You will never find a happier, more hospitable, more generous me. I make gingerbread from scratch every year, each time forgetting how gross it is and deck my halls before the Thanksgiving turkey has even been ordered. Give me fake snow, LED curtain lights, and all the Candace Cameron Bure holiday vehicles. I am so in.
I come from holiday-loving stock. My parents only desire was to make sure my brother and I had a better Christmas than the previous one. Oh yes, they brought us to church where we learned all about the real “reason for the season” too, but even a magical pregnant virgin couldn’t compete with flying reindeer, misfit toys, and little elves who could build the exact same Lite Bright that was in the Toys R Us catalog. Every December 25th, my brother and I woke up to a living room filled with Rock Em Sock Em Robots, Legos, and Barbie’s Dream Gated Community. Didn’t matter that some of the toys had Kmart price tags on them or that Santa had the exact same chicken scratch as our mom. What mattered was the cookies left on the mantle had been eaten and the tuft of stuffing near the front door indicated Rudolph was almost positively definitely inside our house.
It was pure magic.
Now I am the parent of a four year-old who is just beginning to understand the magic of holiday fallacies. And because I’m me, we totally bought into the whole Elf on the Shelf deal last year. If you’re familiar, the Elf comes to stay with your family sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas and returns home to the North Pole every night to give Santa a rundown on the day’s activities. The next morning the child delights in finding their elf residing in a new spot around your home.
Pure magic, right?
Well, sort of.
As it turns out the little imp is rather contentious. A lot of people despise this thing. Like hate it’s stupid, stuffed, little guts.
I of course am not one of those people. I revere our elf almost as much as our son does. When she made her return trip Thanksgiving morning, my son could barely hold it together. He woke us up, nearly in tears, and dragged us to the living room where I was certain he’d point out our dead cat (she’s been tormenting the dog for years) or the ol’ bearded one himself ass up in the fireplace. But nope. He pointed to the dining room table where the rosy cheeked “Elfalina” sat perched on a Mason jar.
“She came back,” he whispered.
Do you not see thePURE MAGIC here???
Well, magic mixed with animosity. For some reason people aren’t digging a stuffed doll that not only airs your dirty laundry, but tells Santa it took you six days to fold it. Perhaps you’ve heard the hateful allegations lobbed against elves. Perhaps you’ve been deterred from inviting your very own shelf-sitter into your home. But wait! These are also holiday fallacies (the bad kind) and hold as much water as a tree stand from a dollar store. (Pro Tip: don’t buy a tree stand from a dollar store.)
Fallacy: It’s Too Much Work
Fact: I have a full time job, a demanding kid, and a DVR full of Bravo television that isn’t going to lay on the couch, moderately buzzed, and watch itself! I’m super lazy and yet, I still manage to muster the physical strength to pick up a three ounce doll and move it from a houseplant to behind a canister of coffee.
Yes, I’ve seen the Pinterest pages and Instagram accounts dedicated to the elite elf movers and shakers. There’s one riding away in a bouquet of candy cane colored hot air balloons! Oh look! There’s an elf who was up all night baking and decorating miniature sugar cookies! Oh har har, your neighbor’s elf poops Hershey Kisses. So cute. Hey man, whatever works because your the one setting expectations. Maybe your elf never leaves her perch. Maybe the elf prefers to communicate through Instagram posts. Your elf, your rules.
Fallacy: It’s Creepy
Fact: If your elf is creepy, stop right now, get the box it came in, and READ IT! Does it say Chuckie on the Shelf? Little Girl from The Ring on the Shelf? High-Profile Man in Hollywood on the Shelf? Because our elf is a straight up stuffed, side-eye-giving toy with a cute backstory. If you’re worried about the creepiness factor, have your elf debut with a small offering for your child. Works like a charm. Santa’s been pulling that schtick for years.
Fallacy: It’s an Invasion of Privacy
Fact: “I don’t want that thing watching us!” They shriek. “What message is it sending to our kids?” I heard those arguments from a mom who constantly shares photos of her toddler daughter in the bath and her son’s potty training progress with her 649 Facebook friends. I’m pretty sure they didn’t sign a release.
First, the elf isn’t really watching you. (SEE: Stuffed toy.) The same can’t be said for the roly poly dude who has built an empire on voyeurism, bribery, and some light home invasion. You know, that guy who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake? Hello, stalker! They learned it from watching him!
Fallacy: It’s Sending the Wrong Message
Fact: Sorry, what message are we talking about? The one where you’re supposed to be good for goodness sake? Again, our boy Santa is already perpetrating that myth. And really, what’s wrong with asking your kids to clean up their mess, eat a vegetable, and maybe not moon their grandparents when you’re Facetiming? Trust me, having a little imp to tag in once in awhile is pretty awesome.
