Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little Early or A Little Late

I have spent most of the last three weeks sick in some way or another. There was a nasty body aching cold. There was explosive diarrhea. There was a spike of some kind pulsing in my brain. It was very bad and then the baby got it and the badness cranked up a little more.

And I apologize I just needed to let that out.

I was all better until J woke up Monday with a sore throat. Sure enough by Monday night I could barely talk. Brilliant.

I am going to just drug myself for the rest of the week and try to stay in my hole. I adore all of you and honestly don't want you to have even the slightest chance of catching the hamster flu or whatever we have through the interwebs.

Merry Christmas y'all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Enough

I quit my job six months ago.

It still seems crazy. My hands shook a bit when I typed that out. Millions of people are out of work right now, not by choice, but because the economy is still in the shitter. And I quit a job that was really good and paid me some great money. That job let us buy this house, paid for a lot of opportunities we've had, sent us to Hawaii a couple of years ago. That job was a gift that let me send my husband to school, that taught me a lot of things about business and relating to people, it made me brave enough to have my daughter.

It was also killing me.

I am so grateful that I could quit. I was lucky to have that job and even luckier to be able to leave it on my terms. I am a better mother having left that job. A better wife for sure. And more myself than I have been able to be in a long time. It is true that it is scary that I make uh around a third of what I did before. That even if everything works out it is unlikely I will make that much again--at least not for a long time. But when I close my eyes I go to sleep almost instantly. The only person who shrieks at me frantically is under three feet tall. I work hard but it isn't my whole life.

My father was absent for big chunks of my childhood. It was never said aloud but perfectly clear that his job was the most important thing in his life. That work came first, no matter what the cost. As an adult I actually know that it was all for my sister and I. That my father was probably desperately afraid and ambition was born of that fear. He missed out. And he didn't miss out because he was flying to the moon or curing cancer or saving lives--he missed out because he was an insurance executive. I can assure you he doesn't think it was worth the trade off.

I feel shame about quitting. I feel as though I have failed at something bigger than just work-life balance. So much of the message that we hear is about how if we just work hard enough we can have it all. I still believe that. I just now believe that sometimes you have to create what that ALL means.

I don't need to feel shame. And I hope that I won't always. I already know that I was right. And lucky. I got to this place out of exhaustion and desperation and sadness. Eighteen year old me is shocked and dismayed by my lack of ambition, small salary and pitiful title. Thirty-one year old me is starting to feel at least something like pride.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

As an adult Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Because we don't have tons of family in the area it is very low key and no drama. My mother makes the best turkey in the history of all turkeys. No one dresses up so there is no need to wear pants with a belt. And there is none of the weird religious stuff that clogs up some of the other holidays.

We just eat and enjoy each other and I love it.

It is not as relaxing as it once was since now my child wants to tear my mother's house into shreds (and sadly, there was no repeat of last year, where my mother and I passed out cold with the baby and woke up to my dad and my friend Travis having cleaned up the whole mess--Travis is single ladies and if that doesn't define catch I do not know what does). This year the baby took a short nap and then was outraged that she couldn't have an entire vat of strawberry jello for dinner and spent the afternoon tackling anyone within reach.

When we get to my parents' house, every year, my mother is cooking and watching the parade. Absolutely everyone else loathes the parade and spends the entire time complaining about it and mocking it (this sounds awful written out like that and yet I was thinking it was a charming tradition . . .hmm). So I am predisposed to thinking it is awful but WTF Macy's? It seemed like every float was conceived on a dare. Did I dream that there was some neon monstrosity sponsored by Jimmy Dean sausage that featured Katherine McPhee? Was there really a drill team composed of grandmothers on purple tricycles? I felt like we were all on drugs and not even good enjoyable ones but the kind where maybe you are hoping the police will come take you to the drunk tank where you will be safe.

I am ridiculously lucky and try to remember this every single day. My husband is awesome even though I often want to push him down stairs. My child is gorgeous and wonderful. I am trying to build my dream career--and frankly I feel fortunate just to be able to try. I live in a beautiful home and have fantastic friends. My family is amazing. The only thing I could dream of changing is my fat ass and well I must not care that much given the amount of turkey I ate today.

I hope that you all feel the same. And that you had as great of a holiday as I did.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mourning


Some one closed on my grandfather's house today.


It never really occurred to me that some one would buy it. My grandfather built that house in the fifties. No one has ever lived in it but his family. He nailed each board into place. Made the doorway to the den really fucking narrow. And now some one else lives there.


Some one who is moving in right now (well maybe not right now as it is 11pm there). Who had already mowed the lawn this week.


In many ways this is the best case scenario. It sold quickly. It sold to some one who is going to live in it himself, and is excited about it. It wasn't sold to a commercial business that would tear it down which is what we always assumed would happen (since a trucking company bought seven of his lots over the past few years). It still stands. We can drive past it.


I don't think I ever will.


It's been four months he died. If mourning a grandparent time is like break up math (1 week for every month you were together), I have nearly seven years of mourning left to do.


That feels about right.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Roast Chicken

For a lot of reasons I have been thinking about when my daughter was a baby lately. Not that she still isn't a baby, but I mean a Baby baby. Brand new. My husband and I had tried for so long to have her and we had a lot of weird things happening at the same time. We were just raw bundles of nerves and strain at the end.

Now that my daughter is headed towards two years old, I think I can finally process what happened to our family during that time. I have forgiven myself for being so mean to my husband about my MIL. I have forgiven him for being so damn clueless about it. And for not being around for the first two months because of a work explosion. I can accept now that everyone was just doing the best that they could in a really tough spot.

Looking back I was drowning. And I recognize that I was about six inches from being swallowed up by some depression. I think I was just so beat up--from the miscarriage and the fear that defined that whole pregnancy afterwards, from my delivery, from sleep deprivation, from having a stranger (who I love now but really didn't even KNOW then) living in my house, from having that MOTHER switch flipped in my brain and I couldn't stop not even when I needed to. I was drowning.

And I remember the exact time that I stopped drowning.

It was a Saturday and the baby was sleeping and I was resting and J took his mother out to do something. I sent them out. They needed to get out. And ten minutes after they left I started freaking out. I just felt so adrift and alone and I called my mom. Who heard me crying and leaped in the car. I hadn't eaten in days at that point--probably close to three weeks of not eating much of anything I don't know how my milk supply stayed up--and my mother flew up the freeway. And made roast chicken. And let me cry. Didn't call me crazy which I could just FEEL J thinking. Such a small thing really, I know she would do every day if I needed her to. But that was the worst I ever felt and she pulled me back from whatever bad bad place I was headed.

And I have never been back.

Now when people I know have babies I worry about them. I try to ask soft questions about how they are doing. I wonder if I should just automatically roast a chicken and bring potatoes and let the broth sink into their bones the way it did for me all those months ago.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

When I was little I just adored Halloween. This is despite no one in my family really being into the holiday, not being the type that enjoys being scared and not really doing anything special. When you are small there is something special about being out at night, when it is dark and your mom knows. We'd be out in our totally store-bought my mom does not sew costumes, reeking of polyurethane off-gassing. We'd have on heavy coats and some years snow pants. My dad would go Trick-or-Treating with us--that alone was special as we rarely had time alone with my father. Now I know he was sipping off a flask the whole time but Iowa in October is cold yo.

We'd run and run from house to house and feel that delicious weight of your pumpkin full of candy.

I haven't dressed up in costume in years but of all of the fun that I cannot wait to do with my kid Halloween in on my list.

Except we have been in flood watch weather all day. Cold and windy and actual FEET of water on the ground. But I had already dressed her in her Supergirl costume so we went to the mall event.

Oh you guys, it was so sad. Kids in line to get candy. No running. No booze for parents. The candy even was shitty. But when you have a not quite two year old she thought it was magical. She only waited for a couple of pieces of (crappy) candy. She just wanted to run around in the mall and see the other costumes and you guys? I think she had the best night ever.

I would have been sad if she were school aged and wanting to get candy. But tonight it was perfect.

Except for the unacceptable and appalling adults in gulp sexy costumes. Like dressed as pleather cops with prisoner in chains at the MALL WITH YOUR KIDS.

But other than that, perfect.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Secret Can Blow Me

I am not going to stun anyone here when I say that I was less than thrilled when my new work assigned us all The Secret as a group book. For those fortunate not to know about The Secret it is a book (and an accompanying dvd) that has been touted on Oprah and is a huge best seller. All about how to use positive thoughts to become rich and get everything you could ever want.

It is basically every ugly thing I hate about every religion packaged into a handy, and much more offensive, package. It claims that this is all LAW and SCIENCE when it is no such thing (bonus, my boss claimed that it was the same as gravity). The book also basically blames all bad things that happen to people on their negative and fearful thoughts. So rape victims? YOUR FAULT. Your layoff? YOUR FAULT. The Holocaust? 6 MILLION NEGATIVE NELLIES.

