Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Silly Reminder

On the way home from work tonight, Z and I were listening to the radio. I wasn't really paying attention to the commercials when suddenly I hear a little voice from the back seat:


Yeah, babe?

What's Status Liquors?

(F!) It's just a store, babe. Don't worry about it.

Can we go there sometime?

Just another reminder that I have to pay attention to everything that she sees or hears because it may bite me in the ass at some point later.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am probably going to lose my job.

When I lose my job, I will have to take the kid out of school.

We won't have a home, because I don't have a job, so I will have to build us a house from cardboard and milk crates in Hub's parents backyard. I will sew us curtains, crochet door mats and blankets.

I won't be able to get another job, because I won't have a car and I will have to grow all of our food since we won't have any money.

I will have to wash our clothes with a garden hose in a bucket.

I will have to sell everything that uses electricity to buy candles and bottled water.

I won't be able to use Craigslist to do my sales, without electricity or internet, so I will be like the people that are always having a yard sale. (We've all seen them with all their stuff displayed on the front yard and a faded sign that looks like it has been there for many years.)

The kid will grow wild and barefooted, her clothes will be dirty and too small because we won't be able to afford new ones. She will never learn to count past 7 and the alphabet will always being missing the J.

Everything will spin out of control, I will probably lose my kid after I fry her up some squirrel in the backyard. Hubs will leave me because what good am I without a job and he doesn't like squirrel that much either.

Church will seem like a million miles away instead of across town, so we will have to hold our own homeless church next to our burn pit. Our sacrifices will have to be the snakes, lizards, bunnies and squirrels that we catch, I will pray each night that the armadillos and raccoons stay away from our cardboard home.

And all it took was for me to lose my job.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Technology and the Preschooler

A million years ago, when I was just a young girl, the idea of having a phone that you traveled outside of the kitchen with was purely science fiction. The idea that you could drive down the road talking on the phone was almost ludicrous.

Who would want to be tethered down like that? Who would want to be available to anyone, anytime, anywhere?

Our family would take road trips without a thought of whether we could be contacted or not, without a care of what we would do if we were to break down, or how we would be able to stay in touch with the rest of our lives.

As I aged, my fascination with phones (like most young girls) grew. My friends that had cordless phones, call waiting or caller ID seemed rich, untouchable. Our phone remained heavily monitored and in the kitchen, connected to the wall, next to the sink. In our six person household, there was no call waiting, no caller ID and definitely no child line.

I remember the first person that we ever knew that had a phone in their car. He drove a Corvette and sold my dad drugs from time to time. It was housed in a giant "briefcase"-like bag and the receiver was still corded to the bag, making it extremely difficult to talk on while driving. He had approximately 15 minutes of battery life when it was charged in fully. About a year after getting his car phone, he added a answering machine (installed in his dash) so that he would not miss calls while he was at work or at home. My family often joked about the idea of an answering machine in your car, it seemed outlandish that you would want people to be able to connect with you all of the time.

Three months after I graduated high school, I got a beeper. Mostly, I got it just because I could (I had extra cash, a hole in my pocket and good credit), but also as a sort of rebellion from my parents. I hid it away from them because I feared the judgement that I would receive for having this type of technology. It was handy, especially in the late evenings, as my household had a very strictly enforced "no calls after 9" rule (even for those of who were in college full-time and working almost full-time). I would get a page, sneak the (still corded) receiver into my bedroom and talk until the wee hours of the morning with my then boyfriend, Hubs.

About six months after getting the beeper, I got a cell phone. It was a brick, solidly constructed, there were no bells and whistles - one ring tone, bright orange numbers to display the number that you had dialed, it did have a "flip", (if you could call it that) a grey piece of plastic that covered the (unlocking) buttons from being pushed while the phone was in your purse, pocket or backpack. No games, internet or texting. It was extremely heavy and would grow hot the longer that you used it. Additionally, the battery had a very short "life" and would have to be replaced every 6 months or so.

As I have continued to age, technology has made phones lighter and capable of doing more and more things. The idea of leaving home without your phone is ridiculous. The thought of going out of town without constant communication with our friends and families seems insane. There are apps that allow people to track your every movement, your every breath, your every thought. We have relinquished our privacy to the idea of community that we really seldom ever have.

What scares me is that my child will never know a time that it is not normal to text a friend instead of talking to them, that she will have relationships with people that she has only met virtually, that as our parameters expand more and more into this virtual world we are losing essential qualities of human contact.

My daughter and I have never met a stranger. We will strike up conversations with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It's one of her most charming qualities, that she breaks out of the norm of preschooler and is brave enough to introduce herself to everyone. I am worried that in this fast paced world, she will lose the desire to make human contact, that she will find herself more comfortable in the anonymity of this virtual space and impose more importance on the technology than the quality.

Any ideas on what we can do as moms to encourage personal relationships rather than virtual ones?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A New "Normal"

Since Hubs started his new job, Z and I have been struggling to find a new normal. Everyday it seems like there has been some obstacle, some distraction that has prevented us from being able to do things in a normal fashion.

In the last two weeks, I have dealt with Z's attitude, her rolling eyes, biting teeth and angry fists. Her refusal to stay dressed in the mornings and her absolute disregard for my authority. Her unwillingness to go to bed at night multiplied with her refusal to get out of the bed in the mornings. Her newly made decision to stop eating combined with her relentless pursuit of candy and pickles.

Life was not always this way. She has been in school before, we had a great routine established then (or am I looking at it differently now?). Life with her dad is different than life with me and she is letting me know which one of us she prefers.

With dad, there are no battles.

When she stays at home with dad, Z can watch TV, whenever, however, whatever she wants. I know that if I need to get out of the house in the morning, the TV must stay off.

When she stays at home with dad, Z can eat whatever and whenever she wants. I need her to either eat breakfast or not complain when she gets to school about what they give her.

When she stays at home with dad, Z can hang out all day in the same PJs that she wore to bed the night before or be naked. I need her to be dressed, stay dressed and be ready to leave the house.

When she stays at home with dad, Z rules the roost. She says what will be on the TV, when they will go outside, whether or not she gets dressed, whether or not she gets fed.

I do not function this way.

I want schedules, I want learning to happen. I want there to be interaction and specific times for naps and lunch and snacks. I want there to be structure.

And, as much as I love the Hubs, he is not going to give it to her.

This morning was the best morning that I have had in two weeks. I am hopeful that we are finally meshing into this new normal. She woke up when I needed her to without a fight, I was able to get her pottied, showered and dressed without drama (or additional nudity), we left the house on time, arrived to her school (early) and were even able to see S (which was awesome!!!) and B before we began our respective days.

I was early to work, I have been focused throughout the day and have actually accomplished a lot of what I was too distracted to deal with last week.

Is it too much to hope for a repeat tomorrow?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Funniest Thing

The funniest thing happened on the way from the hospital. On the way home from an emotionally and physically exhausting night fraught (yeah, I used "fraught", what?) with worry, tears, and overwhelming thankfulness that we emerged from our car "attcident" relatively unscathed.

I was so exhausted that I felt delirious.

After Hubs left to go back to work, my dear friend Scare Bear arrived in her gleaming chariot to take us home (after being awoken by a certain hysterical mother that had no concept of up or down or 10:30 PM calls from the hospital). I tried to explain what had happened, tried desperately to explain the events leading up to the accident, the conversations with police officers, paramedics and nurses but it had all blurred into a giant noisy, brightly colored hallucination. I sat there in her car trying to remember details from the fragments that stood out in my memory. The badges, the officer numbers, the flashing lights - every memory right there in front of me and yet eluding my ability to translate them into words. .

As I tried, failingly, to explain (again) my current state of confusion, she interrupted. "Call Hubs, tell him you are home."

"But I am not home yet, I'll call him later when I plug in my phone."

"No, use mine, tell him you are home and safe."

"But...but...I'm n-...okay". I took her phone, and, unable to figure it out handed it back to her. She dialed his number as I took it back.

"Hey. Scare Bear wanted me to let you know that I am home and safe. But I am not. Barring anything dramatic, I should be there in 5 minutes."

