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April 11, 2017

Loosening My Grip: A Fantasy

I’m not judging anyone but whose kid is that pulling all the magazines off the racks and sprawling them across the floor? I need to meet whoever is in charge because I’d like to master the art of giving zero shits too. I mean, I’m not saying I always push a cart with a four year old when I’m in public, but kind of. There’s no doubt that my son has outgrown the nesting gate demographic but until I know for sure he’s not going to publicly shame the family by obliterating everything in his path, I have a containment policy to carry out. But I like your approach better. 

I’m sick of having rules, I'm too laid back for this shit. Back in my childless naivety I assumed that my future kin would have no desire to knock down store displays, wander away from me, or poke holes in ground beef packaging. I imagined that the most powerful motivation for good behavior would be obvious: that bad behavior gets you bad attention. And who would ever want that? Clearly I was unprepared and ill informed of the reality that is childrearing. Kids don’t give a shit about dirty looks or wagging fingers from strangers. They’re hardly embarrassed by anything! I, however, remain mortified and don't understand how in 2017 we still lack the technology to install a general code of conduct into our kids. So FINE. Rules. 

But come on! Is advising my son not to slap a bent over stranger’s ass really necessary? Is “keep your hands to yourself” simply too simple? Apparently yes, and Rule No. 321768 was born. Because what am I? A freaking rule writer. And even though these rules may preserve order, reduce humiliation, and [hopefully] prevent a sexual harassment lawsuit, they make me feel uncomfortably overbearing. I never intended to grow up and become a stickler for well-mannered spawn, but sitting idly as my son stands up in a booth so he can pester patrons on the other side cuts my life short by 6 minutes. 

I guess you can say I’ve picked my poison and would rather deal with being a rule master than be shamed by a stranger for birthing a rowdy boy. But as I rule on, adorning my social etiquette hat equip with the best child surveillance system public scrutiny can buy, I’m lost in a give no fucks fantasy. One where I’m humming merrily along to Yeezy in a crowded store, tuning out the sounds of any behavioral defects taking place and shrugging off my son’s incessant ninja moves against innate objects; laughing as I proclaim that "kids will be kids,” with zero intention to clean up or excuse behavior that isn’t actually my own. Still humming, like, “Excuse me, is you saying something? Uh-uh, you can’t tell me nothing.” 

So should you catch me watching quizzically as your child runs around freely, please know that I’m not judging. I’m merely fantasizing and longing for your level of zen because I’m not that chill…but I’d like to be.

March 22, 2017

Why I Don't Invite You Over For Dinner

“I promise my cooking will get better, I just don’t know when.” I sheepishly told my husband on week three of being unemployed. Unfortunately for me, my poor dinner skills are no longer protected by my income because I don’t have any. The law firm I’d been working at for the past 5+ years recently closed its doors and without a job to go to each day, I’m faced with the most unnatural and challenging work: domestication. 

It’s not a total calamity. I mean, I can bake and I’ve mastered a handful of meals, however, cookies for dinner wont cut it and it ain’t exactly chili season. Still, there’s a foundation to build upon if I ever felt like it...aka I don’t like this game. 

You see, I’ve worked fulltime hours the entire duration of my young adult life, always bustling past laundry and dirty dishes while performing the livable minimum with justified neglect. “I’m too busy,” or “I’m exhausted,” I’d mutter to myself instead of tending to the home. However, now that I don’t have professional obligations, I’ve learned that the truth is I’m too lazy, uninterested, and disenchanted with all things house. In fact, I’m a goddamn slob who will starve happily if it means not having to make a sandwich. Yet here I am, navigating through grocery store aisles that DON’T contain chips, buying extra virgin olive oil like it’s going to fix all my problems. Newsflash: It wont. (Though MSG might.) 

I take comfort in knowing that I can’t possibly be the only vagina in the world that struggles with performing her outdated gender role. Tuesday night’s teriyuki that should’ve been teriyaki does not define me as a woman, it’s just another example of how down my family is to risk their life on my cooking and how crazy it is to assume that kitchen skills come naturally. When I made the decision to dedicate myself to writing as a stay at home mom, opposed to securing another legal job, my first thought was, “Oh my god, my husband is going to expect me to cook.” ...I hope we survive.

