Meet the Easter Bunny, Son. He’s an Asshole

Quinn and I went to visit my parents in beautiful south Florida for ten days. OMG, Seattle friends! This vitamin D thing is no joke. It’s amazing! Why haven’t we tried it before? Anyway, my parents couldn’t resist taking Quinn to the mall to meet the Easter Bunny. Fine by me, as his post happened to be outside of Bloomingdale’s.

Serendipitously we arrived when there was a lull in traffic. There was no line, people. Either every child in South Florida had already gotten their Easter Bunny photo or Bloomingdale’s was having a really good sale. We were going in.

“There he is!” I shouted in the screechy, high-pitched, overly enthusiastic voice I use when trying to convince Quinn something is FUN! (There’s the needle! Yay! Watch as it pierces your skin!) “It’s the Easter bunny, buddy!”

Quinn’s eyes followed my finger and I braced myself for the tears. He is in the age-window where forcing him to sit on the costumed lap of a stranger in exchange for candy, gifts and a new Facebook profile pic for mommy is a tear trigger. But nope. Not a sound. He just stared at the fuzzy, formally-attired, pantless bunny man perched on a bench enjoying his faux garden and the trunk full of bunny shaped balls next to him. Balls! Yes! Next to Elmo, balls were Quinn’s favorite thing. If it’s round, it’s a ball and if it’s a ball it’s pretty much grease on his little baby palm. We so got this.

“Can you wave to the nice bunny?” I screeched.

Quinn lifted his right hand. “Hi, Elmo.”

“No, not Elmo. That’s the Easter Bunny. And see? He has a balls!” Wait. What?

I waited for the bunny to wave back and blow Quinn’s little mind. A bunny waving! I mean, how cool is that? But the waving was one-sided as the bunny remained immobile, hunched over, elbows on knees, knees spread apart. (My music teacher in sixth grade told us to never sit like this because it made us look like we were taking a poo. Did it? I haven’t seen that many people in the moment.) I don’t know. It was a weird position for the Easter bunny. And if my music teacher was right, it was even weirder as I’m pretty sure there are labor laws that guarantee bio breaks, right?

The sight lines in those mascot heads were terrible. It was likely the bunny just couldn’t see us. So we proceed down the path, feeling a bit like Dorothy and Co. seconds before the flying monkeys descended and ripped the guts out of the scarecrow. Quinn was remarkably still holding it together. I was starting to get a little creeped out.

“Hi Bunny!” I shouted in that voice. (Ugh!) “Look, Quinn. Say hi to the bunny!”

Quinn stopped about ten feet from the bunny and looked up at me. “Elmo?”

“No, not Elmo. Better than Elmo. It’s the Easter Bunny! Let’s go say hi!”

We were right in front of the bunny but still no response. Just dead eyes and buck teeth. Not a wave. Not a gentle pat on the bench seat next to him. Not a thumbs up. WTF, Bunny? Was bunny depressed? Was bunny shy? Was bunny real? Maybe mall mascots were victims of the recession and no longer required living bodies to inhabit them. What did I know? I haven’t seen an Easter Bunny in thirty-five years. (Okay, maybe 8 years but that was a gag gift for my mom. Which she loved, by the way.) OMG, was bunny dead? Would CPS come get me if I forced my kid to sit next to a dead bunny for a photo opp?

In any case, my mom was waving her credit card around and my dad already had about 72 minutes of video footage leading up to this moment so depressed, shy, potentially-deceased bunny aside, there was going to be some lap-sitting and commemorative photo taking.

“Hi, bunny!” I shouted. “Can we join you?”

Nothing.

I looked to the photographer for some guidance here. “Should we sit down? Is that okay?”

“Uh, yeah,” she said, pointing at her camera. “If you want a picture I say go for it.”

