Archive | November 2012

The Top 5 Ways Motherhood Proves I’m A Hypocrite (But I’m Too Tired To Care)

Motherhood– the subject that launched 6,789 blogs.  And that’s just this year.  I love motherhood– my motherhood– and it’s done a great deal for me and to me.  But this isn’t a post about my breasts or my ability to be selfless.

It’s about my hypocrisy that stares me in the face every time I interact with my children.

Can you relate to this?

  1. Sharing: It’s the top edict in my house. “Those are for everyone– please share the jumbo-sized Goldfish tub with your brother.”  “We are a Costco household– if we can’t share, then who can?”  If I charted it, I guarantee you that 8 of 10 comments I make to my children from the hours of 4 – 8 PM concern sharing.  And guess what? I SUCK at sharing. I am the worst person to share with, mostly because I just don’t do it.  I hide the best pieces of fruit so I can eat them later.  I eat my dessert really fast before my husband asks for a bite.  I hide, I hoard, and I scheme…I’ll do anything, just don’t make me share.
  2. Be Gentle: I’ve been pleading with my kids to be gentle with themselves, me and each other since they gained motor control.  “Oh, be gentle waving around that metal train Gramps bought you, because it will hurt when you inevitably sock me in the face with hit.”  There’s lots of talk (from me to them) about being gentle.  Meanwhile, do you think my mental chatter is gentle?  Do you think that pressuring myself to run everyday, keep up a good skin-care regime, cook healthy meals, and write awesome blogs and books sounds gentle? Maybe, but only if you compare it North Korean dictators.
  3. Sleep Will Make You Feel Better: Being a parent means having endless negotiations about sleep.  When Sadie is over-tired, I like to remind her that she will feel “so much better” after she gets some sleep.  Hmmmm.  That’s pretty interesting COMING FROM ME, who can’t seem to put herself to bed early EVER, and though I professe to love sleep, I refuse to nap because I’m busy blogging or writing or figuring out how to make a pie-chart to depict the percentage of my comments that concern sharing.  Here’s what I might consider saying to myself (in a Dr. Phil voice), “Sleep– it’s not just for your asshole 3-year old.”
  4. Let’s Do One Thing At A Time: When my kids catch on to how hypocritical I am, they may start here.  I love to tell them that I am happy to play with the Legos (FN1) (and by happy, I mean I have had enough Zoloft to tolerate it for about 7.6 minutes), but only after we clean up the Lincoln Logs, because– say it with me now–  “We only do one thing at a time.”  Lately, I have been adding “it’s the best way to maintain serenity.”  Putting aside the fact that I have negligible serenity most of the time, I am also typically doing about 4 things at once: working on laundry and/or dishes, while cooking/heating up dinner, and reading a book to the kids and Tweeting about how awful my Trader Joe’s burrito looks because I over-nuked it by about 10 minutes.  Where did my kids learn to try to do so much at once?
  5. It’s OK To Slow Down? What’s Your Rush, Kids?  While I spend half my time trying to get my kids to stop licking every rock on the path so we can get where we are going, I spend the other half trying to slow them down.  “Sadie, it’s not a race– take your time trying to measure the flour for the pie you are making your Mama.”  “Simon, slow down on the stairs. Mama won’t leave without you!” (especially since I don’t want to go to the park in the first place).  But, I am almost always revved.  I am the Waldorf School’s worst nightmare– I am rushing to run five errands during nap time, when I honestly only have time to do one.  I always feel as if I am trying to catch a trans-continental flight, and I never stop to tell myself to slow down.  Gulping food in the car on the way to preschool pick up, speed walking through the grocery store before bedtime….Rush, rush, rush.

No wonder my kids don’t listen to a thing I say.  I don’t either!

But, I think they are on to me.  Help me!  How can I keep up the ruse so they will do what I say and not what I do?

FN1: Doesn’t it seem like the word “Lego” should have two “g’s”? Is it just me?

Happy Anniversary to Christie O. Tate and Her Husband

Guess who’s been married for four years straight?

ME! That’s who. Oh and my husband Jeff.

Young love requires strength, fortitude and hydration!

 

I am celebrating by mulling over my latest obsession: maiden names.