See? The Elf on the Shelf is basically like having a free au pair your kids are sort of afraid of. At least for the month of December. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to figure out how to make a zipline from my son’s bedroom door the Christmas tree. Pure magic.
While visiting family in the Chicago suburbs, Quinn’s Great Uncle Mike handed him a silver dollar. Quinn thought that was super cool. He’s starting to understand money. You get it, you trade it for cheap plastic toys, repeat.
Later at the hotel, we were all chilling on the king sized bed eating Chex Mix and watching Beach House Bargain, when Quinn started squirming.
“What are you doing, buds?” I asked.
“Trying to get my money out,” he answered.
“Out of where?” I asked like a stupid, dumb, moron mother. I mean, duh, Mom. Out of where do you think an almost 4 year-old stashes his money?
“Out of my butt,” he said.
Oh for f*ck’s sake, I thought. It’s finally happened. Sticks and stones and broken bones and coinage stuck in a pooter. Some kids stick marbles in their noses, some kids swallow magnets, of course mine is going to treat his butt like an ATM.
“What the hell, kid?” I asked, trying to remain calm. We were in the Chicago suburbs. There had to be what? 8? 9? 362 urgent care centers around us? Someone within a 2 mile radius will be way more equipped at digging coinage out of my son’s butt, right? (EDITOR’S NOTE: Jesus, woman, did you just say that?! Your kid will be a teenager one day! THE INTERNET IS FOREVER!)
More equipped like perhaps my life parter and baby daddy who was laying 2.6 inches away from his son’s currency-filled crack. But yeah, its hard to be able-bodied when you’re face-down in a dirty hotel pillowcase laughing your ass off. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Ass? Really? Because this is a story about butts? Lame joke, honey! You’re better than that! We’re better than that!)
“What money did you put in your butt, dear child?” I asked. “Or rather, who’s? Because stealing ain’t cool and even less cool is stealing and then hiding the goods in a sacred orifice.” Again, super calm because there was no need to get the child worked up and tense. Tense would be about the worst thing to happen here. Tense is what’s going to happen at the Urgent Care center. We don’t need tense right now.
“The money Uncle Mike gave me,” he answered with all the nonchalance of someone answering the question, “Where do you keep the Vaseline and tweezers?”
Oh, sweet relief! Okay. A silver dollar, you say? I admit, I’m not the most spatially gifted girl. If you ask me the distance between my home and Trader Joe’s, I would tell you 13 miles (EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s .04 miles) or how tall Quinn is I might guess maybe 2 and a half feet (EDITOR’S NOTE: Or 3.6 feet. But what’s an entire foot when talking about your child’s physical appearance.) But even I could ascertain (EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh good lord. How long has it been since you wrote a freakin’ blog post. ASCERTAIN? Because it sounds like “ass?” It’s not even spelled like that!) that a silver dollar could not fit into an almost four year-old’s…well, I don’t need to paint you a picture. But OMG, what if I did? What a horrible picture! (EDITOR’S NOTE: MOVE ON!)
So I helped Quinn out of his PJ’s, shook him a bit (EDITOR’S NOTE: You can’t shake babies, dummy! Use a different word!) Umm…okay so I jostled him a titch? And wouldn’t you know it, there dropped the silver dollar! Jackpotty! (EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, jackpotty is actually pretty funny.)
“Disgusting!” Bart yelled, muffled because he was still guffawing into his pillow.
“Honey Bear,” I started, again in my calm mommy voice. “Please don’t put money anywhere near your butt. That could have been scary.”
“But why?” He asked.
“Because money is dirty. And if anything gets stuck inside your body, we’d have to go to a doctor to have it removed. And that might not feel too good.”
He looked appropriately repentant which pleased me. Got to grab those teachable moments when they jump in front of you and down your kid’s Thomas the Train pajamas.
And then he said, “Smell it.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Smell my butt coin!”
“OMG, no. This was a TEACHABLE GOD DAMN MOMENT! I’m not smelling your butt coin!
“No, baby bear I will not. Not ever.”
“SMELL MY BUTT COIN!”
“Please leave me alone, thank you.”
“Jesus Christ on a cracker, GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!”
“Mommy, smell it!!!!”
I jumped from sleeper sofa to bed to desk to shower stall back to bed to hallway to sleeper sofa and back again trying to shake the little loot tooter. But he was buoyed by his love of butts, poop, farts, being disgusting, and his dad’s encouraging hysterics so he was relentless.
“I’M YOUR MOTHER!” I yelled. “YOU DON’T TREAT MOTHERS LIKE THIS!”
