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.
We all know newborns are–shall we say challenged in the art of sleeping through the night. I mean, come on babies! It’s not rocket science. It’s so easy even a baby could do it, right? It’s so easy I could do it in my– well, you get the picture. (Taking candy from a baby is actually much harder than I was lead to believe, however.)
Did you know that toddlers can occasionally mess up this very natural, instinctual body function too? Older does not always mean wiser when it comes to the art of shutting ones eyeholes.
Blessedly our child is pretty good at this sleep thing (knock on wood, knock on wood so freakin’ hard) which is why I’ll probably never get mad at him for doing terrible future things like flunking biology or stealing nips from Mommy’s clementine vodka.
“Did you eat Mommy’s Weight Watcher chocolate caramel mini bars? Delete an entire season of Southern Charm on the DVR? Put a top rack only platter on the bottom rack of the dishwasher? Did you?! Well, that’s pretty shitty, my child, but at least you still sleep through the night.”
Those days of waking up every 2, 3, if-we-were-lucky-4 hours a night were rough. Ugh, the worst. Dark days, I tell you. We thought they were far behind us, but then this past week happened and reminded us again of why Quinn will be an only child.
Here are just a smattering of the reasons our sweet angel woke us up in the middle of the night last week:
He wanted to know what we were doing
He needed water
His sock monkey fell out of bed
He can’t find his mimi (binky) in his bed (because it was in his mouth)
The covers fell off of him
The covers fell off his sock monkey
He doesn’t like his sock monkey
He doesn’t like covers
His leg itches
His other leg itches
He can’t find his shadow
Mommy left the water cup in his room
He wanted to watch Fantastic Mr. Fox
It was wake up-time. (It wasn’t. It was 4:33AM)
He wanted to know if it was a school night
He didn’t wake us up. We woke him up.
We didn’t wake him up, for the record. He’s clearly a liar, but for that he won’t get in trouble. So long as he stays asleep.
I’m was in Florida visiting my parents accompanying the golden child on his annual spring pilgrimage to see his grandparents. I was there eight days before my dad finally hugged me and said hello.
As per usual protocol when visiting grandparents vegetables are eschewed, bedtime routines are blown off, and hands are forever coated in a sticky, gunky, sugary type substance that resembles a combination of frosting and maple syrup and most likely is comprised of frosting and maple syrup.
There is also no shortage of rewards and incentives on a typical Grandparent visit.
If you put on your sunscreen you get 38 Paw Patrol books.
If you can show us how to log into Netflix on Mommy’s phone without waking her, you get a 17 pound chocolate bunny.
If you can fit all 826 jelly beans into your mouth-hole without spilling any we’ll take you to Build-a-Bear.
Thus, the weeks post-vacation we enter the “Recalibration Phase” where Bart and I explain that the completion of basic human functions like brushing teeth and pooping in a diaper instead of a newspaper in the corner does not warrant a reward.
One night on vacation (where the aforementioned things did net a reward) said child received an especially exciting gift. While my mom and I pawed through pawed through merchandise at the Sak’s Fifth Ave outlet (if you like long lines, apathetic dressing room attendants, and cashiers who appear to be too strung out Canadian Sudafed (a.k.a. THE GOOD STUFF) to scan a coupon then this place is for YOU!) my dad whisked the child away to the blessed and strategically placed Toys R’ Us outlet. During my search to find someone to let me into a dressing room, my dad sent videos of the holy child running through aisles packed with toys featuring his most beloved friends from Paw Patrol, Thomas the Train, and Daniel Tiger. There were giant stuffed dinosaurs, plastic construction trucks, and oversized Star Warsdolls action figures. My dad chased after his grandchild like he was the paparazzi chasing a drunk, wardrobe-malfunctioning Jessica Simpson through the streets of Cabo. My mom and I looked at each other and noted how much trouble my dad was going to be in.
“Should we pull the car around to the loading dock?” I asked. “Or do you think they have someone to help get a pallet to the car?”
When we met up again, Quinn was hugging a Thomas Track Master expansion pack containing 47 pieces of shit we’re going to lose three days after we return home.
“MOMMY LOOK WHAT GEKKY* GOT ME! MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY LOOK LET’S GO HOME AND PLAY RIGHT NOW WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
Seriously I never saw him this excited about anything. It was the same reaction I had about 14 minutes prior when I found a pair of Joe’s skinny cargo jeans for $39.99. SCORE! MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY LOOK WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! LET’S GO HOME AND CHANGE OUR PANTS RIGHT NOW!!!