We giggled and he hung up.

Just as I plugged the phone back into the charger Scare Bear slammed on the brakes. We all surged forward. I looked up to see her staring out the window.

And there standing before us was a giant deer, looking back at me, unflinchingly. Fortunately, the deer was unharmed as were we and it bounded off into the woods. As we started down my darkened road at almost 1 in the morning, we began to laugh, harder and harder.

What are the odds that on the same day that I am rear-ended, took my very first ambulance ride, am left at the Emergency Room without a way home, I would also come within inches of having a head-on collisions with a friggin' deer?

Sometimes, on the darkest days, you should look for the funniest things. Those things that keep your feet anchored to the ground, keep your focus on the more important things in life, to keep you laughing instead of going insane.

(So, okay,  it may not be that funny. If you weren't there, I am certain that it is not funny at all, but it kept me laughing until I went to bed.)

The Things That Matter

We have all done it. Just a quick text or status update from our phones while driving down the road. No harm, no foul, right?

Last night, as I was sitting at a stop light on the way home from an awesome night out with friends I was rear-ended. Z was in the backseat, in her car seat. The driver of the other car never even saw my car stopped at the stop light. She had just gotten off from her waitressing job, was on the way home. She made a decision to text instead of driving her vehicle.

I keep wondering what could have been that important. So important that she risked not only her life, but my child's. I know, with an almost certainty, that she will never text and drive again. I know that she feels terrible today and I feel bad that this is how she has to learn such an important lesson. It could have been so much more severe, so much worse than how it panned out.

And as I think about her and how she is dealing with all of this today, I am also thinking about the things that matter.

My daughter and I, although rushed to the hospital by ambulance, are fine. We are sore, we are shaken, but we will get better and we will be okay. Our car (our brand new car), though damaged, will also be fine.

Hubs and I have learned important lessons about driving distractions and how imperative it is to stay focused while driving.

I think about how things aligned to make the outcome better than it could have been. This week the American Association of Pediatrics released new guidelines for child car seat safety. Due to that release, I saw this blog post and these pictures of the correct placement of car seat straps and tightness guidelines. I had just adjusted Z's straps on Friday, thank God.

There are several great videos about texting and driving, but until you experience it first hand it doesn't sink in as well as it should.

You are driving a vehicle that weighs at least a ton, anything that you need to say can wait. If you can't wait, pull over.

You are someone's child, you could hit someone else's child.

It's not worth losing the things that matter.

There is a button at the bottom right corner of this post to send it to Facebook. Please share this post with the people that you care about, you could save someone's life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Chore Chart

It started out simply enough, I needed help. Help around the house, help with running our lives, just help. I was working two jobs, leaving the house at 6:30 AM and not getting home until 9 PM, and once home, I still needed to cook dinner, bathe self and child, feed animals, launder clothes, etc, etc, etc.

Somewhere in my sleep-deprived delirium, I really believed that a 2 year old Z would be my salvation. She would take some of that stress off of me, she would be the help that I was so desparately crying out for but not recieving. Certainly she was responsible enough to help rescue our home from the mountains of clutter and chaos that threatened to swallow us in our sleep, obviously her untapped energy was exactly what our home needed.

I was determined. Children need responsibilty and structure and I was going to give it to her. I honestly thought (in this sleep-reduced haze) that I was the most clever momma to ever walk the planet, surely no one else was maximizing their toddler's potential in the form of cheap labor. Obviously, I was a pioneer, a genius. I could see the morning television interviews (via Skype from the office, of course), book deals, magazine articles and blog posts all discussing my controversial choice of parenting.

My plan would be the working momma's solution.

Early one Saturday morning, I created a simple Excel spreadsheet, 5 rows and 8 columns. I made it landscape and titled the columns. Column 1 - Chore, Columns 2-8 - days of the week. As I began to list out the chores, I stopped, "She is 2, she can't read yet.".

I opened up a Word Document and made two columns - Pros and Cons of an early reading program for Z.

She could read my Chore Chart

She would know what we are spelling when we are speaking over her head
She would be able to read the labels of cans and boxes and know that we are trying to give her more vegetables
She would be able to read my blog and Facebook pages - worse yet, she would be able to read my text messages

I decided to go ahead and draw pictures for each of the chores that I wanted done. It looked like this:

Ignore the drawing, I told you I was exhausted.
I was impressed with myself. I laminated it so that we could draw smiley faces or Xs on it and clear it out each week. I figured we could afford to pay her $1 per week if the entire grid was smiley faces and we could prorate for those Xs. Then I realized that there are 28 spaces. 28 does not divide nicely into a dollar (now each square is worth only 3.6 cents, what if she only does one thing right in the whole week?)

Undeterred, I presented the chart to Z. "Look, babe, you are gonna be my helper. And you could earn a DOLLAR!".

Throughout the first week she would do things, we would mark smiley faces. She was excited, I was ecstatic. Look what an awesome momma I am!

And then came the second week.

Now, my ingenius chart was being used as a stall tactic to get out of going to bed, a way to get other things she wanted. I watched her two nights in a row, purposely spill out all of the toys from her toy box just after she had put them in there. "Can I have another smiley face, momma?". It became a battle by the end of the week for her to do any chores at all and the fights and resistance were worse than me having to do it on my own.

Finally, fatigue and bad attitude wore me down, I guess sometimes, it's just easier to wait for the Cleaning Fairy to do it.

I wrote this post in response to the Bloggy Moms Blog Dare prompt for the day:
Do you require your children to help out around the house?  If they are not yet old enough, will you require that of them?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


"God made dirt, so dirt don't hurt."

I don't claim a super perfect, super clean life. I've tried to, when Z was small and taking pictures was easier because she wasn't running from me or twirling or talking while I was trying to get my shot. When I could position her where and how I wanted her to be, away from clutter or piles of clothes or whatever.

Back then, I kept my mouth shut as everything was crashing in around me, as day by day life kept getting harder and harder, as my anger and resentment became more and more difficult to conceal. I hid the dirt, I was ashamed of it, like we had somehow earned this twist of fate - the lost jobs, the dying grandfather, the bankruptcy, illness, the marriage crumbling around our feet - as if somehow God himself were punishing us for past transgressions.

I can't do that anymore and I refuse to allow myself to slide back into that. It would not be fair of me to give you the illusion that my dishes are not lying in the sink, that I do not have at least 7 loads of laundry waiting for me at home, that I wake up on time (ever), that my child is always immaculately clean, snot-free or perfectly behaved.

I have a dream world that I could conjure up for you, it would be all lovely and sunshine and rainbows and butterfly-eating unicorns that crap pots of gold, but it would not be reality.

The reality is that I worry a lot (although not nearly as much as I used to), that I have an extremely-active imagination that screams awful things at me with every ring of the phone, flick of the light and jump on the porch, that I can be the meanest and cut the deepest the ones that are closest to me, that I am nowhere near the perfection that I expect of myself (and that's the hardest part).

I am going to be braver in this blog. I am going to show you my dirt, let you see my journey so that your dirt might not hurt you as much as I have let mine hurt me.

Maybe we can all learn something along the way.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finding a Voice

I like to watch the news. I am mildly interested in politics, I have a need to know what the weather will be like, I want to know what is going on in the world around me.

I love my church. I take comfort in my faith and the faith of others in my community. I admire the strength of our church leaders and members that have all gone through so many trials and struggles to enable me to learn and strengthen my faith with them.

And while I read blogs, books and essays regarding all of this, I know that this is not my voice. This is not who I was created to be.

This space was started so that I would have an outlet. A place to vent my thoughts and feelings about raising a child in this culture of "satisfy me now". Somewhere that my voice would be heard above the tantrums, screams and cries of my hurricane-force preschooler.

There are times that I do wish that I could have a revolutionary voice. A voice that would be a cry out to the darkened hearts of the world and lift them to pursue greater peace, but I do not know how to be that girl.