I admit, Quinn may watch the Real Housewives sometimes (often) and I might be lax about how well the binky gets cleaned off before getting inserted back in his mouth, but even I wasn’t going to let my child fend for himself next to a grumpy, potentially deceased costumed rabbit. I squeezed in and asked the bunny how he was doing.  I’ll have to assume “not great” because he didn’t answer. I asked him if he was excited for Easter. This time I got a nod. Still no tears from Quinn, which made me wonder if  this apathy was intentional. Maybe the directive is to not interact with the kids at all so as not to scare them. Maybe his goal was to be quiet and unassuming like the Velveteen Rabbit’s melancholic, emotionally disturbed cousin. Brilliant!

“High five?” Quinn asked the bunny.

The bunny took about four minutes to raise his left paw three inches allowing Quinn to smack it.

The photographer took a handful of photos, none of which involved Quinn in tears, and sent us on our way.

We met up with my mom at the cashier.

“Can you say tweaker?” she hissed. “That bunny was on something. I can’t believe they let him around children!”

First, my mom needs to lay off the Law and Order. Second, if the bunny were a meth-head, why wasn’t she worried that he was around me?

“I’m really sorry,” the cashier said. “He’s our worst bunny. He won’t interact with the kids at all. It’s his least favorite part of the job.”

“Least favorite part?” I asked. “As opposed to all of his other responsibilities as the Easter Bunny? What else does he have to do besides sit next to kids and get his pictures taken?”

She shrugged before swindling Judy out of $63 dollars for the premium package.

When we were leaving, the line to meet the dejected, disgruntled bunny snaked along the faux path towards the entrance to Bloomingdale’s. There had to be at least 40 soon-to-be-emotionally-scarred children waiting. Of course the bunny decided that would be a good time to take his legally-mandated break. As he made his way down the faux path and out of the garden, his big bunny feet tripped over a boulder causing him to topple into a field of artificial tulips.

I’m pretty sure that is his new least favorite part of his job.

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The Broken Hearts Club

Every year for Valentine’s Day my dad gave my brother a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and me a box of candy. My mom got a complementary expensive box of candy and I found my junior version utterly charming.

My candy always came in a heart-shaped box and contained four, (sometimes five on a good year,) pieces of chocolates. Sometimes the box was branded with Mickey Mouse or Tinker Bell and sometimes a couple of long stem roses whose romance was lost on me. I ate the candies when I was little (I also ate chalk and Western Barbie’s left boot so my standards were somewhere between Survivor and Fear Factor) and that one year when I had really bad PMS, but in reality this wasn’t chocolate. Or even food. It was like prop chocolate, if the scene called for ancient unearthed brown gob laced with asbestos. I often thought about sending it to the FDA with a note that read, “Really?!”

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Once I learned how to read, the candy was accompanied by a card always having something to do with bodily functions. Runny noses, farts, poop, pee. We covered the whole gamut before I left grammar school. Once my card showed a teddy bear with boxers around his furry ankles, sitting atop a toilet, proclaiming, “Valentine, I love you so much I could shit.” I was eight. Another year it was a cute line drawing of a man and woman. The poem read:

            Don’t kiss your honey

            When your nose is runny

            You may think it’s funny

            But it’s snot.

A classic!

As the years went on I matured, but the gifts never did. In fact, they regressed. It wasn’t just a cheap box of candy. It was the cheapest box of candy. My dad could have bought it at the grocery or drug store, but no. That candy was probably made in the last decade. He was buying this shit in some back ally, two-bit, speakeasy confectioner and then had the nerve to bemoan the price of it.

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“I used to be able to get this stuff for $.99!” he said. “Now it’s almost a buck fifty! The same box of candy!”

No doubt it was the same box of candy. Whatever didn’t sell the year before was loaded back onto the truck and stashed in a POD to wait out 3 seasons until it was back on store shelves. Even the dollar store would feel bad selling this stuff.

Every year I held out hope believing he would take pity on me or my mom would guilt him into getting me a proper Valentine’s gift. For someone who has spent the better part of her life single, a Valentine’s gift from Dad would not have been inappropriate. In fact, not going balls-to-the-wall on a Valentine’s gift for your single daughter is a missed opportunity. Raise that bar, Fathers! And hang a banner from it proclaiming Daddy’s #1 so prospective suitors walk right under it. But again, no. He balked at the bait the way my friends’ kids snubbed the candy I tried passing off on them. The teasing and feigned indignation over this shoddy display of affection only fueled my dad’s desire to find the cheapest, most unappealing box of candy. And when he did, he took no chances. He smashed the box to ensure the right level of disgusting.