In our house we have a saying. “Moms are for snuggles. Dads are for farts.” What was happening here was not normal.
“SMELL IT. SMELL IT NOW!”
“Make your dad smell it!” I shouted. “GIVE DADDY YOUR BUTT COIN!”
I…I…I don’t know what else to say. I can’t explain. I said that– no I yelled that. I know our neighbors must have heard it. Give daddy your butt coin.Go on, sweetie.Give daddy your butt coin so he can get you a Pepsi and some M&Ms. (EDITOR’S NOTE: How much are butt coins worth???? In a hotel vending machine that order is at least $4.75) Or If you can’t take care of your things you need to give Daddy your butt coin right now!
I know you want to know how this situation was resolved. My god you read this far you deserve to know the ending. I didn’t smell the butt coin, but I took possession of it. What choice did I have? I yanked it out of is gross, little hands and ran to the bathroom with it where I scrubbed it down with Marriott branded body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Then I hid it in Bart’s toiletry bag.
“Aw, Mom!” Quinn pleaded. “I need it! Give me back my butt coin.”
“Sorry, kid,” I said, pouring hand sanitizer on his arms, neck, torso and face. “Your money is no good here.”
“Mommy, snuggle me.”
And just like that my baby was back. Mommy’s are for snuggles. Wow, I guess butt coin was a short phase. I kind of expected it to last a little longer. Sugar and spice and butt coins and lice.
I grabbed my soft, gentle, little sweetness and cozied up to him and about 8,945 filthy bedbugs on our king size hotel comforter.
Not true in our case. My son fell in love with the blonde nurse in the hospital seconds after he was born. And then he fell for my blonde co-worker. Oh, and then there’s Ingrid, his adorable blonde classmate.
I’m a brunette in case you forgot.
But I’m right up there in his affections.
Or at least parts of me are.
Last night Quinn and I were playing his version of volleyball. He stands on one side of the room, I sit on my ass about 6 feet away. He tells me I’m “the net” and I toss a rubber ball to him. He tries to hit it back. I catch it and “serve” it to him. This goes on until he says he wants to be “the net” and switches sides with me. (I’m still not sure what it means to be “the net” as it appears to be very similar to “not being the net” and also nothing like a real net.)
I don’t suck at this game and it’s one of the few non-violent games he’s into lately so I readily play whenever he asks. Plus I enjoy sitting down.
Last night while tossing the old rubber ball back and forth we had this conversation:
QUINN: You’ve got some moves!
ME: (Grateful he noticed!) You like my moves? Why thank you!
QUINN: No, your boobs! I like your boobs!
ME: Oh. Umm.
QUINN: I’M GOING TO MARRY THOSE BOOBS!
ME: Oh my god… BART!
People, this is a kid who was so breast-feeding challenged he literally cried at the site of my boobs. And now he wants to marry them? Umm, no. They have feelings, kid. They remember. Show some remorse for goodness sake.
I can not take my future. Can’t we go back to the “penis and butthole” days? (Great name for a tavern, no? Or maybe some buddy cops?)
If you’re looking for me I’ll be the one wearing 4 sports bras and a suit of armor.
Phonophobia: Fear of loud sounds, including voices–including your own–especially Shelly Mazzanoble’s.
Does anyone like hearing their voice? I cannot stand it. (True confession: Even though I co-host the Dungeons & Dragons podcast, I can’t listen to a single one, which sucks because we’ve had some really great guests on there. And I tend to do a great imitation of Bert from Sesame Street that I’m pretty sure would blow my own mind.) I also don’t love seeing myself because in my mind I’m waaaaaaaaaaaay better looking than that goofy, wildly gesturing, large-eyed creature with the grating voice before me.
If you also can’t stand my voice or the sight of me perhaps you should stop reading now. If you think you can stomach it, below is the link to my performance as part of this year’s Listen to your Mother Seattle show. (And if I had any technical skills I’d be able to change the frozen image below so that it’s not one of me looking like I’m mid cat-call to some poor significant other in the front row who’s covertly watching a MMA fight on his phone throughout the show. Not covert enough, Bucko! LISTEN TO MY GRATING VOICE!)
Here’s what people are saying about my performance!
“Wow. You said pussy and nipple in like the first 7 seconds. Wow.”
“So, I’m still not sure. Do you like being a mom?”
“I love your necklace.”
So, you know. Those are pretty enticing reasons to watch this.
The show was tremendous fun and the cast– wow, oh wow. They were all truly stellar. I encourage you to listen to all of their stories. I think you’ll love their words as well as their voices. My necklace is pretty badass too.
