Forget About What I Said

So I am having all of these unexpected FEELINGS about Allie being my last baby. It’s not that I necessarily want three children, I don’t think, it’s that Allie is my last BABY and after that, there are no more BABY babies. No more babies in the house. No more cribs and birth experiences and pregnancies (well, thank Jesus for that last one) and I just . . . hmph. It’s sad. But at the same time, I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do.

The thing is, I am not as zen about it as I thought I was. I keep wanting to say that I am — and I AM, in some ways — but then when I really think about closing the door and doing a permanent birth control solution (Jesus, Essure, oh my God, don’t get me started on THAT Twitter trainwreck), I balk. I don’t even want to get an IUD right now, for God’s sake. What is wrong with me? I was so DEPRESSED and MISERABLE during pregnancy and during Allie’s early newborn phase, I thought I would just DIE from the heartbreak that was Sam’s lack of attention, and a third baby would just . . . no. Trying for a third baby and going through all that again, plus pregnancy, is literally the last thing in the world I want to do.

I want to raise my girls. I want to focus, finally, on RAISING our family, rather than the weird limbo of growing it. I forget, as I did when I was having trouble getting pregnant with Allie, that not getting something new doesn’t mean that I lose what I already have. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was a recurring thought as I went through those losses — as though each loss meant that I would somehow lose my hold on Sam, too.

I’ll be 37 in a few weeks. I’m done. But still, sometimes, I am sad about it. I love being a mom — truly, it’s what I was meant to do, and I live a remarkably happy, resentment-free existence with my kids — and sometimes I struggle with the idea that If *I* am not supposed to have a passel of kids, who IS?

Sigh. I keep remembering that there will ALWAYS be a last baby; this isn’t a state that could continue in perpetuity, nor is it one I really WANT to continue (and Adam might as well have “WE ARE DONE!” tattooed on his forehead). But it’s sad, I guess, to shut that door on a part of your life. Sadder than I thought it would be.

Allie continues to be the Best Baby Ever, however, and spends most of her days looking like this:

Sorry, I won the cute baby game. Try again later.

Sam is herself, and she is fantastically funny and bright and God, three is absurd, but so fun, and I know I say that every time, but JESUS, you guys, she is just . . . three. “I am NOT three. I am THREE CANDLES YEARS OLD,” she would yell if she heard me say that. “I am NOT FUNNY. I am Sam.”

So you know, I’m lucky, is what I’m saying, and I should be counting my blessings instead of mourning the loss of fake ones. Because the other thing is that I know that once that train is started — once the first positive pregnancy test comes in, followed by the first miscarriage — you can’t stop it. Giving up is not an option, and it becomes an obsession that almost feels like a desire to win a game, but with obscenely higher stakes.

**Side note: the first time I heard the word obscene was when one of my mom’s friends went as a flasher for Halloween and made a fake penis out of panythose. I remember my mom exclaiming with horror, “CAROL! That is OBSCENE!” and having no idea what she was referring to, or what the word obscene meant. Either way, I would not disagree with my mom on that front, though it was also obscenely hilarious in retrospect.

(See what I did there? Such a versatile word!)

Anyway! *clap clap* this is all very depressing, but it’s still on my mind, and I’m still working through it, particularly because time is FLYING. It’s flying. It’s Christmastime already, for God’s sake, and Sam is halfway through the school year. I mean, what the eff? Next year is pre-K and then kindergarten, and it’s all just whizzing by in a blur, and one of these days, I’m going to open my eyes in my Florida trailer park and call my daughters collect, you know?

Oh just kidding about that. I will be living in my Florida HOUSE. The one I still own, and have taken to referring to as my retirement plan.

Also, would you believe that all this stupid introspection was tipped off by Allie SLEEPING IN HER OWN BEDROOM? I mean, honestly. I’m acting like I’ve just shipped her off to Northwestern, FFS. No. She’s eleven feet down the hall, and I still go in there to nurse her at night. Yes, please. Someone get that kid a dorm room.

(OMG)

Anyway, random side thing before I go, and this seems very Swistle-like, I don’t know why: I was paying my Target RedCard bill by phone (GET A REDCARD!) and I was trying to pay off the whole balance, but it wouldn’t let me and I was SO PISSED, because it just kept bouncing me to different parts of the IVR, and then it finally bounced me to an agent, and I was all, “I JUST WANNA PAY OFF THE WHOLE BALANCE!” I mean, I was fired up. Take my goddamned MONEY, Target, this shouldn’t be HARD. And she helpfully explained that it would only let me pay $300 instead of $450 (bullshit numbers because I can’t remember) and I was practically SCREECHING at her that I wanted to pay off the $450, and TAKE MY MONEYS, NOW. But no. I could only pay $300.

I hung up, very dissatisfied that I only paid $300 until I remembered that my statement was $450 but I only OWED $300 because I RETURNED at least $150 worth of items (including a rug!) and this is all well and good and a long story, who cares, but the pont is, I had this BURNING DESIRE to call the woman back and EXPLAIN how I’d figured it out! I figured it out! I had a RETURN! Isn’t that great?

LIKE SHE CARED. But for some reason, I felt like she and I had worked through something TOGETHER and I found the resolution and SHE! She would want closure on this.

Really. As if.

Happy Friday!

*The Killers

51 comments December 6th, 2012

Stubborn Love

That was a holiday hiatus! Let’s pretend it didn’t happen and move on. Not that you care, but *I* care, see.

