Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mommy Wars - Baby Edition

Moms are a curious breed. While our male counterparts are out competing with each other via the size of their TVs and trajectory of their golf swing, our greatest weapons are our children.

It starts during pregnancy. There's nothing a group of women love more than surrounding a pregnant first time mom-to-be and bitching and moaning about how awful their pregnancies were, how long their labors, how the doctor noted that it was the biggest/longest/most dangerous whatever he had ever seen. If you've wondered if there's a secret scorecard system, there is. It goes something like this:

Straightforward, vaginal delivery - 1 point
Unplanned c-section - 1.5 points
Planned c-section - .5 points
Emergency c-section - 2 points
Drug free - 3 points
Labor Under 12 hours - 1 point
Over 12 - 2 points
Over 24 - 4 points

etc. Bonus points awarded for things like pooping on the floor, yelling FUCK YOU! to anyone in the room, and having the presence of mind to tell off one or more of the medical staff because they are not following your birth plan. I SAID NO HIP HOP! YOU ARE RUINING MY CHI!

After delivery and recovery, we can move on to the really cutthroat part of the competition. Bottle or breast? If you nursed, for how long (bonus if your child refused to ever take a bottle!)? When was he holding his head up? Sitting? Crawling? Do you make your own baby food? Is it organic? How much does he weigh? He seems awfully tall. Is he tall? Look at all that hair (I always win this one)! Then, the penultimate goal for the first year - when did he start walking?

There's always some nutjob in your circle who insists that their infant is either potty training or reading. There is actually a process called "elimination communication" in which you run to the toilet every few minutes with your wee babe and hold them over it. When they invariably produce something, you can announce to your friends and family that your child is potty trained at 8 months.

The commercials for the your-baby-can-read programs are equally ridiculous. I do not believe that an 18 month old can sit down and read. I call bullshittery. If they can, I've said it before -big deal. Your baby is reading, but he's also still shitting his pants. I'd rather have a kid who can use a toilet than one who can read Green Eggs & Ham.

If you have a kid who can read and does elimination communication - you win. I can't compete with that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Body is Weak

Now here's a funny thing - I wrote that big long post about how much I love to run, then got up this morning and looked at the rain outside and the giant dreadmill in the bedroom and said "Screw it. I am not running."

And I wouldn't have, had I not been goaded by my husband and in-laws, chanting "I love to run...I love to run."

I ran. It sucked. I wish my motivation was a little more reliable.

I am bound and determined to lose the last 10-12 pounds of Henry baby weight before summer time. It's all gathered in a pendulous meat apron that Jame Gumb would love to get his hands on. But I'm also really hungry and a little lazy, so it's a constant internal battle.

I want pie.
You're wrong. I do want pie.
I do. I should have pie. I deserve pie.
I thought cookies were a gateway food?
It's coconut cream pie.

Tonight is mom's night out. I pray there's not pie, I don't think I could resist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why I Run

Two years ago, I sat on my friend Sarah's couch and said "Have you heard of the Couch to 5k? I think I'd like to try that."

I was just making conversation. I never had any intention of running, anywhere, for any reason. I was 50 pounds overweight, just starting to finally fight the baby weight that came after Katie and stayed for Julia. I have never been an "athlete". I very briefly played volleyball in high school, until they figured out that I couldn't play volleyball. And I discovered I'd much rather hang out with the theater people and get stoned. You can not run and smoke doobies. Fact.

I controlled my weight in my late teens and through my twenties with a steady diet of Marlboro's and Diet Coke. Then babies and thirties hit, and hit hard, and I found myself sitting across from a lifelong exerciser and saying the most ridiculous thing I've ever said.

Imagine my shock when she called me the next week and said "What day can you run?"

The first time we ran (and I use the word loosely), it was one time around the quarter mile track at the YMCA. I lumbered around the track, red faced and sweating, sure that the pounding in my chest was an impending heart attack. I wanted to die. I wanted to cry. I was embarrassed, not only to be doing this in front of other people, but that I had let this happen to myself.

Then Sarah said something I will never forget - "You are not going to die." Really, are you sure? Because it feels like I'm going to die. "You are not going to die." Oh, bullshit. I am going to fall over dead right here and you are going to have to drag my fat ass off the track. I am either going to die because my heart is going to explode, or I am going to die of embarrassment. "You are not going to die."

