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Thursday, April 28, 2011

High School Sweethearts

We all know the high school sweetheart story.  Two 14-year-old, pimple faced freshmen meet in homeroom, share an awkward smooch behind the lockers, and when their braces lock together they know that they are hooked for life. They go through all the crazy teenager issues together, and eventually they graduate and marry. My husband and I are high school sweethearts...well, sort of.  We're not quite what you would call the "traditional" couple.  I mean, we DID meet in a high school. It WAS in homeroom. And at least one of us was a braces-clad, pimple faced freshman but we didn't exactly graduate the same year, and the first thing I ever got from the guy was NOT a kiss...it was homework.

My husband was my high school history teacher (insert astonished gasp here).  I know, I know it's scandalous.  Well, it is unless you know the actual story.  He was actually just new to town and became a friend of the family.  We had the unique experience of getting to know one another as friends for several years before we ever dated.  Some people still don't believe me when I say that, but it's the truth.  We didn't date until after I graduated.  Don't get me wrong, I found the guy attractive but so did every other girl in my class.  But, let's be honest, if you're in high school and your teacher is not a middle-aged woman with coffee breath and facial hair, or some old dude with suspenders and a pocket protector, you're gonna notice.

Now here's the fun part.  Not only were we teacher/student, we also have a 14 year age difference.  This is where you gag, and make the "icky" face.  But let me tell you something ladies, if you're gonna spend the rest of your life with a man, you want one that's housebroken.  Sure everyone THINKS they want the puppy, but cute and cuddly lasts for about 30 seconds and you spend most of your time with a rolled up newspaper in your hand, tossing his butt outside until he gets his shit together.  Not me, mine came with the ability AND the motivation to clean, do laundry, and cook.  Who's the idiot now, huh?  I mean, sure the guy could have driven me to preschool, but we've got to consider the perks too!  Here are a few:

-First of all, in order to avoid any awkward looks or annoying questions we decided to go on our first date in St. Louis, MO.  We figured two hours away would be a safe enough distance.  We went to Union Station, and when we got to one of the stores, I was greeted by one of the clerks who gave me bouquet of a dozen roses that he had PRE-ORDERED!!  That's right, forethought AND romance.  Pretty incredible.  (For any of you men that are reading this, anything planned ahead of time = BIG POINTS)

-Who else can say that their significant other had been saving for a big vacation for years before they even met?  We were able to spend 21 days in 7 different European countries for our honeymoon!  That was an experience that only the two of us share, and I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life. (Even though the guy is a major history nerd and basically spent 80% of the time behind the camera saying things like, "and this is where blabbedy blah happened on some random day in January that no one but me remembers.")

-You also have to admit that the guy is pretty smart.  I mean, he probably has the best retirement plan of anyone I know...me.  He'll be hanging out while his young, (hot) wife is bringing in the big bucks.  Pretty ingenious really.

-Not to mention the fact that anytime we are on the same team for a trivia game, the two of us span over a decade's worth of knowledge.  He takes all the old crap that no one cares about, and I get all of the current more interesting stuff.  No, really I've learned a lot from him.  Where would I be if I hadn't seen EVERY SINGLE 80's movie featuring Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez and their horny, acne-covered friends?  Seriously, there are like 10 of them.  (Hint:  You only have to actually watch one of them.  You can pretty much answer any question about any one of the dozen movies based on your knowledge of that one.)

-He's great to have around in a crisis.  For example, one day the kids wanted hot dogs and the microwave just quit working.  I had no idea what to do, and my superhero husband suggested that we cook them in a pan of water...wait for it...ON THE STOVE!!  I had no concept of this, because of course I'd never lived a life without a microwave.  Apparently, they are a relatively "new" concept.  Who knew?

Of course we have our issues when it comes to our age difference, too.  Every once in awhile he'll say something about St. Elmo's Fire and I'll have to remind myself that this is NOT the name of a street that intersects with "Sesame."  And, sure from time to time he'll make reference to an "8 track" and I'll be forced to listen to how much today's technology sucks.  But, when you get down to what's important, it works for us. THANK GOD I didn't listen to all of the nay-sayers when I was younger.  They said it would never work, but here we are 11 years, 1 great marriage, and 4 awesome kids later.  So what if his first gift to me was a hall pass to the bathroom?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hangin' Tough

Wait for it....I am STILL running!  I know, I know, it's amazing.  I have no idea what the hell is going on here.  The planets must be perfectly aligned or something.   Although, I don't know how much longer it will last because I started week 5  on Sunday, and I think it took an hour and a half to recover.  This is not an exaggeration. I want to go back to last week and punch myself though.  I was all kinds of cocky after I finished last week's final run.  I kept thinking maybe I should have skipped ahead, because although the workouts were difficult, I wasn't quite as miserable as I thought I should be.  I am a mother of 4, and therefore a glutton for punishment.

Apparently there is a whole lot more to this "running" thing than just putting your shoes on and heading down the road.  First of all, the shoes can be the biggest problem.  They've got people who actually analyze feet and the wear patterns of your shoes!!  It's incredible the amount of thought that goes into this.  See, I was under the impression that running was pretty simple: Get the kid off your boob, open the door and run away as fast as you can before they all start chasing after you.  However, this is not the case.