So, ah, Thanksgiving. You guys, I can’t even. Every year, we go to Virginia to see Adam’s family — not on the ACTUAL holiday, but before the holiday and God, who cares really, this is unimportant, except that it was the weekend before Thanksgiving and it will now go down in history as a VERY NOT GOOD EXPERIENCE AT ALL.

We drove. From Boston to Chesapeake, VA. IN A SINGLE DAY. ONE FELL SWOOP. I can’t even really explain what happened in that car, except that it was as though we shut the doors after letting in the smoke monster from Lost. All reason, happiness, joy, light, logic and JUST PLAIN GOODNESS was trapped in a fog of misery. We lost ourselves. We became horrible people. By hour thirteen (THIRTEEN) on the way home, we were earnestly, and quite angrily, talking about custody arrangements for our two children, because we came to the conclusion somewhere in New Jersey that we were not meant to be together, that we could not POSSIBLY have thought this was a good idea, when it is SO OBVIOUS how terrible we are for each other.

Yes, clearly the writing’s been on the wall for 14 years. Or PERHAPS IT WAS THIRTEEN HOURS IN THE CAR WITH A SCREAMING BABY. INCLUDING A DETOUR THROUGH A TERRIFYING SECTION OF THE BRONX. TWICE.

It could go either way, really.

Spoiler: We’re not getting divorced, because when we are not under extreme Guantanamo-level torture enhanced interrogation techniques, we do like each other quite a bit. But the car breakdown was oh-so-very real in that context, and this! This is why you will never see us on the Amazing Race. Ever.

My sister-in-law is getting married in the same location in May (Sam and I are in the wedding, woo!) and we discussed how to get there, because Sam is a terrible flier (THE EARS) and yet the drive. OMG the drive. Actual conversation:

“We can’t do that again. We will all die.”

“Yes we will.”

So! Teleportation should be invented by then, right?

So that happened, then, which led to such residual trauma that we just stayed home for Thanksgiving, eschewing any and all family obligations, because . . . ugh, no. Not that I don’t love our families — I love Adam’s family, even! His siblings and I are close! I still feel this way after 24 hours of driving!

But seriously. Turkey on my couch without any pants, thanks. Please don’t make me get into the car again.

Separately, and apropos of nothing, I was thinking recently that one of the best characteristics a person can have is being comfortable with the fact that not everyone will like you. Generally speaking, I have a pretty thick skin — I don’t know where it came from, honestly, although I’m sure there is a terrifying reason lurking in my past somewhere. I’m just . . . not that sensitive, most of the time. This works against me — I have a big mouth, after all, and am very comfortable with being uncomfortable around people — but I also think it lets me have more . . . integrity maybe? I’m not sure. I’m a fairly strong personality (haa?), and it doesn’t appeal to everyone. I have opinions people don’t like. Some people just don’t like ME.

That doesn’t bother me all that much. There’s something very freeing in realizing that no matter what you do, there will be people who don’t like you and maybe even ACTIVELY dislike you, and so what? If you don’t like or respect them, it matters not, at least outside of a professional context, although EVEN THEN there are significant benefits, so long as you know how to play politics, and geez, that situation is too complex to summarize here, isn’t it?

The point is: accepting that people won’t always like you makes it easier to be who you want to be, and focus on the people who DO like you for exactly who you are. And I realized that I am pretty uncomfortable with people who are uncomfortable with that concept. You know? Just be it! Be who you are! Not everyone will like you, but those who do, REALLY will, so go whole hog, won’t you? Say fuck it. Give your opinion. Be a real person. At least you know that when people like you, they really like YOU and not because you’re simply nice. God, please let people say something better about me at my funeral than, “She was really nice.”

I don’t think I’m that nice, honestly, and I’m not sure I care all that much.

Kindness is underrated. Niceness is overrated. Fascinating, that. Also, a really hard concept to explain to daughters. Good times.

Have a happy Wednesday!

*The Lumineers. Shit, they are just pure joy.

37 comments November 27th, 2012

No Self Control

Well, the election happened, I became totally disillusioned with humanity and lo! here we are, crawling back out of the pit that was October and all THAT misery, am I right? Do we all . . . still like each other?

(I have weird politics, so basically, I like everyone, but everyone hates me. But! They covet my vote, knowing it could SWING EITHER WAY!)

(I really hated Mitt Romney, but that was personal, not politics.) (Classy, right?)

(Social issues, I’m a FAR LEFT SWING, so, you know.)

Right.

(Or left.)

Also, my daughters got sick and OMIGAWD, two sick babies kind of blows, and would you believe the sadder of the two was Sam? Ergh. She was SO sad and heartbreaking and she tried so hard and . . . ugh, poor kid. I guess it does boil down to age and personality, because Allie, per usual, was smiling and giggling in between hacking her lungs out while Sam, when not sick, is . . . three. Oh, three. You guys, three and a half is going to kill me dead, kill me dead, KILL ME DEAD.

I’m having a hard time dealing with her lately, and while she is/can be dreadful (all age-appropriate, not like, a truly dreadful child, Future Sam. Even dreadfully three, you are the best kid ever), I am more appalled by my own reactions and behavior. My personality skews to, ah, hot-tempered, and it’s something I generally like about myself. I mean, not that I ENJOY that I can lash out and act crazy and lack impulse control — OH HO HO, no, although that is absolutely true. I am not what you call a slow-burn. I get angry very easily, and my reactions, to people who don’t know me, can seem disproportionate to the issue at hand. I snap, I wave arms, I get all indignant. And then, just as quickly as it came on, it’s over and I have, I shit you not, completely forgotten about it. COMPLETELY. That last part — the forgetting about it quickly — that is what I like.

