Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I think the holidays suck.

When I was growing up, no one was as into Christmas as I was.

As a small kid on Christmas Eve, there was never much of an event.  We would get Santa some cookies, throw a carrot or two into the yard for the reindeer, and get ready for bed.  Besides the usual "shut off the lights and settle down", I would also get, "if you don't stop playing around in your room and shut up, Santa is going to skip this house!" thrown at me every few minutes. 

When I got a little older and knew that Santa's workshop was actually K-Mart and that the presents were kept in my parents' closet, my mother used to use Christmas Eve to meet up with her friends and get plastered, and my father and I would quietly and uneventfully watch TV until I decided that rastlin' wasn't very Christmas-y and I'd just go to bed.  Most of those nights, I would lay in bed having panic attacks believing that my mom would not bother to come home that night and Christmas would be ruined. 

Back then, my mother would be hungover in the morning and so she would refuse to get out of bed early, and my brother (who is 10 years older than me) and I would just sit there bored out of our minds staring at the tree, waiting for something to happen.  When my mother finally DID get up, she would amble about for a while and miserably sip a Pepsi while we opened our stuff.   I can't say that I was often disappointed back then.  My parents were always broke and yet somehow always managed to pull out all the stops for Christmas.  My mother (as you may know from my posts about her) has this belief that kids should have the things they want and that to disappoint them in any way is to scar them for life.  I am no psychiatrist, but I think my mother tried to show her love with presents.

Later in the day, my mother would start preparing for dinner.  We were not a family who believed that holiday dinners need to be eaten at 2:00, because that's much closer to lunch time (you idiots!), so the preparation wouldn't begin until halfway through the day.  We could expect to see one or two uncles, an aunt and a couple of cousins, along with my grandmother who lived down the block.  Grandma Virgie was in her 60's and a chain smoker, which was odd because for as long as I could remember she traveled everywhere hooked to an oxygen tank because of the Emphysema that she had from chain smoking.  Virgie was also a drunk.

When I was a kid, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was not just a stupid song that made us laugh.  IT WAS A WARNING.  Grandma Virgie would simply stagger home drunk in the snow after dinner.  Looking back, it seems really irresponsible for anyone to have let her stumble around outside alone in the cold and dark but I guess those were different times.

Inevitably during dinner, one uncle would get too drunk, start a fight with someone or everyone, and the police would have to be called. This happened every holiday that I can remember until I was at least 9 years old, when my grandmother passed away (oddly, NOT from emphysema) and we stopped getting together on the holidays at all and it became all the more depressing. 



Through my teenage years and into my twenties, it would just be me, my parents and one lone drunk uncle (it varied - I have a couple) on holidays.  There was nothing magical or sentimental and it really wasn't much different than any other dinner at home except for the total freak out my mother would do at feeling obligated to cook when she just wanted to be left alone. Back then, my mother suffered from depression and my brother had moved away to Florida (probably JUST to avoid having to be home for the holidays).  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I would listen to those fucking Christmas songs and the mental pictures of sitting around a roaring fire with all your friends laughing and drinking eggnog and no one calling anyone else a motherfucker or cunt and everyone being cheerful and giving wonderful gifts that they selected regardless of cost and out of pure love and respect made me truly HATE the holidays. So I took a job where EVERYONE hates Christmas. At the mall.


When I moved to Arizona, I loved not having to deal with the family at the holidays.  However, I never could get used to eating Christmas dinner on the patio next to the pool.  I continued to work in retail and the only reason it ever seemed like December was because work would suddenly get extremely stressful and I would threaten to quit more often.  For me, it never seemed like it was really Christmas at all, except when one of those fucking songs would ambush me while I was at the grocery store and all those feelings of wanting the perfect Christmas would well up inside me and make me feel like punching something. 

I always assumed that once I had kids or stopped working in retail I would be able to put the past aside and start to actually "feel the Christmas spirit".  But it still eludes me.  The last couple of years, Lila was too young to really anticipate the holiday and she really didn't care either way what was going on.  This year, I got so stressed out about not having money that I ruined it for myself.  I still want to give gifts that show some level of appropriate thought and emotion and I still want to feel like there is some kind of magic.  But I couldn't afford the gifts and the magic is tough to conjure when you're poor.

Lila was excited about the whole thing, but halfway through opening her presents found herself bored with it, wanting instead to go play with the Wii or take pictures with our camera.  This infuriated me more than I can tell you because (like an idiot) I overspent because I wanted her to see lots of boxes wrapped up under the tree.  So I bought her a lot of little things and apparently, what I gave her in quantity was lacking in quality.  For me, the lesson is that I was acting like my mother and not being the kind of parent that I want to be.  I don't want a kid who expects tons of shit for Christmas!  I want a kid who is willing to think of others and perhaps give some of her toys to kids that don't have any.  All I did this year was miss the mark. 

As for Christmas Eve...I wanted to have a celebration where the whole family comes over and we eat and talk and sing and watch Christmas movies.  But it turned out that everyone already had their own plans.  So Ben and I invited just the parents over and we had a small quiet dinner and then they went home.  Lila and I got cookies for Santa and put a bunch of carrots out on the porch for the reindeer.  We left him a note reminding him of the one thing she really wanted this year (big Tinkerbell coloring paper and paint to go with it) and we read The Night Before Christmas.  I admit, I fell asleep in her bed with her and "Santa" almost didn't come...but in the middle of the night I woke up and made sure that everything was in place so that she would feel that magical feeling when she came down the stairs to see the tree lit up with her presents underneath. 

After we were all finished opening the presents on Christmas morning and the three of us sat down to relax, I asked Lila if there was anything she wanted that Santa didn't bring her.  She thought for a moment and said, "he didn't bring any slippers for Daddy...or a new coat for you."  And I smiled because I realized that THIS was the kind of kid I wanted to raise.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just so that I have it written down...

Lila got bored opening her presents Christmas morning.  About halfway through, she began asking if she could play with OUR video camera and whined when we said no.

The same sentiment happened (and I was glad) over at Grandma's house when the presents just kept on coming out from under the neverending tree. 

I believe that she could have stopped after 5 or 6 items and would have been perfectly happy with what she got. 

And I had to set a new rule that morning.  If it takes me 30 minutes to get the toy out of the packaging, you have to play with that toy FOR AT LEAST that long. Why are they making kids' toy packaging childproof?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birthday for Jesus

Lila's father has some serious Christians on his side of the family.  Last year, Aunt Dale brought a cake to Christmas dinner and (in all seriousness....not as a joke) had us sing "happy birthday" to Jesus. 

I was telling Lila's father that we should bring the cake this year, and Lila yells out, "I think baby Jesus would LOVE a Backyardigans cake for Christmas!!!!"

Change "Donald" to "Jesus" and we're good to go.
I am going to order it today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More of that Christmas Spirit


One of my co-workers sat at her desk staring at the computer screen as if she was about to throw up.  When I asked her what the deal was, she told me that she'd just spent $500 on a computer for her grown son when she'd meant to spend $300 and he totally didn't deserve it because he is an asshole.  She said that he was rude to her the other day and she actually told him at that point that there was no way she was going to cough up the money for the $300 computer that he wanted and yet, here she was, spending money that she really shouldn't be spending on an ingrate when she could be using that money to do something useful like pay bills.

I did the same thing over the weekend.  Although completely determined a few weeks ago to show Lila that Christmas IS NOT about how many gifts you get, I managed to spend my entire (and I literally mean down to the nearest dollar) paycheck on toys, clothes, candy, games and stocking stuffers in a matter of 2 days.  I have no cash left to live on this week and had to beg her father to fill up my gas tank but dammit, Lila will have fucking magic on Christmas morning, at least for the 15 minutes it takes to tear the paper off all the boxes.

WHY do we mothers do this kind of thing all the time? 

I realize that Lila has no need for this crap!  I also realize that the majority of it will NEVER be played with after it's first time out of the package.  I realize that I am going to be behind on my bills and miserable without my morning coffee run at work for the next two weeks.  I realize that we do not HAVE that kind of money to spend on stupid toys and that since she is 3 she would not know whether Santa left 10 boxes or 25 boxes on Christmas morning.

And yet, there is this profound push by us mothers to get our kids more and better stuff.  To make them happier and more fulfilled at least once a year by buying Christmas gifts.  In a very rational way, WE ALL KNOW that this is insane and that this stuff makes them nothing if not more spoiled but we do it anyway.  Even when we can't afford to pay the cable and Internet and it gets turned off and we decide to live without it for a couple of months rather than to have to deprive our children of that extra toy or gadget (speaking from actual current personal experience).  It's fucking insanity. 