I have recently discovered that a lot goes into the preparation before a run.  First of all, the whole "stretching" thing....NOT just a friendly suggestion.  Putting the full force of your body weight on muscles that haven't been REALLY worked since New Kids On The Block were in town, is not advisable without first loosening them up a little.  Secondly, I have noticed that my fellow runners (people I meet on the street who manage to smile and wave at me while I sort of grunt and blow snot in their general direction) are usually quite decked out for the occasion.  I mean, I guess you can wear clothes that match if that's what you're into, and apparently if you're female, the whole point of your "sports bra" is to show as much cleavage as possible.  I haven't quite adopted this sort of running style as of yet.  Right now my running attire consists of any shirt/pants combination I find lying on the ground on my way to the door.  I don't care if they match...actually, I don't even care if they're mine.  The rest of my running motif has much more to do with necessity than style.  I explained it to one mom who claimed that she was inspired by me (oh god) to begin running, but she had too much jiggle when she ran.  I said, "Oh, Honey...I never leave the house without two sports bras, a girdle, and some chaps."

Seriously, the bra that I wear when I run could easily be mistaken for Fort Knox.  I guess I could try something a little more stylish, but I have a hard enough time jumping over sticks and rocks in the road.  Somehow, I think tripping over my own boob could have dire consequences.  I also have this false sense of being hotter than hell when I run.  For example, if it's an off day and I don't get my run in, I immediately assume that I weigh three hundred pounds and have sprouted a facial wart.  However, if I do get to run that day I just know that I've lost 30 lbs, have long locks of flowing blonde hair (because all the hot chicks seem to be blonde), and have skin that sort of glistens in the sun.  Luckily, reality is not too far away because I do own a mirror.  Today, after my run through the rain, my face looked like a swollen, bruised tomato and my hair was sticking out like it may have been struck by lightening.  Still, it felt good.

Running is fun for me, and once I get started, I love the feel of being on the road.  But, the true victory is in getting out the door.  I'm not naive enough to think that SEVERAL things don't have to be in place before I can even attempt a run.  It isn't easy, and at the risk of sounding like a braggart, I'd like to say that I'm proud of myself for making the effort.  I'd also like to thank my husband for encouraging me and being available to be with the kids while I run.  And to my kids, thank you for giving me a reason to run away! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Old Mother Hubbard

As a mother of four, I can honestly say that I am amazed at the crazy things people will say to you in relationship to children.  It starts when you're pregnant with the, "Wow!  You're as big as a house!" and the ever-famous, "You look miserable.  You look like you're ready to pop!"  First of all, these comments usually come when you've got about 3 months left.  So, through gritted teeth, you share this information with the moron that just insulted you and they inevitably do the WRONG thing and make that "OMG!" face.  Secondly, pop?...Really?  That's the word you're using for someone who is about to go through one of the scariest experiences of her life?  Great choice.

I wish that I could say it stops there, but as many of us know, it does not.  Being a mother of four, I usually get the "are they all yours?" question.  It's not the question I mind, it's the tone with which it is asked.  You can ask someone, "Oh, are they all yours?"  and give someone the feeling that you think they appear happy and content with their lives.  But we can tell when you say, "Oh, are the ALL yours?" that you are actually no longer listening for the answer, but are instead making a mental note to check the web later and see if my face matches any of the profiles of escaped psychopaths.  And my personal favorite..."Don't you two know what causes that?"  I've heard this one enough that I've come up with a few good one-liners that usually end the conversation right there.  I either go with:

A: Yes, but if you've ever seen my husband you'd know why we keep having them.  (Go ahead and make your disgusted face, and freak out because I just "crossed the line."  But, I'll bet you won't ask me that one again, will ya?)

B:  No, but I've got time if you'd like to sit down and tell me.  Do I need a pen?

C:  Go to hell. (Granted, it's not all that original, but it gets the job done)

Wanna hear something really crazy? We mothers of 4 or more children have CHOSEN this.  That's right, folks!  We WANTED the happy chaos that comes with a big family.  We wanted our boobs to hang down to our knees and our bellyrolls to sit on top of our pants. (I've affectionately named mine the "flub chunk")  Saggy boobs are in, didn't you know?  Have you picked up a National Geographic lately?  It may take awhile for the trend to hit the states, but when it does, I'll be ready.  And it's only a matter of time before c-section scars and stretch marks make a comeback.  When they do, I'm immediately moving to a nudist colony where I'm sure to be crowned queen.

The point is, we know all about the chaos of our own lives.  And my guess is that if you ask any of us "Mother Hubbard" types, not one would trade it for the world.  They may consider trading one of their limbs for an afternoon nap, but they wouldn't totally give up their babies.  So, if you don't want to get the textbook out and start pointing to body parts, you may just want to put on a smile and keep walking.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Autism and My Family

Autism.  My brother was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was 4 years old.  I was nine.  My first question was whether or not he was going to die, followed by "is it contagious?"  Although I believe it is safe to say that these fears were dispelled rather quickly, the rest remains as much of a mystery today as it was 20 years ago.  I feel compelled to write only of subjects with which I am familiar, things that I can honestly say I have experienced.  Unfortunately, autism is something I know all too well.