I remember a few years ago, when I was editing a newspaper, some source had done something really shitty. Not like, career- or even story-ending shitty, just a shitty thing to pull at the last minute that made things harder. HOO BOY, I was ranting and raving and arm-waving to MY editor about it, and then went back to work. I think it was . . . fifteen minutes later? If that? She asked if I was okay, and I literally, LITERALLY, had no idea what she was referring to. I’d moved on and forgotten about it completely. Completely.

(You see how Twitter can be a problem for someone like me. You see?)

I mean, I’m not CRAZY or anything — I’m not going to bite your head off because you didn’t use the right hanger or use margarine instead of butter, and I’m not completely unreasonable, or in some kind of wild fugue state when I’m angry, I’m just . . . snappy. Once someone points out that I am being snappy or quick-tempered, I can usually be talked off the ledge, and God, this is such a long way to explain something that is common enough to not need explanation, I am sorry. Next up: how I do this unique thing called ‘breathing.’

The good news: I hold a grudge approximately never. A combination of quick-hot, quick-cool and ADD is quite delightful if you want to make someone angry and still have them love you in the morning. I can easily be your punching bag. Insult me! Then apologize! I won’t even REMEMBER.

(This is more true than you realize. In fact, it’s pretty damn accurate. Short fuse! Short memory.)

Anyway, a short-tempered personality + an exasperating, limit-testing, overtired and completely insane three-and-a-half year old = bad news bears, man. Bad news. Combine this age with the move to a twin bed PLUS the end of EDT, and she’s hardly sleeping, which means I’m hardly sleeping and this. This is how I ended up lying face down in her bed this morning while she played with her tiny princesses on my back.

I get so frustrated with her that I find myself treating her like an adult and asking her WHY she’s being so ridiculous, as though she is going to answer me rationally. Or snapping multiple times in an HOUR, much less a day — and that one kills me, because up until this point, I have not been short tempered with any of my children. At all. I don’t yell, I don’t get too upset, I am very patient and I roll with things easily, and I don’t say that smugly, because if I WERE smug, my comeuppance is now. Three turned me into someone who is . . . the antithesis of those things. Someone who actually YELLS, “WHY ARE YOU YELLING?”

I think it’s best to lead by example.

I’ve become, at times, a little too desensitized to her whining that sometimes she’ll actually have a legitimate, age-appropriate gripe, and my instinct is to be all, “STOP WHINING. SUCK IT UP!” Oh, wait, you dropped an anvil on your foot? MY BAD. Here, give Mama a hug.

It’s a hard age and a hard time, and I’m making it sound like it’s all WOE around here, and it isn’t — most of our days are awesome, and this age is so, so delightful in a million ways. She’s funny. She has a sense of humor now, and tries to make me laugh every day. Thanks to school and her friends, she’s also having experiences and learning things that have absolutely nothing to do with me, and it’s mind-blowing. Her sensory stuff is improving SO quickly and she’s just . . . well, she’s an awesome kid.

She’s just, you know, three and a half.

But she’s still the best big sister in the world, man. She really is.

 

*Peter Gabriel.

54 comments November 12th, 2012

Tenuousness

I don’t even know where to start with this. Sandy? Sucked. She sucked and she still sucks and awww, maaaan, she sucked, what else is there to say? We were relatively unscathed compared to some, but still: it sucked. I hate thinking about what’s still happening out there, and I hope you are all safe and warm.

For some reason, I was unreasonably panicked about the storm, but only about the loss of power. Perhaps I was recalling Snowtober of last year, wherein we lost power for multiple (freezing) days, and I made the grave error of choosing chicken tikka masala for lunch during the tenth week of pregnancy. This choice proved to be more unwise than anyone could have anticipated, for the lack of power led to Sam’s lack of sleep (no sound machine!), which led to an inability to take my evening Unisom, which ultimately led to me barfing up chicken tikka masala out the passenger side of my CRV across from Honeydew Donuts in Framingham. This, of course, resulted in me having to clean up said vomit while my child screamed and my husband sympathy gagged AND I had barfed all over myself, including my hair and heyyyy, no hot water and it was 30 degrees outside, so I couldn’t EVEN.

And everyone at the time wondered why we eventually ended up paying out the ass for a hotel in Cambridge. Yes, YOU try smelling your vomit-covered self for a few days straight and see what you’re willing to part with, cash-wise, to free yourself from the stench. While pregnant.

Well! Obviously I am still grumpy about THAT. And listen, no one likes to overuse the term PTSD, but I do believe I carried a touch of it around when Sandy, who I keep wanting to call Diane, came rolling into town. I fretted at every flicker! I booked a hotel in a neighboring town in advance to stave off the remotest possibility of puke hair! I prayed, I voodooed, I did everything possible to avoid losing power, short of a live sacrifice. (But don’t think I didn’t give my kitchen window spider pal Charlotte the side-eye.)

I . . . didn’t really consider downed trees. Of which there were three, one of which — a 50-foot pine — came crashing down on the roof over my living room WHILE I WAS SITTING UNDERNEATH IT. It blew out the lights! Bits of lights showered down upon me! WHILE I WAS HOLDING MY BABY.

I panicked! I ran! I screamed, “Girls, RUN!” Girls. As if Allie has legs that do anything but pump aimlessly into the ether.