And don't even get me started about the stupid sense of obligation that I am fighting with to not buy dumb little token gifts for everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis.  Do I need to get a gift for Lila's teacher?  My co-workers?  My boss (-es.  I have 2)?  How about the guy at the parking garage that I see every day?  My mailman?  My neighbors?  Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws?  Isn't that what the entire point of the now 3 month, drawn-out holiday season all about?  Aren't I supposed to give and give and give to everyone but myself?  Don't I need to shop myself into a coma and then have the energy to invite all these people over for a perfect holiday feast so we can sit around a fire roasting chestnuts and singing carols?

At least, this is what the stupid idealization of Christmas says.  My kids should get everything they want and I should buy buy buy and no one should feel left out or neglected and I should be cheerful about it and sing and hum the whole time because, you know, 'TIS THE SEASON!!!!


I am going to commit to myself right now and ask that Lila's father hold me to this.  Next year, I will set a budget and that is it.   And it will be a small budget.  Maybe $200.  There will be hand-made gifts, so I will need to start planning around Halloween and I will not fight the urge to NOT indulge every wish my kid has, especially since as she gets bigger, the wishes will too.

Oh sweet Baby Jesus, there in the manger in my scraggly nativity scene, please give me the strength to not stress myself out like this ever again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Tis the Fucking Season

It is not in my nature to be one of those parents who goes to wait in line outside a toy store at 3am so that I can push, trample and punch my way to the hottest coolest toy just because my kid wants it.  It will just never happen.  Luckily, Lila's tastes are pretty simple and far-reaching.   

All year long, Lila sees toys on TV, screams and cries to Grandma, and lo and behold, they show up at Grandma's house within a few days.  Most of the year this is annoying to me (who is determined not to raise a spoiled asshole kid who thinks she is loved only based on what we give her) but whatever.  I cannot change the nature of my mother as Grandma. 

Thank goodness that everyone withholds that kind of spoiling during the month of December in lieu of waiting for the windfall that is Christmas.  Everyone, that is, except for Grandma.

Lila told me after Thanksgiving that there was only one thing she wanted for Christmas and that was the unicorn Pillow Pet (see previous post).  This was going to simplify things tremendously because Santa would bring that and then several cheap toys from Wal-Mart, some socks and underwear, and $10 worth of dollar store stocking stuffers and we would have another affordable and easy Christmas before Lila got old enough to know any better. 
Until last week, a few days before we were going to visit Santa.   I went to pick Lila up at my mother's house, and she was so excited to show me what "came early" from Santa.  My asshole mother went out and bought her the Unicorn.  And not only did she go out and buy it for her.  She gave it to her.  With less than 3 weeks before Christmas, my mother presented Lila with the one item she desperately wanted Santa to bring her. 

To complicate matters further, my mother THEN handed Lila the ToysRUs ad and told her to circle the things she wanted.  Lila circled a $1500 swing set, a $200 doll house, 3 bikes, a Barbie Power Wheels Escalade (so she can "drive her dolls around") and anything she saw that was related to Disney Princesses or Dora the Explorer.  At bedtime I tried to sit her down to explain that she can only ask Santa for a couple of things.  She was confused but said she would think about it. 

The next morning, she found a little pamphlet that had come with another toy that she's had for months.  If you've never heard of the Playmobil sets you're missing out.  They're actually kind of cool, if not a little too advanced for my 3 year old kid.  Lila decided she needed to have the amazingly detailed schoolhouse set and the hospital set which I believe has over 300 pieces.  For the next several days, all she talked about was asking Santa for the school and the hospital.  She specifically put the pamphlet into her Tinkerbell backpack so that she would remember it when we went to see him.  She stared at the pamphlet lovingly naming all the little characters in the picture.  I asked her if there was anything else she was going to ask Santa for and she said, just a coloring book and some paint.

Breakfast with Santa day arrived and she sat on his lap and told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted a play schoolhouse, a play hospital and some paints and coloring paper.  "That's it," she said.  Santa told her that she would have to be a good girl until Christmas and if she was he would do his best...

Later that day, I decided to go online to get some of this shopping nonsense out of the way.  I checked the big 3 toy retailers (Target, Wal-Mart and ToysRUs) and no one carried either the school house or the hospital.  Then I went to the Playmobil website and found out why.  THOSE SETS COST OVER $150 EACH.  This was going to be a problem.  This year, money being pretty tight and all, $150 was the entire budget for Lila's Christmas toys.  With the Unicorn Pillow Pet being the main event, that was not going to be a problem.  There HAD to be some other toy hospital set or school house I could get her somewhere, right?

I tried to talk with her and told her that the elves didn't make enough of those toys this year and that I didn't know if Santa was going to be able to bring her those.  She began to CRY and asked if she was being naughty (???!!!!)  WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!

My imaginary mean response would have been "Remember how the other day I told told you it was time to clean up your toys and you threw a fit?  Yeah, well Santa saw that and said a kid who acts like that is only getting a lump of coal."  But that isn't the response.  Instead I sit here feeling like my kid is going to be let down on Christmas because I really cannot afford to give her the things she wants. 

It occurred to me that perhaps paying in advance for the several years of therapy she is going to need because of all the times I have failed her as a mother isn't the worst idea.  She wouldn't really get it now, but I guarantee, when she turns 20 and doesn't have health insurance and realizes that she's turning into her crazy mother, she'll be grateful I thought ahead. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sleep envy

The other day I walked into the grocery store and saw a toddler knocked out sleeping in one of those plastic-car-on-front-of-cart things while the mother happily shoved her reciept into her purse and smiled on her way out the door.  I am still extremely envious of parents whose children sleep when they're tired.  My fucking kid still battles it every single night. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wow...This Kind of Sucks!

I have made some changes to BecauseMotherhoodSucks.  I added topical "labels" to each post and have them listed along the right hand side of the home page.  This only took me about 2 hours and so now I am too tired to post a new thrilling tale of how being a mother is again pissing me off.

But please, feel free to look at my topics and read posts that may be of interest.  If you want to be totally terrified, read my Post Partum Depression Diary.  Jesus Christ, I have no idea who that crazy lady was, but no one should have given her a kid. 

Selena

Friday, December 3, 2010

Awesome Relationship Advice from Non-Moms

I have said on numerous occasions that before I had Lila, I pretty much knew EVERYTHING there was to know about being the perfect parent.  No way would my kid refuse to go to bed or talk back to me!  Straight out of the womb they'd understand that there is a way we do things and they would adhere to that set of rules because they would KNOW the consequences. 

Well, this is total bullshit.  Ann you quickly realize that this being that you have brought forth from your loins is not actually a dog to be broken and trained but is actually a person with likes, dislikes, a will and a really super cute pouty face that you adore so much that you would do just about anything to never see that face sad.

The same was true before I had Lila when considering how I would act in any given love relationship with the father of my kid(s).  There were plenty of things I would NEVER put up with.  Joblessness? Leaving dirty socks all over the house? Snapping at me because of something totally unrelated?  Fuck that shit.  I would NEVER tolerate that kind of behavior.  Not to mention that it would never happen because I'll be damned if I am going to be with some broke-ass slob with a temper. 

But you know what they say about the best laid plans?  Yeah...well shit happens. 


Quick Background:

My relationship with Lila's father isn't thrilling.  In fact, lately it's almost excruciating.  Ever since having Lila we have had a tough time financially.  Not because of her but because he is in construction and when the housing market collapsed so did his business.  There has been a lot of stress and strain on our relationship because of this and we have seen setback after setback trying to get back on track.  I handle stress by wanting to be alone and he handles it by stuffing his frustration and basically believing that he's unhappy because of me.  I in turn get stressed because I feel like he is blaming me unjustly and he gets more frustrated because I just don't get what hes stressed about and it keeps growing.

Getting to the Point:

We don't really fight.  We like each other over all.  But day to day life has intruded in such a way that literally weeks will go by and suddenly I will realize we haven't kissed since last month.  I was talking to one of my single friends about this and  he gave me this advice:

"Children learn what they live.  If you two aren't happy together you should separate because it is better to have two happy parents apart than to have two miserable parents together.  You're just depriving yourselves of true love and happiness elsewhere and children adjust."  (This coming from a person whose parents stayed together until he was in his 20s and has never been married or had children.) 

I am paraphrasing of course, but this brings me to the simple logic of life without children.  The above advice makes total sense when you look at it on the surface.  Before I had Lila, if I wasn't head over heels in love I totally would have felt deprived.  I would have felt like something better was obviously around the corner and I would have known that I would be fine if I packed my shit and moved out.

But it isn't as simple with a family as it is with a couple.  Because as much as I am NOT head over heels for HIM, per se, I LOVE our family.  I love to watch Lila and Daddy playing and I love to go to the zoo or the beach or to dinner as a family.  I love our house and love playing CandyLand with the two of them. 