Instead, I think my voice is relational. I like the idea of you sitting at your computer nodding in agreement with the words that I have written while your child fingerpaints the walls, your dog barks uncontrollably and dinner burns on the stove. I like to imagine that you are just like me, a mom fighting for control in uncontrollable situations (re: toddlerhood, preschool age, etc) or a girl, a bit banged up by life, stronger for what she has been through, a tad weary of what she may encounter next.

And maybe, as we cross through these treacherous roads together, I will find a different voice, a more confident, more self-assured voice.

'Cause I think that I could be that girl.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Known Vs. Unknown

As I have discussed before, I have a fear of the unknown. I worry that it will steer me wrong, hurt me, change my plan or schedule, make me re-evaluate my priorities, rob me of something trivial. I can feel it coming, tingling in my pores, vibrating in my brain.

In this case the Known and Unknown are skewed from their typical perches, which makes my fear a bit irrational at best.

I had told myself that I would not talk about this on the blog, that I would not ask for a pity party or try to garner any kind of sympathy, but in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, here I go.

I live my life in pain. Almost daily, excrutiating, bothersome pain. I have been this way since Z came along (which would be comical if it weren't so damn painful, that I had never felt pain before her really, didn't even know what a contraction might feel like, kept wondering if I would have her in my sleep since I had never had so much as a cramp).

It has become my Known.

For the most part, I have learned to manage my pain, deal with it, minimize it. There are flares, attacks, that are completely out of hand and that my pain medication will not touch. Those days are the worst, those days are the ones where Pity rides in so that we can have a very bad party. Insisting that Hubs find a new wife and mother, someone who is not so injured, so hurt, so useless.

And then the hospital if it goes on for too long, becomes too much to bear, starts to feel as though my skin can no longer contain the pain and that it will explode through my body without some intervention.

It is strange that I can claim this as my Known, take comfort in knowing the ideology of this disease, the triggers and hardness of it all.

This morning, my eyes were opened to a new Unknown. The idea of living life as a momma - pain free. Without the added burden of having to carry pain medication with me "just in case". The possibility of going places and doing things with my daughter without the "what ifs". Of being able to eat without wondering if this will be what pushes me into the pain. Of being able to go out of town without concern of locations of nearest hospitals and labs for my bi-monthly blood draws.

While I am excited and eager to live this dream life, I am scared. Scared that my hopes will be dashed, scared that another doctor will be proven wrong by my stubborn body, scared that the pain will intensify instead of dissapate, scared that my child will grow up knowing that I hurt (and that she will somehow think that it is her fault).

I am making a choice to proceed headlong into the Unknown and to pray for the best. The Unknown may not be pain free, but it may be my only shot towards getting there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Newest Diet Craze (or How To Get Your Preschooler to Eat Anything)

Introducing an awesome way to end your diet struggles.

  • Problems with will power be gone!
  • Dinnertime drama? No longer!
By following just a few simple steps you will be one your way to a new, svelte, more energetic you.

1. You will need a child between 2 and half and 3.

2. Cook a delicious, well balanced meal.

3. Do NOT offer child meal. Do NOT place a plate at the dinner table for child. (Caution - This may cause overly tired children to freak out and have a mini-tantrum. BE STRONG!!! Send the child to their room to think about their behavior. They will come crawling back. Literally.)

4. Set the table for your husband and yourself. Say grace and begin to eat. The child will then be standing next to you begging for food. Do NOT dish out a plate for the child - it will just get cold and you will have to throw it out (because it is mixed with milk, water or juice) or store it with the rest of the leftovers later.

5. Offer your child some of your "Parent-Only" food. (The forbidden fruit always tastes the best to preschoolers - who knew?)

6. Child will eat so much of your dinner that there will be none left for you.

Repeat nightly as necessary for optimum results.

This diet can be used at restaurants, family functions, casual family dinners and anywhere that you have a preschooler available.

It is also a great way to get out of the following habit:

"Eat your dinner."

"Sit down and eat your dinner. "

"You will go to bed if you do not eat your dinner"

"Quit standing on your chair and eat your dinner."

"Seriously, you need to eat your dinner."

Repeat for over an hour.

How it works - By depriving oneself for the sake of the child, the parent is consuming less nighttime calories, thus going to bed with less unprocessed calories in their system. Parent is also relieving themselves of a lot of the indigestion and upset stomach that comes with dining with a child simply by not arguing with them to eat.

(Note - I am not a doctor and this diet is probably not recommended for those struggling to lose a lot of weight. It is a great way to get your newly picky eater to actual eat something besides dry cereal, fruit roll-ups, dirt and playdoh (WTF?).)

End your diet troubles, will-power struggles and dinner drama! Try it today!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Not Herself

I love Halloween. It has always been my favorite holiday. Halloween has always been the most unconditional of the holidays to me. You don't have to be good, wait for Santa to get a paycheck or pretend not to be disappointed when your holiday dreams don't come true.

Best of all, you get to be anyone else. Anyone or thing that you want to be. As a kid growing up in a very rough household, it was awesome to have that break from the heaviness and burdens of secrets and deceit. I didn't have to be that kid that was being hit or yelled at. The possibilities were endless!

My parents made (or let us make) our own costumes every year. I never had a store bought costume for Halloween and now that I have Z, I have made all of her Halloween costumes as well. She has already decided (in March) what she wants to be this year.

Now that Z is really hitting the age of dress up, I am supporting it wholeheartedly. We hardly leave the house when she is not in costume (and since she's mostly naked, this is a huge feat for us). The deliberation revolving what she we will wear to what event is tremendous.

When we recieve an invitation to a birthday party, she wants to know what the theme is. Lollypop birthday party? A pink top and a flouncy skirt. How to Train Your Dragon party? A Viking she will be. Princess party (every party that we are invited to lately)? Then it is one of the multitude of princess costumes in her dress up closet. As soon as she has figured out what she we will wear to what event, I mark it on the calendar to ensure that Hubs is also aware, in case he is the one escorting her.

I love that she believes that she can be anyone or anything at anytime. A change of a hat or skirt and she is suddenly a cowboy, a dragon slayer, a hip hop dancer. I am so happy that her imagination has no limits and that she is completely unhibited in her own skin.

It makes everyday feel like Halloween.

*If you still shop at Wal-Mart, you can go the weekend after Halloween and score most of their costumes at 90% off. I did that this past year and was able to get 10 costumes for less that $20. It helped me stock up the dress up closet quite a bit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Lost Her

We had just had lunch with Z's godfather and the three of us, Blade, Z and myself, were going to kill some time at Wal-Mart before running downtown to meet up with another friend. It was 4 days until Christmas, and I had two gifts left to purchase.

As we entered the store, I gave the same lecture that I have given about 500 times. "If you want to stay out of the cart then you have to hold on to the side of the buggy. If you cannot, you will go in the cart." Dropping down lower so that they can both see the seriousness in my face and hear the tone of my voice, "Do you both understand?" Two little heads nodded up and down and they dutifully took a grasp of the side of the cart as I pushed it forward from the corral.

Just as we passed alongside the women's section and started to turn into the men's section, my cell phone rang. It was the friend we were going to be meeting up with so I answered the phone and shot a pointed finger in Z's direction as she started to walk away from the cart.

"Hey girl, have to run over to the mall, can you meet me there instead?", the cheery voice on the other end chimed.

The GPS in my mind churned as I tried to navigate through already narrow streets made narrower by Christmas shoppers and state employees let out of their respective cages for the holiday.

Z started to walk away again. A snap of my fingers, followed by a point and The Look brought her back quickly.

"Uh, yeah. I guess we can get over that way. It's gonna take us a little bit though, we are on the other side of town."

Blade starts banging the cart back forth hitting me against my hip. I rush through the rest of the call, so that we can get out of there. I scoop up my keys and sunglasses out of the cart. I call out to Blade to come on and then turn to tell Z that we are leaving.

She's not there. And for the first time in her life, she is not making a sound.

Just a second. A second for me to take my eyes off of her, a second to deal with something else, something not even very important. And she was gone.

I call her name. Nothing. I threaten to leave without her. Still nothing.

My heart starts racing. My hands are shaking uncontrollably. I start to shout. I grab Blade's hand, trying to seem in control of this situation. I start shoving aside clothes on the racks, still nothing.

