Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Ewwww, ewwww, eeewww." Alternate title: There are owls in Massachusetts, right?

Junior: "Mommy, I didn't get any sleep last night."

Chuck: "I knew this would happen if he spent the night at your mother's. He was probably overtired. She probably put him to bed at 11."

Me: "If he hadn't spent the night, we wouldn't have been able to sleep in this morning when kid two took his morning nap..."

Chuck: "What happened, pal? Why couldn't you sleep?"

Junior: "There were so many owls! They kept me up all night. Stupid owls!"

Chuck: "We don't say stupid, remember?"

Me: "Owls? Owls, honey? Are you sure?"

Chuck: "Yah, owls?"

Junior: "They kept going 'Ooooooh. Oooooooh. Oooooooh.' All night, Mommy!"

Chuck: "Hold on. Was it a 'Whoooooo' or an 'Ooooooooooh'?"

Junior: "Like this: 'Ooooooooooooh. Oooooooooooh'. All night. It kept me up!"

Me: "Oh, God. If he's talking about what I think he's talking about I'm going to puke."

Chuck: "Are you sure they went 'Oooooooooooooh'?"

Junior: "Yes!"

Me: "But they're in their seventies! Can you even...?"

Chuck: "Thank you Viagra."

Me: "I'm going to throw up now."

Chuck: "Me too. How stupid can you—"

Junior: "Don't say stupid, Daddy!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The black eye went so well with my prom dress

Found in the closet in the den: my high school health record.

If you can't read that it says "Student was hit in face with a ball during a Physical Education class."

A dodgeball to be exact.

Unlike my friend Karen, who looked gorgeous even after she took a hockey puck to the mouth during gym class, I was not so lucky. My eye puffed up and turned bright red. It was speckled with broken blood vessels. It turned black.

Then purple. Then yellow.

At the time, I blamed my testicular wonder of a gym teacher for letting the boys hurl their balls at the girls with little supervision (isn't that always the way?). If was, of course, my own fault. I was hopelessly uncoordinated.

I may have also been high on Pamprin.

Despite my shiner, the prom wasn't a total bust. I drank a lot of Miller Lite and cheap, warm vodka in the middle of the woods and got tree branches stuck in the lace of my dress. I had a huge crush on my date, who was an upperclassman. He was nice enough to make out with me before telling me he was taking someone else to his prom.

It wasn't the best of times; it wasn't the worst of times.

Would I do it all over again as an adult—even without the black eye and the ability to get trashed first in the comfort of my living room? Absolutely not.

I was surprised to read that some people would.

Don't we already have an occasion for getting dressed up, drinking too much and dancing? Isn't it known as a wedding reception?

What do you think? Was your prom the best night of your life or do you daydream about getting a do-over? If you do, do you want to borrow my dress?

Monday, May 23, 2011

All the weird stuff happens when you're sitting on the couch

We’ve lived in Mulletville Lite for just about one month. We still haven’t fully unpacked, but the house looks like it belongs to us and not to my father (or to my mother and father for that matter, when they lived here together in the early 1980s).

Look at this before and after!

(Oooooh, aaahhhhh).

There have been some funny moments, like when Junior announced, “I like living here. It’s like we live with Grandpa, but he’s never home.” There have been some strange moments, like when I ran into my third grade teacher in the CVS pharmacy. And of course there have been some sad moments—moments that zap me back to my parents’ divorce—but shit, everyone has a closet full of childhood schmegma, right?

Last night though, wow, something really, really strange happened. My mother was spending the night (don’t even get me started on what it must be like for her to sleep on the couch in a house that used to be hers). She was in the kitchen making dinner (see “don’t even get me started” comment). Junior and I were in the living room playing dinosaur invasion.

My mother called that dinner was ready and I swear, my brain forgot what decade it was. Like something out of Freaky Friday, I jumped into Junior’s head. I saw the world for one split second through Junior’s eyes. I felt what it was like to be young. To rely on my parents for everything, to trust them, to have faith that they would take care of me.

The worry was gone. The stress. The inhibition. I just was.

It was really fucking trippy, and it was really fucking beautiful.

Trying to describe a moment like that is kind of impossible. When I told Chuck about it, I sounded like someone coming down from a mushroom trip.

“The colors, dude! The cull-oooors.”

He said he got it but we both knew he was doing the obligatory nod/smile. That he experience what I did isn’t really the issue though. What I took away from that moment is this: We’ve whittled down parenthood to such uptight minutae. Such fretting and fixation. Helicoptering. Tiger Mommying. We’ve gotten so freaky about poop apps and mud boots. But really, it’s the trust that matters.

The biggest gift Chuck and I can give Junior and Diddlydoo right now is to take care of them and foster that sense of trust. It doesn’t matter whether or not naps are on time, whether teeth are perfectly brushed, whether vegetables are organic, or whether their poop is neon green.

(Fine, that matters but I’m not emailing my pediatrician a picture of it.)

Those things are miniscule specks in the bigger picture of what we give to our children when we let them know we will take care of them.