My name is Christie O’Brien Tate. It’s the name I’ve had all my life.  It will always be my name, even though I’m married with two children, and I’m the only one in my household with the last name Tate.  For as long as I can remember, I planned to keep my maiden name.  Long before I read the work of Betty Friedan or Catharine MacKinnon, I knew I wanted my name to stay with me.

To read the rest of this riveting post, full of insights on modern marriage and post-modern feminist trends, click here to see my sage words memorialized over at BlogHer.

Dear Diary: I Am Obsessed With John F. Kennedy, and I’m 10 Years Old

When I come across my children’s diaries, I am going to read them.  I will apologize for intruding and violating boundaries later, but when the time comes, I am so going to read.

And, if either of them write the type of things in their notebooks that I wrote in mine back in 1983, then we are marching, not to a family therapy session, but to family in-patient treatment.

Vintage Hello, Kitty diary.  Are you there, God? It's me, Psycho Pants

Vintage Hello, Kitty diary. Are you there, God? It’s me, Psycho Pants

I like to think that I was an eccentric little lady, prone to dramatic emotions and morbid obsessions– all consistent with my artistic temperament.  Cute obsessions, like unicorns and add-a-bead necklaces, not weird shit like black birds of prey or the taste of my own blood.

But, when I started reading the pages of my old diary, I couldn’t help but wonder if I needed something I wasn’t getting.  Like very strong medication. Or electro-shock therapy.

Here’s my favorite entry :

My journal depicts my mournful journey to let go of John F. Kennedy, a man who died 10 years before I was born.  (I got a B in handwriting that year, and now you can see why.)

My journal depicts my mournful journey to grieve John F. Kennedy, a man who died 10 years before I was born. (I got a B in handwriting that year, and now you can see why.)

Real journalistic pieces were my bread and butter back when I was 10. This entry really captures the nation’s mood on the 20th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.  I had read an article in the Dallas Morning News, which lit a fire in me that raged for the next 12 months.  I became an expert on the details of the assassination.  I bored fascinated my 4th grade colleagues with facts about the grassy knoll and Lee Harvey Oswald’s last meal with his Russian-born wife (Marina Prusakova Oswald).

Surely my parents never read this, right? Wouldn’t you wonder about the mental health of your daughter if she was brooding for hours over John F. Kennedy, while listening to Juice Newton albums?

Personally, I think my use of quotation marks around the word “hating”is the creepiest part. Why did I do that?  Was I playing fast and loose with punctuation, or was I making some vague reference to culturally constructed notions of nationalistic rage?

Shouldn’t I have been curled up on the shag carpet reading Judy Bloom and wondering about my breasts like every other girl my age?

The good news is that after the obsession with Kennedy waned, I went full-bore into an Anne Frank phase that I am still traumatized from.  I am not sure that 10.5 year olds are supposed to do archival research on Holocaust victims without adult supervision.

But, you gotta admit, this explains some things, doesn’t it?

Towel Girl

“Christie, can you come down to my office? We are about to head over to the SEC to file our papers.”

This was the type of call I lived for as a first-year lawyer. The partner on the case had called me directly.  He needed my help. When my phone rang, my veins surged with eagerness.  He knows I exist! He just dialed my 5-digit extension! I must be real!

And I was ready for his call.  I had checked our client’s stock price and memorized the recent press releases.  I grabbed my notebook and my best pen—I would have done a few push-ups to really pump me up, but I didn’t have the time.

He was expecting me.

I was the most junior member of the team.  For weeks, I had fought to contribute to the case in a meaningful way, even though I had no discernible skills other than passing the Bar exam.

I was also the only woman on the team so I tried not to cry in front of the 12 men.

The partner was an up-and-coming rainmaker who worked as hard as he expected us to. He preferred to work with associates from the places that were familiar to him: Yale, Columbia, and Harvard.  I hoped that if I worked hard enough, he would forget that my degree was from a lower tier school.

As I walked to his corner office, I prepped myself for the meeting.  Stand tall.  You don’t have to be a man or a Yale graduate.  Go get ‘em.

He was standing in the hall as I approached.  I first noticed that he looked anxious, and second that he was holding a towel from the firm’s gym, which he extended to me.  “Christie, can you please use this towel to wipe down the spines of all our briefs? There are little flecks of white paper all along the black spines.  They are a mess.”

Exact replica of the spines I had to towel down, because FLECKS.

Exact replica of the spines I had to towel down, because the perforated pages created dust.  A big legal NO NO.

