Being a Mom

On a completely depressing and terrifying note….

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Oprah fan(you go girlfriend!). Throughout the years, she’s had different shows with different guests all with the same theme; when you get that weird feeling about a situation and the hair on the back of your neck stands up….run. She’s said it over and over and so have her guests. They all had similar stories and the same message…listen to your instincts and don’t worry about offending someone. Well, a situation happened to me when I was at Target just yesterday and I didn’t think it was a big deal at first, but then I got to thinking(Uh, oh! She’s THINKING again!).

I was in the Halloween costume aisle with my 3 year old. I usually have him walking right next to me or just a few feet ahead of me. For some reason, yesterday he was trailing me as we went up and down the aisles, arguing about whether he wanted to be a pirate(his idea) or a cutsie cowboy riding a stuffed horse(my idea). He was about 4 feet behind me, standing at the end of the aisle where it meets the cross aisle. It was one of those situations where I was looking the opposite direction, but I knew exactly where he was. I just turned my eyes off of him for 2 seconds and when I looked back, I saw him squatting down examining a costume, and an older gentleman standing there staring at him. He was in his late 50’s or early 60’s, had facial hair and was a bit overweight. He wasn’t smiling or scowling or had any sort of decipherable expression; he was staring blankly at Max. As soon as I saw this dude…you guessed it. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight out and I caught his eye as I called for my son. It would have been completely undetectable to any passer by…just two strangers who caught each others gaze. But for just a millisecond, we stared each other down. I don’t know what he was thinking, but the ever so slight expression in my eyes said, “Back the F*@k off.” Then, he broke our connection and just kept walking. No smile, no nod of acknowledgement, no look of surprise…..nothing.

Of course, I felt bad immediately after and entertained all of the other, more tame possibilities: he was looking past Max at a costume; he was tired and just had the stares; he was wondering what was so intriguing; he was just an asshole; he was just a harmless old man who’d just received death-beam rays shooting out of this crazy woman’s eyes for no apparent reason. Yes, I tried to justify them all, but kept coming back to the same conclusion: I had just stared down evil.

Why am I writing such a depressing and heavy post on this awesomely funny and light blog? Because this is a blog about being a mother and I know that we all do it. We all get relaxed a bit in public and allow our kids out of our sights for just a second or two…nobody wants to be that insane, overbearing mother who’s constantly screaming at her kid to “Get OVER here!” when the kid is like, 6 inches away. However, I think, in that moment, God sent me a little warning. Just a little red flag to remind me to keep a better eye on one of His children. Well, I heard ya, loud and clear and I hope that you all will keep your guards up and always listen to that little voice that says, “This doesn’t feel right.”

Kate’s Gone Commando Style

They said it wouldn’t last. They said it was just a “phase,” and she would grow out of it. But, I’m pretty sure that Kate going “commando” is here to stay. What? No, no…I’m not talking about her not wearing a diaper. I’m talking about her crawling like a foot soldier in the trenches during the Tet Offensive. It’s actually kinda cute and I should post a video of her, but I get kinda creeped out when I think about putting my kids’ images on a public blog. But you get the idea. They use to say that army crawling was a sign of developmental delay. But she’s already pulling herself up to stand, cruising and, most importantly, deciding that it’s time to stop taking Max’s crap, and START fighting back. Or, at least, yell at him when he starts pushing her around. So “They” obviously never met my kid!

She started pretty early. Back when she was about 5 months old, I would be washing dishes or something(yes, we have a dishwasher yet I STILL get stuck hand washing. What is that?), and I’d her this little, baby grunting coming from the living room. I’d walk over, and there she was. Pulling herself along, dragging dead, lifeless legs behind her; all the while eyeballing Max’s matchbox car, and using every ounce of her willpower to reach it to get it in her mouth! It was quite a sight to behold….disturbing actually. I actually think that she just got tired of waiting on me to get her what she wanted. There it was. Staring at her. LAUGHING at her. The toy that she wanted but couldn’t have. I’m sure it was torture, but I admire the fact that she didn’t just lay around screaming for something. No, she used her feminine wiles and brute strength to get exactly what she wanted. A woman after my own heart.

What’s in Ned’s Head?

