Monday, March 30, 2009


When I was a tiny girl, probably around five or six years old, my parents were concerned by my sad inability to walk across the room without falling. Their solution was to sign me up for gymnastics class--probably because of Mary Lou Retton. In a class with a dozen other tiny girls in black leotards and white slippers I learned important life skills. Seat drops, straddle rolls and how to cling desperately to a bar and beg to come down.

Not surprisingly, since I was so klutzy that these classes were necessary, I was not exactly a gifted gymnasts. I did somersaults in all sorts of directions, I tripped trying to learn to vault, and I fell eighty-four thousand times from the balance beam.

My biggest memory of those classes, other than a bizarre fantasy I had about Mary Lou magically appearing from a tiny door that no one used int he corner, was trying to just walk across the beam without bobbling.

Sometimes I feel like parenting a baby is like walking on a balance beam. Besides all of the obvious and incredibly hard ways--the work thing, the staying married to the father if it is possible thing, the having good hair but not looking too Mommy thing--there is the family thing. As in your family and his family and how do you get everyone to shut up.

I have a good relationship with my parents and so the needing them to shut up hasn't happened much. Other than a few highly stupid comments my dad made about Mo not needing a nap anymore (uh, I remember napping in kindergarten, girlfriend is a year old Pop) we have had no issues. But they are my folks, their weirdness makes sense to me.

But figuring out how to cope with my MIL, has been such a challenge. In almost every way I think she is near perfect. She loves my daughter, which is the biggest thing. She takes such amazing care of her. She is supportive of the way we are trying to bring her up. But things come up. And because she cares for her every day she feels like she gets a bigger vote. I guess she does get a bigger vote. There is a tug of war between her being a grandmother and caregiver and GAH. It is confusing. I have a hard time feeling like maybe I am too critical of her or don't want to do what she wants just because she wants me to do something. Would I feel differently if this stuff was coming from my mother? Probably. Because I have this layered relationship with my mother built on her being a great mother, a great friend to me now and an amazing grandmother. My MIL and I don't have that relationship even though she is a wonderful person and I love her. So, yes, even though I hate it, I do listen to my mother in a different way.

This all came to a head last week. As many people know, cough medicine manufacturers pulled infant medications a couple of years ago. I think this is stupid, as the reason was mainly that parents didn't follow directions. But it doesn't change that medications are not available for infants at this point. And my MIL and husband were pressuring me to give the baby children's medicine at a dosage she remembered giving him as a child. Setting aside my doubts about her being able to remember the correct dosage thirty years later (I can't remember six months ago so how can she be SURE), I don't know that the medications are even exactly the same. I would love to have a cough medicine for her but I wasn't going to take unnecessary risks.

And for the first time J was on the other side. He wanted to give her something and was using his mother as a deciding vote. Oh I resented it. If we are bringing mothers into it well mine should be coming too (hi she would agree with ME) but somehow his mom counts more? Should she?

Eventually, we found a compromise, these are genius and worked very well. But trying to sort it out was this arduous process, so loaded and messy. A million of these situations will happen in the next eighteen years and we will continue to figure them out.

But I still feel like I am six years old, up on a balance beam. But now I am carrying a baby, a MIL, a husband, my parents, a cat, a pug and a dachshund along with me. I just keep inching along trying not to fall.

And the cat is digging her claws into my neck.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I feel lucky that there are other moms at my office. Workplace is not the most family friendly place in the world but there are a couple of us with small children. I am definitely the youngest, since again not a family friendly environment so people tend to wait until they are closer to forty and can't wait any longer.

One woman in particular talks to me about the baby. Her son is exactly one month younger and so it is fun to compare notes.

Except she isn't comparing notes. She is comparing babies. In every way. Every time I talk to her it is about how Baby C is doing this or that, how big he is, etc. I love talking about babies but I have long since learned not to mention anything that Mo can do that he cannot. I am sure she thinks that Mo is ages behind but I just can't handle how she panics if Baby C isn't doing whatever she thinks he should.

I don't know what compels parents to do this. Well I do a bit, I mean we all think that our children are the most perfect ever but rationally it doesn't matter if Timmy walks before Tommy or Mary has ten words when Marie has seven. The range of abilities and development between children, even those very close in age, is incredibly wide.

In other words, I am pretty sure her kid is going to get into college even though he can only say Dada at this point.

