How was your day, honey?

My husband asked me how my day was. So I drew him this…

how was your day 1

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You have to crawl before you can raid and pillage

For only being 9-months-old, my son has a lot of interests. I mean, a LOT of interests. All day long, he’s just interested in everything.

For example, here’s a list of things my son is interested in:

Pulling off his left sock.

Dropping heavy, loud things on the floor.

Shaking his head no. At everything.

Licking the couch.

Licking the dog.

Licking my cellphone.

Obviously eating the left sock he pulled off because I can’t find that damn thing anywhere.

Biting my collarbone.

This mug full of super-hot coffee in my hands.

crawl 1

And here is a list of things my son is not interested in:

Learning how to crawl.

Yes, my son, while a master at the art of sitting, has absolutely no interest in taking that skill to the next level. And it’s not just that he’s not interested in learning how to crawl. It’s as though he actively loathes even the mere thought of transporting his tiny body in such a crude manner. I’m talking put that kid on his stomach and he either:

  1. Lies face down, arms and legs splayed straight out, while crying pathetically. Or…
  2. Turns round and round on his stomach like a clock (while crying pathetically), just biding his time until I finally give up on the whole charade, pick him up and let him get back to his very important job of licking the couch.

Now, in general, this does not bother me. One, because I know all babies start crawling in their own good time. I mean, sure, I have irrational concerns my baby is not developing normally, just like everyone else in America. But it’s fine. Because just like everyone else in America, I assume I will be rich someday and as such can always hire someone to carry him from class to class when he’s enrolled in Harvard.

Two, his semi-immobility does make my job exceedingly easier. Which, as an inherently lazy mom, I really appreciate. I know I can set that kid down in the middle of the kitchen and leave the room and when I get back he will still be in that exact same spot. Or spinning in a circle crying pathetically, but still relatively in the same spot.

And three, I’m pretty sure he’s just biding his time until he can jump straight to walking. Because just like a dog who doesn’t realize he’s a dog but thinks he’s human (and yes, yes I am comparing my baby to a dog again), my baby doesn’t realize he’s a baby and thinks he’s a 35-year-old Viking. A 35-year-old Viking that must yell his barbaric yawp and savagely pillage the toy basket on a regular basis.

And Vikings don’t crawl, thankyouverymuch.

crawl 3

What does bother me, however, is the constant stream of “Is he crawling yet?” I get from other parents. There is a dark, dark underbelly to the parenting world and it is composed of people who constantly want to play the game “Let’s Compare Babies!” Which is less a game and more just a way for them to tell you all the ways their baby is better than your baby. It usually goes something like this:

Other Parent: “Is he crawling yet?”

Me: “No.”

Other Parent: “Oh. How old is he again?”

Me: “Almost 9-months.”

Other Parent: “Oooh. Nine months and not crawling yet. Hmm. Well, Sabrina was crawling when she was 7-days-old. But the doctor said that’s exceedingly rare. All babies crawl in their own time, you know.”

Me (to the waiter): “I need a cocktail.”

Other Parent: “It’s 9:30 in the morning.”

Me (to the waiter again): “Make it three.”

Yes, no one wins at “Let’s Compare Babies!” Because if you’re a parent like me, you end up feeling like crap and spending the rest of the day Googling “crawling specialists.”

And if you’re the Other Parent, you end up getting hit by a bus, like in my fantasies.

crawl 2

How I feel when people start celebrating Christmas too early

earlyxmas1 earlyxmas2 earlyxmas3 earlyxmas4 earlyxmas5 earlyxmas6 earlyxmas7

Ever get that feeling you’re being watched?

My son’s current favorite toy is a stuffed dog. A stuffed dog that talks. And sings. And lights up. And requests in a bit too perky of a voice that you hug it. A lot. Like, a lot a lot.

And I’m pretty sure it’s trying to kill me.

creepy dog

Oh sure, maybe you could chalk up my paranoia to watching one too many demented child’s toy-themed horror movies or too many late nights falling asleep to “The Twilight Zone” reruns (yes, I’m old, shut up). But the evidence is mounting.

And I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time now.

It started out innocently enough. Riker would be playing with Creepy Dog (as I’ve taken to calling it) and when he was done, I’d push the button on its foot that turned it off. Three minutes later, there was Creepy Dog, sitting beside us on the couch, perkily telling us “IT’S LEARNING TIME!” and then requesting that we hug it.

