My parents would probably both kill me for posting these pictures, maybe for different reasons. I stumbled across these the other night in a box of old stuff that’s migrated from house to house to apartment to apartment, traveling across an entire lifetime.
My parents were married for 23 years. They’ve been divorced now for 19. While it could make me sad to see these old snapshots, it doesn’t. Here’s why: it serves as a reminder that every couple goes through major changes in their lives and there is always the chance they can drift apart. But, every married couple was once madly in love and ready to conquer the world.
We should all remember that time, if nothing else to remember there’s somewhere to get back to when things have fallen apart. Don’t kill me mom and dad.
My daughter has undiagnosed OCD. Or maybe all toddlers are just batshit crazy.
You know the little loop on the back of toddler shoes? My daughter has a massive meltdown if it’s not tucked in. She won’t let me cut them off, they must be tucked in. And if they don’t stay tucked in, it becomes a temper tantrum every few minutes.
She has to have 3 of everything. 3 headbands, 3 stuffed animals to sleep with and 3 “rinse and spits” after she brushes her teeth.
She recently forced me to take a fancy church dress and lay it over her feet in bed and then cover it with the bedspread. I have no idea why.
She refuses to wear any shirt or sweater with a raised flower on it.
Lights on, door open, blanket on to sleep. If these strict requirements aren’t met, there will be hell to pay. Do not test her or she will punish you with new demands of computer time, a Christmas movie in January or heaven forbid, a tea party.
As I mentioned in previous posts, she needs to be carried like a baby from the bathtub and refuses to walk down the stairs because it makes her “feet hurt.”
Spaghetti can only have butter on it, no red sauce whatsoever. Nothing should be tainted with parmesan cheese. Banana bread shall have no nuts. Egg McMuffins are great if you remove the ham so she can eat the egg white and scrape the cheese off the muffins, which are promptly tossed to the dogs. Olives are sinful. Eating green beans means separating them and only consuming the tiny bean portions inside. Frosting is fantastic, but the rest of the cupcake is bullshit.
When she’s sleepy, she needs complete quiet. When she wakes up, she is the devil.
Here are the advantages of having a moderately neurotic toddler:
She’s never going to run into traffic. She’s too busy telling ME to be careful and watch out for cars.
We will never forget to buckle her in the car, because she screams if you wait too long.
We will never forget her IN the car, because if we get our son out first she will completely lose her shit. “You forgot me!!!”
She’s going to love flossing her teeth. She tries to all the time already.
She will never be filthy, because a single hair stuck on her hand is a crisis.
But, whatever makes her this way has to be the same thing that inspires her to randomly say “I love you” or hug me for no apparent reason. Whatever makes her this way also makes her hysterically funny, sweet to her brother and exceptionally smart. This morning when she was looking out the bathroom window in the dark, I asked her if she could see anything. She said, “My ferlection!” (reflection.. close enough for me to consider her brilliant) I love my eccentric little girl.
I am a horrible mother. I missed a phone call from daycare and didn’t even get the message for an hour that my daughter was sick. They said she’s complaining that her belly hurts. Which can only mean that she has a urinary tract infection which has caused kidney failure and/or a tumor and/or her organs are all shutting down and that hour I wasn’t aware may have made the difference between life and death.
Or it could be a belly ache.
But, it still stands that I am a horrible mother. If I didn’t work, I would be able to ask her to explain how it hurts, figure out if she needed to go to a doctor, make an appointment if needed, give her Saltines and Ginger Ale and watch 30 back-to-back episodes of Super Why cuddled under a blanket with her.
If I didn’t work, I would be a fantastic mom. If I didn’t have kids, I would be a phenomenal Producer. Because I am a working mom, I kinda sorta suck hard at both.
Today, my husband needs to pick up a rental car for work, so he has to leave the kids with his parents. If I stayed at home, I could pick them up from school. Tomorrow, he has to head out of town at 5:30 a.m. That means I have to try and shower, get ready, get the kids ready and get them to school when it opens at 7 a.m., encounter rush hour traffic and get to work late.
I will be sweating, even if it’s 45 degrees outside.
My ears will be ringing from all of the screaming.
If I stayed at home, Alma could wake up leisurely and we could bicker about what she’s going to wear for an interminable amount of time. Instead of sweating, maybe I would actually end up SMILING.
My husband just called the daycare and they say Alma was just “tired.” What the hell? Yeah, when I’m exhausted I always confuse it for a stomach ache. So, it could still be the swine flu or appendicitis. But, I won’t know until it’s too late, because I’M WORKING!
I always knew I was going to be the kind of parent who stresses gender neutrality in order to ensure that my children didn’t feel pressured to conform to their “accepted roles” in society.
We chose gender neutral crib bedding for our daughter with cute little sexless lambs. I bought white, yellow and beige onesies. I even dressed her in a black jumper at one point and she looked crazy cute.