My baby boy is three today! How did this happen? Well, kind of like this (give or take a few momentous occasions.)
10/23/12: Pregnancy test is positive. Stress eat a wheel of brie and 3 pounds of raw cookie dough
10/24/12: Am certain it’s a girl. Settle on a name.
2/19/13: Mom finally concedes and buys little red dress for future granddaughter.
2/20/13: Find out from ultrasound it’s a boy.
2/20/13: Mom returns dress.
7/10/13: Sent to hospital without lunch for induction. Really pissed about missing lunch.
7/10/13: Really pissed no one will give me one of the infamous hospital chocolate milkshakes. What the hell am I paying for here?
7/11/13: Happily trade milkshake for epidural. Really, really love epidural. Ask for a glass of wine.
7/11/13: 9:09 PM. Anesthesiologist says, “Congratulations! You’re not pregnant anymore.” Think that’s a really weird thing to say.
7/11/13: 9:10 PM. Immediately fill with dread and anxiety. OMG, there’s a baby here! We’re really doing this!
7/11/13: 9:12 PM. Miss being pregnant. Still love epidural. Ask for a milkshake.
7/11/13: 9:22 PM. Hold Quinn as he stares at me with big, blue eyes. Both agree to try not to kill each other.
8/11/13: Call boss and ask if I can come back to work early.
8/15/13: Would love to dress Quinn in cute onsies, but scared of actually touching him. Wonder if anyone would notice he only wears ponchos.
9/23/13: Kid is really cute, but wonder when those maternal instincts are supposed to kick in.
10/22/13: Eagerly anticipate returning to work. How relaxing will that be!
10/23/13: Return to work and cry the whole way to daycare.
10/24/13: Wonder why babies get really, really adorable the day after maternity leave ends.
10/25/13-7/10/16: Blur, blur, blur
7/11/16: Wake up to three year-old son jumping through streamers and asking who hung up all the Paw Patrol decorations. Says, “Awwww. That’s nice!” when we tell him the Birthday Fairy came.
7/11/16: Cannot imagine life without this adorable, funny, kind, polite, friendly, smart, entertaining, genius* child in our lives. Would not trade a minute of being his mom—not even for all the chocolate milkshakes and epidurals in the world.
I keep hearing “Oh, that’s the best age!” regardless of what age he is, but this time I’m inclined to believe it. He’s actually quite funny and charming. He loves slapstick humor and stories about monsters and bad guys (who rampage other people’s stuff. Never his.) We have real conversations. He has definite opinions. He tells me he likes my ponytail and hates my cardigans.
Every day I find myself questioning the things he’s learning, as in “Holy cow, who taught him that amazing thing?” (Usually the answer is daycare.)
I try to write down the adorable things that come out of his mouth, but always forget because they’re usually followed by something horrifying and cringeworthy. Those things I always write down.
Lately I’ve been paying attention to the words I find myself stringing together in response to my dear, sweet child. Things I never thought I’d have to say. Things I never thought I would have to explain. Things I never thought would be compared to a bounce house.
Here are just a few of the highlights of the past few days:
Because I don’t need a penis, that’s why.
Honey, please don’t call that nice family, “butt guys.” We don’t even know them.
Don’t say “doody butt.”
Don’t say “booty butt.”
Don’t say “booger butt.”
Don’t say “butty butt butt booger butt guy.”
Would you want your name to be,”Toilet Butt?”
Yes, GOD DAMMIT is potty talk so stop saying it.
No, you can not say GOD DAMMIT when you’re at home. It’s potty talk here too.
How did Jacob get a toilet on his head?
Honey, please stop licking Princess Leia.
I don’t think the dog wants you to rub your butt on him.
No, I don’t want to tickle your nipple.
Can you tickle your own armpit, please?
Is that shaving cream on your penis?
No, your penis is not a bounce house.
Because people don’t like it when you point at their bodies and say, “I can see your penis.”
No, I don’t know what superpower Naked Toddler has. Do tell.
Mommy did not say that. You must have imagined it.
Stay at home mothers and fathers are freakin’ rockstars only without the exceedingly high paychecks and entourage. Actually scratch that. They’re more like the entourage– managing, protecting, catering to and anticipating the demands, follies, and triggers of petulant, oblivious egomaniacs. 24/7. It never stops. It goes on foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
Quinn and I were both home sick yesterday and now I have a renewed appreciation for my job and my mom who stayed home with my brother and me (and let me tell you, we were assholes.) I was kind of looking forward to our time together. He’s extra cuddly and prefers his lazy-ass mom over his funny and physical dad when he’s not feeling well. I had a DVR stocked with cultural pillars such as Southern Charm and The Real Housewives of Dallas. I had a boatload of magazines to catch up on. Aches and chills be damned! Today was going to be a good day.
