Note To Self: My Husband Is Not The Patriarchy

I’m angry. Right now.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill anger. It’s the kind of seething anger that pops up every now and then without notice.

It’s anger without a reason.

This might sound crazy, but I’ll be perfectly happy one minute — and then ten minutes later I’m fuming. It literally comes from no where. There’s typically nothing that predicates it. It just happens.

I try to get rid of it — try to step away for a moment and breathe. The anger doesn’t happen all the time. But it happens enough. And I become bitter and resentful for an entire evening.

It’s truly awful.

It’s basically this — out of nowhere I become angry at the fact that I’m the woman in the house. And just to be clear — I LOVE being a woman. The anger stems from this feeling that there’s this unspoken, subconscious expectation of me based on my gender.

Don’t get me wrong — my husband is a feminist. A big one. He’s amazing. He pulls his weight. He supports me totally and completely. He loves his children fiercely.

Yet sometimes. Sometimes I can’t help but resent the fact that he’s a man (which I’m glad he is.) Although he cooks and helps with the cleaning, and splits night-time feedings 50/50 — I still feel short-changed as a woman.

Because I worry. I worry about every goddamn thing, and my beautiful husband looks so goddamned relaxed. The thing about Ernesto is that he knows how to kick his shoes off and read a book in the middle of chaos. He’s not being lazy — the man works his ass off. But he knows how to take a moment — a breather.

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And I don’t know how to do that. As a woman, it’s ingrained in me to care for everything — even when it’s not necessary. There is this deep-seated unspoken expectation within myself to run the household. To make sure the kids get their baths, to do endless loads of laundry, to maintain the kitchen, to wipe down the bathrooms, to change the sheets, to make appointments for the kids, to schedule playdates, to sign the kids up for activities, to make sure the kids are well dressed, etc, etc, infinity, etc.

My husband does a lot. Hell, dinner wouldn’t get made without him. I wouldn’t have any food in my house if it weren’t for his diligent shopping expeditions with the kids. And did I mention he brings home most of the money?

So why am I angry? Why am I complaining? I decided to have a family — I should be grateful. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Last year my husband bought me a stack of books on feminism from the used bookstore. It was a lovely gift. One of the books called, The Bitch in the House (trying to tell me something babe?) is a compilation of works by various female writers that highlight the daily trials and triumphs of being a woman. I didn’t read the entire book. As a matter of fact I only read the first 20 pages. It was difficult to read a book about angry women when I have so much anger of my own.

For god sakes. I just want to be content. And happy. Which I am most of the time — about seventy percent of the time if you want an exact number — a number I would like to improve on.

But the first essay I read in The Bitch in the House was a piece written by E.S. Maduro, titled Excuse Me While I Explode: My Mother, Myself, My Anger. She writes about her feminist boyfriend — a man who was the complete opposite of her traditional, sexist father. In it she explains her seething anger as she realized that even the most feminist men can’t escape male privilege — that these men with all their progressive ideas about women, still unknowingly bask in the glow of that ultimate advantage. And it’s infuriating.

Here’s an excerpt describing her anger upon returning home from work and seeing her boyfriend relaxing and downloading music at the computer in the midst of a messy, dirty house:

On such occasions I will be angry for thirty minutes, or maybe until I have eaten something. I will ruminate on the place of the woman in today’s “modern” society. I will cook and clean, and all the while think about how I am falling into the same trap of housework that my own mother fell into. As I scrub the kitchen sink, I will hear her voice saying, “You have choices,” and I will scowl at the concept of choice. I will decide that my modern, liberal, open-minded boyfriend, having been raised by a mother who did everything in the home (in addition to having a job), will never notice or care if his girlfriend or wife takes over those same domestic responsibilities. He is capable of doing all of them, but if they get done for him, my thoughts go, he might never even realize that they needed doing in the first place.

What she continues to say brings full circle the very conundrum that clutches me.

But then slowly, as I finish picking up the dirty clothes from the floor, I will think about his day, will remember that he works long hours, too — and that he loves music, that finding new albums to record off our computer is a way for him to relax, to wind down. It will occur to me that maybe he was waiting for me to come home so that we could eat together, that he didn’t know I would be arriving so late; that he was sincere, rather than just trying to avoid a fight, when he offered to cook for me {. . .} gradually my anger will start to wane, and in it’s place will come guilt and confusion and sadness.

Maduro talks about how she wants and chooses to be angry.

I feel frustrated by the guilt that accompanies asking Paul to take the initiative to run the dishwasher, to do the laundry without shrinking my sweaters, to buy groceries that are healthy. . . to ask for what my mother never would have, to be what she would have considered a “nag.” In wanting my home to be as well organized as my mother kept hers, I feel as though I must choose between doing everything myself and constantly asking Paul to do more.