Without speaking, I took the towel and faced the 60 spines, flecked with dust as if they were plucked from a snow globe.  When the partner left, and I let myself think the most un-team-player-like thought a young associate can have: “Why can’t the paralegal do this?”

The door was open, so I tried to work quickly hoping no one would see what I was doing. I froze my face in an expression that conveyed that I was in no way humiliated by towelling down briefs so we could file them fleck-free.

“Christie, what are you doing?” asked the paralegal who popped his head in just as I was finishing the last box.  I held up the towel and shrugged my shoulders unwilling to say it out loud.

“Oh,” he responded as he ducked out and let me finish up in private. I wished I had the wit to pull off a joke with the punch line “throwing in the towel” or “being on the rag,” but I didn’t.  My sense of humor had vanished when I swiped the first spine.

As I completed my glorified housekeeping task, I knew I had played a part in being chosen to use the tools, not of a lawyer, but of a grounds keeper.  I was the one assigned to wipe the briefs because I stank of desperation, like the girl in high school who believes she’s compelled to give blow jobs just to get male attention.

But, I wasn’t 16 and thrust into a angsty after-school special. I wasn’t a victim.  I had shown the partner—and everyone else—how I regarded myself, and they simply followed my lead.

I was missing something that the other associates and the paralegal had: an unshakable air of self-respect and dignity– an “I don’t do windows” demeanor.  I didn’t have that in my core, and it showed.  That’s why I was holding a towel while everyone else worked on computers.

I returned to my desk convinced I needed to change my own thinking.  I didn’t need to change how the partner or anyone else thought of me.  I had to start with myself.

And when I changed, that job no longer fit me.

Trend Fail: Long Hair For My Son Isn’t Happening

There are certain parenting trends I want to follow (see monogramming the shit out of my kids’ stuff), and others I want to want to follow (see cloth diapers), and still others I wouldn’t touch with a long pair of stainless steel tongs (see putting my kids on a leash in the airport).

But, I thought for sure I would be all over that trend where you let your son’s hair grow super long, ala Kate Hudson’s son, Ryder.  Because, certainly, if I am going to follow someone else’s parenting decisions, I should start with Kate Hudson’s right?

Ms. Hudson's son, Ryder (image credit: http://www.posh24.com)

Ms. Hudson’s son, Ryder (image credit: http://www.posh24.com)

Ahem.

This trend had Oultaw Mama written all over it.  I am enchanted at the prospect of a gender-neutralized world, where my girl could wear her hair short without being called “dykey,” and my son could wear long hair without having his manhood questioned.  And, I tried to embrace Simon with long locks– little tendrils that curled on the end and looked adorbs when he woke up from one of his extra-long naps.

I was in full support of his androgynous/metrosexual side.

But his hair was in his eyes and it always looked greasy, even just hours after he had a bath.  Jeff hinted that a haircut “might be nice,” and I resisted.  Because, hello? We are working a TREND here.

But, just like growing your own marijuana or bedazzling a jean jacket, this trend is passing us by, and my sweet little boy looks exactly like a boy now.

Turning my son into a Republican

Turning my son into a Republican

I know he also looks like a little banker, or worse yet, a young Republican, but I wanted to see his eyes.  Every time I look at him now, I just marvel at his features, which are no longer hidden behind the weird little mullet thing he used to have.  Jeff isn’t in love with the cut, but I am.  It’s the cutest thing I have ever seen.

If only I could love my haircuts as much as I love his– now that would be a Christmas miracle.

I Finally Finished The Blogess’ Book And Promptly Called 911

I started Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened when I boarded the plane for New York City for BlogHer ’12.  And I just finished it today (almost 4 months later).  I stalled on completing it because I was afraid it would make me suicidal to see how funny and excellent her writing is.

So, as soon as I read the last page, I called 911 and told the operator that I was despondent because there was no point in living any more, even for my passion– writing– because Jenny Lawson had already done everything worth doing in her recent memoir and her wildly popular blog.

The operator asked me if I had a family. “What about them?” I asked.  The operator seemed to think that maybe I should consider living for them, instead of being a selfish coward by doing myself in just because Jenny Lawson is funnier than I am, had a wackier childhood, has a much more colorful array of stuff to write about, and is staggeringly talented.

