Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. other Moms

We regret that we must interrupt your regularly scheduled viewing of this blog with the following rant. This rant, which can not be helped at the current time, is in direct response to Awkward Mom's morning outing. We apologize, in advance, for the lack of Awkward Mom's usual jovial tone, and for the presence of much whining, self-pity, and complainy catty commentary. We will return you to your normal viewing of badly framed photos of the Super Boys and Awkward Mom's gleeful forays into awkward antics just as soon as we can. (It is probably just best to let her get it off her chest.) Please bear with us and thank you.

My open letter to the Moms of the World.
Dear Moms (specifically those in Ann Arbor at a certain park around 10 this morning):

After some not-so-careful deliberation and an entire box of chocolate, I have formed my thoughts into, what I feel is, a fairly concise yet thorough statement. These are just a few ideas and suggestions regarding your future interaction with peers that may not share your specific ideology, but for reasons of geography and sanity must utilize the same parks as you. Thank you.

1.) Even if I did not arrive at the park via the summons of the same Meet-Up email from your "co-op playgroup," you can still talk to me or my children. I do not think that our mediocrity is contagious, but if it is, I think longer exposure is necessary for full-blown effects.

2.) If you do brave it and talk to me, loud demands of "How old?" in the general vicinity of me and my child is going to result in the answer "33, and you?" It is not my fault if you don't get it.

3.) Regarding the previous point, before launching into full out child comparison with me, you may want to consider some warm up questions or statements, such as "Nice weather." or "He's cute, what's his name?" or "My name is Perfect Mom, what's yours?" They will avoid sass and allow the conversation to progress beyond blank stares or lame pretending to not speak English.

4.) While I am thrilled that your child knows all the planets in the solar system and how to count to 100, you might want to consider including some manners into your home-school curriculum. At your discretion, of course.

5.) No, my 18-month-old is not walking, but he is very skilled at getting where he needs to go. You do not need to scream at your child to "watch the BABY!" every time my child is within 14 feet of yours. This is not having the desired effect; your child proceeds to startle at your voice and steps on my son as a result.

6.) I can see my toddler and have spent the last 3 and 1/2 years carefully gauging how far away from him I can be and still sprint there in record time. Plus, he waves at me about every 5 minutes with a "Mommy, mommy, look at me!" Your repeated flailing of arms and shouts of "Whose Child is this? Missing Child!" are not particularly helpful. Especially the 3rd or 4th time.

7.) Yes, my son is interested in princesses. My son. If your daughter comes to the park dressed in a complete Belle outfit, with a crown and matching shoes, he is going to try to talk to her. I believe the complete interaction was "What a pretty dress!" I don't feel that this necessitated her screaming or the loud shouting that he was a "weirdo," while running to you for "protection." Nor do I feel that your giggles where particularly appropriate. Sheer maturity forces me to refrain from telling my son that your daughter is a "weirdo" for showing up at the park in a dress-up dress in the middle of July.

8.) While we are on the subject of daughters, I fully endorse and support your interest in raising spirited, assertive young women. That said, if any of your daughters repeatedly punch my son again, and your response consists of permissive (and rather proud) looks, I will be putting her in a time-out myself. Fair warning.

9.) Yes, my son was eating a Dum-Dum. I now understand that your daughter has never had sugar and perhaps can even see how she was "carried away" by the presence of said Dum-Dum. (Although, and sorry for the digression, but to be logical about it, how would she even know what it was, never having had sugar...) Anyway, I still do not think that the mere presence of the sucker warranted her grabbing it out of my son's mouth and shoving it into hers. I suppose I understand your lack of apology, given your stance on sugar, and, by the way, thank you for the unsolicited lecture on its evils, but I will continue to periodically offer my child candy when and if I feel like it.

10.) I also want to thank you all for your loud discussion of no-sugar, gluten-free, organic brownies, with spinach. If I am ever in the mood for such an abomination, I will totally look up the website you mentioned.