“You know, cheap doesn’t have to mean inedible,” I told him one year. “If this is all I have on V-day, I’d at least like to enjoy it.”

“You can totally eat that,” he said. “For $1.49, I should hope you do!”

“I recognize your thumbprint.”

“It’s the goddamn post office. And they wonder why they’re losing business?”

And then one year, I thought I had finally rid myself of the sickeningly sweet albatross. Junior year of college, I spent my second semester in London. It cost my mom $33 to send me a spare pair of contact lenses. No freakin’ way was I getting the stupid candy.

“You can have it when you come home this summer,” my dad promised.

“It’s not like it could expire,” I sighed.

But on Valentine’s Day I arrived at my flat to find a package. Inside was a card with a cartoon cupid crop-dusting a restaurant full of star-crossed lovers.

         Love is in the Air!

        Just try not to be downwind of it!

And of course my dad’s handwritten note.

I couldn’t let this day go by without show you how much I care.”

The postage paid label said $56. $55 more than the tattered heart shape box with four pieces of thumb-smashed candy inside. Was that a decomposing moth in one of them? A white powder-like substance coated each piece and a pink frothy substance spread across the busted candies. Ah crap. I’ve never been so happy to see a broken heart. I reached for a piece oozing a color not found in nature. I thought it was delicious. I blame PMS.

Here Comes Clown Feet

Every time we read The Foot Book, Quinn gets to this page and shouts, “MAMA!”

Mama

I ask you, does this creepy-ass clown look like me in some way? Do I dress my abnormally long torso in unflattering and inappropriate jumpsuits? Do I have a weird white pallor in my chin region? Is my hair in need of a long weekend away with Alberto VO5? Really, Quinn? You think Clown Feet is the woman who let you suck the iron out of her blood cells for ten months?

Then again, I’m also Princess Leia in his Star Wars alphabet books so there’s that, I guess.

What’s That Tooting Sound?

Oh, get back here. It’s not what you think.

Why it’s my horn, of course. Why? Because it’s been a while since I tooted it, right? Well, as least that you know. (My husband might have a different story.)

I do not know the Cunning Geek, but I do believe he is the Cat’s Pajamas, as his WordPress proclaims. And really it has nothing to do with the fact that he gave Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress a glowing review. Honest. I swear.

How to Write a Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie

Have I ever told you how much I adore Hallmark Channel Christmas movies? Have I ever told you how much I adore Christmas? Let’s just say, I could be a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. In fact, if I were an actor, all I would do is Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

Therefore, I feel like kind of an expert on these movies so if you ever fancied yourself a screenwriter wanting to cut your teeth on fake snow and Candice Cameron Bure vehicles, then you should follow my advice on how to write a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. I’ll be watching!

Take 1 from each column:

You are:

  • A single, lonely, but optimistic woman
  • A bitter, hardnosed, overworked professional desperate for a promotion
  • An naive, sweet do-gooder who knows deep inside she’s engaged to the wrong man, but doesn’t want to hurt his feelings by dumping him
  • An agent of Mr./Mrs. Claus
  • Apathetic or downright hostile towards the holidays due to a circumstance you only feel comfortable talking about to strangers when the moon is full and snow is falling
  • A young widower with chiseled good looks, doing the best he can to raise the three kids he rescued from a J. Crew catalog
  • Royalty

 Who is:

  • Wishing you didn’t have to spend the holidays alone
  • Sick of the holidays and everyone around you
  • Trying to take over a town/favorite landmark/small business
  • Trying to save a hometown/favorite landmark/small business
  • Trying to maintain a brave face in front of the kids even though you find the holidays insufferable
  • Trying to help a single, lonely, but affable woman/a hardnosed, overworked woman/naïve, sweet do-gooder engaged to the wrong guy/a widow or widower/undercover royalty/small town find the true meaning of Christmas
  • Misdirecting your grief over losing one or both of your parents/guardians when you were a child and acting out against everyone and everything. Even thought it happens at this time every year, your misery always takes you by surprise
  • Yearning for a different life

