Tag Archives: parenting fail

An imagination vacation of utter relaxation

It has been a long, hard winter. Followed by several weeks of spring that were a long, hard winter. Followed by one nice day. And then two more weeks of snow.

On top of this, my husband has just finished a huge project at work. He worked nights, weekends. For months, he was either at work or at home working. At one point he got so stressed out he stopped talking in complete sentences.

Neither of these things, of course, registered with our kids, who still wanted to do things and learn things and go places and, in general, needed constant parenting even though we were a man down and living on Hoth.

“Can we go outside, Momma?”

“No, baby, there’s a snowstorm.”

“Can Daddy take us outside?”

“No, baby. Daddy is crying in the kitchen and stress-eating frosting straight from the can.”

Which is why we are taking a much-needed vacation in a few days. I mean, we NEED this as a family. NEED IT. Everyone is snippy and crabby and a few other highly descriptive words I can’t use because this is a family website.

So, we are heading to a cottage resort on the Maine coast. I even sprang for the fancy big cottage. With an ocean view. And a fireplace. And a porch. And separate bedroom for the kids. A separate bedroom that hopefully locks and is soundproof.

As I’m sure you can guess, I cannot wait. Here’s how I imagine it will be:

Everyone will wake up in a great mood on the morning we are supposed to leave. The sun will be shining and birds will be singing and then the little singing birdies will help me get the kids dressed. In fact, the morning goes so smoothly that we realize (as we coolly and calmly climb into the car) that we have time to go out to eat for breakfast. Which is how we find that adorable diner with the sassy waitress who entertains the kids so my husband and I can actually eat our food and drink our coffee and have a conversation instead of shoveling it all in and grunting at each other.

The kids will then immediately fall asleep in the car until we arrive at the cottage (which is even bigger than we thought) and the weather will be 75 and sunny every day with a light breeze.

We will spend our days wandering through the quaint little town and walking along the seashore and eating too much food and drinking too much beer and buying frivolous things we don’t need because, hey, we’re on vacation.

I will read at least three books and finally make a dent in that giant magazine pile that’s been building for months.

Every night the kids will immediately fall asleep in their SEPARATE bedroom at 8 p.m. while my husband and I sit on the porch and drink even more adult beverages and talk about everything and nothing and make-out like gross teenagers.

And, of course, I will take a thousand photos and look back upon this vacation as one of the best times of our lives.

Sigh. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Yeah. Except, I have gone to too many places with my kids to delude myself into really believing all that. So, here is how our vacation is actually likely to go down:

We will leave the house approximately two hours late because of multiple pants-related tantrums. Breathless and sweaty and irritated, we will shove the kids into their car seats as they cry and we curse under our breaths. Once we are finally on the road, I will start hurling handfuls of Cheerios into the backseat because the kids won’t stop whining about how hungry they are. About 45 minutes in, we will have to turn around because one of them forgot their woobie even though they were reminded 12 times not to forget their woobie.

Back on the road, AGAIN, we will keep turning up the radio to drown out the “how much longer?” whining from the oldest and the hysterical sobbing from the youngest.

The cottage will be much smaller than we thought and the weather forecast will predict rain the entire time we are there. Possibly snow. And as soon as we get our luggage out of the car, the kids will start complaining about how bored they are. When I angrily snap back at them “I don’t care,” the youngest will get her revenge by throwing all my books into the toilet.

The kids will play on the beach for exactly 14 minutes before wanting to move onto something else, both oblivious to the fact they are covered head to toe in sand. After cleaning them up, we will try to go out to eat but never actually get to sit down at the same time because the youngest keeps figuring out how to get down from the highchair like some tiny rabid Houdini and the oldest chooses right now to poop his pants.

Very soon after this we’ll say screw it and head back to the cottage where we’ll put the kids to bed early and open a bottle of wine and start a fire in the fireplace. As soon as the glass hits our lips, our daughter will start crying. Which wakes up our son. Who also then starts crying. And they’ll both end up in bed with us. Where they kick and squirm all night. And my husband and I end up awake but unable to move for the next eight hours, just laying there in a hell of our own making.

