Category Archives: Imperfect Mommy

Happy New Year … Proboscises, Puke, and Panic

I didn’t make it til midnight last night … fell asleep on the couch in the middle of our New Years Eve party. The little lady came down with the second stomach bug in one week and was up all night throwing up and expelling foul humors. Thus, so was I. So I was literally pooped. The first bug came on Christmas night. Why is it that stomach bugs only hit during the night? This time the new big girl bed was covered with french fry and chicken nugget vomit. And given that the big girl bed is new, I think she thought I was taking it away when I started stripping it. This did not go over well. Thankfully it’s all put back together and she is on the mend. Apologies to our party guests… although I don’t think it’s the first time they have seen me sleeping on the couch.

Our house has been sleeping so horribly the last few weeks that I sort of forget what a string of good night sleeps feels like. It seems one of us is up at 2 AM for some reason… hubby because his sinuses are so messed up he can’t breathe, daughter because she is puking or thinks 2 AM looks like morning time, and me because I am in the midst of yet another panic attack. I have had so many diseases in the last month or two that I should be getting a trip to Disneyworld sometime soon. But just like many other things in my life, I can’t seem to follow through on my diseases… liver failure disappears in a day, stomach cancer symptoms disappear after a few weeks, and even the irregular heart palpitations only last a day or so. I think my unexplained weight loss is over (and I couldn’t even enjoy it) and my period even came as expected.

All I am left with is anxiety, hyperventilation, and muscle tension. Hmmm… wonder why everyone is out of sorts? Here’s to a 2005 of healing — healing the wounds of 2004 and healing the things we have lived with for years that we are too scared to change. I, for one, think I am ready. Happy New Year!

Wonder if Joy and Marvin made it to Tuscany?

Today I am sitting in maternity jeans and a Gap maternity t-shirt that desperately needs to be washed. The only make-up I have on is the concealer on my pregnancy-induced chin zit. My hair is in an up-do I like to call a pony tail. I have a project-related deadline, so the little lady will probably be watching movies all afternoon.

There will be no limousines. There will be no glorious 70 degree weather with not a cloud in the sky. There will be no bouquets and arrangements with so many lilies that I still remember the smell. There will be no receiving line where a Mrs. Robinson type instructs the groomsmen not to tell her husband that they all saw her in the local bar earlier in the day. There will be no huge party for 200 of our closest friends where the night ends up with grown men on shoulders with bow ties around their necks, but no shirts on. There will be no huge cake that I don’t remember even tasting. There will be no best man who is irate that he has lost his rental cumberbun, only to find it after he “lifts up” his college-created beer belly. There will be no sign which says “Congratulations Cole and Kristin,” which when turned over says “Congratulations Joy and Marvin” (a couple who must have had great taste in reception sites). There will be no getting drunk (for me at least).

Nope none of that.

But, ten years later I couldn’t be happier and more amazed at what our lives have become. Happy 10th Anniversary Baby. We thought we might go to Italy to celebrate. Instead, we will probably have some takeout, get the little lady to bed, and let the pregnant mamma rest on the couch. Maybe a ceremonial toast and a dance to “She Belongs To Me.”

Much has changed in ten years. But most has not. I love you.

She Belongs To Me, by Bob Dylan, Performed by the Grateful Dead

She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back
She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of the night time
And paint the daytime black

You will start out standing, proud to steal her anything she sees
You will start out standing, proud to steal her anything she sees
But you will wind up peeking through a key hole
Down upon your knees

She wears an Egyptian ring, that sparkles before she speaks
he wears an Egyptian ring, that sparkles before she speaks

She’s a hypnotist collector
You are a walking antique
She never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall
She never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall
She’s nobody’s child
The law can’t touch her at all

Bow down to her on Sunday, salute her when her birthday comes
Bow down to her on Sunday, salute her when her birthday comes
For Halloween buy her a trumpet
And for Christmas, get her a drum

She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back
She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back
She can take the dark out of the night time
And paint the daytime black
She can take the dark out of the night time
And paint the daytime black

DotMoms: 4/8: Are you going to find out?