 So you:

  • Throw yourself into your work hoping the long nights at the office will give you the same comfort a pair of loving arms would provide. Or so you imagine.
  • Dedicate yourself to helping others less fortunate
  • Escape to your rustic-inspired-luxury equipped, snow-covered cabin in the middle of nowhere to eat minestrone soup in front of a fire while your Excel spreadsheets keep you company
  • Run over everyone who gets in the way of achieving your life goal, or at least this month’s sales quota
  • Fight the urge to dump your betrothed in favor of the cute, single man you met while he was browsing the cute shop you own looking for a gift for his cute niece whom he simply adores.
  • Bake
  • Befriend a determined, hopeful, freckled child of a single mom who adores Christmas almost as much as you do
  • Pick a major American city, pack your Louis Vuitton suitcase and man servant, and go undercover

When suddenly you:

  • Literally stumble into a handsome, single, man wearing a cashmere, ¾ length topcoat with a full head of hair snowflakes take a remarkably long time to melt in
  • Find yourself having inappropriate feelings for the man who is trying to takeover your town/favorite landmark/small business
  • Come across a holiday stigmata that propels a tiny bubble of hope to rise to the surface of your cold, dank corn husk of a heart, despite your best efforts to thwart it
  • Feel yourself falling for your impeccably-coiffed children’s teacher, but suppress your feelings realizing how selfish you’re being
  • Are forced to identify your true self by pulling off several miracles so the dubious townspeople will listen to your wisdom
  • Win a huge payout from national a cookie baking competition your best friend secretly entered you in
  • Fall for a waitress

 Which results in:

  • Falling unexpectedly in love
  • Falling unexpectedly in love and saving your town/favorite landmark/small business
  • Falling unexpectedly in love and recapturing the Christmas spirit that vanished after your parents/guardian were tragically taken away when you were a child
  • Falling unexpectedly in love and throwing a huge holiday party to apologize for the whole town you insulted/tried to buy before realizing the error of your ways
  • Falling unexpectedly in love with a person who sincerely loved you even before they realized you were a prince/princess
  • Falling unexpectedly in love and using your massive windfall to give orphaned children the Christmas of their dreams
  • Helping a single, lonely, but affable woman/a hardnosed, overworked woman/naïve, sweet do-gooder engaged to the wrong guy/a widow or widower/undercover royalty fall in love

Ah, Christmas!

Shelly Who?

It’s been a long time since I visited this website. So long that I thought about skipping town and pretending to forget this thing ever existed. I could start up again on a shiny, new site, maybe start blogging about something totally fresh like how to make your own household cleaners from pinecones and dust bunnies or how about the opposite of fresh like why Trader Joe’s keeps selling me rotten foods? Yesterday I purchased a delicious looking stilton and peach chardonnay cheese only to discover today that it was totally rancid. (Admittedly it’s kind of hard to tell when stilton goes bad but still.) Couple that with the bag of soggy butter lettuce and moldy heirloom tomatoes also purchased and you have a delicious E. coli salad.

Anyway.

How have you all been? Good? Me too. Well, mostly. Things are a tad different now. Why you ask? It’s same reason why I’ve been neglecting this poor website.

There’s a baby among us. My baby.

A baby! Yes, a human baby! I know, right? Still hard to fathom.  On most days I feel like I’m this kid’s babysitter but then I wonder what kind of irresponsible parent would hire me to babysit their infant? Even after nearly six months it hasn’t totally sunk in that he’s my child. That’s my flesh and blood over there drooling on the hardwood floors and eating his toes? Maybe it would help if he looked liked me. Or his dad. Right now he’s a cross between Bart’s dad and my brother as a baby. Weird how genes get selected. Like he just swam past mommy’s and went straight for Uncle Mike? Well, Uncle Mike does have long lashes and exceptionally good skin.