I am not the girl you want in a crisis. I have many fine attributes, but bearing reasonable instincts in heartstopping moments is not one of them. Sam freaked, as you would expect, and firmly planted herself in front of the couch. I grabbed her hand, willing her to move, screaming at her to JUST MOVE. I wandered back and forth, hopelessly confused. I waited for the last remaining pine to fall — another fifty-footer, already leaning quite ominously — and wandered some more while Adam barked orders. And then we all loaded into the car with our pre-packed bags and got on the roads like those idiots you see on newscasts that you wonder what in the HELL they’re doing in the streets of a hurricane. I called the hotel we’d booked and had JUST canceled to see if we could get our reservation back. (We’d canceled as the last hour of the storm was upon us, and HEY! We made it! OH HO!)

They were without power. Of course.

I know this sounds very dramatic for not a lot of action, but you know, it was scary as shit. I’m not saying we were in the Astrodome re-using diapers and picking chicken bones off the floor to survive, but I tell you, hurricanes are scary places to be.

This whole story ends rather anti-climactically, as I called around, found a Residence Inn and we stayed the night without incident. Tree people were able to come bright and early — including a crane, to my utter delight — and the roof is relatively undamaged. We’re now back at home, and Sammy is sick as a flipping DOG. Her face is slimy, she’s coughing like it’s her job, and she’s on day three of a fever with some pretty heavy malaise. She’s normally not one to sit still OR watch extended episodes of television (too busy!), and yet by 3 p.m. every day, she’s planted herself on the couch with a blanket, three mousies and a teddy bear and passed out cold for several hours. This is a kid who hasn’t taken a nap since June, and a voluntary one since . . . oh, that would be never.

My little bear. It kills me.

This never happens.

I should add that during all of this, the kids were positively amazing. Allie was her usual self — that of happy-go-lucky kid, full of gummy grins and laughs, just thrilled to be taken along for the ride. My friend Dara has referred to Alex as a purse, because she really does just go anywhere on a dime, barely registering that there are new circumstances to adjust to. Oh, we’re in a new place? Are there boobs? Fabulous! Let’s roll! She is startling and delightful in her simplicity, and I appreciate her in a way I don’t think I’d have been able to, had Sam not been who she was at that age.

Sam, on the other hand, is/was never like Alex, as we all know. This trip, however, she was different, and it tugged at my heart in a way I will never be able to fully articulate. It was always easy for me to assume that the more demanding/difficult child would be harder to love, but that has not been my experience. There is something about Sam — something about how hard she works just to get through life’s situations, whether it be an area of loud noises, getting a new baby sister or having to sleep in a new place — that tugs on my heart harder than anything in the world. She didn’t want to leave at first; she was nervous about having to “live at the hotel forever” despite assurances to the contrary. She wanted her own bed, her own stuff, her (glass-windowed, oh-hell-no) playroom.

When we got to the hotel, our suite had a gas fireplace.

“Hey, can we make s’mores?” she chirped excitedly. “Mommy. Daddy. We can get marshmallows, and put them in the fire until they get soft, and get some graham crackers and make a sandwich. That is called a S’MORE! And later! When we go camping? We can get our blankets and sit around the campfire and maybe we’ll even make up our own STORYBOOK and sing a SONG! And my bed will be like a SLEEPING BAG.”

It’s so simple and silly, but I can’t tell you what it was like, seeing her perk up at something so simple and just let crappy circumstances wash over her like a wave. It was just stupidly amazing to me that this kid — this kid who screamed her way through the first year of her life, and struggles so much with new things — was just rolling with it because she got excited about a fireplace. Sick as a dog, displaced and terrified and hey, can we make s’mores? No? Well, someday then. Goodnight!

Something about that moment, this experience, these last few days has made me think so much about how mind-blowing parenting really is. What a privilege it is to see these tiny little chubs of nothing — two! Two GIRLS! — become actual people with their own thoughts and feelings and opinions. I can’t get enough of them. I inhale their heads and bury my nose in their necks and I hug Sam so hard that she — she who is generally made of unlimited wells of affection — says in a strained voice, “Too. Much. Hugs.” Allie, however, cannot protest yet, so she gets kissed and kissed and kissed again, so many times that she no longer smells like herself and instead, smells vaguely of my shampoo and body lotion and her eyebrows bear bits of shimmer from my lip gloss, long worn away from the endless shower of kisses bestowed on two tiny heads.

I’m so stinking lucky, man.

So yes. Perhaps I am a little stressed and emotional and, ah, tweaked — I imagine it’s not uncommon for a lot of people after this week. But I tell you, I’m happy I have those kids. They’re pretty damn great.

I hope you and yours are doing well.

*Andrew Bird

49 comments October 31st, 2012

The Circus

If you follow me on Twitter, you may or may not know that I’ve been reading the Night Circus and it’s just . . . not going well. I WANT it to go well, but it’s not going well, and that’s likely because by the time I hop in bed to read, my eyes are at half mast and I’m just trying to figure out what in Sam Hill is happening, not whether the ice crystals formed in the shape of a million sparkling concentric circles. I don’t have it in me to FEEL the ice crystals, I just want to know whether they fell on someone’s head.

This, as you might imagine, is making me feel colossally stupid. It’s a book, for fuck’s sake. I am nothing if not a consummate reader. I’ve read forty-something books this year! Including . . . okay, including basically every awful romance there is out there. Every. Last. One. Oh, were you wondering how that weird book with the guy in leather pants ended? They had sex on some kind of weird sling and he asked her to marry him while she was in the sling. The end. Oh, wait, she may have been wearing a corset. Details! Who needs ’em?