I’ve tried to reconnect to the out-of-body feeling I had, but I can’t get it back. I wish I could. I guess I could ask my mother to come over and make dinner again, and to call to us in hopes of recreating it. But some gifts are funny like that. They only yell for you once.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Those magical childhood friendships

My best friend in first grade lived on the next street over. Her name was Beth. She had a pointy nose and poker straight black hair. She sucked her index finger so badly that it bent forward.

Beth's father was skinny as a stick. Her mother was a walking pear. They had skim milk in their refrigerator. In the eighties, no one had heard of skim milk.

They might as well have been an alien family.

From what I can remember, I liked Beth because I could boss her around. I also liked to steal from her.

Case in point, she and I had the same dolls, but her doll clothes were store bought; mine were grandmother-made. One day, I packed up all of Beth's fancy doll clothes, put them in my doll carrying case and replaced hers with my yarny, baggy grandma clothes. Then I took them home.

That night during dinner, someone knocked on our door. It was Beth's father. He had walked over in the middle of a blizzard to collect his daughter's doll clothes. I'll never forget him shoving his daughter's carrying case in my mother's face and holding up an ill-stitched doll dress as evidence.

Like Beth couldn't have sucked it up for a night and dressed her dolls in doilies. For a friend.

Nonetheless, I continued our friendship.

That summer her dad busted me again. Beth and I were in her backyard. I had just learned the f-word.

"Just SAY it," I kept telling her. "SAY it!"

Her dad had been listening through the screen door. He called me over—"Miss Mullet come over here right now!"—and asked me if what he'd overheard was correct: Had I really been trying to bully his daughter into saying a swear word?

My heart was pounding. I lied and said no. Then I ran the hell home. I didn't go back to their house for more than a month.

Fast forward to today. I'm 36. I move back to my childhood home. I read in the paper that Beth's mother is a politician in town. Her father? In jail for embezzlement. That's right. Mr. "Your daughter stole my daughter's doll clothes" is a thief himself.

Guess what else? The family that lives in the house now baked us cookies and walked over in the middle of a rainstorm to introduce themselves and deliver them: the dad, the mom and their three little ducklings.

"My childhood best friend used to live in your house," I told the mom.

"Oh really?" she said.


Then, when she wasn't looking I stole her umbrella.

Omigawd, I'm so kidding. Come on! We shot the shit and made a playdate. Then I stole her umbrella.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why the hell do we have a deck of cards in the bathroom anyway?

The fricken universe is reading my blog. I know so. How do I know so? Because in my last post, I mentioned the fact that from time to time my children take front row when I'm using the restroom (I refuse to use the p word again—refuse!) and not three days later I was struck with a nasty bout of food poisoning.

I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Universe to E. coli and Staphylococcus: "That whiny Mrs. Mullet thinks she has it so rough with the occasional bathroom performance. Let's really give her something to bitch about."

The vehicle of destruction? A fish sandwich.

A fish sandwich brought to me by my Mulletville Corp co-workers, who invited me to meet for lunch and said they'd bring me something off the menu from Mulletville Restaurant. Why did I eat something made in Mulletville and why did I eat something brought to me by people who have been picking up my slack since December? They probably asked our fellow workers to use the bathroom and then wipe their hands on my fish sandwich.

They were probably trying to kill me.

They achieved something much more painful than death.

First came the chills. Then the fever. Then the crippling stomach cramps. And then... the trips to the bathroom.

They started in the middle of the night. They continued on to the morning, when Chuck left for a freelance gig, despite my pleas for him to not leave me alone with two children in my condition.


The children quickly took their seats.

And again for a repeat performance.

Matinee? Sure! Grab a seat.

Mom's hunched over in pain? Let's look on!

Dinner performance? But of course.

It was one hell of a day. The bright side (there's always a bright side after one has recovered from a near death experience with an ambiguously named "fish" sandwich) is that I realize I have grossly overestimated my children's entertainment requirements. I knew they were content doing pretty much anything with me, but this makes me rethink that whole trip to Disney bologna.

Really, I'd like to see Mickey Mouse be such a sport on the can. At one point when I caught my breath I actually stopped to practice numbers with Junior using a deck of playing cards I found in the bathroom vanity.

"What number is—gasp! moan!—that, honey? Seven? Correct!"

Mother of the year? Yes indeed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Which side of the rope are you on?

Before my maternity leave and when I was working full-time, it always bothered me to hear stay-at-home moms say, "I'm so sick of my kids." The women who bemoaned days at home and summer break because their kids were around all the time seemed, to me, to have a lucky problem.

Claiming you're sick of your children is a luxury; it denotes an abundance of time spent together. An overabundance, some might say.

As a working mother, I didn't have that luxury.

Now, after five months of being home full-time with two children under the age of five I can honestly say that I've reached the point at which I could pull out my hair and cry, "Make them disappear!" I know what it feels like to be eaten alive. There's no off switch for Junior's mouth. He questions everything. Diddly wants to practice standing and to see the world. He grabs for everything.

And for God's sake I can't count the times I've had to poop with both of them sitting in the bathroom with me—Diddly in the bouncy seat and Junior (who doesn't want to be left out) sitting on his stool, as if they're audience members at a silent and awkward show.