And this is where the resentment comes in. I don’t want to have to ASK my husband to do more. Why would I do that when he already does so much? I don’t want to be a nag. But I have certain expectations of how a house should run — how a house should feel. As a woman, I know how to run a house. Why? Because that’s how I was brought up. My mom did everything — cooked, cleaned, and raised four children. I watched her do it all. And even though my mom is a feminist, I felt the unspoken expectation that this is what I would do when I grew up — raise children and run a household. As a matter of fact, it’s what I WANTED to do. As a little girl I dreamed of being a mother.

And here I am with four children. Cooking. Cleaning. Running a household. Except I have an amazingly helpful husband. And there are many duties that we try to split evenly. But I’m angry that it seems easier for him. Easier for him to get out of the house — or so I think. Couldn’t I go out for a drink at night if I really wanted to? Ernesto would totally support that. But I feel guilty for WANTING to — because, well — I have other responsibilities, and the dishes need to be done, and the laundry needs to be folded, and Kiera needs to clean her room.

And it’s so obvious that I’m doing this to myself. Ernesto isn’t to blame. I WANT to be angry — to bask in momentary bitterness. But I don’t want to WANT to be angry.

See how this is totally my problem?

My husband is not the patriarchy. He’s my partner. As a woman I’m lucky to have all the choices that I have today — even though we, as women, have a ways to go.

Ernesto says that I can relax too. Why can’t I sit down for a moment and read a chapter out of my book? Why can’t I draw or write for twenty minutes? Ernesto feels no guilt, no shame, no concern about taking that small amount of time for himself to recoup. And he shouldn’t. He deserves that. But that’s — in part — because he’s a man. Kicking his feet up is okay and smiled upon. Our society practically encourages it despite the fact that we’ve come a long way. There are just some things that don’t stress him out the way it stresses me out. BUT THAT’S NOT HIS FAULT. It’s this never-ending cycle that’s all just a load of shit because I’m doing this to myself.

Really.

So in the musical words of my nine-year-old daughter, maybe I should “let it go.”

Yes. I just said that.

I need to find a way to let go of this unrest I feel as a woman. This underlying rage isn’t doing me or my family any favors.

It’s time to move on from this stagnant place — time to be grateful for everything I have. Time to stop wallowing in these “first world problems.”

I think I’ll step outside and breathe in the fresh air. And just let all this shit go.

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Love By A Different Name

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Me and Ryan

I really believe that the first born child has it harder than the rest. I guess that doesn’t sound fair to the middle children or the babies — but it’s true.

Oldest babies are the test babies. The ones who have to live through their inept first-time parents’ mistakes. The ones who have to live a life recovering from their parents’ neuroses and anxieties about raising a human being for the first time — a foreign, precious, and terrifying experience. The responsibility of being a parent doesn’t really hit you until you’re holding that helpless creature in your arms and looking into those newborn eyes that encompass endless possibilities.

My boy. My oldest. I made mistakes with him. I had him too young. I wasn’t ready for his amazing, life-altering presence. But I did the best I could.

Now he’s approaching thirteen. He smiles less. He rolls his eyes at me. But he’s still Ryan. Funny. Helpful. Neurotic. Imaginative.

He has a learning disability that makes school a challenge for him. Some nights, his homework is almost unbearable for him. Tears well up in his eyes. “What’s wrong with me?” he says, as he rests his head in his hands in utter defeat.

It breaks my fucking heart. I want him to be happy. To know that my love for him is vaster than a billion universes combined. When I give him hugs, he puts his head on my shoulder — and I know he’s slipping away. Away to that tumultuous, angst-ridden place called teenagerdom. And I don’t want him to leave. Because he’ll see me with new eyes. He’ll see the mistakes I made.

And as he stands on that cusp, I’m about to give birth to my last baby. My last boy. A baby I’m ready for. A baby who’ll have more than Ryan. A baby who (god willing) won’t have to go through some of the difficulties that Ryan went through.

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As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a better parent — more patient and better able to enjoy the moment. I didn’t have that joy and unceasing devotion when I was young. I wasn’t a bad parent; I just wasn’t ready. I was in a perpetual state of impatience, waiting for that next developmental stage, because — god. It sounds awful, but I just wanted Ryan to grow up already. I loved him with ceaseless intensity, but I didn’t know how to enjoy motherhood. And he had to have felt that. I know he felt that.

So now I’m in my thirties. I have a three-year-old and a new little one waiting to make his entrance into this world. And I’m ready and able to give them boundless patience and tenderness. I’m ready to enjoy every moment of their little lives. It’s not fair to Ryan, but as Ryan has grown I’ve become a better mother to him. And that’s something, right?

