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Bad Parenting Moments: October 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Three-Way

Parents are always in a three-way.  What I did. What I should have done. What I will do next time. It's the trickiest game of seduction. Imagine walking up to yourself at a bar. "Hey, hot stuff. Do you like kids?"

In every moment, with every decision, there are the three versions of myself I'm trying to please, appease or ignore. The perfectionist, the nihilist and the wine swilling, Spanx wearing woman wondering if she can make her grandfather's sweater vest relevant by belting it.

Lucky for me, I'm lazy and refuse to harp too much on pleasing all three of myself.  I have enough trouble unhooking my own bra, thankyouverymuch. I guess I'm just old-fashioned. Sorry ladies of me, two of you are just going to have to wait your turn.

The Perfectionist:  One word? Annoying. Always signing up for school committees and buying themed cupcake wrappers. Who ARE you? As we inch ever closer to holiday-palooza, she likes to pretend she's in charge. She starts looking at Pinterest with actual intent instead of malice. She thinks about monogramming stockings and buying pants that fit. She tries to find local gardening courses in preparation for Spring. She buys yards of fabric to make Muumuus for my inevitable life flight rescue out of our partially removed roof after having eaten my way through every holiday shape of peanut butter cup. I love her. I hate her. I want her to knock me into a coma until she's ready to relinquish the reins in mid-January. I do dig her love of jet black liquid eyeliner. I hear that look is timeless.

The Nihilist: Always ready for everything to go to hell in a hand basket. This chick has issues. I don't pretend to understand her schedule and I never know when to expect her. I'd make cookies to ease her transition, but, I already ate all of them and she doesn't give a shit about cookies, or bathing regularly or Tyrannosaurus expired RX under the bathroom sink. She's not lazy; she just assumes she's going to mess it up, so, why do it at all. Certain failure is her game and she's constantly in check-mate. The kids dig her because it means lots of chicken nuggets, chaos, television and white flag waving when the family-size box of fruit snacks come out because, 1) There IS carrot juice in them and 2) She's busy wondering just how much therapy the children are going to require. The upside is that she's kind of arty, writes poetry and reminds me that failure isn't as chronic as how often I seem to run out of wine.

The Wine Swilling Spanxonista: If you dug Mary Poppins' measuring tape out of her bag to see how this version of me measures up, it would say: Practically Mediocre in EVERY Way! She makes rarely to nearly palatable food, seldomish forgets an appointment and makes every effort to not drink before 5:00 p.m. She showers, semi-frequently, and will throw on mascara in order to stop the screaming of toddlers and the tears of childless 20-somethings upon seeing her face. She cares about looking presentable, but, in an approachable, "I'll wear a knee length, maternity tank to elongate my non-existent post-partum waistline!", and not in the, "I wear yoga pants because I actually do yoga." way.  She flirts with her husband and then pisses him off by falling asleep mid-sentence every night. She's a real piece of work in the entirely unemployable way. Thankfully, she doesn't take herself too seriously because that would be a waste of time...and seriousness.  At the end of the day, she's perfectly comfortable in the flannel pants she possibly or certainly wore all day, but, she owns it just like she owns every Disney movie ever made on VHS because, "Tape is a lost art!". Listen, she's a little weird, but, it's not contagious although there has been voiced concern about exactly how much 50% of DNA contributes to offspring personality.

It's exciting to see who is going to show up for which life-changing and highly important event in my children's lives. These saucy three-way Madames don't seem to play by any rules, but, that's alright because rules are meant to be broken, or avoided, or not even bothered with at all. And, hey, therapy is expensive so why not just dig your heels in the crazy and see which cliff it drops you off of . I think that is a direct Dr. Phil quote (No, it's not.).

Perfectionist: "If you'll excuse me, I have a mini-brownies with strawberry Santa hats recipe that requires pasting into my Holidays Forever book!"

Nihilist: "Are you fucking kidding me?" *Rolls eyes*

Spanxonista: "Did somebody say brownies?"

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Greatest Show On Earth

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to The Greatest Show on Earth. Dancing bears, jugglers, clowns, rings of fire, flying trapeze and lion taming;  all suspended over a sea of wine! But, enough about me...

Parenting is a circus. A big, loud circus. Popcorn everywhere and the Bearded Lady is you. Juggling bowling pins on fire, cramming small people in cars as quickly as possible, incessant  roaring, money flying out of your pants, parade routes of wild animals and a lifetime supply of spandex.