11.) While we are on the topic of volume-control, you might want to alter yours when discussing the formula-feeding mother on the bench across the park. I am pretty sure she can hear you, but if you are really concerned that she is not aware of La Leche and the benefits of breast milk, it is much more polite to address those thoughts to her and not to your friends within her hearing. If you are thinking of approaching her, I will tell you now, she has probably struggled with and weighed her decision carefully and is really not in need of any rude and thoughtless comments from people who don't know her and her situation. Ditto regarding the other members of the infant trifecta; sleeping and diapering.

12.) Yes, I am aware of organic granola bars. I will continue to buy the ones that are on sale. And yes, I also know that I can make my own. Thank you and yes, yours do look delicious.

I suppose I could continue, but frankly, I am out of chocolate and need to change the DVD I have playing for my children right now. I will close by saying this: I respect you all as moms. I think being a parent is the hardest job in the world. We are daily wrestling with numerous decisions that ultimately add up to getting our children to adulthood successfully, with the least injuries and therapy bills possible. We all make different decisions along the way (many many different decisions, if today is any indication), and I will continue to respect and defend your right to make those decisions any way you chose. I would ask that you please respect my right to make mine. Thank you and good luck.

Awkward Mom

PS....Motherhood does not necessitate that you completely lose your sense of humor or ability to discuss things that are not your children's milestones. Just saying.....

Sigh, well, it looks like she is done. We return you to your regular programming and promise to tell you about Super Fetus' ultrasound super soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. Trimester 2

Trimester 2; otherwise known as "can-hair-even-grow-there?"

So, here we are in Trimester 2. Right there, you can tell this is not the first baby of the Awkward Family. The first time; you know exactly how many minutes pregnant you are. People ask how far along you are and you rattle off the specific week. I know the specific week for about 2 minutes, once a week, when BabyCenter sends me my weekly guilt email. You know, the one where they tell you that gaining 5 pounds during the course of the whole pregnancy is perfectly sufficient or that you should be playing Brahms directly into your belly 4 times a day, while you eat kale. (The only one I listened to was the one when they told me not to worry but to continue the same exercise routine I had before I was pregnant....I'll just let you guess why that one appealed to me.)

But back to my forgetfulness. Yes, poor Super Fetus. I don't have any idea what week we are in right now. In fact, I am a little confused on the month too. (I'll be honest; months 4 and 5 always blend together for me.) However, I am very very sure we are in Trimester 2. I know this because I have reached glowing.

Although, it might be more truthful to tell you that I am glistening. Shining. Damp. Perhaps a bit moist (ummm....ew). OK. OK. Sweating like a stuck pig. It does not help that I have never reached glowing in the summer before (Super Toddler and Super Baby being winter babies); to experience glowing in July must be akin to walking on the surface of the sun. I do NOT even want to think about all of you who are in Trimester 3, but if you want to come over and lean into my freezer for awhile, I won't judge. I am pretty sure that is what glowing really means: completely and utterly unable to control one's internal temperature and filled with a burning desire to sit in front of a fan and eat ice cream pretty much every waking minute.

Not that sleeping minutes are much better. When I am not waking to visit the bathroom, I am having vivid, disturbing, and flat-out inappropriate dreams about all the Backyardigans. I can't really face them on Netflix in the light of day and have been pushing Super Why these days. I feel the need to knock on some wood right now because I don't know what tonight will bring and if Princess Pea spells anything too graphic in my dreams, I am gonna be stuck with uncomfortable morning after vibes. Super Toddler will not tolerate a break from his favorite spelling princess.

All in all, Super Fetus is showing him/herself to be a master of body manipulation. He/she tired of nausea-inducing around the end of Trimester 1 (I think he/she figured out that particular superpower had a nasty side-effect of reducing food intake), but we are going strong with spontaneous fatigue. Super Fetus apparently also has the ability to control gravity, sending me careening into walls and tripping over air at a moment's notice. But his/her particular favorite seems to be the ability to cause rapid and embarrassing hair growth. And just in time for pool weather. Super indeed, Super Fetus!