Damn it. Here I am, not even a week after writing a post on mom guilt, and it’s here staring me in the face. Fucking guilt. But I’m human, and the best I can do is forge forward as a better mother, giving all my children the love they deserve; love by a different name.

My Husband Is Awesome. Is Yours?

Okay, so I’ve written a few blog posts on how husbands can be jerks and how to leave them.

I’ve had personal experience with this — unfortunately.

It seems silly to write a post about how to know your husband is awesome. You either know your husband is awesome, or you know he’s a jerk.

Sometimes your husband can be just “meh.”

I don’t think men should be constantly praised for things they SHOULD be doing. Like you know — being nice. I find it a bit grating when I read on Facebook the following:

My hubby is so awesome! He babysat the kids today so I could go to my doctors appointment and pick up some groceries!

Uh. Isn’t that what he SHOULD be doing? Also, a man taking care of his own children is not called “babysitting.”

But after writing a post about how crappy men can be, I must write about how awesome they can be. After all, I love men and I am married to one. I mean the man’s my best friend for Christ’s sake.

This post isn’t meant to be braggy (okay, maybe a little.) It’s a little self-reminder of how good I have it, and how every woman deserves to have the same kind of respect.  After reading some of the comments and the emails I’ve been getting, I felt it was necessary to share the amazing points of a good marriage. I’ve found that so many women second-guess their own feelings about their bad marriages. The pervading thought of these women (which may include you) is, “Well he DOES have SOME good qualities — even if he calls me a bitch.”

Ok. Well.

Let me tell you what a good marriage IS.

First of all. My husband’s name is Ernesto. And he’s the shit. See the awesome pic below.

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1. He encourages me to have time for myself.

He sees that I’m tired and tells me to lie down, read a book, watch TV, take a nap — you name it. The man will tell me to rest and say, “Babe, don’t worry. I’ll clean the kitchen and do the laundry. Just relax.” He understands that the household work is 50/50. It doesn’t matter that he works more hours — he knows this is a team effort. On top of that, he WANTS me to have my own hobbies — to have my downtime. He encourages me to write, draw, read, etc.

Mainly — he wants me to be happy.  If he see’s me getting a little wound up, he encourages me to take a nice long walk.

Okay, so maybe he encourages the walks so I’ll leave him alone and stop my bitching (I’m pregnant and hormonal), but hey — at least he wants me to get some fresh air!

2. He listens. He asks questions. He talks.

He fucking communicates.

We could literally talk for hours. One of our favorite pastimes is drinking wine and listening to music while playing Backgammon (this is us being wild and crazy, yo) — this scenario also includes a constant stream of conversation. We have endless things that we like to do together (unfortunately right now — for me — it’s just lying on the couch and watching TV because I’m pregnant and totes uncomfortable.)

3. The man doesn’t “babysit.”

No. The man actually takes care of his kids. He took on the fatherhood role when he came into my children’s life (my first two kids were from my ex) and then he enthusiastically took on the responsibility of raising our newborn together.

The newborn phase especially tested our patience with each other, but Ernesto never wavered in his commitment to do this parenting thing 50/50. He stayed awake at night bouncing a colicky baby, he assisted with feedings, he changed a million explosively shitty diapers — he was basically doing his job as a co-parent.

And just as another reminder. This is all shit that men should be doing. I’ve never taken it upon myself to constantly thank and praise him for all these things. All of these things are expected of him — and he in turn expects these things from me. It’s called parenting and marriage. But with that said, it’s nice to acknowledge all the wonderful things about my husband.

He’s just truly, an amazing, wonderful person.

I now must go as my kids just popped in the door from school.  I have to pay attention to them, you know.

But you get the gist of it.

Everybody deserves a loving, equal partner. Nobody should short-change themselves. Some marriages/partnerships divide the duties differently, but as long as you feel loved, respected and in love with your partner, then I think you’re set. Just make sure you’re doing all the same for him.

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The Alpha Parent Shows Me The Error Of My Ways

I wanted to bestow upon you this image that I came across on thealphaparent.com.

It’s a gem.

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It’s pretty amazing, huh?

Amazingly fucked up.

First of all, the image is not original or creative. It’s one of the lactivists most frequent comparisons: Formula as fast food.  Formula as junk food. Formula, essentially, as poison.

I haven’t read very much of The Alpha Parent blog. It’s pretty hard to stomach — my pregnancy is making me nauseated enough.

But I did come across this gem from 2011 titled: Why the way you feed your baby is MY business.  I know, right? A typical, blatant, mean-girl title that’s meant to garner as much attention as possible.

