Archive | January 2013

If You Loved Me You Would….(My Simple Requests For Those Who Love Me)

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If you loved me you would. . .

  • shut up when I am trying to think
  • talk to me the second I am done thinking
  • not ask me for one more thing
  • invite me to all your stuff
  • stop stressing me out with all of your invitations
  • compliment my clothes
  • tell me the truth about the frumpy brown skirt from J. Crew circa 2001
  • fix me dinner, but let me serve myself
  • take the kids, but bring them back the second I miss them too much to enjoy solitude
  • rub my feet
  • stop touching me
  • stop taking vacation when I need you at your post (ahem, therapist, talking to YOU)
  • take care of yourself so you can teach me how to take care of myself
  • read my blog but not take any of my crap personally
  • let me have things that are “just mine”
  • bring me flowers
  • stop bringing me shit I have to later clean up
  • appreciate all the things I do that you never know about
  • read my mind
  • stand up to me
  • let me be a bitch on an as-needed basis
  • call me on my children’s birthday
  • let me rant about the friends that make me stabby and not judge me for still being friends with them
  • never hide the chocolate
  • keep the chocolate out of my sight because OHMYGODIFEELSOFAT
  • let me listen to my radio station
  • introduce me to music you love so my life is both bigger and richer
  • understand that no means no, except when it means yes (please inferred)
  • understand that leave me alone means I need a hug (please inferred)
  • just please do the damn dishes
  • stop doing the dishes and come sit with me while I talk about myself some more
  • put me at the center of your world
  • let me off the hook by having a big world, some of which has nothing to do with MOI
  • see me, really see me
  • stop looking at me and let me hide
  • give me space
  • hold me close
  • let me in
  • hold your boundaries
  • laugh at all my jokes
  • be sincere– never pandering
  • hold me up
  • let me fall
  • shut me up
  • let me speak
  • look me in the eye
  • avert your gaze
  • help me soar
  • keep me grounded

Is this so hard?

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That Last Bag of (Expired) Breast Milk In The Freezer

My baby turned 2 yesterday. So naturally I celebrated with chocolate cupcakes and a bag of expired breast milk.
I know it’s customary to write an earnest epistle to commemorate a baby’s two years of life. But I am not ready to write that letter.  I am distracted by this bag of breast milk.
The last 8 oz

The last 8 oz

Because sitting with your last bag of breast milk– the bag that’s been buried under frozen guacamole from Costco and Popsicles that have passed their prime– is not a customary way to celebrate a life that is dear to you.

I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of the breast milk even though it expired 14 months ago. Even before it expired, it took weeks to find someone to donate my extra milk to because no one wanted my Zoloft-tainted milk.   With hundreds of ounces about to perish, I called every doula and La Leche League leader I could find to beg them to find someone who needed my milk.  It finally found a home to a young mother who adopted a baby.
I hold on to this bag of milk, even though I’m still nursing.  Seriously, am I supposed to just pitch it? When I look at it, I remember maniacally pumping when I thought I was headed back to work. All those hours with my sore nipples shoved in that plastic funnel thing.  There is so effing way I can bear to see those hard-earned ounces in the trash bin next to used tea bags and broken crayons.
But what to do with it?  I can’t carry it around forever like their baby books and bronzed shoes. Right?

Anyone have any creative or sacred rituals for those bags of milk that are past their prime? Because, honestly, right now I’d rather drink it myself than treat it like refuse.

How To Storm Out Of A Room

I’m not a stormer outer.

During conflict, I’m more likely to stay until every last crackling ember is cooled and all the tension is smoothed over like a worn penny.  I plant my feet, roll my eyes, and hold my ground like a martyr or a brick shit house.

But I guess there’s a first for everything.

I was ten minutes late, which means I had 80 minutes of group therapy left. I went in tense and coiled like a snake who’d just heard heavy footfall from her favorite hiding place.  My seven other group members were already seated (minus one who never comes on Fridays), deep in a conversation about Michelle Obama’s inauguration dress.

Whew! The conversation is light and fluffy. Let’s keep this up for 79 more minutes, I thought as I took my seat and mustered a weak smile at the Good Doctor who ministers to all of us.

I’ve sat with most of these people since January 17, 2005, so we all know each other very well.  That is, we know where the sore spots are, the hidden grudges, regrets and griefs that have been exposed over time.  We know where the buttons are, and on occasion, we push them.