I know I am oversimplifying and millions of people swear by this book. It just touches every single nerve of mine. It preys on the gullible and sells them exactly what they want to hear--you can be rich and have all of your dreams without work! No wonder the author is now a millionaire.

Now I do think that you can learn something from even the most ridiculous. And, honestly, keeping positive thoughts and being mindful of that energy can be a powerful thing. I do believe that there is power in that.

However, when some one in the office said they thought their stepdad died of cancer because "he was just so negative" my head exploded. Really. I am typing this with my brains smeared on the kitchen twenty miles away. This explains a lot.

And I have been thinking about nothing of how I want to be six feet tall since Monday. I haven't grown a centimeter. Maybe it doesn't work this way?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mama Guilt

There are things that happen that are beyond our control. Things that make me ball up my fists, take deep breaths, rage into my pillow. I hate how black and white people are--how they refuse to accept that our experiences are different from each other's. That I can decide to do THIS and it doesn't mean that I think you are wrong for doing THAT.

The Mommy Wars--which I think are largely a media creation--are just that. I have friends who stay home, friends who work full time outside the home and friends that are somewhere in between. All of these situations are hard. I can say with certainty that I would be a shitty stay at home mom. That shit is HARD YO. And it would not work for my family. But if it works for yours--and it does a lot--then I am glad that you are doing it.

Breast feeding vs. bottle. DEAR GOD WHY do we get in each other's faces for this? Aren't we lucky that most of us have a choice of what to do? Some people do not--breastfeeding doesn't work, they can't pump at work, their baby refuses a bottle--and you know what? I think it is time to say that they are not the only ones who get a choice. We all get to choose what is right for our own damn families. And if you want to breast feed until your kid is five, well I am still going to think you are a nutso, but I won't say it to your face. That is your child, you decide.

And this. That shit is why I don't do labor massage anymore. Something I REALLY loved. Because really? Now we are judging women for their birth experience? You are a lesser mother if you weren't a goddess? Fuck that. Seriously. Let us put women in the situation where they can feel guilty for ONE MORE THING that they cannot control. Because you can control where you intend to birth, HOW you intend to birth, but it doesn't always work out the way you wanted.

I planned to give birth vaginally. It didn't happen. I labored for 29 hours, twisted around in a dozen different positions, worked really damn hard and . . .got an infection, failed to progress and had an emergency c-section because the baby and I were fading fast.

I am thankful for that c-section. I have a live baby and I am alive. Which if I am honest, where my most important birth goals. I loathe how people patronize me for it but I know they are wrong.

I feel guilty for a million things as a mother. The way I swear when she wakes up early. How impatient I get when she won't nap. How I really HATE giving her a bath. The relief I feel almost every night when she goes to bed.

I don't feel guilty for my c-section. Or weaning her to a bottle at six months. Or working full time. Or not working full time now. I don't feel guilty that I let her have plastic toys or watch some TV. I don't feel guilty that she drinks juice.

I own my guilt. And there is a lot of it. And I don't need anyone creating more for me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Daddy Issues

My father and I are fighting. Actually that is a gross mis-statement. He is being a passive aggressive douchebag and I am pretending that I don't care and getting more and more worked up about it. It is our pattern--one that I like to think that we have worked through and changed. Every time it pops up I remember that you don't ever really work through these things. You have to keep trying all of the time.

My father has been proud of me exactly two times in my life. The day I gave birth to my daughter and the day I got a big promotion at my last job. Now I know I am lucky to have a father--one that is my friend most of the time--but it is hard for me that all of the other good things that I have done and are a part of who I am don't mean anything to him. He was not proud all of the many (all) times I made honor roll in school, of the scholarships I won or the other awards. He wasn't proud when I graduated high school or massage school or got married. He wasn't proud when I bought my first house or the second house. He wasn't proud when I found jobs in tough markets and got promotions. Or when I quit a job that was really hurting my family and got brave enough to do something else.

My father and I fought for years. Most of the years that I was teenager and a couple after. And then we realized that we could try to get along or lose each other forever. I am very proud of us that we work so hard to be friends. My father thinks he shouldn't have to work so hard to get along with his daughter.

He's mad at me because he feels guilty about my grandpa and everything he doesn't like about me are things he doesn't really like about himself. I know that. I also know that he is worried about money, and other family members and other shit and it is easier to be mean to me than it is to deal with that stuff.

I know all this and I accept all of this and I can't help but be angry with myself. Because after thirty-one years of us doing this to each other you would think I would know how to deal with it. To not crave his approval.

His approval isn't coming. And that really IS ok. Because I am proud of the person that I have become and all that I do.

I just need to accept that no, he will never feel the same way.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Thursday

I feel pulled in a bunch of directions. I spent yesterday feeling like I was having three days at once.

I had to drop off some pictures at my dad's office. My folks are leaving tomorrow to drive to my grandfather's house and bring home the things we are all taking from it. The house is already on the market--something that surprised me. My grandfather built the house himself in the fifties and it is a tiny little crackerbox. I love it, I think we all love it, but mainly because of how it feels when we walk into it. But when I look at it from a house hunter's standpoint it is small and has strange wallpaper. On the plus side, last year my cousin's husband finally put a shower in the bathroom--for the previous fifty years you had to walk down into the basement and stand behind a foot and a half wall. LUXURIOUS.

I feel conflicted I admit. I think I have been working the denial imagining that he was really on a trip and would be coming back. I know that is normal. I know that it is just part of grieving. I just miss him. And I feel just as heartbroken today as I did in July.

Also yesterday, I tripped on a raised bit of sidewalk while shopping for shoes for baby and carped onto the sidewalk. Ripped the holy hell out of my hand (which is FAB for a massage therapist since you know I use that HAND A LOT). And was rushed by a group of homeless people. Who then started chanting "Sue the city!" HELPFUL. Today my hand looks a lot like shredded meat for tacos and hurts like a mother.

I did get the kid some really cute shoes. And on sale!

Lastly, I completely ROCKED my mission from J. To make a shaming jersey for the "Sally Strikeout" of his team (yeah I know sexist but they are assholes so . . .). Found a pink baseball raglan and lettered it with hot pink fuzzy letters. I rule at being a wife.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday

J is the head (well only) nerd at his company which is a sweet set up for everyone 90% of the time. He gets to do whatever he wants and they only have to have one nerd on staff. However, they do have a second office in Montana so periodically he has to go to Montana.

This makes no one happy.

He gripes about having to take weird flights and the weather always sucks and he almost always narrowly avoids hitting some sort of animal going to the hotel. And apparently the only place to get a steak in town is at the strip club, which I admit sounds like J's idea of heaven except apparently he doesn't believe in eating at strip clubs. I guess I understand.*

This means that I am about to be treated to a weekend of watching Cars, reading the BEAR BOOOOOOOOOOOOK over and over and well other delights. The child seems to have toddler PMS. Half of the time she is so charming that I cannot help myself. There is dancing, there is spinning and reading and laughing and goddamn she is cute. The other half she is a demonic badger from hell. A Hell Badger who likes having shit smeared in her delicate parts THANK YOU MOTHER NO WIPING. A Hell Badger who wants KUNG FU PANDA NOW and make it snappy whore.

I predict that I will actually have a grand time but will be very ready for J to be home on Monday night.

Also, we will be do the toddler death march around town. The park! Running up and down the aisles at Lowes! Mall play area! Swimming! Anything to wear out the tiny tiny ass in the family.

*The idea that naked chicks should not accompany food purchases is apparently not universal as my town here is the epicenter of those damn bikini baristas. And, in the non-shocker of the year, five of the local coffee girls have been arrested for prostitution. It mainly makes me sad for them because I can't help but feel like they are being exploited and bullied a bit by the asshole stand owners who seem to be universally fat, sweaty, nasty old dudes that have "no fat chick" bumpstickers on their rusty trucks. But I digress.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guilt

I read Y's entry yesterday and sobbed the whole way through. I feel for her and I ache for her but really I feel for me. She wonders if she did the right thing, calling 911 when her grandpa was so sick. She feels guilty that she didn't respect what he wanted.

My grandfather wanted to die in his home. By all accounts he knew he was sick that day, he talked to my grandmother, he talked to my father, he chose to stay home. And he died alone. And while that may have been what he wanted it is very hard for me to live with.

I have a lot of guilt about not calling my grandfather enough, not going to see him. Being a Jew I don't believe in Heaven but I know that he did. So selfishly I hope that he was right and that somehow he knows.

The guilt is crushing. As crushing as the sadness. I wake up in the middle of the night and I can barely breathe. It sneaks up on me when I hardly expect it.

All I can hope is that he forgives me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September

I don't know how I keep falling off the ends of the earth and yet I did it again. We had a great Labor Day party--somehow J and I have mastered getting everything ready for lunch at once so the food was great and the guests were all so nice. And the kids ran my kid's ass off which is really the whole point of the day for me.