I ran for the first 2 months in a heavy, cotton, long sleeved t-shirts and long black leggings, and the same pair of shoes that had been gathering dust in the closet for at least 5 years. I wanted to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. If I could, I wanted to blend into the pavement. Despite a sports bra, my boobs flew around like great heaving melons. My butt bounced. My gut...I don't even want to tell you what my gut did.

I made every excuse to not run. It was too hot. It was too cold. I had a plantars wart. I had a hangnail. I had to poop. Anything. Sarah wouldn't stop calling. She kept at me, encouraging me, bullying me, and one day - telling me we were going to run a 5k together. She was insane.

Around the third month of torture, something amazing happened. I didn't hate running. I was almost looking forward to it. My body was changing, responding to what I was doing. I had muscles under all that flab, who knew? When our race day arrived, I was excited, nervous, and in a state of disbelief that I was actually running in a race. Finishing was nothing short of euphoric.

I ran all spring. I got within sight of my pre-pregnancy weight. I started calling Sarah instead of the other way around.  I got pregnant.

What. The. Hell.

I got pregnant. I kept running. I got really pregnant. I stopped running. I had an amazing baby and the weirdest thing happened. I started running again. No one was more shocked than me. It turns out, not only do I not hate running - I like running. I LOVE running. I want to do it and talk about it and plan when my next race is. I want to run faster and longer and harder.

I have spent my life concentrating on doing things that come easy for me - planning parties, making food, eating. I don't really do hard. But running has given me something nothing else has - an immense, deep, personal satisfaction in doing something I never thought I could do. I'm never going to win a race, and it doesn't matter. What matters is that I keep moving - when it hurts, when I'd rather sit on my ass, when it's easier to say I can't.

I run because I can.

You Wanna Piece of Me?

I am non-confrontational. Exceedingly so. I avoid rocking the boat, making a fuss, causing a stink, being a squeaky wheel. I would rather suffer in silence (or, bitch incessantly to my husband) than mention a problem.

It causes me anxiety. I get all panicky and short of breath and shaky and I get that big lump in my throat that make me feel like I'm trying to talk with a grapefruit stuck in there. GAHHH CAAAHN I PLEEAZZE TAHHHK TO YUUUU? I have a hard time articulating my thoughts. I tear up. I might cry. No, I will cry. I get the hot face.

To avoid confrontations, I am - generally - a really nice person. I try to be helpful and friendly. So when I learn that someone is talking smack about me, my first thought is "Why would anyone not like me? I am really fucking likable!" My second thought is "That really pisses me off!". My third thought is "I can't wait until Sean gets home so I can take it out on him!" Poor guy.

I could take a lesson from my mom.

The other day we were leaving the mall, mom was finishing buckling up Julia. An elderly woman had pulled up behind us, waiting for the spot. She honked.

"Did she just honk?" I said.

Mom replies, "Yes, she did. I think I'll just stand here for awhile."

Now, here is my chance. I can say "Hell YES. Make the old bat wait!" or, I can freak out and hiss "GET IN THE CAR!" What do you think I did? Mom gets in and rolls down her window.

"OMG. What are you going to do? Are you going to flip her off?"


"Stop! Roll your window up! Are you 12?"

I pulled out of the spot and had to restrain myself from giving the woman an apologetic wave. What I should have done, what I would have done if I had any balls, was go over to her and give her the old what for. Old ladies don't scare me (okay, a little bit). It's not that I'm scared of people, it's just that I'm scared...of...of...I'm scared they won't like me.

I'm scared that some random stranger out there in the world won't like me. That is sick. Maybe I do need to go back to therapy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I love a good brunch. There's nothing better than the options of brunch - no other meal lets you slop sweet next to savory without apology quite like it. It's also a leisurely affair. You can sit and chat for a couple of hours and nibble and drink too much coffee and leave feeling full and warm and happy.

Even more so if you are fortunate enough to share it with good friends, like we did this morning. Even MORE so if your hostess chases your baby around for you while you sit on your arse and drink coffee.

My standard brunch dish is quiche. It's portable, versatile, and good warm or at room temperature (and I'll even eat it stone cold). My version doesn't even pretend to be good for you. The custard base is simple:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Good grate (maybe 1/8 tsp) of nutmeg

I love nutmeg in all creamy things. I tried to get all artsy with my photo, and right after I snapped this, I knocked the bowl with my hand and the nutmeg fell in the custard and I had to fish it out with a fork. Slick.
 My favorite fillings are onion, spinach, cheese and bacon. For this one, I used:

1 bag baby spinach (tearing off any big honking stems, but not worrying about little ones)
4-5 (depending on how it's sliced) bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 oz favorite cheeses (I used white cheddar today, because that's what I had. A mix of white cheddar and gouda is very good.)