“Say what?” Asked every stay-at-home mother and father ever.
I love my kid which is exactly why I pay other people to hang out with him during the day. It’s his best chance of survival. Trust. I can’t be on my game 100% of the time. I am not to be counted on on every day, all day. I am irresponsible and distracted by shiny objects and reality TV. If I am within twenty feet of my bed, I will fall into it. I am powerless over the lure of a warm duvet and sateen sheets.
Case in point, our day began in bed where my delusions of grandeur had me believing we would spend most of our day like good, little sick people. A little Daniel Tiger on the iPad for him and quality Bravo television for me. And then I remembered this wasn’t daycare and Miss Tobi wasn’t coming around with blueberry muffins so if my child was to eat, I better muster up enough energy to pop four mini waffles in the toaster and open a packet of string cheese.
“Can we watch Scooby-Doo?” He asked when I handed him his breakfast.
“Scooby’s not on the iPad, honey. How about you play a game or watch some Thomas instead?”
“I do want to watch Scooby-Doo!”
I could sense tensions were mounting. Did I really want to get into it this early in the day or did I want to stay in bed surrounded by magazines and sugar free syrup? Choose your battles, right?
“Oh fine.” I Netflixed Scooby and settled in with my Vegetarian Times. Hey! I’m home, I’ve got time. How about I make something inspired and healthy for dinner tonight? Something like Freekeh-Lentil Salad with Artichokes and Preserved Lemon. Yum! I’d have to go to the store for Freekeh, but that would be a nice, leisurely post-nap outing for us. I’m sure I’d be feeling better this afternoon and fresh air would be good for us. Sick days are the best!
“You’re seriously cray cray, lady!” said every stay-at-home mother and father ever.
“Can I go downstairs?” Quinn asked.
“Right now? Scooby just started!”
“I want to go downstairs!”
97% of his toys were downstairs and yet I was sure I could convince him to stay in bed and fall back asleep.
“Please downstairs right now!”
Here’s the thing about my kid. While at times it appears he has no boundaries like when he whips open the shower curtain and asks what the hell that thing is or when he takes food out of his mouth and puts it on your plate, he clearly has a respect—no, a fear—of perceived boundaries. For example, he will not get out of his bed. Not a crib— a bed. He gets in it on his own, but when he wakes up he always calls for one of us to get him. It’s like there’s an invisible force field that keeps him rooted there. We didn’t teach him this. In fact, we encourage him to get out of bed so neither of us has to get him on weekend mornings. But he won’t. I’m told I should be thankful, but again—lazy mom.
So dear child wants to go downstairs and doesn’t quite realize he can get off the bed and walk down the hall and go down the steps—AND HOLD THE RAILING FOR GOD’S SAKE ALWAYS HOLD THE RAILING— so he whines and kicks and rolls over on top of my face until I agree to take him downstairs.
“Oh fine,” I said. There is TV and magazines down there too, I guess.
We play the current favorite game—Tower— where you stack a combination of Jenga blocks and Duplo bricks in a pile and then throw Matchbox cars at it. I build the tower. He throws the cars. We do this 4,032 times until he finds a new attraction.
“Want to play trains with me, Mommy?”
Oh boy! What I want to do is laundry or organize my summer clothes or Google Freekeh because WTF is it, but if your kid asks you to play and your mind doesn’t immediately launch into the ultimate parental guilt trip anthem then you are a bit of a dick. One day my little boy will be too busy to take me to Walgreen’s to stock up on Metamucil and Icy Hot or sit next to me in my 94 degree home and marvel at how Pat and Vanna have been hosting Wheel of Fortune for 329 years and hardly look a day over 75.
We do this for the next 2 years (or 8 minutes, whatever. Time speeds by in dog years when you’re home sick with a toddler who is also supposed to be sick, but sure isn’t acting like it) before moving on to the next game: Tackle. I’m not a fan of this game.
“But Buddy, Mommy doesn’t want to be tack—”
After a few more body slams and moonsaults, I was desperate to get him off my back— literally— so I broke the glass and pulled the emergency alarm.
“Hey, do you want some ice cream?”
When I went upstairs to get the ice cream I realized it was almost lunch time. Time flies when you’re getting repeatedly kicked in the kidneys! Well ice cream isn’t the worst lunch but I should probably try to balance things out. Perhaps fish sticks and a side of orzo? Noodles with an alfredo sauce? Grilled cheese with rosemary ham? Nah, we didn’t have any of that.
“MOMMY, I’M HUNGRY!”
