Momma’s boys aren’t so bad

Remember a few weeks ago when I was complaining about being sick when you have kids? This was the exact opposite of that experience.

I came home from work the other night with a splitting headache. When I greeted my boy with a tired “hi”, he asked why I didn’t sound excited. I didn’t realize I was ever excited, but I didn’t question it. I explained that I had a headache, took some medicine and went into the bathroom to change into my pajamas.

By the time I came out, my little man had dragged my pillow downstairs and set it up on the couch along with a cozy blanket, so I could lie down. He tucked me in, read me a story he wrote in school, called The Runaway Hot Dog and brought me a glass of ice water.

He kept insisting that I nap because as he put it “sleep is the best medicine for a headache”, but I was trying to monitor my email until the work day was officially over.  He was not going to take no for an answer. I needed a nap and I was going to take one, whether I liked it or not. He took away my laptop, kissed me on the head and gave me a stuffed giraffe to cuddle with.

He told me to let him know if I needed anything else, put a stuffed animal over my head to hide my eyes from the light he couldn’t reach to turn off and went to work drawing me a pretty picture to make me feel better.

I closed my eyes, feeling loved, lucky and reassured. I must be doing something right….at least with this kid.


Parenting is “awful awful awful awful….

….and then, something incredible happens, and then awful awful awful awful awful.”  (Anthony Andersen’s only memorable line in an otherwise forgettable movie – The Back-Up Plan)

Trust me, I never thought I would relate to a line from a Jennifer Lopez movie this much either.  But it’s true.  Anyone who tells you different is lying, has fantastic live-in help or is on better drugs than I am.  (If you are one of those people, tell me where I can get the good drugs, please!)

Before the hate mail begins, both of my kids were meticulously planned and my husband and I have tossed around the idea of having a third more than a few times.  If I could afford the live-in help (and a bigger house), I would be a proud mother of 3-4 right now.  So don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I love being a mom.  (This paragraph is for the stupid people out there who might think that I don’t.)

But I am not one of those moms who runs around telling you how wonderful being a mother is and how much I enjoy every single second, because….well, for one, I am honest…some would say to a fault.  And two, that kind of bullshit talk doesn’t do anyone any good.

Parenting is hard and there is no use pretending otherwise.  There have been studies in reputable journals that I read about in grad school.  Parents are less happy on a day to day basis than non-parents.  It’s a fact and one that is easy to believe if you take, I don’t know, half a second to think about it.  (I remembered the lesson but promptly forgot the source and the context, so please don’t ask me to prove it.)  Moms out there, think of all the things you did today that you didn’t want to do.  Count them.  Now think about all the things you did today that you really, really wanted to do for you.  I would bet you anything the first number is far greater than the second one.  (Interesting tidbit, in focus groups if you ask moms what they like to do in their free time, most have a really hard time listing something non-kid-related that they actually get to do regularly.)

On the first list, I have changing diapers…Well, actually today was a pretty good day – I went out to breakfast with friends, threw dinner in the crockpot and took a really long nap.  So my numbers would probably be roughly even today, but trust me, that’s an aberration.

Instead I shall think about all the things I could have done today if I didn’t have kids to…um, ignore while I napped, like go to a movie, make a fancy dinner, sit in my jammies with some wine in front of some non-animated television shows.  I would have organized my closet or at least thought about it doing it more than I did.

But my point is that telling everyone how wonderful motherhood is can be dangerous, on so many levels:

  • Those without kids need to be prepared for the reality of it.  They know kids are cute.  They don’t know that you pee every 2 seconds while you’re pregnant and sometimes when you sneeze.  They don’t know that you are really more tired than you ever thought possible (and not just for the first 3 months – that’s another lie).  They don’t know that you don’t get to pee alone.  They don’t know that once your kids start talking, they NEVER shut up.  They don’t know that only about one millionth of that constant chatter is cute.  They don’t know that the house gets dirtier faster, that stepping on LEGOS hurts like a mother—- and you can’t even say that word anymore.   They need to know these things.  They need to make an informed decision.  The world would be better off if people knew how hard it was and acted accordingly.
  • Those who have kids know all about the incredible moments (or they should have fallen into the above category).  They don’t need someone to tell them how much they should be enjoying every second.  They need someone to commiserate with when their kid craps in the tub.  Or says “I hate you” for the first time (still waiting on that one over here).  They need to know that no one gets everything done.  That everyone yells at their kids more than they would like.  That myself and some other moms I know admit to eating off of paper plates and living out of the drier.  They need to know that they are not supposed to enjoy every second.  No one does.  That doesn’t make them a bad parent or a bad person.  It makes them human.  (I am in fact ignoring a sink full of dishes and literally piles of dirty clothes as I type this.)

So my advice to all of the moms out there is – enjoy the good moments and find someone bitchy with a sick sense of humor with whom to share all the other moments.  Tell everyone else to go to hell.

FYI – if my honest to a fault approach doesn’t work for you, you can read Glennon Melton say all the same stuff far more eloquently here.  I actually started writing this post ages ago and lost steam, but reading her article encouraged me to breathe new life into it.

I fear and respect the escalator

So I fear and respect the escalator?  What of it?  Just finding that picture, I came across half a dozen news articles about kids getting stuck in escalators.  What some might call irrational fear, I call prudence.  I like to pause to make sure that my foot is planted firmly on a step before I get on.  I like to make sure to have one hand resting on the railing.  These precautions make me hesitate and do a little dance with my foot raised.  You should see me trying to get on escalator, with a suitcase in one hand and a cup of coffee and my coat in the other.  It’s really a sight to see.  Throw in a cell phone and I am practically paralyzed.