The rest of the week I went to what we shall call nerd school. I am attempting part two of my career change now and wow have I been intimidated to get going on it. I've spent the summer sort of in limbo and the longer I delayed and weighed options the more chicken shit I got. When it comes down to it I am not brave so I have to make things way scarier to not do than do and so I wound myself and registered for nerd school and y'all know how I hate to waste money. No back out now.

For a time I thought about going back to college. Had in fact decided to do that until I realized that option sort of sucked and was going to cost a lot without a big payoff. So now I am cobbling together my education on my own. Harder and easier.

It's scary out here. I had worked for the same company for eight years. I was good at what I did. But I was never happy, never excited, never passionate about what I was doing. So the last three months I have been just quietly freaking out about being out here alone and broke and so damn scared but I am also the happiest I have been in years. I sleep deeply, dream deeply, have patience for my child and my husband. I don't scream and rage and cry. I may panic about the bills but I don't throw up driving to work anymore. I don't have anxiety answering my email. I don't stay up all night Sunday because I cannot stop worrying about Monday.

It is a relief and a gift and I can't believe it is already September. It's like being a kid again--starting the school year. Everything feels new and crisp and exciting.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bottles and Bottles of Wine

We're having some sort of Labor Day extravaganza tomorrow--entirely directed by J because I tend to socialize not at all, just via email and twitter. We are making a very large piece of beef and also an apple tart--obviously other things but those are what I care about--and well I am not going to lie. We went into a shame clean frenzy in this house today.

I refuse to believe that no one else does the shame clean. Which is when you start to declutter your house, because it looks like a rummage sale exploded in your living room, and then you notice how you haven't dusted since last winter and GOD the floors are filthy and SHIT how are there huge cobwebs hanging from everything in the world in here. Then you run around and get flushed and sweaty and do not even sit down for hours because if you stop for a second you will not finish because it is just way to overwhelming. Everyone does this right?

Shame cleaning used to be easier--before a toy store lived in my living room--because I didn't have to squeeze it into naptimes and bedtime and wow I really didn't need the extra complication. Today to add an extra degree of difficulty I managed to have a two liter of Pepsi explode in my kitchen. I suppose the bright spot is that this was before I steam cleaned the floors in there (it did, however, move that up a few hours because so sticky). I think most of the two liter ended up soaked onto me--it took ages to ring out my jeans, t-shirt and sweatshirt. Later, because really today wasn't stressful enough, J knocked one of the glass shades off of the chandelier over the dining room table. Glass everywhere. Light fixture hanging crookedly. Hands and feet cut the fuck up because I had to dig all of the tiny slivers out of the planks of the table.

Everyone better show up tomorrow. And bring wine. Lots of wine.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yet Another Way I Do Not Have Balance

J has been out of town until Tuesday. He left Thursday. I'll wait while you count the days.

He deserves this trip. He works so hard and this weekend is all about several concerts and staying at a luxury house and baseball and what sounds like GALLONS of vodka. He is having a grand time. I am so glad.

I just wish he would stop rubbing it in.

I will say that J has done a much better job of maintaining his pre-kid life than I have. He goes out with his friends, he plays in two softball leagues, he goes on weekend trips. I do none of that. Pre-child I sometimes went with him, but now some one has to stay home and I volunteer. When I had a stressful job this was the only way I could cope--literally the only free time I had I wanted to spend with the baby. Work was most of my social life and I used my commute to read and do other leisure activities. This worked (except for the part where my job was eating away at my soul) but I would say it set up a weird dynamic for us as a couple. His life didn't change that much from a life balance perspective.

I think this dynamic plays out this way for a lot of couples. Women take up a bulk of the childcare. J is a great dad and doesn't shy away at all from the responsibility part of parenting. But I have no life. It's mostly my fault, as I am socially pretty stupid and most of my friends live far away so I don't get out to see them much. I haven't had time for hobbies in a long time and now that I do have time I have really struggled to figure out what I want to do with my time.

I do see my part in this--how I can't get time away if I don't take that time and find a way to use it. But I can't help but contrast his trip--five days away with his friends, sleeping as much as he wants, concerts, great food, sunny baseball game--with the one I took. Where I took the child with my mother and sister and we went to my grandfather's funeral. And she was attached to me with screamy screws of freak out. I am saying his trip involves sleeping in and eating meals with two hands and I cannot help but burn a bit with jealousy.

I want him to enjoy his trip. GOOD GOD it is his last hurrah for a while given our money situation so I really want him to have fun. But I haven't peed alone in three days (wait! once at work yesterday) and I just want some pay back.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pro Style

Like many women I find myself falling prey to marketing ploys all the time. The biggest one for me is the "pro" designation. I have a professional style hair dryer, professional style flat iron, I even have "pro" pans in the kitchen. Apparently I like to think of myself as needing professional equipment.

Which may explain my purchase today of PRO COMFORT TAMPONS.

I am just not sure what kind of professional I am emulating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Creepily Similar

When I was growing up my mother celebrated her birthdays with brass bands and gleeful announcements. Presents were expected (and cheerfully clapped for), parties happily attended, cake demanded and general servitude encouraged. My mother never bemoaned her age or behaved as if there was anything wrong with getting older. She was, and actually continues to be, the eternal seven year old when it comes to her birthday--except she doesn't announce the next day that "she is almost eight." However, she will totally call you six months before and mention how it is almost her birthday so close enough.

This is the attitude I want to emulate about age. And I think I rocked it--until I was about 26. 26 is an awesome age. Before I had crows feet and that lower ab pooch. Now there is an age spot on my cheek that looks way to much like Arizona.

My birthday was yesterday and actually it was great. I am not sure why 31 sounds so much older than 30 but it does. I don't want to be one of those women that is 29 for decades but I have a hard time adapting.

We did go to the zoo and eat ice cream cake. I guess I am more like my mother than I thought.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

18 Months


She is all giggles and drama and flailing limbs. She is laughing and throwing things and chasing the dog around the house. She hides under the dining room table, plays peekaboo beside the stove, begs "up up up" next to the chest freezer.

She is finally getting some hair. It's not blond or brown or red, but somehow all of them, with five tiny girls at the back of her head. She wants to wear dresses, she holds them out and fluffs them, and the runs towards the mudpile. She has all of her teeth--except the 2 year old molars which she is inexplicably working on now--just two rows of tiny pearls in her mouth. TEEF.

She talks constantly. Her own special language that is the love child of farm animal and martian. She does have real words, which are repeated constantly. Mama, Dada, DOG!, Elmo, MILK--most are demands.

She likes to dance, to wiggle, to jump and twirl. She goes through the cupboards, after the tiny teapot that I tell her over and over not to touch. The one she dropped on her toe to split open the nail. She wants out on the porch to smell the flowers. She wants to hear the same books over and over again. She fights diaper changes like I am trying to cut off her feet at the ankles. Wiping shit off her ass is just a way to oppress her under The Man.

I'm in love. I am frustrated. This is easier than I thought and much harder than I ever dreamed. It's every cliche you have ever heard. If I could bottle that face I would have a wonderful anti-depressant but if I bottled her rage I could destroy whole continents.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Smooth Talker

I remember my dad complaining at every meal when I was a kid about how picky an eater I was. How no one else was like this about food. How I didn't have a right to be this way. Every meal for years and years until I became an adult. And realized that not only am I not a very picky eater I wasn't even really a picky kid. And yeah, a lot of people are really weird about food oh and HI my dad is totally a fucking picky eater.

I remember falling and hurting myself and there he would be--telling me to toughen up, telling me how weak I was, complaining about how I didn't have any pain tolerance. I believed that until I was in labor--contorting myself in crazy ways for hours and hours and HOURS until the nurse confessed to me that most people quit after ten minutes because it hurt so much.

I remember him telling me how lazy I was, how I didn't know what hard work even felt like. And this one I internalized. I still sometimes feel like the laziest person around. I became a workaholic in the name of not being lazy. I don't know how to shake this even now.

I would guess that my father would never dream that those words would stick with me this way. He isn't a monster, he was just trying to prepare me for the world. If there was a way to know what words would worm their way into a child's lizard brain I am sure every parent would like that information. But those words are the ones I remember and though I haven't been a child for a long long time, they are the ones I hear in my head. The ones I can't shake.

I am not working full time. I am still trying to figure out whether I should go to school or not. I am doing 10-15 massages a week (20 is full time) and it is really hard. I feel exposed. And afraid. Last night J said something about how he didn't want me to be a stay-at-home-mom (which I don't want that either) and I started panicking that he thought I was lazy and a burden and gah gah gah. The anxiety and the fear.

I wonder how I am fucking up my daughter. I am probably giving her a complex because I keep trying to get her to pronounce DOG correctly--in 2039 she will be blogging about how she tries not to say words with the letter D because her mother was so crazy. I digress.

