Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

I can’t remember exactly how old I was. It was probably around age 11. A lot of important revelations are made when you turn 11. Like realizing tater tots are the world’s most perfect food and how one eye roll is worth a thousand “whatever’s.”

So it was probably around this time that I decided it was my nose. It was so obvious. Literally right there way out in front of my face. All my problems in life began and ended with my nose.

What was wrong with it exactly? Pffft. Where to even start? Too big from the front view, too long from the side view. It was simultaneously too skinny at the bridge yet too bulbous at the nostrils. If some girls had button noses, I had a jacked up, gigantic, old lady brooch on my face.

I was the love child of Jimmy Durante and Dumbo.

Oh, if only it weren’t for my nose. I then might have had a shot at being kind of pretty. Not cute, of course. And certainly not beautiful. I was nothing if not a young realist. But with enough makeup and hairspray and overpriced Urban Outfitter sweaters, I could pass for kind of pretty if you were squinting.

Sigh.

If only it weren’t for my nose.

It really was a kind of Greek tragedy on a micro-scale. Because when I was 11, if you couldn’t even pass for kind of pretty, it meant you were ugly. And being ugly meant life was over.

Over the years, of course, the culprits changed. If only I wasn’t so pale. Clearly I was also meant to be a blonde. My naturally dark hair washes me out. And these crooked teeth. The only girl in my junior high school without braces and now I’m paying for it with a smile that would put Steve Buscemi to shame. Obviously I also need to lose 10 pounds. Although 30 would be better.

As I got older, entirely new regions became problematic. Was that the beginning of a forehead wrinkle? Where did this arm flab come from? Apparently these under-eye circles are permanent now. Cellulite? It cellu-bites. Then there was the fateful day I discovered going braless was clearly no longer an option.

There was always something preventing me from living the perfect life of the women in the perfume ads.

But the most disturbing thing of all is how this kind of vicious tearing down of every aspect of our appearance is so ingrained into so many of us women that we no longer see the absolute absurdity of it. It’s completely normal. I mean, talk about multi-tasking. From a very young age, this internal monologue runs through our heads as we earn top grades in school and play three different sports and act in plays and create art and start our careers and earn accolades and fall in love and volunteer and travel the world and get published and rescue shelter pets and raise our kids and buy our own home.

But who has time to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished in life when our unruly and patchy eyebrows aren’t perfectly plucked into an arch?

And I’m sure I would have skipped happily to my death with this Imperial March of Imaginary Facial and Bodily Deformities continually running through my head if it weren’t for one small thing. One very small thing, in fact.

Here in a few months I will be giving birth to a daughter. A beautiful, perfect little girl. A sweet, pink-cheeked tiny angel.

Who is going to emerge from my body as the devil herself.

Yes, apparently my wonderful not-yet-born baby girl is bound to be difficult. Because, according to multiple sources, girls are so much more difficult than boys. My closest family members tell me this. My good friends tell me this. Complete strangers who ask the gender of my swollen belly feel the need to tell me this as they are awkwardly rubbing me like I’m a breathing, bloated magic lamp.

Boys will be boys. But girls? Well, girls will be brats.

Of course, not everyone believes this. But it sure feels like it. And it makes me so utterly sad.

Because whether or not you believe raising girls is more difficult, the fact remains it is more difficult to be a girl. Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels. And the poor lady was still expected not to sweat her makeup off or muss up her hair.

This is the world my “bound-to-be” difficult daughter is entering. Complete with a “I feel naked without ten pounds of eyeliner on” mother raising her to boot.

She doesn’t stand a chance.

Which is why I now realize something has to change, starting with me. Because I don’t want my daughter wasting any time sitting in front of a mirror hating her face at the tender age of 11. Not when there are books to read and trees to climb and adventures to begin and secret giggles to share and songs to belt out off-key and races to run and ice cream on hot afternoons to eat.

I want her, when she even bothers to notice her face, a face that I gave her, to realize that it’s just one small part of the amazing whole that makes up who she is. As are her bony knees and loud laugh and curly hair and love of dogs and freckled shoulders and all the other actual elements that will make up who she is that I can’t even imagine yet.

I want makeup and fashion to simply be something creative she gets to play around with, not something that determines her self-worth. I want exercise to be fun, not something she has to do to be considered desirable. I want food to be delicious fuel, not a life-long battle she always thinks she’s losing. I want success to be how she defines it, not how the boy she likes defines it, not how a magazine defines it and not how the more terrible elements of the Internet comments section defines it.