For much of my youth I assumed that "LOVE" and the chasing of what my friends and I called "the spark" was what life was all about.  This lasted when I became "WE" and it was just Ben and I.  And there were plenty of moments where I kind of felt that "spark" wavering and assumed it was only a matter of time before I'd have to be moving on.  All that changed when we became a family.   Suddenly I understood that this spark would certainly end up smoldering.  The intense would eventually become so-so, and that although plenty of people believe that without that fierce desire and passion in a relationship that it is doomed (as evidenced by ever-rising divorce rates), I started to believe that there was something far more important to me: COMMITMENT.

Ben and I are not married.  But at some point (around the time I decided I would have a kid with him) I decided that this was the life I was choosing.  I decided that for as long as my child exists, I would be bound to him by her.  Obviously, there are things that would negate this decision.  For example, if he ever hit me or did anything to hurt Lila or me, or went to prison or buried body parts of hookers in the basement then I would certainly have my own permission to walk away.  But in forming a family, I decided that there was "greater good" that I was now a part of in this unit, and that my individual happiness comes second to that.

There have recently been some instances that have made me question whether we even LIKE each other anymore.  And when I sat down to try to consider my options, I couldn't just think about the practical stuff (I would have to leave my house because its in his name; the car's in his name; I would have to stay with my parents who are pretty heavy smokers; I would want Lila to have the comfort of her house but I would want to keep her with me).  I had to consider the toll that this move would take on 3 people, individually and as a group.  Lila would miss one of us every day.  I am the parent who takes care of her when she's sick and does the day to day stuff like baths and medicine.  He is the parent who has fun and does fun stuff.  I am the one who sets the rules. He is the one who is more laid back.  One of us would always miss that first trip to the ocean or getting the Christmas tree or watching the Wizard of Oz together on the couch with popcorn.  We wouldn't do those things together anymore and each of us would be deprived of that wonderful occasion.

But what happens when you feel like you just don't care anymore  What happens when the sight of this person makes you want to slap him?  What do you do when you realize that if you have to listen to one more fucking Dave Matthews song blaring from the basement that you are going to burn the house down? 

To be honest, I simply have to try not to think about it.  Self help gurus and armchair clinical psychology has told us for a few decades now that our individual happiness is our inalienable right.  We are told that if we do not pursue our own self-fulfillment then the people around us will suffer.  And on some level, I know that to be true.  But isn't there something to be said for sticking it out because it's the right thing to do?  If no one is really suffering and in fact, you believe that the benefits to your child outweigh the detriment then don't you sort of HAVE to live up to the commitment you made?  Not too many years ago, when society was considered much more civilized, people generally felt that loyalty and commitment were what made men great.  Selfishness was abhored and altruism was an essential value to society.  Many of our kids now don't even know what altruism is.

I don't want to be miserable in a relationship that I don't want.  And I don't want to inflict that misery upon Lila.  I have no idea what the fate of our relationship will ultimately be.  But the decision to split is simply not just a matter of what will make me happy.  It is a matter of voiding the existence of a family.  I don't think that decision can be made just by looking at what the obvious answer would be.  And I don't think it is something that should be done without really weighing all the options.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Something I "love"

Sorry guys. 



I absolutely ABHOR the "captcha" verification thingys (mostly because I usually can't read them) and I really don't believe I am popular enough to care who leaves me comments.  But lately I have been getting an unusual number of comments from people with "escort" in their signature lines so I had to change my settings to include a word verification. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuff I'm thinking

The fun part of having a blog is that you can run random thoughts by complete strangers who may or may not read what you are putting out there. 

I have always been pretty passionate about politics.  Not in a real, overly involved sort of way.  But more in a "I cannot stand the world I live in" sort of way.  Everyone has their way of contributing to their cause and I feel like my way of contributing is to bitch about it to complete strangers. 

Before I had Lila, I had a little website I called "Selenaland" (which I am sure you can still find) where I just posted random bits of news and commentary on them.  And it was a release for me because I didn't have to scare my co-workers with my talk of revolution and slapping George W. Bush in the face if I ever met him.  But since I have become "Lila's Mom" (the loss of identity is another post) I don't have that outlet any more.

I have seen blogs by moms who are also into politics, but truthfully, I don't associate most of my political beliefs with the fact that I am a mom.  Can I possibly explain my vehement hatred of Jim Boehner (which I always pronounce as BONER) or my adamant support of Obama away just with the fact that Lila is on this earth?  Not really.  But being someone who is a working class mother and not an academic or a professional commentator certainly gives me a different view than, say, Glenn Beck (the fact that I try not to eat the pretty mushrooms also contribute to that enormous difference of opinion).

In the next few weeks, I am going to launch my blog and would love to have some other regular contributors.  Perhaps someone who would also join me on the occasional podcast.  If you find you feel like you have some opinions you'd like to anonymously put out there, let me know.  I'd love to collaborate.

Again, I am just thinking "out loud" here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I watch WAY too much TV.

I know that I complain a lot about commercials, but there is a Toyota commercial out there with a pain in the ass kid who looks right into the camera and tells me, "Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you have to be lame."  And I beg to differ...


Because, you see smart-ass kid, the thing I am learning is that although you do not HAVE to be LAME, very often you END UP being LAME because your asshole kids suck the very life force out of you that would allow you to be un-LAME. 


Now take off those headphones before I smack them off your head!

Before I had Lila, I cared about things like fashion and hairstyling and sexy bras.  I used to drink sexy drinks and make out with strangers in clubs (this also being before Lila's dad).  I used to want a cool little sports car or maybe I'd be a hot chick in a big pick-up truck.  Maybe I'd get a motorcycle or a Vespa and ride with my hair blowing out from under my helmet.  I used to shave my legs more than once a month and sometimes even got waxed.  I used to subscribe (YES. I COMMITTED) to fashion magazines and go out to the movies on opening nights.

Now I worry about vaccinations, head lice and processed foods.  I mostly drink coffee because it keeps me from sleeping at my desk at work and the only strangers I talk to now are those annoying tech support people in India, who I can't understand.  I have a used Toyota Camry that is so full of filthy sippee cups and fast food wrappers that I am ashamed when I get pulled over.  I haven't shaved my legs since Labor Day and haven't even bothered to have my hair trimmed because it's just easier to put it in a pony tail.  The only magazines I read are Cooking Light and Parents.  I haven't seen a new movie IN A REGULAR FULL-PRICE THEATER since Lila was born.

And WHY are these things so?  Is it because I HAVE to be this lame?  Did I wake up today and think, "Shit, I'd really LOVE to fly off to the South of France, but that would be totally anti-lame so I cannot do it,"?  No.  No I did not.  Instead, it is simply because being Lila's mother takes a tremendous amount of time, mental energy and mostly, MONEY. 

I cannot buy un-lame new clothes when I have to buy Lila school clothes.  And then a month later when I think I will have some extra cash to get myself a new sweater or something because it's freezing at work, it turns out Lila has grown out of all 6 pairs of her brand-new pants (which were a size big when I bought them) in the span of 4 weeks, so now I have to go get her some that don't look like capris because the snow is about to fly.  This is why SNL made that skit about MOM Jeans where they say "I'm not a woman anymore.  I'm a MOM."  Because it's fucking true!

(Here's the Mom Jeans video)

I cannot take half an hour in the morning to properly apply eye make-up because Lila will decide that there is ONE perfect moment to try to fly off the top of the couch with her fairy wings, and that moment is when I have my eyelashes squeezed in an eyelash curler. 

I could go on and on about all the things that make me lame and all the reasons why BEING A PARENT is the thing that made me this way, but I won't. 

And as far as the Toyota Van or Highlander making me "un-LAME" and having my kid be embarrassed by the car I drive as suggested in those fucking ads, I have this to say:

"FEEL FREE TO WALK, ASSHOLE." 
That's what my parents told me when they pulled up to school in their rusted out AMC Eagle and I asked them to PLEASE park down the street.  And I will tell Lila the exact same thing.

Theirs was not this nice.  And once the
muffler fell off it was also extremely LOUD.
Someday, my kid will be a teenager.  I am sure that no matter what I do she will be appalled.  She will constantly tell me that I ruined her life and that I am totally embarrassing her.  And I look forward to doing all the lamest things in the world to make her life hell when the time comes.  But I don't need to preview that with someone else's asshole pre-pubescent kid telling me how shitty and lame I am now.  Toyota needs to work a little harder on their image as a maker of shitty unsafe cars and work a little less on trying to show how UN LAME they are.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Shitter.