It's not my father's fault I feel this way--I just can't seem to get rid of the guy in my head. He isn't screaming or lighting things on fire. He just sits in a wingback chair--smoking all day long and usually drinking cognac--and says things softly. In a deadly way that I know is true. Things like "you don't really think that you can do that do you?" or "it's a shame how you have let yourself go . . .even further." There is no way to make him stop, getting angry only makes him stronger, move convincing. I am sure we all have that voice in our heads--mine just parts his hair on the side and smokes a pipe. I wish I could make him pipe down for a while, for five minutes. I wonder what it would be like to not hear him nagging me. I wonder if I could figure out what I want, what I dream of, if he didn't crush anything more complex than a piece of toast before I can even think it.

He's out tonight. He is talking me out of going to school. He has me opening up the browser to apply for jobs at McDonalds to earn my keep. He is doubt and fear and everything that deep down I know is wrong with me. I think to move forward I am going to have to figure out how to move him the fuck out.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Haze

You know how when you have had a few too many glasses (bottles) of wine or your husband keeps topping of your cocktail how simple things become very hard? Like why does your name look spelled wrong on your driver's license? Is there really an E in it? It is like trying to get through your day while swimming in tapioca pudding? Sure it sounds glamorous but it is making me wonder if maybe I had a stroke.

I have felt like that since coming back from my trip. Just unsettled and slow and WOW. I was filling out some forms yesterday and I am not lying I couldn't remember how my middle name was spelled (now in my defense it was spelled one way on my birth certificate and another on my social security card and I can never remember which is "correct").

And I am not even drunk.

I can't seem to sort things out. I am sure I will in time. Meanwhile if you see a blond wandering the streets in a haze it is probably me. Pull over and say hi. And maybe point me towards my house.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Post That Got So Long So Fast

My trip was overwhelming. Last night, after the baby was in bed, I went downstairs where J had already started washing all the baby's stuff and pulled out some of the things from my grandpa's house and it all just hit me. I started crying and I wondered if I would be able to stop.

Everything went better and worse than I had thought. The baby wouldn't go with anyone else. My normally outgoing, easy-going, friendly baby was (understandably) nervous (what with all the crying people) and clingy and well morphed into a fucking barnacle. She wailed if I walked more than three feet from her. She didn't sleep well (so I didn't sleep well). She rarely got a nap. I didn't plan for any of that because my daughter isn't that baby. I was prepared for the emotional strain, for conflicting feelings, for intense fatigue but I really didn't plan to have my kid to turn up the stress to a whole new level.

The best thing about the trip honestly was how hard everyone tried to be kind to one another. My family, we are like any other, sometimes we are awesome together and sometimes we are not. We fail each other in millions of ways every day. I have never doubted that I am loved by my family and I hope they never doubt that I love that--but sometimes they make me a wee bit stabby. Stabby towards the eyeballs. And while, yes, that happened a bit (we were all in close quarters for a week after all), I was impressed with how HARD we all tried.

I am trying to gear my brain to do that all of the time. Trying to be kind to the people I love. REVOLUTIONARY. But truly, I think most of us are steaming piles of shit to the people closest to us. We know we can be so we do it. But I am going to try not to anymore.

The viewing and funeral were so so so hard. I realize that I am fortunate to be thirty years old and up until two weeks ago have all four grandparents alive. I KNOW. And I have often said that this is a blessing and curse. While I would love to have my grandfather back and oh how I wish he were back, I know that it is better for HIM this way. His quality of life had really suffered. He was so weak and sick. And the other three are in the same boat. The human body is not really intended to go on into it's eighties. And neither is the human mind. He died in his home where he wanted to be. He had a long life. He said goodbye. We should all be so lucky.

And that is the difficult part of the trip. Seeing my great-uncles at the funerals--literally shells of who they were a few years ago. My other grandparents are really about 3/4 of a semi-competent person. It is a lot like letting a fourteen year old live alone. 90% of the time they are ok but you know--they eat a lot of crap, injure themselves constantly and oh they buy things they do not need. I hate how they have deteriorated. And I hate how as I get older I see their flaws so much more clearly. It is hard as you become an adult to see your parents as people. But I think it is even harder to go through that experience as an adult. I got a vivid demonstration of how frustrating it must have been for my mother to have these people be our grandparents when we were small (and I am so grateful that she did it anyway). We all have flaws and we are all largely products of our environment. Which means that the elderly in my family say some crazy shit that well, is uncomfortable to hear.

Also, ONE OF THEM, will go all bat-shit crazy if you maybe MAYBE snap at her at the mall play area because she was hovering around your kid and giving you the stink eye and brought up how many bruises said kid has and wouldn't back the eff off. HYPOTHETICALLY. She may also insist that it was your sister who snapped and be pissed at her instead.

MY KID IS FINE AT THE MALL PLAY AREA IT IS MADE OF FOAM AND HAS A BOUNCY FLOOR PLEASE LET HER CLIMB ON THE CLIMBER THINGY.

I was thanked so many times for bringing the baby, something that made me feel guilty a bit because was a I making it seem like it was so hard? Mostly I think she just charmed the pants off of them. She was being very cute and chatting away and eating so many things--something that didn't stop amazing one of my uncles whose own children have never eaten anything voluntarily. Mo eating lasagna and carrots and all the fruit in the world just blew his mind. Babies are great at funerals, they are cheering and cute and distracting. Fabulous unless you are their mother and you just want to mourn your grandfather and well you can't. Because you are marching your kid out since the hymns were freaking her out. Or you are playing cars with her and your cousin's son rather than sitting with your grandmother at the casket. These things are fine and useful but totally shit the bed as far as mourning rituals. There is a reason you don't sit shiva with hot wheels.

The absolute highlight of the week for me was watching Mo with my cousin's son. She called him her MeMe and several days later she is still talking about him. She followed him around relentlessly. Copied his every move. And he adored her. They kept hugging and kissing each other and she didn't even mind when he ran her over in fits of jealousy. Watching that I was so happy for her and consumed by guilt. She won't have any cousins to play with close by like my sister and I did. When my sister does have children they will live across the country. J's brother says he doesn't want kids but even if he were to change his mind they would still live thousands of miles away. And she will be an only child. It was so comforting to see my cousins and my sister and my family. Mo won't ever have that and I admit it breaks my heart.

I can't stop thinking and feeling and worrying about everything. I roll it all over in my brain until the edges are worn but still keep rolling. It's confusing and scary. There are so many things I need to say and I know that eventually I will say them all. Right now I am just grateful to have some one else to deal with the barnacle so I can rest.

And think. Always think.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Longest Trip Ever

To sum up the trip: we've been here since last Tuesday and I took my first dump today.

It's just been so sad, so draining, I haven't slept a bit. The child has been a barnacle--she will barely leave my side. We are all touchy and need to be home in our own beds. I have tons of guilt about my grandpa and about my other grandparents. And I am angry even though I know there is no point to that.

We leave on Tuesday. I cannot come soon enough.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All Packed

Due to boring details like how long it takes to get anywhere during commuting hours, a morning flight and my daughter's bedtime I am taking her to spend the night tomorrow even though we do not fly out until Tuesday. I spent parts of yesterday and today trying to do all these last minute things.

I had to buy a dress for my daughter to wear to a funeral. Which is so wrong.

I had to squeeze my fat, not really post partum anymore ass into one of my old suits. Some miracle made it fit even though it is definitely tighter. It will have to do.

I packed my bag. All of Baby's stuff and mine in one bag. Just the diaper bag (crammed with food because if that child is hungry the plane with explode with the rage) for a carry on. I feel like a super hero but will undoubtedly have forgotten something very important like zombie repellent.

I had to buy deodorant and allergy medication and I finally caved and bought a smaller stroller (I adore my stroller which is brilliant in every way but weight since it is twenty pounds GAH). This is what you have to do before a trip. Of course after some one you love dies you feel like doing none of these things but that can't be helped. Sweaty pits don't help anyone.

J's mom and uncle were over and bitching about his grandmother. She is doing all kinds of annoying and crazy old lady things and they were rightfully complaining about it. But all I could think is how I wish I could bitch about my grandpa again. How I wouldn't roll my eyes that he only wants steak when you go out to eat so that great Mexican place better have one or he won't go, or how pissy he would get about his lawn not being mowed properly. I wanted to scream at them at at least she was alive! She loves them and they love her and she is ALIVE.

It's not their fault. Hell, later on that day I made fun of my other grandmother's wig so I am just a damn hypocrite anyway (but she has a gardening wig! how you can not make fun of that is beyond me obviously). I miss him.

In some ways I can't wait for this trip--I really want to see my sister (who hasn't met Baby yet) and in others I just want to pretend none of this is happening. I suppose this is what denial looks like.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sadness

Last night I felt restless and vaguely sick. I couldn't relax, I had heartburn, I wanted to vomit. I sat around in front of the fan and stewed. Eventually I was able settle down to and sleep but just had an uneasy feeling.