It seems to be sort of a buzz word now.  Something like 1 in 150 children are diagnosed every day. (Don't quote me on that, I became bored with autism statistics a long time ago.)  But, in 1991, autism described only one person as far as I was concerned, my brother Jacob.  I think it was the fact that the discipline my parents had used on my sister and myself wasn't working with him.  The same rules didn't seem to apply to him, and they sort of ran out of  "solutions."  I remember staying with a family member while Mom and Dad took Jacob to Springfield to get tested.  Even as a nine-year-old, I remember noticing the strain on my parent's faces when they returned home.

I can only provide a sibling's point of view, and I would never even pretend to know what it's like to have my own child receive such a diagnosis.  My limited perspective is probably unique to only my family, because the only true statement I've ever heard in relation to this disorder is, "If you know one child with autism, you know one child with autism."  No two are alike, and many are so completely different, it's a wonder that their diagnoses fall under the same catergory.  But, I can at least share what autism meant for me and my family.

-Early on it meant trying every remedy available at the time.  Our entire family went on the glutein-free, sugar-free, basically taste-free diets.  I remember my sister and I walking to a friend's house with snickers bars hidden under our shirts.  Mom had smuggled a couple of sweets to us every now and then because I think she felt bad that we had to be on the diet too.  She just didn't want Jacob seeing us eat edible food, when he had to eat, what was essentially cardboard, all of the time. 

-When I was six or seven, it meant sitting quietly in the backseat of the car while my brother was pinching, hitting, pulling my hair, and even sometimes biting me.  While many "normal" siblings take that opportunity to wail and scream and beat the crap out of each other, I knew, even then, when my mom just needed a break.  So instead of telling on him, my sister and I would simply take what he gave us, sometimes unable to keep from shedding some silent tears.  However, don't misunderstand what I'm saying, we had our not-so-angelic moments as well.  We did all the rotten things big sisters do to little brothers.  We just had to put a different twist on ornery.

-As we got a little older, autism meant recognizing "the look" in public places.  We knew people were staring when he threw his temper-tantrums, and it took awhile for us to simply ignore them and keep walking.

-It meant hearing hurtful things from other, less-informed people. I even had a classmate say something like, "at least my brother isn't retarded."  Those words stung more than any I'd ever heard before or since.  I didn't know it at the time, but that moment was one of those defining moments we have in life.  I have come to realize that although we have to deal with a lot of hurt, and a lot of negative experiences associated with autism, this happens to be one of the positives.  I know that because of my experiences with my brother, that I am incapable of saying something so hurtful to someone else. That's one less hurt from one less person in the world, and that is not a bad thing.

-Each time my sister or I became pregnant, it meant "knowing" that if we had a boy, he would be autistic.  We weren't negative about it.  I can't even say we were sad about it.  It's just all we knew.  Of course we'd seen friends with brothers who were "normal,"  but we just didn't consider that a possibility for ourselves.  And after each child is born, we watch their developmental milestones very carefully.  Even on a subconscious level, I think we are always assuming our children are autistic and with every reached milestone, the thought backs away a little more until we decide that they aren't. 

-As an adult it means being cheated out of that mature brother/sister comraderie that many people take for granted.  My sister and I are EXTREMELY close, probably in part due to the fact that we share this connection to autism.  But we feel like we are missing out on the ability to go to our brother for advice on things that are going on in our lives.  Our children don't have the traditional uncle.  What they have is more of a peer relationship, and even that only lasts for a short time because they learn rather quickly that in certain areas of life, they have already passed him by.  However, our children are slow to judge and quick to defend those who struggle.  They are compassionate and patient, and although we'd like to take the credit, Callie and I know that some things are just learned on your own.

For me, autism is so much more than puzzle-piece bumper stickers, and a reason to wear blue.  It has shaped the person I am today.  It has made me laugh, and cry. It has pissed me off, and embarrassed me.  It has made me grateful, and made me feel cheated.  I hate it for what it has done to my brother.  I hate it for the life it robbed from us.  But, I am thankful for my experiences.  I am grateful to my parents for somehow struggling through one of the most challenging obstacles in life, and for helping my sister and I to not only accept, but to embrace the life we were given.  Now that I think of it, maybe autism is a little contagious.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to spot the SAHM

I am a stay-at-home mom (SAHM...learn the lingo, people).  I am friends with other SAHMs, and also with moms who work outside the home both part and full-time.  What I have decided is that although we share many of the same experiences as mothers, us SAHMs are just a different breed altogether.  Here are some ways to spot a true SAHM:

-First of all, we've lost all concept of the conventional ways of telling time/days of the week.  We've got our own system.  We can tell you what day it is, but only AFTER the day has already happened:
  --Let's see...today it took a few extra uses of the "outside voice" to get the kids up for school...must be Monday (I've tried to tell them that weekend binge drinking isn't a good idea, but nobody listens to Mommy.)
  --Today everyone is running around the house screaming and crying because "bad things always happen to me" (i.e. they've lost their library books AGAIN and today is library day)...Tuesday
 --We wake up, get dressed, wolf down some breakfast, run to soccer practice, softball game, gymnastics, wash the car, buy the groceries, have dinner with friends...must be Saturday (the day "off")