I threw some Club Crackers and a Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bar on a plate and hightailed it back to the basement.
Just as I was getting settled in on the couch with Us Weekly, we heard it. The telltale sign that something amazing was happening outside and we were about to miss it.
“MOMMY! GARBAGE TRUCKS!”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…
So back upstairs we went to stand on the front stoop and watch the garbage man empty our trash and the trash of seven of our neighbors. Truly amazing experience. We are forever changed having witnessed this.
When the truck was out of sight, I convinced Quinn to watch a Curious George movie which was sure to buy me 56 minutes of quality magazine time.
“Mommy, I need water.”
Oh right. The carb paste and diet chocolate I fed my child for lunch isn’t going to wash itself down. I’m totally nailing this caregiver thing.
I gathered up all the dirty towels I could find determined to do at least one chore today and threw them down the stairs getting them about 18 feet closer to the washer. Mission accomplished.
Six minutes into Curious George, Quinn wanted to go outside and play with Puppy.
Great. Just what the child and dog needed—time to play outside. Sigh…
On our way outside nature called.
“I need to poop, Mommy,” Quinn said. “RIGHT NOW!”
I rushed him into the bathroom and got him situated with a Star magazine and pack of wipes.
Business complete, we pulled out all the bath toys and played with them on the bathroom floor for the next 30 minutes.
“You know,” I began. “These are much more fun in the bath. How about we play another game? Like guess what cartoon is on PBS right now?”
“Great! Let’s get you a snack.”
But I forgot that “get you a snack” to a toddler means “open seven different food items and refuse them all” The kitchen floor was littered with granola bar and gummy fruit wrappers, which I would have cleaned up had I not been interrupted.
“Let’s fill my surprise eggs!”
Little boy blue and the man on the moon…
First, let’s discuss “surprise eggs.” If you don’t have a toddler you might not know about this bizarre phenomenon running rampant on YouTube.
There are countless videos of adult hands cracking open these eggs and vocalizing what’s inside. These videos have MILLIONS of views, (of which Quinn has accounted for at least 462,945.) When we’re not watching videos of strangers opening surprise eggs, we’re filling and opening our own surprise eggs and therefore have a zillion empty egg parts strewn across our home and 87,356 tiny toys to go in them. Sometimes Quinn pretends he’s the host of his own YouTube show and will make you sit and watch as he slowly opens eggs and says things like, “I wonder what’s in this purple egg. Oh look, it’s Shaggy!” I fill the eggs, he opens the eggs. We repeat. Forever. I am Sisyphus and cheap plastic Easter eggs are my boulder.
When you comin’ home, Dad, I don’t know when…
Surprise eggs cracked, it was finally nap time and I cajoled Quinn to lay down with promises of stories about bad guys. He fell asleep mid-way through a story about a dinosaur who poops on everything, which was my only indication that he was actually sick. This kid loves it when dinosaurs poop on everything.
Once he was asleep I had designs on my own nap but spent two hours and twelve minutes listening to Quinn cough instead. (Second indication that he was really sick.) As soon as he woke, he asked for popsicles and a tennis ball for Puppy to fetch. I was so grateful he didn’t choke on his phlegm, I shuttled him to the backyard with the whole box of frozen delicacies. Only Quinn wouldn’t put down his Popsicle to throw the ball so it kept bouncing into the giant containers of potted bamboo, forcing me to plunge my bare arm into the bowels of dead leaves and spider webs to retrieve the stupid ball Puppy had no interest in fetching.
Next Quinn decided the front porch was where all the action was and he really wanted a cereal bar. No, dummy, not THAT strawberry cereal bar. Or THAT strawberry one. THAT strawberry cereal bar. Good thing we opened three strawberry cereal bars to find the right one.
In lieu of eating the cereal bar, Quinn removed his crocs and threw them into the garden, the whole time asking if it was okay to throw his Crocs in the garden.
“Because birds will eat them and they will die. Do you want birds to die?”
“I don’t know.”
“No, you don’t. We do not want birds to die.”
“Because birds are beautiful and we love them.”
Puppy decided to eat the wayward cereal bar. As I tried to pry it out of his jaw, a pitiful wail emerged four inches from my left. Wanting to see if birds were eating his Crocs, Quinn leaned over for a better vantage point. Only he positioned his head between two balusters in the railing. Yep. You know it! Kids getting their heads stuck in a railing! That shit really happens– with mothers FOUR INCHES AWAY! Naturally he was panicky and crying because you don’t have to be a responsible grown-up charged with the caring and protecting of a small child you grew in your body to know this was not good. Know what else is not good? Me in a crisis.
