Tag Archives: modern parenting

Why parents really go through their kid’s Halloween candy

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My husband is my wingman

Of all the changes that happen when you have a baby (and there are A LOT, like the never-ending stream of mysterious wet spots that regularly appear on you, your baby and your home that you quickly learn to stop questioning in order to preserve your sanity), perhaps one of the biggest is the way it changes your relationship to your partner.

Some of these are good changes. Watching someone you used to do tequila shots with now napping with a newborn on their naked chest brings about such a flood of love hormones that you almost can’t stand it. Which helps when 30 seconds later the baby pukes all over said naked chest and you are always inevitably out of baby wipes and clean burp cloths.

Some of these changes are bad. Trying to have a conversation about money while both of you are going on only two hours of sleep and attempting to talk over a screaming, teething 8-month-old brings a whole new level to the word “patience” and the phrase “not murdering everyone with a hatchet.”

And some are completely unexpected. Take, for instance, the fact that I’ve discovered my husband is an excellent wingman.

Ever since we had our son, he has been chatting up other moms at the park and on the playground and in every child-friendly bar we have circled on a map of the tri-county area. He just swoops in, pure confidence and swagger, asking them all about their kids and what is up with those breast-feeding Nazis shaming poor mothers, the nerve of them, and then just as quickly swoops out while giving me a gentle yet firm push forward so I can continue the conversation and hopefully not ruin all his hard work with my awkward jokes about murdering my whole family with a hatchet.

And I often do ruin all his hard work. Because I am just the worst at first impressions. The worst. I’m awkward and I laugh too loud and I wear scary dark lipstick that makes me look like I’m ready for a vampire rave at any given moment.

Luckily, I am amazing at third impressions. You accidentally run into me a third time, I’m bound to charm you once you realize that all that black eye-liner is just a part of my quirkiness and not because I want to sacrifice your newborn to my coven.

Unluckily, however, I rarely get that chance. And if I do ever get that rare third chance meeting, I always forget to ask for the digits and seal the deal because I was never a horny 19-year-old frat brother. I firmly believe that men and women are equals, but men most definitely have a jumpstart on the whole awkward information exchange follow-through.

But none of this stops my husband. He never gives up, no matter how hopelessly I bungle these situations. Because he knows that deep down, underneath my spectacular ability to either insult the home state of whomever I happen to be talking to (how the hell was I supposed to know she grew up in Utah?) or make fun of moms who name their daughters Chanel to the woman who, as it turns out, named her son Chanel, I need mom friends.

Raising young children is a lonely business. Whether you stay home, or work, or some combination of the two, it’s hard to maintain a social life. And it’s damn near impossible to start one when you didn’t have any friends who were already parents by the time you got knocked up.

Because even if I finally do tentatively befriend another parent that puts up with me and our kids get along and don’t try to kill each other with sticks or whatever else is handy, there’s always differing nap schedules and quick trips to the store that end up taking three hours and someone always has an ear infection because children collect ear infections like old people collect sugar packets.

But just like emergency purse crackers and singing toys that have an off button, having mom friends is vital to your mental health once you spurt out offspring. You need other people in your life as interested as you are in poop frequency and consistency and who can reassure you they too don’t bat an eye when their child dumps all the cheddar goldfish crackers on the dirty playground and proceeds to sit down and eat them all.

Which is why I’m happy to report that all that groundwork he laid is finally paying off. I officially have two numbers and an email address in my phone now. And even after meeting up once or twice, I have yet to alienate and/or terrify any of these women. At least not to the point where they have run off verbally screaming.

But no matter what happens, when a gal has that kind of wingman by her side looking out for her, really, what more could she ask for?

 

Bad Mom

I feel this should go without saying, but judging by the amount of hate mail I’ve gotten recently, apparently it does, in fact, need to be said.

I love my son.

More than anything.

More than my own life.

More than coffee.

COFFEE, people.

I’m not just willing to die for him, I’m willing to kill for him if it comes down to it. Granted, the only weapons in my house are a 32-pound dog and a frying pan, but I will throw both at your face if you even feign that you mean to harm my kid.