I have come to the near midpoint of my pregnancy and Monday will mark the big ultrasound. For many people, the overriding question is whether to find out the sex of the baby. Not for us. My husband and I have felt strongly that we are “people who find out.” With our daughter, there was not a chance in Vegas that we weren’t going to find out if possible. And now, with number two, we feel the same way. My whole philosophy is that there are enough surprises in the whole process that I would take one less thing to obsess over. It’s sort of like the people who have outdoor weddings versus those who don’t. Do you obsess for a year about what the weather will be like or do you just have it inside? We got married inside.

Now, I know that it would be cool to be surprised. But really how much of a surprise is it? It’s either a boy or a girl. Pretty known quantities. And I know that it’s not foolproof. I’ve heard all the warnings about the woman who decorated her nursery with flowers and bought all the pink clothes and then had a boy. (By the way, does anyone know that person in real life? Because I have never met her. Sometimes I think those stories are simply mother-in-law urban legends.)

My husband thinks it’s a boy. And my four year old daughter is convinced that it is a girl. For her, I think there is quite a lot of wishful thinking going on — as a baby girl sounds much more interesting than some creature who potentially may not have taken the Disney Princess Appreciation Course. And I think it might be a little wishful thinking on my husband’s part also — he is hoping against hope that there might be balance to the estrogen dominance in our household. He is looking for a creature who can appreciate the reasons why one must watch the same exact editions of ESPN’s SportsCenter in a back to back fashion.

And me? I go both ways. On one hand, I would love to balance out the tables and have a boy for our family. But in another way, I know what to do with a girl. I have all the clothes and toys boxed up in age increments in the basement (trust me, it doesn’t look as organized as it sounds). I would love to reuse some of it. We have pretty much decided that two children is our limit, so if I don’t have another girl, I will have to start giving it all away. But if I go with my gut, I am feeling like giving it all away isn’t going to be necessary yet. This pregnancy has been somewhat different than my first, but I still feel like it might be another girl.

Rather than obsessing, I am just going to see if the kid cooperates and is reclining in full spread eagle come Monday. It will all be secondary to simply making sure that the baby is healthy. That is the only thing I truly obsess over.

Trust me… I am still a mother

There are stories to come. It has been an insane week that I will have to talk about.

But, in the interim, I am fixated on the Katrina tragedy and how this could have gone so wrong. I am just really thrilled to read, however, how the mother of the president and our former first lady could go so eighteenth century on our asses… here’s her quote after touring the Astrodome:

“What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle), this is working very well for them.”

-Babs (can someone say “sensitivity training?”)

The Soccer Mom Mix

Something has reawakened in me. And I think it is me.

The last few days I have rediscovered my iPod. Music has always been a very important component of my life. I drive around with the right music on and everything in the environment seems to fit. It”s like I am behind the lens of a movie camera and all the shots fit perfectly with the soundtrack. I get clarity. But for some reason, I haven’t taken much interest in it lately. And when I say lately, I think I mean since shortly after my daughter was born.

Sure you are crazy busy and finding music and updating your iPod just isn’t your top priority. Neither is cooking. Neither is shopping. Neither is much of anything except around the clock care for your baby and the most basic personal hygiene for yourself. (and when I say basic, I mean one step above a homeless person).

Somewhere during the last three and a half years, I have lost myself. I think that I felt I had to give up the things I loved to be a more perfect mother (note title of blog, I think there might be a clue). I loved music, but the music now had to be what soothed and entertained my daughter. I loved to cook, but the cooking had a lot more to do with pumping, pureeing, and stuffing Oreos into my mouth. I loved to eat at great restaurants and enjoy time with friends, but — I don’t think I even need to go there. That ended. I loved to go shopping and get coffee, but nothing fit and most stuff still doesn’t and Lord knows you can’t have caffeine when you are breastfeeding.

I think it was a slow suck. I think I had to give so much of it up in the first few months that I just never made much of an effort to get it back. Then I just sort of forgot about it all. I’d occasionally hear music that caught my attention and I would still cook once in a while, but I wasn’t inspired by any of it.

But, for some reason, after last week and having my niece here, I realized she loved it when I was myself. My silly, crazy, imparting cooking tips, exposing her to new music-self. (see my DotMoms post) And my daughter does too. I have also recently realized the many ways in which I can make her giggle furiously and I think it might be my new goal in life to do just that. And I think finding a community of mothers and bloggers has been a great awakening — even though they aren’t geographically close, I realize that I am not alone in coming to grips with how freaking hard this job is and how uniquely we all approach it. Thank you to all the DotMoms and Mindy and Julie and Heather and Yvonne and (cue the music telling me I need to leave the stage).

