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Bad Parenting Moments: April 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Obscenely Overdue Thank You

I stepped on the scale this morning...like I do every morning and the number gave me pause. It was the same number that flashed the day before my maternity leave ended with baby # 1 in 2006. In 2012, that same number means something so profoundly different. I just had a real, honest epiphany. I have spent my life hating my body. I have spent my life being disappointed, cruel, unkind and sometimes, quite violent to this gift I was given. A perfectly healthy body. A body with legs that work and arms that hold and a stomach that has carried my four babies to term. I have been so terribly ungrateful. I am ashamed.

It started how it does with any girl I suppose. A cruel comment, An unsupportive family member, the feeling that you could be just a little thinner, just a little more toned, just a little more like Sara (or fill in the blank), just a little cuter and my rear could be just a little higher, smaller and more perfect. I should be perfect. Then, you agonize, you plan, you starve, you obsess, you fight, you fail. You do not stop to give thanks.

In 2006, I looked at that scale and was disgusted. I immediately joined Weight Watchers. I worked out excessively, I measured myself weekly and participated in group weigh-ins where teams of scared women prayed for those numbers to fall. Praying that the moment of weakness we had at the family BBQ wouldn't be expressed on the scale. It worked. The numbers fell and I never looked better in pictures. So what.

Today, in 2012, I looked at that scale and cried. I cried because I am done. I am done letting a number follow me around and distract me from the amazing gifts my body has THANKLESSLY and endlessly given me. Despite all of my years of hatred and abuse, my body loved me enough to give me four healthy, beautiful children. As if that wasn't enough, working arms to hold them, working feet and legs to chase them, balance and coordination to care for them, breasts to feed them, a soft lap for them to sit on, strong shoulders to lay their sleepy heads on and fingers to grasp theirs.

Dearest, truest and most generous body of mine, Thank you, thank you. A million times, Thank You. You are so loved and I'm going to start acting like it.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

(Please Don't) Send In The Clowns!

The last 3 days I have had crazy, fever dreams. Of course, they are never about anything pleasant. Fever dreams reach deep down into your subconscious and like to gently push your fears, anxieties and phobias right into the spotlight. So, my dreams? Clown dreams (shiver). Perhaps it was circus music that wafted upstairs while the kids watched Dumbo, or maybe it is just the fact that clowns scare the ever lovin' crap out of me. As a kid, I had a general distaste for clowns. Ronald McDonald? Creepytown. John Wayne Gacy? Obviously. Aside from these creepy clown "norms", life made sure I had enough terrible clown experiences to turn distaste into a full blown phobia. If you want to see a grown-up pee their pants, have a clown at your next party and invite me.

Exhibit Real Life Clown Terror # 1: At age 5 or 6, we went to a birthday party at a local park. They had a clown. He was enormous. He must have been over 6 feet tall. His clown suit was dirty. His face makeup was runny and terrifying (Granted, it was summer). His balloon animals kept popping. Clown fail.

Exhibit Real Life Clown Terror # 2: Early 20s - Las Vegas, I was in a bar. Admittedly, I had tee many martoonis. All of a sudden, a pack (yes, a PACK) of scary clowns wandered into the bar. Full costume, Full scary clown face makeup. I lost it. I started crying...hysterically. In retrospect, that probably left me with a scary clown makeup as well. My boyfriend walked over to them and said, "WHY?" and the Leader of the Crazy Clowns looked up and with the creepiest grin I have ever seen just said, "Because, it's FUN."  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Let's just say, there was a trail of roadrunner dust behind my ridiculous Vegas heels.

Exhibit Real Life Clown Terror # 3: During a lovely shopping outing with a sister-in-law in Downtown Los Angeles, while stopped at a traffic light, a homeless/vagrant clown crossed right in front of my car.  This might take the cake. This clown was covered in dirt from head to toe, his clown outfit was ripped and soiled, the wig askew and horrifying. The makeup? Let's not go there. The walk from one side of the street to the next, slow, deliberate and totally terrifying. I remember the palms of my hands starting to sweat profusely as my shaking hands grasped the steering wheel. WHAT THE WHAT?

