Friday, June 29, 2012

Brrrrng, brrrrng. Is this the husband complaint hotline?

It's 11 on Friday night. I'm sitting here trying to format 600 pages of text. It's for a book I'm laying out for a freelance job, and it's tedious work.

So tedious I broke out the bubbly.

I deserve some bubbly. Chuck's been sick, and he's been an audible mess. Why must men moan so when they're sick? It reminds me of that old tree line, except my version—the haggard housewife version—goes something like this:

"If a man lies in bed with a cold and no one is around to hear it, does he continue to make horrible, suffering sounds?"

The answer: Yes, until someone, anyone, hears it.

To get the kids away from Moaning, Sniffling, Coughing Man, I spent the day sweltering in the heat while they cooled down in the waterslides at Stay and Play (if you live in Connecticut and you haven't been, you must go. Unlike other family establishments in Connecticut that rape you financially—The Dinosaur Place comes to mind—Stay and Play is a steal at $8. Could they have taken a cue from other family establishments in Connecticut that rape you financially—again, The Dinosaur Place comes to mind—and charged parents $1,000 more for access to the waterslides? Yes, but they didn't. I heart them).

So there's the set up. Me = burning the midnight oil. Kids = lucky as hell. Husband = still lying in bed groaning.  


And then, just minutes ago, along came a spider. A BIG spider. A big black spider with a shiny body and hairy legs. It ran right up my lamp shade and hid. I promptly did what any woman would do. I ran upstairs and demanded Chuck kill it. That's what husbands are supposed to do: kill bugs that crunch and ooze when you smush them. 

(If that's not in your marriage vows, it should be. Nothing enhances a wedding ceremony like the word "ooze".)

Chuck came downstairs—kicking and sniffling—and asked me where the spider was. When I pointed it out, he half-heartedly swatted at it. Looking back, I'd have to say that I've never seen such a pathetic display of spider hunting. Of course, the thing took off in a flurry of fur and legs.

"How can I work knowing it's still out there?" I cried. "It could jump out at me at any moment."

"It's dot hair. It's godn."


"It's godn."

"Chuck, what language are you speaking?"

"I'm duffed up! I said it's GODN!"

"It's not gone. It's watching me!"

He promised me that the spider had run along home to its family in the basement. In fact, now that he thought about it, he saw it jump from my desk into the radiator and scurry away. Mmmhmmm.

"It's godn," he told me one last time, adding a coughing fit for emphasis. He slithered back upstairs.

I sat here, staring at my desk. I knew the spider would be back. I didn't buy Chuck's Hallmark tale, nor did I trust the observations of a man who has been swigging NyQuil for two days.

I was right. It came back. With a vengeance.

But surprise, surprise, I got it.

I smushed it and it oozed and crackled and I wanted to die, but I did it. Which leaves me with this: 

"If a woman kills a spider and no one is around to hear it, does she still make a sound?"

Damn straight. I think the neighbors called 9-1-1.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Head in the clouds

"Look!" I say to Junior. We are lying in the grass. Our feet are bare. Everett, the perpetual walker, is napping and it's just the two of us. We can be blissfully sedentary. I can't remember the last time I just laid in the grass and looked up. "That looks like a flying dragon. Or maybe a plane."

"Good one!" he says. "I totally see it! What else do you see?"

I don't know what tickles me more: the fact that my son is so encouraging about my cloud interpretations or that he pretends to see everything I see. Or, maybe it's that the last time I laid in the grass with a guy (a mere 15 years ago) and pointed out cloud shapes, he was only feigning interest because he was trying to get me into bed.

Whatever. It doesn't matter. None of that matters. All that matters is that summer is here and I am lying in the grass with Junior.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

We need an impartial handyman

Chuck had to travel for business this weekend, so my mother came down to give me a hand with the kids. We're in the middle of painting the living room and before he left, Chuck half-assedly affixed the curtain rods back to the wall so we'd have a little privacy at night (the neighborhood cows are so fucking nosy).

As my mother was sitting on the couch Saturday evening, innocently thumbing through a magazine, one of the rods came crashing down, nearly decapitating her.

"You're trying to kill me!" she cried.

This being the second time in six months that a guest in my home has accused me of trying to kill her, I asked why the hell everyone thinks I'm out to off them.

I thought my mother would laugh off the question but she launched into a lengthy list of reasons why invited guests might think I am trying to kill them.