And, of course, I will take a thousand photos and then leave my cell phone in the bathroom of that restaurant, which I will only remember as soon as we are back home.

Sigh.

But THE POINT IS we are going on vacation. Where, no matter what, memories will be made.

And hey, in just a few short decades, we’ll only be able to remember the good ones.

Hopefully.

 

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Love is a battlefield, indeed

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When life hands you spoiled milk, make bathtub gin

Ask any parent what their worst nightmare is and then immediately cancel any plans you had for the next three days. Because that’s how long they will take to answer you. Because parents are worried about everything.

For instance, among my top ten worst nightmare scenarios as a pregnant mom of a toddler are:

  • A serial killer named Meatclaw kidnaps my son
  • I go into labor on the day the hospital runs out of epidural
  • My son turns out to be awesome at soccer and all my weekends have to be spent sober and pretending to like soccer
  • My grandchildren will have to participate in The Hunger Games in the dystopian future, which they will lose because no one in my family knows how to shoot an arrow OR how to do a fancy side braid
  • I get cancer and die. My husband, overwhelmed with grief, gets tricked into marrying my vapid, bimbo nurse Trixie after my funeral and she then raises my kids to be the kind of humans who genuinely enjoy keeping up with the Kardashians
  • Prohibition comes back and I am arrested for Googling “how to make bathtub gin”

And none of those things address the daily onslaught of new things we as parents are told to be afraid of, like haunted mobile apps that possess children and studies that prove babies who didn’t learn Mandarin in utero will never get into college and helicopter parenting causing rebellious kindergartners to start stripping.

Of course, it’s not all death and destruction and illicit moonshine runs. The mundane can be almost as terrifying when you have kids. For example, at some point on that mental list that every parent has, probably down around No. 37, is the infamous nightmare of the missing sippy cup.

Oh god, the dreaded missing sippy cup. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s been on the back of your mind for awhile, the fact that you can’t remember the last time you saw it. And even though you’ve been known to struggle with anything above second grade math, you instantly do some fancy algebra in your head and deduce that there are three in the dishwasher, two in the cupboard, one he’s currently drinking out of and one being used as a load-bearing wall in his Fortress of Generic Blocks That Are Not Legos Because He’s Only Two and Mommy Is Cheap.

Which leaves one completely unaccounted for. And after some more fancy mental calculations, you realize it’s been unaccounted for since Tuesday. And nope. Not that Tuesday. Last LAST Tuesday.

And that’s not even the scariest part. The scariest part is that, unlike all of his missing socks (which is about 1/3 of his total sock population) and all those missing pens from the junk drawer, which I imagine are living blissfully together on some tropical island with all 12,000 of my missing bobby pins, missing sippy cups never stay lost. Oh no. They will mysteriously show up again. Right when their contents have ripened to their peak of nightmarish horror.

And despite the fact that when you asked your child to help you find this same very cup two weeks ago he just did a series of figure-eights around your legs while repeatedly asking “where go? where go?”, it always, inevitably, reappears in their hands when it makes its grand re-entrance.

And so when that moment comes, that moment your precious angel that you spent 36 hours creatively cursing and pushing into this world runs up to you with a brightly painted cup of toxic sludge, a million horrific questions run through your mind:

  • How much spoiled milk can a 27-pound body take before death occurs?
  • What strange alchemy must take place to turn apple juice that shade of green?
  • Or…wait…I think this used to be orange juice.
  • Does grape juice ferment into alcohol after baking for three weeks in the hot sun? And if it does, how much prison kiddie wine did my kid just drink before he alerted me that he found the missing cup?
  • It would be wrong of me to finish the rest of the kiddie wine/fermented grape juice, right? Even if I’ve had a REALLY hard day?
  • How worried do I need to be about mold, because there are no less than 11 blog posts littering my Facebook feed at any given moment about the dangers of mold growing in sippy cups.

The good news is that there is hope. More than hope, actually. There is a foolproof method to never losing another sippy cup again. And that method is to only let your child drink water from here on out.