It must have accidentally turned on when I adjusted my legs on the couch, I pathetically told myself.

Things were fine for awhile (like they are in every single horror movie I’ve ever seen). And then Creepy Dog turned on by itself again. Only this time, no one had been playing with it for hours and it was lying (creepily) by itself on the coffee table. “I love you!” it said. “Can you and I be friends?” it said. And then it firmly told us that we should hug it.

OK, OK, sure. Maybe those two incidences can be explained by faulty manufacturing or science or whatever. But before you cart me off to the looney bin, just read what happened next.

A few days later, I was in the bedroom, rocking my baby to sleep. He had just drifted off when suddenly I hear “IT’S LEARNING TIME!” followed by a stupid song about colors, followed by “I love you!” followed by another stupid song about shapes or some junk, followed by a DEMAND that we hug it. And worst of all…

…it was coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Well, obviously. But more importantly, it was coming from inside the living room.

And we were in the bedroom. Me. The baby. The dog. All piled on the bed together. Even that goddamn fly that has been living in our house the past five months that I can never seem to squish was chilling on the bedroom wall.

And if none of that is enough to convince you, the above Creepy Dog monologue/karaoke show was followed by the phrase “PEEKABOO! I SEE YOU!”, repeated no less than seven times in a row.

I craned my head around the bedroom door and damn if I didn’t see Creepy Dog staring right back at me, sitting up (creepily) on a chair in the living room. A chair I don’t remember leaving him in.

Granted, my memory isn’t the most reliable these days (I lost my house keys for eight months and found them two weeks ago in, get this, my purse…I may also leave a disproportionate amount of Riker toys in the fridge and leftover chili in the toy basket, but whatever). Still, there’s a good 14 percent chance I did not leave Creepy Dog in that chair (now if I found him in the fridge, that would be a different story).

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if I’m ever murdered, Creepy Dog did it.

creepy dog 2

The “Mom Haircut” & other parental sacrifices

I fought it for as long as I could. Because I was the cool mom. The edgy mom. The mom with the perfectly messy Botticelli-esque curls cascading halfway down my back like one of those vacant-eyed models randomly jumping in a field of wildflowers in an Urban Outfitters catalog.

mom hair 1

Except in reality, my long, wavy hair was always tied up in a school marm bun because my 8-month-old son has made it his personal mission to pull out each and every strand of it. And those few times when it wasn’t tied up, it tangled so quickly that one would think it would take more effort than a slight breeze (such as making out with a weedwhacker) to get that unique Bride of Frankenstein look I so often sported. Seriously, if I stepped outside, neighborhood birds started nesting there (although you can hardly blame them, what with the nice buffet of pureed peas, scrambled eggs and pancake crumbs my son had thoughtfully left for them between the strands and all).

mom hair 2

But then came the last straw (a straw very much like the texture of my tortured hair): A windy Halloween day, me outside for most of it with my hair down and getting whipped around relentlessly while I toted my costumed baby around to run errands. A last stop to get coffee before heading home and then THIS conversation:

Barista: “What a cute baby chicken costume! And what are you supposed to be, mom?”

(Note to reader: I wasn’t wearing a costume.)

Me: “Tired Mom Whose Clothes Don’t Match.”

Barista: …(confused look)…

Me: (looking at my reflection in the baked goods glass and taking stock of my combat boots, stained cargo pants, hastily applied black eyeliner, dark rings under my eyes and tangled hair that had grown to three times its original size) “Amy Winehouse. …(sigh)…I’m Amy Winehouse.”

Barista: …(flicker of recognition)… “Oh! I love it.”

And so it was with a heavy heart that I walked into the hair salon yesterday. We had had a good five-year run, my long hair and me. But the party was over. It was time to grow up. Time to look like I didn’t spend my weekends going to music festivals and eating maple bacon kimchi cupcakes from a food truck.

Time to tell the world that what I really did was watch “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix while pulling my newly mobile baby out from under the coffee table every three minutes.

On the plus side, my hair stylist was a veteran mom herself and understood my plight.

Stylist: “So, what are we wanting to do today?”

Me: “Chop it off. Chop it all off.”

Stylist: “Um…OK. Into any particular style?”

Me: “I have a baby. But I want a hairstyle that says I don’t.”

Stylist: “So no ‘Mom Bob’ then?”

Me: “Exactly. I love my baby almost more than anything. And that one anything is a mom haircut.”