Fry up the bacon and onion until the bacon crisps up and the onion is translucent. Add spinach and continue to cook, tossing, until spinach is completely wilted. (Use this opportunity to sing Quiche Lorraine by the B-52's, even if you're not making quiche lorraine. It's about a poodle named Quiche, but that's neither here nor there. I can't not sing it, just like I can't not sing that stupid I want my baby back-baby back-baby back jingle when I make ribs.) The bacon is nice and salty, so I just give it a couple of good grinds of pepper. Remove from heat.

Line pie plate with unbaked crust (your own or store bought). Spoon spinach mixture into crust, sprinkle cheese over the top, and then pour the custard over the mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until set and golden.

It's very good.

Now I'm off on a B-52's tear. I saw them live in San Francisco in 1990, with Ziggy Marley as the opener. I can't for the life of me remember who I went with, and that may be due to the weed fog that permeated the venue. You know how some bands use smoke machines? Ziggy Marley used enormous bongs. The contact high (yes, I said contact high) was so powerful, not only can I not remember who I was with, but I also lost everything I knew about the geography of Asia. To this day, I get cold sweats if I go to Chinatown. I have a hard time navigating my way to the restroom at the China Buffet.

Enjoy the quiche. Don't smoke pot and expect to remember where Bangladesh is.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Happy birthday, Henry.
I have been sitting here staring at a blank screen, trying to think of the best way to describe my sweet boy. He is, simply, perfect. A few pictures from our family celebration!

You are perfect, Henry, and I love you so much. What more can I say?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Henry's First Haircut

I have hairy babies. They come out with a head full, and hairy ears and buttcracks and, in Julia's case, hair on her upper back. Julia especially was like a pet monkey, so soft and furry. Their hair is not just long, it is thick, wavy and grows out as much as down.

Katie's first haircut was at 10 months, performed with trembling hands by yours truly. Just a bang trim, but the end result was something like this:  / I waited until Julia was 3, and took her to see my hairdresser mom. She rode into the salon all curls and attitude and demanded "just a little trim".

As the boy approaches his first birthday, he's looking a little shabby. In some pictures he looks like a little Beatle, in others he looks disturbingly like a tiny Hitler. It was time.

At the salon:
Curls are still there!
And one more shot, because he's such a handsome little man.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Work is for Suckers

There is a chance that at some point in my life, I'm going to have to go back to work. I am going to have to sit in some stupid office while some jackleg bosses me around. I desperately hope that doesn't happen (because I don't know how I'll find time for my weekly coffee klatch at Panera and my hours spent surfing the internet doing...uh...research.) but it might. God forbid, it might.

Unless - unless I come up with a really awesome way to make a boatload of money without actually doing any work. That is legal. And doesn't involve a webcam and a small pony.

One of our dreams is to run an organic farm with a small restaurant attached to it. Then I'd also put in a little bookstore, and at night I'd work on The Great American Novel. And then I'd start a community garden and revamp our school lunch program and fund a scholarship for children of migrant workers and go back to culinary school and learn Spanish and take fencing lessons and become a world class fencer then write a musical based on my life, which I will star in on Broadway.

It's not vision I lack, it's focus.

I have no knowledge of anything scientific-y, and all the easy inventions (the wheel, sliced bread, wine in a box) have been done. All other types of inventions are too haaaaaard, and my resources are all concentrated on keeping my kids from sticking forks in the electrical sockets.

The Pioneer Woman pretty much ruined anyone getting discovered and handed a gazillion dollars for writing a stupid blog. Thanks, bitch.

Can you get paid to window shop at Baby Gap?

It's not that I don't have skills, it's just that I don't have skills that translate into a paying job. Can I pick crusty boogers out of a baby's nose? YES. Can I cook a meal while doing math homework, helping Diego jump to the next level and find Baby Jaguar, and nurse an acrobat all at the same time? YES. Can I talk on the phone while googling the 1947 Best Actress Oscar winner and trying to think of a way to work the phrase "cornhole toss" into my blog? YES! YES! YES!