Four words that I’m starting to dread…”Wanna play Ned’s Head?” My mom bought this game, “What’s in Ned’s Head” a few months ago and not a day has passed since that my 3 year old hasn’t played it! It’s actually a really gross game, you reach in the big, oversized cartoon head and pull out things like a dirty diaper, vomit, bird poop etc. Yeah. But, nonetheless, my son is completely sold on this game and plays it constantly, and anything that keeps his attention longer than 20 minutes is the most genius invention by my standards. The good part is that it’s quiet. When I’m trying to get the baby to sleep, I slyly suggest he go upstairs and play Ned’s Head while whispering quiet, like a mouse. He bounds off happily, squeaking like a mouse and deliriously excited to reach into a head and pull out a brain. He has spent hours pulling out the objects, laying them on their respective cards and lining them all up in sequence. Lately, he’s been pulling me upstairs to play with him, which was fun at first and made me feel like I was spending good, quality time with him….until about the 207th time I pulled out the stinky sock and I’m begging him to play something different! A puzzle? How about a game of Connect Four? Anyway, just thought I’d share this little gem I found incase there are others out there who need 30 minutes of peace and quiet from their pre-schooler!

One day you’re in, the next…You’re Out

My son started pre-school today and I think I was more broken up about it than he was! He’s been attending a Montessori school since he was 18 months, so the idea of “school” is not new to him. I can’t help but think back to that time when he was almost 2 and going through some tough separation anxiety. Every time I started driving in the direction of the school he’d start screaming, “No School, No School! No School Mommy!” It made my heart melt almost to the point of me turning around. Note here I said “almost.” There was no chance in H-E double hockey sticks(doesn’t quite have the same impact as saying it, does it?), I was going to miss my opportunity to have a few hours to clean, run errands or, God forbid…..shower! It was difficult leaving a red-faced, screaming boy whose got his face pressed up against the glass, begging you not to go(here’s where you all send out a collective “Awwwweee”).

Yes, those days were tough on both of us but after a few months of the same battle, it does start to wear on you. You start to dread going anywhere because you know it’s going to be a big, loud production leaving him at the child care place and all you want to do is get your stupid hair cut without running after a toddler who decided that the color girl didn’t know what she was doing and it’s up to HIM to mix your hair color specially for you. But, the days go by and your toddler gets older and smarter and more independent, and one day you wake up and he’s begging you to leave him at the gym’s kid center and asking when he can go back to school. My husband dropped him off this morning and said that it was like letting a bull out of a pin, that’s how excited he was. I guess I should be happy and a bit relieved that my kid is the one that doesn’t cling and throw a fit….but I’m actually kinda sad. I’m starting to miss those days when he didn’t want to leave my side, but everyone’s gotta move on sometime and with kids, you’re either in, or you’re out(only to be read in Heidi Klum’s weird accent from Project Runway). Meaning, one day you’re the cat’s pajamas and they just love, love, LOVE you and can’t be without you; the next, when they don’t need you anymore, you’re wanted about as much as a sailor wants a venereal disease. At least I have an 8 month old and I’m very much looking forward to bitching about separation anxiety all over again.

Introducing Miss Thang

What happened to my sweet, adorable, cherubic, doll of a baby daughter? One minute she’s looking at me with adoringly sweet eyes and the next she’s shouting at the top of her lungs because I’m not shoveling the bananas in her mouth fast enough! It’s not just the food she’s become demanding about. It’s food, changing her diaper, getting dressed, getting undressed, wiping her face, bathing and generally anything that requires me inconveniencing her in any way. I KNOW she’s taking pointers from the 3 year old, how could she not? She’s even starting to yell like him when she wants something. There’s a conspiracy going on here and I’m determined to flush it out damnit. I know that he schools her on the intricatcies of “pushing mom’s buttons 101” when I’m not looking. I imagine the conversation goes something like this:

Max-You know….you don’t have to just wait for her to get the food ready. When you yell, she actually moves faster.
Kate-Really? But isn’t that manipulative? I mean, she works so hard already, so why don’t we just cut her some slack huh?
Max-HAHA! Oh, you have so much to learn young grasshopper. Luckily I’M here so let’s start with the food….no, it’s not manipulative, because you’ve gotta eat right?
Kate-I guess so
Max-Okay. So watch this, “Mommy! I said I wanted RICE KRISPIE TREEEEEAAAATSS! Rice Krispie Treats, Rice Krispie Treats, Rice Krispie Treats, Rice Krispie Treats, Rice Krispie Treats…Fank you”
(No really, my son ACTUALLY says Fank You….the cunning vowel change isn’t too far off now.)
Kate-Wow. Let me try…AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Hey, you’re right. She DOES move faster.
Max-Oh Kate….there are so many things to teach you and so little time. Next up, kicking her in the ovaries during the diaper change. I was told that it would prevent more babies, maybe you’ll have better luck.