My grandfather died last night. In the back of my mind I think well maybe I knew (though that statement makes me want to slap myself a bit too so there is that).

I am thirty years old and until last night at some point all of my grandparents were alive. They are all in their mid-eighties so they have the usual physical complaints, they forget things, my mother's parents shouldn't be allowed to drive cars but they do. But they were all alive and doing things to make us all laugh and cry and worry. Now there are three of them. I don't know what to do about that.

He never got to hold Mo. When we took her back last year he had the flu and she was only three months old. So he watched her from a distance. My mom and I are going next week, he would have got to hold her this year. We missed it by less than a week.

I remember his leathery face. How he smelled like Brut shaving cream. How he would shower two or three times a day. How he loved the Cubs and taught me to love baseball. The summers before we moved to Washington my sister and I would go to stay with my grandparents for a couple of weeks. We would play out in their yard and garden and overheat ourselves and then I would settle in the den to watch baseball with my grandpa. It would be all dark and cool from a fan and we would lazily watch the game and doze off and curse when they lost (and often when they won).

He restored his mother's piano for me. Because he thought I played (I don't). But I promised him I would learn now. He made me a beautiful chair. He made the bar in my entry way (it's not really a bar but well)--if my mother thinks she is getting that back she is crazy.

He used to wake me up in the middle of night to eat ice cream or peanut butter and butter sandwiches.

My mother and I used to scour the Western stores looking for shirts in a size that can only be called skinny assed tall.

He would wear cowboy boots and was so sad when he had to stop because of his bad back.

My grandparents were classic depression era grandparents. They re-used everything long before it was fashionable. They have the same damn WINDEX bottle as they had in the sixties--with the packaging they haven't used in thirty years.

Oh you guys I have nothing good to say I am just so devastated. I would give almost anything to see him one more time. They are going to tear his house down, the one he built all by himself. The tiny little house they have lived in since my father was seven years old. Tiny rooms, shower in the bathroom, walled in porch where he hid from my grandmother. When I get there I am going to breathe so deeply, trying to store that smell in my memory. I wish I could bottle it, save it for times when I really need it. I might steal the Windex bottle for those times coming up ahead.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lucky Lucky

One of the dirty little secrets of new babies is that you almost never get as much help as you think you will. Grandparents don't pitch in the way they say they will, friends disappear, somehow parents often end up more on their own than they planned. The village does not show up.

A woman I know was told by her MIL that she would take care of the baby while they worked through her WHOLE PREGNANCY. And then the MIL bailed the last month before the baby was born. That story gave me the vapors so much that J had to talk me off the ledge.

Another friend has NO help at all from her family. And her husband's family will help, but they live across the country. If he travels for business then she is on her own the whole time.

And countless other friends were urged by their families to have children--only to have those families disappear once the babies arrived. Sure, they show up for special occasions but the day to day is all the parents.

I feel so lucky that this has not happened to me.

My parents come up every weekend to see the baby and have virtually every week since she was born. They have taken her overnight when we have needed a break or have plans to go out. If we ever need anything they are just a call away. My MIL takes care of her while we work. We have never had to freak out for a moment because we need help and no one is on the way.

There is a safety net. Even if we don't use it, we are never alone. My mother will come and help me, she is THRILLED to help me. Today she came because I needed to work and J was taking his mother to a concert and we weren't sure how those things would overlap. She gladly came up, early even because she just wanted to see the baby, and when I got home in plenty of the time decided to take us out to dinner.

I have great role models for being a grandmother. I had two wonderful ones myself and now my mother is fabulous. But I am still learning how to be a mother from her. Because sometimes I still need my mother and I am lucky enough to still have her.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Spy vs. Spy

About twenty minutes ago I saw a K-9 unit strolling through my backyard. Being a law-abiding citizen and living on a dead end street (even if it is in the ghetto) this has never happened before. They didn't announce themselves and just walked through the backyard, over the divider in the back and left.

What I think is telling is our reactions to this. I was like HUH, bet they are looking for some one and keeping us safe. J was like HULK SMASH WHY ARE THEY IN MY YARD WITH NO WARRANT.

In other words, I figure they are in pursuit of a criminal and J thinks we are being spied on by the police. I have basically had only good interactions with police. Well not good, in that I basically have only got traffic tickets from them. But I was guilty in those instances and well TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. J has been more harassed by police and was brought up by people who are very suspicious of the police. So his instincts are all aflame with ME BIG MAN PROTECT MY FAMILY WILL DIG MOAT.

A quick call to the station did not reveal what they were doing here but only that we were not in danger and they were real police. I feel like J is going to have yet ANOTHER chat with the police department (his last two year about patrols in the neighborhood). No wonder they are spying on us.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Keep It Safe Tonight Everyone

I once had this boyfriend, who turned out to be an asshole in eighty-four thousand different ways, but who's family did this grand Fourth of July celebration. The grandmother owned a house on a lake and the whole family would go up for a big meal, swim in the lake and watch fireworks put on by all of the neighbors. This was practically a professional display because over the years the ante had been upped many many times.

This was a fun party, one I attended a few years, but always one that turned me into a basket case on the inside.

I am not really into fireworks.

I don't mind professional displays so much--though I don't really understand the appeal of pushing through crowds and traffic to see a bunch of shit blow up. And I do think they are a huge waste of money. But the home stuff is awful.

For a few years my family would go to a big reunion on a ranch. There were a lot of us and we took up most of the ranch during the day but the night of the Fourth a bunch of people from town would come in. And most would get roaring drunk and set off fireworks. Roman candles and mortar shells--shot off a couple of feet away by drunks. Scary shit, especially if you are a naturally jumpy person like myself. More than once things whizzed by my face too close for comfort. And many people got hurt.

So I would go to this boyfriend's party and be in a mild state of panic the whole day. His family bought a bunch of illegal shit from one of the reservations and even the littlest kids would set it off. Their display was small compared to the other things going off and at least they weren't drunk but I just don't have the constitution to deal with small children lighting things on fire. There are many reasons I am thankful to have dumped his ass many years ago but never having to watch an eight year old weave around with a Roman Candle he lit with a blow torch is on that list.

I am very grateful to be married to some one who hates fireworks as much as I do. We're at home, the baby is in bed, and well I am still happy to wish the country a Happy Birthday.

And I didn't even have to fucking find a place to park my car.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Open Door

I was a buyer.

I am saying this now, even though locals can undoubtedly tell who I worked for, because it is the sort of job that sounds vaguely impressive, half made up, and has a certain prestige to it. Every store you walk into has a buyer--some one has to fill those shelves. It is a job that is more nerdy than not and looks nothing like Rachel Green on Friends.

I was a really good buyer.

It is hard to walk away from something you are good at, especially if it is something you enjoy. It is harder when you have a lot of your identity wrapped up in your work and being a breadwinner for your family. But I walked away--for a lot of reasons really--and yesterday was just a strange day.

In the end I was sad. Sad because for eight years I had worked for that company, for seven I said hello to the same doorman every damn morning. For eight years I had the same email address and voice mail password. It is amazing to me how much of my brain was used to remember how passwords I won't use again and how to build reports that I won't even run again and think about how to sell more stuff that I won't use again. I have 48% more brain space available and I think I better rot it out by watching reality TV.

Mostly I am sad. I miss my buddies, I was lucky enough to work with a lot of really fantastic people. And I am scared. It is hard to try something new. I hope that in a year I will look back at this time and shake my head at my silliness about being so afraid. I hope that I won't be shaking my head remember this being the event that dumps the doors off. That corny bit about one door closing and another opening is ratting around in my (48% emptier) head and I really wonder which door will open.

And will I be brave enough to walk through it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

One Week

I haven't quit many jobs. Now, I went through a span for a couple of years that every place I worked at would either close, or have their office condemned or some one would urinate on my desk but leaving those jobs is simple. Your resume is a mess and at a certain point you wonder am I asking for this somehow but leaving is pretty easy. You get up and you go home. Sometimes you turn some one in for tax fraud.

I've worked at current company for eight years. I've changed jobs a bunch of times in there but kept plugging away at this company. I've worked very hard, been a very good employee and yeah, I am struggling with leaving. Not because I am not thrilled to--I am. This is the right decision for me and for my family and though it is going to be an adjustment I believe in a year I will be here writing about how I wish I had done it all sooner.

It's hard leaving because I feel like I am not being treated the way I should be. This sounds bizarre right, I quit, so why do I care. But I did the right thing, I gave notice and am working very hard to leave the place better than I found it. So why are they acting like I betrayed some one personally? I didn't have an affair--I am not even going to work for a competitor--I am just doing something different. I suppose this attitude is part of why I am leaving in the first place.

