Monthly Archives: May 2015

What one word describes you?

A few nights ago, my husband and I were in bed having a grand ol’ time. The baby was finally asleep, the house was clean(ish), all work emails had been returned and all deadlines met(ish). We had a whole luxurious evening all to ourselves devoid of any responsibility.

Which is why, as I’m assuming you’ve already guessed, we were lying side by side in bed taking dumb pop culture quizzes on our phones.

“Hey, in the ‘Which ‘Star Wars’ character are you?’ quiz, I got Han,” I proudly announced.

“I got C-3PO. That can’t be right. I’m taking it again,” he replied.

This, naturally, soon spiraled out of control as these things tend to do and we found ourselves down the Internet Quiz Rabbit Hole. We found out I’m a Picard and he’s a Kirk. He’s a Jane and I’m a Daria. I’m a Hermione and he’s a Snape. And we are both, in fact, Jim from “The Office” (although one of us may have had to take it four times because she kept getting Dwight).

Eventually we both landed on the “Which ‘Supernatural’ character are you?” quiz. And suddenly, things turned serious. Sure, all those other quizzes were just fun and games. But this was “Supernatural” we were talking about. Our joint all-time favorite show. The show we make sure never to miss. I mean, we own the “Supernatural” version of the board game Clue. I own multiple shirts with the characters’ faces splashed across my bosom. We even have an ongoing joke about how my husband goes on Supernatural forums to discuss the show with other geeks under the handle “MishaLover43” (although I’m 93 percent sure this actually happens despite his protestations to the contrary).

Of course, we both wanted to get Dean. Everyone wants to be Dean. And if you don’t want to be Dean, you’re lying to yourself. Stop it.

Considering what was at stake here and the immense pressure I was under, I got stuck on the question “What one word describes you?” The choices they gave were endless: Dependable. Confident. Lovable. Clever. Etc…

“Hey, what one word describes me? I can’t decide since neither ‘sarcastic’ nor ‘goddess-esque’ is a choice,” I asked Ryan.

“Here, let me see the choices,” he said, taking my phone and scanning it. “Hmm…want me to pick what I think?”

“Yes, please. I’m assuming it’s not cheating since we’ve been together 10 years and you’ve seen me puke naked.”

When he handed me back my phone, there it was, a bright green checkmark beside the one word the person I was closest to in the world thought described me.

Strong.

“You think I’m strong?” I asked, taken back.

“Yeah, I do,” he casually answered before going back to his own quiz.

Strong. It had never even crossed my mind to choose that adjective. Tears actually started brimming my eyes before I sucked them back in less I be caught crying over a stupid Internet quiz.

He thought I was strong.

Correction: He knows I’m strong.

It can be easy as a woman to lose your identity, to only see yourself in relation to others. This is especially true once you become a mother but happens at all of life’s stages.

Nurturing, patient, loving. These were the things I strived to be with my son. As a wife, I strive to be passionate and compassionate. As a friend, I try to be loyal. As a daughter, caring and understanding.

All good traits to have and reach for, even if you fall short of the mark sometimes (and we all do). But too often we only think of ourselves in these sweet, nice categories. Sugar and spice and all that. Because too often society tells us that these are the only categories that matter when you are woman (besides the MOST important category of all: Is she pretty?).

And not often enough do we think of ourselves, of who we really are, outside our relationship to others.

Who am I? Just me? Not as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee, neighbor. But as Aprill.

Just Aprill.

I honestly didn’t know that night. Because the bathroom mirror I look into everyday often told me that I was tired. That I was getting fine lines and sprouting random gray hairs. That I shouldn’t have lost my temper when Riker threw his juice at me. That I forgot to call my cousin back AGAIN. That my husband would never want to be intimate with me again if I kept wearing my old pregnancy underwear every time I forgot to do laundry. That my writing had gone stale. That my career was flailing. That I was failing on all fronts.

And so, I want to thank my husband for being my mirror that night and showing me what I had trouble seeing.

I am strong.

And also, apparently, I am Crowley, the King of Hell, according to that dumb quiz.

But that’s a topic for a different blog.

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How to take the perfect selfie with your baby

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Oh yes, another article about how to give your kids the best summer ever

Here’s a fun story. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I happened upon an article with one of those irresistible yet general headlines that made it seem like it was ALL ABOUT ME. Naturally I had to click on it. And it did not disappoint. The whole thing was devoted to how much better childhood summers were in the 70’s and 80’s. You know, when roving bands of neighborhood children tortured fireflies in glass prisons and we only came home when we finally got thirsty enough to actually choke down some Tang without gagging.

Yes! I thought to myself. I remember riding my bike all day around my grandma’s neighborhood, unsupervised and helmetless! My cousins and I explored the woods behind my aunt’s house all summer long! We didn’t even know what shoes were! Or sunscreen! Or basic hygiene!

We didn’t have parents hovering over us every second! In fact, we were expected to work things out amongst ourselves! Which is why we had so many “Lord of the Flies” level fights (and why my right thumb doesn’t work correctly and how my childhood friend Cyclops Pete earned his nickname).

Our childhood was magical! And look, we all turned out FINE! Cyclops Pete even owns his own car dealership! (Slogan: I’ve Got An Eye For Bargains!). Parents today. Pffft. So glad I read this to remind me not to turn into ONE OF THEM. My kid’s going to know freedom. Believe you me.

Smug and satisfied with myself that I was superior to pretty much everyone else (which is the only reason to be on Facebook in the first place), I continued scrolling where I happened upon a video that had one of those headlines that assured you that everything you were doing as a parent was wrong and your kid had probably died while you scanned this headline so you may as well watch this video because I mean, what else do you have to do, your kid is dead because you’re such a crappy parent, remember? It showed a man with a puppy luring children away from their parents on a playground, even though the parents had taught their children repeatedly about STRANGER DANGER. But the kids went off with the man ANYWAY. Because their unfit, neglectful parents let them play a whole FIVE feet away from them.