So please don’t feel neglected. It’s been a long time since I visited any website other than TheBump.com or Whyismybabydoingthat.com. Turns out everyone on the interwebs is an expert in how to parent your baby. Sometimes that’s actually a relief. Good for you! I want to tell them. You take the reigns and parent my child! I’m just going to lay down right here on this pile of brick chips and take a little snooze. Oh god, sleep. I remember sleeeeeeeeeepppppppppppppppssgjidkliroedfklgorfgogolgfdkl;gfdlgkflgfgl;

Whoa. What happened? Sorry about that. I swear I just shut my eyes for a second. Allow me to wipe this drool from the keyboard and get back on topic. What were we talking about? Oh right, the experts. I’m not above soliciting or accepting advice. You never know what nugget you might receive that suddenly nets you four uninterrupted hours of shut eye one night or prevents you from feeding your kid honey before they’re twenty-three years old (lest you give them botulism!) or whatever the rule is these days. I promise to not just post things about babies. Jeez. Those people are sooooooooo annoying. But I do have a few good stories I might have to share. Babies are pretty good fodder as it turns out. And now that I am once again a person on the interwebs, that makes me an expert who can officially spew advice about how to raise other people’s children. Yay! Where shall we start?

If anyone out there is anticipating the arrival of their first child, please allow me to give you this piece of unsolicited advice. It was by far the best I got (and trust me, this will be your mantra those first few days.)

It gets better.

First, allow me to apologize to all those experienced parents I silently mocked when they told us how unbelievably challenging this would be. Yeah, okay, I thought. It’s just a baby! If you can’t boss a baby around who can you boss around?

But wow. Wow, wow, wow. I wouldn’t wish those first two weeks on a housewife of New Jersey. I was flat out terrified of this 7 pound, 6 ounce mass. Sometimes when I’m wide awake at night wondering when the next “MY BINKIE FELL OUT OF MY MOUTH HOLE” alarm is going to go off, I think back to the day we left the hospital. Bart went to get the car and I stayed behind in the lobby with Quinn who was sound asleep in his car seat. Holy hell, I. Was. Terrified. Like Space-Mountain-terrified. Like accidentally-seeing-how-much-I-weighed-four-days-before-giving-birth-terrified. Like accidentally-seeing-how-much-I-weighed-four-days-after-giving-birth-terrified.

Oh god, I thought, please don’t let this baby wake up! I had no idea what to do with him if he did. Then this father and little boy came through the automatic double doors and the kid was all energy and enthusiasm. Poor kid was probably on his way to visit his beloved grandma who just made a miraculous deathbed recovery. Perhaps it was the bouquet of balloons he gripped in his tiny hand, but this kid’s exurberance was literally lifting him off the ground. I looked at that child who barely four years ago was probably at the feet of his terrified mother, tucked in a car seat in this very lobby waiting to make his first pilgrimage home and all I could think was, make a sound and I will take those balloons and shove them so far up your bad-touch zone, you’ll be picking latex out of your braces for the next six years. Yes, that’s right. The fear of my own child caused me to threaten (albeit silently) bodily harm on another child. Where the heck was Child Protection Services when you needed them?

I came home on drugs so powerful they made me hallucinate (I swear Zelda was in the hospital with us) and so scared to close my eyes because I knew as soon as I did Quinn would cry and I’d have to do something. Feed him? Change him? Warm him? Hold him? How would we know what to do? Bart and I both became phobic of the night because sleep was so tenuous and we were so exhausted we were terrified we would sleep through a feeding, which would lead to another of the 683 ways your baby could just drop dead. (Remind me to tell you about those infant CPR classes we took. Scared straight, I tell you.) Horrible to ponder but what else does a new parent really think about in the middle of the night?

In those early days, I found myself clinging to a beacon of hope– my friend Suzie’s text. She sent an innocent congratulatory message after Quinn was born that said, “Good luck. You’ll do great. I thought the first two weeks were the hardest.”