In the meantime I just smile and nod. And have the knowing conversations about how brilliant my daughter is--with my husband.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Suddenly That Flu Shot Seems Like a Better Idea

J texted me Friday afternoon. Don't stop anywhere. Since my bus was late I figured the kid had a case of Moldy Fridays and we would air her out and she would be fine. Sometimes Friday afternoons are awful--she is just bored and done with being home and a good dip in the pool or a trip to the mall play area and everything is right again. Then the next text, I am sick. And well . . .

J doesn't get sick. At least not often and not bad. So I was shocked to come home and find a mass of snot and fever on my couch. One who could barely hold up the slobbery copy of The Hungry Little Caterpillar he was trying to read. He was shaking and sweaty and OH IN A BAD WAY.

I felt fine, baby was chipper and in a good mood. We went to Target to stock up on Daddy medicine and had a lovely evening. The next day we had a good breakfast, nap, played and went to meet my parents at the Yuppie Mall. She played at the mall play area, we went out for lunch. It was a really nice day. And J was still sick and feverish, though somewhat better.

So I was single parenting again. Except I woke up with a fever, and limbs made of lead, and a cough that rattled the house windows. J seemed a little better when he woke up and it was a damn good thing because I was crashing at that point. Then the baby got a fever and well all hell broke loose in my house.

Eventually everyone napped and everyone's bedding got washed and we all drank some flat seven-up. My MIL came over and fussed over everyone (and thank GOD FOR MIL). And now Mo is down for the night. She's already woke up once from the coughing.

I apologize to everyone at Yuppie Mall play area Saturday. I didn't know I was letting a plague carrier drool on the tugboat.

I haven't had a true sore in your bones, feverish and dizzy flu in about ten years. I hope it is at least ten more until I have it again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tooth Drama

Those of you who follow me on Twitter would have seen a stomping fit of rage two weeks ago when I was home sick. I bit into a piece of toast and CRACK--off came a piece of my tooth. Actually two teeth.

Neither of these two teeth was a surprise offender. I knew they both needed to be fixed. In fact, I went to the dentist because one of them had been broken before. They built it back up and sent me on my way. Three weeks ago it was gone and crap. I am so pissed.

With jury duty and a bunch of work nonsense, tomorrow was the first time that I could get it to have it fixed. The past two weeks have given me a new appreciation for what Mo is going through teething. Mouth pain is something that you can deal with but god it makes me a bitch.

I will admit I even snagged a couple of the kid's teething tablets this morning in desperation. Those buggers actually work. Hip Hip Hooray for homeopathic remedies.

Tomorrow I am going to pay some one large amounts of money to drill into my head while I am doped up on a mild numbing agent. My face will be swollen and GAH. And I just cannot wait.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Is Why Some People Never Read to Their Children

I was very cautious before I had my daughter. I carefully avoided judging parents or making grand pronouncements about what I would or would not do. I had ideas, certainly, but I worded those ideas so meticulously even in my head. I wouldn't tempt fate. I would see bratty children in public and smile sympathetically at their parents--it is just a bad day. I would give only vague answers to the controversial parenting inquiries--I would TRY to breastfeed, I hoped for a vaginal birth, etc.

I figure if you ever say "When I am a parent I will NEVER do X . . ." is a way to guarantee that you will do that very thing. Even things I am certain I would never do well . . .I don't say never.

Still, I can say that I really didn't imagine that I would ever become the kind of mother I am today.

I try distract my daughter into playing so I don't have to read to her anymore.


But at the tender age of thirteen months, Mo has entered a particularly annoying stage. She wants books read to her every minute of the day. She has particular ones she wants read--usually the same book three times in a row and then a different one. She wants to turn the pages. And when you are done she will thrust the book at your and grunt. If you choose to interpret the grunt as a thank you well you are sorely mistaken. It is an order to read again. Or DIE really.

She has J's temper. Quick and violent (though to her credit she gets over things with some speed). She is eruptive when thwarted. She will CUT YOU.

And she is asking me to read for crying out loud. It's not like she wants to mainline Twinkies while watching PG rated movies. And I am so thankful that she loves books. I am a big reader--three or four books a week--and it would be sad to me if she didn't want to be read to. They are clearly her favorite toys, she drags them around the house and hugs them like teddy bears.