Oh god! I thought to myself. I’m never letting my child out of my sight! Ever! Wait, where is he? Holy crap! Where is he!?! Riker!?! RIKER!?!? Oh god, the man with the puppy got him! Must have gotten into the house somehow! I never should have opened the windows! It’s only 85 degrees! And I traded my precious baby’s life for a slight breeze. HOW COULD I HAVE LET THIS HAP…oh, there you are. Have you been in my lap this whole time?

Now, here’s the fun part. Both these things were posted by the same person. Within an hour of each other. A friend of a friend of an acquaintance of a random lady I once met for five seconds in 2006.

And that is modern parenting, y’all.

We now live in a world where people will monologue about how horrible this generation’s helicopter parenting is while simultaneously dialing Child Protective Services to report the 11-year-old playing in the park by himself. These are the same people who talk about how back in their day, they didn’t make their kids their whole world. They loved them, sure. But they knew how to still have fun. They knew how to let loose. They would send the kiddies up to bed and then throw wild parties. Meanwhile, they give me the stink eye for ordering a cocktail at brunch while my toddler sits in the highchair beside me (which is ridiculous since brunch without a cocktail is just lunch with eggs).

And granted, it’s only natural. People have been judging parenting styles ever since time began:

“Doth thou think we are letting little Johnny drink too much ale, my lord?”

“Aye, no, my lady. He’ll be fine. Look at my grandfather. He drank five gallons of ale a day as a child and he died at the ripe old age of 24 with three whole teeth in his mouth.”

“Ah, so true, my lord. And it’s not like we let him play with a ball of rags all day like the Pempletons. How on earth willst their children ever develop an imagination when they are constantly glued to that thing?”

The only difference now is that we all have multiple platforms to make our opinions known and shame parents publicly.

Which is why all of this has led me to conclude that there is, in fact, only one way to give your children the best possible summer:

Stay off the Internet.

Or, at least until September when we can once again freak out over articles about third-graders getting pregnant and a new trend where unvaccinated children lick your kid’s peanut butter sandwich just for kicks.

The varying shelf life of batteries

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Reading is FUNdamental (until it drives you mental)

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Hey mom, I get it now

Hey mom, you should know…I get it now.

No, I mean, I GET IT NOW. I know. And you probably already know I know (you’re a mom afterall) but I’m still going to say it.

You are not perfect. You never were (contrary to what the dozens of cards featuring obscene amounts of glitter that I gave to you over the years said). You have flaws. Lots of them.

I know, I know. Gee, Happy Mother’s Day to you. But I can say that now because I’m finally a mother myself. So, yes, you are far from perfect.

And that’s what makes all the things you did all the more extraordinary.

See, it would be super easy to be a mom if you were a saint. If you had endless reserves of patience. But you weren’t and you didn’t. You were just a person. A human with regular reserves of patience. And yet, you were able to calmly tell me for the 16th time that, no, we weren’t there yet, honey, despite the fact that your brain was silently screaming at me to SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!

I know this because I have calmly told my son no less than 19 times today to leave the computer cable alone, please. And all the while my brain was silently screaming STOPITSTOPITSTOPITSTOPIT!

I now know how much you wanted that last piece of pie. That you had, in fact, been thinking about that damn piece of pie all day. That the thought of eating that pie was the only thing that got you through that incredibly crappy day you were having. And yet, you kindly and nonchalantly gave it to me and watched me shove it into my unappreciative mouth hole simply because I asked for it before you had a chance to grab it and eat it in the safety of the bathroom.

I know because I truly, deeply wanted that last cupcake and yet handed it over to my grunting, frantic toddler with a smile.

I know that you dreaded waking up at the butt crack of dawn just to take me to my stupid volleyball practice. DREADED it. All you wanted was more sleep, or just 15 minutes to enjoy your coffee and the newspaper, or any other activity that didn’t require wearing pants. And yet, every morning, there you sat in the cold, dark car, acting like there was no other place you’d rather be.

I know this because I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 6 a.m. even though I would have traded some pretty vital organs for five more minutes of sleep. And yet I opened that nursery door with a big grin and cheerfully sang the “Good Morning” song to my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed child.

I know that even though you were always 100 percent supportive of all my dreams, even the stupid ones (“I want to be a supermodel and then work as a vet on the weekends!”), you secretly agonized over my future.

I know that when I was being bullied and you told me that violence was never the answer, it took every ounce of strength you had not to punch that tiny brat in the face.

I know that your heart stopped every time I climbed to the top of that tree and that it melted every time I gave you a hug and that it broke every time mine did.

I know that those vaccine shots, that punishment, that alcohol poured over that skinned knee did, in fact, hurt you worse than it hurt me.

I know that every single day you felt that terrible push-pull feeling of wanting to protect me from everything and wanting me to experience everything life had to offer.

I know that you lied when you said everything would be OK. Because you didn’t actually know if everything would be OK. But you would be damned if you were going to let me worry about it.

And I know that the one thing you never lied about was how beautiful I am. And how smart. And how funny. And oh, so brave. I never believed you but you were telling the truth.

Because I am. To you.

I know because I too gave birth to the most beautiful, smartest, funniest, bravest child that ever lived.

Oh, and mom, that goes both ways. I never noticed the muffin tops and cellulite. The crow’s feet and laugh lines. The slightly crooked teeth. All the things I saw you agonize over. I just saw the most beautiful woman in the world who was always willing to let me crawl into her bed every time I had a nightmare. And would probably even let me crawl in today.

I get it now, mom. I get it.

When you’re on the fence about having another baby…

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