I clung to those words like lyrca to a Kardashian. Two weeks, Suzie said. It was hard for Suzie and she was a prosecutor for goodness sake! It’s not just me! Surely I can get through two weeks. I don’t know if she was right or if I manifested the tiny beam of proverbial sunlight that shone down on us 14 days postpartum. (Didn’t hurt that it was around that time my parents came to visit. God bless the grandparents!) The point is, it is hard. And for anyone who doesn’t have a text from Suzie to cling to, allow me to give you hope. Those first two weeks suck. They are the hardest. Take it from someone who was there 5 and a half months ago. I shudder to think. You will not know yourself. You will seriously contemplate not doing things like brushing your teeth because you could use those two and a half minutes for sleeping. You will think you’re broken and doomed and a menace to your child because you don’t feel exactly the way the websites and books and hospital birthing classes said you would feel. You wonder if you’ll ever see your friends let alone the inside of a Target again. You can not figure out how one tiny being could be so much work, could take up so much time, could beat you down so very much. You will feel like you’re trapped on a Japanese game show where you have been tossed a wet, slippery baby and told to keep that baby warm, dry and fed for an indefinite amount of time. And the prize? You get to keep doing it! For-freakin’-ever.*

So yep, it’s hard. If it’s not, time to get off the hallucinogenic drugs. It is also terrifying. And weird. And life-altering and core-shaking and mind-blowingly exhausting. And then suddenly it’s also amazing.

One day when you go to get your baby who has woken up from a nap, you realize this one-sided relationship has changed. This creature does know who you are. And they prove it by smiling. That’s when  you begin to figure out how babies have managed to survive all this time.

I know I’m not the babysitter, but I still don’t know myself. I have become someone who just wants to talk about her child. I want to look at the 983 pictures of him on my phone and listen to the voice memos of him laughing. I text my mom a picture and then immediately call her so we can analyze his every detail like cytologists studying stem cells. I forgo Facebook or back episodes of The Bachelor in favor of watching his tiny ribcage move up and down on the baby monitor. I can’t wait to get home from work so we can lay on the circus-themed blanket I got at a garage sale for $1.50 and shake maracas while we play with our feet and tell each other about our days. Charlie ate carrots? Ingrid lost a sock? Mr. Eric read you a story? I enjoy spending time with a baby. Who am I? I do not know this person but it looks like she’s sticking around so we may have to get used to her.

And yes, she welcomes your advice. You are also people of the interwebs.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a baby to oogle on the monitor. Back in eighteen years.

*Please note, if you do not feel any of these things, don’t worry! That’s totally normal too! Feel what you feel and go with it! It gets soooooooo much better!

Way to Go, Brandon.

Meet Brandon! Then Run Away!

We all know about “daddy issues.” We wouldn’t have shows like The Bachelor or Bad Girls Club without them. But “mommy issues” are equally prevalent as evidenced on last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. Don’t judge. It’s required viewing for soon-to-be parents so you can witness what happens to your kids when you don’t read to them or make them write thank you notes.

This dude, Brandon– oh my. In only 3 episodes he’s mentioned his mommy issues more times than the word “rose” was uttered by the entire cast. Apparently after Brandon’s daddy “ran away” when he was five, his mommy paraded a long string of potential daddies throughout his childhood. And just when he “fell in love with these guys” they left. Chicks love hearing these stories upon first meeting potential paramours. By all means, let loose on the abandonment issues before the less trivial stuff like where you’re from or what you do.

Not to spoil things for you but, well, Brandon didn’t get a rose last night and was totally confused by this. You see, he thought when he confided for the eighteenth time to Desiree, The Bachelorette, about his mom’s inability to keep a man and his constant quest for a male role model, they were bonding. Umm…no. Desiree (who clearly hasn’t made many good decisions lately because she’s– well, The Bachelorette) rightfully kicked him to the curb, gently explaining their lack of chemistry.

“You’re a great guy– just not for me.”

He still didn’t get it.

“I don’t understand,” he answered.

Well tough noogies, Brandon. Google it or something.