What I didn’t anticipate was that my children would naturally fall into the defined gender roles of pretty pink princess and tough guy.
I hate pink. Like, not a little bit. I really, really, really hate pink. I was a tomboy growing up, maybe because I had two older brothers. I lost my two front teeth because my brother was trying to pick me up by my head by squeezing two pillows on either side of my face and lifting me off the ground. One of the teeth literally popped out. (I laughed… until I saw the blood)
My daughter adores pink. She wanted our new house to be pink. She wants to ride a pink horse. She wants to paint her nails pink. She wears a pink tiara to school. She likes skirts, pink ones. Dresses, pink ones. She had to have a pink bike, pink sunglasses and pink cowgirl boots.
Oh, and purple is okay too.
She wants me to braid her hair every morning, she prefers to wear tights and despises being dirty.
I recently tried to gauge which sports or classes she might be interested in. I offered up soccer, gymnastics, dancing, swimming, football and horseback riding. She chose dancing. (and horseback riding, but I am still trying to track down that elusive pink pony)
The only problem? Alma can’t dance. At all. She does weird spastic movements to music and makes ugly faces and crawls on the floor. She’s like a drunk chick at Freaknik. I can’t wait to see what she does when we put her in a tutu with all of the other gals.
My son’s first word was “ball.” He is obsessed with balls, in particular soccer balls. He can now drop kick a ball better than most grownups.
This morning, he walked into our bedroom crying and immediately threw a Mickey Mouse dodge ball at me across the room. He slept with it!
He steals the Hungry Hungry Hippo balls (the answer to the previous post’s riddle about what I had to clean up off the floor) and puts them in the trash, the laundry basket, hidden behind books on the shelves and tucked into fake plants.
He is aggressive and violent, he loves rough housing and being outdoors. One of his first several words was “Outshide.” (outside) All he ever wants to do is be outside. He likes riding lawnmowers, bikes, choo choo trains and cars. He is a man’s man.
There is an exception. Huck LOVES shoes. Not just any shoes. Pretty pink shoes. He constantly steals Alma’s pink boots and her pink sneakers. I thought it was just a shoe fetish, so Santa brought him cowboy boots for boys. He still steals the pink ones.
So, at the end of the day I think I ended up with a girlie girl and a dude’s dude and I have to suck it up and accept the fact that they are exactly who they are: A future fashionista (shudder) and a mountain hiking soccer player in heels.
Our second vacation with the kids, we decided it made more sense to drive. We wanted to save money and didn’t want to deal with whole airport fiasco like the last time. The drive from Tampa to North Carolina wasn’t so bad. We drove overnight so the kids could sleep and they mostly did. We got there in the morning and the plan was for my husband to take a nap as soon as we got there.
Within hours, he started to feel sick to his stomach.
Then the puking began.
He was laid up in bed for 24 hours, periodically rising from the dead to give the potty a long embrace.
Shortly after midnight, the virus wrapped its slimy tentacles around my daughter. She destroyed a comforter, so we relocated to another bed in the house where she proceeded to puke all over again. She would puke, cry, I would comfort her, start laundry, relocate and then the whole process would begin again. Eventually, we ran out of unused sheets and beds and opted for a towel on a bare mattress.
Shortly after breakfast, it got me.
My son is apparently some kind of mutant soldier or machine. Never got it. (little S.O.B.) (Wait, that means I’m the “B”… nevermind)
So, it was pretty much 3 days quarantined in a guest house, sleeping and puking.
By the time we got to my mom’s in South Carolina, everyone had recovered. By the last day of the trip, it hit my mother like a brick wall. Her joyfully insane boyfriend was setting off fireworks in the backyard while Alma screamed in terror and my mom kept shouting “STOP IT!” from her bed in between vomiting in a bucket with her loyal dog by her side.
That was the night we drove home. My son screamed the entire way home. Think I’m kidding? I’m not. I silently cried so much that there were no more tears by the time we got home.
Pulling into the driveway, my husband and I nearly said simultaneously, “We are never going on vacation again.”
Our kids? Well, they promptly fell peacefully asleep the second we arrived home.
Why can’t we just picture the reality of screaming children, endless vomiting and a nervous breakdown and STAY HOME? Maybe because all of the rest of you hide your misery, post awesome pics from Disney and the beach, preferring to say you had a fantastic, relaxing vacation.
You’re all full of shit though, right? Right???
The very first time you feed your baby ice cream, it’s adorable. You watch their little face scrunch up in shock at how cold it is and then warm up to the luxurious goodness.
You might as well have just stuck a needle full of smack in one of their chubby arm rolls. It is liquid kid crack and now you’ve just opened the door to a lifetime of agony and suffering, trying to ween them off the sweet stuff unsuccessfully for eternity.