It’s been like The Year of Book Candy, and oh my God, the covers on these books are so TERRIBLY FILTHY sometimes, and I’m sure you can imagine I am not what you would call a prude. That does not, however, mean that I am not horribly embarrassed when my 16-year-old nephew friends me on Goodreads, because come on. Sure, kid, read my blog, check my twitter stream, but FOR THE LOVE, DO NOT LOOK AT THE FILTH I HAVE READ THIS YEAR. ABORT ABORT.

(Side note: Alex was born on his birthday. I love that. Allie and Marco! SIXTEEN YEARS APART, dear crap. I find this remarkably depressing, since my sister and I are twelve years apart, and I thought she was getting up in years when she had HER kids — sorry Ann, I was young and dumb — but OH HO NO, I was/am even older. Oh dear. But anyway: same birthday! Adorable. Too bad he’s a surly teen who could not care less right now, but I still love him so much.)

(Sunrise! Sunset. Sunriiiise! Sunset.)

ANYWAY, back to the romance novels. Commenter J left this on my post from the other day, and I neeeeeeed y’all to read it, and then do what I did, which is spend a lot of time Googling Elon Musk and his ex-wife and then, people of the romance novels, TELL ME if you don’t see this as a much more realistic portrayal than that of the billionaire rushing the heroine off to an island in the Bahamas for some quality time on a sex swing, AM I RIGHT?

I mean, she dates a really creepy aggressive guy (he informed her he was the alpha on her wedding day AND THEN LATER told her she was being “manipulative” for mourning their son lost to SIDS, I mean, COME ON), then they get a divorce because he wants her thinner, blonder, more hostess-y and I just . . . well, then. He’s now married to a 23-year-old. (HOLY UPDATE THEY ARE DIVORCED.) Quelle surprise. HE IS ALSO NOT EVEN THAT HOT. I’m not sure billions would be worth having crappy sex with an unattractive dude, but you know, maybe if I’d been in my twenties, I’d be all, TRY ME, EM EFFERS.

I’m not so sure, however. This all goes back to being average, I guess.

Anyway, the point is, I’m reading the Night Circus, and it’s the kind of book I think I would EAT ON A HAM SANDWICH if I weren’t so damned tired all the time. Either that, or I am systematically leaking brain cells, and it’s driving me crazy. Three weeks. Three weeks of reading, and I’m at 40%. THREE. WEEKS. Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a fracking TOUCHSTONE for me. Why so hard, Night Circus? Why can’t I remember one person to the next?

Is it because no one is wearing BDSM leathers? (Side note: I get it, I respect it, I am DOWN with it, if this is your thing, but no, I’m not sure I have it in me to be patient enough for someone to . . . get into costume before sex. I can’t even finish the Night Circus, do you think I have time for you to GO GET YOUR LEATHER PANTS AND DOM CAP?)

I have gone too far here, clearly. Point being: I need some more time to read. Also, better book choices. And finally: seriously, read that Elon Musk article and see if you EVER read a cheap romance/billionaire/Fifty Shades the same way again, and not just because you’re picturing Elon Musk and his little monkey face.

Romance novels: I have found the cure.

Happy Friday!

*Erasure

81 comments October 25th, 2012

Stronger

I was emailing with Temerity Jane the other day, and really, I highly recommend a friendship with Kelly, because her emails are genuine comedy gold even when the topic is serious, for they are fraught with rich imagery of her ranting and waving around pork chops while her dogs drool helplessly at her feet.

TJ was talking about being average (a point I will argue against later) and how so many of us believed we were destined for some large-scale greatness (I believe she used the words “plucked from the rubble” which just killed me), when the truth is, most of us are destined to be . . . well, average. And okay, let’s take that statement at face value. Doesn’t “average” sound so HORRIBLE? I’m not talking about in the statistical sense (“the average person eats five spiders”), but in the, okay, this person’s life is relatively unremarkable on the grand scheme of things. It seems sad to be average, like we all should have performed better, stronger, faster. Been leaders. Become CEOs, neurosurgeons, rocket scientists. Put one million shoes on the feet of indigent Africans or something. When no, actually, we are just going to be people doing everyday jobs, probably in a cubicle of some sort, then going home to our average little families.

Forgive me if this is all painfully obvious to you — and I’m certain that it is — but on the scale of enlightenment, generally, I fall pretty low. For all the navel-gazing I do, you’d think I’d have reached more conclusions about life in general, but most of the time I’m just . . . not that aware.

This whole concept is hilarious to me because I vividly remember being in my twenties — my early twenties, oh my lord, okay? I mean, lest you think I was painfully immature until— oh wait, you know what, I WAS painfully immature. This is why I make jokes that if I WERE famous in my early twenties, I would have gone full Lohan, and let’s all thank the baby Jesus that there was no twitter, because I don’t think the internet could stomach my drama. Bad enough that somewhere out there is a Diaryland blog wherein I remember writing some of the world’s most overwrought posts about LIFE and how we were all STRUGGLING and I don’t remember much about it except that I DO know that I used a lot of ten-dollar words because it made me sound smarter. I’m also curious what the HELL I could have been struggling with, although I vaguely remember feeling a strong kinship to the crew in Reality Bites, because THEIR PROBLEMS WERE HUGE, AM I RIGHT?

I viewed life through this soft-focus documentary lens, just waiting for the world to discover me, which is when my life would begin — when *I* would be plucked from the rubble, drawn to my One True Purpose of Greatness, because *I* was not going to be average, OH HO NO.

Oh, twentysomething Jonna.

I promise I will get to my point soon.