In his exit interview, he was visibly dejected. Even looking a little quite a bit maniacal with is beady little raven eyes darting up and down, and backwards inside his skull.

“Another person left me,” he sighed. “Way to go, Brandon.”

Yes, he congratulated himself on driving another person away.

And just when you really wanted to punch him in the neck he shook his head and added, “There just aren’t any more tears left.”

Oh, me-wow, Brandon.

You might not see the educational value in watching shows like this, but I do. In about a month or so, I will have a son. A son who might grow up to attend college and get a job and afford his own car insurance. Or he might grow up and look for love on a national television show, using things like his mommy’s love of reality television or play-acting scenes from Mommie Dearest before bed as tactics to get a woman he just met on TV to marry him. While he might not get a rose, he will likely get “Clip of the Week” on The Soup and for that I can’t help but be proud.

 

Mother Nature v. Mother Nurture

Ok, who would win in a fight:

My mother’s innate influence over me or all the “how to parent” crap I’m getting inundated with from well-meaning friends, eblasts, and the twenty-seven inch pile of paperbacks on my nightstand?

Here’s the deal: in my daily phone call today with my mom, I mentioned my friend’s two-year old son was having a hard time being away from Mommy.

“He’s going to the spa with you?” she asked. “That’s crazy!”

“Well, it’s just pedicures,” I reasoned. “It’s not like we have to be quiet or anything.”

“But still…” Judy was not convinced. “Can’t he stay with his dad for one hour? Don’t tell me the dad won’t watch him. Ooooh…”

If it’s one thing Judy hates almost as much as a whiny kid, it’s a dad who won’t babysit his own kid.

“Of course he could. But I think Mason just gets so upset when she leaves it’s easier just to bring him.”

“That’s WRONG!” Judy was really fired up now. “She’s doing that kid a great disservice by giving into him! He needs to learn that sometimes Mommies have to go out, but they usually come back.”

“So I’m supposed to just leave my sobbing little baby who is very clearly upset just so I can enjoy overpriced cocktails and half-price hummus with my girls?”

“Yep.”

I ask you, could you leave this beautiful, little crybaby behind?

“But I can do that at home!” Truthfully nothing sounded better than an overpriced cocktail and half price hummus right about now and I’d probably leave all my worldly possessions on the side of I5 to get my hands on a French 75, but it’s sometimes hard to resist getting Judy worked up.

Judy sighed. “You listen to me, missy. If you baby him, if you coddle, if you give in to his every whim and demand, you will turn him into Ricky Mendoza. Is that what you want?”

Ahh, Ricky Mendoza. I’ll save that story for another time.

“Oh dear lord, no.”

“Good. Because I will kick your ass,” she concluded. “The same way you kicked Ricky’s.”

“The same way everyone kicked poor Ricky’s,” I said. “I think our class hamster gave him thirteen stitches.”

“My point exactly. Remember when I used to go to happy hour with the girls every Thursday,” she asked.

“And Monday through Wednesday,” I added. “Yes, I remember.”

“You didn’t want me to go but I did.”

“Mom, I was like 15. I probably just wanted to go with you.”

“Well the point is, I went anyway. And you didn’t cry. You got over it.”

“Have I?”

Ignoring me, Judy went on to explain that while the teen me didn’t care if she left me alone to go drinking with her friends (what the heck did she think I was doing when she left?) the wee me apparently had mommy separation anxiety.

“I thought my anxiety was from the Phenobarbital withdraw,” I said.

“That was prescribed by the doctor,” she said calmly. “I told you. We didn’t know any better back then.”

I’ll save the Phenobarbital story for another time as well.

Notice I say “apparently” I had separation anxiety because I clearly don’t remember this.

“And now look how strong and independent you are. You ran off right after college to go live in Seattle. Who the hell does that? Up until you the time you booked your flight we weren’t even entirely sure where Washington was!”

“I thought it was south of Oregon.”

“I thought it was in Canada.”

(Don’t judge! Can you West Coasters name every state along the East Coast? Probably Maybe not.)