So I am going to work every day. Trying to do a good job. And well, I am getting the silent treatment. But the great news is that I only have to do it for one more week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

My husband has a complicated relationship with his father. It's not my story to tell but it's a situation where I am in awe that he sees him. It takes a great deal of effort to see his father, to deal with his social issues, to hold his temper, to cope with the complicated feelings that it always brings up. J is usually angry when the visits are over--they never go well. He will have a headache, he will be sad, and he will feel relief that, for now, it is over with.

I can tell you that I would have given up probably ten years ago.

I think that he continues with the relationship out of guilt, naturally, but also because he wishes things were different. And J believes in the best in people. I know that his father will not change, and I am sure J knows it too, but there is always that hope.

I am proud of him for being the kind of person who keeps trying, even though as recently as this morning I was pretty much yelling "TELL HIM NO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TELL HIM NO," but I am even more proud of the kind of father he is for our daughter. And more than a little smug because I knew he would be.

The two of them are crazy for each other. It is like watching two teenagers falling in love and hanging on to each other's every word--without the humping. They have inside jokes and their little rituals. They hold hands and giggle and it is a little sickening. I can't imagine a circumstance that would make their relationship change into what he has with his dad. I am pretty sure it would involve a lobotomy and possibly some sort of imprisonment. Our daughter will grow up knowing her father loves her every single day of her life.

I feel so lucky to have him as my husband, to build our family together. And though I find his complicated relationship with his father frustrating I know that it is just part of the package. He wants to keep that relationship because he knows what it means to love your child.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brave

I remember when I could keep a thought in my head. This was years ago, obviously, because now I am a scattered woman and I am likely to say "what was I going to tell you" at least three times if we talk long enough. This past week has been particularly bad, as my brain is smoking from all the spinning around it's been doing.

This is my shitty explanation for not writing.

Also. I was supposed to quit my job today.

I would have, and will tomorrow, which is why I feel ok saying this here, but my boss didn't come to work. Hard to quit if he isn't there. Though I will tomorrow, no matter what. This will force me to anyhow.

There are a million reasons. Some of them having to do with the normal soul sucking work stuff, and some not. Many that involve just the shit that is being a working mother (and lord I believe all mother's are working mothers--we all just have to figure out how to make that work WORK). I have another job lined up, one doing something that I had given up doing for a living long ago. I will make a whole lot less money--which makes me wake up at night in a sweat. But also this job will give me more time to do some other things that need doing. Spend time with my daughter. Have a life.

Also, I will stop being so angry. I hope. I am not an angry person. Which might be a hard argument to make here since all I do is rage. But mostly I am not an angry person. But lately I walk into my office, read three emails, take a phone call and turn into the Hulk. I start smashing up furniture and tearing up phone books and really--who can afford a new wardrobe all the time from their muscles bursting through fabric? I don't like being angry, which shouldn't shock anyone. Don't like teaching my daughter that is how adults should be. Don't like how I feel all the time. And since I am lucky enough to do something else, I am.

I am also freaking out about it. Really truly frightened.

I do tend to think that if you are scared it doesn't count though.

I am not a brave person. I don't take risks. But I have come to realize that nothing will ever happen if I just don't JUMP already. So I am. Tomorrow morning you will probably hear me screeching over the edge--making that Goofy wail like in the cartoons.

This is me being Brave.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Welcome Sun

The first year my family moved here from Iowa none of us wore coats. It just never got cold enough for us to upgrade from rain slickers (this is where we stood out as no one here wears raincoats for some reason). And in the summer, my mother was harpied by the other mothers for letting me play outside when it was eighty degrees. Apparently Northwestern children's brains cook in temps above 75. Considering my mother didn't allow us to wear shorts until is was 75 (a rule that was scrapped that first year) she thought those ladies were very silly. The climate here is mild here, is what I am saying, and well as a group we lose our damn minds when things go up or down the thermometer (exhibit A our crazy ice storm this winter which wiped out the city for two weeks).

It's been over eighty degrees here for almost a week. Sweet delicious sun, the kind that makes the evenings stay warm. This is weather that the rest of the country takes for granted but there are about eight nights a year in Seattle where you don't need at least a windbreaker (yes, I have been here twenty years so I wear coats now I am WEAK AND PITIFUL). Everyone has lost their collective shit and are sunbathing in the streets and wearing flip flops to the office. And well, there is whining about how HOT IT IS.

I admit it, our weather service has issued a heat advisory because it is supposed to be ninety degrees this week. Before you laugh your asses off, and it is funny, remember how amazing unprepared people here are for any sort of heat.

1. There is no air conditioning. So all of you that think "what wimps" while turning up your AC just know that my house is over eighty degrees right now and it is 8:30 at night. If we want AC we go to the movies.

2. Ditto for fans. A lot of people don't have them and I had to school several people at work about how to use box fans to exhaust your house.

3. People are just stupid. They will stay out in the weather for hours an hours, doing outdoorsy things--because Northwesterners who are not me are very outdoorsy--and not drink water, take shade or wear sunscreen. Lots of sun poisoning headed this way.

4. I think the sun is a little like the full moon to other parts of the country. It gives everyone an excuse to do foolish things.

So be prepared for hilarious national news stories about all the stupid shit that Seattlites have done in their "heat wave." We didn't make big enough asses of ourselves in the snow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pretty in YES Pink

There was a lot of chuckling when I found out I was having a daughter. If you are a woman, but not girly, not traditionally feminine, it seems that other women especially are eager to have you pay in some way for that. How dare you be different? A lot of people broke out the pitchforks, eager to poke me in the thighs so that I would dress my daughter in pink.

My mother gets an exemption for this. That poor woman walked over all of creation trying to find dresses for me without frills. Or ruffles. Or lace. Or adornment of any kind. That were not pink. In Iowa. During the 80's. Yes, I wore a lot of sailor dresses. And yes, she really does love me.

But everyone else seemed to think that I would have to start liking dolls and lace and decorate my kid's room in pink. And I didn't and people fretted and harpied me and wow, do people need to butt out. I have been bitched at for dressing my child like a boy and painting her room aqua and for not putting bows in her hair. Our definition of girlhood seems sort of stupid to me--there is nothing wrong with any of those things but it seems sad to me that those are the only things that should matter.

Secretly I didn't think this would matter. My girl would wear track pants and Ramones t-shirts and Converse sneakers. And she DOES. But there are also dresses that twirl a bit and the way she demands hair cream after her bath and her obsession with her mary jane shoes.

For the record my daughter has a doll, and a doll stroller. She has bears and books and blocks and toy kitchen. I bought many of things for her or bossed some one else into buying them.

And for the record she wears pink! Hot pink, usually, because she is pale like me and pastels aren't her colors.

And she wears dresses. Though this is her choice. Because my girl loves dresses. If given the choice she will always choose a dress. I usually put them over pants because this is the northwest and it is usually rainy or chilly and also girlfriend has enough bruises without going pantsless all over the universe. But her love of dresses is enough that I have bought half a dozen in the past couple of weeks--I don't want to do too much laundry.

I do this not because I have to but because she loves them. Because they make her laugh and beam and smile. And I will keep cruising the sale racks, finding fun and funky dresses I know my girl will love. I do this because I want to.

I don't have to do anything.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

At Least Let Me Nap

I found it vaguely insulting that J was so insistent that I would need help with the baby this weekend. I am fully capable of taking care of my child for Fuck's Sake. But, as anyone with a young toddler can tell you, killing daylight with a child with fully mobility and shitty judgement is daunting. Four days of being trapped in this house would probably be a bit much.

Yesterday I hauled her ass to my mother's. This is not as much for help as you might think. Now I am grateful for my mother, and her assistance (and am painfully aware of how many of my friends are not so lucky to have supportive families), but dragging my kid, the dogs, all of their assorted crap and my shit to her house for an overnight is not a relaxing thing. Her house isn't childproofed at all. So constant vigilance is needed. Fortunately, Mo is pretty great about bringing you all of the dangerous objects in the house immediately just to get the heart attacks out of the way.

Few things. Disposable diapers really smell awful. How do people deal? Also, they leak and explode. Every time I've used disposables she has had shit spurting up her back. It makes no sense that people make fun of my cloth diapering her when disposables (and we've used different brands) are so awful. And SMELL. Good lord.

The kid didn't nap. We are having work done in the backyard and we left early yesterday because they were so loud I knew she wouldn't sleep. Not that it helped. She got up at FIVE THIRTY this morning. GODDAMN. If this is a preview of our trip later this morning I will be returning home in a body bag. She was exhausted after one night. I am beat to a pulp. The poor dogs ran around like crazies.

Oh and my mother is on Facebook now. GOOD LORD.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Four Day Weekend Baby

The soundtrack of my life is the squeaky keen of a toddler. All day long she chatters and screeches and wails. It is like living with a scarily large and bald parakeet. Since there is no way on earth to make the kid shut up we are trying to channel that noise into learning animal noises.