Through the years, I have watched group members reach their boiling points– they’ve seethed and screamed “enough is enough!” while grabbing their jackets and the paper bags with their leftovers from lunch.  I’ve always thought it looked so satisfying to slam the door on all of us, leaving behind our prying questions, our inappropriate jokes and our rough hands that beg to work over someone else’s problem, regardless of how resistant he or she might be.  As a group, we can be a huge pain in the ass.

But, like I said, it’s not my style to storm out early.

Until Friday.

They were getting on my already-frayed nerves. It had been a long, roller-coastery week– UP I climbed when the venerable Huffington Post ran one of my pieces, and DOWN I crashed when I read some of the comments that seemed to criticize my parenting.  Then, that morning I fell farther down as my favorite jeans felt tight.  You really don’t want to fuck with me on the mornings that my jeans feel right.  Trust me. 

Then, it happened.  Someone said something that I didn’t like.  In therapy-speak, I was “triggered,” and suddenly, the subversive thought popped into my head: Just leave.

Since I’m a stayer, I didn’t listen.  But, the persistent voice got louder: JUST LEAVE.

Next thing I knew I was all action: I snatched my coat and backpack from behind my chair and my cell phone from the window sill.  A quiet euphoria filled my lungs. I decided against slamming the door– this was my first storm out so I didn’t want to be too dramatic.

I got to the elevator and realized how mad I was at all of them and the Stupid Doctor.  I hated them for asking the wrong questions, focusing on the wrong part of my story, and for being up in my business.  I let the tears of frustration out as I rode the elevator alone.

By the time I got to the street, I was really bawling, and I didn’t really care. It felt awesome to storm out. I wouldn’t have to see any of those mother f*ckers people for a few days.  Go me!

My phone was buzzing in my hand, and I saw a text pop up on my screen: You left your wallet up here. Do you want to come get it?

Um, the whole point of a bright yellow wallet is to be able to spot in when fleeing.

Um, the whole point of a bright yellow wallet is to be able to spot it when fleeing.

Oh, for the love of Freud’s pecker, I forgot my fucking wallet the one time I decide to stomp out of group.

Now I had to face all of them. How could I possibly hide my bitter tears from them? I was supposed to be strong and valiant– not weakly crying in front of the Disney store, tucking my tail so I could go get my wallet.

I’ll spare you the details of my humiliating return. Think prodigal daughter meets Girl, Interrupted.

With a few days distance, I am now poised to give you some advice: If you are going to storm out, be sure you grab all your shit.  If you have to choose between your hat and your wallet, leave the damn hat, because you’re going to need the train ticket that’s in your wallet to get home.

How Come I’m A Bigger B*tch When I Get To Sleep In?

Jeff and I have a delicious new routine: on the weekends, we take turns sleeping in.  Prior to this new glorious era of getting to sleep until 8:00 AM once per week, we all got up together gamely trying to embrace “family time” starting around 5:45 AM.

On those mornings when it’s my turn to sleep in, it’s simply glorious to loll in bed, hearing faints sounds of my children yelling — in glee or agony, I don’t care, since I’m not on the clock– and know that Jeff has it all under control.  Their footsteps, voices, and banging around are like a lullaby as I let myself drift all the way to sleep’s farthest horizon.

This Saturday, I did the early shift when Simon woke up at 5:30 AM.  I greeted Simon cheerily, because he looks cute in the morning, but also? Sunday would be my day to sleep in.  In 24 short hours, I’d be in nirvana.  Saturday unfolded typically– meals were eaten, games played, dishes washed.  I was in a pleasant mood, despite my early morning call.  I was industrious, pleasant and energetic.

When Sunday morning came, I slept until 8:10 AM, which was as decadent as it sounds.  For someone who slept for about 10.5 hours, shouldn’t I have been whistling happy tunes and floating on air all day?

You would think.

But, I was grumpy as hell. It was as if all that sleep allowed my cranky self plenty of time to refuel so she could hate on the weather, the messy condition of the family “art” bin, the reception on her cell phone, the debt ceiling.  There was no end to the things that “rubbed me the wrong way” yesterday.  And the worst part of all was that I had puh-lenty of energy to give to my negativity.

And this wasn’t the first time that sleeping in produced a crankier, surlier version of me.  It also happened last weekend too.  Looks like a pattern to me.