"According to Freud, success at this stage is dependent upon the way in which parents approach toilet training. Parents who utilize praise and rewards for using the toilet at the appropriate time encourage positive outcomes and help children feel capable and productive. Freud believed that positive experiences during this stage served as the basis for people to become competent, productive and creative adults. "

-My kid is obviously fucked.

What my kid sees when she has to poop.
Lila is potty trained.  Mostly.  Several months ago with the help of a personal potty chart and some stickers, Lila threw aside the confines of baby diapers and a little 9-inch high potty chair for the big time.  She peed on the regular toilet.  From that day forward, she was very proud of her self restraint when she felt that "pee thing" coming and with hardly a single accident (except once when we were out at a restaurant and she didn't like the auto-flush mechanism) she joined the ranks of those of us who MUST sit to pee.

Now, let me reiterate that I swore up and down before the kid came that I would NEVER, EVER, be one of those people who talked about their kid's excretions.  But I swear, when you have them you just cannot help yourself.

Lila refuses to poop on the potty.  When I started the mission of getting her to stop sitting around with shit and piss in her pants, I expected some setbacks.  But there was nothing immediately.  I stopped putting her in pull-ups and let her wear her princess (or Dora or Tinkerbell or whatever) panties except for overnights, and she was fine with that.  Until the 3rd day, when she finally HAD to poop.

She asked for a pull up.  My instant reaction was to drag her to the bathroom and set her on the toilet and give her some books and tell her to work it out (no pun intended) on her own.  After about 15 minutes she started crying because she couldn't make it happen and begged for a pull up.  So I put one on her.  I consulted the Internet (because honestly, where else does anyone get guidance anymore?) and read that you should absolutely NOT get into a power struggle about it, and that in a few weeks, she'll be ready and will just do it herself.

For nine months now, Lila has refused to crap sitting on the toilet.  Every now and then (usually when I am on my last pull up and don't want to spend the cash to buy more) when she asks to put a pull-up on so that she can poop, I will suggest that she sit on the potty for a little while and see what happens.  But she has made it clear that even though she will sit there, she WILL NOT poop without a pull-up on.  We have tried emptying her poop into the toilet and although she thinks its fun, she will not deposit it directly from her ass to the toilet under any circumstances.  And although I have told her that she must at least poop in the bathroom, and she will sit on the toilet with a pull up on, she will not poop until I let her get up. 

If the cat can do it, my kid can too!

My pediatrician told me that her own daughter did this for a while.  Once the child started waking up in the morning with dry diapers consistently, she just stopped buying them.  She explained that the kid had a choice - she could poop on the toilet or she could go in her pants.  No one would yell at her but she would have to help clean it up.

So a few nights ago, when Lila declared that she was ready to sleep in her panties because she was big and wouldn't pee during the night, I let her  She did great.  And has done so for the last 5 nights.  She told me she was proud of herself and I told her I was proud of her too!  We called Grandma and she continues to tell every person we see.

The next time Lila told me she needed to poop, she asked for a pull-up again.  And I told her that the pull-ups are gone and she would have to go on the toilet like a big girl.  Lila cried.  But I gave her a pep talk and assured her that she would be fine.  We went into the bathroom and she tried.  Nothing happened.  She told me she knew it was right there but couldn't make it come out. I sat with her for 20 minutes.  I tried to get her to do visualizations.  I tried to distract her.  I made her take deep breaths.  I tried to make it a game.  Nothing worked. 

The pediatrician also told me that once you make the decision to take away the pull-ups, you SHOULD NOT go back on it. She said that if the kid holds it, then after a couple of days, give her a laxative and make magic happen.  So I told Lila that she can try again later and she begged for a pull-up.  But I was determined. 

Later that day we tried again.  Nothing.  The next morning she came to ME saying she was ready to try the potty again and so we did.  As she sat there it was obvious that she was proud of herself and I saw in her eyes the determination to make me proud too.a  But after about 15 minutes it was obvious nothing was going to happen.  She said she still had to go, that she could feel it, but she felt scared.  I gave her the usual, "there's nothing to be scared of" chat.  She asked for a pull-up and I said I didn't have any.  She started to cry.  Not a real cry, but a whiny "give me my way" kind of cry.  I held my ground.  I told my mother (who would be watching her for the day) to hold hers as well.  Lila begged for a pull up and the more she did that, the more mad I got.  This is something that kids her age do.  They beg and hassle and whine until you give in, and then they continue to manipulate you until you have no control over them anymore.  I would not be that parent.  We got her dressed and she told me her belly hurt and I told her she HAS to poop ON THE POTTY when she gets to Grandma's house.

A few hours later my mother called me.  Immediately she started in on me.  "Lila's belly hurt and she couldn't go on the toilet so I let her go to the bathroom in a pull-up and it hurt her so bad that she cried and she wouldn't let me hold her or go near her and I think there was a tiny bit of blood...I can't believe you made her hold it for 3 days!"  "First off," I said, "it wasn't 3 days.  It was 2 days and that isn't abnormal for her".  I tried to explain what the doctor told me.  My Mother explained that Lila was scared that I would find out that she went in her pull-up because she thought I was going to get mad at her.  My mother said Lila cried about that too.  And that was after the most traumatic shit anyone has ever taken by a person (I added that last flourish. My mother only IMPLIED that part).  My mother also told Lila that it only hurt because she held it for too long and that I should just let her have a pull-up when she asks for it.  Wow...Thanks for telling my kid how much I suck as a parent! And thanks for not allowing me to determine how I will proceed with these kinds of things.

But as the day wore on, the anger at my mother faded.  Now I was the worst mother in the world.  It wasn't that she was being a manipulative asshole, she was constipated and KNEW it was going to hurt.  The pressure from me trying to make her do what I wanted her too made it impossible and she suffered for it.  Plus, my poor kid thinks I am going to be mad at her for NOT being able to perform, and I am forcing an issue that every professional on earth (except obviously, for Lila's doctor) tells parents NOT to force.  And although everyone says "you never see adults who are afraid to poop on the potty walking around so she will obviously grow out of this," I cannot help but to imagine that Lila will always have some emotional scar because I tried to force her to shit on the toilet and instead she tore her ass out.  This will likely be the one thing that causes her to turn to teen sex, recreational drugs, and finally a career in porn.  I have ruined my kid forever.

That night as I left work, I felt horrible.  I thought she would be somber and mad and a little stand-offish.  I got to my mother's house to pick her up and I cautiously opened the door.  Lila's face lit up, and she ran to the door screaming and happy to see me as usual.  Apparently, she didn't even think about it and wasn't even slightly concerned that I had ruined her entire life.  Because I hadn't.  I talked to her about it but she kind of shrugged it off and when I told her we could try again the next time she felt it coming, she didn't seem nervous or upset but gave a smile and said, "Okay, as long as I can bring a book."

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Kid Has "Friends".

At least I know where she gets it...

From some random child psychology study:

Approximately thirty percent of American children between the ages of three and six develop an imaginary companion.
In many cases this fantasy friend is thought of as real by the child, so real in fact that a child will often accommodate for the companion’s physical presence, sleeping on only one side of the bed, for example, so the friend can have room to lie down.
Many children even believe they can see and hear their imaginary playmate while they converse with them.

My kid does not have an imaginary friend.  My kid has an entire troop of them.  Lila has always been a social kid.  She loves to be the center of attention, loves the sound of her own voice (which I believe is why she never shuts up) and is always most pleasant when she is around other children.

Up until a couple of months ago, Lila hated to play alone.  She would beg and cry and throw things when we were trying to do other things and apparently she got the idea that we just had other things to do because suddenly she just stopped doing it.  One day, I was doing dishes and when I turned off the water I heard her talking.  I thought she was just sort of reciting her inner thoughts to no one but then I realized that she was carrying on a conversation, acting like someone was answering her and she was responding.  Not wanting to disturb this precious quiet time, I just stood still and listened.

"Now Max, you and Ruby need to go over here and sit down.  We're going to have tea as soon as Toot and Puddle get here...Yes, that is them at the door, will  you please let them in?...Oh thank you.  You look very beautiful too." 

My kid probably watches too much TV.  But she plays with Max and Ruby and Toot and Puddle (and Caillou and Leo and Clementine and Xavier...and all of Caillou's 16 or so friends) all the time now.  She picks them up and puts them in her purse to bring them to Grandma's.  She makes me set out little paper plates for them when I give her dinner.  She accuses me of sitting on them (which she finds completely traumatizing) and feels the need to open and close the front door 8 times in a row to let each of them in (This last thing was cute in the summer...not so much now that it's freezing outside). 