"What about the Ferris Wheel?", you say. Sorry, that's the Carnival. I see where you're coming from, but, entirely different. The carnival is all about rides and developing diabetes in one day. The circus is about death-defying feats, bravery and general stupidity in the face of certain death. Circus. Death. Mayhem. Hi-jinx. Soaring through the air hoping your partner catches the shit filled diaper you flung across the room.

People are more than happy to buy a ticket. Take every extreme parenting show on television. We crave to see parenting in all of its ludicrous excess. It's entertaining, dangerous and laughable and, because watching someone else's shit-show makes Mom riding around the block on the tiny tricycle appear more normal. We all want to believe in normalcy, but, parenting is the tin foil hat proudly propped on the forehead of life.

I am always working to embrace the pie in the face, bear in a tutu, unicycle riding through the fiery, cardboard high-rise facade of normal. Nothing about parenting is normal. A lifetime of equal parts love and fear and the ever rotating carousel of power - constantly taking turns with our small people on the ringleader platform.

It's not easy. Sometimes, it's not fun. Most of the time, your heart is pounding in your chest as you soar above reality, cringing at the mistakes you've made. With every day of practice, hoping that when the time comes to finally let go, you're able to release your white-knuckled grip with minimal fear. Praying the safety net you've created is strong enough to catch all of you in the event of a fall. Hoping the kegels you've done for 18 years have finally paid off and that your socks are still dry.

After all is said and done and, when the tent starts to comes down, we all leave the circus dazed, confused, mesmerized, changed and awed. Drunk on the magic of people who survived another day of reckless, brave, selfless and entirely abnormal feats.

Parenting. Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth.

Learning to let go.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Long Live the Terrible Twos

If you ask a toddler who they are, they will say, "I am ME!" Simple and true. There can only be one you and, never are we more aware of this than during the big, self-pimptastic-realization of age 2. When the world is your oyster and that bitch better produce a pearl. This is the prime of our take. When you are 2, there is very little control over your world. You control only your reaction to the decisions being made for you and around you. In order to swallow that pill, you become one.

If you ask an adult who they are, they wax philosophical. Answering with who they want to be more often than who they currently are. At times, we may not even know. We project our desires with less toddler-like stomping and biting, but, with only a quarter of the badass that toddlerhood organically, and abundantly, produces.

There are times I desire that toddler, Foghorn Leghorn puffed chest pride. Every time I see my daughter strut around new terrain, secure in her right to be there, claiming the space as her own, I am awe-struck. So much sense of self trapped in one, tiny body. I imagine that the internal soundtrack in her head is Danger Zone. 24/7 Danger Zone and so much fantastic, she doesn't need Goose to co-pilot.

There are times when the brazenness of her age embarrasses me. Everything is theirs. That wallet in your hand? THEIRS. The grapes in the produce section. THEIRS. The chalk in your toddler's hands? Sorry, THEIRS. The cat's flea collar, your bowl of cereal, the sack of plastic bags in the basement. Right. THEIRS.

Alternatively, in all the well documented take of the toddler age, I see saintly giving. The affection they give to everyone they meet. The trust they extend and their unlimited well of forgiveness. I see those traits more acutely developed in these pint-sized Mother Theresas than in the majority of adult society. So much love to give and everyone is deserving. You only need be in their extended orbit to be a recipient of their time, words, love and attention.

Sure, they could use some polish. The crapping directly in their pants and failure to understand how to use a tissue require finesse, but, when it comes to give and take, good and bad, the light and dark, I have to say, toddlers may have us beat.

Toddler 101: Enter a room and be brazenly YOU.  Make friends with everyone. If anyone steps on your toes, tell them and then, hug it out. Friends may not always agree, but, if we have Goldfish and a few minutes, we'll remember that having relationships is far better than being right and, we'll move on. Everyone can play and if we all pool our snacks, there is plenty to go around. If I get hurt, it's alright to cry. If I need love, I'll ask for a hug. The world is great. People are kind. If you love the music, dance...no matter where you are. If you hurt someone, say sorry. Share.

Long live the Terrible Twos.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seven Minutes in Heaven

Some people want a larger home. Some, a new job. Some dream of lavish vacations. Me? I want seven minutes of silence. Pure, triple X, golden silence. I would take it in a car. I would take it at a bar. I would take it here or there, I would take it ANYwhere.

As I sit here typing, I have two children in time-out, one rolling a plastic bus over her own face and one clinging to my knee as if it were made entirely of Oreos.