So how did it turn out, you ask? Great! I think. I mean, it’s shorter now. And stuff.

Truth be told, as soon as I left the salon, I walked home in the rain and wind, ruining the gorgeous professional styling, and then immediately tied what was left of my hair back into a teensy ponytail so I could relieve my husband of baby duty. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with my son and his creepy bear that creepily says “Peek-a-boo! I see you!” when you hug it. And then this morning I immediately threw on a hat over my unwashed/unbrushed hair to walk to a coffeehouse to spend the very few free moments I have to write this.

And I realized that any hairstyle I get from now on will be a mom cut. Because I’m a mom now. A mom who, just like generations of moms before her, will choose function over style almost every time when it comes down it. Because vanity is a luxury we can no longer afford. Or even really want to afford anymore. Not when what has taken the place of that vanity is a tiny drooling person who giggles every time Mommy tickles him with her hair, no matter the length or style.

Yes, as it turns out, I do love that little stinker more than anything. Period.

 

 

Oh my gourd, she murdered a pumpkin

I was 33 when I murdered and mutilated the dead body of my first pumpkin.

I know. I know. How did I ever manage to make it this far in my life without committing veggiecide? I mean, ripping out the slimy entrails of innocent gourds is practically a rite of passage in this country. Even kindergarteners are handed a knife and told to stab a pumpkin in the face.

Well, it’s a long story, kids. One that I’m probably going to make even longer because my editor wants at least 800 words.

It all started with my childhood…

(flashback wavy lines, flashback wavy lines, flashback wavy lines)

When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating. This had less to do with child abuse (as I VERY vocally insisted to my mother back then) then (as I realize now) it had to do with the time period. See, back in the early ancient period known as the ‘80s, everyone was afraid that 1. all teenagers were involved in satanic cults and 2. those satanic cults spent all their time stuffing razor blades into mini Kit Kat bars. Add on top of that the fact that most of my extended family felt Halloween glorified the Devil and I lived in a place where non-working tractors outnumbered people four-to-one (making for quite a long hike just to score some free yet probably non-name brand candy), and you have the perfect recipe for a Halloween-less youth.

Not that I was completely deprived. My aunt threw a great party every year on the night before Halloween, complete with costumes, bobbing for apples and big piles of razorblade-free candy. We just couldn’t call it a Halloween party. Because it wasn’t. Because Satan is always watching.

And there was one year when I was a teenager that I did actually go trick-or-treating. But that was really just more of an excuse for 11 of us to jump into a completely unsafe car while in costume and drive around while smoking cigarettes and sharing a bottle of Boone’s Farm (which tasted like gasoline and haunted watermelons). I did also attempt during this time period to participate in that other time-honored Halloween tradition, the haunted house, but at the first sign of a chainsaw I threw up my hands, yelled “NOPE!” and sprinted back to the car.

halloween2

As I got older, I spent a few years doing the “get drunk at a bar while wearing a costume that would make your feminist grandmother cry” Halloween tradition. I also would dress in “costume” for work, but usually only as a gypsy or Amy Winehouse since neither required me to really change my hair. Or my outfit. Or the amount of eyeliner I usually wore.

So, as you can see, my relationship with Halloween has been spotty at best. Which is why I probably never decorated my house for the holiday, inside or out. And why I haven’t worn a costume the past few years (unless you count my standard “Gypsy Amy Winehoue” everyday look). And why I quickly lose my enthusiasm for handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

“Oh look, another Iron Man and Elsa from ‘Frozen.’ How original. Take your Snickers and go. You disgust me.”

halloween3

But now…well, now I’m a parent. And that has made all the difference this year. Suddenly I’m all in the holiday spirit, like the love child of Martha Stewart and Elvira.

Which is how I came to commit my first veggiecide. A task I took a bit too much glee in judging from the horrified look on my husband’s face.

Hey honey, could you maybe not laugh maniacally while holding that giant knife and pulling out the pumpkin guts. It’s…uh…it’s creeping me out, babe.”

pumpkin1

I’m even finally using the Halloween kitchen towels my mother-in-law got me years ago. I mean, I use them the rest of the year too. (What? Suddenly I’m a Rockefeller who can afford enough kitchen towels to not use the seasonal ones year-round?) But I’m using them now too. On purpose.

And, best of all, I already bought my son his costume (a baby chicken outfit because 1. it was on sale and 2. we want to save the Chucky costume for next year when he can walk and hold a bloody knife better) and plan to take him for his first trick-or-treat outing at what his dad calls “my work’s Halloween thingy event for children or something.”