Y'all I didn't just go to college I graduated from kindergarten so I have the basics covered. I can moo and baaa and say woof. We have added in monkey and kitty and now fancy things like owls. But I admit there are some animals that have me stumped. WHAT DO TURTLES SAY? Or giraffes? Do they stare in stony-faced silence because that is all I was able to come up with.

In other ways I am failing my child she has started having very occasional, but volcanic tantrums. In infant mode you just are trying to soothe your child. But I feel like we have grooved over to toddler mode and the tantrums are not something to be soothed away.

So I put her in her room (WITH TOYS OR THE INJUSTICE) and well, I apologize West Coast for that shaking at 4:43 pm this afternoon. That was my child cracking open the center of the earth with the power of her rage.

In other news she hates me. Just in time for J to go away for the weekend. I suspect when he gets home we will either have improvement in the tantrums or well I will move to Hawaii and J can deal with her ass. He is going to a music festival this weekend and we are doing the vaccination appointment tomorrow followed by the toddler tour to my mother's house. She will probably have no need for tantrums because Grandma will give her anything she wants. Even dictators can't bitch if they are catered to. At least not much.

I am pretty sure I can convince my mother to make me breakfast Sunday and go with me to Ikea so I am all set.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fell

I fell down the stairs today, at work. I was mincing down the stairs in my ridiculous shoes--with high wedge heels that make me look like I had foot binding done (they are, I am sorry to say, by J. Lo)--I always mince on the stairs because well otherwise I will fall. BAM, the stairs went flat like I was in a fun house.

I went down the whole flight, pretending that none of it was happening to me. I didn't scream or make any noise. And when I looked up everyone the next floor up was standing at the edge of the stairs staring at me. Nobody said anything.

It's weird when something like that happens to me, oh and they happen a LOT, my urge is to keep quite. To ignore the situation. If no one sees it it isn't real. So I got up and smiled at that crowd of people and practically sprinted back to my cube. I don't know how I got to be the kind of person who doesn't want anyone to watch her fall--or check to make sure she is alright. I wish I was a screamer, the kind of woman who beats off an attacker with a heavy pocketbook while tweeting her police whistle. Instead I would probably apologetically hand him my handbag and then look around embarrassed.

On the bus on the way home another rider admired the shoes. So there is that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day


I remember sitting at a table with a lot of women I know, drinking cocktails, when I mentioned that I was meeting my mother for lunch that day. All around the table there were understanding shakes of heads and groans. All of them were commiserating on the unluckiness of having to meet Mom for lunch.


The problem was that I didn't really understand how they felt. Back then I met my mother for lunch or shopping or just went to her house to hang out pretty much weekly. We would drink wine, eat french fries, shop and not buy anything on any given Sunday. My mother has never once criticized me. She has liked some of my haircuts enough to copy them. She has never called me fat or bitched about my clothes. She has never once been unkind to me.


My biggest regret about my mother is that every woman I know doesn't have one just like her.


When I was six months pregnant she and I were eating cheeseburgers when she hung her head a bit and admitted she worried that things would change. I knew just what she meant. She was thrilled that I was having a baby--had privately prayed for that (no pressure) for years--but we had a good run going. It seemed impossible that we could enjoy each other so much with a baby. I had to tell her that I was worried too. Worried that I wouldn't make her proud, that she would try to parent my daughter, that I wouldn't measure up.


I have to say that from here we were right to worry and things have definitely changed. We don't meet for leisurely lunches or wander around aimlessly now. But I can say that my mother has still never said an unkind word to me. That she provides the reassurance that she thinks I am a great mom that I think no one can hear enough. She is crazy about my daughter and Mo is mad for her.


My mom told me once that our friendship was the prize for surviving the year I turned thirteen. We were not always so close, though we never fought the way she fought with my sister (I saved that for my dad). She has held my hand through some very difficult times and laughed with me during more good times. When I was two weeks postpartum she came and fed me roast chicken when I hadn't eaten in days. She comes to my house every week and never once wrinkles her nose at my messy house. She gives great advice and even listens to mine in return.


I think our friendship is my prize for not killing her when I was thirteen. And I hope that Mo is watching it--absorbing it through her pores. I hope that one day when she is older, and I take care to treat her with kindness and never ever criticize her hair, she will go out to lunch with me and bug me about my skincare and be my friend. I hope that one day she will have a baby and understand what I now know about my mother: she can't stand to criticize me because my sister and I split her wide open. She can't love anything as much as she does us. And nothing that could ever happen would change that.


That is a truth that I knew always but didn't KNOW until now. I am so grateful that Ramona taught me that. And so very lucky that my mother feels that way about me.


I hope that all of you are so fortunate.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Aquarium


In the past few weeks family life has definitely transitioned from oh the baby is a toddler now to OH THE BABY IS A TODDLER. What I fear would happen with the baby home with my MIL all day is happening. Girl is stir crazy in the evenings and on weekends. It's still a good arrangement for us all but we do have to plan to wear the be-diapered ass of some one.


Saturday we took her to the aquarium. We were treated with joyous cries of SHISH and much gleeful running around. Fortunately, on a rainy day the aquarium was full of similarly happy but psychotic children. It was a little like a frat party with sippy cups. And less booze. Every child there screamed NEMO at each tank. My child kept calling the seals GOGS.
Then yesterday she turned into a whirling dervish of rage and irrational tears. My parents got to witness an epic meltdown as she wailed for her daddy (because I am nothing! this is the gratitude that nine months of nausea, heartburn and having your intestines pulled out gets you). We dragged her to the park where she screamed and stomped because I wouldn't let her run down a ramp into the parking lot. Here is where I flip the bird at every fucking person who glared at me at that park because we were outside! Not at a goddamn library! Was I supposed to take her indoors at that point?
A tiny bipolar being lives in my house--she is the size of leprachaun and has the vocal projection of an opera singer. She makes dramatic faces if there are no strawberries for breakfast. She claps her hands every single time the Daddy finds Knuffle Bunny in her favorite book. She will walk over to her kitchen and hit the switch on the blender when I say "Make Mama a margarita." When I was having a bad day she came over, crawled in my lap and tried to cram her binky in my mouth (I tried it and I confess it was comforting). We get in daily arguments about the fucking dishwasher and how babies DON'T TOUCH. Every day is the best day of her life until you thwart whatever evil plot she has involving the toilet. And LORD HELP YOU if you try to clean shit off of her ass even if that is clearly what is making her crabby.
But she is a blast at the aquarium.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bus Mishap

Every morning I wake up at five am, rush around to get dressed and hurry to get on a bus that leaves at 5:55 am. It is a surprisingly full bus, considering that no one should ever willingly go to work that early. Commuter buses, as a rule, are not nearly as lively as city buses. We do get our occasional drunk but mostly it is guys in suits, a few construction workers in hard hats and a couple of girls doing a very devoted commute in to a private high school downtown. People mostly nap, nurse a coffee or listen to music. Some read books or the newspaper. And there is one really obnoxious lady who whispers louder than I speak in the front. Usually about how bad her cramps are, or how they were last month or how horrible she is sure they will be next month.

It's quiet is my point, at least the morning one. Except this morning. When a plastic compartment on the ceiling exploded.

Apparently coolant on buses is circulated throughout the carriage and there is a tank above the center aisle. One that popped open and leaked a shit load of liquid all over everyone and the floor.

We were all lucky and no one was really hurt. The engine started smoking and there were fumes but the bus immediately pulled over. The worst injury was a twisted ankle from a woman who slipped on the wet floor. Another woman had gotten splashed and had a small chemical burn on her face. Most people were like me--annoyed and late for work with a small chemical rash on my foot from wearing open toed shoes in a coolant flood.

Of course on the way home I found myself sort of inspecting the ceiling. No need to take a coolant bath twice in one day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bitter

Am struggling with the end of the school year countdown feeling I have.

Since I haven't been in school well . . .FOR A REALLY LONG TIME.

Wouldn't it be awesome if your job could be like school once in a while. I mean I would love to go home at three every day. And actually get a lunch. And summer vacation? Brilliant. But also, that sort of do-over feeling that September brings. That you could build on what you learned but also begin something new and be better than you were the year before.

Adult work has this way of running together. And eight years later you look around and go wait . . .it's been eight years. That is longer than junior high and high school together. Where is my cap and gown?!

At any rate my brain is cycling down to finals week and tick tock tick tock my psyche is about to be bitterly disappointed. The summer is coming but I will not be spending it sleeping in and working on my tan.

There is actually no point to this. I am just bitter about being an adult sometimes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buy Me A Mini Van Because I Think I Am One of Those Moms

If you are a shameful, stumbling cliche like me and read tons of mommyblogs you have seen the meme about Five Reasons I Love Being a Mom. I haven't been tagged but I wanted to do it anyway. I am trying to really live in the moment with the baby and enjoy it. Since I am a What's Next kind of person this is hard for me.