But cartoon characters are not the only "friends" she plays with.  Since she started school the number of pretend friends has grown into an assembly.  She has pretend versions of the kids at preschool and the two little girls she plays with at my mother's house.  She now plays with anyone she's ever seen on TV, including Tom and Jerry,  Hannah Montana, and Stephen Colbert (I think he's somebody's dad or something).

Occasionally I have seen her get angry at her pretend friends for not coloring on the paper when they are supposed to be coloring together.  She gets upset with them when they want to play a different game than she does.  She tells them to quiet down because Mom and Dad are talking.  She yells at them, fights with them, shares with them and begs me to let them spend the night.  Basically, in all respects, she acts like they are real, living people. 

This terrifies me.  Although I know that it's totally normal to have an imaginary friend, a posse of them is a little much.  Do you know how long it takes to wash everybody's hands in one bathroom sink?  Or get everyone strapped into the car?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to NOT get pissed and say "NO.  THEY'RE NOT REALLY HERE AND YOU CANNOT GIVE EACH OF THEM A SEPARATE BATH/ PLATE/ COOKIE/ BOOK/ SHIRT!!!"  I have tried to say, "tell your friends they have to play by themselves so that you can come and have dinner," which is responded to with tears and pleas of "But Ruby's hungry too!"

Her preschool teacher assures me that she's seen before and that it's actually a good sign that she is learning to work out her difficulties, fears, and concerns in a safe way that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.  And I agree.  I hear her practicing her pleases and thank-you's and excuse me's and yelling and pouting and telling them to "GO HOME THEN!"  And I don't interrupt.  Except to occasionally let her know it's time to eat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When the kid is sick

I have been really lucky.  For most of Lila's short existence, she has been pretty healthy.  She's never had an ear infection.  She's never needed to go to the hospital.  So when she actually does get sick it's kind of a novel experience for me. 

I don't do well with throw up.  Or Shit.  Or mucus.  Actually, now that I think about it, every single time Lila has thrown up, shit outside of her pants or coughed up an phlegm ball, its somehow ended up on me.  It seems she saves all her best presents for Mommy!

Now, I don't know what the proper response is when your kid throws up but I know I always feel a little guilty about mine.  Some moms will cuddle their kids and hold a bucket under their chins and tell them gently, "let it out sweety...".  That has not been my typical conduct. 

Lila started out the week with what we all assumed was a nasty cold.  She was sneezing and coughing and miserable but there wasn't much of a fever and for the most part she wasn't too miserable (she felt no need whatsoever to sleep or nap or rest - much to my disappointment).  But as the week progressed, the coughing got worse at night, the nose blowing became more productive (and colorful) and she actually refused a Popsicle at one point (see, that's how we gauge how sick our kid is...if she still wants candy, ice cream or frosting then there's no need to spend the money on a doctor visit). 

On Thursday morning at the crack of dawn, I heard her in her room sort of half-crying.  Then I heard "NOOOO I DON'T WANT MY THROW UP TO COME OUT!!!"  I ran in and scooped her up just in time for me to hear her sputter a little bit out and then project puke across my sweatshirt.  Like I said, my reactions are not super nurturing, so I sat her on the side of the bath tub, told her to stay bent over in case more came out and as she cried for me to hold her I walked quickly to my room, stripped off my clothes, and quickly grabbed a shirt to throw on.   I came back into the room and grabbed a wet washcloth preparing to strip her pajamas off as well.  However, Lila (somehow) had ZERO puke on her.  She managed to completely spare herself any kind of residue except on her chin and when I came back in the room and got her some water to rinse her mouth she informed me that "it feels all better now!"

AWESOME!!!

As an Epilogue to this, I immediately called the doctor because the puke was mostly greenish yellow snot that had drained from her sinuses and I told them I needed to get her in THAT DAY.  By the time we went to the doctor, Lila was acting like nothing was wrong and I felt like an asshole for bringing her in her pajamas when she was obviously well enough to have gotten dressed and partied all day.  It turned out she had a pretty bad sinus infection and she's fine now.  But I can't stop wondering if I am an asshole parent for being so practical when she was obviously so upset by the whole thing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things I swore I would never do.

Before I was a mom, I knew exactly how to raise children (other people's).  I swore that I would never:
  • Make separate dinners for my kid.  She could go to bed hungry if she didn't like what I made for dinner (...but she will only eat hot dogs and mac and cheese...and if she doesn't eat she doesn't sleep.)
  • Lay in bed with my kid every night until she went to sleep.  They need to learn to sleep on their own. (...but I would rather not fight with her for 3 hours and cannot get any time for myself - or her poor father - until she is out.)
  • Put my kid on a leash. It's mean and people laugh at you. (This, I never did.  But I swear I get why you would.  Toddlers are FAST!)
  • "LET" my kid throw a fit in public.  My kid will be well-behaved. (...it's really funny how you think you could control that, but short of bribing there is no good solution but to leave - and then they've won.)
  • Make food into shapes and designs so that it will be "fun" to eat. I will simply teach my kid to like trying new things.  (see above.)
  • Let my kid watch TV.  It destroys their brains and there is nothing good that can come of it. (...No one tells you it's the only way you can get ready for work.  And actually, Lila was counting to 20 and knew her alphabet at 2 years old, so it can't be all bad.)
  • Watch the same movie over and over and over and over and over because my kid would be more cultured than that. (This is simply a joke.  If you want to have a few quiet moments in your house, this is not optional.)
  • Listen to stupid Raffi and other kiddie music ad nauseum in the car (yup....and I sing along at the top of my lungs too).
  • Shop at Wal-Mart because they are evil. (There is no way I am buying ANYTHING at full price when it will only be destroyed the moment I turn my back).
  • Scream at my kid like a maniac and threaten to lose my mind. (Yes, Lila has driven me to the point of sanity.  I am thoroughly surprised the both of us have survived to this point intact.)
  • Talk incessantly about every stupid detail of my kid's life. (Except that it is my (other) full-time job, my greatest accomplishment, and  my biggest source of stress all in one...There's about 80% of the things people talk about.  What else is there to discuss?  POLITICS?)
  • Care what other people thought about my parenting ability. (It is the biggest insult in the world!)
I am sure I missed some, but Lila's imaginary friends need some juice so I have to go and entertain all 14 of them now.  Please, feel free to add on.

For my friends without kids (or who still fantacize)

There is a forum where they discussed a post from BecauseMotherhoodSucks.  I actually enjoyed reading about being child free and remember how awesome it was when I could make simple decisions for myself.  There is more to the site than the discussions, but this is a good place to start.

The Child Free Life Forum.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's the worst thing a kid can bring home from school?

Lila likes Family Feud.  She is afraid of Richard Dawson, but likes the newer versions.  Even my 3 year old knows a freaky overly touchy creep when she sees one.  Monday night we were watching and one of the survey questions was "Whats the worst thing a child can bring home from school?".  My immediate answer is the subject of this post.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Lila goes to preschool.  I get up and take her and I have to pick up any notices in her cubby where she keeps her jacket.  This Tuesday, the day after Family Feud, there was an "Illness Alert" sheet for me.  Guess what's being passed around?  HEAD LICE!!!!

TO me that is the grossest thing I can imagine her bringing home.  I am terrified of having to wash everything she's touched in the last month only to have missed one barette and having it come back. 

I checked her (and made my mother and Ben check me) and so far there's nothing.  But just thinking about it makes my entire body itchy, and as a hypochondriac I am convinced that not only do I have head lice, but I am also likely experiencing some allergic reaction. 



On a related note, Thursday she came home with a beautiful halloween picture frame that her class made that day.  Inside the picture frame is a picture of my kid with a big pumpkin hat on her head taken...wait for it....TUESDAY at school....

So now I have to have a chat with her teacher...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is your mother an asshole too?

Sometimes my mother really pisses me off.

The kid is going through what I think is a VERY normal part of being 3.  She insists on wearing ridiculous items of clothing all the time.  She got a pair of hot pink rain boots and wore those for 3 days before finding a (too big) Strawberry Shortcake winter knitted hat at a second hand store.  She insists on wearing both whether it's warm, cold, raining, sunny or appropriate for the situation.  Did I mention that she also needs to carry her umbrella most of the time?  And I really don't care.  Most people know that kids go through this phase of wearing weird shit.

Today I brought her over to my mothers (as that is where she stays while I work at my tremendously thrilling library job) and my mother gave her this pathetic look when we walked up to the door.  "Doesn't she look BEAUTIFUL???" I said winking and subliminally urging Grandma to play along.

"No." says my mother.  "She does not.  She looks like you can't afford to dress her."  So, being as quick-witted as I am, I reply "She wouldn't even HAVE rain boots if I couldn't afford them.  She'd still be in flip flops in October."  My mother wearily shook her head. "How can I take her to Wal-Mart today dressed like that?" (Insert truly annoyed comment regarding the irony here).