Well unfortunately, this title caught my attention.

I will summarize her blog post for you. Because it’ll be fun.

The way you feed your baby is HER business BECAUSE:

1. If you use formula, you’re saying YES to dead babies in developing countries. Because these evil formula companies (and I acknowledge that they’re not very ethical — they ARE big business after-all) force their food on the poor, illiterate women who end up mis-using the formula. Tragic and awful? YES. Is it prevalent enough for me to go through even more agony so I can provide breast milk that only has marginal benefits compared to formula? NO.

And if this is a major concern for you, research your formula companies. Or go for local formula companies such as Vermont Organics infant formula.

2. She finds the way I feed my baby offensive because she cares about all the diseases/illnesses/bacteria he will acquire from such junk food.

As I don’t use formula you may wonder why I’m troubled by this. However just because I did not give birth to the children suffering or put at risk because of formula feeding, this does not prevent me from feeling compassion for them. I find it short-sighted and self-centred that people expect me to care only for children to whom I have a genetic link.

Essentially — she cares about my children more than I do.  Because I put them at risk by formula feeding. By the way, I’m still waiting for my almost three year old to get an ear-infection from all the formula I gave him.

Yeah, still waiting.

Waiting.

Oh, nothing yet? Okay, well now I’ll wait for another (insert horrible disease here.) In the mean time, I’ll cry myself to sleep every night because she cares about my children more than I do.

3. Formula feeding mothers are ruining the environment. I’m honestly just too tired to deal with this one. That must mean I don’t care about the environment. I hate myself!

4. If you use formula, you’re not a feminist.

Excuse me while I have a laughing fit.

Okay, I’m done.

Consider her far-reaching reasoning:

Furthermore, a common conception of formula is that it aids a woman’s economic mobility through strengthening her role in the workplace. She is no longer tied to a dependant infant and can instead pass a bottle of formula to grandma and return to being economically active. However this perceived benefit is negated by the fact that formula fed children are significantly more likely to fall ill, and numerous studies have shown that a child’s illness commonly results in the mother rather than the father taking time off work (Journal of Early ChildhoodWeimer.JNursery WorldMother and Baby;Working Mums Magazine). Thus when a woman is taking more time off work she is seen as a burden by her employer. This does not strengthen the role of women in the workplace. Consequently women of childbaring age are viewed as liabilities. This is not to mention the strain on employers caused by their employees sick children results in lower incomes for working families, thus reducing income tax revenues which pay for government programs and services that benefit everyone.

So I’m trying to understand what she’s saying here. Is she saying women should just stay home and nurse their babies to further the women’s lib movement? Or we should be chained to breast-pumps to mitigate any illnesses that MIGHT happen? I have an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence (yes I know this is not considered “real” evidence), but my two breastfed children had far more illnesses than my formula fed child. My daughter who was exclusively breastfed, had numerous ear infections as an infant and toddler.

Dear Alpha Parent — perhaps just the act of bearing children is considered a liability — not HOW they’re fed.

So, in essence, you must feed your babies through your bleeding, cracked nipples to prove that you’re not a slave to formula companies. This makes you a strong, independent woman!

Thanks for your concern, Alpha Parent!

5. By formula feeding my child, the Alpha Parent is concerned that I’m contributing to the puritanical idea that breasts are strictly sexual and not for breastfeeding — that breastfeeding women shouldn’t nurse in public. I’m kind of flattered that she thinks that I’m contributing to all these problems — and to my country’s distorted view of breasts. I think Alpha Parent needs to take a deep look at herself and wonder if maybe — just maybe — part of this backlash of nursing in public is related to the lactivists smug, self-congratulatory, mean-girl status — and their scathing judgement on those who don’t breastfeed.

By the way, I think nursing in public is awesome and should be done more often.

6.  She’s concerned about my child’s intelligence. She’s worried he’ll be stupid or some such shit.

The following quote is pretty hysterical:

But why do I care about the IQ of other people’s children? As formula feeding lowers the IQ of the population, this means less scientific advancements. We’re talking about cures for cancers and other diseases, new amenities, new technologies, strategies to combat global warming, and so on.

Ah yes, the Baby Boomer generation produced nothing but dunces — no scientists, literary geniuses, lawyers, politicians, mathematicians, doctors, etc, came out of that generation — all because most of them were formula fed.

7. I’m more likely to abuse my child because I use formula. Apparently. Or something like that. You know, because I don’t care about my child.

But Alpha Parent cares. She cares more than me.

8. My formula feeding choice effects Alpha Parent because I’m producing the spawn of satan. Essentially — my child will be the next Charles Manson — or something along those lines.