Geography aside, she’s got a point. I feel like my parents did a fine job raising me, despite what the journals from my early 20’s might imply. My life was and is relatively angst free. I’m pretty well adjusted. And if that’s due in part to my mom rushing off to happy hour while toddler me left snot stained smudges on the screen door begging her not to go, well so be it. I’m none the wiser. Or actually maybe I am.

But I have to wonder. Could I walk away from my sobbing two-year old begging mommy to stay? I remember one time when I left my beloved old dog, Charlie, at a dog groomer she had been to a dozen times before. Charlie was notorious independent and often aloof. She needed me to do things like unlock the balcony door or open a bag of Moo-Q’s but otherwise she was fine on her own. But this one day she started whimpering in the waiting area and when they came to take her back she rolled over, wrapped two big paws around my ankle, and looked up at me with these pleading, brown eyes. I swear she said, Please don’t leave me! I love you! I’ll be better, I promise! Ugh. Brought tears to my eyes! And to think I did leave her there! I had to go to work. Eight years later I still regret it.

“That’s because you like dogs better than kids,” Bart said.

“I like dogs better than other people’s kids,” I reasoned. “They might be equal with my own child.”

We already know that I’m not going to be the one who takes the baby in for his shots after my meltdown at the vet’s office when we tried to get Zelda’s nails clipped. It would break my heart. But then again, it would also break my heart if I inadvertently raised a kid who was constantly hiding behind mommy’s skirt. Not to mention the real travesty—never getting to enjoy a kid-free pedicure ever again.

“Oh, he’ll cry,” Bart said. “But it’s not like I’m going to hold our crying child up to the window so you can see how upset he is when you leave.”

That’s a terrible visual and now I can’t look at the gigantic picture window in the front of our house without tearing up a little. Must be the hormones.

“We’re both going to need to get out once in a while,” Bart continued. “It will be good for him.”

I have to admit it was good for me. Which is why I’m putting all those books on my nightstand away and catching up on all the unread books in my Kindle library. When people talk about “mother’s instinct” I’m staring to think they mean “your mother’s instinct.” Fine by me. I’d rather have my mother’s instincts kicking in than her kicking my ass.

 

Let’s Panic, Shall We?

The other day Bart and I were at a store in our neighborhood looking at picture frames for the Star Wars prints he bought for the baby’s room. (I was under the impression we were going with a classic Pooh theme but as it turns out, Pooh and Darth Vadar actually look pretty good together.) Anyway, this store has a fun selection of books like Knitting With Cat Hair and 1,001 Famous Landscapes Recreated with Broccoli. I get all my friend’s birthday presents here.

So, we’re walking past the book section and this one in particular catches our eye:

Never look a baby in the eye.

“Oh ha, ha,” I said, pointing. “Look at that funny, totally useless book that’s clearly meant for people not as collected and composed as we are!”

“Ha,” Bart said. “Clearly. How silly.”

And he picked it up just to prove show silly and irrelevant to us it was.

He pointed to a blurb on the front cover. “Diablo Cody says we messed up royally by getting pregnant in the first place. Ha! Funny!”

“Oh look,” I said, opening the book at random. “All the really gross ways my body is changing! Meatier smelling body odor! Boob sweat! Incontinence! Yay!”

“Funny, funny book,” Bart said, taking it from my hands and replacing it next to the copy of Stuff on My Cat. “Just meant to make people laugh. Nothing useful in here!”

“Totally,” I agreed. “What’s funnier than hemorrhoids? And there’s like 19 pages on them in here.”

We walked away, then stopped and looked at each other. My big, frowny, panicky face was mirrored in Bart’s big, frowny, panicky face.

“We need to get that book,” he said.

“It’s totally meant for us,” I said.

So while we’re painting the bedroom with the best closet in the house and washing clothes the size of tissues with Dreft detergent from 1959, we’re panicking. A little. I mean, no one told us babies shoot laser beams out of their eye holes. I guess that could explain the burning sensation coursing through my esophagus right now.

I can only hope the baby will be comforted by the swaddle blanket I’m knitting him out of Zelda’s fur.