But I can do this, right? With a dash of motivation and great deal of effort, I can learn. It’s not like I’m an idiot, I’m just super content with cereal and hoping I can keep my family belly-full until my writing career affords us a personal chef. So if after all these years I haven’t once invited you over for dinner, now you understand, and you're welcome. 

These two guys are the REAL MVPs

March 13, 2017

Baby Proofing? Nope.

Baby proofing is for the birds. It doesn’t prevent every imminent danger and if you’re watching your kid, you’re gonna be fine. This wasn’t always my opinion, it’s a philosophy I developed out of experience with my first born, who proved that every safety net was useless because he had no interest in opening cupboards or sticking things in light sockets. He didn’t like to hang around opening and closing doors and toilets. All those stupid plastic knick-knacks that one spends time putting up to safeguard their boo-boo-babies is a gimmick, only benefitting the stress level of the parent who likely feels relief that the room is safer for little Foo Foo to roll around in. That’s what my son taught me. But then I had my daughter, and now I’m eating crow. 

My second born is no fucking joke. If it’s on the floor, invisible to the naked eye, and can kill you, my daughter has already put it in her mouth. Adrian is curious about every little thing. And even worse, she’s persistent. Girlfriend will NOT quit trying until she gets the results she wants. I’m low-key super excited and proud that she’s exhibiting such fierceness and had no idea how lazy easy my son actually was as a baby, but she needs to relax. I can’t just keep saving her life like I have nothing else to do with my day. I mean, if I don’t make dinner, we’re ALL gonna die. 

Yet a year has passed and still nothing at home is baby proofed. Better late than never? Nah, that simply won’t allow me to maintain the level of laziness I’ve grown accustomed to. Though I realized early on that Adrian was a totally different beast than my firstborn, I opted out of baby proofing because I underestimated her. This means for the past year I’ve been trying to out hawk-eye the hawk-eyed. Instead of resting in the confidence of my baby-proofed abode, I’ve been living on a gamble, a prayer, and a lot of intervention as I shout from the kitchen sink, “NO ADRIAN, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” My hands dripping soap while she smiles gladly at the door she’s six seconds away from slamming her fingers in. 

But I keep telling myself that since she’s a year old, I’ve missed my window. I’ve lost the opportunity to really benefit from baby proofing because she’s getting older. Or at least I’m banking and hoping that all the bumps, bruises, and close calls have taught her something. I know they’ve taught me that any contraption you can buy to avoid being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is worth its weight in gold. Because when you have a baby that lives for the thrill of dying, bubble wrap is life.

March 1, 2017

"Having Kids Changes Everything," And Other Things I Didn't Pay Attention To

My husband and I are pretty tight. We're going on our 12th year of marriage, the first 7 of which was just the two of us, and it was a lot of fun. But now we've doubled ourselves by adding two young children. "Everything changes once you have kids," they all said. And that's quite alright, I mean, we did elect to become parents by our own free will so I have to assume we considered that notion. However, when you're elbow deep in baby shit, trying to unstick the wipe from the diaper strap while holding baby legs in the air as a 4 year old continuously asks you to put spiderman's head back on the junk toy he intentionally decapitated, one cant help but look at the other and question how sober they each were when they decided having children was a good way to spend ones time. And not just a child, we actually agreed to do this on TWO separate occasions. Clearly we must enjoy penal labor. 

I do love my children and that's no disclosure. But who knew parenting would break down every expectation for personal dignities my husband and I had spent seven years fostering? I had no idea we were coexisting as a married couple on such a highly expert level. Then poof, we gave it up. Just yesterday I literally hid all the croutons in my salad under a bed of lettuce so that I wouldn't have preschool fingers picking over my first chance at a meal. It was 2pm. Call me silly, petty, whatever, but I know the opportunistic vulture that is my child, who claims my food as his own. I wasn't surprised when he approached me with his, "Oh I want to see what's in that bowl," instead, I was prepared. And when he grimaced at my greens and said, "No thank you, I don't want any" to the food I never actually offered him, I squealed inside. It worked! I won. A meal sans grubby hands, aka an expectation I'd be foolish to believe I was still afforded. 