9.  My baby is going to get her baby sick. And she cares about that because it effects other children as well. Pretty soon my baby will be getting everybody sick. It’s gonna be like that movie Contagion up in here, folks!

10. She cares that my child will be getting colds and the flu or some such shit. Because breast-fed babies don’t ever get sick, remember?

11. Giving my children formula means that I’m uneducated and will continue to have babies, perpetuating the cycle of poverty in this country. Maybe she’s right! I AM having my fourth child after all.

12. She’s concerned that formula fed babies are going to take all the doctors away from her children.

13. Apparently she thinks I’m anti-breastfeeding, and that I’m hurting other women’s chance at breastfeeding successfully. I won’t dignify this accusation with a response.

14. My child is a drain on the medical community.

And hilariously, Alpha Parent concludes with this:

Just to clarify, I fully defend a woman’s right to chose how she feeds her baby IF that choice is fully informed, free from bias and backed up with adequate support…

I find this statement laughable after she lambasted all formula feeding mothers for being uneducated, selfish, and anti-feminist.

Sigh.

But, whatever.

Excuse me while I tend to my suffering, wasteful, unintelligent, abused, juvenile delinquent, germ-infested, medical doctor hogging offspring. I have a lot of work ahead of me to “fix” my children so they can be contributing members of society.

Thanks, Alpha Parent, for showing me the error of my ways.

Motherhood: Like It Or Love It

Last night I was done. Done for the day. Done being a mom. Done with work. Done being a housekeeper. Done with the ever increasing load of endless things to do.

I was tired.

Beckett was screaming.

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An old picture of Beckett screaming, but you get the idea.

Kiera was asking the same questions over and over.

“Can I go on the iPad?”

“Can I have a lollipop?”

“Can I watch My Little Pony?”

“No, Kiera! For the love of God, read a book!”

She would slowly walk a way. Dejected. Head hanging. She would find the easiest book ever and read it in under 30 seconds.

“NOW can I go on the iPad?”

Yes, I admit we have a lot of screen time in this house. Something we need to cut back on. But despite how tired I was, I didn’t cave. Okay. I DID let her watch My Little Pony. But just one episode, okay?

Ryan needed help with homework. It took about two hours to get one math assignment done. There were tears. There was frustration — both from Ryan and his dad. Frustration on Ryan’s side because if he doesn’t understand something, then it must not be correct. Converting milliliters to liters? According to Ryan, it didn’t make any sense, so therefore it was scientifically impossible. And he would try to argue with his dad with a look of smug stubbornness, pointing out that all previous scientists and mathematicians were wrong. And he, Ryan, an eleven year old boy who is really bad at math, is correct. Try arguing with that while getting dinner done, dealing with a screaming baby and listening to an 8 year old girl standing there asking the same three questions over and over and over.

That’s why we have beer in the fridge.

I love my life. I love my children. I love my husband. But last night I was having a moment. Yes, I signed up for this. I always wanted to be a mom. I wanted five kids — cue the snickers.  Then when I had my first, I realized I only “liked” being a mom. I didn’t love it — even though I loved my baby more than the entire Universe — my love for him stretched a billion times deeper than the deepest depths of the cosmos.

But I only “liked” being a mom. But I was only 22. I had no fucking clue what I had gotten myself into.

Then I decided that I kinda sorta loved being a mom and had another baby. Then I went back to only “liking” the mommy thing.  I think my level of liking and loving directly correlates with the age of the child. My love of being a mother increases as the child gets older. Especially after they’re potty trained. Needless to say, I had three children instead of five.

Anyway. Last night. So I was in a mood. And when I get in a mood, I can’t just snap out of it. I have to let it fester, much to the frustration of my husband. I can’t even force a smile — if I try, it results in a maniacal, tight stretched out mouth with gritted teeth. It’s not pretty. All I can do is furrow my brow and just roll with it.

I think my problem is I work all day. Literally. I go to work and take care of people. I come home and take care of people. I’m constantly caring for people.

You know what would help?

Walks.

A nice brisk walk every evening.

I think I’ll do that today.

And hopefully I’ll be back to loving motherhood when the kids get home from school.

Pretty, Pretty Blogs

Mommy Blogs, Mom Bloggers, Moms that blog.

I have a love-hate relationship with them. The ones I love to hate are the homemaking perfectionist mommy bloggers. They usually have multiple children and a dog or two. They post the most fabulous pictures of their most fabulous houses and their most fabulous projects that YOU can do too if you have a spare 50,000 hours.  Their homes are perfection; everything is always crisp, clean and white with a burst of color. The children’s rooms are just so  with quaint vintage-like drawings and paintings of birds and amazing arty world maps. They’re always cooking fabulous meals with quinoa and kale — and their children actually EAT it — or so they say.