But that can only happen if she has a good role model. And I’m determined that she will.

Because as it turns out, my nose was actually perfect this whole time.

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If children’s books were actually realistic

Hello! My name is Aprill. I have a son. His name is Riker. He is 2-years-old. He is a wonderful boy!

Riker likes to laugh and play. And he really loves to read!

We read books all the time together. They all sound exactly like this.

Because who doesn’t love short sentences! And lots of exclamation points!

Mommy, that’s who! Or at least not after reading 27 books in a row. Twenty-seven books in a row that feature no less than 4,000 exclamation points!

Yay!

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The worst kinds are the “informational” children’s books. Do you know what an informational children’s book is? It is a book designed to teach children things! But teach them in the most annoying and condescending manner possible!

Mommy may be biased though. She has read a bunch of these books lately. She is trying to prepare Riker for the arrival of his new baby sister! So every day she reads books with titles like “I’m a Big Brother” and “I’m Going to be a Big Brother” and “Why Is Mommy Crying at That Commercial?”

These books are indeed informative. And repetitive! And redundant! And repetitive!

And oh-so-dumb!

This is why Mommy wrote her own children’s book to prepare Riker for a new baby! A more realistic version! A version that includes stretch marks and curse words!

Because sugar-coating is for babies!

The Adorable Fetus That Is Slowly Destroying Mommy

Chapter One

Riker loves his Mommy. His Mommy is the best. He loves sitting on his Mommy’s lap.

But lately, Mommy’s body is changing. Her belly is getting bigger and bigger. So are her butt and boobs. And her feet and hands. And her hips and thighs. She also now has two chins. Count them.

One.

Two.

Two chins!

Daddy says this is because a baby is growing inside Mommy! Mommy says it’s a parasite that feeds off of Mommy’s nausea. This is why she needs to eat cheeseburgers at 7 a.m.

I am going to be a big brother! I am so excited!

new baby family

Chapter Two

Mommy’s brain is changing too. She says it’s just for show now. We play fun games like “Where Did Mommy Leave Her Keys?” and “Where Did Mommy Leave The Dog?” and “Where Is That Horrible Noise Coming From?”

(The answer to all of them is in the fridge!)

Pregnant Mommy can be very fun! This morning she served Skittles and cheese for breakfast. And last week we had ice cream for dinner! Mommy says it’s OK because she’s building a human from scratch and it’s wicked exhausting. Well-balanced meals are for people not currently making a tiny baby spleen.

But if anyone asks, we ate granola and goji berries with organic honey. Yum!

Her skin also looks like a tiger now. I told Mommy I want to have a baby and have tiger skin too. She growled at me. Daddy quickly grabbed me and we went for a long walk. Mommy is so silly.

Chapter Three

Sometimes Pregnant Mommy is not so fun. I gave her a stick I found in the park once. She cried and cried and hugged me super tight! She said “never leave me!” and then she ate my Go-Gurt.

One time Daddy accidentally ate Mommy’s donut. Mommy got really angry. She said a bunch of new and exciting words!

Mommy farts a lot. It is super smelly.

She also makes funny noises when she gets up off the couch. It makes me giggle. Mommy says that’s what happens when you grow to be as big as a planet and have your own gravitational pull.

new baby planet

Chapter Four

When it’s time for the baby to come, Daddy will take Mommy to the hospital. I’m not allowed to go until the baby is outside Mommy’s belly. Mommy said it’s because she will be using even more new and exciting words that I am not supposed to know!

new baby birth

While Mommy is busying being destroyed by my new baby sister, my grandma is coming to stay with me. My grandma is very fun! She gives me giant bowls of sugar! And non-Mommy approved toys that are loud and have no “off” button!

A few weeks later, my other grandma will come stay with us. She is also very fun! She will also spoil me in non-Mommy approved ways. Because that is her job.

Chapter Five

When our new baby gets home, Mommy and Daddy said things will be different for awhile. They will be very tired. They will be very tired because babies don’t like it when mommies and daddies sleep. They also hate clean clothes. But not as much as they hate letting parents eat a hot meal.

new baby tired

Chances are good I will spend a lot of time doing things Mommy and Daddy never let me do before, like sitting in front of the TV binge-watching “Sesame Street” and eating animal crackers from a giant tub! Fun!