So in the last few days, I have been scouring the iTunes Music Store to find some anthropological clues as to who I was. And it came… Iron and Wine, The Be Good Tanyas, Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, and lots of other old and new stuff. And I have been listening nonstop. On the treadmill. On my daily trip to Starbucks. While COOKING dinner.

It’s the music I like. It represents me. And apparently, I don’t have to give that up. And I Don’t Even Care That Some of My Recommended Songs Were Labeled, “The Soccer Mom Mix.”

Trying

After three years of trying to achieve “balance,” I recently quit my job as an instructional designer to be a full-time mom to my three year old daughter and an educational consultant (time permitting, of course!). My passion in life has always been writing; it is my source of sanity and better than Zoloft. When life gets stressful,the first thing I get out (after cleaning up pee and pouring a glass of wine) is my laptop. My favorite things to write about generally involve parenting, marriage, or politics (an interest that helps greatly with the previous two). I am also a recovering political blogger from the recent presidential election.

I love to cook great food and see cooking as a wonderful challenge to take seemingly unrelated items and turn them into something delicious. This interest also helps me greatly as a mom because my daughter has severe food allergies. I literally have to make nearly everything that crosses her lips. That challenge, and what I continue to learn from it, affects me on a daily basis. No cake at birthday parties, no off-the-shelf snacks, and preschools and relatives who don”t get how dangerous it all is. That all being said, I laugh a lot and try to appreciate every minute of her childhood. Some days I just have to try much harder than others.

Martha, Martha, Martha!

I am sitting here in my new office! After a few months of working on my new consulting business, I decided I needed to find some space to store my things (someplace not next to the coffee pot, which didn’t get all the way into the coffee maker the other day and spewed coffee all over the kitchen counter). As the barista, janitor, child care manager, instructional designer, and finance manager of my home business, I felt like maybe I deserved a small piece of space to devote to my work. It’s bad enough that when I went to the bathroom this morning and smelled an old pullup in the trash, I realized I had to take a janitorial break from my work. Never had to do that at the university.

Anyway, my darling husband sensed my impending insanity and painted our spare bedroom a beautiful shade of green and got it done in one day — an absolute record for any home project we have ever embarked on. The color is called Martha Stewart Creeping Jenny at Sherwin Williams.

It is really bright, but with the antique dark oak bedroom furniture and my new white desk from Target (as well as some cool acessories and my old color patch quilt), I feel like I am in someone’s cottage on Martha’s Vineyard.

I am really thrilled to have my own space, and because it is across the hall from my daughter’s room, she is loving having me next door while she plays in her room. It is just a much better set-up than working at the bar in the kitchen. And I now have work projects moving forward on several exciting fronts, so I can’t help but think, as Martha would say, that “it’s a good thing.”

Bush League

One of the best responses I heard related to a certain speech last night was this: “There is a famous old story about a man who is tried for killing his parents and asks for mercy from the court because he is an orphan.” It seems to me that you can’t do something incredibly stupid — something that everyone advised you against as illegal and/or immoral — and then ask for patience and leniency going forward with your new found colossal fuck up status. Unfortunately, the sentiment becomes “you got yourself into this mess, you better deal with the repercussions or figure a way out.”

The Mommy Obstacle Course, Still Going

After having a huge fight with my husband today about time with the family, work, and the same old bullshit, I came to the conclusion that I was very angry. I was angry about how much he has been traveling and the amount of mental energy he devotes to work (vs. home and family). He has a very flexible schedule, as he works in higher ed, but his mind is always with work. I couldn”t help but thinking of a post I wrote eons ago and had posted at my other blog, Mothers in the Middle, which became a political blog from a mother”s perspective. That ended after the election, as I just couldn”t stay so wrapped up in politics (mostly because my side lost). I thought I would repost it here… things just don”t change that much.
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The Mommy Obstacle Course

As I was talking to my sister on the phone the other day, I assumed she had a cold. When I asked about it, she started to cry and said, “I am just in a fight with my (expletive) husband!” It seems to be a common theme every time I get on the phone with my sisters, or other friends with young children. “To make it worse, he just told me I needed to buy this new book about how to take care of your husband!” Wow, that was bad. A comment like that invokes disgust in the minds of mothers everywhere.