The reason I love these bloggers is because they inspire me.  I look at all the beautiful things they’re doing and all the beautiful things they have and I think, “If they can do it, I can surely do it too!”

And the reason I hate these bloggers is because once I think that I can do it, I realize that I actually can’t. My life is too busy — too full. And that’s fine. And perhaps I’m a bit jealous.  But that’s not the point.

The point is, I think it’s disingenuous to paint yourself in such a flawless way.  In the end it makes me think there’s some deep dark secret that you’re desperately trying to cover up. You’re insecure, your husbands unfaithful, YOU’RE unfaithful, you suffer from a severe anxiety disorder  — there’s nothing wrong with these things (except for the infidelity) it’s just nice to maybe — I don’t know — be more honest. I understand that a lot of people don’t want to be that open, but for god’s sake. Not everything has to be perfect. You don’t have to prove that you can make the perfect christmas candles or paint birch branches the perfect shade of white (which I love by the way.) Have a moment of failure and embrace it. Turn that smile into a frown and muss up that hair.  Write a post about how you let your kids go three days without a bath. THEN I’ll enjoy your lovely little tutorials and projects — because I’ll know that you’re human. And being human is embracing the mess.

But in the end, I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’ll read the blogs anyway as I cross my arms and pout — because everything is so damn pretty.

Vacation, Interrupted

Vacations are heavenly. Vacations are heavenly when you’re young. Vacations are heavenly when you don’t have children.

Having children makes a vacation fun in a different sort of way — like fun in the way that watching your favorite movie with constant interruptions is fun.  You enjoy the snippets of the movie while you wipe a poopy ass. A baby’s poopy ass. Not your own. Gross. This of course doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy the movie — or vacation. It means you just fuckin’ deal.

And I love my children. I know I don’t really have to tell you that I love my children, but I’m secretly worried that you’ll think I hate my children — and I don’t. Really, I don’t. I SWEAR. Jeez. What do you want me to do??! Gawd.

Yeah, anyway. We can’t go on vacations very often because we’re poor. Not dirt poor. Just the we-live-in-a-very-expensive-area-and-we-have-too-many-bills-and-don’t-get-paid-enough kind of poor. Which really isn’t poor — it’s faux poor, but whatevs.

So I’ve been meaning to go on a vacation. Like a big one. Like the kind where you get on a plane and fly for six hours. Like to California. That kind of vacation. And that kind of vacation, my friends, is not ideal with three children — three older children, yes — three children that includes a toddler — well — NO.

But I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway, because we’re faux poors. And being a faux poor means you spend your money on rent and bills and not travel.

But I really would love to go to Paris — because being in Paris with a toddler wouldn’t be so bad.

Now for some pictures of our trip to NYC last year. There was a lot of fun and ass-wiping to be had!

New York City Vacation — The fun snippets of the movie.

New York City Vacation — The ass wiping.

Monday List : A list for Mondays

So I wasn’t very successful with last week’s Monday List.  So I’m trying again.

This is a confessional list of 10 things that most people don’t know about me (a.k.a over-sharing.) You’re dying to know more, right?

Well here are some juicy facts for you to feast on, my friends! No but really.

1. When I was 12, my sister died at the age of 13 from a very rare and fatal heart defect; hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Essentially she was born with only half a heart. Back in 1977, when she was born, they didn’t have the kind of advanced interventions they do now. She was brought home from the hospital expected to die as an infant. But she didn’t die. Besides the exhaustion that came from her significantly reduced oxygen flow, she lived a pretty normal life.  She eventually died of heart failure related to a surgical procedure for a pacemaker. She never recovered from the surgery.

I would like to get involved with CHD awareness and fund raising, but I always find the excuse that I’m busy. HLHS is devastating to children and their families — other people affected include a friend of mine who lost her newborn son to HLHS a few years ago.

Depressed yet?

2. I went to middle school and high school in Olympia, WA.  I hated middle school (who doesn’t, right? unless you’re one of those crazy people who liked such things) and was bullied mercilessly in 8th grade by a group of former friends. It was awful and I don’t recommend being the victim of bullying to anyone. It SUCKS. I’ve forgiven and moved on and am Facebook friends with a few of them. I’m really not one to hold grudges because we’ve all done mean things at one point or another (I remember being mean to a few girls as well), but you know what? One of the girls I will never forgive. She was just too nasty of a person, and I’m determined that her nastiness has spilled over into her adulthood.  High school was a bit more bearable, but I still hated it. Hated it. I was shy and terribly insecure. I had friends but not a lot of them. However, the friends I had were really good friends… so I guess that’s all that matters, right?