The only job these things qualify me for is the one I currently have. And I'll be honest, the pay is shit. But the perks are pretty great.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sam's Party

I think it is a pretty special thing when you find friends and like the children as much as the parents. Such is the case with our friends Will and Tina, and their kids Sam and Annalee.

Sam, 4 years old, rock star, lover of dinosaurs and Peter Pan, Julia's future husband. Sam wins out over Jackson, her other suitor, because he doesn't run when Julia tries to kiss him. When in doubt, pick the guy who doesn't run away.
If the ball is any indication, Sam knows how to party.

Today was Sam's birthday party. It was a great little shindig with a fabulous spread (Question: How many dinosaur shaped pimento cheese sandwiches can I eat? Answer: Seven. In my defense, they were small dinosaurs.), no injuries, awesome goody bags (oh, how we mothers are judged on the quality of the swag!) and one slightly disturbing pinata.

All pinatas are required by Pinata Law to be disturbing. Some, more than others - those of you familiar with the Donkbee know what I'm talking about.
There is only so much realism that can be achieved with watery paste and newspaper. So Sam's pirate pinata kind of looked like a cross between Blackbeard and Jesus. Jesusbeard. Argh! The power of Christ compels hit me with a stick! Follow me and I shall spew forth a bounty of tiny chocolates and plastic jewelry! Or I'll make you walk the plank! I managed to only get a picture of the back of the pinata, so you'll have to take my word on it.

The kids had a blast, of course. Look at Annalee, isn't she cute?

And how happy is this kid? (Note the theme sweater!)

Happy birthday, Sam. You're one cool kid, and I'm glad we're friends.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth

A friend had tickets to the circus that she was unable to use, and offered to sell them to me for a generous discount. Part of me is finds the circus morally repugnant in their treatment of animals, but a bigger part of me can't resist a $9 sno-cone, so we went.

We didn't tell the girls where we were going until we walking into the coliseum. On the ride there, we told Julia we were going to a fishing and boat show, to which she responded "Fishing and boat show! My favorite!" There is nothing quite like the enthusiasm of a four year old. As you can imagine, she was really excited to learn we were really going to circus.

And I have to say, it was really quite good. Lots of music and dancing and costumery and prancing ponies and death defying stunts. But the highlight of the show was the elephants.

One elephant in particular.
For the grand finale of the elephant performance, they all stand on their hind legs and turn in a circle. Pretty impressive on it's own, but this one elephant took that moment as an opportunity to have the most massive bowel movement of it's life. I'm sure that elephant poops are, on the scale of animal poops, normally pretty significant. But this big fella must have had a Thanksgiving sized feast before the show, because the sheer quantity of poop was really astounding. He was like a giant Rainbird sprinkler, showering the center ring with dung.

I don't know that turning in a circle on their hind legs while pooping demonstrates any special skill on the elephant's part, but it's certainly not something I could do. It's all I can do to concentrate on my business with one kid wanting to know the answer to a math problem, another trying to convince me that she can make a milkshake by herself, and the baby trying to climb into my pants as I sit on the toilet.

By the collective "Whoa! WHOA!" shouted by the audience, I'd say everyone was just as impressed as me.

Another memorable bit was the weirdly homoerotic performance of the two strongmen. When I think "strongmen", I picture some dude hoisting a big barbell, or pulling a truck, or wielding a giant mallet.
What I don't think of is a dude hoisting some other dude. They were huge, graceful and very, very odd.

But the best was watching the girls watching the performers. Even Henry, before he decided to go to sleep, was clapping and laughing. Every time someone new would come out, Julia would turn to my mom and whisper "This is my favorite part!" She fell asleep within minutes of getting in the car, clutching her pink plastic circus pony. Maybe she dreamed of the ponies or the tightrope walkers or the circus clowns. Or maybe, like me, she dreamed of pooping elephants.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Be Mine

There are two bright spots in the otherwise asshole of a month that is February - Henry's birthday and Valentine's Day. We're coming down off the high of Christmas and birthdays, and settling in for the long stretch of blah before spring breaks through and makes us all feel human again.

Cold weather people we are not.

So, even though Valentine's Day is a ridiculously manufactured holiday aimed at lining the pockets of chocolatiers and teddy bear stuffers, we indulge. The first sign that Valentine's is drawing near is the arrival of a package from Mama Erin and Papa John.
Katie says those are Elmo gloves. It's almost impossible to get her to be normal for a picture, and Julia's gotten into the habit of doing this head tilt thing, like she has a horrible crick in her neck, or a goiter she's trying to hide.