But let me tell you one benefit to Trimester 2, Super Readers. Uh, oh, that doesn't bode well for tonight's dreams....but that isn't what I wanted to tell you. What I wanted to tell you about was the Trimester 2 ultrasound. This is what my doctor refers to as the "fun" ultrasound. I believe it is so dubbed because the baby looks more babyish than at the first ultrasound but less like Modok, which, let's face it, is how babies can look during a Trimester 3 ultrasound. Go ahead, look him up in Wikipedia. I'll wait. Mean, but true, you gotta admit....

Anyway, the fun ultrasound! I also think it is so named because this is the ultrasound when you can find out if you are having a boy or a girl. But since we are strictly opening-Christmas-presents-on-Christmas-morning people, we are going to wait. No judgments of you like to open your gifts Christmas Eve, or even December 15th or 7th for that matter; I imagine that it must have been a truly magical moment to find out who you were waiting for in the sacred dark of that ultrasound room. For myself, after hearing the doctor shout "It's a boy!" in the ridiculously joyful chaos of Super Toddler's birth, I have become an addict to the surprise. The waiting and guessing are kinda fun too, which makes me think that maybe I will wait to tell you about Super Fetus' ultrasound. Come back and I promise to tell you about wands that were not really wands, how 2 toddlers deal with a hour long sit in the dark (staring at the most boring movie in creation) and just how much of a voyeur Super Baby really is. It'll be just like Christmas morning....ummm wait, that didn't come out right....

So, the battle with Trimester 2 continues to rage. That the battle seems to consist of Awkward Mom remembering that she is in Trimester 2 is certainly an unique problem, but far be it from us to judge. Stay tuned for Awkward Mom's awkward retelling of a decidedly awkward ultrasound. See ya soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. the Dance Class

Probably should have named this one Awkward Mom vs. half the Dance Class.....that would more accurately represent who won the battle.

So, Super Toddler has shown a burgeoning interest in dance for awhile. The child took his sweet time learning how to walk, but since then he has certainly branched out into skipping, twirling, and a bizarre concoction that is a little bit Charleston, a smidgen Jitterbug, and mostly we all fall down. Since most of his bedtime stories take place at a ball, I suppose his dance interest is no big surprise. His current dance idols are Elmo, the man who gets all wet (aka Gene Kelly), and the man who dances on the ceiling (aka Fred Astaire...although, I am sure Super Toddler would be enamored of Lionel Richie as well. Just haven't found that one on YouTube yet).

Well, being the Super Hero Mom that I am, I thoughtfully enrolled him in a dance class.

(Full disclosure requires us to point out that it was Marvelous Toddler's parents who enrolled her in said class and passed on the information to Awkward Mom.)

Anyway, back to my wonderfully thoughtful mothering: I enroll him in a dance class. A class that is aimed at 3-4 year olds to "teach fun and creative dance in a playful, musical setting." Yes, please memorize that, it comes back up. Especially the playful and musical parts.

So, being the good mother that I am, I talk up the class for several days, getting him terribly excited about being able to dance on a "real dance floor," with other "dancers." I, sadly, have to kill his dreams about tutus and tap shoes, but he is still pretty happy about the prospect of this dance class, as we head out to the studio. Plenty early, just to make sure we find it. My ongoing war with getting lost is forever raging....

2 wrong turns later, I pull into the parking lot of the dance studio, 15 minutes early! Sometimes (rarely, but still) my super-time-skills fire on all cylinders. We make our bumbling way in and meet the teacher. Her complete lack of ability in talking to children should be setting off some alarms, but there is fun music playing and I really really want this for Super Toddler. While Super Baby takes off across the huge dance floor and Super Toddler asks the teacher the whereabouts of Elmo, I scan the room and the walls full of photos of past dancers. There is not one male dancer to be seen. I feel the soft alarm bells start to ring, but I am forced to ignore them in my mad dash to rescue the stereo system from Super Baby's curious fingers.