It’s not fair: a tale of woe and injustice against a 3 year old

I’ve noticed in the past few weeks that my 3 year old’s vocabulary is actually getting more sophisticated. He was a late talker so I’m always amazed, and sometimes shocked, at the words and phrases that fall NOT so trippingly off his tongue. It’s not just his vocabulary, but he’s using words and phrases at appropriate times and for correct reasons as well. Like this morning, we were involved in our twice a week struggle with getting dressed for school, Max in one corner looking pretty beat up and worn, but still displaying that fighting spirit, and me in the other corner being yelled at by Sensei “I don’t want him beaten, I want him out of commission. Sweep the leg.” Well, I did sweep the leg with my ever so cunning “lose-lose” strategy I’ve become very keen at: either do _____(usually what I want him to do) or you do ____(usually something I know he won’t want to do like take a nap), it’s his choice. It’s genius really but has about another 6 months shelf life before he figures it out.

Anyway, I had just given him the choice of either going to school or going back to sleep when he looks me dead in the eye and boldly states that, “It’s not fair.” Huh? That threw me for a curve. I was always expecting to hear it and was ready to shift into autopilot with the stock answer, “life isn’t fair,” but I wasn’t expecting to hear it so soon. How can a three year old understand that life isn’t fair? I mean really, what’s his view of the fairness of life thus far? A toy he couldn’t get at Target or having to eat his green beans when he so clearly is allergic to them(as demonstrated by the anaphylactic-like symptoms displayed at the sight of green foods)….honestly, what is his experience with the injustices of life that would make the “life isn’t fair” argument stick? Quickly I raced through possible alternative rebuttals that he would understand, when I find myself blurting out, “Yeah, well…life isn’t fair and I’d say you’ve got it pretty darn good compared to some kids in other parts of the world suffering from famine, disease and guerilla warfare.” Blank stare, blank stare, blank stare AND….blank stare. Okay, so appealing to his social conscience didn’t have the effect I’d have liked so I went with old faithful: “Sit down and put your shoes on or I’m going to smack that smart-alec butt of yours…which one?” No matter how sophisticated the reasoning or arguing skills, there’s nothing like a good ole’ fashioned ass-kicking threat to get a kid to do what you want.

Definitions change, but the words stay the same

Just a few words that have completely changed meaning for me since having children:

Early. Before having children, anything before 8 AM was considered too early; after kids, 4:30 AM is early but anything after 5 AM is an acceptable time of day.

No. Before kids, when you told someone “no” they understood that it was a negative and final response to a question; after kids, when you say “no” it apparently means, “not right now…but keep asking and asking and asking in attempt to wear me down until I finally give in out of sheer desperation to stop the screaming and cold, judgemental stares from passers by.”

Sick. Before kids, this meant a day home from work to watch daytime television and pig out on chinese food while basking in the sympathetic looks from the girl at Walgreens checkout as you pay for your cough and cold meds; after kids, it don’t mean s#*t because there’s no one home to coddle you and kids don’t care if you’ve got a head cold or Bubonic plague, they just want the dang PB&J you said you’d make 3 minutes ago.

Pedophile. Before kids, it’s a sick but “sad” disease where you think, “oh, you know that most pedophiles were victims and it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be addressed with intense behavioral modification therapy and pharmaceuticals.” After kids, just the first syllable sends a fire up the back of your neck and the word “sad” and “rehabilition” are no longer associated with the monster that preys on and hurts a child…the only words that come to mind are castration, vigilantism and hitman.

Television. Before kids, watching tv was something to do for fun and usually a stress reliever at the end of a tough day; after kids, tv means a power struggle over which show, how much and when it’s acceptable(i.e. while I’m doing laundry) and when it’s not (i.e. while eating dinner).

Partying. Before kids, this meant 9 PM dinners, invigorating and passionate conversations about art and politics, bars, clubs, excessive drinking, getting home and passing out to that awesome, and all too familiar, spinning room; after children, it means weeks of careful planning just to go to a 6:30 PM dinner(you COULD go at 5:30 but the savings you’ll incur at the Early Bird Special cannot outweigh the self loathing and embarassment incurred at the fact that you even seriously considered eating at 5:30), conversations that revolve around potty training and mucus, not drinking too much(because you have to be up at 5 AM), home by 9 and asleep by 10(because you have to be up at 5 AM).

College. Before kids this was a place to find yourself and make lifelong friends and the biggest stress was that 25 page Philosophy paper you had 3 MONTHS to write but chose to wait and be inspired 6 hours before it’s due; after kids, college is a place you’d give your right arm to go back to just for a week.

News. Before kids, this was an informative medium to learn about what’s going on in the world while you silently shake your head at the poor people who’ve got it worse than you; after kids, every story about terrorists’ terrifies you and every child in pain is YOUR child so you elevate to a whole new level of anxiety. The world is a scarrier place after having children.

I got this….all over me

So, we’ve started on potty training of the bowels, or, as many like to call it, poo-poo training. Why is this so incredibly difficult? Why do I wake in a cold sweat in the middle of night dreaming of toilets and dirty diapers chasing me? Why can’t I just “chill” and let HIM lead ME? Oh, I know why, because I’m sick of cleaning up adult-like crap and if it were up to him, I’d be at his beck and wipe until he’s 5. I’ve been taking crap, metaphorically and literally speaking, for at least 2 years when my son’s dirty diapers stopped being cute and started getting just plain disgusting.