-We can also be identified by our attire.  If you see a woman wearing matching clothing, a wristwatch, and shoes that do not involve laces or velcro, you are looking at a work-outside-the-home mom.  If you see a woman who occasionally has her nails painted, and is smiling, you're probably looking at a part-timer.  She still gets at least some time during the week with people who don't know that Boots lost his boots.  However, if you come across a woman wearing "good" sweatpants, an old college t-shirt with baby-goo on the left shoulder, who looks like maybe she's an escaped convict, drools a little every now and then, and walks with a limp...THEN you've found the SAHM.  It's ok though, don't feel sorry for her, she'll look better tomorrow because tomorrow is shower day.

-You can pretty much tell if you're talking to a SAHM relatively early on in the conversation.  She will discuss things like the toilet habits of her children, which is the best park for taking your kids out on nice days, and she will almost always throw in some sort of acronym.  Instead of laughing at a joke, she'll simply state that she is ROFL.  This is because our entire social network, outside of playhouse disney, is facebook.  We spend RIDICULOUS amounts of time on facebook.  No need to shoot a disapproving look.  We are fully aware of how insane it is to become addicted to a computer screen.  But, it can be so many things...it's a place to vent, a place to see that you aren't the only one in the world with no life, and many times it's much more entertaining than any daytime soap opera ever aired.  We not only "check" facebook, we will neglect everything and everyone around us until we've look at the entire "most recent" newsfeed. (Example:  "Mommy!  The baby is crawling toward the steps!"  "Okay,  honey...just a minute...why don't you put a pillow at the bottom for Mommy, so when he falls it doesn't hurt."  The subsequent "thud" followed by wailing probably won't be heard, but at least she'll know that so-and-so's ex-boyfriend is now "in a relationship.")

We are a special class of women.  We may not dress well, know what day it is, or shower on a regular basis, but you can learn a lot from us.  We are patient, thrifty, well-educated on the many colors of feces and what each one may mean, and we are generally very forthcoming with any knowledge we may have obtained via mommyhood.  Even if that means discussing baby vomit over lunch.  SAHMs don't care.  At least it's a conversation involving another adult (even if that other adult is scrunching up their nose and sort of backing away slowly.)  And if any of this interests you, just "friend" one on facebook...I PROMISE we'll be there waiting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

Well, I've kept quiet as long as possible.  That does it.  I'm devoting an entire blog to breastfeeding.  That's right, I'm gonna talk about boobs, jugs, ta tas, milkbags...so if it makes you uncomfortable you may want to stop reading.  I would like to start by saying that although I am a breastfeeding mother, and was a nurse on the obstetrical floor I have never and will never be one of those breastfeeding Nazis that thinks that giving a baby formula is going to harm/kill him.  Having said that, I'm also tired of feeling like I need to APOLOGIZE for choosing to breastfeed. 

This is obviously a "hot-button" issue with me.  For some reason it's socially acceptable for someone who chose not to breastfeed to sort of look down on those who do.  I don't understand this. If  a breastfeeding mother were to say something negative about formula, there would be all kinds of uproar.  She'd be called old-fashioned, intolerable, and probably a few other not-so-nice names.  But, if someone decides not to breastfeed and then comes across a mother who is, it is perfectly fine for her to turn up her nose or make some comment about how she thought it was too gross.  I understand that some people don't like it, but just know that the fact that you think it's "yucky" isn't going to be enough of a deterrent for me.

I've heard all of the defensive arguments against breastfeeding.  I've gotten a few of those passive-aggressive remarks this past year because my youngest child is sick often and he's almost completely breastfed.  Well, guess what?  You have absolutely NO idea how much more trouble he would have had if I hadn't been breastfeeding.  He has older siblings and was exposed to a lot because they brought things home from school.  I like to think that he avoided some things because of breastfeeding, but even if he didn't I'd still do it all over again.

Breastfeeding is one of my favorite parts of having a baby.  And if you've ever truly experienced it, you'd know that there is nothing twisted or gross about that statement.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't always glamorous.  Those first few weeks feel like someone is threading a fishhook through your skin every time they eat.  And, I had those moments that my child would be hungry and we would BOTH cry because the girls needed a break!!  But, that eventually gets better and I actually think it's easier than making/cleaning bottles.  I know this because my first son had some formula. 

Breastfeeding advocates also claim that it doesn't affect the appearance of your breasts anymore than pregnancy does.  I don't happen to believe this, but I also don't care enough to make that the reason I would choose not to breastfeed.  I mean, with my first son, if we were ever in a moving vehicle I totally did the "whip it out and sling it over the side of the carseat" trick.  Hell, now with my fourth I can stay in my seat and just stretch it back to him.  So they're a little saggy and deflated...it's not like I'm in the running for Miss America anymore anyway. 