The thing is, they're happy sitting there. They're happy to do anything, as long as it's with me.

It's bittersweet then, this summit I've reached of I-need-a-break-they're-suffocating-me. I always wanted to be here because it's born of bountiful time together, but it won't go on forever. I only have two and a half months of maternity leave left. For a lot of women, especially those in the United States, they've had far less time than I.

So yah, the bittersweet summit. I'm not sure how to get down from here. Or if I even want to.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In this pickle party house

Of boogers, farts, potty humor and stinky feet, Chuck found the perfect card:

I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Happy Mother's Day to me, to you and to all the great mothers out there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We've gone too far

Before I had children I swore I would never, ever talk about poop.


It's impossible, though. You're forced to witness the most intimate functions of your children's bodies; inevitably, you find yourself discussing it with your partner, your mother, the neighbors, etc. I've never liked it, but I accept that it happens.

I don't quite understand people who are interested in it just because. Like my friend's sister, who picked Diddly up, stuck her nose in his rear and gleefully announced, "Someone did a stinky!"

A stinky?

Understanding that you might succumb to this unsavory terminology as a parent might actually be good birth control.

Children, of course, like to talk about what comes out of their bottoms. I watched my friend's four-year-old for a few hours the other day. Within five minutes of being at my house, she told me what poop is ("food your body doesn't need"), what she'd eaten that morning ("pancakes"), and what her poop had looked like ("a big snail").

Co-workers, too, like to talk about poop; specifically their inability to do it in a public stall.

It's unavoidable.

But oh my gawd, do we really need an app to track it?

One that records the details of what comes out?

One that reassures you that if you find a "surprise" you can email the details to your doctor? (The app makers—Similac—don't say what they mean by surprise. I'm guessing they don't mean something fun like a leprechaun or a nip of vodka. I'm guessing they mean something really troublesome, like a receipt for lingerie that you never got or a neighbor's pet.)

Why isn't there an app for vomit? That also comes out of children's bodies and often indicates a health problem. Green poop? Maybe. Green vomit? Yes, especially if there are surprises in it too.

To finish off this poop extravaganza, I'd like to leave you with the one commercial that makes me cringe with embarrassment for the human race. Whenever this commercial comes on I picture a living room full of five-year-old boys bursting with juvenile excitement over this masterpiece of potty humor.

Or dads.

Aren't you glad you stopped by today? I sure am.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's the easier concepts that are harder to grasp...

Once upon a time, in 1996, I was single and had my own apartment.

(God, that sounds heavenly.)

During that time, my diet consisted of cereal and beer. Occasionally I baked a cake. The directions always called for the batter to be mixed, but I refused to buy a whisk. I used a fork, and I'd spin it really, really fast. The batter was always lumpy and my wrist was sore but oh no, I was not going to buy a whisk.

For some reason, I had it in my head that whisks were reserved for bridal showers or wedding registries. I knew I'd get married someday (at least I hoped I would); ergo, I'd have a whisk someday.

To dream.

Sometimes my mother helped me baked. She'd look at me quizzically as I handed her the fork, but she never said a word. She just got to work with the fork.

When I got married a decade later, I finally got that whisk. Who needs fine china? My kitchen was complete.

My mother happened to open my drawer one day and see it.

"Finally!" she said. "A fricken whisk."

"I know! I got it from Aunt Such-and-such."

"That's all you got from Aunt Such-and-such?"

"Yah, why?"

"Because whisks are $5."

"They are?" I gasped. "I thought they were expensive. I thought that's why you registered for them."

"No, stupid. Is that why you haven't had a whisk all this time?"

"Yes. Why did you think I didn't have one?"

"I thought you had a whisk hang-up."

"Why would I have a hang-up about a whisk?"

"I don't know!"

"Why didn't you tell me they were only $5? Why?"

"I don't know!"


Once upon a time, in 2011, I was married and had another baby.

(God, I miss that apartment.)

During that time, the baby wanted to be rocked to sleep. He'd fuss and cry while lying flat, so I had the brilliant idea of putting him in his car carrier and swinging it with one arm. Sometimes in the middle of the night. For a long, long time. Sometimes for so long I got blisters.

Sometimes my mother helped me swing the baby. She'd look at me quizzically as I handed her the carrier, but she never said a word. She just got to work with the carrier.

For some reason, I continued to do this. Even though the carrier weighed 100 pounds and the baby weighed 15 and I was beginning to look like a body builder.

My mother happened to find me one day, assuming the pose (that's how it's known in the house: "assuming the pose." See?)

"Listen, jackass!" she said. "They make things that'll do that for you."

"You mean swing the baby?"

"Yes. Some of them are only $50."

"They are?" I gasped. "I thought they were really expensive."

"No. Is that why you've been swinging the kid all this time?"

"I don't know. I'm so tired I can't remember. Why didn't you tell me they were only $50? Why?"

"Because I'm actually getting some definition in my arms."

"Oh. Well, here. You can swing him then."

I went and took a nap. I'm not that slow, you know.

Now I need a swing. Or some hand balm.

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...