I have had less serious clown offenses, watching Stephen King's IT too early in life, (sidebar: child murdering clown WAY scarier than the big bug at the end. Horror Fail.) and a host of parties with clown "entertainment". Regardless of the severity of the clown experience, I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something. That "something" is, "BETHANY, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM CLOWNS!"

Will my kids ever go to the circus? Probably not with me. Bad Parenting Moment? Yes. Worse Parenting Moment? Mommy running from the circus tent screaming, "RUN! We're all going to die by that circus clown's big white gloves!!!!"

(post script - there will be no pictures of real clowns to accompany this post.  I think the reason is obvious!)

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dearest Barbie, This Is Your Intervention.

Barbie, since your launch in 1959, you have been some of the following amazing careers:

United States Army officer
Jet Pilot
United States Air Force Thunderbirds
United States Marine Corps Officer
United States Navy Petty Officer
Ambassador for world peace
Presidential candidate
UNICEF Summit diplomat
Police officer
Computer Engineer
Flight Attendant
News anchor

You know what else you've been since 1959? A straight up, hot mess, tore up from the floor up drunk. Bitch, this is your intervention.

Sure, you show up at my house in your nice, clean suit, your hair perfectly quaffed and ready to teach my girls that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be. Then, we pull you out of that box and you become a love sick, drinking booze at 10:30 a.m., drunk dialing Ken, stripper shoe wearing freak.What the HELL, Barbie? No wonder your strapped in a box like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Mattel is your captor. You just want to let your freak flag fly, but, oh no, they are going to make you a woman of substance no matter what. And, as long as you're trapped in your little, plastic box everything is a-ok.  You get out of that box and shit gets real. Way real.  Jersey Shore real.

In every house I have EVER been in, you are in the same scenario. Naked (generally, ass up), Your hair? Totally disheveled and multiple lengths. Your shoes? Platform ass kicking boots or 7 inch heels. You are generally in a compromising situation with at least 3 to 10 other naked Barbies.  Your face? Covered in marker, lipstick or glitter glue. You like to party. Hard.

Your next gig? I'm voting for a long stay at the Betty Ford Clinic where you do some big ol' soul searching with your Double Delights. Are you sad because you lack a real vagina? For all your charm, good looks and career stardom, is it the dark depression of knowing Ken will NEVER really love you? Ken digs Men, mmm-k, girl?

During your Betty Ford stay, you just might find your true calling as an Addiction Treatment Specialist. The writing is on the wall, or, it's on your face...with permanent marker.

I love you. We ALL love you. Get help.

Hit and Run Barbie?

She drank so much her arm fell off.

Eyes Wide Shut

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up/(Beauty) School Drop-Out

As "Bad Parenting Moments", I love to explore, exploit and enjoy the humor of parenthood. This is my "shit just got REAL" post for the month. I'll return to the funny next week. I promise! xo - Debbie Downer

When I was a little girl, I went through the normal line-up of prospective careers: Rainbow Brite, Princess, Veterinarian, Doctor, Lawyer, President, Ballerina, Actress on, "Hey Dude!". The usual. Then, I grew up. Well, I partially grew up. I did well in school. I was fortunate to be given a scholarship to college. Before college, I narrowed down my career choices: Lawyer and Rainbow Brite. Sadly, UGA did not offer advanced degrees in Rainbow Brite or the option to minor in riding horned unicorns over rainbows. Hey, no school is perfect. I settled for pre-law. My freshman year was a disaster. A total disaster. I was a mess. I was immature. I was afraid. I did not know who I was or what the hell I was doing. I was 18. I would like to say that somewhere deep down inside of me, where I knew I could be and do whatever I wanted, that I channeled my inner She-Ra and pulled through. Not the case. After a year of failing, I failed myself and quit. The broken pieces of my paper bag princess hopped a Greyhound bus from Georgia to Los Angeles, California (another blog for another time) and I never...ok, I rarely looked back. I started working and built an excellent career. I started at the bottom and worked my way up the "old fashioned" way. I met a boy, fell in love, had lots of babies, moved to a small town in New England and put my ideas of what I thought I wanted to be on the back burner of the extra stove you keep in the basement. What I wanted to be when I grew up was irrelevant. I was living the dream. Happy, healthy family. My greatest career? Mom, of course! Babies and joy and chaos. There was no time to examine the 18 year old I was or the Poet/Lawyer/Warrior Princess she wanted to be, but, who cared. I. Was. Living. The. Dream.

