Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

I’m wearing these yoga pants ironically

It’s no secret that when you become a mom, you go through a bit of an identity crisis. It can be hard to remember who you were when it feels like who you are now is someone who spends all of her time cleaning up mystery stains. Is that poop or chocolate? Apple juice or pee? I used to be on a first name basis with the mayor and win journalism awards. Cottage cheese or vomit?

Which is why these days I always dread the moment when someone asks me “so, what do you do?”

And they always ask it. Always. Because we are Americans and as Americans we need to immediately know what you do with your life so we can then determine how harshly to judge you.

God bless the U.S.A.

I didn’t always hate this quirk of American society. I proudly declared “journalist” for a long time. I worked hard to become a journalist. I loved being a journalist. It was a badge I wore with honor.

But the waters muddied a bit when my husband and I moved to Boston. Unable to get a full-time job in my field, I started working from home, writing a regular column for a handful of different newspapers and websites. I’d also occasionally take on a freelance writing project. So, I told people I was a “freelance writer.” But since that wasn’t as clear-cut as “journalist,” I’d have to describe what that entailed and watch as people’s eyes slowly glassed over because they were just being polite and oh, is that Susan over there? I should go say hello. Nice talking to you, Amy, was it?

And then we had kids and the waters got downright murky. Because now my main job was keeping those two suicidal lunatics alive while trying to squeeze in some writing time on the weekends.

“But I’m still a writer!” I’d practically scream at people, less they be confused as to my real identity. Sure, “technically” I stayed home and “raised” my children, but that didn’t make me, you know, a “mom.” It’s more like a hobby, really. I’m wearing these yoga pants ironically!

It took me awhile, but I finally realized why this stressed me out so much. The current language we have for women without a clear-cut “job” is awful. Take the word “housewife.” I hate that word. I didn’t marry my house. I mean, that thing is filthy. Even if it proposed, I’d politely decline and then hand it a broom and whisper “I think you know why.” (And “homemaker” is even worse. Especially if you have kids. Because when you have kids, you aren’t “making” a “home” so much as you are trying to prevent said kids from burning it down to the ground).

I also loathe the term “stay-at-home mom.” I don’t stay at home. No mom does. We’re constantly lugging those adorable damn kids everywhere. And yet, no one refers to us as Playground-Library-Gas Station-Coffeeshop-Liquor Store moms.

Alas, these are the terms we are stuck with if we are the ones primarily taking care of the domestic side of life (and fellas, I haven’t forgotten about you; “househusband” and “stay-at-home dad,” even when used tongue-in-cheek, is equally inaccurate and ridiculous).

Can you imagine if we referred to everyone by their most common location and their role in the family? Oh hey, let me introduce you to my other half, Ryan. He’s an office husband.

Or, hey, nice to see you, Sheryl, I’d like you to meet my bar grandpa.

This is Lila, my stay-at-the-yoga-studio sister-in-law.

My crackhouse cousin had a rough upbringing, what with being raised by my prison uncle and my motel aunt.

Why yes, I have two teenagers, a couch son and a Burger King parking lot daughter.

You get the picture.

Why do we still use these terms? Even “working mom” is a bit of a misnomer. No one calls my husband a “working dad.” He’s a graphic designer. Who happens to have kids.

And I wouldn’t even care about how inaccurate the current words are that we use to describe women who deal in the domestic arts, except for the fact that they have a faint whiff of negativity surrounding them. Housewives are considered vapid or desperate or gold diggers. Stay-at-home moms are boring or unambitious or lazy. Homemakers are busy wearing gingham dresses and churning butter in the corner of the kitchen.

So, it’s time we start changing these outdated and, quite frankly, unfair titles. I haven’t come up with the new terms just yet (what with spending all my time sniffing mystery stains and all) but maybe something like “I parent full-time” or “I’m a professional mom” or “I’m my toddler’s juice bitch.”

Or maybe all of us ladies can take a page from the Tyrion Lannister playbook and when people ask us what we do, we coolly respond “I drink, and I know things.”

Because that one is 100 percent accurate.

 

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When the bedtime ritual gets out of hand

The one great thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

The one terrible thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

And nowhere does this become more evident than when you become a parent. Even the most absurd daily rituals become normalized if you do them enough times. Which is how you find yourself doing things like spending 45 minutes making toast until it is “the right color.”

It’s also how I came to dread night-night time.

I’m not even sure how he did it. I suspect it’s because my toddler is secretly a wizard (which would also explain how he always manages to convince me he needs both his dessert and mine).

It started out so simple. Butt. Bottle. Burp.