The little monkey got a little monkey, holding a little monkey.
And speaking of little monkeys - this was in the paper this past weekend. It is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen.
The girls worked on their class valentines.
While Henry fed the dog.
For his help, Henry was put in the stocks for the remainder of craft time. He wasn't happy about it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Looking for Oscar

I just finished Junot Diaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, a really good, really different book about a tragically overweight Dominican supernerd. It made me think about all sorts of things, but it really made me think about My Oscar.

Everyone went to school with an Oscar. Usually a male, a kid so geeky even the geeks think he's geeky. My Oscar (and let's just call him...My Oscar. Why not.) was a schlumpy, Dungeons & Dragons dork with lank, greasy hair and the most horrible case of cystic acne you have ever seen. It crept up out of his shirt collar, climbed his neck and exploded on his face like some sort of great zit volcano. It was red and angry, sometimes weeping or worse - scabbed over from incessant picking and scratching. I sat behind him in biology and would watch as his hand rubbed his face and neck, or slipped down the back of his shirt. I'd try to concentrate on Mendel squares or fetal pig parts or anything, anything! But I could always hear the scritch, scritch, scritch. Is it any wonder I barely passed the class?

It was then that I decided if any of my children ever had a skin problem, I would take them to a dermatologist, pawn the priceless Hummel collection, sell my organs - whatever I had to do to make sure they would never have to endure what that poor kid had to. Every time he went to school. Every time he looked in the mirror. 

He was also a really nice guy. The kind of guy who would laugh along with the kids who made fun of him. I wasn't mean enough, or popular enough, to make fun of him, but I also wasn't secure enough in my social status to say anything to the people who did. And why didn't he say anything to defend himself? Maybe he thought it was easier to laugh it off. Maybe he was scared of making it worse. Maybe he was smart enough to know that high school isn't the end of your life, it's barely even the beginning.

I was curious to know what happened to this kid - did he move on to bigger and better things? Is he still living at home playing D&D? So I thought I'd go looking for Oscar. I started where every smart cookie looking for a lost someone starts - Facebook. The search took about 2.7 seconds, and there he was.

Kind of anticlimactic.

He looks happy. His profile pic shows a smiling, confident fellow in tie. From the public information, he's both an IT guy and an ordained minister (interesting). He has...wait a second. Dude has 387 friends on his Facebook. Clearly, he's moved on. I'm almost euphorically happy at this discovery, and I start typing in more names. The paste eater.  The girl who smelled like pee. The guy who looked like he was wearing a sweater vest when he took his shirt off.

They're all okay. At least as okay as their Facebook page suggests. I didn't see anyone with a profile pic of them behind bars, or with OMG MY LIFE SUX for a status. Based on my limited sampling, it seems like everyone discovered the same truth as I did: Eventually, we stop being the breakfast club and start being just people. People who fail and succeed and live and love and lose just as much as the next person, regardless of whether our hobbies are sports or video games. Whether we went to prom or not. Whether we were the class hottie or the wallflower.

There is an awesome program called the It Gets Better Project, aimed at gay and lesbian teens. It's a great idea that should be expanded to identify with every teenager who feels isolated or hopeless, confused about who they are or where they're going. In other words, every teenager. They all need to know that being a teenager sucks, but it does get better.

Just ask My Oscar.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I was a bookish child. I read in the car, at the dinner table, under the covers with a flashlight. I woke up early to read before school. I wore my eyes out trying to finish a chapter before fading out in the wee hours. My parents encouraged me to read, and did one of the best things I think you can do for a kid - restricted nothing. I read books I had no business reading (and really, books no one has any business reading. Flowers in the Attic, anyone?), books that terrified and enlightened, books that had to be read alongside the dictionary. Books that opened my eyes to worlds I didn't know existed.

I've learned more about religion, culture, history and psychology from popular fiction than I ever learned in school. I've met a more horrible villain (in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian) and a crueler villainess (in W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage) than ever conceived by the scriptwriters of Law & Order. Our politicians could take a page from Thackeray's Becky Sharp on how to do in flagrante delicto with style. Hell, I wouldn't even know what in flagrante delicto was unless I was a reader! It is nothing more than being fairly well read that makes people think I'm smarter than I actually am.