My kid can wear whatever the hell she wants.  What the hell is this judgement thing from my own mother and why do I even care?  I haven't felt so pissed at any one's comments on my mothering since the "baby competition" we all used to have at Gymboree when the kid was less than a year old (You all know the competition I'm talking about..."My Dalton started walking at 4 months."..."Yeah well my Annabel said Mama in Japanese last week."..."Yeah, well Lila punched your kids in the face and told them she is the boss of them just a second ago because my kid isn't taking shit from anyone.").

God, I hate the constant self-doubt.  Does it ever end?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TO THE ASSHOLES WHO MAKE AND MARKET PILLOW PETS:

First off, let me say thanks. My kid has found a little security object that helps her when she wakes up in the middle of the night so I don't have to get out of bed 42 times in the dark. She truly loves your product and it makes me happy she has it.Now the REAL reason I am writing this:


I BELIEVE YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR ADVERTISEMENTS DURING EVERY CHILDREN'S TELEVISION SHOW ARE PURE EVIL.

Lila saw a commercial for Pillow Pets about 3 months ago and screamed like...well...like a little girl. She desperately wanted the ladybug and would fall all over me begging for it every time she thought about it (which was more or less constantly). Luckily, they were one of those things you had to call a toll free number to get so I could explain that that was the number to call Santa to tell him you wanted it for Christmas. It's impossible to get one before then.

Then you assholes put them in every store on the planet. I found this out when my mother (who literally CANNOT say no to Lila when she cries) brought Lila home with a bumble bee that she saw at Wal-Mart. Lila was ecstatic that Wal-Mart had them at all and said that she would gladly wait for Santa to bring her the ladybug because Wal-Mart doesn't sell them. Lila was genuinely happy to have this item and she thanked her Grandma over and over and over. I actually, for once felt that maybe this was a good thing. As much as I hate the idea of her being spoiled, this one particular item was not like the others. She was still thrilled with it after 4 hours unlike every other toy she sees on TV, which usually lose it's luster as soon as it comes out of the box.

Three days later, Lila and I are walking through the Band-Aid aisle at the drug store, and lo and behold! There is a big cardboard display FILLED with Pillow Pets. Why is the drug store selling a $20 fad-ish kids item next to the hemorrhoidal ointment and antacid tablets? Lila screamed, grabbed all 4 ladybugs and threw herself on the floor and rolled around on them. Embarrassed because my kid looked like she was making fun of people with seizure disorders, I grabbed her up and told her we had to get out of the store before it started to rain (one of many lame excuses I use to get her to move it).
"THEY HAVE MY LADYBUGS!!!!" Lila was squealing and stuffing her face into it. "Mommy doesn't have the money for that right now (and I didn't. I brought a $10 bill with me into the store). The tears were worse than I ever would have imagined. She cried for almost an hour. We got home and I showed her the bumble bee and although she hugged it, it did little to console her. After calling my mother about this dilemma, my mother told me to tell Lila there would be one waiting for her at Grandma's house tomorrow.

This infuriated me but at least it wasn't ME giving in.

She got her ladybug and all was well. She slept with both of them and insisted on taking them everywhere with her (yes, both of them).

Then, the following weekend, we were in Target to get some blinds for our new house. We turned down the wide aisle to the housewares and immediately Lila started crying. A few rows down, on an end display were the beloved Pillow Pets. And two little girls were hugging them and fondling them and throwing them up in the air. Lila lost her shit.

"They're playing with MY UNICORN!!!" She was basically hysterical and since she refuses to ride in the cart she fell to the floor and screamed and cried. I did my best to get her up and explain to her that they belong to Target and technically were in no way "HERS" but she wouldn't stop. She finally stopped crying long enough to walk over to the girls (who were much older and bigger than her) and snatch the unicorn out of one of their hands. Apologizing, I grabbed it from her and gave it back but the battle was on. Needless to say, we DID NOT get blinds that day. And I did not tell my mother about that event.

Seriously, is it too much to ask that your commercials not have mind control messages embedded in them that only children under 9 can decipher? Is it too much to ask that the hottest new toy be confined to the "hot new toys" area in a given store? Or that a store that is better known for it's feminine protection aisle than any cool trendy items WARN ME that my kid may freak out when I get to the end of the feminine care aisle?

Fucking Pillow Pets.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The screamer

Lila has NEVER been called shy.  She is famous for introducing herself to everyone she meets and also for taking off independently whenever we go anywhere.  She seems to lack fear and I sometimes worry that she doesn't really care if I am there or not.

That's why I am having such a hard time with this whole thing.  I was not even SLIGHTLY considering that she would scream when I left her at preschool. 

Her first day, she charged into the classroom, sat down at a table of boys building with magnetic blocks and immediately took charge, saying "Excuse me, please give me that.  NOW."  I stayed long enough to take a few pictures and left her to do her thing and moved to the door watching for another couple of minutes. Among her new classmates, there were a few who had obviously been in day care, not in the least bit concerned that mom and dad are walking out the door.  There were a couple who clung to mom's legs for dear life, but once engaged were content to stay playing as the parents waved goodbye.  There were mothers who were obviously tearful at the idea of their babies growing up.

The teacher finally announced that it was time for the parents to say goodbye so she could start class, and at that, my kid started screaming.  "NOOOO...I want to go home with you I dont want to stay I want to come please dont leave I want my mommy I don't like it here NOOOOO!"   I had no idea what to do.  When we visited the school during an open house, everyone commented on how independent Lila was.  She barely noticed me.  "She'll obviously be fine," the teachers and other parents all said.  When I tried to get her to leave she cried, played "no bones" and didn't want to leave.  She told me she wanted to come back tomorrow.  I took this as a sign that she was more than ready for school, and actually NEEDED the experience.  So what the hell was this screaming all about?

As the teacher approached to calm her, she kicked and screamed and said "I don't like her!  Take me with you!"  She had brought her toy Wonder Pet (so she wouldn't be alone) and so I reminded her that he would take care of her, and that I would be back in just a little while to get her.  Then the teacher took her from my arms and I turned and walked out, not looking back even once.  I didn't have to.  I heard her screaming for me all the way to the car.  I stopped by the office and left my number asking them to call me in 15 minutes if she was still crying, and the secretary told me that every year there is at least one kid who does this the first couple of days but end up being fine.  I hoped this was the case.

I cried the whole way home.  At the 15 minute mark, I held my phone in my hand waiting for the call to come.  It never did. 

At 11:15, pick-up time, I went back to the school and waited for her outside her classroom.  She came out smiling, holding an art project and telling me how much fun she'd had.  I thought we were over the hump.  She talked about how much fun she had and sang me a new song she learned.  She told me about the boy who wasn't nice and knocked down her block castle.  She told me that on Thursday they were going to go outside to play.  She seemed pretty excited about the whole thing. But the second day (this morning) she did the same thing again. 

I've read Lila many stories about the first day of school where there is one kid who cries every day when he or she is dropped off.  At the end, the same kid always ends up crying when Mom shows up because now they dont want to leave.  I cannot have that kid.  I will pull her out of school before I will deal with this shit every morning. It kind of sets a really bad tone for the rest of the day.

I know that it sometimes takes a few days for a kid to adjust.  I remember VIVIDLY my first couple of days of school where I cried (literally) the whole first day, half of the second day, and for at least an hour the third day.  But after that I was fine.  But this is totally heartbreaking!  How does a mother walk away from her screaming and seemingly terrified baby?

I do not know if I can go through another morning of this.  Is it possible that she just isn't ready?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

That little BITCH!!!


My three year old is a little bitch.  I am not saying this to be funny.  This is not something I am proud of.  But she is. 

I have noticed her talking back and demanding things for some time now.  For the most part, I stay calm and basically explain that 1) There is NO WAY I am going to give her what she wants if she is going to be a brat about it, and 2) Just because she decides to ask again, with the sad eyes and a whiney voice and gives me a great big "PLEEEEEEEEASE" doesn't mean she will get what she wants.  This method is not working. 

Lila is turning into a total bitch.  When I am driving somewhere she wants to go and I (God Forbid) stop at a red light, she sees it as her place to yell "GO MOMMY!" at the top of her lungs, as if I am just trying to keep her from having a good time.  Time after time I turn around and tell her "I am the driver.  I am the Mommy.  I decide when to go."  This method is not working.

I (half) jokingly told her father that she was getting to that age where I should strap her to the couch and play Mommie Dearest for her so she could see what happens when mommies are pushed to their emotional limits and they think their kids are ingrateful little brats. (Of course, I realize that this is not the intended moral of the movie, but in light of the fact that time-outs are a joke and she doesn't care when I take things away or with -hold treats, I think it may work as an effective tool in scaring the sass out of my kid).