So, yes, I love my baby. And I love being a mom. I could talk (or write) for days non-stop about his every adorable facial tic and all the amazing ways he’s developing into a person. Seriously. Just ask my husband, who gets an extremely detailed run-down of what Riker did that day the second he gets home from work.

Me: “Guess what your son did today!? He pulled the dog’s tail and then shoved all the dog hair in his mouth! It was so cute. Well, up until he coughed out that hair ball. But still. I wish I would have recorded it.”

Him: “That’s great, sweetie. Now would you mind getting out of the way so I can get out of the car?”

Me (not moving): “And then he had peas for lunch and it got all over his face and it was so cute that I took 27 almost identical photos of it with my phone, here look at them, and then…”

Him: “…(sigh)…”

Needless to say, my life is ten thousand times better with Riker in it and if I die tomorrow, with my last breath I can honestly say that I am dying a happy woman.

Except, it’s not needless to say. Because more than once I’ve been accused of being a Bad Mom.

See, we all have our ways of dealing with the stress of parenting. Some people eat the stress away. Some lock the bathroom door and just sit there on the floor, staring vacantly at the wall for an hour. Some hire a babysitter and head out for a night on the town. I’ve even heard urban legends of strange creatures that do an odd ritual called exercising, where they force themselves to move in a vigorous manner to alleviate stress and maintain good health.*

*Science has yet to actually study these mythological creatures up close since one has never been caught out in the wild. Mainly because most scientists refuse to jog to catch up with them.

As for me? I write about it. For over a decade now I’ve been writing this humor column. It started out when I was that lowliest of low creatures, an intern for a small town paper, and has continued in different newspapers and media outlets across the country as well as here on my own website. And for all those years the main subject has been the same: Finding the humor in everyday life, mostly using my own life as fodder.

And my own life now is all about raising my child. So, I take those frustrating days when he won’t stop crying because he’s teething and those surreal moments where you find yourself saying things like “if you’d just stop poking yourself in the eye, you’d probably feel better,” and turn them into amusing (or at least I hope amusing) 800-word anecdotes each week.

And as the words amass on the page, I can feel myself relaxing, feeling better. I pour it all out. And in the end, it makes me a better mom, refreshed and ready to tackle another diaper blowout (where he grabs his poopy naked butt and smears it on his face before I can stop him) with a smile.

However, writing honestly about parenthood, while it will gain you some fans, also garners enormous amounts of criticism. Because in our society, raising children is Very Serious Business. And making fun of a baby or modern parenting or daring to say that the entire process is anything less than an amazing blessing we should be thankful for each day really, REALLY pisses some people off.

And so I get called a bad mom, an ungrateful mom. And my poor, poor son, who people feel so bad for because he has someone like me for a mom. He deserves better.

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me. But the first thing I learned when I became a mom is that guilt, a lot of guilt, comes with the job. So, I feel guilty for all the regular mom stuff (am I doing this right?) and then doubly guilty when someone doesn’t think it’s funny that I compared my baby to a dog in my column (am I ruining his life just to make some cheap jokes?).

There is nothing worse than being called a Bad Mom. Even if it’s by a stranger. Even if you know it isn’t true.

Because being a parent is hard and secretly we are all a little worried that we might be bad at it.

But that’s exactly why I think it’s so important that we be able to laugh at ourselves from time to time. We’ll go insane if we don’t. Or at least I will. I’d much rather view raising my baby as a comedy of errors rather than a tragedy of sleepness nights. Or worse, as a boring corporate lecture where I have to follow a PowerPoint of parenting rules.

Only time will tell if this particular strategy really did make me a Bad Mom. But until then, I know my son will grow up in a house filled with laughter. A house also filled with a lot of crying, barking and exclamations of “No! No! We don’t eat Mommy’s mascara!”

But mostly, hopefully, laughter.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go teach my son to roll over and maybe, if there’s time, to go fetch me the newspaper.