I decided to head in the direction of the toy department. I know that I am making a scene. Everyone is staring, no one is helping. WHY ARE THEY JUST STANDING THERE? WHY IS NO ONE HELPING ME?

Everything around me is moving way too fast, I can't think, I can't do anything but scream her name and search. Suddenly, a mom in a track suit grabs my elbow. "Are you looking for a little girl with long curly hair?" I nod meekly. "Those employees over there are helping her hide underneath that rack. She is under all of those clothes."

I storm over to where the two employees are stationed, hanging merchandise. I see my daughter's foot. I know that I am holding Blade's hand so tight that I am hurting him. I pulll Z out of the pile as she laughs. As the employees laugh. LIKE IT WAS ALL SOME BIG JOKE.

I sling my child over my shoulder. I once again grab Blade's hand. I storm out of the store before the tears start. I get them both in the car.

And then I weep.

I once applied to work for Wal-Mart, part time, a long time ago. I was told that I was overqualified. I guess now I know why.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Being Momma

Dear Single and Stay at Home Mommas,

You kick some serious ass! I am so impressed by what you guys deal with on a day to day basis and am so grateful that I am not in your shoes.

This morning, Hubs started a new day job. It has been a long time since I have had to wake Z up, get her fed, showered, dressed, hair did and out the door by a specific time. It has been an even longer time since I have had to do that on my own.

Back when I was doing it on my own, she was small enough that people didn't care if her hair wasn't combed or if she arrived without shoes. Back then, I could dress her in the last few minutes before I had to leave (while she was still asleep), carry her out to the car, strap her in, plug a bottle in her mouth for breakfast and off we would go. Hell, back then, I had time to put on makeup and pump before I had to leave.

Now she has attitude. And opinions. And fists that hit. And a scream that could set off the smoke detector.

Z has never been a morning person, but in the last 6 months since she has left daycare? She sleeps until 11 whenever she is given the opportunity. And if not given her opportunity? You have probably heard about it. In fact, if you live in a 3 state proximity, you have probably heard it yourself.

Been outside on a nice, still morning enjoying the day that God has created when you suddenly notice that all of the birds lift out of the trees at once and fly away? It's because my kid screamed 3 states away. It may go further than that, but I haven't tested that theory.

You Stay at Home Mommas, are even more awesome because you are willing to stay in the dragon's lair with the beast ALL DAY! By YOURSELF! You should be commended that you (and presumably) your child have made it through this far alive. You have been given a gift that is far too precious to have a name to be able to do what you do day in and day out. I have been in your shoes (in small spurts that my company lovingly calls vacation, ha!) and it is no walk in the park. I will not say you "get" to stay home to a stay at home momma ever, ever again. You sacrifice day in and day out to give yourself (and your attention, your sanity, your taste in music, television shows, books, and, most likely, your food) for the love of your child. You are amazing.

I love my daughter. I am pretty sure that I can never say that enough, but I cannot stay home with her everyday until she turns 5. I am not built that way. My sanity is a thin line at best already, my nerves are completely shot, there is nothing serene or calm about me.

(If I currently watch your child in short timeframes, please do not worry. No child on the Earth has ever treated me as badly as my own. Additionally, I have found that when there is a group of kids, they mellow each other out a bit so my kid's personality does not ruin the whole batch. I do caution you that exposure to my child can be like radiation so you may need to decontaminate your child with a thorough bath and time out before they re-enter their normal lifestyle.)

Today, if you see a momma in a parking lot screaming at her kid to "Get in the damn car.", give her a warm smile, instead of the shocked or disappoving look that screams, "YOU ARE A BAD PARENT". If you see a mom trying to have a conversation at the park while her kid falls off the monkey bars, give her a heads up, instead of covering your kid's ears to the aftermath and ushering them away.

Finally, if you see a momma whose kid is hiding under the clothes rack while she is in tears desperately screaming out the kid's name and trying to find her - DO NOT HELP THE CHILD HIDE (you moronic WALMART employees!!!!).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Not So Perfect

I'm not perfect, no I'm not
I'm not perfect, but I've got what I've got
I do my very best, I do my very best
I do my very best each day
But I'm not perfect
And I hope you like me that way

Lyrics used courtesy of Laurie Berkner

Z likes the word perfect. How's dinner? Oh, it's perfect. How do I look? Perfect, Momma. Everything is perfect. I know that she has learned that from me, only I don't think she understood the sarcastic undertone of my perfection. Truth be told, very little about me or my life is, in fact, perfect. 

Following Z's birth, I felt immense pressure for perfection. Rather than enjoying my daughter's infancy, I felt this intense push to stifle my thoughts, my desires, my pursuits because I thought that is what mothers are supposed to do.

I was suppposed to adore the time off from work bonding with my daughter, right? Instead of yearning for adult conversation, I was supposed to delight in watching her spit up on me for the 18th time that day. Instead of expressing my opinions about how much this whole motherhood deal kind of sucks, I was supposed to love the additional 2 loads of laundry per day that came with it.

Mothers are supposed to adore their children, enjoy every coo and babble, be able to stay up for days at a time without any human contact other than that of their child, say only positive and uplifting things to their children, even when their behavior is at it's worst ("I love how you swung that shovel, Johnny, next time let's try not to hit Suzy in the head, okay"). Or at least that's what I thought.

I felt like I needed to be a G-rated version of myself.

I thought that I wasn't supposed to be Me anymore. 

What's more, I felt like I could not be authentic with my depictions of my experiences with other mothers or family. I could only imagine the thoughts of a well-intending Grandma if I had told her my simple truths of how spoiled or disgusting or aggravating my little piece of perfection was proving to be.

I lost my authenticity.

Authenticity is key to me being who I am. If you know me, you know that I am the same person everyday, all the time. At church, at the softball field, at work, wherever. I will not lie to you, I will not hold back information from you. I expect authenticity from those around me and can sniff out when I am being decieved.

I was frustrated that Motherhood was not what I had envisioned. I felt guilty that I didn't want to spend all day with my daughter. I was angry that I had been lied to by books, magazines, television and other parents. I was aggravated that I could not fit myself into the box of what I thought Motherhood was supposed to be.

Writing this is helping me cope with a lot of the frustration that I have been feeling over the last few years. Just to feel like I can finally string together an entire thought without having to stop mid-sentence to attend to someone else's needs is a huge attribute.

I love my daughter. I am a better person because I am her mother, but I refuse to feel guilty about having a job, wanting a date night, or needing to go out every now and then.

I will no longer apologize for being Me. I will no longer apologize for not being perfect. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Off Kilter

I am typically a frugal momma. I enjoy finding great deals, using coupons, sales circulars and deals to make sure that I get the price possible. In this economy and with the past financial difficulties that we have had to weather, it doesn't make sense not to.

This past Christmas was one of the largest Christmases that we had as a family and, yet, I only spent about $150 all total on everyone due to the online deals, free shipping and coupons, gift cards and sales that I hoarded over beginning in October.

For our anniversary, I planned from March until October to make sure that we would be able to get away for an entire 4 day weekend and not have to worry about the cost: free Disney tickets, room rental at $13 per night, gas cards bought with incentive through the grocery store. Our getaway cost us a total of around $125 dollars including lodging, food and traveling expenses.

But there is something about tax season.

Having a larger than normal surplus of cash on hand makes me a little more loosey-goosey than usual. There are purchases and bills that I plan for, of course, but then there is the surplus. I know that the surplus should be squirreled away for the inevitable rainy day or invested in something that would give us hope for retirement, but instead I find myself making the impulse buys that I wouldn't normally indulge in. I find myself suddenly in "want" for things, when I normally do not have a want in sight.

Now that the surplus has been squandered, I find myself in an endless cycle of guilt. I shouldn't have done this or that, blah, blah, blah, would've, could've, whatever.

Instead of kicking myself again this year, I just need to get back on the balance beam of frugality, reinvest my interest into the couponing, bargaining and sales flyers, and make sure that I get us back on track.

