Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Life-Changing Magic of Giving Up

Oh, early spring. Isn’t it lovely? That magical time of year where you can kick the melting, dirty, gray snow out of your path with your new flip-flops while walking in an unrelenting downpour of freezing rain. Mmm…so life affirming.

Ugh. Oh, how I hate this time of year. So much. It’s dumb and the weather sucks and there are no good holidays unless you count St. Patrick’s Day, which I don’t anymore because I have small children who don’t understand the importance of day-drinking OR green beer OR making an idiot out of yourself.

For all these reasons, I should be hunkered down in a blanket fort binge-watching the world’s most depressing show, “The Killing,” on Netflix. Just biding my time during this bleak and desolate season until May when I can once again blind innocent bystanders with the glare coming off my pale calves.

But what am I doing instead? Making yet another half-hearted attempt at spring cleaning. Because I hate myself.

It never fails. Every year at this time I feel an overwhelming urge to get my house in order. To organize. To scale down. To have one of those minimalist living spaces where you don’t feel like if you fall you’ll be buried under a stack of Bust magazines from the early aughts and no one will ever find you and the last image you ever see is Margaret Cho smirking at you.

Or, barring all that, even just finally wiping off the blades of the ceiling fan that have literally started to bend under the weight of dust and dog hair and dead bug carcasses.

And yet, every year it ends the same way: My husband wrestling the matches out of my hand as I repeatedly scream “BURN IT! BURN IT ALL!”

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It always starts out great. I’m motivated. So motivated. Manic, almost. Because I will get everything done and I will do it all RIGHT NOW. So, I run around the house and [play the “Flight of the Bumblebee” in your head as you read this next part]…

Shove any and all clothes that no longer fit into trash bags for donation, regardless of whether anyone is still wearing them at the moment. That is until I get distracted and realize I need to…

Go through all the kitchen cabinets and finally throw out the canned goods lurking in the back that have been there since the Clinton administration, which I do until I remember I still need to…

Break down all the Amazon Prime boxes piled up in the attic that are leftover from Christmas, which I do until I realize I hate breaking down boxes so I move onto…

Finally cleaning out my gigantic make-up bag, where I will throw out exactly one red lipstick, which looks like the 27 other red lipsticks I own, before getting frustrated and…

Decide to organize my massive book collection, but actually I just sit on the floor and start reading each book I pull down but it doesn’t matter because…

The kids have by now woken up from their naps and so I go and retrieve the red lipstick I threw away from the trash can and put it back in my makeup bag because you never know when you need a 28th perfect red lipstick and…

I get the kids up and curse my messy, chaotic house.

Maybe I need a plan of attack. A tried-and-true cleaning and organizing method. I mean, I tried that crap where I held stuff to see if it brought me joy. Unfortunately I started in the kitchen by the wine rack. The good news is that every single bottle did indeed bring me joy. The bad news is that nothing else got done except an angry, error-and-typo-filled email sent to Amazon customer service about the canceling of the show “Good Girls Revolt.”

I’ve also thought about how I should probably start addressing this problem from a different front, stopping it before it gets to this point, maybe. Do one of those “don’t buy anything new for a year” crap that people always blog about.

Except there is the issue of my book hoarding. I have more books than I know what to do with and I can’t stop buying them and my husband is the worst kind of literary enabler.

Get a Kindle, you say? Well, I hope you die and burn in hell for all eternity, is my response to that.

Sorry. That was a bit harsh. I apologize. E-readers are a great invention. And who knows? Maybe I’ll break down and get a Kindle one day. The day they invent one that gives off that old book smell. And has actual turn-able pages. And is heavy. And is made of trees.

It’s not just me though. My husband loves collecting comic books and graphic novels. My toddler son has a fierce and unbreakable bond to every single toy he has ever gotten. Even that broken yellow crayon stub. DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT BROKEN YELLOW CRAYON STUB! Ever. It’s his most treasured possession. Well, that and the gigantic kitchen set he has never, ever used and takes up 35 percent of the real estate in his room.

Even the baby is a budding hoarder. No one, regardless of age, needs that many empty water bottles to chew on.

And it’s for all these reasons that I always give up pretty much before I even get started.

Which is why I’m just going to go out and buy one of those stupid decorative signs that says “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories” and hang it prominently somewhere and call it a day.

Season three of “The Killing” ain’t gonna to watch itself.

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When your village lives far away

My life would make for a horrible sitcom.

Not because I’m not funny. Pffft. Please. I’m super funny. Hilarious, even. And yet humble. Oh, so humble. I’m essentially the love child of David Sedaris and some really humble dude.

And not because my life isn’t absurd. It is. Oh, how it is. The other day I spent 45 minutes sitting on the floor of my bathroom having a deep conversation with a semi-nude toddler about how every Sesame Street character goes potty on the toilet. Yes, even Big Bird.