"You leave leftovers in your refrigerator for months. If I don't make a concerted effort to notice what is old and what is new, I could die at the hands of a meatball! You only use 40-watt bulbs. I can't see a damn thing! I'm old! You taped cars to the wall. In the hallway. That tent outside? Over the sandbox? One of the rods is broken. I was almost smothered while building a sandcastle. And why must you hang all your wreaths up in the stairwell going down to the basement? I lost my balance, grabbed onto the wall and almost ended up with one around my neck. I had plastic berries stuck in my hair."

I should have felt bad, but I didn't. She's going to be 70 soon. Her visits to Mulletville Lite provide her with the bit of spice and intrigue that she needs. Someone's got to keep her spy and mentally agile. What better game to give a graying brain than "What can I eat that won't kill me?"

I must admit, the image of my mother standing on the basement stairs, irate, with plastic berries in her hair delighted me. Though what was she doing in the basement? There's nothing down there but old furniture and big spiders—which leads me to my next point, which is that a guilty mind leads to paranoid accusations.


What has she been doing as she watches the children? Hmmmm? What was Chuck's mother doing as she watched the children? Calling me a hippie and feeding my kids Fruit Loops behind my back? Covering the kids' organic apple slices with Cool Whip and letting them watch Baywatch?

I should be the one hurling accusations. Instead I'm trying to figure out how to use an electric screw gun so I can put up curtain rods so no one loses an eyeball.

Damn power tools. Oh, I'll fix it all right. I'll fix it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, mom's head is in the tub

I was kneeling down in front of the tub, giving the two boys a bath. Junior was whining. It seems he is always whining lately. I was on the verge of telling him for the umpteenth time to Knock it OFF! when I dropped the bottle of shampoo into the water.

As I was leaning down, I came face to face with Everett.

I don't know why this particular moment struck me so. I've been face to face with my 18-month-old plenty of times. Like, every five minutes. But something about the angle—about how I was leaning down and he was looming over me—made him appear larger than life.

He'd been trying to "help" me rinse Junior's hair with a cup of water. I'd been trying to explain to Junior that Everett was just trying to help. Couldn't we please just let him try to help?

As I knelt there, looking at this baby monster trying to douse me, Junior and the entire tub, I heard myself. Everett's a baby, Junior. He's learning. We have to be patient. Please don't get mad at him. Please stop whining. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

What planet was I living on? How could anyone not whine under these circumstances? I changed tactics.   

"It sucks having a younger brother sometimes, doesn't it? I mean, look at him. He's relentless. You're sitting here trying to take a bath and minding your own business and he keeps chucking water at you. You must get pretty sick of him. Sometimes even I get sick of him!"

Junior looked at me like I'd just shit the Magic Kingdom.

"You're a good kid," I told him.

And he is. And I should do a better job of remembering how much of a pain in the ass it is to have a younger sibling trounce on your world with all the piss and fire of a mini Godzilla.

I should also try separate baths from now on.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm hoping for bed head, ironically enough

I got my hair cut. The act seems so stupidly easy, doesn't it? But no, add a few children to your life and suddenly haircuts occur as frequently as say, the moon eclipses the sun. 

Because the cuts are so infrequent and because I look so disheveled in between said cuts, I have high expectations of the trip itself, and of course the damn cut. I do want to see a hairdresser who is going to massage my head during the shampoo. I don't want to see a hairdresser who is going to talk my face off. I do want to read trash magazines. I don't want to get sheared in the face because the hairdresser is yapping away to her co-worker.

And if I fall asleep at any time, I don't want to be woken up.

Even though I know what I'm looking for, it's been hard to find a hairdresser I like in Mulletville Lite or its environs. This is a rural community. Most people go to the farm for their eggs and their trim.... and their extra-marital affair. It's true: farmers are busy in this town.

Since I couldn't find a hairdresser I liked here, I drove an hour to Mystic, which is home to an aging population of rich white people. Hey, a bouffant is preferable to a mullet! Besides, it's kind of the closest thing southeastern Connecticut has to an urban hotspot.

All I wanted was a trim. My locks were past my shoulders.

"Please don't cut them off entirely," I begged the hairdresser. "My anniversary is this weekend. My husband likes my long hair."

She promised she wouldn't hack it all off. The bitch promised! But of course I left looking like the Dutch Boy. Once again. Even worse, she flat-ironed the shit out of it. It was thin. It was non-existent. I looked like the Dutch Boy in his sixties! I was a prepubescent, geriatric conundrum. 

When she saw my crestfallen face, she tried to cheer me up with free product. Usually that works. This time, however, I felt a little dirty as she fingered the container and extolled the product's virtues.