So you know how people rant and rave about Disney princesses and how they teach women All The Wrong Things? This blog post is just really not long enough to explain why I think so much of that is utter crap (both the princesses and the criticism of the princesses), but I WILL say that I think most of the criticism misses the boat. They all focus on appearance and having a man to fulfill you and the ridiculous notion of a fairy tale, yes, but the problem isn’t the male part of the fairy tale, but that there is a FAIRY TALE AT ALL. Jesus. I was watching Disney Jr. with Sam the other day (or maybe just myself, it could really go either way) and this ad for Sofia the First came on, and it’s about — wait for it — an ORDINARY GIRL plucked from the rubble to become an EXTRAORDINARY PRINCESS.

And Belle! Freaking BELLE! There must be more than this provincial life? Really? What, I ask you, is so wrong about being the jolly baker in a tiny town in Provence? NOT MUCH. She probably has a happy family. You want adventure? BOOK A CRUISE. Now go bake bread and feed the ducks. It sounds PEACEFUL.

God, it’s like we’re set up from the very beginning to be disappointed with an ordinary, average life, and if there’s one thing I will struggle with, it’s teaching my girls to simultaneously reach for the stars (TM Fresh Beat Band) and just be happy with an average, totally normal, non-fairy tale life.

Lest you think this is a lesson I have thoroughly learned for myself, you would be wrong. I mean, I no longer think I am particularly special, but I do occasionally struggle with the, ah, lack of larger meaning in what I do. What’s that you say, Ann Romney? I am a MOTHER, the most important job in the world? Eh. EH. I mean, it is, but sometimes I look back on the jobs I’ve had and the sense of accomplishment I gained — the titles and careers I’d be living if I’d kept going, and I get nostalgic and I feel like I’ve failed, somehow. I don’t have a fancy title or a huge list of accomplishments to my name anymore. I mean, there was an ENTIRE YEAR where I managed TWELVE mergers and acquisitions. Twelve, you guys.

And now, I wax poetic about Viva paper towels and I drive a giant Mom-mobile and I wipe butts and I sing songs and feel like a rockstar if I make dinner, and sometimes, man, SOMETIMES. After all, people who are a lot dumber than me do this mothering gig just as well as I do, so what does that make me? What kind of role model am I for my daughters, staying home and teaching them that they can be anything they want to be while . . . not, really, uh, doing that myself?

Well, it makes me average. Normal. Boring, just like everybody else. But the thing is, that makes me happy, and it’s so easy to forget that average doesn’t mean you’re not extraordinary — it just means your level of extraordinary translates to fewer people, which, you know, THANK GOD, because being the center of attention beyond my immediate family is vomit-inducing. I see it in Kelly when she describes herself as average, because I laugh. If that’s average, may we all be so lucky — she’s hilarious, vibrant, fun to be around, and I’m guessing, a shitton of fun to be married to. She’s special to the people around her (she’s going to kill me for this) and her daughter! Her DAUGHTER! So lucky!

You know what I want? A quiet, happy, healthy life (so far so good). I want a nice, strong marriage to Adam until the day I drop dead. (So far so good!) I want to own a cute little house (that I actually live in). I want my kids to grow up and find their own happiness, no matter what that entails, and I want them to be everything they want to be, even if that just means being average.

I’m sure that lesson won’t be hard to teach at all.

Sigh.

(Happy Wednesday!)

*I’m going with Kanye here, because honest to SHIT, is there a guy who would be LESS cool with average?

66 comments October 23rd, 2012

Promises, Promises

Awwww, shit it’s a blank page and a lot of spam. A LOT. But. Ahem. It’s time.

As goes the old adage, no one wants to hear a person ramble on about blogging, or why they haven’t been blogging, but everyone does it anyway, so. You know.

I’ve been busy. I’ve got two kids (TWO!) and basically the life I’ve always wanted, even when I want to stab someone (MYSELF) in the face and adjusting to that has been easy in a lot of ways, but hard in many others. The slice of personal time that vanished when Alex appeared was a LOSS, man. As much as I wanted and needed her, figuring out how to deal with two kids, making sure they both get what they need from me is . . . well, it’s hard. It’s HARD. Not in an overwhelming in-the-weeds way, but in a way that makes it easy for me to swim in the bottom of a pool of guilt, I guess. I never second-guessed myself much as a parent with Sam, but now I find I’m doing it on a daily basis. Allie needs me! But Sam feels rejected. Sam wants to snuggle! But SHIT! That leaves Allie hollering on the floor for a minute.

It sounds silly and trite and stupid, but I don’t want to screw this up, you know? But at the same time, I’ve been thinking so much about how overwhelmed I DO feel at the end of the day — not with the tasks at hand, or the kids specifically, but with the fact that I didn’t take five minutes to just sit and think about anything that wasn’t immediate, and by “immediate” I also mean Mitt Romney’s stupid assface, but let’s be real, that’s hardly relaxing.

This? This is relaxing. I never considered how much I needed this little space to think through things or just talk about things that are not immediate or DO something for myself, even if it’s a half hour in front of a glowing screen pondering the fall television line-up (Verdict: Homeland continues to be awesome and BOY HOWDY I am excited for Nashville and also, Tami Taylor’s hair). (I know she’s not really Tami Taylor, but … okay, I don’t really know that, actually. Lie to me.)

I could ALSO go on a REALLY NICE TEAR about how blogging has turned into something I sort of hate, and how everyone is trying to sell you something — and jesus, I mean EVERYONE — and how I promise you, I will never try to sell you anything at all, and that includes my brand, which you all know I care deeply about. Nor will I ever turn into a lifestyle blog, unless you want to talk about my fly lifestyle that involves washing DANKY, DARK AND HIDEOUS brown couch slipcovers for the frillionth time because someone pooped, peed, puked, or otherwise sullied their worn surfaces.