But still, after reading Butterfly's Surprise eighty-seven times I find myself finding a loud and annoying toy to try to tempt her with. Or J's Blackberry. Anything to not have to read, "There's something special you should see . . ." for five minutes.

It probably is unreasonable to expect her to learn to read before she can talk right?

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Last Drug

I've joked here about having an addiction to Diet Coke. It's more of a vice really, since I could stop (but wow I do not want to)--I don't smoke anymore, I can't have sex with anyone but my husband, I barely even drink since more than a glass of wine makes me go to sleep. Soda seems so tame and harmless.

But this is Seattle, a place so crunchy that honestly I think a heroin habit would be more socially acceptable. The soft drink industry is a billion dollar one, but I am clearly the ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD still stupid enough to drink the stuff. Naturally, the people most in my face about the soda are the ones who smugly drink Vitamin water (which has just as much sugar) or lattes (fat!) or still fucking smoke. At least my legalized stimulant can be consumed indoors.

I do not pretend that soda is a healthy thing and I do cave to peer pressure. I hide the cans. I try to pretend that I don't drink as much as I do. All kinds of drug seeking behavior I know. And this is how I ended up exploring the world of home soda makers.

I am confessing this to the internet, knowing that it is a little like saying I am growing weed in the backyard. My own MIL, sniffed snobbishly that of course this house needed more soda. This woman salts fucking saltine crackers and whines that I won't let her feed the kid all the juice she wants (also full of high fructose corn syrup). At least I am honest with myself about the shit being terrible for me.

I rolled the idea of a home soda maker around in my head for a really long time. I am ashamed to admit how long. Each time I backed away, trying to find a seltzer or a water that would sub for my beloved Diet Coke and failing. Finally I ordered it. And when it arrived I danced a jig.

The reality is . . .mixed. Oh it is so fun to make your own soda. And the seltzer flavoring is delightful--I have drunk more of that then anything else. The cola . . .I'm on my second batch which is much better. More carbonation and a little less flavoring. Less sweet. It's a work in progress. But the process is brilliant. It is like having my own little chem lab. I plan to figure out my own cocktails and eventually crack the code of the cola.

So if you decide to enter my little den of sin, where we still drink the carbonated sweet nectar, you will probably find me in the kitchen with my soda machine--carbonating everything in sight.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Feeding the Soul

It's strange how if your mom is a decent cook at all her food is what always tastes "right" to you. Other foods may indeed be better and you might like them more but that is where the bar is permanently set.

I remember being eighteen and having Chow Mein at a restaurant for the first time. I was stunned that it featured noodles. Because my mother's doesn't. Now my mother is a white lady from Des Moines, IA so I can't imagine why her recipe gleaned entirely from Better Homes & Garden is not completely authentic.

One of J and I's long-standing arguments is about French Toast. I like it the One True Way which is with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Maple syrup is for pancakes and waffles. That so many people (pretty much everyone who is not in my family) don't eat French Toast the right way is why I don't order it while out. Why bother if they are just going to put syrup all over it?

So my mother's pancakes are the RIGHT pancakes and oh there are so many things she made when I was a kid that still make me feel so happy and safe. They are comforting and homey and so delicious. Right after I had Mo she knew I hadn't eaten in basically a week. She drove up to my house and roasted a chicken and made mashed potatoes. This is simple food and something I could have made for myself or J could have made it. But it was my mother's chicken and potatoes and I made myself eat it. I consider that the turning point for me post-birth. When I stopped being QUITE so crazy.

This week I made pork chops for dinner. Nothing special, just sauteed in butter with garlic and pepper. But the baby gulped it up and begged for more. And I realized that my food is becoming her jumping off point and will taste "right" to her as she grows up.

Maybe I will have to learn to make pancakes that don't come from a box?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hitting Publish

My body is not the same since I had the baby.

This is not shocking. In the past year, well, I have done nothing. I ate what I wanted while I nursed and lost thirty pounds in two weeks. Then I held on to that last ten pounds. Then I went back to work and gained back a couple. And it's all in different places.

I've read Linda. I know that it doesn't have to be this way. But clearly, I have not made losing weight a priority and when I am honest with myself.

I am not going to.