But the Universe and all that is divine clearly loves my child because I was cool as a Tuck’s pad and somehow freed him with nary a scratch, bump or bruise on either of us.
“That was scary!” he said.
“And that is why you should always listen to your Mommy!” I said, because I never miss a teachable moment.
He moved on because toddlers are resilient but I was shitting my PJ’s (OMG WHY WAS I STILL WEARING MY PJ’S?) and needed to stop shaking so I could send rapid-fire texts to Bart asking when he was coming home. Clearly I am not to be trusted with a child. I TOLD YOU!
In the next 45 minutes we did the following:
Played in the driveway
Scolded Quinn for being too close to the street
Scolded Puppy for being too close to the street
Scolded Quinn for calling a family of three walking by “Poopy Head Underwears”
Tried to stop Puppy from eating 3 peanut butter crackers and the plastic wrapper they came in
Googled “what happens when your dog eats plastic wrappers?”
Went to the backyard
Went to the side yard
Went to the neighbor’s yard
Went back to the driveway
Sat on lounge chairs and pretended to drive to work
Took all the tennis balls from our yard and threw them in the neighbor’s yard
Freaked the eff out because we didn’t have any more tennis balls
Clocked over 14,000 steps without leaving home
Bart came home to a frying pan full of onions
“Here’s dinner!” I said. Damn, I’m productive.
He asked how I was feeling and I told him I was too exhausted to answer. I had more energy 6 seconds after Quinn was born.
“Maybe another sick day tomorrow?”
“Oh hell no!” I shouted. I could not wait to go back to work and relax.
When you coming home, son, I don’t know when…
Oh STFU, Harry goddamn Chapin. You clearly never spent the day with a toddler.
“Word,” said every stay-at-home mother and father ever.
I had a truly magical experience yesterday as I took the stage at Town Hall Seattle alongside eleven fabulous, courageous, amazing storytellers. Together we comprised the 2016 Listen to Your Mother Seattle cast and in all honestly, we kicked ass.
It was hard to believe that by showtime I had known most of these women for less than 24 hours and yet, I felt the kind of kindred connection I hadn’t experienced since meeting my dorm mates freshman year of college. (A similar amount of booze may have been involved too.) These women made me laugh (oh man, did they) and tear up (more than once.) I can honestly say I am a better mother because of it. It was inspiring to say the least. Everyone’s story was so beautifully told and while all different, we were all connected by one common thread: motherhood. Is there anything stronger than that? So yeah, when a mother talks, you should definitely listen.
If you have a chance to see a Listen to Your Mother show in your town, do it. Man, woman, mother, father, or child, you will be moved and inspired. You will also see some of the most fabulous footwear in your life.
I know this will come as a shock to you and I don’t want you to panic, but there’s an asshat on the internet.
This one comes in the form of that big Dum-Dum* who thinks maternity leave is a big, fat vacation. I know, I know, didn’t the internet talk about this like days ago? Haven’t way more articulate people ripped into her already? (Yes and yes for example.) Why are we even helping promote her stupid book anyway?
But I can’t stop thinking about her Dum-Dum remarks. This has to be a publicity stunt by her publisher, right? I mean, no self-respecting woman who came to this Earth by way of a mother could seriously have those antiquated, far-fetched, Trump-like thoughts, could they? WTF does this little Dum-Dum think new moms are doing on maternity leave? Why is it she thinks she deserves in on that action– without the whole “having a baby thing”, of course.
First, a little background in case you managed to avoid this Dum-Dum and the ire of smart, educated, supportive men and women around the world. This dumbass “worked hard” as an editor at a “popular magazine” and was “jealous” when her co-workers with kids “left the office at 6:00 to tend to their children.” Unless this Dum-Dum thinks, “leaving the office to tend to children” is a euphemism for “going to drop loads of discretionary income on a wild night on the town” I’m totally confused by her envy.
But jealous she was and she parlayed her covetousness into a novel and then coined the World’s Most Annoying phrase: “Meternity leave.”
What the snot sucker is “Meternity Leave,” you ask? Great question. Here’s how the Dum-Dum describes it:
“A sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”
A sabbatical-like break! NAILED IT! That’s exactly what maternity leave is like! I mean, what the hell do new mothers do with all that free time!
Wait. Maybe she’s right and new moms are totally screwing up this precious time being all stressy and maternal and KEEPING THINGS ALIVE and not shaving their body parts. Let’s see how the dictonary defines a sabbatical:
“Any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.”
Yep. She NAILED IT!