Which is very often easier said than done. I will keep you posted.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Cleaning Fairy

From the backseat on the way home from work:

"Hi, Z. How was your day?"


"What did you do today"


"Did you get your room clean?"

"No, the cleaning fairy didn't come today, I think she has a tummyache or something."

That ever elusive Cleaning Fairy has ruined my plans for sleep once again. The stupid B never comes to work or does what needs to be done around the house, and I am pretty damn sure that there are days that she is sneaking into the house and making a bigger mess for me to clean up.

As far as fairies go, I am certain that I have been assigned the worst of the bunch. The Wash My Car Fairy has been missing in action since I got my driver's license (the Pump My Gas Fairy has also gone missing and there is a reward out on that one), the Cook My Dinner Fairy makes sure that I am always one ingredient short of a masterpiece (we are known for being the family that has peanut butter but no jelly, kool-aid but no sugar, spaghetti sauce but no noodles, the Buy My Groceries Fairy may be a little drunk when she is out shopping), the Wash the Laundry and Clean the Toilets Fairies may have probably got flushed. The Pay My Bills Fairy seems to have stolen my paycheck and run off to Aruba.

In reality, I am the Fairy. I do not have wings, I do not have magic or fairy dust. I do prefer to do my housecleaning when everyone has fallen asleep primarily because no one is making a mess while I am trying to clean or cook or launder or pay my bills. And while I accept the fact that these are my responsibilites, I also know that I need to sleep on occasion.

There will be days that one or all of the fairies don't show up.

Blame it on Daylight Savings Time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

No More Secrets

Yesterday was a bad day for me. In the midst of one of the more painful days of my disease, while caring for our daughter with Hubs away at work for the longest.shift.ever, I was certain that I would die.

And as I lay there, contemplating whether or not I was truly dying, I realized that Hubs has no information to be able to run this family. He knows the pin number for the ATM card, but not the password for the bank account. In fact, he does not know any of the passwords for any of the accounts that this family has - internet, NetFlix, electricity, phones, etc, etc.

Fortunately, I awoke this morning, the pain and swelling subsided and all worries over accounts and passwords were gone.

And then we got to church (late, by the way, if someone could please give me back my GD hour, I would really effing appreciate it).

Our church is going through a marriage series where we discuss intimacy and trust issues and attempt to grow closer through the word of God. This series has been really good for us and I was excited to hear today's message.

Our pastor is currently out of town, so today's message was lead by another pastor and she spoke with a couple from our church that had gone through a separation about 4 years ago. They talked about what it was like to get to the brink and how they were able to make it back from that.

One thing that the wife mentioned was that they have full disclosure. There are no more passwords on voicemail, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc that the other one does not know. My first response was, "OMG, you mean no privacy?" I have thought about it all day.

I am faithful to my husband and I trust him, why can't I trust him with passwords and account ids? Why should I be keeping him out of this part of my life (our lives)? Do I think that somehow he will be angered by an e-mail I have sent or a comment I have made? And if I think that something I have said might violate his trust or make him angry, why I am writing it in the first place?

I want Hubs to be able to trust in me. I cannot expect him to trust me if I am withholding information from him.

Tonight, I am compiling a list, I am sealing it in an envelope and I am giving it all to him (and in a small way to God).

What he decides to do with it is up to him.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We Are All Going To Die!

According to my e-mail, I am going to die.

Apparently, everything I do, everywhere I go and everything I eat is killing me. Worse yet, I am killing my daughter and husband as well - in fact, we all are. Obviously, doctors are all hiding these "truths" from us, because they are just out to make money and push drugs on us. We must be supervigilant because no one would want to succumb to the plans of the "the man".

E-mails from well-meaning older relatives and ex-coworkers tell me that I should not run, have a baby in a hospital, eat vegetables, eat soup (or anything from a can), feed my child from glass or plastic, own a pet, allow pet to sleep with child, eat meat, watch TV, listen to the radio, drive, use a cell phone, a microwave, a clothes dryer, a dishwasher or drink Pepsi products.

My computer is probably already infected with 8000 viruses and those same viruses can probably make me sick, but I would never know because my doctor wants to keep me sick so that my insurance can keep paying him money. And since I do not sleep with a cut onion in my room, I will surely die from those unknown viruses.

I think we should probably ban everyone over 50 from using the internet until they have taken some remedial courses in how the internet works. Until they have a basic understanding in the amount of garbage that fills their e-mail boxes and how "old-man" crazy it makes them seem. I think the older that people get, the more a) distrustful they get of the world, b) susceptible they are to conspiracy theories, and c) worried that somehow they are not passing down important knowledge that could save the species from certain annihilation.

The thing is, we are all going to die. Life is a terminal illness and, unfortunately, even the best people on the planet will eventually die. The best that we can hope for is that we get quality time with our family and friends, that we make an impact on our kid's lives and that we leave more than a headstone behind.

I do not doubt that there are industries out there counting on us to get sick (we all do), but I do doubt that they are trying to kill us, steal our religion from us, or implant tracking devices into our brains (great idea for the kiddos though), they like our money too much.

That's probably the computer viruses talking though...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh, My...

Heard from a little voice in the backseat on the way home from the store:

"Dear God,

Please put my little baby sister in my mommy's tummy. Help her to grow so that Mommy can be surgeried and I can meet my little baby sister. I will be a perfect big sister, God. Please? I love you.


Not sure if I even want to argue with her about any of that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No, Dog. No!

Based on Allison's blog about the Runaway Bunny over at Motherhood, WTF?, I was inspired to write a review of my least loved children's book. Since I am new to the world of blogging, unsure of what a meme is, or how to get on the Character Assassination Carousel, I am going to write this blog and give credit to those who gave me the idea.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.
According to the Amazon review, Go, Dog. Go! - "Life lessons? Romance? Literary instruction? Go, Dog. Go! offers all this and more, wrapped up in one simply worded, warmly hued package. Using single-syllable words in rhythmic repetition, and introducing colors and prepositions, this Seuss-styled classic has been an early favorite of children since 1961. For those looking for deeper meaning in a beginning reader book, here you'll find nothing less than a microcosm of life. Green dogs, yellow dogs, big dogs, little dogs. Dogs who prefer cars, dogs who favor skis. All represent the diversity a child will find in the world. And the slow-to-bud romance between the cheerfully oblivious yellow dog and the mincing pink poodle explains more succinctly than most self-help books what goes on in many grown-up relationships. Nonetheless, Eastman takes the concept of "primary" to heart, with his simple silly phrases and solidly colored illustrations. Not only will this book inspire peals of laughter in kids, it will also help them make the magical connection between those mysterious black squiggles on the page, and the words they hear and speak."

You have got to be effing kidding me.

There are more words in this review than there are in the entire book.

I adore reading. I love sharing my desire for books with my child. I get excited every time we crack open a new book. I am so proud of the fact that my child asks to sleep with her books at night instead of a teddy bear or soft bunny, however, this particular "children's classic" is the bane of my existence. There is no story line, no plot, nothing driving you through the 72 pages of idiotic dribble.

Apparently, these dogs live in a land devoid of people. They are on the streets driving cars, hanging from trees, floating in boats and life is a giant dog party. Obviously, there is no threat of a dog catcher, animal shelter or owner in their little doggie dream land (although everyone of them is wearing a collar) Some dress in human clothes, while others are just hanging out in their dogginess. Every 5 pages or so, a pink poodle wearing an ostentatious hat pops in to ask "Do you like my hat?".

This is the book that I hide. You would think in the disorganization of my home that once hidden, this book would stay hidden. Nope, every time that Z "finds" it, she curls her arms around it as though it was a lost National Treasure that she will never let go.

It is insanity. Dr. Seuss proved that one could write simple rhymes and prose while also connecting to the reader through a solid (yet simple) storyline. I am not sure how this book has lasted through 50 years of moronic dog chasing and yet it has.

I have begged Z to "Please, please let me read you anything, anything else. Please don't make me read this book again." and there I am reading, "Big dog. Little Dog. Black Dog. White Dog. Black & White Dogs". The pages are so bright that I feel as though my eyes might bleed as I turn each page. I am certain that I may develop corneal cancer from this "classic" eyesore.