Now, if you know anything about this Thomas racket, you know how there’s 3 different types of tracks and the trains that go with them. Of course the tracks and trains are not compatible with one another. Of course not. They’re close enough to completely frustrate a child because his train won’t stay on the track although it looks like it should and confuse a grandparent because why the hell would there be THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF IDENTICAL LOOKING TRACK? But because I’m a Thomas the Train savant, (and I work in marketing and have written my fair share of misleading box copy,) and I have witnessed an abyss-opening tantrum because some asshole copywriter made me think I had purchased something whole and complete only to later find a crucial component was woefully absent, I knew enough to check the fine print to see if this particular product came with at least one train.
“Of course it does!” my dad shouted. “Why wouldn’t it?”
Oh Dad. Have you totally forgotten this whole parenting thing?
“Look, Mommy!” Quinn said. “There’s Gordon and James and Percy and Edward and THOMAS!”
Indeed there they were. Photographed right under the words: ALSO AVAILABLE.
“There is no train in this box.” I hated having to tell them this. It was like when I had to tell my dad scarfing 12 inch Meatball Marinaras seven times a day was not considered the Subway Diet. “He can’t play with this. We don’t have compatible trains.”
“He needs a train,” my dad stage whispered so the kid cradling his new Thomas track wouldn’t overhear us talking about this grave oversight. “He has to play with this.”
“Umm,” I said, looking around. Store clerks were shutting doors. Pretzel makers were pulling in sandwich boards.
“GET HIM A TRAIN RIGHT NOW!” my parents yelled in unison.
The mall closed at 9:00 PM. It was 8:56 PM. Of course Toys R’ Us was at the opposite end of the mall.
“GO!” the grandparents shouted, shoving credit cards and wads of bills in my hands. “GET US A TRAIN!”
Clutching my Saks shopping bag I took off, running past Banana Republic and Calvin Klein and ooooh, Le Crueset. I didn’t know they had one of those here. I would love a good deal on a French oven. But how would I stuff that thing in my suitcase– Oh right! On a mission!
I got to Toys R’ Us with at least 32 seconds to spare. I found the Track Master compatible trains of which they had Percy, Emily, Sampson and James. Hmm…he does like Emily and who doesn’t love that pompous asshole James. No freakin’ idea who this Sampson character is. Can’t really go wrong with Percy, right? He’s Thomas’s best friend. He’s sweet and earnest. And this particular model talks (which I will later regret as I’m still hearing Percy’s “I must deliver the mail ON TIME” affirmations in my dreams.) so it’s the obvious choice, right?
I returned the car where Quinn was misbuckled in his car seat and still clutching the box of track but none the wiser.
“LET’S GO HOME, MOMMY AND PLAY TRAINS!”
It took my mom and I an hour to put that damn expansion track together. 49 minutes of me swigging wine right out of the bottle while throwing plastic pieces around the living room and 11 minutes for my mom to sit calmly and quietly with the instructions and complete the project. Quinn was wildly in love with the track and watching Percy chug up the hill commenting about what a God damn busy engine he was and down the corkscrew hill worrying about getting the mail delivered on time. When it was time to put on his pajamas and do stories Quinn insisted Percy came too. Grandpa laid next to Quinn, shooting the shit, talking about trains and how useful Percy was because he DELIVERED THE MAIl ON TIME. With no track in bed, Quinn improvised and used his Grandpa. Percy chugged over grandpa’s belly, to his shoulders, up the back of his neck to the top of his thinning hair. Percy is a dedicated little engine with a strong desire to please. He is also a battery operated masochist who promptly grabbed each precious strand of my dad’s hair in his spinning wheels and ripped them from the follicles like the wretched, should-be-banned-in-all-states Epilady torture device of the 80’s. (Someday I’ll tell you about my one and only run-in with that bitch and how no hair dares to sprout on my left ankle bone.)
“HELP!” my dad shouted. “MAKE IT STOP!”
Although I was sitting right there and plainly saw Percy gathering and eating hair, and heard my dad call for help for the first time ever in my life it didn’t make sense to me. What was going on? What was my dad asking me to do? Could that be a toy train devouring my father from the noggin down?