And not even because I value my privacy. I mean, I have nude stick figure drawings of myself splashed all over the Internet. Come on.

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So while all the elements are there, my life would still make for a horrible sitcom. All because I’m missing that essential element of the quirky side characters.

Not that they don’t exist. They do. And they can quirk with the best of them. It’s just that they live in Ohio or Kansas or Colorado or Texas or Oregon. And whenever we make friends here in Boston, they immediately get a great job offer in New York City or Washington D.C. or somewhere out in the wilds of Connecticut. Or, like us, they have kids and then promptly drop off the face of the planet, drowning in diapers and Double AA batteries somewhere out there in the ether.

Which is how my husband and I turned into Will and Grace but without Jack and Karen (or, to be more accurate, we’re more like heterosexual Jack and Karen without Will and Grace). We’re Monica and Chandler after Season 10. Marshall and Lily if that show reflected reality in the absolute slightest. April and Andy without a Leslie Knope to continually secure us a great local job. Liz Lemon and James Marsden, but really only because I want to be Tina Fey and my husband wants to be Cyclops.

We’re Raymond without his mother. We’re the Brady’s without Alice (and the dead spouses and, like, four of the children). We’re Cougartown with the same amount of wine but only the two of us here to drink it.

There is no Kramer. I’ve seen my downstairs neighbor a total of five times in six years. And four of those times involved a half wave as he drove away in his car. Or at least I think it was him in the car.

No Sheldon. No Schmidt. No Squiggy.

Now, normally this doesn’t really bother me. It’s just the way it is. We moved, we had kids, we turned into sleep-deprived hermits. We see our loved ones’ faces on Skype and stalk them on Facebook and like 32 pictures on their Instagram all in a row. We’re making it work. And luckily, my husband is my favorite person to hang out with and our kids aren’t awful monsters. In fact, depending on how much coffee I’ve had, they can even be close to adorable.

It’s just that recently we had back-to-back visits from both our moms.

And we got spoiled.

Oh god, so spoiled.

Someone else to answer my toddler’s incessant demands for more juice! Someone to make more coffee! Someone to witness and then agree that my screaming baby is being such a ridiculous drama queen today!

We were able to have date nights! We took naps! We had a date night where all we did was take a nap!

And then woke up to more coffee that someone else made!

We got to see how the other half lives. The half that has family and friends close by. The half that doesn’t have to hop on a plane to see their village.

And it was amazing. And it was bittersweet. And it made us realize how hard this whole parenting juggling act is out here on our own.

So, if you have family close by, that helps you and offers support and brings you coffee in the middle of the day, hug them a bit tighter today. Look them in the eye and tell them thank you from the bottom of your heart. And then hand them your kids and RUN.

RUN LIKE HELL.

FAR, FAR AWAY.

And drink a beer somewhere for me.

 

Wolverine vs. The Really Hyper Bunnies

Here’s a million dollar idea for all you budding entrepreneurial wanna-be types: Invent a self-defense class for parents of small children.

Now, to be clear, I don’t mean for situations where you need to protect your children. Pretty much every parent I know is capable of murdering someone with a rattle if they catch that person even looking at their babies wrong, let alone trying to kidnap them. Not to mention, catch us on a bad day and we may just hand our kids over with the parting words “Good luck. Don’t you dare bring them back before 7.”

No, I mean a class that will teach me how to protect myself FROM my children.

Ha! Ha! Funny, right? Except I’m dead serious. Every day with these kids is like Thunderdome. Especially with the older one. So, I need a way to disarm and subdue my 3-year-old toddler attacker but without hurting him. (Because gouging his eyes out with my keys seems a bit of an overreaction, especially since I’ll be the one footing the bill for his eye reconstruction surgery anyway).

To give you an idea of what I’m dealing with, here’s a brief rundown of his most basic fighting moves:

The Piggy Back Strangle Hold: When the victim is sitting on the floor, jump on their back (making sure your bony knees hit BOTH of their kidneys), wrap your skinny arms around their neck and cut off all air to their windpipe while giggling adorably.

The No More Siblings Head Butt: Wait until the victim is holding another child or has both hands full (say, with a giant mug of hot coffee in one and an expensive electronic device in the other), and then run at them full-force, banging your head right into the very place you came out of.

The Mosh Pit: At the end of a very long day (although very first thing in the morning will also work), hurl your entire 34-pound body with all your might at their body while they’re sitting on the couch. Do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. When they ask you to stop, just do it harder. It’s part of the game!

The Ol’ Innocent Hug Switcheroo: Putting on your best big-eyed cherub face, ask for a hug. Wait for them to tear up and say “of course, baby” and then bite down on whatever flesh you can get your tiny honey badger teeth on as soon as they embrace you.