I'm also the person that will breastfeed anywhere.  That's right, Father so-and-so, I'll feed my kid in church.  If they've got a cry room available, I will definitely use it!  But, if that isn't an option it won't bother me to do it right in the pew.  Gross, right?!?  People are probably doing it around you all of the time and you don't even notice.   And trust me, you aren't going to see more than some people reveal with their tank tops.

I don't understand why anti-breastfeeding people immediately blame breastfeeding for any little thing.  The baby is consipated...it must be the breastmilk.  The baby cries a lot...it must be what's in her breastmilk.  The car broke down...well, you know she DOES breastfeed, so...  Why do we have to be "for" or "against" it?  Why can't we just accept what ever mother has chosen for her own child?

Formula WILL NOT kill your baby.  It probably doesn't even have anything to do with IQ or illness prevention either, but you know what?  Breastfeeding is a choice that I made, and I will not apologize for it.  I'm not saying that you can't disagree with me.  I'm just asking that you become fully educated on the subject before you tell me that it's "icky."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Lucky Girl

Maybe it's the weather, or the fact that I've recently been given a reason to be grateful for the life that I have, or maybe it's because people keep telling me that my blog makes them NEVER want to have children (oops), but I'm feeling nostalgic today.  I feel the need to remind myself and anyone reading, that although I use sarcasm/humor to describe my life, it is one that I have (at least partly) chosen.  Yes, children make your life insane and sometimes you forget that you are someone outside of wife and mommy, but if it weren't also wonderful, do you think I would have four of them?  Somehow things get balanced out in the end:

-My first delivery was scary, painful, and at times, life threatening.  But, the birth of my son made me a mommy for the first time.  I was able to experience a new kind of love that I will never be able to describe in words.  And although  I was exhausted, scared, and occasionally in and out of consciousness, I would do all of it again.  Every agonizing hour of labor, every painful step afterward, and even every sleepless night.

-My kitchen table is covered in ants, but it's because my three-year-old (who can't muster enough energy to clean her room) spent 45 minutes, diligently gathering the best dandelion bouquet that she could find.  "Here Mommy, I brought you some pretty flowers."  So, the ants are big enough to carry off a small dog...I have flowers.

-I have those days where absolutely nothing goes right.  No one takes a nap, the house is trashed, supper is ruined and someone has flushed the keys down the toilet.  But, this is the day that my 5 year old gets in the van after school and says, "Mommy, one of the girls in my class always has to be in the middle when we play duck, duck, goose.  She doesn't run very fast.  So, today I ran a little slower so that she could catch me.  Today she didn't have to be in the middle."  And that, my friends, is a successful day.

-When I go for a jog, I've got more jiggle than a bowl full of jello.  My thighs have become "closer" friends than they ever wanted to be, and my bust went from a 36 B to a AA long.  But, I felt each of my babies move before anyone else in the world.  I was able to nurse each of them for their first year of life.  That makes me the luckiest jello jiggler in the world.

-I haven't slept in 8 years.  The bags under my eyes could count as a "carry-on" at any airline.  But sometimes at night, I stay up just a little longer to have one of my babies curled on my lap to read just one more story.  And every few words, I steal another sniff of  baby shampoo.

-I have to carry other people's crap all day long.  At any given moment, I can be seen holding dolls, shoes, a sippy cup, a baby carrier (complete with fat breastfed baby), underwear, and any other random object my children hand over during the day.  But I will ALWAYS have enough strength left at the end of the day to hoist my 40 pound 3 year old, because I am in love with her "big mommy hugs."  Have you ever had anyone hug you with their whole body?  She wraps arms and legs as far as they can go and squeezes as tight as she can.  That one moment is worth a week of therapy.

I'm sure that 30 seconds after I post this, I will want to pull each of my graying hairs out one by one.  The house will be destroyed, because I've now been on the computer for 20 minutes, and I'll probably have to wipe someone's hind-parts.  But, for right now I'm considering myself one lucky girl.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mommy Amnesia

So I had the privilege of visiting with a couple of friends the other day.  They stopped by unexpectedly, and we had a great time catching up despite the fact that when you drop in on a mother-of-four and she wasn't expecting you, you are likely to see some pretty crazy stuff.  I did manage to find a few seconds to do some quick "tidying" before they got there.  You know, things like mopping, dusting, vacuuming...yeah, right.  I believe it was more along the lines of  "Morgan!  People are coming over!  I know you're three, but you've gotta learn to pull your weight around here.  Quick, pick those dried macaroni noodles off of the light switch while Mommy gets these underwear off of the chandelier."  Of course if you choose to do the "cleaning" you forfeit getting YOURSELF ready, so I got to answer the door in my sweats and baby-puke covered shirt.  And, technically it was supposed to have been shower day, but I'm flexible like that so I let it go another day (or couple of days). 

Anyway, while I was talking to them I realized how insane the "mommy brain" can be sometimes. I mean this baby amnesia thing is really quite amazing.  One of them has a 9 month old and the other a 7 week old.  The one with the 7 week old looked like she was going to kill me when I asked her if she and her husband wanted more children.  And she would have been right in doing so, because it is STUPID to ask someone who just had a baby if they want any more.  First of all, it gives the illusion that anyone actually has any control over that  matter and secondly, they are still trying to figure out if they are ever going to be able to differentiate between day and night again.  To them, each day only means one thing...being awake LONGER.  However, the friend with the 9 month old mentioned the possibility of  future children several times.  It takes absolutely NO time to forget what those first few weeks are like.  Obviously this happens in order to ensure the continuation of the human race.  It's like some little demonic fairy goes through and wipes out all recollection of life after bringing home a newborn. Because, honestly, if we remembered what it was like none of us would be here.

