp on childcare when I work from home to save money.

Not only do I feel guilty, but that guilt feeds my need for productivity. No one's going to tell me I don't work a full-time job! I do x,y and z and I work.

But I'm tired and it's not fair. I mean, what asshole would try to cram a full-time workload into a two hour nap time? What asshole is looking for a merit badge from her friends, family and husband when all those people are looking at her sadly and saying, "Slow down. Be easy on yourself"?

Me, that's who. ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who is not very nice to herself.")

After I finished the book and put it back onto the bookshelf, I found this book, which my mother gave me six years ago:

When I wrote a blog post about it, I had scoffed at the idea of needing someone's permission to nap. I get now what I didn't get years ago: I don't need someone's permission. I need my own. Resting is not for the weak. It is for those who enjoy closing their eyes and replenishing their spirit.

It is especially for those who have been awake all night with puking children.

So here, for 2017: "Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who used to be not very nice to herself."

Now where is that vomit covered fuzzy blanket of mine?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday dear mooo'ooom, now where's the suppository? And many mooooore....

"Happy birthday, Mom!"

The tired, somewhat haggard mother looks lovingly at her children, who are aglow in the soft, warm, yellow light of her birthday candles. It's been a long month, but it's her birthday. It's finally her turn to celebrate. She's got big plans. A new bottle of wine. Fuzzy slippers. The promise of a movie that she likes instead of that damn curious monkey or that creepy blue engine again. She opens her mouth, makes a wish and starts to blow out her candles. She stops. Freezes is more like it. Something catches her eye. What is it? The shiny glow of a new birthday car parked in the driveway? A roomful of presents? An envelope containing a one-way ticket to Paris—her Golden Ticket out of town!?

No, it is a child clutching his stomach, whimpering, "I'm going to be sick."

Suddenly there is vomit everywhere. Not on her cake—whew!—but on the floor, the chair and the sibling next to him. Even the dog is covered in it.

She stands up, sighs and says to her husband, "Every year. On my birthday. There is puke."

She is right.* 

January 2009: My first birthday as a new mother "blew serious chunks."

January 2010: Junior's stomach bug came on "like a mini storm front"—hah!

January 2011: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2012: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2013: There was so much vomit, I mused about my family's puke personalities.

January 2014: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2015: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

* Kind of right. But wtf.


  There's an election coming up. Maybe you've heard.  I really haven't broached politics on this blog, except for the time the k...