So that’s that. I’d like to write Alex’s birth story one of these days, because COME ON, I gave birth to her wearing a maxi-dress, but if I wait until I’m ready for that, I’ll never come back.

I will commit to this, in writing, if only for myself: three times a week here. You and me, kid. You and me.

Have a great Thursday. We’re decorating pumpkins, and it’s already a fight because Sam has declared war on all glitter glue.

*Naked Eyes, whaaaaat?

60 comments October 17th, 2012

Power of Two

Heeeeey, so it turns out when you’re pregnant and exhausted ALL THE TIME, you don’t want to write more than 140 characters at a time, EH?

So I went and had a baby about two weeks ago. And she’s awesome. See?

Alexandra Grace Rubin, y’all. Born June 7, 2012. 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Photo by MeganJane Photography, and if you’re in the Boston area, you’re a fool if you don’t use her, because that photo right there is just her TAKING A PHOTO FOR THE HELL OF IT, all casual-like. Not PLANNED or anything. Alex was just passed out on the couch.

Anyway, my baby is lovely. I have two daughters, and as it turns out, that’s all I ever wanted. It’s hard and I’m tired and she’s a newborn and she eats! all! the! time! and we’ve got a few nursing issues to work out that may or may not involve getting her little frenulum snipped, but YOU GUYS, she’s so cute. And she looks like ME, which is a totally new experience, seeing as Sam is Adam’s clone. She’s perfect, and I thought I couldn’t love another kid as much as I love Sam, but BADOW! there she is, and both of them are suddenly my favorite people in the entire universe. Different, but equal. It doesn’t hurt that Alex is just about the most delicious baby on the planet, really.

Sam. I could write VOLUMES on Sam and how amazing she is, and how HARD she’s trying to adjust to the new normal. I am just so, so proud of her, and one of those crazy side effects of having my heart stretch to accommodate another baby, my heart ALSO stretched a thousand times over to love Sam more than I ever have before. I’m pretty floored by the whole thing, honestly, and by how very much I love my girls.

I’m terrified too, though, of what’s to come, even though I’m trying to take it all day by day. Sam turned into a challenge around week 3 or 4, and thus began one of the hardest times of my life. As much as I’m loving today, I’d be lying if I said a tiny part of me isn’t holding my breath just a little bit to see what happens. PTSD, it seems, will do that to you.

But for now? MAN. Sure, I’m positively dizzy from exhaustion, my eyeballs hurt from lack of sleep, and Sam’s in a time out every other minute because she’s having such a hard time adjusting and her behavior is, at times, atrocious. Earlier today, she tossed a plastic cup full of bouncy balls in frustration right at Alex’s head, and I am struggling because I know she’s struggling and trying SO HARD, but at the same time, Jesus, kid, can you not THROW THINGS at your sister’s head? MUST you throw puzzle pieces? But she’s doing SO WELL most of the time, and she misses her sister when she’s sleeping and disappears into Alex’s room to “warm her up” by putting her hands on her belly and kissing her head while she sleeps and GOD GOD GOD I love her so stinking much it hurts.

So yes, it’s hard and it’s nuts but the truth is, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so lucky.

Just like that, in a flash, the entire year of hell became worth it and then some. I had no idea. I’d hoped, sure, but this is more than I even dared to hope for.

Lucky me.

346 comments June 20th, 2012

In the End

I know there are no more babies after this one, and frankly, I don’t even think that rationally, I WANT any more babies beyond two. I know Adam definitely doesn’t. Yet, I have two friends who are either in the process of gestating or thinking about creating, their third and it makes me inexplicably sad. That will never be me. I won’t have a boy, I won’t have three children who each have either two sisters or a brother and a sister. I mean, it’s SILLY, I guess to think about, since it’s not something I ever, ever wanted — three children, that is — but here I am.

I think it’s less that I want three children, and more that that I want to be the type of person who wants three children, I guess.

I mean, I am CERTAINLY not cut out for three pregnancies, considering the hyperemesis, the dairy intolerance (which my doctor is suspecting is actually an allergy! HURRAY!), the general aversion to all things food-related, bizarre yeast infections ON MY FACE, two ear infections, crippling fatigue and OH YES, less-than-robust fertility. And that’s just the pregnancies that worked, because if I were to get pregnant again, it would actually be round seven. Two out of six intended pregnancies working out AIN’T GREAT ODDS. I mean, the WRITING IS ON THE WALL, PEOPLE. I’m finished here. But it sort of sucks, even though I do not even WANT to continue on! What is this?

None of this makes any sense at all. Then again, neither does having children, when you get right down to it. Hey, let’s give up sleep, an astonishing amount of money and EVERY LAST BIT of personal freedom and/or free time for this tiny person who shows zero appreciation for any of it for AT LEAST thirty years! And let’s do it TWICE! Jesus, a pet shark is probably more rewarding and/or predictable. At least you can go on vacation alone, and a shark sitter is probably cheaper than one who watches live children.

Obviously, it’s much better than that. It’s great, actually. It’s just . . . I mean, WHY ELSE WOULD WE WANT MORE?

There seems to be no arguing with biology. I remember about a minute after I had Sam, my body was screaming MORE MORE MORE! LET US ALL HAVE MORE! It wasn’t until the hormones wore off that I adopted a more reasonable approach of only, say, ELEVEN, instead of forty. And then, even as sleep grew more easy to come by and life became easier and she became FUN, I realized I am not cut out to be the mother of more than two children, due to my personal limitations and more practical constraints like finances.