Everyone talks up the birthing process.  They talk about how difficult it is, how much it hurts, what an amazing experience it is, etc. And I'm not trying to diminish that in any way.  I mean squeezing a watermelon through a grape is no easy task.  But, NO ONE tells you what it's going to be like when that nurse says "okay, time to go home..."  You look at your spouse and think, "Ok, well, we'll just move some stuff over and the nurse can sit in the backseat next to the baby."  Then you realize, "Oh, shit!  You mean you aren't coming with us?  You're going to send this precious baby home with US?  Are you out of your mind?!?!  I don't know what the hell I'm doing, and  I just got this one house-trained last week!!!  He can't be a father!"

After the nurse pries your white knuckles from around her neck and you stop shaking, you put the baby in the car.  Well, you try to put the baby in the car, but somehow your combined 8 years of college education hasn't properly prepared you.  Because, instead of looking like two competent adults putting the carseat into the car, you look more like two blind monkeys trying to thread a needle with a bowling ball.  It's foreign and uncertain, and you're scared to death that you'll do something terribly wrong, and this is where wedded bliss takes a hiatus...

"I TOLD you to pay attention in those birthing classes!  I'm sure they covered this!"

"I thought we were supposed to learn about breathing and getting the kid out of you!  What were YOU doing the whole time?!?!"

"Oh, you mean BESIDES providing the uterus for YOUR child?"

So when you finally do get into the car and you pull away from the curb, your normally lead-footed partner is getting some unpleasant looks, and even less pleasant gestures because he's going 10 miles per hour on the highway.  And if you're reading this and saying to yourself, "I will NEVER do that" you are just as delusional as the rest of us.  Trust me.  It only gets better from this point.  You get home and put the carseat down in the middle of the room, announce to your baby that this is "your new home", and then sit across from each other and ask simultaneously, "what the hell do we do now?"

Let me tell you right here and now that there are no "right" or "wrong" answers to what happens next.  Lots of people write books, many family members will have advice, but the truth is no one else is doing the job but you and your spouse.  Yours are the only opinions that matter.  So don't get bent out of shape if things don't go according to the book.  My guess is the book will work for about 30 seconds, and then you'll realize that throwing it out the window is much less stressful. Bottle or breast, Ferber method or co-sleeping, paper or plastic...doesn't really matter because you're gonna forget it all in about 3 months anyway and you'll be just dumb enough to try it again!!!  Gotta love that mommy brain!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Basic Life Support

This post is designed to save the lives of all of the "misguided, uneducated" individuals (nice way of saying clueless morons) who say stupid things to mothers.  Motherhood brings several stages to a woman's life, from the very beginning of pregnancy to watching your child graduate from high school and beyond.  It is inevitable that along the way, someone somewhere is going to say something stupid.  So, I'm going to attempt to help those who are unaware of their own stupidity (mainly husbands).

Things you should never say/do to a mom:

  Never ask a pregnant woman how she's feeling unless you are prepared to discuss the following things:
 a. First Trimester-the many colors and textures of vomit
 b. Second Trimester-which is the best hemorrhoid cream
 c. Third Trimester- what it feels like to have an icepick in your crotch, the sensation of having someone use your bladder for a trampoline, and the unfortunate discovery of several interesting body secretions.


  Never go up to a pregnant woman and say, "You haven't had that baby yet?"  Because to be quite honest, at this point she has every right to shoot you directly in the face.  (and she'll want to).  No mother-filled jury would convict.

  Never EVER, at ANY point during labor ask your wife, "How much longer do you think this will be?"  You are likely to get one of the following responses:
a. Gee, I don't know.  I'm sorry, are we making you tired?  Why don't you rest? (She does not actually mean this and it is not recommended because although these are the words she is saying, her brain is plotting your slow, painful death)
b.  I'm not really sure, Dear.  Why don't you crawl down there and ask my uterus, because we aren't really on speaking terms right now.
c.  Get the HELL out of this room, and don't come back until you've shot yourself in the face!!! (again...completely warranted)

  Never tell a brand new mother that she looks tired.  Chances are she already knows this, and it's pretty much just another way of telling her that she looks like shit.  Keep in mind that she's spent the past few months walking/crawling around in a fog, providing 24 hour care to this demanding little person that she's supposed to think is perfect and wonderful but is secretly wondering where the "return" box is located.

  Never ask a mother if her child is talking/walking/reading "yet."  This insinuates that your child is, and hers should be doing these things as well.  One of the following is going to happen:
a. If the mother is a first-time mom, she is going to get all defensive and panicky and make an unnecessary appointment for her deficient child.
b. If she's had several children, she is going to simply sit back and laugh and await the day that your "little genius" shows the family priest how he can squirt milk from his nose. And it WILL happen, because along with wiping noses and expertly creating the best crustless pb&j in the world, we have also acquired the ability of voodoo.