Mommy says things will go back to normal soon. Although we’ll still eat ice cream for dinner occasionally.

But if anyone asks, we ate gluten-free spaghetti with non-GMO heirloom tomato pasta sauce and free-range, grass-fed beef.

A brief guide to modern parenting

First of all, you should really already have kids. That biological clock doesn’t tick forever, you know. I mean, wait until you’re financially stable and all that, of course. It’s completely irresponsible to have kids before you’re fully prepared. But if you wait too long, that’s just selfish. Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse, those women having babies in their 40s or those young 22-year-old moms. But as any parent can tell you, you’re never really ready to have kids. So have them sooner rather than later. Once you’ve established your career first, naturally. Did you freeze your eggs yet? You haven’t? Well, nevermind. It’s already too late.

Now you’ll have a lot of important decisions to make as soon as you become a parent and the most important of all is what you feed them. You absolutely, positively HAVE to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best for the baby and completely natural. Not to mention beautiful. Unless you are doing it in public, in which case you should be ashamed of yourself. That’s disgusting and you should really have more respect for yourself. Plus, stop being so smug about it. Not everyone is able to breastfeed and you should really stop shoving it in people’s faces.

Never ever set your baby down if you can help it. It’s literally impossible to spoil a baby with too much love, so hold them close at all times. That is, except when you are letting them cry it out. Babies absolutely need to learn to self-sooth at a young age or it can have dire consequences down the road in their development. Although you should know that technically this method is considered child abuse. Either way, don’t worry. Your kid was probably going to end up a serial killer anyway. I’m sure it’s nothing you did.

This next one I cannot stress enough. Stop helicopter parenting. Just stop. Children will never learn independence and the oh-so-important trait of grit if you don’t stop hovering over them. So, no matter how many times we call Child Protective Services on you, let them walk to the park by themselves for crying out loud.

Regarding discipline, at this point, everyone knows spanking not only doesn’t work, it’s psychologically damaging. And clearly all that New Age-y “get down on their level and try to reason with them” crap doesn’t work. Then there’s the behavior chart with stickers. Pfffft. Are you kidding me? This is why I’m not surprised your children are undisciplined godless heathens.

And please, please! Get off your phone and enjoy your time with your kids. What are you even doing still reading this? Time with your kids is so, so precious. It goes by so fast. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than your children. Although remember they shouldn’t be the center of your world. Honestly, that’s what’s wrong with kids today, parents thinking their baby is a unique snowflake that constantly needs to be engaged in some enrichment activity. That’s not how it was done back in the day. Kids were told to leave us the hell alone and go play outside and God help them if they came back before dusk.

Anyway, remember it’s equally important to make time for your significant other. Have a date night. And don’t be bothered by the fact that if you’re a woman, you will be considered a bad mom for leaving your baby at home so you can finally relax for a few hours. And God help you if you try to enjoy a cocktail in public, you floozy. But please do take solace in the fact that dads can quite literally chug a beer while holding their infant and everyone will tell them what a fantastic and hands-on father they are.

In this brave, new, technological world we’re living in, screen time should definitely be tightly limited. You don’t want to raise a little media zombie, do you? I mean, even though refusing to let your kid watch TV makes you one of those ridiculously annoying hipster parents that we will never, ever get tired of making fun of. Seriously, chillax a bit, “bro.” A little Spongebob never hurt anyone.

And lastly, remember that however many children you decide to have is a very private decision and should only be a conversation between you, your partner and possibly your doctor. Speaking of which, how many kids do you have? I read somewhere that it’s cruel of parents to only have one child. Such a lonely childhood and all that. Did you know 96 percent of murderers in prison were raised as only children? So, when are you having your next one? You know, you shouldn’t wait too long between siblings. Then again, you don’t want Irish twins. Ha! You have how many again? Whoa! Trying for a whole basketball team, eh? All with the same father? Not that it’s any of my business. It’s just so rare for a woman to stick with the same partner for very long in this day and age.

Wait, where are you going? There’s so much more we need to discuss! Like how you have to vaccinate your kids even though vaccines contain bleach and octopus urine, and how Snapchat is really a front for an organization made up of pedophiles who seduce children with non-organic gummy bears!