When I am exhausted from a pre-6 AM wake up call, I don’t have enough energy to tend to all of my anxiety, dread, shame and fear.  You know, those pretty flowers in the garden of my personality.  On enough sleep, there is enough gas for me to focus, really focus, on the pain of not knowing whether I am getting fat or not, or whether we’ll intervene in Syria or how the kids will perform on the SATs.  There is all that extra energy lying around to curse the gray skies of Chicago’s winter or wonder why everyone is more successful at life than I am.

It sucks.  It makes me think that I (and the people who have to share space with me) would be better off if I just kept my edge off my never sleeping in. I thought it was a law that more sleep would make me feel more better.

In fact, I’ve been banking on my theory that as soon as my kids are a little older and sleeping later, I will be pleasant about 95% of the time.  Naturally, I assumed that my bitchiness was simply part of sleep-deprivation that comes with having young kids.  Now, I have to rethink that. Maybe I’m  just a bitch.

How To Get Your Kids To Listen To YOUR Music

I am not a huge January hater. In fact, there’s lots that I love about January: the “new slate” feeling, the crisp air, the rush from surviving the holidays, and the fact that I seldom have to worry about sweaty pits when it’s 10 degrees. It’s actually one of my favorite months.

 

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But the frigid temperatures and icy winds do require me to use my car more often. And driving with my kids presents lots of challenges, but the chief one? Their taste in music. I wrote about this over the summer (here) and I got so many great ideas from the comments to the post. The best idea, never let your children listen to their own music in the first place, won’t work for us. That ship, as they say, has already sailed.

Since the best idea wasn’t possible for my crap-music enthusiasts, I have had to spend considerable time “redirecting” the choices we make around music.

Here’s what’s worked best.

Lies.

I know, I know. It’s wrong to lie, especially to the people for whom I am a role model (*shudder*). But hear me out. These lies are in the gray area because they could be true . . . and they would be, if Disney music wasn’t utter crap and the rest of the pantheon of “children’s music” didn’t make my ear drums bleed.

I need these lies. Sadie is the most insistent that we listen to Ariel sing about getting out of the sea or Cinderella singing some drippy song about Prince Charming. I recognize it’s a situation of my own creation, as I let her have the CDs when she received them as gifts. Then, I proceeded to record them in our mini-van, because I am stupid most of the time. Now they are burned into my car so I am screwed. So screwed.

But, I’ve been sneaking in some of my music. A little Mumford & Sons or Bruno Mars or the occasional Fun. It never went over well with Sadie, who wants to hear her princesses.

This is where the lie happened.

“Sadie, listen to this! It’s Pocahontas’ new song– it’s about her bravery in a fire.” Then, I play Alicia’s Girl on Fire, and BOOM! Sadie thinks it’s a “princess song.”

The other day I played Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, and I told her it was Cinderella.

I may have pushed it too far when I told her that Willie Nelson was Aurora’s grandfather and that Lyle Lovett was the beast from Beauty and the Beast. (Sorry, Lyle, it’s nothing personal.)

Are they lies? Yes. But don’t you think that lies that further better musical taste and create a bearable commuting experience deserve some respect?  (Rationalizing, like a good liar!)

I Made Up A New Word To Describe Parenting: “Harderful”

As a society, I think we are this close to overdoing the phrase “there are no words.”  Since that saying bugs me, I have started making up my own words, to prove to that yes, indeed, there are words, but you gotta make ‘em up.

Take parenting.  It’s so complex and life-altering to parent.  If you say, “it’s wonderful,” you sound like a Pollyanna D-bag who is hopped up on prescription drugs. Because, while it is often wonderful, that’s a shallow description of something that, oh so often, isn’t all that wonderful. (See, bleeding nipples, being up all night, changing diapers after your son binges on black olives).

On the other hand, if you say, “it blows chunks to be a parent,” that’s also one-dimensional because it doesn’t cover the high of seeing your child learn the words to a Willie Nelson song (“Faded Love”) or recognize Costco from the highway.

So, I made up a new adjective:

Harderful: adj., an experience that is both intensely wonderful  in the deepest and most fundamentally fulfilling ways, but also harder than you ever expected as the experience required of you more guts, stamina, and sheer willpower than you knew you possessed.

So parenting? It’s really effing harderful.  (Also harderful: travel to India, recovery from addiction, law school.)