 Never say to a stay-at-home mom, "What did YOU do all day?"  In terms of stupidity, this comment moves you straight to the top...King of the Morons.  You can expect no dinner for the next decade, and if you thought you were sex-deprived before, you will be amazed at your ability to redefine the word "drought."

Never come into the house of a stay-at-home mom at the end of the day and disregard the fact that the house is clean, supper is ready, and the children are alive and STILL ask about some mundane task you may have asked her to complete that day. (i.e.-did you make the house payment?  buy groceries?  find my green socks?)  In all likely-hood you are going to first, get the "look of death," second, be buying your own groceries for the next year, and finally you may find those green socks in a "not-so-pleasant" place.  (Hint: Notice and compliment all of the great things first and THEN, if you must, ask your stupid question.  You are less likely to be shot in the face this way.)

And finally, NEVER EVER, and I mean under ANY circumstances EVER...ring the doorbell during the middle of the day of a house with small children.  Because if you do, and you wake children during naptime, the woman who comes to the door will make you forget why you ever thought it was a good idea to leave your house in the first place.  In fact, you may be inclined to call your own mother and ask her why she gave birth to such an idiot.  If you manage to back away from the door, you should turn and run before the smoke coming from her ears has cleared the air.  This will give you a better chance of avoiding being shot in the face.

I hope that this little tutorial has been helpful, and if it hasn't, just keep your mouth shut and accept the fact that you will never be right again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bubble Boy

Well, it's official.  I'm THAT parent.  The neurotic germophobe that everyone snickers about behind their back.  I didn't used to be this way.  I've always been aware of germs.  I'm and RN for crying out loud.  But, I've never been as skiddish about anything so much in my life.  I blame motherhood of course.  (You'll recognize this as a recurring theme with me, by the way.  I'll blame motherhood for just about anything.  Of course it deserves full blame for the stretch marks and memory loss, but I may be pushing the envelope when I throw in the 20 pound weight gain AFTER I've delivered my 4th child, or the need for that third brownie.) 

Anyway, I was mildly annoying when I had my first child.  I did the same thing all first-time moms do when their child drops something on the floor.  I sent it through the dishwasher, soaked it in some sort of "baby safe" disinfectant, sent it through an ionizer, and put it on the "DL" for at least three days just to be sure that all germs had either been killed or had committed suicide.  But, of course, when I had my second child I was that woman that saw her child's pacifier on the ground, picked it up, licked it off and put it back in the kid's mouth.  You learn to be a little less of  a nutjob with subsequent children.  Hell, by the time I had my third, I'm pretty sure we let her suck on our shoes.  However, just when I thought I was safe...we had Bubble Boy.

My youngest son has some serious issues with his immune system.  As in, I'm not sure if he's got one.  He got EVERYTHING that anyone even mentioned during the past winter.  Needless to say, after spending around $400 in copays for the doc office and THEN spending a total of 12 days in the hospital with this kid, I've re-invented the "neurotic mother."  I don't think I would have to be such a freak if people weren't stupid.  My children have classmates who could easily be mistaken for Typhoid Mary and yet, their parents "have to work" so they send them to school!  I know, I know, people have to work to make money.  But guess what?  It costs ME money when you send your sick kid to school and my children bring it home!  I actually overheard a parent talking about his latest illness when we were standing around waiting to pick the kids up from school. He was talking to a woman standing next to me, and I believe it went something like this:

Assclown:  "Man, I've been fighting this cold for about a month.  Actually, I went to the doctor and I have bronchitis.  Doc says I'm probably still contagious, but I've been going to work all week, so I figure what does it matter now? I think my son probably has it too.  He's been coughing for about 2 weeks.  We just can't shake it.  He acts ok though.  After he stops coughing, he just plays and smiles and he WANTS to go to school.  Isn't that funny?"

Me (at least in my head): "Yeah, funny in an, 'I'd like to take a machete to your forehead'" kind of way.
(I promise that I've been in contact with a therapist.)

But, because this is the line of thinking, I had to include an insert in my daughter's birthday invitation.  I simply stated that we'd love to have everyone there, but if your child as been coughing, vomiting, or has had a fever in the past 24-48 hours, please refrain from sending them.  I realize that I'm going to get hate mail, rude looks, and at the very least, a "crazy lady" snicker, but I simply CANNOT spend six consecutive days in a 10x10 cell with a 10 month old again.  At least my daughter is only turning 6, and so she still thinks that I'm at least acceptable.  I'm no longer cool, but she tolerates me.  I'm sure if I were to send this invitation in a few years, she may disown me.

I know that some brainless moron is going to send their little germ incubator to this party, and think it's cute that he can recite the alphabet while vomiting.  But, I say, go ahead.  Bring it on...you can see how good I've gotten with my machete.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In a Hicktown

I realize that what I'm about to say has nothing to do with being a mom.  However, I guess it does give some insight into how a psychologically damaged individual,  such as myself, may have come into being.  And sometimes I like to remember that some part of me existed before I traded my soul for a box of diapers.