A sippy cup full of water has never, ever been lost in the whole, long, sordid history of parenthood.

 

A mom by any other name

My baby just said his first sentence.

But let’s completely ignore that for a minute. Yes, yes, I know. What a milestone! Ooh! Ah! What did he say!? Blah, blah, blah. We’ll get to all that sentimental crap.

But first, we need to discuss what didn’t come before this milestone. Because this is important. Because I’m important. Or at least I should be. I mean, not only did I give the kid LIFE by turning my lady parts into a luxury apartment but I also fed him using my own body and was the one to introduce him to ‘90’s hip hop. If it weren’t for me, that kid would still be jamming to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” like some kind of doofus.

And what thanks do I get?

In the 20 months my son has been on earth, he has only called me “Momma” three times.

THREE TIMES.

And I’m pretty sure one of those times he was actually trying to say “nom-nom” because he was hungry.

Now before you get all “well, some kids take longer than others to talk,” let me point out he already says “daddy.” And “alright.” And “hot.” And “balloon.” And “ball.” And something that sounds suspiciously like “crap.” Hell, the kid can clearly pronounce “blueberry.”

He even recognizes 11 letters of the alphabet already, including “M,” “O,” and “A,” meaning that he is technically even able to spell “Momma.”

And yet, nothing. Nada. Zilch. I don’t even get an adorable gibberish nickname. In fact, the closest thing I get to a personal moniker is a loud “AH!” whenever I dare to pay attention to something other than him, such as peeing without his direct supervision.

So when he said “that’s not cheese” at lunch a few days ago in regard to a poorly made mozzarella stick, my elation was also mixed with a tinge of bittersweetness.

(Although as first sentences go, “that’s not cheese” is pretty baller. You gotta love a tiny human who craps his pants but is still sophisticated enough to appreciate a fine Gouda).

I tried not to take it personally but I couldn’t help feeling like I had earned that title. I mean, I EARNED IT. Not just because I gave birth to him but because I’m the one willing to listen to Taylor Swift on repeat when he’s sick because for some reason the music of Tay-Tay, as he calls her, (oh yes, that red-lipped lollipop head got a name before I did) is the only thing that soothes him.

And he is the only person on this planet thus far that gets to call me “Mom.” So the fact that he refuses to is pretty much the equivalent of my husband introducing me as “his good buddy.”

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I had pretty much given up all hope and was just cautiously optimistic that maybe by the time he went to college, I’d be bumped up to “aunt who is always telling me I’m too skinny” status. But then, dear reader, I went to visit my family in Ohio. And it was like a light switch went on. He suddenly started calling me Momma left and right. (Well, technically Mom Mom but hell, I’ll take it. I would have accepted Moose Face or any other “M” sound at that point).

And that’s when I finally got it. I finally understood.

He never called me Momma because he never had to before. I’m always there. Every morning. Every night. And pretty much every moment in-between. There’s my big dumb face all up in his personal space. I’m the primary caretaker. And when I am away, Daddy takes over because we have no other family members close by. And since Daddy already has a name, when I return, it’s less “Mommy’s home!” and more “oh good, my meat suit is back.”

Our relationship is essentially that of Master Blaster from “Mad Max.” I’m pretty much just an extension of his body. He rides around on me demanding unreasonable things while I grunt monosyllabic responses and do it, no questions asked, because I’m too tired to ask why he wants to carry the Destin cream and a Tupperwear lid into every room of the house.

But once we got around my large family, where there are roughly 17 moms in any given room at any given time, it finally dawned on him that we are, in fact, two separate people and as such, I deserve a name of my own.

Or some crap like that. Who can follow the logic of toddlers? These are creatures who see rocks and think “yum, I’m going to try to eat this and then stuff it in my dirty diaper for safe keeping.”

The point is, I am Mom Mom. Finally. And there’s no one else I’d rather be.*

*Other than Batman, obviously.

It’s funny if it’s not happening to you

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The Case of the Missing Dino Nugget

It’s lunchtime.

Again.

I know.

You can’t believe it’s lunchtime again. Wasn’t it just lunchtime yesterday? And the day before that? How many times does this kid need to eat?