Just call me Adulty McAdultface

You guys, I gotta be honest. I never thought I’d live to see this day. I was mentally prepared for World War III breaking out, or a zombie apocalypse, or Kim Kardashian becoming Vice President.

But not this.

Never this.

There I was sitting at the table, filling out Mother’s Day cards, when I realized that not only was I filling out holiday cards on time for the first time in history, but that I also, for the first time in history, had stamps on hand. Not only that, but I had enough stamps on hand to even cover the extra postage required for the extra weight the two tons of glitter that covers every Mother’s Day card added.

This foreign and unnatural act was then followed by paying our bills online. And by paying our bills, I mean just that. Going to each website, seeing how much was owed, typing in that amount, and hitting the “submit payment” button. There wasn’t one single instance of juggling, or robbing Peter to pay Paul, or digging for spare change in the gross crevices of our ancient couch, or awkward text messages to my husband asking “hey, would you rather go three days without electricity or five days without cell phone service?” followed by a gun emoji.

And in perhaps the most convincing sign of the End Times, I sent out the rent check. On time. Early even. With an actual check in the envelope. A check filled out properly instead of “accidentally” putting the date where the amount should go in a desperate bid to buy myself another week and a half.

But it was when I glanced over my To-Do (Hopefully-But-Probably-Not-Before-I-Die) List and realized it was almost empty that the full impact of what was happening hit me. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, and please excuse my language, but I think my husband and I might actually have our shit together.

Yeah. I think that’s what this strange feeling is. It’s having your shit together. I mean, just look at the evidence.

Everyone in my family has had their doctor appointment and are up-to-date on their shots. Even the dog. Speaking of which, the dog has tick repellent on him at a seasonably appropriate time and my husband trimmed his puppy nails before he even got close to the Edward Scissorhands phase.

Our car has been inspected BEFORE the expiration sticker expired. Our driver’s licenses currently coincide with the actual U.S. state we are living in. There was an error with our taxes and my husband called immediately and dealt with it calmly and efficiently. There was an error with our insurance and I called immediately and dealt with it while hollering over a screaming toddler and a barking dog. But still, efficiently nonetheless.

We took our vitamins this morning, we have a surplus of toilet paper in the bathroom, we have fresh fruit and at least one vegetable in the fridge. We have an actual friggin’ savings account. We bought sturdy wood bookshelves from a grown-up furniture store to replace our cheap death trap bookshelves made mostly of dust and cobwebs. And on any given day our house is clean-ish enough that I don’t have to hide in the bathroom every time the doorbell rings because it’s too embarrassing to even let the UPS dude glimpse at the unholy mess awaiting inside.

I mean, sure, I’ve been adulting for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve adulted so adulty-like. For instance, let’s compare today with a similar day seven years ago.

My mom wouldn’t get her Mother’s Day card until Halloween and only then because I delivered it in person because I never did get around to buying stamps. And mostly I never got around to buying stamps because I really needed the $8 to go instead toward the overdraft fee our bank charged us because I made a student loan payment and bought a Big Mac with super-sized fries that week. Naturally, all the financial stress would wreak havoc with my health but instead of going to a human doctor, I would just Google “weird rash on shoulder that looks like Abe Lincoln” and put some expired yogurt on it because hey, homeopathy is cheap and also I haven’t cleaned out the fridge in three years.

The only time we ever did get our vehicle inspected or make sure our driver’s licenses were up-to-date or that literally anything about our mode of transportation was legal was when we got a friendly reminder in ticket form from our helpful neighborhood policeman. And even then, it took no less than a minimum of five tickets to get our asses in gear. Taxes were attempted at 11:30 p.m. on April 14 and any letters dealing with any kind of insurance or other scary adult stuff were put in the ever-growing “don’t throw away but don’t open” mail pile. Which wasn’t a problem because the pile could never be found because we never cleaned unless someone who had better adult credentials than we did was coming over for a visit. In which case, most of our possessions were just thrown into the tub and we frantically dusted with an old T-shirt while tripping over our dog who looked like a scary homeless mutt on stilts because we never seemed to have time to groom him.

I gotta admit, it’s a great feeling. This shit-having-togetherness. And I look forward to sailing this sea of grown-up tranquility for the next two months. All the way up until my second child is born and everything falls apart again in the savage vortex that is newborn baby caretaking.

Ah, but it was nice while it lasted.

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