3. Now this. I was an Evangelical Christian growing up.  By the time I was 12, my parents had left the ultra-conservative church — but I chose to stay with the church until my early adulthood. I think a part of me felt that I would betray my sister’s memory if I left the church, as she was very religious (although I feel that she would have left the church eventually — she was too much of a rebel.)  By the time I was 18, I had too many issues with the guilt-mongering and the over-the-top conservative politics. Why couldn’t women have control over their own bodies? Why was it a bad thing to care about the environment? Why did I have to feel like shit just for saying a swear word? Why couldn’t I get laid before marriage? What was wrong with living my life guilt free? Nothing. I left the church but went back briefly after having my first born — I was in a dead-end marriage and didn’t quite know how to deal with that.  I thought Jesus was the answer. No offense to Jesus — he said some very wise things — but the dude is not some almighty being. I believe in the universe and the people who love me. I believe in myself.

An 18 year old me — with a whole lot of bad decisions yet to be made!

4. I left Olympia, WA three days after graduation, moved to Arroyo Grande, CA, had really bad taste in men, and dropped out of community college twice. I started a relationship with a guy that consisted of non-stop partying, and got pregnant. I chose not to have an abortion. I chose to keep the baby because — hey — I was 21 and soooooo fucking ready to be a mom. How hard could it be, right?

5. I married my baby daddy even though I knew deep down it was a VERY bad idea. It was an unhealthy relationship. I hold no ill feelings toward him though —  I only wish the best for him.

6. I had another baby knowing I was married to the wrong man.

Maybe this list should be called, Worlds Worst Decisions.

7. In 2005 with a 4 year old and 3 month old, I knew my marriage was over. I left him and became a single mother to two small children. Not only that, but I had no college degree and a very sporadic work history as I had been a stay-at-home mom for a few years. I was basically screwed. I cried into my pillow every night. But my family was so amazing and patient and loving. I get tears in my eyes just thinking of all the love and support they gave me during that time.

8. Not long after I left my husband, my Dad offered to let me and the kids live with him — in Maryland. This kind of threw a wrench into things as I was in California at the time. My Dad and Step-Mom offered me a free roof over my head if I went to school full time. I didn’t even have to work. Just go to school. Man, I’m so fucking lucky. My ex-husband agreed to let me leave the state with the kids in exchange for reduced child-support. Now some people would think that it was awful of me for taking my kids away from their Daddy — and it wasn’t easy — but it is a bit more complicated… and though I’m being very transparent right now, there are some things that should be kept under wraps, I suppose.

9. I had a garage sale and sold almost everything I had — furniture, clothes, toys — you name it. For 700 dollars. I sold almost all of my material possessions for a measly 700 buckeroos. All evidence of my previous life — gone. All except for my precious babies. When the time came I threw some bags in the back of my mini-van, strapped my kids into their carseats (Ryan 4, Kiera 6 months), drove up to Olympia, picked up my brothers, and we all drove across the country to Maryland.

10. I started school and was eventually accepted into the nursing program, met a guy named Ernesto, fell in love, graduated, got pregnant (but this time with the best man in the world), passed nursing boards, got married, had a baby, got a job, and now I’m an RN.

I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions.  And living in the D.C. area with all the Type A personalities — I sometimes feel just a wee bit inadequate.  But I have to kick those feelings in the ass and just appreciate my life. Life is good.

And tonight, as I was reading a copy of Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement by Rosalyn Baxandall and Linda Gordon, I came across this great quote by feminist Wilda Chase:

It is a characteristic of life that it pays no higher a price than you ask of it. Don’t learn too late that you have priced yourself lower than life was prepared to pay.

Now if I could just find a way to send that quote back to my 18 year old self.

Bet you can’t wait for my next list.

Kid’s got a mouth (and other complaints)

What the hell? When did this happen? Everything — and I mean everything I do is wrong. Okay maybe not everything, but pretty damn close. Ryan is only a few months away from his twelfth birthday and he’s already driving me crazy with his adolescent self.

“Mom, why can’t you EVER, EVER say yes to ANYTHING?”  He asks me this after I said no to his offer of paying me 20 bucks so he could use the iPad. Fer Realz? Bribing your own mother? You’re offering to pay me to use the iPad?? Kid you’ve got some nerve.

“GET in your ROOM and do your homework NOW!” I sputter.

Mouthy Ryan

Holy hell.  I thought the newborn stage was tough… this whole teenage thing is gonna be a major pain in the ass.  Kid is already telling me how to drive.  Yeah.

“Mom you didn’t have to hit the gas so hard.”

Really?  REALLY? Do YOU want to teach me how to drive Mr. I’m-Eleven-Years-Old-And-I-Know-Everything?