Ah, but still. As Swistle rightly pointed out, though, there will ALWAYS be a last baby, and it will ALWAYS be sort of bittersweet, I expect, no matter when that baby comes. Even if it’s the seventh, I guess.

I mean, I’m pregnant! Miserably so! Why am I sad not to do this again? LOGIC HAS NO PLACE HERE. But still, I am a little sad, knowing that this is it. Once she’s here, that’s our family. And it will be a WONDERFUL family, the precise one I wanted, but I think seeing the end of anything is always a little sad, even if it’s the right thing to do.

In other illogical news, I’ve had a sore throat on my left side since about January. An excruciating one, in fact, that started at the tail end of a rather brutal plague-like sickness that felled our entire household. Like a moron, I just let it go, because I’m pregnant! It’s just a sore throat! Everything lingers! Post-nasal drip! Whatevs! Until things got rather out of control and I could barely swallow iced tea, and finally, FINALLY, I sucked it up and went to the doctor.

Ear infection. EAR INFECTION. Eardrum so swollen, it was about to burst! But no ear pain. Just a sore throat. One day. ONE DAY of antibiotics and you guys, it’s gone. It’s GONE. I AM AN IDIOT. PLEASE DO NOT BE SO STUPID. Although realistically, you’re all grown-ups who don’t get ear infections, because you don’t go to preschool. And really, neither do I, I AM JUST PREGNANT, WHEN THESE THINGS HAPPEN.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean out every closet in the house, because for some reason, I can’t have a baby until I have eliminated all of the clothes that I don’t wear anymore. Babies CARE about outdated capris, you know.

Happy weekend!

*Snow Patrol

216 comments April 5th, 2012

I have returned. Stop the presses.

OH HELLO I HAVE A BLOG.

I hate when I do that. Not because I think YOU care, but because I then procrastinate writing again, as I feel like I have to say something VERY PROFOUND, either about what I’ve been thinking about or what I’ve been doing, when the reality is I’ve been busy . . . gestating. And gesticulating, I suppose, when I have the energy to move my arms. I mean, HONESTLY, y’all, when did pregnancy get so EXHAUSTING? Again! I never got the honeymoon period of ALL THAT ENERGY that is purported to happen in the second trimester, which is not surprising, and it’s fine, really. It’s FINE. Although here I am in my third, so, ah, yeah. I did enjoy a man telling me that I should be feeling better by now. ORILLY SIR? Tell me about the last time you were pregnant!

That’s one thing that gives me hope about newbornhood this time around. Pregnancy is annoying and miserable and fraught with food issues (I’m lactose intolerant, what IS that?), but it’s positively FLOWN by, and I know it’s temporary, and once it’s over, I . . . well, honestly, I never have to do it again. Frankly, even if I wanted more children, I think the nail was placed in that coffin shortly after I unknowingly ingested sour cream and was doing every gastrointestinal-related horrible thing at once, to the tune of having to throw away TWO garbage cans and Lysol the living daylights out of our bathroom at 2 a.m. NO THANK YOU, EVERYONE. I am good with two.

I’ve also finished Downton Abbey (TEAM MARY!), am reading Maisie Dobbs (Meh?) and working on the wackiest book I’ve ever encountered in my life (Tom Robbins on acid, but for children. I don’t even know), PLUS, I also take a nap every afternoon. Obviously I am the busiest person who ever lived, so stop pretending your life is hard. THIS IS THE HARDEST. You think it’s easy to nap every day AND get the laundry done? I NEED A BLOG FOR MY UNIQUE CHALLENGES OF GETTING IT ALL DONE. WHERE IS MY ESSAY IN SOME SORT OF “JUGGLING IT ALL” COLUMN IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL?

Oh, wait.

No, seriously, that’s pretty much how it goes. By the end of the day, I am so pooped from all of the exertion spent doing light parenting (totally a thing) and keeping us out of a general state of total squalor that I just . . . God, well, I feel like I’ve been working as a nurse on the front lines in Afghanistan, and it makes me feel so pathetic that I’m embarrassed to even admit it, but admit it, I must. I am also strangely impressed with my ability to still sleep on my stomach, despite it being gigantor, thanks to a jury-rigged contraption consisting of a feather pillow and my best friend, the body pillow. Sure makes the urge to evict this tiny parasite a WEE BIT LESS urgent than it was with Sam, when all I wanted to do was lie flat on my belly in blissful slumber. If I’ve got that NOW, what’s the motivation for anything else? I’m a parent of two! And yet I am also sleeping on my stomach! LET’S GO FORTY MORE WEEKS!

Fine, not really. Because the sooner we move past this, the sooner we’re all sleeping through the night again and then life will REALLY BEGIN ANEW. So, look for some new vim and vigor sometime in 2014, if Sam’s example is any indication, I suppose.

ANYWAY, that is what’s new. I mean, other than an excessive amount of hand-wringing and facepalming about politics and SCOTUS and health care and women and racism and The Hunger Games (OOH OOH I LOVED THE MOVIE) and OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THE WORLD HAS LOST THEIR DAMN MINDS. I seem to recall a similar panic when I was pregnant with Sam during the crash of 2008 and that ying yang on CNN was screeching, “Will your ATM cards work tomorrow? FRANKLY, I DO NOT KNOW.” He said that! On television! While pregnant ladies across America watched in horror! GOD, WHY DOES NO ONE THINK OF THE PREGNANT WOMEN?

I’ll see you next week, promise. I BROKE THE ICE NOW.

230 comments March 30th, 2012

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