As I sit here typing, the world is whizzing by my window. People alone in their vehicles. Alone. In their aloneness with alone thoughts of being quietly alone. I imagine they are looking in my window and thinking, "Look at that lively home with all of those bustling sounds!" and to those people I say, be thankful my house is not "drive-by and sniff" or you would be horrified when you awoke from your smell induced coma.

As I sit here typing, I try to imagine the sound of nothing. But, even in near quiet, a toddler will sit down next to me, put their mouth next to my ear and chew a Triscuit. When I flinch and run to the bathroom, someone will stick their face in the gap between the door and the floor and will speak in run-on sentences until I emerge. It's not that I don't love sound, it's that I don't enjoy the feeling of one thousand ladybugs playing hopscotch on my brain.

The baby is adorable in her endless noise. Even when she's sleeping, she will put her face directly in mine and breathe loudly. Creepy, heavy, on the other end of the line breathing. Restraining order breathing. HEHHHHH HEHHHHHHHH HEHHHHHHHHHHHH HEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

It's not that I don't appreciate the sheer strength of will it must take to create noise every living second. It must be exhausting, however, making the noise has little to no effect on the noise maker. It doesn't appear to be exhausting. Therein lies the magic. I am exhausted. Exhaustion by proxy? Brilliant.

On some evenings, 2 glasses of wine in, I marvel at the talent of my copper pot band. Every delighted shriek that does not end with, "BLOOD!" fills my heart with joy and then fear and then joy again before the fear of recognition creeps back in that screaming is their language and I am the tourist that simply points at things with angry eyebrows. My jumbled sounds say, "Hay goes in a haystack and it's ice cream for dinner!" when I'm saying, "I can't hear anything! Can you hear the words coming out of my mouth? HELLO?"

It's not that they are not listening, it's that they are speaking Kid and I am speaking fluent Grown Up In Charlie Brown.

My husband plays several instruments. Currently, we have four trombones, the loudest instrument in the orchestra. I often wonder if he is trying to slowly drive me insane. Well played, sir.


I think about how often we try to reconnect by going out into different noise. The noise of our life becomes routine and we crave the noise of others. Dinner conversation at the next booth. The bar patron three stools down. Active listening on social media drowning out the sacred and constantly constant noise of home. Losing ourselves in the noise of others. Losing ourselves in the noise of the world.

I don't need a day. I just need 7 minutes. One to let my mind slow. One to clear the anxious jumble of words, One to breathe. One minute to bask in the glory of nothingness. One to reconnect with the latent peace of my soul - my separate being. One to give thanks for the healthy children making the noise and one for making peace while beginning to miss the noise.

It seems so simple, yet, silence is the most elusive part of my day. I crave it while fearing a life without it. The push-pull of the sounds of home.

One day my knee won't be as delightful as a sleeve of Oreos. One day, I'll have all the quiet and less to write about.

One day, I'll crave seven minutes of constant, chaotic oblivion. One to adjust. One to enjoy, One to embrace. One to remember. One to immerse. One to engage and one to wish for seven more minutes in Heaven.

Until then, we are living life constantly out loud.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ring-a-ling-a-ling! Swimming Telephone - Tangled Up In Blue

When the Swimming Telephone rings, you answer. Capiche?

The fabulous Marian of Just Keep Swimming created a fantastic game of telephone for the kids here in the blogosphere. With our side-ponys and friendship bracelets flying, we are running the blog relay; passing the keyboard in lieu of the baton. It's my turn to give you the latest installment of the incredible Swimming Telephone. I'm up at bat, continuing the story of one poor mama-jama having one hell of a day. So far, her tangled web has been woven with care and morning dew by the following fantastic bloggers:

  • Mama’s 3 year old son escaped and had a junior joy-ride in the driveway (Nicole at Ninja Mom)
  • Her middle child got tattooed with a Sharpie by his big sister, complete with an f-bomb shout-out (Kristina at There’s No Time For Pants!)
  • Big sister got a lovely reverse mohawk from middle-child brother, the new school year begins tomorrow and, to top it off? Our heroine's mother-in-law just showed up!  Robyn at Hollow Tree Ventures chimes in with, "You Must Be Kidding!"
  •  JD from Honest Mom brings the continued funny with, "Thank God for Grandma." AND...
  • Our mama removes children from rafters and considers daytime drinking as the incomparable Andrea at the Underachievers Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess outlines in, "It IS Five-o-clock somewhere!"   

Here is DG's last installment, It IS Five-o-clock somewhere! Lucky me, I pick up our heroine's story just below with Tangled Up In Blue!