Yesterday we went to Wal-Mart (I will not digress into how much I hate Wal-Mart and everything it stands for and everyone in it) and we were trying to hurry.  First there was the hissy fit when I said we couldn't buy a $40 Play-Doh set.  Then there was the refusing to hold my hand and running off.  Then there was the refusal to leave.  I kept cool.  There was NO WAY I was going to be that trashy mother yelling at her kid in the shampoo aisle at the Wal Mart.  When we finally got out to the car, she insisted on climbing into her car seat herself.  And I thought, "she's three...she needs to feel like she can do it herself," even though I was in a hurry to get to the bank before it closed.  She got into the seat and I started to buckle her in and she said, "I wanna do it."  "No baby," I replied.  This is pretty hard to do and I just want to get out of here, okay?"  The response she gave me took me off guard at first:

"I WILL DO IT NOW MOMMY!!!"

I felt the surging desire to slap her little mouth like my mother would do when I got overly sassy.  I wanted to...I really, for about half a second thought that it would be the best thing I could do...Maybe it was just the fact that I was in the Wal Mart parking lot, but I felt like swearing at her at the top of my lungs and slapping her.

But I didn't.  I put my hands on both sides of her face so she was looking right at me and said, as lovingly as I could at that moment, "If you talk to me like that again, I will slap your little sassy mouth."  Perhaps threatening isn't much better than the actual thing, but she sure was quiet on the ride home.  I almost think that THIS method may have worked. 

For the record, I have never hit her.  Never spanked or slapped or grabbed her roughly by the arm (or ear).  I have a good handle on my temper and I know I would never forgive myself.  But there are times when I can see myself doing it, in my mind, clear as day, and I wonder if perhaps spanking couldn't work on certain types of kids (the crazy ones).   Because as much as I want Lila to be an independent and happy kid, I want her to be respectful and polite just as much.  Not just because it makes ME insane, but because she needs to know that you have to be courteous and nice to function in a society with other people.

If I were to be completely honest, I would have to admit that she probably gets the attitude from me.  I raise my voice a lot.  And I find myself saying those dreaded words that every parent swears they will never say: 

"Because I'm the MOMMY, that's why."

And for now, that's the only thing that kid needs to understand.  Because being a super bitch in our house is MY job.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stupid Paper Plates

Whoever came up with the Zoo Pals commercial jingle should be stabbed and then set on fire.  It may sound a little extreme, but I mean it.

If you are not familiar with Zoo Pals, watch this:
Zoo Pals Commercial

Because my kid watches more tv than any 3-year-old really should (mostly because she doesn't let me out of her sight unless she is enjoying one of her favorite shows), she sees this commercial during every kids show she watches. Then she yells for me to rewind it over and over and over so that she can sing along to it.  Then she spends the rest of the day either singing the song or begging me to get her Zoo Pals plates.

We went to the grocery store yesterday and somehow she spotted them from the other end of the aisle.  I was ready to give in and buy them until I saw them.  They are paper plates that come in a pack of 20 for $3.99.  They are not plastic, nor are they stiff styrofoam plates.  They are PAPER plates.  Sitting next to the stack of Zoo Pals plates was a giant pack of regular paper plates that stated on the package in giant lettering, "200 for $1.99!!!  WOW!!!!"  I said NO. 

Now Lila is refusing to use ANY of the plates we have in the house explaining that "THIS PLATE does not make eating fun."  I will likely give in and just buy the stupid plates.  But every day I send telepathic messages of scorn at those fucking advertising bastards.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm just going to say it...

I seriously couldn't care less if i ever have sex again.

Ben is not happy to hear this.  Like most people, he views regular, satisfying sex as an important part of a good, healthy, long-term relationship.  Me?  Not so much.

For the first year of Lila's life, it was obvious why I was never even remotely in the mood.  Having an infant that never sleeps, that demands constant attention, and that gets cuddled all day pretty much leaves NOTHING left for anyone else.  During her second year, we faced serious financial issues, moved back to New York State (into an apartment about 1/3 the size of our old house) and we let the stress cause us to just "not particularly like" eachother.

But now, things are settling down.  We are both working steadily.  Lila, although still crazy and demanding is old enough to understand that just because I don't hold her every minute, that doesn't mean I don't love her.  Although Lila still wakes us up at least 3 times a week, it is getting better and we are getting more sleep.  And yet, I still don't care to get naked.

Part of this is the way being a mother has changed my body.  To be frank, I am fatter than I was before.  This is not the result of pregnancy weight that I can't get rid of...the anxiety that I had during my Post-partum Depression caused me not to eat a lot and so 6 months after I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  The way my body stores fat has changed.  No longer does it go into my boobs first (which was a serious blessing in my twenties because up to that point I was an A-cup), or even into my butt (which although not exactly thrilling, is somthing that plenty of rappers seem to think is sexy).  I have developed a GUT.  I have a big belly now.  One of my 11-year-old neighbors asked me if Lila was getting a brother or sister a few days ago...And there is nothing, anywhere that is going to convince me that when I take off my clothes and that thing flops out, that it is anything but kind of gross to look at.  Hell, I won't even look at it.  I have gotten to the point where I often shop at the "big girls" stores.  And just a few short years ago, before my pregnancy, I was a size 6.  I have never cared about how my body looked and used to roll my eyes when girls in school complained about being heavy, so for me to be so self-conscious about myself is completely foreign to me.  I thought I would always love my body, no matter what it looked like.  But I suppose it's easy to feel that way when you have the kind of body everyone wants. Maybe I am being punished for not being more sympathetic back then.

There is another component to this though.  Besides feeling totally and completely PHYSICALLY unsexy, I also psychologically feel un-sexy.  My daughter is 3 years old.  Right now, the entire universe revolves around her.  I am Mommy all day, every day, even when I am at work.  None of the kids in the neighborhood know my name.  I don't know if half of the adults do.  Everyone knows me as "Lila's Mommy".  That's my official name and position right now.  And although logically I KNOW that this is bullshit, I still FEEL that Mommy's are not supposed to be into sex...Unless, of course, they want to be "Mommy" to yet another person, which brings me to my next issue.

I am terrified of getting pregnant again.  If I had known in my teenage years what I know now, I would have stayed a virgin until marriage.  Having what we nicely refer to as "a difficult" child, I have sworn off ever reproducing again.  Not only do I know that I would never survive if I had a second child with anything remotely like Lila's first-year scream fests, but I don't think society at large needs that either.  I know the liklihood of having two kids with the same temperment is unlikely.  I also know that I can use birth-control.  But I got pregnant the first time while using birth control, so I am not one of the faithful practitioners.

I have this friend who unexpectantly got pregnant less than 6 months after her first baby.  Then it turned out it was going to be twins.  Then the twins came 3 months early.  Are you doing the math?  That's THREE kids in a year.  Although this makes me think that any possible combination I could have wouldnt be as bad as that, the prospect of having THREE of them running around is enough to make me want to take some roofies to forget the thought of it.  Twins run on both sides of my family.

But the honest to God truth of the matter is that I just don't care.  On my list of things to do today, getting sexy and losing a half hour (or more) of sleep to sex just doesn't seem like a great idea for me.  I can pretend there is some deep-seated psychological issue at hand, but my libido just isn't there.  And it isn't there for fantasy and it isn't there for "alone time".  It just isn't something I care much about these days.

I remember in my twenties when I wanted to jump on any hot tattooed fella who winked at me but those days are long gone.  Now the only people winking at me are dirty old men.  I have heard about how the thirties are supposed to be the horniest time in a woman's life.  I have heard all about Cougars.  And I just wonder "where do you find the energy?"  Am I missing something?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You can dress them up, but you can't take them out.

Ben believes in "family time". He is big on going out on adventures and taking the kid and bonding or whatever. Every weekend, rather than stay at home and sleep (my preferred way to spend a Sunday) Ben wants to go out somewhere to some park or event or kid-friendly venue to "have some fun" together. But it's never actually any fun.

The idea of this is not entirely familiar to me. My parents learned really early that when you take a small child out to do something, it is hardly ever actually for their enjoyment and almost always for yours. So they stopped taking me to Chuck E Cheese and started just letting me tag along when they went to cookouts and bar hopping. And I didn't know the difference. I thought it was awesome that everyone would give me quarters for the video games and let me raise hell inside the house while the adults got drunk in the backyard. To me, that was family time.

Ben on the other hand had a mother who took him places. Fun places. Ben went to Disney World. And to gigantic amusement parks and to Hawaii. Ben has all these great memories that he wants Lila to have. And to a point, I think it's nice and all. But here's the thing...