Boom.

Done.

Set the kid down and Army crawl out of the nursery before he catches you trying to escape. Then bust out the grown-up juice and “Game of Thrones.”

The best part of all was that my husband usually did the entire production himself since I answered the 4 a.m. “screeching murdered eagle” wake-up call.

But then my baby got older. And it started evolving into a two-person job. Book. Butt. Jammies. Sippy Cup. A verse of “You Are My Sunshine” followed by three more verses because it’s impossible to resist the combo of big, brown eyes boring into your soul and the phrase “More pease, Momma?”

However, it didn’t evolve into the behemoth it is today until we did the traumatic switchover to the (cue dramatic music) TODDLER BED.*

And now? Well, now the whole production starts an entire hour before actual “night-night.”

First is the milk. And I’m not being cute when I say he really milks this part. The clever little imp finally figured out he won’t go night-night until it’s all gone. So he drinks it slower than I had previously thought was humanly possible.

Then comes story-time, which is continually interrupted by an intense negotiation of just how many books are acceptable. I say three. He says 9,037. Every single night he somehow manages to make me feel like I’m impeding his mental and emotional growth by denying him the power of the written word. Like I’m some nefarious medieval lord plotting to make sure my serfs never discover someone invented the printing press.

Then comes the clean-up. Considering he spent the whole day putting the entire contents of our house into the living room, this is by far the most labor intensive part of the ritual. And yes, I am that mean Mommy who makes her 2-year-old clean up his messes. If he can dump 4.5 tons of itty bitty cars on my floor, he can pick them all back up. Hell, I’d make my 2-month-old do it too but that lazy bum is still claiming workman’s comp due to “inability to hold her head up.”

That’s the youth of America for you.

Of course, my husband and I help him. If we didn’t, he’d still be cleaning up the Great Puzzle Piece Dumping Bonanza from July.

Then comes the whole putting his entire collection of 832 stuffed animals onto his tiny bed followed by digging through this ridiculous pile to find Mr. Doody, who was sucked to the bottom of the heap like Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards.

There’s the brushing of the teeth, which used to take 90 seconds but now takes 9 minutes because he has to do it himself.

There’s the last diaper change (usually preceded by a half-hearted attempt at “going potty,” which is really just him sitting on a tiny musical plastic toilet while we bribe him with M&M’s and while he wills his body to explode before ever surrendering and actually releasing any pee-pee or poopy).

Then comes “Ribbet,” a game my husband invented, where they pretend to be frogs jumping super high and I pretend not to lose my mind because JUST GO TO FREAKING SLEEP ALREADY.

We then must pull down all the blinds and turn on the fan. DON’T YOU DARE FORGET. May God have mercy on your soul if you forget.

Then come the lullabies. Plural. It started with the aforementioned “You Are My Sunshine.” Now the set list also includes several rounds of “Where Is Thumbkin?” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and usually a request for the moon song, followed by this argument:

TODDLER: Moon song?

ME: I don’t know the moon song, baby.

TODDLER: Please, Momma. Moon song?

ME: I’d sing it if I knew what song you were talking about, sweets.

TODDLER: MOON SONG! MOON SOOOOOOOOONG!

ME: *sings* “I see a bad moon rising…”

TODDLER: No, not that one.

ME: Son of a …

Then comes the “oh crap, we forgot Beep-Beep and Woobie.” Followed by the search for Beep-Beep and Woobie. Followed by a giant swig from the flask I’ve taken to hiding in my nursing bra.

And finally, AT LAST, is hugs and kisses, a last desperate request to watch “just one more ‘Little Einsteins’?” which is swiftly denied and then lights out.

Of course, there is always a little bit of crying at this point, but in general I stop sobbing fairly quickly and am free to spend the rest of my evening joyfully passed out in exhaustion in the doorway to my own bedroom.

*A story for another time

This is why we don’t stick our hand in the toaster

The pitter-patter of little feet. This is what is promised to you when you become a parent. The sound that will fill your house, night and day.

And it truly is one of the greatest sounds in the world.

Unfortunately, this sound is accompanied by a whole orchestra of other sounds that are much less talked about, let alone celebrated. And in our house right now, that pitter-patter is followed by much bigger pitter-patter and an exhausted voice repeating over and over:

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

And perhaps the most frequently heard phrase in our home:

Why? Just…why?

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Because what no one tells you when you’re pregnant is that babies grow up to be toddlers. And being the parent of a toddler means being the perpetual bad guy. My whole life has been reduced to telling a tiny version of myself to knock it the hell off.