I've read books about things I never even knew existed (like black slave owners in Edward P. Jones' The Known World), and things I'm terribly ignorant about (pretty much everything that was not covered in US and World History during high school. Which is a lot.). I love to read about places that might be (Narnia, Wonderland, the Shire) and places I'll never see. It is an amazing thing to know that knowing something, being somewhere, being someone else - is as simple as sitting down and opening a book.

I started this entry with a list - five books everyone should read. It turned into ten books everyone should read, five books no one should read, five books that changed the way I think about things, one book I'm reading now, five books I have on deck to read, and so on. Instead, I'll close it with a shot of Julia 'reading' the book I'm reading now. This one I would recommend restricting to your young readers. Unless you want them cursing you in two languages.

Go. Read something.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Silent Treatment

When I was a kid, there was no punishment the cut me as deeply as when my father would not speak to me. Reserved for the most grievous of errors, it was a harsh and horrible consequence that could last for hours or, on rare occasion, days. My father was a physically intimidating man, but more terrifying that an angry look or raised voice or even a spanking were his silences. I imagined a red sea of rage boiling behind his closed lips.

This morning, Katie asked for five dollars to buy a hair bow from a teacher at school. I told her she could earn the money this afternoon, and then buy the bow tomorrow. What a good mom I am! What a wonderful idea! What a great way to turn it into a teachable moment! But it wasn't the answer she wanted so she took the money off our dresser, threw it outside onto the sidewalk, and then tried to convince us that she spotted this manna from heaven through the window. What an amazing coincidence, this five dollar bill, right as she needed it so desperately! Then she lied her way around her lie, digging herself deeper until she was finally sunk.

Sean and I were too dumbfounded to be angry. Our kid doesn't steal. Our kid doesn't lie. Our kid understands that you earn privileges. Right? Right?

I drove Katie to school in silence. I could see her in the back seat, her eyes red and watery. I didn't say anything, because I didn't know what to say. I was angry, but it was much more than that. I was sad. I was deeply, deeply disappointed. I thought about my father, and his brooding silences and wondered if I mistook sadness for anger. I wonder if he sat there, much like I did this morning, thinking "What have I done wrong, and what do I do now?"

Every day I learn how little I know about being a parent.

I know what it feels like to take a long ride with someone who is not speaking to you. I know the feeling of staring at the back of my mom or dad's head, thinking if I stared hard enough I could see their thoughts and know exactly how awful my punishment was going to be.  I know the shame in that silence. The agony in not knowing. I held her hand and kissed her cheek when she got out of the car. I told her I loved her and to have a good day. I've thought about her all day, and wondered if she's done the same.

Tonight, we'll sit down with her and her a long, painful lecture. Because it's important that she understand all the things she did wrong. Because it's important that she understand her punishment.

Because I can't stand the silence.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Character Building

There are some things I just will not do. I will not take the big trashcan to the curb, or bring it back in. I will not stick my hand down the garbage disposal. And I will not call and order a pizza.

The trashcan is disgusting. It is big and gross and smelly and I don't like dealing with it. The garbage disposal is also gross, with the bonus awfulness of being dark and containing bone crushing, flesh ripping blades. There could very easily be something horrible lurking down there (like a mouse, or an old piece of potato) ready to gnaw my hand off (okay, maybe not the potato). No freaking way am I putting a hand down there.

The pizza...I don't know. The pizza people are nice enough. The process is simple - I know my phone number, my address, and what I want on my pizza. But I freeze up when they answer the phone. I stutter and stammer and, no kidding, get all sweaty trying to order a pizza. I don't have a problem ordering Thai food, it's just the pizza. What the hell?

Before the godsend of online ordering, Sean used to like to make me order a pizza. If I wanted pizza, I had to order it. I developed a distaste for pizza, a psychological defense mechanism to save me from 'the call'. It was borderline cruel. He said it was good for me, that it would build character.

Build character. Firstly, what kind of horrible shape is my character in that you think ordering a pizza is going to build it up? Secondly, pizza ordering would not be at the top of my list of character building activities. Volunteering. Performing manual labor. Birthing and raising children. These are character builders, not eking out the words "large thin crust supreme".

I'm dedicated to improving my moral worthiness, so I tried it. The typical conversation went something like this:

"Thank you for calling Character Builders Pizza. Delivery or Carry Out?"