The Hot Wheels Fast Ball Grenade: Ask for juice. When denied said juice, throw a Hot Wheel (or any heavy-ish toy with hard edges will do) directly at their face. (This one is particularly effective since it’s so unexpected. Give this kid a ball and ask him to throw it and suddenly he forgets how arms work. Put a metal car in his hands and watch him whip it at your forehead with deadly accuracy faster than you can say “I swear to God, if you throw that…”).

I also could benefit from some gentle yet firm ninja moves to protect myself from my tiny but freakishly strong 8-month-old daughter. I’m not saying she’s ever hit me so hard I cried, but…I cried.

On the plus side, she’ll probably never get kidnapped. Any potential abductor would immediately be laid low by a one-two combination of unexpected face smack followed by dead-on nasal head-butt.

So, if anyone out there reading this can teach me how to fight like Wolverine, but on a micro-scale (like if Wolverine was fighting some really hyper bunnies), I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

 

At the murderous teddy bear picnic

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The Seven Year Glitch

It was our seventh wedding anniversary. Which is the baby wipe anniversary, I believe. Or perhaps the Swiffer anniversary. Either way, we had no money for gifts after Googling local preschool prices. But it didn’t matter. The sun was shining. I was wearing a skirt AND non-pregnancy underwear. And my mother-in-law was in town, happily volunteering to watch our adorable spawn so we could drink wine at a restaurant while not simultaneously dodging baby head-butts for once.

It was just what two stressed-out parents of small children needed.

So, naturally, we spent most of the day in the emergency room.

What happened, you ask? Good question. I still don’t know. But to sum up, I felt like I was dying for 45 minutes and then felt completely fine. After an exam and some tests and an ultrasound, it was discovered that I had a very serious case of absolutely nothing being wrong with me. My official diagnosis was “um…your gallbladder, maybe?” followed by that shoulder shrug emoji.

It was just what two stressed-out parents of small children didn’t need. Instead of a nice dinner and adult cocktails not served in a sippy cup and a clumsy make-out session in the driveway, we have an unnecessary medical bill heading our way.

Love. Ain’t it grand?

But that’s what marriage looks like after seven years and two kids and one aging dog. Reality has replaced all the dopamine. You don’t generally have time to be all lovey-dovey. Or hell, even lovey at this point. We’re lucky if we have a free hand to occasionally high-five one another.

So, you have to show your love in other ways.

It’s saying “hey, I’ll clean up the dog vomit.”

It’s saying “make sure you eat something.”

It’s saying “I duct-taped that one part of the dishwasher so it won’t make the high-pitched noise that you hate anymore.”

It’s hearing the baby cry in the middle of the night, AGAIN, followed by hearing “go back to sleep, I got her.”

It’s hearing your partner use every curse word ever invented as they try to get said baby back to sleep and yet not judging them.

It’s hearing those three most beautiful words in the English language, “take a nap.”

It’s hearing the blissful laughter of small children who are being thoroughly entertained and distracted by another adult so you can spend six and a half minutes alone in the bathroom.

It’s making a big breakfast every morning even though you’re exhausted because it’s likely the only meal the two of you will get to eat together.

It’s the arms from out of nowhere that hug you from behind while you’re standing at the kitchen sink stress-eating cheese.

It’s laughing off the fact the other person tried to karate chop your face when you hugged them from behind because it startled them because it’s been so long since you two were able to touch in a manner that didn’t include passing a small child back and forth.

It’s coming home with a bottle of wine when you know they’ve had a bad day.

It’s coming home with a handle of Captain Morgan when you know they’ve had a bad week.

It’s springing for the extra pizza topping even though money is tight because they deserve sausage AND pepperoni, dammit.

It’s saving the last doughnut for them but they’re saving the last doughnut for you so said doughnut just sits there until it becomes inedible and you finally throw way the glazed petrified disk five days later.

It’s refraining from watching the next episode of “West World” for nine days straight because the other one is too tired to make it through an entire hour-long show once the kids are asleep.

It’s chugging coffee at 7:30 p.m. so you can finally make it through an episode of “West World” because the other one has been so patient for the past nine days.

It’s having inside jokes, which are made only funnier because you’re both suffering from extreme sleep deprivation.

It’s giving them a firm, even stern, pep talk when they dare to start to doubt themselves.

It’s carrying around two kids all day and carrying an old dog up and down the stairs and still wanting to hear about their day no matter how tired you are.

It’s going to work all day and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and still wanting to hear all about how the baby almost crawled today.

It’s knowing that this is one of the hardest yet best times in both your lives. Which is why you rush home from work in a panic when your loved one calls and says “I think I need to go the emergency room.” And why, when you are curled up in the fetal position on the stupid floor, writhing in mysterious pain, your only thought is that you can’t die because you love all these people too much.

Happy anniversary, Ryan. I love you. And the best gift I can give you after all these years is to let you know I wouldn’t change a thing.

Also, we’re out of baby wipes.