I was definitely granted an extended period of leave (12 weeks) from my customary work. And I definitely acquired some new skills and training. Let’s see, I learned how to function on 2 hours of sleep, dress an 8 pound human in tiny polo shirts and jeggings without breaking his bones, and figured out the best app (of which there are many) to track another living thing’s poop and pee. I was trained in the art of coaxing a magical, life-sustaining elixir out of my body simply by attaching my sore, chaffed, cracked, swollen body parts to a hospital grade, high-speed suction machine at least EIGHT TIMES A DAY. I got to spend hours upon hours with nice doctors, nurses and occupational therapists trying to figure out why my child couldn’t eat like a “normal” baby. Life skills, baby!
Rest? Well, that’s probably not a big part of a sabbatical so we’ll move on.
But wait, maybe she was looking at a different definition of sabbatical. Like maybe this one?
“A period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.”
Oh yeah! That’s more like it! Travel? We did that! Almost daily to the pediatrician’s office and a few times to the nice lady doctor who snipped tongue-ties in her home. Sometimes I even made it to a Weight Watchers meeting.
Research? Did that too! How do I increase my milk supply? Will I ever bond with this tiny human? Will a tongue tie kill my baby???
“Focused on another part of my life that didn’t relate to my job?” Hells to the yes! Wait, unless my job was caring for a tiny, helpless newborn. In that case, FAIL. But, nope. This Dum-Dum sounds like someone who has never cared for anyone but herself so I’m pretty sure “another part” means something like “doing your nails, learning a new language, taking a cooking class in Portugal.” In that case, NAILED IT again! Damn, Dum-Dum! Are you sure you’re not a mother?
Well, shoot. There’s that rest thing again. Obviously I screwed up my sabbatical– I mean, maternity leave–oopsie again. I mean Meternity leave.
My mom recently asked if I remembered those early days of motherhood. I do, but mostly because of the old pictures stored on my phone. The memories I have aren’t the ones I thought I would cultivate before I had a baby. Quinn was born in July so naturally I had visions of lazy days by the local saltwater pool and sipping coffee on flagstone patios with my unemployed friends. Quinn and I would grow closer in those 12 weeks than we were the 40 weeks and 3 days he occupied space in my belly.
Imagine my surprise when the mere thought of changing his diaper or putting a him down for a nap sent me into an anxiety-ridden inferiority complex.
Every time I hear our neighbors in their backyard I’m taken back to a time in the seemingly darkest part of the night, when I paced back and forth in the living room awkwardly trying to comfort a crying baby back to sleep and not wake Bart who had to get up in a few hours to go to work. I remember having the windows closed even though it was mid-August and hot because god forbid anyone hear the sounds a baby makes. I heard laughter, saw the raising and lowering of plastic martini glasses, smelled cigarettes and barbecue. Life was going on all around me. Talk about envy.
I remember watching a lot of Bravo television. Like a lot. (Which is totally what I would do on a real sabbatical.) I remember sitting in the living room in the middle of the warm, sunny afternoon with the blinds drawn so my neighbors or the lawn guy wouldn’t see my bumbled attempts at nursing or worse, me attached to the breast pump.
I remember being awake at 4 AM and watching Quinn lying on the blanket I picked up at a garage sale for $1, cooing, eyes wide with delight at the new things surrounding him. I remember thinking “this is my life now. This is how it will always be. Upside down and turned around. I want to sleep so bad.”
I remember binge-watching Orange is the New Black with my husband, trying to relax and pretend things were normal again but really we were waiting on pins and needles for the alarm to go off. Every time Quinn woke up, we were sure we’d never get him to sleep again.
I remember really wanting a glass of wine, but the math of trying to figure out when was the exact right time to have alcohol between pumpings and how long I had to drink it was too exhausting.
I remember wanting to close my eyes, but I dreaded being woken up.
I remember thinking everyone else was way better at this crap than I was. I remember how I used to not care about things like that (see: admitting math is too exhausting) and mad that this bothered me now.
I remember feeling incredibly alone even though my husband was right there and my friends were always on call.
I remember feeling disappointed when my doctor declared me perfectly sane and said all these feelings were “normal.” Sigh…I guess this was just me then.
But it wasn’t just me. I mean, it was and always will be. It was normal and healthy and scary and terrifying and thankfully temporary. But it wasn’t a sabbatical.
So yeah, Dum-Dum, Meternity time sounds like a hoot. Self-reflection up the ying-yang. I do hope that one day Ms. Dum-Dum finds someone willing to procreate with her so she can make her co-workers pureed-pea-green with envy when she clocks out at 6 for some R&R with a newborn. And I really hope she spends her meternity time self-reflecting on the ginormous asshat she once was.
*Edited because when I read this back the word I used to describe her was too mean even for me. So you know, I’m all class, baby.