At least not right now. And I am a huge believer in dressing the body you have now. Since I can wear my pre-baby jeans well I was. But this was a terrible idea. Low-rise should not be happening for me, possibly ever. I decided that I was going to buy a great pair of jeans because I was tired of feeling like I was failing every time I put on pants.

I just decided to buy the same jeans, one size up. Well. No.

Muffin top. Bad muffin top. And worse, this was the largest size they made. Those of you who have sprung for designer jeans know that the whole point is the fit. If they do not fit perfectly than do not bother. And then I noticed the salesgirl gearing up to ask me something.

"We do have these in our plus size department."

I admit it, I hesitated. I wasn't offended and was actually glad she mentioned it. But I am ashamed to admit that I was ashamed. I don't think badly of plus sized women, in fact I think I made fun of my mother for caring about her size. I mean, as some one with four sizes of pants in her closet that fit, I know that women's sizing makes zero logical sense so there really is no point in worrying about it.

Except apparently I really didn't want to be plus sized.

But up to that department I went. And . . .no one stared. Customers in other departments did not fling things at me. No one screeched "YOU ARE TOO THIN FOR THIS DEPARTMENT." I was oddly sure both of those things would happen.

And they fit. No muffin top, no pulling at the legs. Ass up where it should be.

I should have been thrilled. Good jeans are a Holy Grail. But I admit it took me longer than it should have to decide to buy them.

I got home, blacked out the size and immediately loved them more.

I am angry. I am angry with myself for feeling this way. I am angry that I live in a world where women are supposed to be ashamed of being plus sized. I am sad that apparently my self-esteem is tied to an arbitrary number. And I am embarrassed at how much I am hesitating to type this at all.

But I am hitting publish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Choose Aruba

I spent today just hamster-wheeling around. I know everyone has days like this, where your to-do list just gets longer and there is chaos everywhere and I could actually hear my inbox ticking away like a bomb.

There was a time when I thrived on stress. I just piled more and more activity on top of myself. That stress pushed me to do more, to do better. That time has long since passed. The drama makes me want to curl up and hide. The stress doesn't push me to work faster but to throw up my hands in disgust. My capacity for bullshit is almost zero.

I work with some one who never seems overwhelmed. If she makes a distressed face than you know the end of the world is nigh because otherwise she doesn't sweat, she doesn't rage and not a hint of a frown wrinkles her brow. I long to be here, I long for it more than I long for thin thighs which is quite a bit. But, like the thin thighs, I don't think I long for it enough to do the major reconstruction on myself to become that.

I am thirty years old and I am accepting now that I cannot change how I am. I get involved. I want to do my best and I will get charged up if people are throwing obstacles in my way. But if I am not passionate about something I cannot fake it. I cannot make myself feel something that I don't. So the challenge is to find a way to deal with the drama and not explode from it all.

Or win the lottery and head to Aruba.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


One of the things I found most frustrating when I was pregnant was all the unknowables. You could buy clothes ahead of time but you didn't really know what size your baby would be. Would she be a swing baby or a bouncy seat baby? Co-sleep? Crib? Would she be a good sleeper? Would she like to eat? All of the articles and advice would wrap up the same thing--only you know your baby.

But I didn't know my baby, and deep down in places I don't talk about much because EW, I was worried I wouldn't know her ever really. That she would always be a mystery to me.

And while I still maintain that trial and error is a really stupid method of parenting a baby it really is the only way (wouldn't it be awesome if we could evolve so that babies could use a morse code in the womb--three taps if you will love the swing, five if I should just skip newborn sizes). I have to confess I really do understand my daughter.

I know the "I'm still asleep and need a minute to shut up cry" and the "I'm freaked out get your ass in here" cry. I know that when she makes that hard K noise it means milk. I know that the only place I can hide my cell phone where she will not find it is somewhere high above her head. I know that she has to have something fleecy over her face before she will sleep. I know the best way to stop a tantrum is to brush her hair. I know that you will always eat more than I expect--chop up an extra three strawberries and it should be right.

And then I think about all the things I don't know. I don't understand why she liked pureed pears but are not so hot on the real thing. Why does she chew on the rail of grocery carts? Why does she become a royal bitch at 4:30 regardless of how she napped? I mean I knew she can't really talk but gah SHE COULD BE POINTING AT ANYTHING!

Oh evolution FAIL.

Monday, March 09, 2009

How Do You Do It?