“But, I grew up in boring old Dallas. My parents’ hobbies were 12-step meetings, antique-ing, and collecting wooden statues of praying monks. I can’t compete with taxidermy; Wall, Texas; and wire chickens!”

The operator was not impressed with my plaintive cries.

“Actually, collecting wooden statues of monks praying is the same thing as antique-ing, so really they only have 2 hobbies between them.  Goddamn it! It’s worse than I thought.”

911 operators are really obsessed with family.  She kept bringing the conversation back to my children– “how old are they?  what are their names?”

I hate being distracted from my pain, so I answered her questions and steered the conversation back to Ms. Lawson, the darling of the blogging world, who is not only wildly successful, but by all accounts, sounds nice as hell.

I read every single word.  Even the acknowledgements were hilarious, and turns out that Ms. Lawson thanked Brene Brown, whose book I read a few weeks ago.  Those two know each other?  If I lived in Texas, could I be friends with them? When I thought about how sad I would feel if I lived in Texas and wasn’t friends with Ms. Lawson and Ms. Brown, I started feeling depressed again, but didn’t call 911, but that operator should not have been so shaming to me. I was in pain. I thought 911 operators were trained to deal with “cries for help.”

Of all the bloggers-turn-book-writers I have read, and I try to hit them all, there is something about Ms. Lawson’s that got me the most. I know I wasn’t supposed to be crying at the end of those stories about her smuggling a stuffed alligator or being attacked by wild dogs, but I was.

Because she did something magical in her memoir, something I don’t know if I will ever be able to do.  But, with her book as my north star (or white whale, if you prefer), I will trudge through the rough drafts and crappy blog posts.  Because she set the bar almost higher than I can see, but not so high I’m not willing to make a running leap for it.

I guess she’s an idol of sorts, even though my first two books are fiction and not supposed to be funny, unless I find an agent who thinks they are hysterical, in which case, comedies– they are totally comedies.

As for Ms. Lawson’s book, you should read it– it’s seriously funny and light without being vapid and the writing is sharp and insightful.  I want you to read it and love it, but before you tell me how much you love it, just be sure I have taken all my medication and can tolerate your gushing over her.

The Homosexual Union Conversation Went So Much Better Than The Dead Dog One

Remember when I bragged about my parenting skills last week?

Oh, Internet, look at me! My kid is so saturated in tolerance and love that she cares more about squirrels than my explanation of why Gus has two mommies.

Well, I can’t win them all.  Our friend Gus, of the two-mommy fame, is someone we visited last Labor Day weekend.  Much about Gus and his family impressed my children, including his vast array of Sesame Street toys, his indoor trampoline, and his two large dogs.  The dogs scared the piss out of my children, who had yet to acquire a love and appreciation of our canine friends.  Over Labor Day, the kids slowly came to tolerate the presence of big furry animals lurking around them at the dinner table.

Turns out, however, that the current dog count at Gus’ house is now one, because one of them passed away recently.  And, I’ve got a little math wizard on my hands who has figured out that one is less than two and she wants to know what’s up.

So, Sadie wants to know where Gus’ other dog went.  Oh, how I love a curious mind. Except I wasn’t prepared for the circle of life talk.  I hemmed and hawed and eventually punted, saying, “Why don’t you ask Gus’ mommy (either one, just stop asking your mommy)?”  (If in doubt, punt to someone else who can parent your child.)  While I was stalling (“Sadie! Look at that squirrel! Hey, is that Cookie Monster standing in front of that Seventh Day Adventist Church!”), Jeff Googled “how to tell your young child about death– the pet edition,” but Google failed us by only offering links to Black Friday deals on crematoria for pets.  Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg, or whoever runs Google. Jeff Bezos? No? Well, who the fuck ever.

But, Sadie wasn’t up for delayed gratification.  She wanted to know where the damn dog went. Poor Jeff who isn’t quite the skilled liar that I am tried to give an honest answer, when he told Sadie that the dog “got really tired, and when things get really tired they have to go away.”  He gets a high score on the honesty factor, but he gets very low points because he scared Sadie witless, because now she thinks that if she gets too tired, she will “have to go away too.”

I actually  have no idea what she thinks happened to Gus’ other dog, but it’s safe to say that we inadvertently stumbled on a great way to get her to nap or go to bed early.  “Sadie…do you know what will happen if you get too tired?”

It’s cruel and it’s wrong, but if it works you will be so jealous.