***It IS Five-o-clock somewhere!*** Underachievers Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess

Pfffft!  I can't start drinking yet can I?  Yes.  Yes I can. But first, I grab the kitchen bar stool, climb up unsteadily, and grab Mr. Man from the rafters as he giggles and yells, "Mama look at me! I'm a monkey!"

My mother-n-law watches with an expression that is one part disapproval, two parts empathy - she's been down this road before - and her son, my husband is severely flawed in more ways than I or he would like to admit so she knows to keep a lid on it for now.  As I put Mr. Man at the table, I do what I do best, pre-occupy him with a snack, and the others immediately follow.  Chocolate in the morning?  Yes.  And though I haven't even cleaned up their egg-filled breakfast dishes, I immediately toss them each a chocolate-y snacky-type bar and fill their cups for the third time already today - I'm certain I will do this at least 10 more times before noon.  My mother- n -law decides to take a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to Tattoo Boy's arm. 
She has more patience and will to get this task done than I do, so I quickly pour another cup of coffee and think I'll pour some Bailey's Irish Cream directly into my coffee cup only to find that my husband has put the bottle back with approximately 3 droplets left. Why does he put empty things back on the shelf?  I'd like to ask my mother- n- law but I bite my tongue.  Mommy's little helper will have to wait until wine o'clock, much later after I get these children fixed.   I am a bit horrified that my mother n law is scrubbing the f word off of her grandson with a magic sponge, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

I catch my reflection in the mirror in horror. Last night's makeup and hair, and I'm still dealing with a wedgie from hell.  I have to do something about Mohawk Girl's hair, Tattoo Boy's arm is now missing several layers of skin, and Mater's Manager is plotting his next move.  I inform my Mother- n -Law that I'm going to run to the bathroom to get my face on and get ready to go and drag myself down the hallway.  When I open the door to the bathroom, I am stunned to find something that is about to make my morning look like a walk in the park....

***Tangled Up In Blue!***

"No, no, no-no-no-no-NO!"

"You ok in there?" my mother-in-law inquired.

I moved quickly and locked the door. "Yes. Everything is fine. How are you faring with the tattooed wonder?"

Her response was jumbled and unclear. The tell-tale, under the breath muttering of a woman on the edge. "Welcome to my world.", I whispered.

I had a small disaster on my hands and, swirling at my ankles. I was going to need supplies. I was going to need towels. I was going to need coffee. Why hadn't I ever considered a Keurig for the bathroom. A Keurig was definitely going on my, "Dream The Impossible Dream Bathroom!" board on Pinterest. Wasn't there a Dukakis who drank mouthwash? I briefly concocted the recipe for a mint julep with a mouthwash kicker in my mind. Cocktails For Women In Crisis! Another ill timed book idea.

I turned around and reached for the towel racks. Empty. Of course. The towels were in the dryer. "This will teach me to do laundry.", I muttered. And then, BINGO! I had never been more thankful for my postpartum incontinence. The Depends! It was going to take the whole package. Maybe two. Did I still have my maternity underwear handy? Those bad boys could soak up at least 2 cups each.

As I started mopping up the water, my mind was racing. What was I thinking? These late 1800s-era New England pipes weren't built for this. I had panicked. It was the only solution my half-awake brain could find this morning right before the day hopped the express rail to Hell. I had to laugh considering the irony of the flush of the toilet signaling the start of this craptacular day.

When Jeff wiggled the doorknob this morning, I took the test, dropped it in the toilet and flushed. He wasn't ready for the news. I wanted to be wearing heels when I told him; maybe some mascara. I wanted to brush my teeth. I wanted to look...ready. And now, here I was, mopping up Smurf-blue toilet water with Depends, a positive pregnancy test stuck in our pipes. I was running out of time. By now, my mother-in-law had surely removed the ink tattoo along with a few layers of the darling offspring's skin and had probably moved on to the white glove test in the living room. Please God, don't let her look at the ceiling fan blades.

"Christine? You ok?"

"I'm fine, Mom. I'm fine. I'll be right out." But, things were not fine. I sat on the edge of the tub, placed my head in my now dark blue stained, toilet water hands and cursed AAA for only servicing cars and not septic systems.

"Do you want some wine, honey? I already started!"

"No thanks! I'm, sadly, going to have to pass." I had already grabbed the Bailey's for show. The charade lives on! She would know soon enough. This day had already been endless. I considered the next 9 months without wine and smiled. "Hey Mom? I'm going to need the number for a plumber!"

What's next for this mama? Rock bottom? Rock and a hard place? Either way, I'll mix a margarita on the rocks and pass it to the amazing and talented Tara at You Know It Happens At Your House Too.