Here’s the deal. I’m no good in crisis. Once when we thought Bart had shut Quinn’s finger in the car door, I ran behind our yard waste bin, clasped my hands over my ears, bobbed back and forth and screamed, NO NO NO! until Quinn came outside to ask if I knew where the Pirate’s Booty was. And other times when bad things happen I laugh. I know it’s wrong. My brain tells me it’s not an appropriate response. I want to help. Yet, I laugh. In this case, my response was the latter. I laughed. All the while my dad was yelling to turn the damn thing off!
Oh right. The train!
“I don’t know how to turn it off!” I laughed. This Percy had a different off switch than the Track Masters I was used to and I couldn’t locate it because I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Also my find motor skills were compromised due to laughing so hard.
“STOP MOVING HIM!”
“I’m trying to find the off switch!”
“IT’S A KID TOY! HOW HARD CAN IT BE?!”
“Bust my buffers! I’m a really busy engine!”
“SHUT UP, PERCY!” We both yelled.
I finally found the switch but the damage was done. Each of Percy’s wheels were wrapped around my dad’s sparse locks like a tight perm on a roller. Every time I moved the train, I pulled my dad’s hair.
“MOM!” I yelled. “We need help!”
And because I get my caring, compassionate nature from my mother, she basically told us to eff off, she was busy playing Words with Friends and she hates April Fool’s Day.
“It’s not a joke!” I laugh-yelled, thinking what an awesome joke it would have been. Her refusal to help make things even funnier. I mean, I could seeher sitting at the dining room table like 16 feet away, punching letters into her iPad.
“GOD DAMMIT, PERCY!”
“Seriously, Mom, we need you!” Oh this was too much. I was doubled over, busting a gut and dislocating my shoulder because every time my arm moved, my dad winced in more pain. Finally the two year-old sought and received help. The little Lassie-in-training ran straight to Grandma Juju and demanded she put down her iPad and come help his Gekky.
“Oh fine,” she complied. “But this better be good.”
“Hold Percy right here,” I said, putting her hand firmly next to my dad’s almost scalped scalp. “Be right back!”
Quinn threw his arms around his grandpa and started whimpering.
I returned seconds later with my phone and began snapping photos for this year’s Shutterfly retrospective. Naturally. This is why you should never ask me to be your emergency contact. Or your partner on Naked and Afraid for that matter. While you’re pulling maggots out of your butt crack, I’ll be Instagraming that shit.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? YOUR CAMERA? REALLY?”
I did this for you, people.
Once satisfied with my photo documentary, I resumed the task of untangling my dad’s precious strands from Percy’s determined wheels. It was an effort in futility which my mom recognized immediately. Quinn was sobbing and clinging to my father’s neck and of course that made me feel terrible. I’m not a total monster. I laughed harder.
“Mommy’s not really crying,” I tried to explain. “I’m laughing so hard tears are coming out.”
“BECAUSE YOUR MOMMY IS HEARTLESS!”
“Oh! Mommy just peed a little!” I told Quinn. “See? Funny, funny!”
My mom returned with scissors. She would make a wonderful Naked and Afraid partner if it didn’t involve being naked. Or afraid.
“Move,” she directed and got to work.
Percy was freed seconds later. My dad was relived. Quinn stopped crying. Facebook got an earful.
For a minute I thought Percy’s fate was sealed. He was the train who hurt Gekky. He would be cast off, banished to the Rubbermaid bin of misfit toys along with slip proof baby kneepads and Touchy Feely Elmolester. But the next day the great debacle was all but a distant memory. My dad combed his hair in such a way the shoring was barely evident and Percy was back to DELIVERING THE MAIL ON TIME. We were just sitting down to coffee and homemade biscuits when Quinn approached his grandfather, Percy in hand. My dad’s face paled a bit when he saw the little engine that could pluck a bitch coming towards him.
“Gekky?” Quinn asked. “Can you get the hair out of Percy’s wheels please? It’s gross.”
I mean rude, right? Leaving your hair all tangled up in a train’s wheels?
This may be the most exciting thing to happen to me since I discovered pretzel M&Ms were only 4 Weight Watchers points.
Listen to your Mother is a national show featuring live readings from fabulous women about motherhood. This is the second year it’s in Seattle (thank you, Jennifer and Jill!) and this year I GET TO BE IN THE CAST.