I’ve been working with him and his “aim” while sitting and waiting because, I have to hand it to him, he really does try. However, I’ve never been peed on more in all my life than when we started to poo-poo train! The first time it happened, I was totally not expecting it!! I was kneeling in front of him, completely NOT thinking about pushing it down when BAM! Pee all over me! From the bottom of my neck down to my shins, I was drenched in piss. There I stood, utterly paralyzed with shock and bewilderment while my son ran off laughing and shouting, “I pee-peed on Mommy, I pee-peed on Mommy!” Some may think, “Ah, well. That’s the way it goes sometimes,” but I know the truth-he was waiting for just the right time to get his revenge for all those minutes in time-out! Did you smell that Max? Is the smell of victory sweet?

The first time you’ve been drenched in pee, you run to the shower and scour yourself in hot water…sinking to the floor, shaking and crying(like you see people do in the movies when something traumatic happens), and swearing to never let it happen again…never. The second time it happens, you still rush to the bathroom, but not to shower. No, it takes too long and if you showered every time then you’d spend about 6 hours of your day cleaning yourself. Instead, you stand in the tub and quickly rinse off, using soap of course…I mean, you’re not a COMPLETE primitive. By the fifth and sixth time, you’re just squirting the Purell, justifying to yourself that pee is actually one of the most sterile substances around because the kidneys filter better than any Brita system money can buy. Yup. Then you go pick up your 7 month old and pray to God that she wants, no…DEMANDS to potty train herself.

Potty training the parents!

So, I’ve been complaining a lot in the past few months about my son’s unwillingness to potty train. I was reading a post on a stay at home mom’s website that was talking about potty training being mostly the parent’s choice to commit. It dawned on me, “How can I expect him to get it if I’m just sporadically taking him to the potty?” Up until that point I had been committing about 50% to taking him and teaching him. So, I decided that I would go balls to the wall(or balls to the potty!), and hardcore potty train! I put the potty in the family room(over a towel of course…I’m not an animal!), ditched the Pull-Ups and made him go every hour. We’re three days in and I can say that he’s doing very well. We even left the house yesterday and I resisted the overwhelming urge to slap a Pull-Up on him. He did have a small accident, but I was prepared and we just went about our day. He’s now at the point where i can say to him, “Show me how a big kid goes pee-pee” and he’ll strut over to the potty, drop trou, and pee. Yeah! Interesting how a bright, college educated woman could get so excited over a little pee and dry undies. Now, if he went #2 in the potty, I think I might just have an aneurysm.

How to turn your kid into a Hypochondriac

My 3 year old has been putting things in his mouth again. I really thought those days were over, but, for some reason, he’s been licking or biting everything before using it. It kinda freaked me out at first because I thought he might have a “sensory” issue. However, my always logical husband reminded me that kids put stuff in their mouths and it’s as simple as that. He said, “when I was 5, I use to eat dirt just because I wanted to know what it tasted like.” Yeah. He’s an attorney now so all those minerals must have done his brain real good.

So, we’ve been having discussions about what goes in our mouths(er, that would be my SON and I discussing, not my husband and I…that’s a whole different kind of blog). Like food, cups, forks etc and what doesn’t go in the mouth like cars, puzzle pieces, the ottoman, little sisters etc. We’ve also been talking about WHY we don’t put things in the mouth that don’t belong….the “why” being germs. I actually thought I was doing a pretty good job…he was starting to not bite or lick things as much and stopped if I had to remind him that no, we don’t lick trash cans. Yes, I was ready to give myself quite the pat on the back for being a supermom. Just as I was feeling proud of myself, I saw him drawing on his Doodle Pro and I happen to glance over. He was drawing these little ghost-like things that kinda resembled the Pac Man ghosts; weird cause he’s never seen Pac Man! I asked him what he was drawing and he responds with, “GEEERRRMS.” He’s facinated, no, he’s down right OBSESSED with germs! When asked, “Now why don’t you put your marker in your mouth?” He’ll promptly reply, “Because it has GEEERRRMS and GEEERRRMS make you sick and go to doctor and get yucky medicine.” Great. Now I’ve turned my kid into a germ-fearing, obsessive compulisive, hypochondriac. Now every time I turn around he’s drawing GEEERRRMS. And today he started drawing little circles with squiggly lines and calling those, “AAAALERGIES.” Damn, I’ve got one weird kid. Unfortunately, I’ve got no one to blame but myself….good one supermom! Yeah, my manual on “How to turn your kid into a Hypochondriac” should be out in the fall.

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