Thankfully, the class starts about then. I stash Super Baby next to some legos, but my thankfulness starts to wane almost immediately. The class seems to consist of 2 other students (Marvelous Toddler has not yet arrived); both Amazonian girls. I am still not convinced either one was really 3, despite what their parents said. One is asleep, her parents having brought her straight from her nap, and the other one is to put this politely? Well, basically, she is Perfect Toddler, from her hair bow to her gleaming patent leather shoes. Let's just say her attitude matches her shoes and hair bow. The music is shut off and the children are told to form a circle on the floor of the seating area, just within sight of the shiny dance floor. Super Toddler's disappointment is palpable. Perfect Toddler perches primly next to the teacher. Sleepy Toddler is propped up on a bench by her parents, and Super Toddler decides to roll into the circle like a log from the doorway. This provokes the first (of many) "Now, Super Toddler, please sit down" from the teacher.

Each child is asked to say and spell their name. (Still not entirely sure what spelling has to with dance, but I am game at this point.) Perfect Toddler spells hers perfectly, big surprise. Sleepy Toddler just stares at the teacher, but her eyes are open, so I suppose that is a start. Her name is spelled for her, via her parents. Super Toddler spells his; with a wink and an extra X, just for kicks. He is corrected by the teacher for his troubles. He is also told that he needs to sit in a crossed legged position, like Perfect Toddler. He starts looking back at me with some worry.

The teacher begins with rules of the dance studio. This is a very long list that I (and I imagine the normal 3-year-olds in the room) immediately forget. The big one appears to be no running, as, and this is a direct quote, "you could fall into the mirrors and they could break and kill you." OK. Can't exactly argue that one, but still......

OK, so, time for dance? No. It appears that we need to stretch. OK. Well, I suppose that makes sense. There are 3 to 4 different stretches. Super Toddler doesn't know any of them and tries for awhile. However, pretty soon, this decidedly "non-dance" activity and the tantalizing presence of the dance floor start to get to him, and he is interspersing his attempts at stretches with attempts at escape. The next 10 minutes sounds like this: "Good job, Perfect Toddler. Super Toddler, sit down, please. Let's do our butterflies! Can you do a butterfly, Super Toddler? Sit down, Super Toddler. Look at Perfect Toddler, do what she is doing. Want to join us, Sleepy Toddler? Sit down please, Super Toddler. Let's make a bridge with our legs. A bridge, Super Toddler. Come on, you can do it. Sit down, please! Excellent work, Perfect Toddler. Like Perfect Toddler, Super Toddler. Just like her. Sit down please!" Super Toddler rolls over to me and whispers, "when do we dance?" I urge him to return to the circle, as the teacher turns to the assembled parents and says "there is always one, in every class."

Alarm bells? Pealing full force.

The teacher moves the class to the middle of the dance floor, so I attempt to breathe and give this a chance. I am hoping for music. None is forthcoming. The teacher tells the children (Sleepy Toddler has followed them out there) to sit in a circle for more stretches. I am distracted in an attempt to keep Super Baby off the dance floor, but I can feel Super Toddler roll his eyes. He tries one more butterfly (I think he just likes the name) before giving up entirely and turning away to make faces in the mirrored wall. The teacher is giving a speech about listening and following the leader when Marvelous Toddler shows up. Super Toddler is thrilled. He bounds over to embrace her, completely ignoring the teacher's lecture on running and disrupting the class. Perfect Toddler is asked to demonstrate the appropriate stretches for Marvelous Toddler and it appears that stretch time is going to be repeated. Super Toddler is not having it. He tells the teacher he is tired of stretches and wants to dance, please. I have a brief moment of gratitude for the please, before melting into the floor. The teacher instructs Super Toddler to go sit with his mother, while turning and stage whispering to the Perfect Parents that boys can be so interested in their own way sometimes.

Super Toddler reluctantly comes and sits by me. He asks where the music is and if there is going to be ceiling dancing or not. I ask him if he wants to leave. He says no, but he would like some music. I fight the urge to agree with him and ask him to follow the teacher if he wants to stay. He nods and returns to the circle where is appears they are at last allowed to stand. There is some activity involving teddy bears, but I miss it entirely as Super Baby has discovered the bathroom and is merrily playing the toilet. This extraction takes some time, so I miss Super Toddler's big rebellion. I can hear it however, and it sounds like this: "something, something, teddy bear, Super Toddler, please stop twirling, stop it, stop it, crash, bang."