“Huh,” I say, “Interesting… so how many years have you been driving?”

He mumbles something.

HA! Ha HA! I win! The mom ALWAYS wins.

At least that’s what I like to tell myself.  I mean, I DID hit the gas kinda hard.

In other news of annoyances, I really can’t stand it when people criticize parents through their children.  For example: Neighbor walks up to me and my rosy baby walking through the neighborhood on a Winter’s day.  “Oh!” Says neighbor to my rosy baby, “You cute little thing! Why doesn’t mommy put gloves on you? Tell mommy how cold you are! Say ‘Mommy I’m cold! Put some gloves on me!'” Then neighbor proceeds to clasp my baby’s hands and rub them while looking at me accusingly.  I mumble something about how he’ll just take his gloves off and throw them on the ground, but neighbor already has it in her head that I’m an inept, irresponsible parent.

So yeah. I was going somewhere with this.

My son’s daycare provider did this today. My sweet little two year old Beckett comes running up to me, arms outstretched. I pick him up in a bear hug and shower him with kisses.  I put him down so the teacher can get his coat on.

“Little Beckett won’t run around and play outside anymore,” says teacher.

“Really?” I ask with worry.

“Yes, he insists on being picked up every time we’re outside.”

“Oh. That’s strange,” I say.

The teacher coo’s at Beckett, “Mommy needs to stop holding you so much, doesn’t she? You can walk all by yourself now because you’re a big boy!”

Fucking. Fucking. Fuck. Really?

“Oh…” my voice trails off in my inability to respond intelligently.

“Mommy doesn’t need to carry you to the car every day, does she? Maybe if she stops carrying you, you’ll not want to be held so much!” teacher says to Beckett as she smooths his curls.

“I… um… I don’t carrrrry him to the car every day.  He walks around quite a bit… uh..”

Teacher just smiles at me.

I meekly walk out the door with Beckett at my side, taking extra care not to pick him up and carry him to the car (I mean for Christ’s sake, I haven’t seen him all day).

“Have a good evening!” I call over my shoulder.

I pick Beckett up as soon as we’re outside the gate.

I suppose I could’ve picked him up immediately just to show her that I’m the boss, but I get a bit stumped in those situations and tend to just smile like an idiot, nod my head and comply with whatever passive aggressive message they’re trying to send me.

Oh well.

Meanwhile, in Gaza…

Mom Day

Yesterday was Mom Day. I’ve never been a big Mom Day celebrator. I’ve always kind of acknowledged  it with a shrug. But now that I’m approaching my mid-thirties… I realize that I’m done. Done with that whole baby thing. And it’s made me a little more aware of my little humans… made me a bit more focused on the present. And a bit more thankful (yeah, cheesy but whatevs) for what I’ve got.

Ryan is wrapping up elementary school. He’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager and it scares the shit outta me. But it’s also exciting. He’s sensitive, silly and incredibly responsible. The typical first child. Of course I worry about him, but there’s something about him that gives me peace of mind. He’s so transparent. It’s easy to see his emotions… and he’s so open with me and Ernesto. That might change when he’s a teenager, but I strongly feel that his transparency is a part of his personality. I almost always know where he stands emotionally, and that’s very comforting.

Kiera — my girl. The super resilient one. At least that’s how she seems. The above picture captures that part of her that is more sensitive then she lets us see. And that’s why I worry about her most. She’s a bit more opaque. She’s got a mouth and lies quite frequently about little things… and has a tendency to get into all kinds of trouble. I don’t want to focus on all the negative things of course… she dramatic, hilarious, strong and intelligent. But things bother her more than what she let’s on. All her fears are an undercurrent that bubbles forth at night in the form of night terrors. So I worry… but I’m hopeful.

My Beckett — my little shining light.  My little hope to make things right. What a lovely, curious, smart little soul. All my mistakes I made as a mother, I hope to make right with this little guy (not that I made super horrible mistakes, but still — mother’s guilt is always there). He’s going to have the benefit of two loving parents from the get go… something that my first two didn’t have until recently. He’s full of mischief and joy… too young yet to know any real fear. All he knows is that he gets pissed when he can’t have a cookie.
Ernesto and I watched Wings of Desire the other night. The narrator kept repeating the phrase, “When the child was a child.” And Beckett is just that. He still has the wonder and the big eyed awe of the world.  Ryan and Kiera are starting to see the the realities. They’re children, but grown children.
So there are my brief thoughts. Sounds a bit depressing I suppose. But I think it’s only natural. As moms we tend to worry about our kids… see the vulnerable sides of them and hope for the best.
But in the end, I think they’ll be just fine.