You guys, if you know me at all you know this is right up my ally. I live for this stuff. Stage. Audience. Reading. Surrounded by fabulous women writers and mothers? Umm, yes, please. I’m in. All in. I could not be more excited to be part of this event and incredibly grateful to Jennifer and Jill for inviting me to participate. It is going to be a great show. You need to come and bring your favorite moms.
You’ve got to check out the final installment of Mother Rose Best, Fools of Engagement, if for no other reason than to see the awesome Chris Harrison GIF the editors unearthed. It’s pretty fabulous.
Many thanks to the ladies of In the Powder Room for allowing me to crash the stalls once a week. What pure joy they are to work with.
Cheers to another match made in Reality TV heaven, where the booze flows and annulments are doled out like shots of penicillin. I’m sure it took me longer to write this post than for Bachelor Ben to realize he should have picked Bachelorette #2. Oh well. There’s always next season.
Spoiler alert! She’s still in the running to be America’s Next– oops! Wrong show. But yeah, she’s still in the running to be Bachelor Ben Higgins’ ex-fiance. Which is great because she’s helping today’s children become better citizens of tomorrow. How, you ask? Clearly you have not been reading Mother Rose Best. You best giddy-on-up over to In the Powder Room and check out the latest, Jamaican of a Marriage, right now. Why? Because I’m the mother, that’s why! And clean your room while you’re at it.
Facebook offers some really fun insights on pages you manage. For instance, after I posted the link for the latest Mother Rose Best, “Putting the Ho in Hometown“, 4 people either hid that post, hid ALL posts, reported me as Spam or unlike my page. Damn! Four?
What? Don’t hide me, my friends. Why do I offend? You’ll have to read it and and report back.
Oh man, The Bachelor sure doesn’t lack for writing fodder. It’s like a two-year old that way. Also in other ways like the fearful, petchulant, moody behavior of the contestants. Also the gullibility and belief in fairy tales. Also… wow. Maybe that’s a whole separate column.
As if I didn’t love In the Powder Room already, I love them even more every Monday when I write the latest Mother Rose Best and every middle of the night Tuesday when I turn it in (because I’m slow. And a bad editor. And easily distracted by shiny things on the internet.) Please read the latest installment, Save the Drama for Bahamas now. Take your time. I’ll just be shopping for plant stands on the internet.
Are you back? Okay. So much more to discuss about this season and I’ve been remiss on posting my larger recaps. I KNOW you’re dying to find out what happened. So here’s some of the highlight from where we left off.
Olivia was mean to the girls
She called Amanda “Teen Mom” and greatly offended EVERYONE
Olivia still thought she had a psychic connection with Ben and that he sent her positive affirmations through his body language and secret hand signals
Ben’s virginal tongue still hasn’t kissed anyone
Twin Emily can NOT get over Olivia calling Amanda Teen Mom and claimed it was the most offensive thing she ever heard.
Twin Emily is grossly sheltered. Clearly.
As a 40-something mom with a toddler, I welcome any and all comparisons to Teen Mom. Bring on the offensive comments, Olivia!
Caila is still super annoying and acts like a ten year-old girl who still plays with Barbie. And she’s scared to death of a relationship. Ben apparently likes that in a girl-woman.
Jubliee melted down and got the inevitable boot. “Inevitable” because she is African-American, not because of her meltdown. I liked her. This made me sad.
Leah went bat shit cray cray. She lost it big time and tried to take Ben’s favorite, Lauren B. down with her.
Emily told Ben that Olivia was a meanie. Ben pretended to be surprised and saddened to hear this.
Ben pulled Olivia aside to ask her why she was such a bully
Because the girls are jealous of her
Because she has a target on her back after getting the first impression rose
Because she has ugly toes
Because she’s a victim
Because the girls are dumb and she is smart and wants to “talk smart things.” Like, right?
Ben thought Las Vegas was a great place to fall in love
Ben thought Mexico was a great place to fall in love
Ben thought the Bahamas were a great place to fall in love
After the girls on the Bahamas group date bitched out and ignored him, Ben started questioning the reality of finding his wife on reality TV
Ben pondered throwing himself off a cliff in the middle of a hurricane
Pigs swim in the Bahamas (real pigs, not a metaphor) and nearly drowned the girls over some chicken hotdogs. It was fabulous.
Olivia was dumped on the worst private island ever and apparently left there to die.
Some other girls went home crying in black SUVs. Later!
And that’s basically what you missed. Are you asking yourself why you’re not watching this gold? Put down that book and get cultured for goodness sake!