"I love this stuff!" she gushed. "You spray it on and scrunch or poof or whatever look you're going for..."

The whole time she spoke, all I could think was Ew, she is giving me a penis bottle. Every time I go into the bathroom it's going to gawk at me. I'm going to have nightmares about it trying to poke me. I don't want a penis bottle. What if I drop it and accidentally slip and fall on it? Will I get pregnant?

"This stuff is great! Blabbity blah blah fabulous! It's on the house! You'll love it!"

So here I am, two days away from my wedding anniversary. We're going away for the weekend. It's supposed to be romantic. Full of flair. And yet, I look like the Dutch Boy and I'm traumatized by the sight of penises.

Thank God traditional materials for your sixth anniversary are candy and iron. Sugar cubes and an iron skillet will save us. They have to.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The day for which every mother of a boy waits

I once read that the average four-year-old asks 437 questions a day.

That's nothing. Junior asks 4,370 questions a day.

He talks and asks, asks and talks. He talks when he's eating, he's asks when he's sleeping. Sometimes when he talks, I lower my head and shield my eyes. I can physically feel his words hitting my head. They're fast, they're furious; I need a superhero helmet to protect me from the battering.

Today though, the bathroom was eerily quiet as I passed by. I knew Junior was in there. He had told me as much—"I have to go to the bathroom don't let Everett touch my toys not even for a minute cause when I get out I'm gonna play with them and I don't want him touching them while I'm in the bathroom and when I get out I want a glass of water with ice cubes and I really have to poop now I can't wait another minute so please come get me if it's been a while and I'm going in now so don't let Everett touch my toys and I need privacy so don't open the door unless I ask!"—in just a few words.

I stood outside the door. Nothing. Not a sound, not a peep. I crept a little closer. I heard the faintest rustling of paper. I took a deep breath and held it. More crinkling. Yes, there was definitely some crinkling going on. Crinkling!

Could it be? Could it really be happening under my own roof?

"Junior? Are you okay in there?"

"Just a second!"

"Do you need help?"


True to his words, he burst out a second later.

"What were you doing in there?" I asked.

"There was no more toilet paper so I got a new roll."

I ran into the bathroom to see if what he was saying was true...

And it was.

Praise be to the Porcelain Goddess, there was a brand new roll affixed to the holder. On.The.Holder. My four-year-old had just accomplished what my husband seems utterly incapable of. I was in shock. I was elated. Whether or not a celebratory tear welled up in my eye is between me and my toilet, but let's just say that as I kissed Junior goodnight tonight, it was extra sloppy and gooey.

I have proof that we can break the cycle. Actual proof.

I'll never look at a roll of toilet paper the same way again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A triple ooops kind of day

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Junior will be starting kindergarten this fall. I also mentioned that I went to a Mulletville Lite Kindergarten Q&A session and that I thought some of the questions parents posed were absurd.

Questions like, "“Can I meet the bus driver before the first day of school? How do I know he/she will like my kid?" and "Can I follow the bus to school to make sure my child gets out all right and/or gets home okay?”

As I listened to the parents ask those questions, an image came to mind: one of a convoy of moms and dads tailgating a school bus, hissing "Left! Turn left!" at each other, and peering at the bus through binoculars; it made me laugh out loud, in a sad kind of way.

It also made me wonder about the message it sends to our children. What does a kindergartner's thought process sound like as he/she looks out the bus window? Why does Mommy need to follow the bus? Am I not safe? Is this separation a bad thing? Should I be worried about going to school? Yes! I should be! Get me out of here!  

The whole scenario unnerves me.

School systems employ professionals who are trained to make sure a child gets from Point A to Point B, right? The worried parents at the Q&A session struck me as paranoid—Helicopter Parents at their worst.

I said as much to a mother I met at the library yesterday. I poked fun of, and laughed about, the moronic insecurity of parents who clearly can't let go of their children. Superior? Who, me?

After I was done, she smiled tersely and said, "I'm one of those mothers." She looked at me as if to say Anything else? I didn't know what to do so I smiled back—so sheepishly you could have sheared me—and shrugged my shoulders.


Later that day I took the kids for a haircut. As I was waiting, I relayed my library experience to the hairdresser. The story included my bountiful judgment of neurotic parents, the library mother's response and, subsequently, my oops moment.

"It happened to me," she said. "The bus driver let my kindergartner get off at a daycare two stops before my house. It took me hours to find him. I wanted to die."