We were all hit with the crappy lung hacks last week. If there is anything more pitiful than a working mom going to work with a fever and no voice because she cannot face staying at home with the baby screeching--well that might be a one year old who starts hacking like a pack a day smoker. My poor MIL is on the mend but since she has asthma her cough is likely to stick around for a few weeks. Even J, with his cast iron immune system, got hit with it.

It might be best just to hose the house down with bleach now.

I also have jury duty this week--which has so far been very anti-climactic and boring. I worked at home today since my group didn't have to report. My group isn't reporting tomorrow either. I would just go to the office but I can already tell they would give me crap if I did have to report on Wednesday. Better to work from home all week than deal with that.

I am not good at balancing the work life thing. I know that a lot of people struggle with it but I feel like I do it worse than anyone else. It's amazing how much more patience I have for my kid if I haven't been dealing with whining people all day. And if I haven't spent a couple of hours on a bus. I want to know how everyone else does this. How do you juggle your life and your kid and your marriage and get dinner on the table?

Monday, March 02, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much

I have long admired Linda and I read her latest entry, and its million comments, with interest. Because LO, I have felt that and, like so many things on the internet, it felt so good to know I was not alone.

But why do we all feel this way? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced. Women, from the time we are tiny girls until we dry up into prunes, receive a pounding of messages. From magazines, TV, books, movies, our friends, everything about why we are not enough. The negative onslaught is constant and honestly, don't we all sort of forget about it after a while. I mean I don't consciously wonder why everyone on TV weighs two pounds and the wives on my TV shows are about 100 degrees hotter than their husbands. But that shit hits us in waves, day after day.

What we have to counteract it is . . well not much. We have people admiring our looks in the form of hitting on us. And we have on-street ogling. I AM SORRY BUT IT IS TRUE.

And once you are married, or seriously involved with some one that well runs dry a bit. As much as I adore J, and I do think it is important he find me attractive. I am his only sexual option, at least the only one that is sentient so he is going to tell me I am pretty. He is not a fool. So that feedback loop is pretty closed.

But the positive feedback, and not the gross graphic shit but just an admiring glance or a hello from a strange man, dries up right around the moment you most need it.

We live in a culture where there are women you fuck and there are mothers. And while I know that the MILF thing is everywhere that is the point. The MILF is supposed to be the exception. She is sexy because she is not like a mother. She is desirable for not being who she is supposed to be.

When you are twelve you still believe that it is possible that you will grow up to be a Brazilian super model. Even though you grew up in Iowa, hypothetically, and stopped growing at 5'7". Also, you have also always had Junk in the Trunk. But once you hit thirty, you are married, you have a child, well reality hits you. Huh, I am not going to have a growth spurt and be 6 feet tall am I? And the laws of reality apply to me! I am not actually going to be nineteen again! Well. Shit. That negative feedback loop is still playing, you are not enough, but there isn't much to defy it. Just your partner who loves you. And sleeps next to you. In that bedroom. That is so close to the knives. Maybe he isn't brutally honest.

He isn't a moron.

I don't think women want to be showered with catcalls on the street, at least not in an obscene way. But there is something, something undeniably unenlightened, but something uplifting about some one of the opposite sex who is not legally obligated to you making a quiet, tasteful gesture. Something along the lines of : hey! I'd tap that!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I Slept Nine Hours Last Night

Yesterday we took the baby to my mom and dad's house, dragged a bin full of clothes and toys and sippy cups in and ran from the house like we had just toilet papered the trees.

We had dinner reservations. True, they were in five hours, but we were drunk on having nowhere to go and no schedule to keep.

Babies have schedules. And our childcare arrangement demands precise scheduling. A high-pressure schedule where everyone is dependant on everyone else. If I take a crap and miss my bus well that isn't good for anyone.

People with digestive disorders really shouldn't have limits placed on their shitting abilities.

So we swept out of their house like the Grinch, only we had rolled up the carpets and left the baby inside. We spent our freedom going to Ikea. We are wild people. Then we arrived early for our reservation and got drunk waiting for a table. We ate beef and talked and I didn't have to order my dinner based on what the child could eat.

I love my child. I am sure that goes without saying. But there is relief in putting that down for a minute. The pressure, the fatigue, the strain. . .Putting that down, having a drink, eating a really really delightful piece of meat was worth every penny. Thank God for grandparents.