And it’s exhausting. Not to mention spirit-crushing for both of us. I want to let him explore and discover the world on his own terms. The only problem is “his terms” always means eating dog poop and climbing up to the top of highly unstable objects and running toward oncoming traffic. All activities that would likely result in his untimely death.

And I think we can all agree that his death would reflect fairly poorly on my skills as a mother.

And so, it’s the constant refrain:

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

Why can’t you destroy Daddy’s books for once?

There for a while I did try to turn a positive spin on these moments like all those new age-y parenting books I never read say you should.

“It FRUSTRATES me when you smear poop onto your head, sweetie.”

“I understand that throwing oatmeal against the wall is fun but then Mommy has to use a freaking chisel to get it off said wall and I’d much rather use that time to do something productive, like watch 11 consecutive episodes of ‘American Horror Story’ on Netflix.”

“Drinking the milk out of a sippy cup that’s been missing for three days just isn’t healthy, pumpkin. Plus, that ER doctor was super judgmental of my parenting skills the last time you did this, remember? Please don’t make me face him again.”

But here’s the thing: Children don’t give a crap. About your feelings. About your time. About your sanity. You can’t reason with them. They just want to throw oatmeal and make feces art and eat rancid chunks of milk simply because they can. Because they are tiny, tiny little savages.

And, I mean, who can blame them? Hell, I’d probably throw my oatmeal against the wall too if it was societally acceptable and wouldn’t get me thrown in the looney bin. It makes a fantastic “thwap” sound.

But one of us has to be the adult. And since I’m the one who doesn’t feel an overwhelming desire to stick my whole hand in the toaster, that duty falls to me.

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

Put your penis away, please.

On the plus side, as much as it sucks to be the perpetual bad guy, at least you aren’t just any bad guy. Oh no. You are no low-level petty thug. You are the kingpin. The Mafia boss. The corrupt police chief.

You are Khaleesi, with huge, fire-breathing dragons on your shoulders.

Your power is absolute.

As an example, let me just point out that yesterday the northeast corner of our dining room was just your average, every day corner. But today, with a mere finger point from my all-powerful finger, I turned it into a toddler torture chamber. Or at least that’s what I’m assuming passers-by thought when they heard the pained howls and cries of mercy my kid belted out when I told him to go stand in said corner as punishment for hiding the TV remote in his dirty diaper.

Sometimes, it’s good to be (the evil) king.

9 tips for successfully baby-proofing your home

1. Don’t have a baby.

Just like abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, not having a baby is the only way to 100 percent effectively baby proof your home. Because no matter what you do, they will figure out a way around it eventually. And if they can’t, they will find a new, even more creative way to kill themselves while simultaneously breaking all your vinyl records and shoving a graham cracker into your Xbox.

2. Buy junior a shock collar

Illegal? Yes, highly. Effective? Probably. Cruel? Depends on how many times the tiny demon spawn has pulled all your books down from the bookshelf that day.

3. Get a helmet (for you)

Sure, kids hit their head a lot at this stage. What with the drunken staggering and all. But actually it’s the parents that really need the helmet. Because despite what science says about young children’s soft skulls, their go-to defensive move when a parent tries to stop them from drinking the bleach they found under the sink is the head butt. And they have deceptively good aim. Which is why I now look like Owen Wilson and have had more minor concussions than an NFL player.

4. Forget a baby gate. Get a Baby Great Wall of China.

The Baby Great Wall of China works particularly well if you also have men sitting at the top of it to shoot tiny Nerf arrows at little precious should he or she attempt to scale the wall and make a break for it.

5. Invest in that toilet seat latch thingie

This little tool is amazing at keeping your baby from opening the toilet lid and playing with poop water. It’s also amazing at keeping out parents who really, really, really have to pee RIGHT NOW because they drank a gallon of coffee because SOMEONE kept them up all night last night. But if you are OK with explaining to junior why he saw Mommy peeing in the shower with all her clothes on, then this is the right product for you.

6. Surgically attach your baby directly to your back (or your chest…your choice) so they are never, ever unsupervised.

This one too is probably highly illegal. It will also make those college interviews extremely awkward. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And, added bonus, you can just teach your kid to call you Hodor and suddenly the whole thing seems culturally relevant.

7. Stop buying cleaning products, which are chockfull of dangerous chemicals.

And without cleaning products, oh no, you can’t clean anymore. Bummer. (That’s what we call a win-win, kids.)

8. Own only crappy stuff.

In theory, this seems like a great idea. But as someone who already only owns crappy stuff, I’m the first to admit that you can also become really attached to the laptop held together with duct tape and the couch covered in martini stains.