Lost dignities can be found in affections, too. These days, it seems as if I'm loving on everyone in the family other than my spouse. But it's not because I don't try. It's just that hugs and kisses are no longer under my jurisdiction. Affection has become community property and any special attention is instantly noticed by my son who has a heightened sense of awareness for that sort of thing, causing him to transform from boy, to wedge. And he obstructs it all; conversations, hugs, kisses, his sister's playtime, whatever. So it's no surprise that our daughter is now performing all the same tricks. They learn fast.

And it ain't just food and affection. After seven years of assuming life as an individual, I became Mom. And Mom doesn't get the freedom of choice like she used to. It's a big world with a lot of options, unless you're like me. My options get reduced by a "what kind of parent do I want to be" filter, resulting in playing a censored version (ew) of Bad and Boujee, and as if that wasn't bad enough, I'm also subjected to my kins' choosiness. This means I'm pretty much always listening to one song on repeat, and it's more than likely from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. I only have myself to blame.

I can almost remember the olden days when I only got myself ready, when skipping breakfast also meant not having to cook breakfast, when my alarm clock wasn't someone shouting, "I'M DONE MOMMY" from a toilet at 5:30 a.m. Who knew past monotonies I took for granted would later look like a vacation when recalled in these present times?

Again, I do love my kids and accept their needy ways, even if I failed to fully anticipate having so little of myself left for myself at the end of each day. This doesn't mean I regret becoming a parent (twice), it just means I didn't forget the sweet taste of freedom and I get cravings. Like during diaper changes. And tantrums. It also means I'm honest. Some parents will publicly fawn through childrearing, claiming they "could never imagine a life without their kids." But don't buy it. They either have a lot of paid help, or no imagination. The truth is that you're either giving up everything or you're hiding the croutons in your salad. And that's okay.

February 21, 2017

My 4 Year Old, The Raging Sexist

“Mommy, go into the kitchen and make me dinner.” Says my four-year-old son as if he’s an incompetent husband circa 1932. It doesn’t take much to observe that my kid may be a raging sexist, but I’d like everyone to know that this wasn't something he picked up at home. Haters will say that’s impossible because children are innocent sponges that mimic what they hear and see, but guess what? It ain't true. The boy was born a male chauvinist. Before he was even rolling over he was already displaying prejudices against women, refusing to get near them without emitting banshee scream protests. And as his mother, he barely tolerates me. Seriously. 

“Excuse me Dylan?” I ask, half-amused by the little fuck's macho meal request. 
“I said, MAKE ME DINNER!" 

Okay, hold up. Am I mistaken? Are these commands merely the pleas of a hungry, ill-mannered preschooler? Well yeah, sure. But beyond the “make me a sandwich" barks, there’s a solid history of Dylan displaying sexism. For instance, at six months old the boy decided he’d rather starve than breastfeed. Yes, he quit ME. Okay…that’s not exactly sexist but it was rude. He did however comment that mommy isn’t the boss because only daddy can be a boss, since "girls can’t be cool, only boys can be cool." 
“No Dylan, that’s not right. Girls are bosses and they are cool too.” '
“No mommy, you’re not right. Only daddy is right.” 

I used to think that parents should have to answer for their little prick children, apportioning any ill behavior or crap attitude to the mom and dad behind the child. But now I know better (sorry) and understand that sometimes a prick is born a prick. And sometimes, that prick is matched to the exact family he needs in order to be unpricked. 

You see, what Dylan has yet to fully realize is that he was born into a girl power family. I have four sisters and all five of us were reminded on a daily basis that women rule the world, women are empowered, that men may try to play us down but they’re just silly ignorant boys that need to be shown their seat, something that both women and men are responsible for doing. So in our family, discounting women will get you nowhere, fast. 

Though it may take some time to scrub the chauvinistic nature out of Dylan’s genes, he’ll be scrubbing my jeans and making the whole family sandwiches by the time I’m done with him. For is it not my duty to set his domineering philosophies ablaze until he’s protesting for women's rights? 

So, should you or your daughters find yourselves on the receiving end of my son’s unsubstantiated bias, don’t worry, I’m on it. However, it does take a village, so feel free to show my silly little boy to his seat.