My ferrets

My ferrets

While it’s certainly possible there is a bona fide Queen’s English word that is a synonym for harderful, I haven’t met that word yet, and harderful is starting to stick. I am going to talk to the Microsoft, Apple, and Instagram people about getting it added to the lexicon so your auto-correct won’t turn it into “harder ful” (because that’s such a great and oft-used phrase).

To be sure, there are experiences that are purely wonderful. I wrote about a recent one here on the Huffington Post about a grace-filled moment with my daughter during her abortive first dance recital.

And, yes, there are experiences that just blow chunks.  I wrote about one here, and here, and here.  Just last night, I snuggled into my bed alone since Jeff’s out of town.  At midnight, Sadie pole-vaulted herself on top of me and proceeded to scissor kick me all night long.  Except for when she was donkey-kicking Simon, who joined the calisthenics around 1:30 AM.  It was like sleeping with two feral ferrets, kicking, clawing and grunting their way through my REM cycles.  It sucked a whole lot, but also? It was sort of wonderful in that sleep-deprived, someone-get-me-some-effing-personal-space-pronto sort of way.

You know. It was harderful.

I Was Born For Missions To Target For Windex and Tampons

I was born to lead top secret CIA missions.

That was the first not-quite-realistic thought I had while sitting in the darkened movie theater, feeling breathless from anxiety about whether Ben Affleck was going to be able to get the hostages out of Iran in Argo.

It looked like it was energizing to face a very armed Iranian revolutionary soldier.  The secrecy and the adrenaline rush of clandestine operations appealed to me as I nibbled my Clif bar that I snuck into the theater (which kind of proves I am awesome at being secret-agent-y) during the matinée.

By the time Jeff and I were out on the sidewalk, I had convinced myself that a life with a little more . . . danger was exactly what I needed.

I’m up for it!  I convinced myself.

I was supposed to be perusing the menu for a quick lunch before our babysitter clocked out, but I was thinking about how long it would take me to master Farsi.  I gave myself six months, then I ordered a burrito (to demonstrate that I had already mastered “menu Spanish”).

Oh my god, my legal degree! Surely, it would make me eligible for all kinds of “state secrets.” I visualized that Obama himself would give me “clearance” and a badge and that special briefcase that agents always carry in the movies. Would he let me have a floral backpack instead? You know, to make me seem less threatening.

This is GREAT news! I love promotions and I bungle stuff all the time

This is GREAT news! I love promotions and I bungle stuff all the time.

Uh oh, did Jeff just say something to me? I think he asked if I liked the movie.

“It made a big impression on me,” I said, hoping it was an answer to whatever he asked me.

Would I get to make up my own code names for my missions?  As I bit into my food, I was thinking I would name my covert operations after popular nail polish colors: Operation Ballet Slippers or Operation Lincoln Park After Dark.  Who would ever say, “Hey, why is your top secret operation named after nail polish?”

Uh oh, Jeff just said something again; he’s looking at me as if he wants an answer.  Clearly, I would have to get better at multi-tasking if I planned to rise through the ranks at the CIA.

“You seem distracted?” Jeff said.  Clearly, with Jeff’s level of attention to detail, he would have to be briefed by my bosses on the declassified parts of my missions. And of course we’d have to update our wills and get more life insurance on me, since I’d probably die first.

“Me? Nah. I was just thinking about . . .  my schedule,” I said, practicing lying to the person who knows me the best.

“What are you doing this afternoon?” he asked, unaware how my new career was about to plunge our lives into uncertainty.

Wait! Maybe he should join with me. Nah, that was a horrible idea. He’d inevitably upstage me, and this whole CIA thing? It needs to be something “just for me.”

“When we get home I am taking both kids to Target,” I answered truthfully, which would really throw him off.  He’d be all When is she lying? When is she telling the truth?

“Two kids at Target during rush hour? Good luck with that,” Jeff said, standing up to put on his coat.

Wait. He’s right. My afternoon is gonna suck. Panic was rising.  Sure, they are cute and their combined weight is less than 70 pounds, but honestly, they can take me down. Hard.  It’s happened before.  They are dangerous.

“Jeff? I’m never gonna be in the CIA am I?” I asked, sensing my newly-born dream was about to die a swift death.

Once he stopped laughing, he gave me an honest answer– something to the effect of “no F-ing way.”

He’s right.

Turns out I was actually born to run missions to grab tampons and Windex at Target with my two-and -three-year olds.  That’s danger enough for me.