Yes, I must say, making up for all that lost time has me downright giddy and we still have a week to go until the big day. In fact, I may even dress up in costume this year. As Zombie Gypsy Amy Winehouse. Which won’t even require makeup since I haven’t had a full night’s sleep my son was born.

 

 

Mommies don’t get sick days

I regret a lot of things. The fringe vest I wore for my seventh grade school photo. That time I asked for a “pixie haircut” and instead spent half of my junior year in college walking around with a mullet. Pretty much all of 2004.

I even regret things I haven’t done yet, like when I finally finish this six pound burrito sitting right beside me. I’m going to eat it all. I know this. I’m going to hate myself for eating it all. I know this. And yet, I’m still going to do it. Because…well…burrito. I mean, come on.

But in the seven months that I have been a parent, I have never once regretted my decision to bring a loud, tiny human into this world. Not even when he projectile pooped onto my hand. Not even when a too vigorous game of “Super Baby!” led to him puking directly into my mouth.

My.

Mouth.

Not even when I spent an entire night awake lying on the floor of a hotel while Riker slept on my chest because it was the only place he would fall asleep in that strange room (and I was too afraid to lay in the comfortable bed for fear of falling asleep and rolling over and crushing out his little life with my gigantic milk boobs).

But then…then Thursday happened.

Oh, Thursday.

Thursday Bloody Thursday.

Or, to be more accurate, Thursday Mucousy Thursday. (And you are welcome for THAT visual).

Yes, on Thursday, I was sick. Nothing too serious. Just your typical “I’m going to lay here on the floor until I die” illness. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Except that this was the first time I had been sick while also legally responsible for keeping a baby alive, which is harder than you think considering all babies are born with an innate death wish. As far as I can tell, once kids pass the six-month mark, all their bodily effort goes into trying to fall from high distances onto the floor so that they can eat whatever object it is on the floor that is guaranteed to choke them.

(I’m assuming this death wish is also why my son tries to stick his fingers into the mouth of whatever super scary person I am sitting next to on the subway).

sick baby

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had to take care of a baby while sick or hungover or while missing a vital limb, but if you haven’t, let me elaborately describe it for you using all my writerly tricks I’ve learned over the years:

It sucks.

It sucks so hard, you guys.

And mine was just your average cold combined with typical parental sleep deprivation. It’s not like I had the flu or Ebola or that mysterious disease I always came down with on Mondays when I was in high school that forced me to stay home and miss out on wonderful educational opportunities such as a chemistry test.

Still, when it takes all your physical, emotional and mental energy and focus to take care of a child, even losing one-fourth of that energy and focus to a cold is devastating. Because the kid still needs fed, needs changed, needs 52 games in a row of the peek-a-boo-esque “Where’s Mommy!?!”. And worst of all, that cold is not going to stop your baby from rolling directly under the gigantic, non-flat screen TV and kicking it with his surprisingly strong legs (because “Tempting Fate!” happens to be his second favorite game right after “Where’s Mommy!?!”).

We managed, of course. Because you have to. Because somewhere underneath all that phlegm and mucous is the maternal instinct, still operating, still forcing you to care where your baby is at all times. But it wasn’t easy. That day falls in-between the “all-day high school track meet where it was 34 degrees and my uniform was a glorified swimsuit” and “driving ten hours to New Orleans with a champagne hangover the day after my wedding” on the Hardest Day Of My Life So Far scale.

In fact, we spent most of it lying on the floor, him repeatedly trying to roll over to the dog so he could pull all of Buffy’s hair out and then eat it and I holding haphazardly onto his leg while convulsing oh-so-sexily with wet coughs and sneezes.

The low point, by far, was when I handed him his Fisher-Price hammer and begged him to kill me with it.

“You can claim self-defense! People read my column! They already suspect me of being an unfit mother! Plus, no jury in the world would convict you what with a face like that! Just do Mommy this favor. Put me out of my misery.”

I’m pretty sure he would have done it too, if he wasn’t distracted by a sudden, overwhelming need to try to fall out of his high chair so he could eat the candy wrapper on the floor.

I still don’t regret having my son. But after Thursday, I do regret my lack of independent wealth so I can hire someone to play “Where’s Random Caretaker!?!” with my son while I ride high on a Nyquil train to All-Day Sleepytown when I’m sick.