I turn to see the teacher restraining my oldest child; his legs flailing and her nostrils flaring. I put Super Baby down and head across the dance floor. I ask if he should sit out, and she tells me that he needs to leave. She hands Super Toddler to me, while I stare at her. She tells me that he is clearly not ready and there is nothing wrong with that (although all her body language is telling me that there is) and that he is just too interested in his own way to fully engage in the class. We won't want to ruin it for everyone else, now, would we? I numbly nod at her. He is welcome when he can learn to interact properly and thank you for coming. I pick up Super Baby (howling since his interrupted playdate with the bathroom) and I walk Super Toddler past the wall of shame the other parents have erected. Super Toddler starts frantically looking back at Marvelous Toddler and pulling on my hand.

"Why are we leaving, Mommy? Class isn't over."

"Well, sweetie, we have to go. It is time for us to go."

"Why, Mommy? Why?"

"It just is, Sugar."

His lower lip trembles and the tears start flying. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I just want to dance!"

"I know, baby, but we need to go now." The lameness of my answers are ricocheting all over the beautiful acoustics of the room, and I glance back in just time to see Perfect Toddler's parting smirk. 3-years-old, my foot.

It is one of the longest and most exhausting car loadings in recent memory. I am so grateful once we are finally safe in our car that I pull out of the parking lot like something out of the Fast and the Furious. I want to put distance between me and the scene of the crime before I let the tears fall. And fall they do, as soon as I pull over onto a shady tree-lined side street to let the self-pity completely take over. I am pondering my complete and absolute failure as a mother when a little voice in the backseat beckons me.

I look into the rear view mirror to see my rebel child smiling at me like a beautiful rainbow. "Mommy, don't worry. It's OK. Don't worry. Please don't cry, I love you. I had a good time, Mommy. Don't cry. I love you." 3-years-old, my foot.

So, immediately after this one, Awkward Mom took the Super Boys to Toy R Us and bought them anything they wanted. BabyCenter can kiss it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. Spontaneity

When Super Toddler wants to see zebras, it is best to heed the call.

I am not very spontaneous. In fact, I was born a planner. A full out, to-do-list, 5-year-plan, organized-sock-drawer planner. The whole shooting match, and I come by it naturally. The women in my family are dedicated and meticulous planners. My father is known to say that if the women of the Awkward Family had been present at creation, they would have handed God a detailed list (with graphs) on how to improve His efficiency in life-creating. My father (the font of wisdom) also maintains that women in the Awkward Clan possess a very specific and unique superpower called Happy Feet, which, interestingly enough, has very little to do with feet (let alone dancing penguins) and more to do with a deep-seated phobia of dirty dishes and a relentless compulsion to rearrange furniture. And while I am still moving my couch placement about every 2 weeks, like clockwork, I have long given up my membership in the planner club. (Shush, don't tell my mom.)

I can even remember the exact day that I dropped out. It was 3 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days ago. That was the day we were supposed to meet Super Toddler. (He was technically going by Super Fetus back then, but let's not be confusing.) That was his due date. A due date he completely and totally ignored. He happily shrugged his little shoulders (I know, because I felt it) and decided to stay where he was. He did this despite all of the carefully harvested time off, packed bags, arriving grandmothers, and painted nursery. He laughed in there as I begged him to come on, hurry up, let's go. (not a whole lot has changed on that front either), and he continued to snuggle and poke the equivalent of "one more minute, Mom" to me for the next 10 days. When he finally made his rock star entrance, it was not particularly willing, but urged on by a bevy of medical personal and a huge helping of Pitocin.

This radically altered my life. (Like becoming a mother wasn't change enough....) Super Toddler is no planner (Awkward Dad and all the men in the Awkward family aren't either, so I suppose this should come as no surprise), and he has shown signs of being a stop-to-smell-the-roses fellow from day 1. This has forced me to be a lot more spontaneous and relaxed as a person. OK, well, let me honest. I am working on the relaxed part. I have gone from someone who used to be early for everything, planned every minute of the day, had carefully maintained lists about what the process was for cleaning the kitchen to someone, well, a lot more like Super Toddler. It has mostly been a good transformation and I am learning to go with the flow. You planners out there know exactly how hard that is, and I still struggle with it.