As is often her routine, she falls asleep cuddling the bedtime story of the night, and, as guilty as I may feel prying this book from her tiny little fingers, I do so so that it can be hidden for another week or two.

I do it for my sanity. I do it for her future mental health (no good could possibly come from this book). I do it for the love of literature everywhere.

I do it because I am certain that Ms. Eastman was on heavy medication, facing what had to be a very expensive publishing deadline, while sipping martinis and giggling that people would actually pay money for this. I know that she didn't do it on purpose. Perhaps her kid did it as a joke. Perhaps she submitted it on the night before her institutionalization.

Whatever the reason, this particular joke with no punch line should be packed away to torture my daughter with someday. It should be in mint condition when her 3 year old discovers it. Maybe then I will get the joke.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Farked Head - The Age of Grossness

Caution: This blog contains a lot of immature bathroom humor. If you are easily embarrassed or disgusted by this type of blog, you should keep on clicking past this. I promise that tomorrow's post will not be as bad.

It's all cute until she does it in your face!
Z is going through a stage of self-discovery and awareness. She delights in the surprises that she can retrieve from her nose and the sounds and smells that her body makes. Her hands are constantly buried in her pants (front and back).

When she passes gas, she giggles and says, "I farked." Pronounced "Faaar-k-ed". It makes me laugh when says it, because it is just so wrong.

Lately, she will giggle, say that she "farked", and then instruct us to smell it. She thinks it is so funny.

She is greatly amused by her grossness (and our reactions to her grossness).

She rolls around naked, quite literally. If we are at home, she is probably naked. She loves to feel different fabrics, textures and temperatures on her skin. I spend most of my time at home with her begging her to "please put some clothes on for the LOVE of God." I am pretty sure that this just eggs her on.

In the bathroom, when she has finished doing her business, she will call me in to do the wiping (she hasn't figured that part out yet). Before I can do that, though, we have to decide whether she has just put an alligator or a snake in the toilet. Apparently, there are several intricacies in this determination: color, shape, size, thinness or thickness, length. If she is particularly proud of her accomplishment, Hubs is also called in for the consultation.

As we were leaving the grocery store the other day, I hear an unusually peculiar conversation:

"Daddy, I don't want you to call me Z anymore."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"My new name should be Farked Head."

"Um, no Z. I don't think that's a very good plan."

"But I love it, Daddy. Please call me Farked Head."

Until recently the Age of Grossness has not disturbed us very much, but now she can make spit bubbles on command. Nothing infuriates me (or hits those buttons for me) worse than the ever dreaded spit bubble. She also spits everywhere. No matter how much we punish her or threaten her, the spit continues. I think that she may be part camel (although a search through our lineages for our camel heritage have proven unfruitful).

I love my child to death, unfortunately I am certain that the spit bubble will be the end of me.

Note: I warned you, but you kept on reading. Any images that you may have previously had about our family are now covered in boogers, poo and spit and honestly, it's all your fault.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Love the One You're With

Hubs and I are perfect opposites.

Where he loves to have a gigantic breakfast to begin his day, I prefer to not eat breakfast at all. He is a night owl, I am an early bird. He is passive aggressive, I guess I am just aggressive. He does not plan, schedule or budget, I am constantly making lists, schedules, calendars and budgets. He loves to go out to bars and socialize, I am quite happy to rent a movie and cuddle on the couch. In the personality arena, I am an A and he is my B.

Throughout our 17 year history together, he and I have always had differences. I have always thought, "When this thing or that thing happens, he will change and our lives will be perfect." And no matter how much anything has changed in our lives, Hubs is still the same solid guy that he has always been. Stable and sane as opposed to my craziness, he knows just when to back off or hold me close.

Now, in our 5th year of marriage, I have (finally!) discovered that he is not going to change, he doesn't need to. I married him knowing that he would sleep during the day, that his clothes may never find the laundry hamper on their own, that he may go out to a bar to blow off steam every now and again, that I would have to take care of our financial matters. I knew it all going in and I bought it.

I bought it because he is my perfect opposite. I bought it because on my Cruise Ship of Crazy, he is my anchor. I bought it because as I have watched him grow and mature from the 15 year old that had originally captured my heart, into the strong, faithful and charismatic 31 (almost 32!) year old that he is, I realized that a life without him in it would most likely be a more disastrous place to be. I bought it, because of all of the people on this planet, he is the one that is right for me.

I will not lie and say that we do not butt heads; it happens on an almost daily basis. I will not lie and say that there have not been times when my sharpened, dagger words did not attack him to his very soul. I will not lie and say that his actions haven't abused and tortured parts of my heart.

I will say that I could not have hand-picked a more perfect person to be my partner through this journey. He is supportive in everything that I do, and everything that I go through, on  a daily basis. He is an excellent father and cares for our daughter in ways that I had never guessed that he would.

He is the only man that I have ever fantasized about (people say that is weird, but we have been together since I was a senior in high school, I haven't really ever known anyone else like I know him).

While I could sit around and talk about "could haves" and "ifs", I prefer to focus on the one I am with, the one that I love more and more with every passing day - no matter how much I may gripe, complain, or yell.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring is Coming!

Struggling to break through the dirt, but they are growing!
It's dreary outside and the sky has been grey for a couple of days now. The warm weather that I had been celebrating has drifted away on the huge gusts of wind that have been blowing through town.

Spring is coming.

I can feel it in my bones, in my skin, in my hair. I am excited by the tiny pea sprouts that are lining up in my garden and the even smaller broccoli and cucumber shoots struggling to push through the dirt.

Spring is coming.

I adore Spring. The promise of a better tomorrow, of a glorious summer wakes me with the sunrise each morning. I am thinking of going to the beach this weekend. The dream of breathing in the cool salt air and walking along the edge of the Gulf, is pushing me through this very dull week.

I feel like I go through a hibernation each winter. I am slower, more off my game than usual, kind of grumpy and unusually agitated.

I am fine for Thanksgiving and great for Christmas, but, in the months following the holidays my mood drops. Everything feels gray and drab, I hate that it can look like that for days and never rain. It seems pointless to me. I struggle to get myself out of the bed each morning. My body aches more than usual. I feel like gravity is heavier than normal.

But Spring is coming.

And with it warmth, sunshine, fun foods and activities. In this moment, before the hummingbird size mosquitoes start feeding on every being that they can find, I can find joy in the smallest, most insignificant detail.

The bright sun shining on cool mornings reminds me that everything on Earth is as alive as I am, that each thing is being reborn in a glorious fashion. There is a promise there that I can be reborn as well, as a more organized, more energetic and happier person.

Spring is coming.

And I can't wait!

I am thinking of taking Z and B to the park on Friday and arming them with cameras. I would like to see Spring from their unique viewpoints and share the joy of Spring with them as well.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Shnooks

According to website, they like to be in a chain gang.

I would be remiss if I did not post about our recent adventures with the Shnooks.

Early one Saturday morning while watching cartoons, Z and I saw a commercial for a new toy. Z was immediately smitten with what she had seen and was bouncing around the living room as though she had just witnessed the second coming. Being that it was early and I was busy attempting to get us ready for the day, I only caught the ending of the commercial that said, "Buy it at Walgreen's".

This would be like most things in a 3 year old's attention span, I figured, she would talk about it for a few minutes and then all remaining traces of it would be stored to the back of her brain to be regurgitated at some later, random time.

Except that she is getting older and smarter.

She retained every piece of this commercial (save the name of the product) and would recant it to her father, grandparents and visting relatives. Throughout the day I heard her tell everyone about this amazing and exciting toy that she had been a witness to. As a reward for having a great day without tantrums or intense insanity, I told her that we would go to the store to buy this toy.

I packed her up in the car and the 5 point harness could hardly contain her excitement as we drove to the store. We searched the small toy department and seasonal Easter supplies. No luck. I asked an associate who stared blindly at me and then asked slowly, "Let me get this straight, you are looking for a toy that you do not know the name of that may or may not look like a stuffed animal and a troll doll had, er, um, relations?"