Still later that day, I ran into one of Junior's friends and his grandmother in the grocery store. We parked our carts by the yogurt and shot the shit for awhile. (I don't remember talking this much when I was on maternity leave. Suddenly everyone wants to talk.) I relayed the library experience and the hairdresser experience. Again, the story included my bountiful judgment of neurotic parents, the library mother's response, the hairdresser's response and, subsequently, my oops moment(s).

I stood back and waited for her to tell me that the world has gone crazy. That us parents have turned into freakish worrywarts who can't let our kids reach the end of the driveway without popping a blood vessel. I wanted her to tell me it was unnecessary. I wanted her to tell me my disbelief was justified.

Instead she said, "It happened to me. My kid was meek. She sat in the back of the bus and missed her stop. The bus driver didn't realize it until they got back to the bus yard. She was so scared she couldn't speak. It was a nightmare."

At that point I didn't think oooooooops. I thought, what the fuck? Either bus-related incidents are criminally common or I had happened upon all two incidences in one day. And if those instances really are rare, we parents have done each other an injustice in over-hyping them, much like we do when sharing our labor stories with expectant mothers.

"My doctor had to stand on my chest and pull my baby out with a chair...and that was after I had 50 epidurals."

Damn tall tales.  I bet Johnny Appleseed's mom didn't follow his bus. Course, he did leave that big ass trail of trees. Maybe we should send off our children with seed packets?

Maybe not.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

No dreaded Hellmann's butt here

I don't usually get caught up in the latest fashion trends. I'm a black, brown, navy, and dark denim kind of woman. Mainly because dark colors are more slimming, and I still haven't lost that last 10-12 pounds of pregnancy weight, and mostly because I spend a lot of time chasing children, crawling on the ground, and wiping excess food/spit/boogers on my pant legs. 

This year, however, I have been dreaming about wearing white capris. They're so cheery. So youthful. So impractical. So...unflatteringly white.

For months I've refrained from even trying them on because I worried what the white fabric would do to my ass. Would I look like I was sporting two marshmallow cushions? Would my derriere look like a U-shaped, lumpy dollop of extra thick mayonnaise?

Still, the voice persisted. Try them on. Just do it. DO IT!

So I pawned the kids off on my husband, went to a few stores, and tried on every pair of white capris I could get my hands on. And I finally found them—the perfect pair. I really, truly found them. And I want to tell you about them on the off chance that you, too, have been dreaming about wearing white capris but fear what they'll do to your caboose.

They're made by ELLE. They're just $32.99 at Kohl's. You can't tell from this picture, but they have a back pocket design that is very flattering. 

See? (I made Chuck take about 400 pictures of my backside before giving this one the thumb's up, by the way. He was thrilled.)

The best part is that the pants sit a little lower on the hips, so if you're stuffin a little muffin, it doesn't spill out over the top.

Great news, right? Right?

Now that I own them, the only problem is actually leaving the house in them. Every time I go to put them on, I imagine their tragic fate. Someone's dog rubs his muddy nose in my crotch. One of my children sneezes while eating a bite of pizza and turns them into a Jackson Pollock painting. I sit in a pool of purple popsicle juice.

The fear...the drama...the intrigue...

Ah fuck it, I'm going for it.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated/contracted by Hellmann's, ELLE™ or Kohl's to write this post.

Friday, June 1, 2012

She's the gift that keeps on giving

All week I waited for an angry call from my boss, demanding to know when I'd be in. Lord knows I've had my share of them over the last year. Working full-time while parenting two children under age five had made me late so often that I literally snuck into work.

My boss's secretary had perfected the insulted sigh for her.

You're late again why? Siiiiggggggghhh. Hold on, I'll put you through.

I even had the excuses ready: ear infection, flat tire, vomit fest, sprained toe, fever, dead great-grandma (it's horrible to admit, but my great-grandmother has died 10 times in the last two years; it's too good of an excuse to give up. Think about it:

1) chances are your great-grandma's last name is different than yours, so if your hyper vigilant boss goes snooping through the obituaries looking for her and can't find her you can say, "Duuuh, her last name is Weinerpeckernoodle and besides, she lives in Cedar Rapids," and

2) no one expects you to be very close to your 110-year-old great-grandma (my God, she probably looked like Yoda when she died—she probably didn't even know your name anymore!), so it's okay if you saunter into work the next day looking completely unfettered by grief. As far as fibs go, it's golden).

Of course, the call never came. Nope, instead of a brrrrring, brrrrrring I kept hearing this delightful little tune:

Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low. Ding dong the wicked witch is dead. Falalalalalalala.

And I, um, don't mean my great-granny.

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 ...