Like today's request, for example. Today, at breakfast, Super Toddler casually announces that he would like to see zebras and we should go to the zoo. I look at him, he looks at me, and I figure he is probably right. Today is a good day to see some zebras. I say yes and immediately hear this stifled little scream from deep inside. At first, I thought Super Fetus was showing him/herself to be extremely precocious and speaking a tad early, but no, it turned out to be the teeny, tiny last vestige of my planner self. She hangs on in there, you know, much like the telemarketers that keep calling, regardless of how many times you hang up on them. She is extremely upset and I shall tell you why in list form, showing that she is not altogether without some hold on me:

1. We are eating breakfast at 10:30 in the morning. This is mostly due to Awkward Dad's new schedule; he is working 12pm-10pm. This has caused all the drama you would expect, but that is a different post entirely.

2. Everyone who is everyone knows that you should arrive at the zoo 5 minutes before they open to get a good parking space.

3. The zoo opened a half hour before Super Toddler's pronouncement.

4. The zoo is 1 state and 49.5 miles away.

5. Everyone who is everyone knows that you must pack a picnic lunch the night before a zoo trip; complete with sandwiches, iced drinks, fresh fruits, and a large supply of healthful snacks, which your children will reject the moment they see the snowcones and hot dogs being hawked on every corner of the zoo.

6. I have packed no picnic lunch.

7. Our cooler kinda smells funny.

8. I have only been to this zoo once and am pretty sure I don't remember how to get there.

9. I have never been to any zoo with both Super Boys without Awkward Dad's assistance and, more importantly, ability to give piggy-back rides.

10. Everyone who is everyone knows that zoo trips are not something you decide to do on the spur of the moment, but something that takes carefully planning, organizing, and thought.

Man, that little planner still has it! And yet, despite that impressive list (ending in a 10, how orderly), we still leave for the zoo. At 11:46am. With a bottle of water, 2 peanut butter sandwiches, and some grapes. Do I question the wisdom of this decision along the way? Well......I really couldn't say. Do I think that this might not be the best idea when Super Toddler falls asleep 5 minutes after we enter the city limits of Toledo? Maybe. Do I worry that my inner planner could be right after I get lost 3 times trying to find the zoo? Perhaps. Do I complete lose it and nearly start to cry when I get lost a 4th time and really, really have to go to the bathroom. Well.....yes, yes, I am gonna cop to that one. That one sends me into total panic mode. But then, like an oasis out of the Sahara, the zoo (and its numerous bathrooms) pops into view.

I awaken both Super Boys, shove them into the unwieldy double stroller that I hate but know I am gonna love when Super Toddler gets tired and starts asking to be carried, and begin our barge-like approach from our parking space (I think it might be the last one in the parking lot) to the zoo entrance.

Now, I know that you all know what the zoo looks (and feels) like on a July afternoon, so I am not gonna bore you. Let's get to the good stuff; pictures!

Super Baby, still fresh and happy, as we begin our zoo journey.

The most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen.

One of many "rests."

I had to physically restrain Super Baby from jumping into the pool with the seals.

We ride the carousel this visit. Super Toddler is on a hippo and Super Baby is on a baboon, which somehow seemed to make sense. See the sheen they are sporting? Zoo in July, remember, and they spent most of the trip riding in the stroller. I apologize if your imagination just tried to picture what I must have looked like.

Super Toddler and some giraffe antics.

How Super Baby spent most of the zoo visit....note the sandwich.

So, the $64,000 question: Was it worth it? Was this spontaneous zoo trip worth violating every rule and truth that my inner planner holds near and dear? Was it worth the sweat, exhaustion, gas money, irritations (including finding out that the zebras are literally the farthest animal from where we parked), unexpected expenses (i.e. snowcones), and stress. Well......I shall answer you in the form of a picture:


Interestingly enough, we have no pictures of the zebras and the one that we saw was a tiny white and black blur clear on other side of the enclosure. Oh well, there is always next time....tomorrow is looking wide open....