Lila is just about 3. First off, I don't think she is going to remember whether we went to the zoo or sat in the backyard and threw rocks at squirrels. She will most likely only remember the way we traumatized her when we made her sit on the potty at the restaurant and the auto-flush went off and (literally) scared the piss out of her.

But even more importantly, going anywhere with this kid requires a lot of planning and a lot of patience. We have to go early enough so that she isn't grumpy and tired but late enough so that she can have a decent breakfast. We have to bring things to amuse her but not the same things we brought last time. We have to make sure we are going somewhere close enough that if she has another "potty" incident, we can get home in time to not have her pooping in her pants. And the truth is, it's stressful.

And what do we usually seem to get for all the stress of making this wonderful outing for our 3-year old? A screaming miserable brat. Any time we plan to take her somewhere that is specifically a kid place, she is a total asshole the entire time. I hate carnivals. But Ben insisted that we take her. And what did she do? She cried because she was tired. She cried because they only had Sprite and not orange soda. She cried because she needed to be a full 4 inches taller to ride on one of the rides and then screamed because she was terrified on one of the kiddie rides.

Even when we do things that are supposed to be "fun for the whole family" it isn't any fun. We went to the beach last weekend. Previous to Lila, the beach was one of my favorite things to do. Its hot and sunny and I can people watch and read and just relax. But there is absolutely NOTHING relaxing about going to the beach with a 3 year old. Besides the 2 trips from the car we had to make because we needed to bring enough toys, food, and drinks to keep her content for a few hours, I barely got to sit down because she likes to run in the sand. Ben took her in the water and the entire time I had to watch because I quite frankly don't trust that he wouldn't let her out of his site just long enough for her to be a subject of a "human chain" (which, by the way I cannot believe they still do. I have NEVER heard a story about the human chain kicking someone under the water). Between the crying to go into the water, the crying because the water is too cold, the crying because the sand castle wouldn't stand up and the crying because we tried to help her with her sand castle, I wanted to walk straight into the water with rocks in my pockets and just keep on going...

Ben says he wants to have nice memories with her. He says he wants her to have these nice memories and to have a better childhood than I did. And although I highly doubt I will be taking Lila to any bars in the near future (it was a different time then), I still don't see the point of taking the kid out anywhere if she is going to be just as miserable as she is at home bored.

I hope this changes as she gets older because I am ready to just quit the fucking family outings in favor of "family chore day" and "family watch TV day" every weekend.

SOMETIMES

Sometimes I hate my kid. There I said it. She's a brat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I try...I really do.

Lila will be 3 this summer. She's a smart kid. She knows her ABCs and can count past 20. She knows her shapes, colors and opposites. She can navigate around the web by herself if I leave her alone. The one thing she has no idea about is how to behave.

So a couple of months ago I began my quest to find a good preschool for her. Just a couple of days a week, but somewhere where she can play with other kids and maybe learn to sit still for 20 minutes at a time. Now, I don't live in some big city that has prestigious schools with waiting lists from birth or anything. Syracuse, NY has a sufficient number of "head start" type programs and private schools that offer programs for 3 year olds.

I had sort of resigned myself to this one around the corner that is in a building adjacent to a baptist church. I saw the kids outside playing and it would be super convenient in that it is LITERALLY at the other diagonal corner of our block. I got the info and talked to the teacher. It seemed okay. No garbage lying around...no serial killer types lurking in the bathroom. I was ready to enroll her.

Then I got wind of another preschool program nearby at the catholic school across the street from the baptist church. I thought they just did K-6 but apparently had started up one program for 4 year olds and one for 3 year olds. Now, I am not really subscribed to any religious affiliation. But as a kid I went to Catholic school myself so I figured I would make an appointment to take the tour.

What happened was unexpected. I LOVED THIS SCHOOL. The kids were extremely friendly and polite and the teachers just exuded this confidence and ease about the way they handled one misbehaving boy. Since this was part of a larger school, the preschool kids sometimes teamed up with the older kids for "mentoring" and games. They participate in all the school events from concerts to plays to book drives. It was everything I could possibly want in a preschool for Lila.

Until I got the information about the cost. The least expensive program (2 half days a week) would cost me $3,000 for the year. That's $300 a month, or about $37 per day. This seemed a little steep considering that the other school charged about a fourth of that. But it was SOOOO much better!

Ben and I looked at other schools but none impressed us as much. None had the atmosphere or quality that this one had. We were hopeful that this would be an incredibly valuable experience for Lila. We put the registration off and hoped that financially we would have a better idea of where we stood before the summer. Unfortunately we do...and there is no way we can afford to send Lila to the awesome school. Because I am a black and white kind of girl, my thinking is that if I can't give Lila the best, we will just skip preschool this year and hope next year is better. But then I get slapped with my own guilty conscience...Am I depriving Lila of valuable learning experiences by not sending her to school? Not because I want to have one of those genius kids, but because she would LOVE it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why doesn't she sleep?

Lila is almost 3. In the early days, the fact that she had colic or reflux or was just a baby was a good enough reason for me to get up 2 or 3 times a night and go to her room. After that subsided and she was about a year or so old, she was still using a bottle to fall asleep and she would wake me up 2 or 3 times a night to get me to find her (empty) bottle for her and stick it back in her mouth. At 2 1/2, I decided I didnt want to do it anymore so we concocted an elaborately detailed story about the "ba-ba fairy" who comes to big kids and takes their bottles and gives them to new babies in need. "Ba-ba fairy" would leave some awesome big-kid present when she came.

It worked out perfectly. The same weekend we bought Lila her toddler bed, my mom wanted to keep her overnight so the next morning when she came home we told her all her bottles were gone but we had a surprise in her room for her. She was thrilled with her big-girl bed and her princess sheet and comforter set. The first few nights she cried a little and I attempted to help by lying in (her tiny) bed with her. I told her that since she is a big girl now, when she wakes up at night, she can just get up and come into our room if she needs to.

That was almost 6 months ago. To date, Lila has yet to get out of bed and come to us. In fact, she still wakes up 2 or 3 times most nights and just cries and cries halfway between sleep and awake. She cries "mommmmmmmyyyyyy" and although I try to ignore her (and about once a week this works and she falls back to sleep) I often resort to calling to her. "Lila, come on into bed with us," I say in my groggy 3am voice. But she just cries harder until one of us gets up and goes to her. She doesn't even WANT to sleep in our bed. And she never needs anything. It isnt that she fell out of bed or lost her blanket or even wants her back rubbed. She just needs us to come in. I usually go in, lay on her floor, and tell her to go back to sleep. This is apparently enough for her. And after 15 minutes or so, I get up and go back to bed.

But this has serious side effects on my sanity. It has been almost three years since I have had a good nights sleep. Because even when Lila has a couple of weeks straight of sleeping through the night (it happens randomly and then just stops) I am still awake several times a night just out of habit.

I live on the second floor of a two-family house. Just underneath Lila's room sleeps a 1 year old baby. If she cries, he wakes up and everyone is pissed. Likewise, they dont let their kid cry at night after a few incidents where Lila woke up and I was a total bitch the next morning. Letting her scream for 3 hours isn't really an option.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I thought it would suck less....WRONG.

Lila is almost 3. I have had it with the whining. Somewhere, somehow, Lila got the idea that any time she is even remotely displeased with anything all she has to do is whine continually and magic will happen and she will have whatever it is. (Actually, she got this idea from spending too much time at Grandma's but that's another blog).

Lila's whining voice is exactly the same sound as nails on a chalkboard....into an amplifier...with feedback screeching in the background. Plus, she managed to inherit my loud Italian projecting voice and uses that along with her remarkable whiny pitch to make me insane. At not quite 3 years old, she has absolutely no ability to be reasoned with and has a temper like a rattlesnake. She can be perfectly happy one minute and writhing on the ground like a mental patient the next. And it seems there is NOTHING I can do about this.

I have tried telling her "Mommy can't understand you when you use that whining voice." I have tried time outs (which she seems to think is kind of fun because she has to try to sit still for an unspecified amount of time). Often, I have to put her in her bed and shut the door and tell her she can come out when she's done being a brat. Usually after about 10 minutes she walks out all smiles and says "I'm done crying mommy." But it never lasts for more than a few minutes.

Sometimes she talks to me like I talk to her saying "COME...IN...HERE...NOOOOOW
...MOMMY!!!!! And I get to feel guilty because she learned to talk to people like that from me.

I have no idea what to do with this whiny brat that my kid has become. She is stubborn, as I know kids her age are supposed to be. But I feel like I spend so much time yelling at her and forcing her to "calm down" that I can't enjoy her. I am afraid she thinks I don't love her.

Wasn't it supposed to get easier when they started to become little "people"?