I am from a small town.  People from the "big city" may THINK they know what this means, but like anything else in life, if you haven't lived it you probably don't have a clue.  I'm from the kind of town that has no stoplight.  The kind of town full of people who give directions in the following way:

"Well, if you go past the Smiths house, you'll see a big tree on the left.  No, wait a minute...Virgil cut that tree down last year on account of the squirrels were botherin' Mildred's flowerbed..."  

What?  These aren't acceptable directions? Anyway, I'm from the kind of town where a few students were missing from my high school class, and when the teacher asked where they were, one of the kids informed him that "the cows got out."  My fellow classmates and I went back to what we were doing as if this were a perfectly acceptable explanation.  And it was acceptable, to everyone that is except for the teacher.  He was new to the school and new to town.  He looked at us incredulously and asked, "What did you just say?  The cows got out?  Is this a joke? You can miss school for this?"  We, of course, looked at this idiot like he was from Mars. (Sidenote: This idiot eventually became my husband.  But, that's another story for another day)  OF COURSE it's ok to miss school if the cows get out.  Geez, you moron.  I suppose now  you're gonna tell me that they have to return to school before they can "mend fence" too, huh?

Yes, these are ACTUAL problems in a small town.  The funny thing about people from a small town is that we know these things, but still get all defensive if someone calls us "hicks."  We can accept the word "redneck" under certain circumstances, but only if it is in reference to some great joke made famous by Jeff Foxworthy. (If you don't know who this is, you are in no danger of ever being considered a redneck) But, we will not tolerate being called hicks.  It's offensive and TOTALLY off-base.  In fact, if you want to discuss it further you can just meet me down at the wedding dress/tanning salon/bait shop and we'll get it all straightened out.

I poke fun, but I'm proud of my roots.  My town is the kind of place that comes together in a crisis, and you never have to wonder if anyone has "got your back". Unfortunately, my children are from the "big city" of Quincy.  Of course there are only about 40,000 people, but it's the closest thing to city life that I'll ever see.  Luckily, when we venture out to the sticks, their momma can show them the major points of interest...four corners, 5 points, the lot, and hogback. It may not be Beverly Hills, but it was good enough for this hick.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Am A Runner

I'm new to this running thing.  And by "new" I mean that I started on Wednesday...today is Friday.  But, I ran on Wednesday and again today and when you are a mom anything that you do more than once within the same week is automatically considered an exercise regimen.  This means that if I were to go to the doctor today and she asked me what kind of exercise I've been getting, I would tell her with absolutely no qualms that I am, indeed, a runner.

The reason that today's run was such a big deal (other than the fact that it cements the "runner" title) is that I decided that I could run while pushing my two youngest children in a stroller.  If you've ever seen any of my children you know that they aren't the tiniest people in the world, and so I knew that I had my work cut-out for me.  What  I didn't realize was the fact that there is a reason they have what are apparently called "jogging strollers."  Although I am an avid runner, as was previously established, I was unaware of just how difficult it would be to cart those two lard-butts around in what could possibly be mistaken for a homeless man's shopping cart.  I've had the stupid thing for 8 years.   I don't know why I thought it would work, with it's tattered cover, it's 3 1/2 wheels complete with teeth marks (yes my children chew on stroller wheels, don't judge...yours would too if you weren't so busy giving them "attention" all the time.) 

To make matters worse, my three-year-old keeps talking to me while I'm running and expecting me to answer her.  Finally during one of my walking breaks, I simply told her that "Mommy can't answer you when I'm running because if I do, I might throw up my shoelaces."  This explanation only appeases her for the next thirty seconds, which really sucks because the next thing that came out of her mouth nearly made me push her butt down the hill and run in the other direction.  My sweet daughter turns around in the stroller, throwing off my already questionable balance, and says "Hey Mommy!  Look at that girl.  She's running just like you, only she's kind of tiny and little.  You know?  Like a cute little bunny rabbit!"

So I turn around to see little Miss Cottontail, and she of course wears a size 0, is approximately 19-20 years old, and has an ass that just won't quit. She also has her beautiful blonde hair twisted up into to some kind of  cute little "it took all of five seconds to look this adorable" bun thingy.  She all but sprinted past us with a little wave and a smile, and she certainly isn't sweating because it's such  nice day outside and who would break a sweat during something as simple as a little jog? 

Despite the many years that I have been out of high school and away from organized sports, I have managed to retain enough of a competitive streak to get myself into trouble.  So, I hike the sweatpants over the love handles, towel off my face (which makes me wonder if it had rained at some point and I hadn't noticed), and against all better judgment, start to pick up speed.  You guessed it!  I'm going to pass her.  I summons every last particle of energy that I can muster and push the stroller past her.  It only lasts about 30 seconds, and when I get to the bottom of the hill, I throw up what appears to be one of my lungs, but at least I had passed her!!  Ha!  Take that you little wretch! 

Somehow I got the stroller back into our driveway, and that little fuzzy, stinging sensation in my head was starting to get better.  And who comes by all smiles and waves?  Yep, that adorable little energizer bunny.  Well, she may still be going, but for a brief moment, despite the c-section scars and the boobs that were slapping me in the face...I owned that road.