"Ummm. Delivery?"

(Sean yells in the background: "ASK IF THEY HAVE ANY SPECIALS." Good God. Like this is not difficult enough as it is.)

"What can I get you?"

"Do you have any specials?"

The guy then proceeds to tell me a bunch of stuff that I do not remember because I'm not really listening because I am looking frantically for a pen to write down all the stuff he's saying because I know I will not remember it.

I turn to Sean:
"No, they don't have any specials."

Continue on for 3 or 4 minutes in which I stammer out an order that may or may not be what everyone decided on. I will also, undoubtedly, forget the chicken fingers or cinnamon bread crap that will cause one of my children to say "Oh my gawwwwwwwwwww, Daddy said we could get thaaaaat."

Isn't your character enhanced just thinking about it?

But now, we have online ordering and I will never have to order pizza over the phone again. Sean, on the other hand, still has to take out the trash.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mother Knows Breast

I'm an unlikely lactivist. No one in my family breastfed. At the time Katie was born, I had no close friends, or even acquaintances, that had breastfed. I don't even own a pair of Birkenstocks. And yet, when I finally got the hang of it with Katie, something really kind of amazing happened. In the midst of all the hormones and emotions and doubts and concerns and obsessive worry about what kind of mother I might turn out to be - I found a quiet moment where nothing existed but me and my baby.

Nursing Katie was rough in the beginning. I thought we were doing okay in the hospital, under the guidance of the Tit Nazi (the one who grabbed my boob and shoved it in that tiny mouth). But when we got home, I freaked. Katie cried and cried and my milk didn't come in. My support system, trying to be supportive, suggested I give her a bottle. I didn't want to, and I don't even know why. I don't know why, suddenly, it was so important to me to breastfeed. Before having her, I'd had a pretty take it or leave it attitude, but now it was a matter of pride. Of failing, without feeling like I'd even really tried.

I will always be grateful to a stranger at La Leche League, who talked me through those first five days until my milk came in. For my husband and mother, who indulged me and helped my syringe feed Katie. Who kept encouraging me through those first weeks of sore nipples and toe-curling latch. Within a month I had forgotten how awful those first few days were.

I fell in love with my daughter in those still moments of middle of the night feedings. I felt all the stress and anxiety leave my body as my milk let down. I watched as she grew and got fat on nothing more than what I provided her, and that is something that still amazes me.

When I went back to work, I continued to nurse. I pumped while at work (which takes every bit of sweetness out of breastfeeding. There is nothing relaxing about being hooked up to a milking machine. Moo!) and she got bottles at daycare. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't horrible. She weaned at a year, my milk supply and her interest both dwindling.

And then came Julia. The Barracuda. Who sprang forth from the womb with her mouth wide open, a natural nurser. I remember her at 1, a mouth full of teeth. Friends would watch her cuddle up to nurse and gasp "You're still breastfeeding?" I never considered myself an 'extended nurser', but I happily nursed her until she was 2 1/2.

As Henry approaches his first birthday, he still nurses frequently. His daytime feedings are efficient and all business, because he has better things to do. But when he's ready for sleep, or just waking up, he'll cuddle contentedly for the longest time. Sometimes, he'll pop off and give me a milk drunk smile. It's those moments that take my breath.

I know that breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone, for many reasons. I've had friends who have had issues and gotten frustrated and stopped, and I don't blame them. I've had friends who've had a horribly tough time and kept at it, when I am sure I would have given up. Every mom has to make the choice that is right for her and her baby. I'm lazy and cheap, so breastfeeding was the obvious way to go.

I read stories and hear from friends who've had a bad experience nursing in public. I've nursed babies in restaurants and stores, in the elementary school and during church, in the middle of meetings and movies. I have left a place to nurse in the car, but only when it would be more comfortable and less distracting for my baby. I have never been asked to stop nursing, or leave an establishment. In fact, with the exception of one elderly woman (who said "It is so nice to see a young mother nursing.") I have never had a stranger comment on me breastfeeding.

It has been so deeply satisfying and rewarding to me, in a way I never could have imagined in those first, stressful days. Henry is almost certainly my last baby. I am storing up the memories of him nursing - the funny half laugh, half cry before he latches on, his warm smallness curled up against me, a little hand rubbing my chest, dark eyelashes on a fat cheek as he drifts off to sleep. He is beautiful, and right then, it is only us.

Me and my baby.