A granola bar will never be enough again. Now, they will want chocolate.
You will try to switch to sugar-free popsicles only to find the allure of sweet, sugary ANYTHING is too great. You’ll try to save it for special occasions like holidays and birthday parties, but find that bribing them to consume a single kernel of corn will be worth a single Whopper.
But, you’re wrong! Moments later, like a ticking time bomb they will transform into monsters. Alma is a she-devil, a banshee, demanding more, more, MORE! Huxley is a Tasmanian Devil, doing a crack dance to rival the best-of sites on Youtube. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Go6q9i1T4)
They get that crazed look in their eyes like they might turn Dahmer for just one more bite of cake.
Even if you do succeed in denying them sugar most days, they’ll come back from your in-laws hopped up on PCP. (Pink CuPcake)
Then there’s those evil bakery ladies at Publix, just waiting to ruin your entire grocery trip with a free cookie for each kid. Like it isn’t tough enough to get everything into the cart and keep your kids grubby paws off the stuff. Now their paws are REALLY grubby, melted chocolate chips crusting onto the corners of their mouths like little savages who ripped through the ripe flesh of a chocolate-bleeding creature.
The ride home is AMAZING. The nap you hoped they would take is a distant memory thanks to some miserable bitch in a hairnet.
I just asked Alma if she likes chocolate and ice cream. Her response, “I want a piece of chocolate because I ate all my dinner and my belly is full.” You can’t even mention it without her getting the shakes.
“My name is Hannah. I gave my kid ice cream and chocolate.” (She’s never gonna make it through the withdrawals. I gave her a popsicle. She’ll want chocolate again in 10 minutes)
I wasn’t just a Kmart kid growing up. I was a thrift store kid. While my mom was shopping for clothes at the local “Kidney Store” in the ghetto in South St. Pete, I would be rewarded for good behavior with the thrift store goodie bag. It’s a plastic bag for a buck that’s crammed with stuffed animals with matted fur, plastic toys missing parts and the occasional plastic gator or frog for the swimming pool.
Not only did the thrift store have a particular smell, like that musty nursing home death smell, but so did the goodie bag. Should’ve poured bleach in the bag and given it a couple good shakes before playing with it. I guarantee one of the bonuses packed inside was the pox or the plague.
You would think it would make me appreciate the fact that my children have all new toys to play with. But, I am beginning to realize my kids don’t appreciate ANYTHING and neither do we. Toys are broken, discarded and tossed in the trash by the kids before I even notice they’re gone. Stuffed animals are loved passionately by my daughter for a few days before sitting unused in her closet for months.
My stuffed animals were loved until they were unrecognizable. A stuffed bunny would become a lump of brown fake animal flesh missing eyes. Gone are the days of horror story dolls missing limbs and beheaded Barbie Dolls.
Our kids are spoiled with new, new, new.
It’s missing a part?
Toss it in the garbage.
It stopped working?
We’ll buy you a new one.
You want to look like “Lulu, Ladybug Girl?”
We’ll spend $100 making that happen. It’s not even for Halloween. It’s just parenting in 2014.
I spent big money buying the kids a “hunting cabin” for Christmas only to have my husband take it down within two days because it just “takes up too much room.” A hunting cabin. When we were kids, that was a picnic table covered with a sheet. We would sit underneath and play Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” on cassette tape for hours.
Wanna play banker? That just requires a handful of Monopoly money and dad’s calculator. Now? You need to buy a functioning cash register complete with coins and a conveyer belt for the fake boxes of cereal and canned goods.
Don’t have a Slip ‘N Slide? As children, we would take our busted pool floats and tape them together and stick the water hose on it and BINGO, Slip ‘N Slide.
Don’t even get me started on birthday parties. For our birthdays growing up, we would get to choose what meal we wanted for dinner. (at home) My mother would bake our birthday cake and we would sit down as a family of 5 and get a grand total of maybe 10 presents, half of which would inevitably be clothing.
Now, you’re expected to throw a massive bash for your toddler with all of the dozens of “friends” they don’t really have and rent a bouncy house complete with a water slide. The kids get an enormous Publix birthday cake decorated with a bunch of gaudy crap for whatever “theme” you choose. There was no “theme” when I was a kid. The theme was, “it’s your Goddamn birthday, here’s some presents and you can daydream about balloons because those things cost money and take too much time. Hop in the above-ground pool after cake and go to bed.”
And it was a great day. Every birthday. Because I spent it with my family and it was all about me. It had nothing to do with the amount of money spent. There was no trip to Disney. And you appreciated every single eyeless, limbless, matted and treasured toy in your closet.
Maybe I should give my kids a Thrift Store goodie bag and see how many minutes before everything inside ends up in the garbage. Then, I’ll scream at them, “That cost a whole dollar and came with a rare infectious disease from a previous century!!!”