But so goes the life of the parent of a toddler.

Only, the thing is, this lunchtime is different. This lunchtime, you’re already hour 16 into your new diet. That stupid, stupid new diet you Googled and pledged an oath to after not insignificantly injuring yourself on that deceptively sharp pork chop bone at dinner last night.

But what? Like, you were supposed to waste food? There was still a slightly visible morsel left clinging on there. And people are dying, man. Of hunger. That bandage on the upper right side of your mouth is proof you have a heart and care and stuff.

And so, you make lunch. Again. A semi-acceptable lunch (depending on who you talk to as long as who you are talking to is not Sienna, mom of Coco, from the playground) of corn on the cob, peas, applesauce and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for junior. And a plate of vegetables (a.k.a. tasteless dirt fruit) for you.

Within 10 minutes, you’ve already inhaled your carrots and hummus* and assorted green crap (crap meant quite literally here as, at some point, some cow probably defecated on all these things).

*Fancy word for “not ranch dip.”

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Which means, you have a good 45 minutes left of sitting at the table just staring at The World’s Slowest Eater as he happily smears ketchup into not only his hair but also his ears. Which, luckily, gives you plenty of time to reflect on just how hungry you are. And you ARE hungry. You’re starving. I mean, look at you. You’re wasting away. You’re practically a stick figure.

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And then there’s that last dino nugget. Just sitting there. All lonely on his plate. Getting colder with every passing second. Chockful of delicious fat and salt and cancer-causing chemicals that magically makes boring, old chicken taste like deep-fried unicorn.

He wouldn’t even notice, you reason to yourself. Look at him. Completely oblivious. Too busy leading the corn on the cob on a Viking-esque raid against the defenseless peas. Smash. Smash. Smash. Meanwhile, the nugget sits all alone in the southwest corner, completely undefended. You should eat it just to teach him a valuable military strategy lesson.

No. No! You would never do that. My god. Stealing food practically from your child’s mouth! What kind of monster are you?

EXCEPT…”technically” the nugget is nowhere near his mouth. I mean, he doesn’t seem to have any interest in it or anything. It’s so bad for him anyway. The only reason you gave him the dino nuggets is because it’s the only way you could force some protein down his tiny adorable throat. And he’s already eaten four of them. You eating that last one would only make his lunch all the more healthy.

No. No! My god, woman, think about what you’re proposing here. He’ll want that last nugget. You know he will. Just as soon as he’s done drowning the defeated and maimed peas in applesauce. Rise above this. Find some willpower, lady.

Just one taste, though. A tiny bite. Just to make the temptation go away. And he can have the rest.

No. No!

But then, without even realizing it, you look down in horror and see the nugget is gone. And you are chewing. And then swallowing. And it’s too late now. That hormone-stuffed, vaguely shaped Tyrannosaurus Rex is already halfway to your stomach.

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Maybe he won’t notice.

And that’s when the crying begins.

Now, you have three options here.

Option 1: Confess and Bribe

“Baby, Momma’s so sorry. She didn’t mean to. It just…happened. And, I mean, I’m not trying to pass the buck here or anything, but really, it’s society’s fault for making me think I have to be skinny. So, in a way, you could say it was Vogue magazine that ate your nugget. Now let’s go get you some ice cream!”

Option 2: Straight Up Lie

“I don’t know what happened to your last nugget, honey. Maybe you ate it? Yeah, I think I remember seeing you eat it. By the way, and this is in no way related to the missing nugget, but I’m totally buying you a new car when you turn 16.”

Option 3: MacGyver Your Way Out

“Don’t cry, sweets. Momma is just going to reach down into your onesie and see if we can find…yep! Look here! A perfectly good half-eaten nugget stuck between your Buddha belly and chest. Oh! And 13 more peas! And soggy Cheerios from yesterday. See, no reason to cry.”

The thing to keep in mind here, terrible though your behavior has been, is that he’ll never even remember that this happened. So relax.

That is, of course, unless you’re the idiot who posted the whole thing on the Internet to live on for all eternity.

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