I have written about this before. The quiet need of a mother to find and/or retain who she is amidst the joy and chaos of parenthood. I write about it because I have no earthly idea how to manifest this idea in real life. A mother finds little outlet in the day to day, in the "thick" of parenting to nourish herself, EXCEPT, through the growth, happiness and nourishment of her children. That is spectacular and gratifying, but, is it enough? I don't know.

Some would label me unhappy or ungrateful for even having this thought. Guess what, I am scared to have that thought. What kind of mother am I if I say, in print, that being a mother may not nourish every fiber of my being to satisfaction. What if, I dare to say that I may need my own childhood dreams of being my own super hero fulfilled outside of the confines of "mom"?  And, my biggest fear, what if I am not the best mother I can be because I do not know who I am outside of their mother. What if I fail them like I failed at 18. Because, like stepping into the world at 18, I am afraid and, on most days, I still do not know who I am or what the hell I am doing.

Here is the difference; my complete, heartbreaking love for my children will not allow me to quit. They make me want to truly examine the desires I have to become not just their mother, but, a woman they can be proud of. In quiet moments, I imagine my adult relationships with my children. In all of these imagined scenarios, they are always happy. We are always laughing. I do not know if they will be ballerinas, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, paleontologists, Broadway actors, college grads or college drop-outs. Are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Do they know who they are? Do they know that it is never too late to figure out who you want to be in the world?

And, what's next for me? Well, it is never to late to figure out who you want to be in the world. I don't owe Rainbow Brite or college for that piece of truth. I owe my children for that life lesson.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Can Kiss My Keister!

(Warning: Ranting/Rambling of a non-religious person forthcoming. If you are offended, I sincerely apologize in advance. If you continue reading, don't say I didn't warn you!)

Every year since we started having children, the scene has been relatively the same. It goes something like this:

Catholic Husband  (Thursday before Easter): "I don't know what you have planned for the kids for Easter on Sunday, but, I'm going to take A (our oldest) to mass with me."

Me, Heathen Wife: "CRAP!!! CRAP!!! Easter is THIS Sunday. You are joking me? How late is (fill in the name with any super sized bargain store) open?"

Easter! You did it again! You are one stealth holiday, my frenemy!

It is not just that it always sucker punch's me in the face and then while I'm recovering, kicks me in the stomach. It's the whole shebang. It confuses me. SO, let me get this straight, Jesus came back from the dead (WHOA...that is AMAZING. Note to self: DVR The Walking Dead) and we celebrate this by buying green plastic grass, hiding eggs in bushes and perpetuating the (terrifying) myth that a 7 foot tall rabbit is breaking into our homes to bring us diabetes?

The egg hunts, the wearing of fancy clothing, the dye, the egg massacre in my kitchen, the candy, the 2:00 p.m. tantrums, the serious lack of alcohol to make any of this palatable. It is my least favorite holiday.

I imagine if I were religious (i.e. not going to hell in an Easter (hand)basket), Easter would be so much more. Respect. For me, with 4 small kids and a serious lack of religious upbringing, it is the antithesis. It is another Wal*Mart sponsored spending spree that leaves me feeling ambushed and with an additional 5 pounds of candy weight.

The DEVILed Eggs

But, I love my kids. I love them like CRAZY. So, I will SQUEEZE my post-partum body into a frock, hide jelly bean filled eggs, create baskets that would make Wilford Brimley shake in his diabetes filled boots and start downing mimosas at 10:00 a.m. . I'm a mom, it isn't about me! My little heathens LOVE Easter, so, I will pretend to love it too. And, to be fair, they are the four cutest cadbury eggs on the planet.  Sigh, Easter...you win again.

See, I manage to pull it all together.

HOLY cuteness. Easter 2009. This Easter, 2 additional bunnies!

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