I nodded. I knew that he thought I should probably be put away on a 48 hour hold.

Now, I was on a mission.

I am not spoiling my child. (My posts about threats and discipline and punishments should be enough to tell you that.)

There are reasons to my madness.

Firstly, she has NEVER asked for a toy. Sure, we have been at the store and she has liked the toy sections, but no matter what she was playing with, if you showed her something else, she would divert away from the first toy as though it had never caught her interest. For her to remember something as small a commercial with that amount of detail that she had, meant to me that she is reaching an all new milestone in life.

Secondly, she had worked really hard to keep her emotions and attitude in check. Several times throughout the day I caught her, fists clenched, ready to rage when she would remember, all on her own, that she needed to be on her best behavior. I felt that this needed to be rewarded.

Finally, her birthday is one week before Christmas. It is a long time before either holiday and it feels like it has been a long time since she has gotten a gift.

Anyway, after the first store debacle, we tried again on Sunday. Again, crazy stares and no luck. I searched the internet Sunday night and Monday morning, I was starting to wonder if she and I hallucinated the whole bit.

As a last ditch effort, I posted a plea on Facebook when (Eureeka!) one of my friends had seen the display at her local store, seen the commercial and sent me a picture on my cell phone. Armed with the name of the product and a picture, I tried yet another store. Nothing.

Z began to weep. She pled her case to the sales clerk, who, in turn, got on the phone and started calling all of the stores in town. The closest one to us was a good 20 minute drive across town, but the expression on my girl's face when she saw that display was priceless.

I know that this is just the beginning. I know that I will not always be able to get her what she wants in life. I know that soon the requests for toys that are under $10 will stop and that the demand for more expensive things will come.

For now, I am able to delight in the fact that my 3 year old watched a 30 second commercial, fell in love with what she saw, and memorized and retained it all down to the smallest detail.

I am grateful for her amazing mind, the creativity that she has expressed in the last week when talking about what she and her new toy would be able to do together, and the trust and faith in her momma that I would not only be able to find it for her, but that she would actually buy it for her.

And that is worth so much more than $7.99 to me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Opposites Attract

No one on this Earth is meant to live this life alone. We are all built with missing pieces that other people posess so that we can link together and become parts of the whole. This theory is not new. We have heard it in bad Paula Abdul songs from the '90's and the whole Men are from Mars series.

I am not going to talk about the Hubs and I. (Later, I promise, but not tonight.)

I am going to talk about my two friends. (Yes, only two, I am a little socially awkard, I smell funny, have a weird laugh and a tendency to talk too much.)

I met J in high school and while we were aquaintances then (I kept everyone from high school at arms length, I didn't really want them to know about the stuff that I was dealing with at home, and again, there is that whole smelling funny thing) when we met again my first week of college we became thick as thieves. We built our friendship around cheap gas prices, an Escort that could drive anywhere, Dr. Pepper and bi-weekly trips to the Plasma Center to make some quick cash. She convinced her sister-in-law to give me a job working in the Counseling Department at the college and introduced me to the show Friends.

J is a tomboy from Mississippi, with a Southern accent so thick that you feel like you could curl up in it and take a nap. She prefers beer, country music, fishing and talking about cars. Her entire family adopted me from the moment that I met them, Z calls her mother "Mamaw" and I refer to her son as my Godson. I caught the bouquet at her wedding and was there the day her boy was born.

She is beautiful (even down to the glistening silver threads that I notice every now and then around her temples) and was always able to talk her way out of a ticket. She is compulsive and spontaneous, adventurous and headstrong. She does not care what people say or do, she lives life with a passion that few exhibit. She has a gigantic, giving heart for everyone (including people she does not know). She loved my dad until the end, even when others had nothing good or worthwhile to say about him.

Our lives are intertwined almost as far back as I can remember. She has defended me in hopeless situations, encouraged me in moments of doubt, and pushed me to do things that I never would have done (take a job as a Karaoke DJ?, go fishing at 2 AM?). If I had a superhero, J would probably be my girl.

No matter if it has been a day, a week, a month or a year since we spoke, if the two of us find time to get together, we are completing each other's sentences and nodding in agreement as if there has been no time lost. No one can beat us if we team up for a board game, which may be why our husbands won't let us do that anymore.
S is younger than both us, but I have always known that she was an old soul.

At 21 and she 16, we were an odd pair. I was the youngest employee at her grandma's job before she took on a part-time position doing filing in the office. When we first started having lunch together, there was much grumbling amongst the co-workers about why a 21 year old would want to hang out with a 16 year old, especially from her "Granny". Our friendship flourished as we swapped shocking stories and compared parental disasters.

S is also stunningly beautiful. Her eyebrows are so strikingly perfect that I study them. She knows how to use them too; making precise facial responses to everything that a person says or does. It's hypnotizing to watch her reactions to things and I catch myself staring at her.

S adores most things girly. She loves to try out new beauty products, bring over hair dye for us to both get updates to our looks, painting toe nails and research ways for us to give ourselves layers without having to pay someone to do them for us. Without her, I am certain, that I would perpetually look like a truck had recently run me over.

Her family is different from J's in most ways possible. While her "Granny" has finally accepted me (and actually complimented me!) and her mother (unofficially) adopted me, to most of them I am just another character in S's cast of friends. Her boy calls me his "Step-Momma" and I call him my Godson as well.

S is vicacious, caring, strong and determined. She does not accept bullshit from anyone and does not back down in an argument. She is strong-willed and level headed. In times of illness or depression, she shows up at my door with gossip magazines, toenail polish, treats and a card. She loves me for who I am, showered or not, hair combed or not, she is willing to get down into my mess and help me dig my way back out of it. She makes me feel important and pretty, even in my darkest times. During a particularly bad day in my marriage, she arrived at my house at 7:30 in the morning armed with garbage bags, a baseball bat and a shovel (we are still not sure what her plans were, but her intentions were in the right place).

If we were missing one piece, we wouldn't be complete.

We have a standing date on Saturday nights. Some weeks, it feels like Saturday will never come, but when it does, it is always greatness. Every Saturday night, we are able to dump out all of our collective baggage from the week, bounce ideas off of each other, laugh and play with our kids (building forts, making homemade play doh, baking cookies and helping the kids decorate them), joke about the lack of parenting skills that we posess, play Scrabble. When it is over, I feel refreshed, renewed, able to dust off the frustrations of the past week and focus on what I have in store in the coming week or month.

These women complete me. They helped make me the person that I am today. They have helped shape and forge the mother that I am now and the mother that I will become someday. Where they are strong, I am weak and vice versa. They round out my world to make it not as warped in my own silliness. They strengthen my arguments, inspire me to do more and encourage me to come out of my shell.

I hope that I give them the tools that they need to conquer the world as well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not Who I Was (The Adventures of Adulthood)

I have been known to throw temper tantrums in times of stress. I have been known to rail against God, to lash out against friends and family, to lose my patience and throw things in fits of rage. I have been known to shut down and close people out. I have been known to internalize my anger and take it out on myself ("You are stupid, fat, lazy..."). In the darkest times, I have cut and even burnt myself to externalize internalized self-hatred. .

I strived to maintain control over every detail of my life and any semblance of any one of those details slipping meant that I was not good enough, not smart enough, just not enough.

I lacked a sense of peace, a sense of contentment. I lacked maturity and grace.

But I'm not who I was.

On Thursday, our family's one and only car died. Hubs, Z, and I were stranded, in the midst of rush hour on a busy street. It was clear to me that it would be a costly repair in a season of costly repairs and it was the second time in less than two months that this had happened.

The old me would have been angry. Pissed that this had happened (again), raging that I would have to miss work, figure out where to find money to fix it or buy a new one. I would have felt cheated and picked on by the fates or God or whatever. I would have taken out my frustrations in nasty, snide remarks to the Hubs and cold indifference towards Z.

But I'm not who I was.