9. Don’t own anything at all.

If you decide to ignore my advice in Tip #1, then the second most effective way to keep your toddler with the perpetually sticky jam hands out of all your things is to simply not own anything. However, even then, they would still try to fall out of a window in your empty home. And even if you lived outside, no windows in sight, they would try their damnedest to walk into a river or try to alleviate teething pain by gnawing on a bear.

So, basically, to sum up, you’re screwed.

Good luck!

So, you’re telling me I’m not the Mother of Dragons?

Guys, I have good news and I have bad news.

The bad news is that I will not, in fact, be giving birth to a dragon and hence will not be known as the mother of dragons forevermore. Which wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t for the fact that I now have to send back all those custom T-shirts.

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But the good news is that I am pregnant with a human. A very healthy little…(drumroll)…boy.

A boy!

I have absolutely no idea how that’s going to end up considering I still don’t understand grown men with that particular body part (fried eggs don’t belong on pizza OR cheeseburgers, guys). But I’m going to be super excited about it until the first time he pees in my face when I’m trying to change his diaper.

I have a whole, long post dedicated to the ultrasound that led to this big gender reveal, which I will post later, but for now just wanted to share the good (or bad if you were REALLY hoping for a dragon…sorry, Ryan…maybe next time, honey) news with you.

(Or at least with the one of you that actually cares…hi mom *waves enthusiastically*).

I want my life back, George R. R. Martin!

It has now been a month, George. One month spent reading your series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” And considering I am only on book four and your books are approximately the size of Wyoming, I still have miles to go before I sleep.*

See, thanks to you, George, every free second of my life is now devoted to your stupid books. I can’t put them down (and when I do I have to make sure I don’t set them down on any small children and/or pets so they don’t get crushed to death).

And the further I get into the books, the worse it gets. For example, I now read in the shower…

I’m now reading when I should be working, which can make for some lived and died without setting eyes upon salt water confusing articles.

If I actually did yoga instead of lying on my mat eating Cheetos, I’d read even while doing yoga:

And don’t ask me how I managed it, but I’ve even read during sex before:

Hell, I’m pretty sure at some point during “A Storm of Swords,” my husband had surgery or something and almost died or some junk but to be honest, I have no idea. I was too engrossed in whether or not Jon Snow would take over Winterfell and if someone would finally get revenge on Joffrey.

Look, buddy, I’ll level with you. You’re not my first. I mean…heh…I mean, by FAR (I’ve, uh, been around the literary stacks, if you know what I mean). As a kid, I spent three weeks invested in Narnia followed by a guilty romp through the “Anne of Green Gables” series. At the turn of the century, pretty much most of my life was devoted to “Lord of the Rings”; the movies, the books, the Google searches of a shirtless Orlando Bloom. After that, I became obsessed with Harry Potter, disappearing for a week only to emerge from my cave, blinking from the glare of the unfamiliar sun, to find I missed my own funeral. I got down and dirty with Katniss and Lisbeth and, while I’m not proud of this next phase of my life, there was also that one afternoon when I read the entire Twilight series. In fact, I absorbed “New Moon” simply by taking an hour-long nap on it (doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power to absorb a teenage girl being mopey for 200 pages).

But the difference is that your books, Mr. Martin, are each 1,000 pages long and have approximately 62 million characters. In fact, the one I’m reading now, “A Feast for Crows,” has four maps and an 80 page appendix detailing who all the characters are. 80 pages, George! That is utterly ridiculous. But even though I know it is ridiculous, you have made these goddamned books so interesting that I actually do go back and forth between the stupid maps and the appendix so I make sure I’m keeping everything straight.

And then…and then…what? What the hell am I supposed to do when I finally finish the recently published fifth book? Wait for five years for you to finish the sixth? Huh?

HUH!?!

Look, dude, I’m from Generation X. Smartphones with 3G speed are too slow for us. I can’t wait around five years while you tinker around on your goddamned typewriter. Especially since I know you’re going to leave a shitload of cliffhangers and unanswered questions at the end of “A Dance of Dragons.”

I mean, a lot can happen in five years. Hell, in five years, books probably won’t even EXIST! Or worse yet, I could be a soccer mom! Who only cares about her stupid kids! And not a book series she read five years ago!

WHY ARE YOU RUINING MY LIFE, GEORGE!?!

P.S. If you kill off Arya Stark, I will hunt you down and stab you in the throat.

P.S.S. Don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but I’m a huge fan. You doing any book signings in Boston soon?

*I totes stole that line.