Everyone has weird, little fears and phobias, right?  It’s nothing to be ashamed of and to prove it, I am going to list some of mine:

  1. So there is the above mentioned escalator fear, that my friend recently called me on, having witnessed the little dance while shopping one night.
  2. Then there is the fear of my house being robbed and getting killed in the process.  At some point in my childhood (don’t ask me when, I have been like this for as long as I can remember), I decided that if someone was robbing the house downstairs, it was best for them to believe that they came and went undetected.  If they felt they were spotted, they might come upstairs and kill the witnesses.  As a result, whenever I went to the bathroom at night, I tried to be as quiet as possible, which included not flushing the toilet.  To this day, it’s the only toilet in the house that has one of those blue tablet things in it.  As a kid, I was also worried that someone might come upstairs and kill me anyway, even if I was innocently sleeping in my bed.  I thought I should make it as difficult as possible for the robber/murderer to find and identify body parts, so I would hide as much of myself as possible under the blankets.  I don’t do that anymore.
  3. Fear of driving in the snow or really any kind of precipitation.  Oddly, I was always afraid of driving in the rain, but only became afraid of driving in the snow, when I got into a 3-car-collission during a snowstorm in Vermont.  I wasn’t even driving at the time, but I was traumatized by the experience.  The silver lining, or so I thought, was that I made friends with a girl in one of the other cars.  She seemed funny, cynical and just a little bit mean – my kind of girl.  We exchanged addresses and I sent her a letter when I returned home.  She never wrote back.  I’m still bitter.
  4. Fear of cutting myself while chopping things.  This fear is fairly inconvenient since I love to cook and use dull knives, as a result.  I know, I know – dull knives mean you have less control of the blade and you are more likely to cut yourself than with a sharp knife.  My counter-argument – I am clumsy as hell, no matter what I am doing.  I regularly walk into walls and I do it so often I don’t even notice, much to my husband’s amusement on one of our earlier dates.  I am going to lose control of the knife no matter what.  So isn’t it safer to use a knife that can barely cut butter?
  5. Fear of water.  I don’t know how to swim, so perhaps this is a rational fear.  But because of this fear, I can’t take my kids to the beach alone.  Even if I am barely waist high, I worry we will all get caught in a riptide that will drag us out to sea and there won’t be a damn thing I can do about it.
  6. The fear that everyone might be as judgmental as I am.  Because of this, you will not catch me dancing in public, unless I have had several glasses of wine or my kids are around.  I am trying very hard not to pass this fear onto them.

So while I am admittedly judgmental, the good thing about having a list of irrational fears and other assorted quirks is that I will happily judge you for not being self-aware, but not for being who you are.  Example, I will judge you for not realizing you are crazy, but not for being crazy.

You can tell me just about anything about yourself, and I will never be the person who says “Wow, you are so crazy, it’s scary.  I no longer want to associate with you.”  Instead, I am the person who will say “Me too,” or counter with “You think that’s crazy?  Let me tell you about crazy….”

Go ahead, try me.

I know, I suck

I started this blog less than 3 months ago and I am already neglecting it.  I wish I could tell you that I had a really good reason, like I won the lottery or have been traveling around the world, but I can’t.

Instead, I have been alternately working on the second draft of my book or avoiding it because the amount of work involved seems like far more than any normal person could handle.

And other than that I have been overwhelmed by the monotony of daily life, which reminds me of a blog post I read and laughed at long ago at Hyperbole and a Half.  See the image below:

She draws lots of funny little pictures, so go read her blog and laugh.  And I promise I will post something I actually wrote soon enough.

Cooking with grandma

I cooked a lot of good stuff this week that I was planning to share with you guys.  But I am only going to share one that meant a lot to me, but was less than delicious.  (However, you should really cook this bacon-herb wrapped pork tenderloin.  It’s delicious.)

Growing up, my mom and I lived with her brother and her parents.  My grandparents were Polish, so some of the first curse words I learned were in Polish and we had lots of Polish food in the house.  Some of it I still hate (like tongue and cabbage), but I have always had a soft spot for pierogies.  I can still see my grandmother making them from scratch with the table covered in flour.  They were the size of saucers and light and fluffy.  She didn’t make them often, but I was always thrilled when she did.

For some reason, even though she did most of the cooking in the house, she never taught me how.  I guess I wasn’t interested in helping back then, and frankly, there isn’t much I regret not learning.  My grandfather had heart problems and couldn’t have any salt, so everything my grandmother made was horribly under-seasoned, with Mrs. Dash being the only type of seasoning that was ever used.  But I do wish I learned how to make those pierogies.

I have thought about teaching myself how to make them many times in the past.  I even bought pierogi making tools.  I threw those guys out long ago, but at my friend-Christmas, I got a cookbook by Nadia G.  I have no idea who this woman is, but hidden in this book was a recipe for pierogies.  My grandmother has been on my mind lately, because of the holidays, because of my book, lots of reasons.

So there I sat with this seemingly easy recipe and three more days off before I had to go back to work.  I decided it was now or never.

The kids and I gathered in the same kitchen she used to make them in (because I still live in her house) and we put together a bunch of homemade pierogies that were not awful.  They “helped” like I remember doing – mostly by watching and playing with the dough.

As I have mentioned previously, dough and I are not friends, so the dough was thick and sort of leaden, but I am hopeful that with practice I can make it work.  And I can picture her making them from scratch each time I try, even though our kitchen is no longer lime green and the table is no longer an orange formica.

You can find the recipe in her book, Cookin’ for Trouble or you can google Nadia G’s pierogies.  I didn’t think the recipe was  great, but I don’t know if it was my fault or Nadia G’s.  Suzie the Foodie seemed to like the recipe just fine.