It made me think a little more, though. As mothers who work both inside and outside of the home, many of us are damn mad at the other “50%” of our household partnership. We love them, but we are mad.

I, for one, am mad.

My husband grew up in a liberated family where both parents worked and his mother preached gender equity. In fact, he got a bad grade on an elementary school assignment when he was asked to connect the jobs or roles to the appropriate person. He indicated that mothers mow the lawn and fathers wash the dishes. The teacher didn”t agree. What has happened in the last 25 years?

We have one daughter, a seemingly easy task to anyone who has more. She is the light of our life and our world revolves around her. However, it seems that my world is the only one capable of staying in orbit. Not because I necessarily want it to, but because it has to. His orbit ebbs and flows based on his needs – no one else’s. If he has to go to the bathroom, he goes and spends as long as he likes in there. If he has an early meeting, he showers, dresses, and leaves.

If I have to go to the bathroom, and I am lucky enough to be at home, I have to pull my two year old in to join in the fun. It usually leaves thirty feet of toilet paper on the floor, my makeup scattered about, and my daughter playing with the caustic chemicals. Now if I am in public, my daughter ends up with the virus du jour on her hands from NEEDING to play in the sinks or crawl under the stalls.

If I have an early meeting or appointment, I have to prepare as if I had a degree in business logistics. I need to clear the event with my husband at least a week in advance to make sure he can drop her off at daycare that morning. I need to remind him a million times that he will be dropping her off. When I bring it up the night before, he will say I never told him and he doesn”t think he can do it. We then need to have a fight about the fact that I am the only one to take her to school and he never does anything. He proceeds to tell me that I am mean and I don”t understand the stress he is under at work. After that is over, I have to make her lunch and create the “supporting materials.” These go like this – “Her classroom is #3 which is across from her old classroom that you took her to six months ago. The code for the door is 2778. Our sign in PIN number for the computer system (which was instituted months ago and he has never used) is 08898. You need to fill out her paper, which is on the table next to the door, and put her lunch in the fridge in classroom #2. Make sure you tell her teacher that she has her lunch so they don”t give her something that will make her go into anaphylactic shock (she has major allergies).” The day of my meeting, I have to wake up, get showered and dressed, and then proceed to get her dressed, fed, and ready to go out the door. Then I have to get in my car and go to a meeting and try to say something coherent, when all I am thinking is Oh sh**, I didn’t lay out her mittens and hat and he will never remember to take them. Now the kids won”t be able to go for a walk this morning and the teachers at school are going to think I am a loser. Oh wait, he is dropping her off this morning… maybe they will just think he is a loser. Cool.” Back to the meeting.

My sister calls this process the “mommy obstacle course.” If she can get through it and jump through all of the appropriate hoops, she is allowed to exit the premises without her children. If not, better luck next time.

So, why are we mad? Because somewhere along the line, many of our husbands have become infants. They have reverted from their strong selves with enlightened ideas about sharing responsibilities to the biggest babies of the household. They need not only their time to sit in front of the TV, “work” on the computer (a.k.a. reading Sports Illustrated online), and go to the bathroom in private, they also then need us to take care of their every need. Laundry gets done, dinners get made, and bathrooms get cleaned. And even with all that, they still nag that their sex life isn’t what it used to be.

As Lisa Belkin put it in her book Life’s Work, almost all men are better fathers than their dads were because they do something — anything. And almost all women are worse mothers than their moms were because they have to do more. My husband changes a diaper and the world is supposed to stop and applaud. But I balance working from the office and working from home, taking care of my daughter all but three hours of the day, and managing the household, and I am still not as good of a mother as my mom was.

Maybe we should revolt and do nothing for a while. But the men probably know something inherently – we will not jeopardize our children”s wellbeing, which is a distinct possibility under that plan. So I think that’s out.

Maybe we should just not be as good at what we do. Maybe we should leave the house dirty, let the laundry pile up, and let the kids look like rug rats. Maybe dinner should be cereal and we should consistently forget the dry cleaning. If we started dropping the ball, maybe they would be forced to pick it up.

Then again, those huge piles of laundry would just increase the difficulty level of the mommy obstacle course.