Instead, I was strangely calm. Thankful that we had already bought dinner as I munched fries and reviewed our situation. I made calls to our family and was glad that Z had fallen asleep in the backseat before this had all transpired. Hubs and I pushed the car up the hill and awaited for our rescue to arrive. Friends, seeing our situation, stopped to assist us push the car.

I know that this post may not seem remarkable or even interesting.

Just as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, I can change my old ways too!

But I am not who I was.

The old me lacked confidence in myself as a person. I felt cast out, pushed asisde and tormented in my own skin. I was depressed, miserable and without hope. I lacked patience in myself and the world. I spent a lot of time and energy being frustrated and angry.

In the days and weeks following Z's birth, I faced a series of life challenges, bigger than all of the anger and rage that I had ever posessed, bigger than all of the things I had ever experienced. Life was no longer under my control, and the only thing that I could really focus on was my little girl.

Small and helpless, her needs outweighed the car being broke down in the driveway, the Hubs losing his job, the new grandfather dying in the hospital, the threat of my maternity leave replacement taking over my job, emergency surgery that left me on bed rest for nearly two weeks.

I dropped all of my balls. I left them for others, for God, and I did the one and only thing I could do. I took care of my daughter. I slept, I nursed, I rested my mind from all of the things that I would normally battle internally and externally and I let life take it's course around me.

I gave birth to my daughter and in doing so I gave life to a whole new me. A calmer, gentler version of myself. I am not as concerned about the piles of laundry waiting for me, there is a little girl that wants to play with her momma. I am not as concerned about the dishes that are cluttering the counters, there is a little girl that wants one more story before she goes to bed. I am not as concerned about the bill that may have to wait another week or two before it gets paid, there is a little girl that wants to go to the park.

I have learned that life has a way of taking care of itself, I have someone far more important to take care of.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Jealous Girl

There we were back in '87. So much simpler then. 
Growing up in my family always felt like a competition. In order to get attention, you had to be the best, the smartest, the prettiest and any signs of weakness were unacceptable. Character flaws were attacked, ridiculed and flaunted by siblings (and sometimes, parents) with ruthless abandon.

My sister and I were always at each other's throats. It seemed that she could do no wrong. While we both exceled in school, she did particularly well in the subjects that "mattered" to our father. While I was great at reading, writing and history, my sister adored math and science. In the few times that I was able to pull out a higher grade than my sister in one of these particular subjects, I made sure to tear down my sister's work so that I would cast myself in that much of a greater light.

Remarks about how she would one day be the doctor that would take care of our parents, while I would be the daughter that struggled to keep her head above water, were constant (and perhaps self-fulfilling). She was the golden child with her long, straight, blond hair, lean and tall frame and perfectionist tendencies. Anything she had going on - be it homework, extracurricular activities, or social life - outranked anything that may have been happening in our home and took precedence over all (even to our parents). And as she was cast in this light, I, too was cast into a very different light.

I was the plain one. Unruly, mousy brown hair, stockier than my sister, and a tendency to rush through things based on a lack of patience, I was the household disappointment. It was more important for me to learn to cook, keep house, and raise children than to focus on extracurricular activities, friends or even school work.

I learned to seek out my sister's flaws, bring them to light, exaggerate them to cast myself in a better light. Where my sister could be rather bossy and comandeering to her friends, I learned to be the nice one, the understanding ear, the person that they could trust. I learned to steal her friends and turn them to me, to cause her jealousy to seep out and poison the friend's opinion of her.

We fought constantly (it's something of a legend among our brothers), but it all came down to who was the best, the brightest, the smartest, the most-talented. There was only the best - and the loser.

As my sister and I have grown up and gone our separate ways, it's no longer important or necessary to seek out ways to hurt her. It is no longer necessary to cast myself in this great light of important or best at her expense. I am content in my own life, in my own family, in my own world.

However, in my professional and personal life there have been women that I felt were a threat to me, my job or my family. I have attacked those women with the same manipulation that I had honed over the19 year history with my sister. Like a sharpened dagger, my jealousy of their obvious talents, knowledge, skill or beauty would attack, stabbing holes into their facades so that I may be exalted from the shadows of their now exposed shame. Malicious gossip, snide remarks and pettiness would tear down my "opponents" leaving them confused and in the dust.

In addition, my perception of myself is so skewed, so distorted that I have also attacked girls that embody the characteristics of my own self distortion. I see myself as an unattractive short, round, glasses-wearing, know-it-all with frizzy, untamed brown hair. Should I meet a girl that has these characteristics that shows me any signs of weakness, I would attack her, I would tear her down, I would slay her, as if in someway attacking her has conquered those images, those feelings about myself. The delight that I would feel in my "victory" was abhorrable, reprehensible, and disgusting. And the guilt that I would feel later only added to the destruction.

I fight against these tendencies every single day, because I know that they are just as destructive to me as they are to the people that I attack.

We, as women, should not have to attack one another to feel better about ourselves. I think somehow in our male dictated society we have learned that that is acceptable behavior - but it is so not. My realtionship with my sister is as close to irrepairable as it can be because of the words and actions of a childish me, I have missed out on truly knowing awesome people because of my own self-hatred,  and this is not acceptable to me.

I hope that I can teach Z that jealousy is useless. That it gets you nowhere in life. That it leads to other destructive behaviors. That is distorts trust, faith, hope and beauty.

My one wish is that she grows up to be content in her own skin - frizzy brown hair and all.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bad Parenting 101

I don't like to think that I am a bad parent. But I am.

I don't like to portray myself as a bad parent. But I am going to.*

I use scare tactics to curb my child from killing herself, or making an ass of herself, or just plain out irritating me, whichever the case may be. There, I said it.

And I feel so much better.

Okay, not really. (Not really, about the feeling better part, I still have all of my own guilt, you know, and I am probably gonna own that until the day I die.)

Now, back to the scare tactics. I say things like,

"Everytime you make that screaming noise, you are killing Bambi"


"One day you will be so big that when you jump on my bed, you will hit the ceiling and we will have to replace the ceiling because you left all of your blood on it. Do you know how much a ceiling costs?"


"If Mommy can't get privacy to go to the bathroom in peace, then I will move in with you when you get married." (She is obsessed with marriage and husbands and babies, it feels a little abnormal for a 3 year old).

I potty trained her by traumatizing her with the very real threat of throwing her big girl panties in the trash when she would have an accident.

I am unsure what is going on here. One flip-flop, a piece of pizza, chocolate on the face. I am a bad mother. 
Sometimes, when I am tired of her rough housing, when I have told her to stop repeatedly, and then she hits me in the face (again) or tries to choke me (again), I will "die". I will lay on the bed or floor, close my eyes and not respond to her pleading for me to get up, please wake up. One time, she tired to cover up what she had done by placing a blanket over me and sitting on me so that Hubs wouldn't find me. Another time, I heard her go in the kitchen, nonchalantly report my death to the Hubs, and then ask for an apple, like it was just another day.

There are times when her tantrums are too big for us to both be in the house, and I walk out onto the porch to get away from her.

There are times that I give in to the tantrums because it is too cold or I am too tired to fight anymore. And she wins.

Which makes the next battle even harder.

There are times when she trips and falls, and I laugh because I have warned her and threatened her and she has to learn (that falling is pretty darn funny! oh, and that her momma is always right).

There are are times when I have stood up, turned off the TV, turned off all of the lights in the house (with her behind me every step, screaming her head off) and crawled into my bed as though I have not heard any of the screaming, pleading, foot stomping or felt any of the angry little fists or kicks, because I just couldn't take anymore.

I have not put aside a single penny for her college education. Firstly, because there are no scholarships for retirement and I would really like to do that some day, secondly, because the scondary degree (while expensive) really does not offer a student the type of guarantees that it used to and lastly, because no matter how smart you are, how high in your class you are, we are all doing the same thing after graduation: working to pay for our cars, our kids, our houses and our retirements. As long as she grows up to find contentment in life, I am happy.

Yeah, I am a bad parent, but at least I make you feel good about your parenting.

And I guess it could be worse.

* Please don't send DCFS to my door. That's my biggest fear in life, that someone would take my child away from me, which may be why blogging about my frustrations is the healthier alternative.
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