What is also hard for me is to admit how cheesily I love being a mom. Longtime readers know that I am a cynical person. I had no illusions about motherhood and I am not a romantic. But you might also recall that I longed for a child. She was wished for, hoped for in a way that is vaguely embarrassing. And it was embarrassing because I didn't know why. There was no logic behind it, I just knew I wanted a family.

I didn't expect to love it so much.

Of course it is drudgery. And the lack of personal time and space and the ability to sleep in EVER is torture. And I would never suggest to anyone that they cannot be happy without children as sometimes it is mind numbing and eyeball searing and I really really want to run away to Brazil.

But then there are these five things, and countless more, that make me so happy to be her mother. I can't help it.

1. She loves popcorn (oh I know you are not supposed to give toddlers popcorn, close that OMG email--but she is a good chewer and we heavily supervise). And so sometimes we sit on the couch and eat a bowl together. We try to crunch louder, we dance, we feed some to the dogs. Something so simple as a bowl of popcorn makes her so thrilled. It makes me savor both the snack and her more than I ever would otherwise.

2. J and I have been together almost ten years. And we have bonded in a way that you only can being in a relationship like that. And I knew he would be an amazing father. But watching him with her breaks your heart wide open. Parenting her together has really changed how we relate to each other. And makes me love him even more.

3. Her favorite book has a page that features Eight Buzzy Bugs. And we always tickle her belly on that page. Except now if you even say buzzy bugs (or are on the page before) she starts to tickle her own self. And laugh. And laugh. It kills me dead with the cute and her laugh is the best music I have ever heard. No adult laughs like that. They are too worried everyone is staring at them.

4. This is also a hard thing about being a mother for me. But people are drawn to my daughter. I think because she is cute, objectively cute, but also because she really looks people in the eye. She flirts, she asks for their attention. So she is often the star of the play area or the child old men stop to talk to. Since I am socially stunted and she can't talk well . . .I muddle through. But she thinks the whole world is her friend and right now they are. It's a beautiful way to see people and I am learning it more each day. Plus some small talk ability because her ten words make shitty conversation.

5. I put her to bed almost every night (J does it once a week because I need a break and because WOW I do not want to have it become I can't leave the house around bedtime until she is thirty). If I get it together and give her a bath she smells like baby shampoo. But always she is warm and soft and in footie pajamas. It is the one time you can be certain she wants to snuggle. We read stories and she drinks the only bottle she gets all day. We talk about our days. And I sing her the Shema as I zip her into her sleep sack. Those are the 10-15 minutes that I look forward to every day. And when I miss them, the way I did last night, I feel restless and sad. Even on J's night I have to fight myself from drifting in there.

And now I will go scrape the cheese off of myself with a Ritz cracker.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Glamour Girl

Well, that outage was unexpected. J upgraded my laptop which was supposed to take less than two days and it turned into two weeks. Of course I had access to his computer but really if I can't read the internet from my bed than I don't use it? I didn't know this about myself but it does seem in keeping my character.

So two weeks without internet and I am going to tell you about yesterday. This is mommyblogging GOLD people. The child wakes up at six am but we're good. We eat waffles, we watch Sesame Street, we are playing ball. It's J's sleep in day which is a religious experience in this house--we don't disturb sleep-in day unless the house is burning down. And even then, it is to be done in a quiet manner--better to just roll up the other person in a rug and scoot them out to the front lawn undisturbed if possible.

So the kid and I are playing. There is a big rubber ball involved, she is using her baby doll to club the ball and it is fun. There is laughing. And then a bird flew at her head and we both screamed our faces off.

YES A BIRD. FLEW IN MY HOUSE! AND TRIED TO EAT MY BABY!

I don't know exactly how the bird got in the house and I really didn't know how to get the damn thing out. I tried and the baby cried and screamed and lost her mind. After twenty minutes I gave up, the child was hysterical and I had to go wake up J. Mo and I huddled with her blankie in room, talked about books and sang songs and then the bird was gone. We had a drink--hers was milk and mine was a Coke. GOOD MORNING EVERYONE.

Our day progressed. We had a great family day and got home in time to put the kid down for a much needed nap. She hadn't pooped yet and yes, those are chimes of DOOM you are hearing. All I know is that J went to get her because she was freaking out, almost passed out from the smell and the second I heard "OH MY GOD" I fired up the bathtub. There was a half off diaper, a sleep sack that needed a lot hot water and a baby who got an afternoon swim in the tub.

I am very sorry ya'll missed out on the glamour the last couple of weeks. But I am back and maybe now my laptop won't burn up in flames every night.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

On Our Own

The Jewish calendar still doesn't come naturally to me. Since we don't have Jewish family and we still haven't joined a temple, we don't have traditions to lean on. And Reform Judaism really is about finding your own meaning in the rituals and holidays. It's hard to do on your own and we have really begun by each year layering on more observance. I guess we figure that when we find the right amount for us we'll know it.

As a side note, this seems to really piss of some people--none of whom are Jewish. Because to this segment of the population the whole point of Judaism is to keep kosher? I don't really understand their point really, except that they all happened to be Christian (though by no means are all Christians like this) and they would get het up about us not keeping over 200 commandments when I can say without assurance that those assholes weren't even really keeping up with their ten.

All of this means that last night was the first night of Passover and well . . .I had ice cream for dinner. We didn't go to a Seder (and fuck it, next year we are going to a couple of community Seder and I am attaching myself to old Jewish ladies until one teaches me how to make matzo ball soup!). But this year we are keeping a very wavy gravy HI WE ARE CONVERTS version of kosher for Passover. Which means we are eating in the Sephardic tradition (no grains but hell yes I am eating beans and corn), but not actually separating meat and dairy. And well, I am taking the baby to my parents' house on Sunday (for our interfaith SPRING DINNER) and there will be ham. Oh and probably bacon.

I actually do find meaning in given up the grains. It makes you thoughtful about what you are eating. Not just in the GODDAMN everything has wheat in it way (though it does and I really really want a brownie), but it makes you feel connected to a tradition. And to people around the world. Today I ate peanut butter on matzoh and knew that people around the world were doing the same. There is something to that, though I am not sure that it makes me feel closer to God. It does make me feel something for others. Which can only be a good thing.

Maybe next year I will host my own Seder. Or keep separate meat and dairy. Hell, maybe I will give up bacon! Anything is possible. I know we will find the place where we have meaning for our family. And we'll keep those traditions with our daughter. So when she is older, whether she stays Jewish or not, she will carry that with her.

But it's hard to do it on our own.

Friday, April 03, 2009

PJ Panic


When I was in high school my mother gave me a lecture about grocery shopping. She detailed what was a good price for items—prices that I believe were set in 1985 in suburban Iowa and have not budged—and given my cheap nature . . .well those same prices are my barometer today. I continually have rages about how name brand triple ply toilet paper should be 25 cents a roll even though rationally I know that, yes prices are not the same as they were when I was seven years old. It’s possible I have issues. But it’s also true that once a price gets in my head that becomes the One True Price and well really you should try to find something cheaper than that.


This isn’t about toilet paper, not really, though I guess a lot in life really is about toilet paper. It’s about pajamas, baby pajamas, and how sometimes my cheapness compulsion—which is weird enough on it’s own really—morphs into a whirling vortex of obsession.


I am an outlier with baby clothes. Because my kid is still wearing sleepers. Her pajamas have to have feet in them, textured feet so she doesn’t slide around like she is ice skating, and longs sleeves. We prefer they zip up the front but snaps are ok too. It’s April but it snowed yesterday and my house is a hundred years old and drafty. It doesn’t get hot enough to strip the kid down to the shorts pajamas they have everywhere right now until one week in early August. The rest of the year it is footies all the way. I must be the only one in America though, because it is really hard to find footed sleepers. Everyone else must live in warm climates with real summer and have newer homes with triple paned windows. My kid also wears her pj’s all the time—since my MIL rarely gets her dressed during the week. That is why the feet are key—she takes off socks unless she is wearing shoes. Two piece pj’s are going to result in my kid walking around in pj’s and a pair of Mary Janes.

As a side note, I confess that I feel a little strung out about the political statements my kids pj patterns make. They are so gendered! Everything is pink with hearts and kittens and shit. The "boy" patterns are so much more badass. At Old Navy this issue made me disproportionately enraged. The girl pajamas had twee things like ladybugs and the boys had really killer modern robots. Ridiculous. And yet I get harpied so much for dressing her like a boy that I feel self conscious buying things that are marketed for boys. My choices are to scar her for life by oppressing her gender identity or to bow to the patriarchy.

Uh. Not that I am over thinking this.

Anyway, rescue me from PJ hell. Where can I find cute, sleepers that are not $26 dollars each? GOOD LORD THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY PEOPLE. That will buy me two Target t-shirts and a twelve pack of Diet Coke.

Also, where can I find some fucking plain white onsies*? NO ONE HAS THEM. Size 18 months.

*Heh, how happy does it make me that spell check wants me to change onsie to ANUS?