Sunday, December 29, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Christmas Haze

It is still Christmas! I have 12 days and that tree is staying up until Epiphany. 16 years of Catholic school talking here, so you just keep your New Year resolutions to yourself for a couple more day, OK? I'm not ready.

Awkward Mom doesn't mean to sound testy, she is just dealing with the Christmas Haze. A fog-like villain that covers your living room in legos, stuffs your fridge full of fancy cheeses, desserts, and really nothing that children like to eat, and renders you so insensible that you have no idea what day of the week it is. What day of the week is it, by the way? Sunday? You don't say.....

Given that I was dead sure it was Friday, I have some serious battle to do with Christmas Haze, not to mention villains 800-broken-down-lego-boxes-in-the-basement and the-recycle-bin-won't-hold-anything-else. Since I have been on a diet of candy canes and Christmas cookies for 4 days straight, I might also take a nap. Since I also haven't gotten fully dressed in those 4 days, that shouldn't be too hard. Creating a coherent and halfway sensible post, however, is proving beyond me, so enjoy these photos of the Supers and I will catch you in 2014!

Awkward Dad made his annual Kolaczki.
Note the Oreos off to the side,
just in case Santa felt more American this year.

Ultimately, we decided Santa was Polish. 
We had no carrots, so the reindeer got radishes. 
They didn't seem to mind. 

Super K. opening the first of many
(many many many many) legos sets. 
4 days out; they are no longer sets, 
but a giant pile that I think ate one of the cats.

Super Toddler played with this horse stable for 45 minutes,
ignoring all other toys that her brother eventually just opened for her.
I am putting this one in the win column.

Super K. and his new friend. 

Super Preschooler and his (slightly larger) new friend. 

His Star Wars Walker is basically the dog every little child wants,
with none of the mess. 
Also in the win column.

Stocking Time!
And yes, Santa brought her Slim-Jims. 

My favorite moment of Christmas this year;
Super P. is horrified that Super Fetus receives no gifts, 
so he gives him/her his new Ewok doll and insists that I cuddle them together.
It is amazing and not awkward in the slightest. 
OK, having an Ewok doll in the first place is kinda awkward. 
But Super P.? He is all kinds of perfection. 

We'll see you guys in 2014! Oh, and you can tell us your new year's resolutions if you want to, but don't hold your breath for Awkward Mom's. Since her birthday falls at the end of January, she always gives herself 3 extra weeks to settle on her resolutions. She likes to start them at the beginning of her new year. It's awkward, what can I say? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas Photo 2013

And this here is why we can't have nice things....

The Shove your Sister Pose. 

The Out of Control Jazz Hands Pose. 

The No Eyes on Mommy Pose. 

The Zoning Out Pose. 

The Messing with Hats Pose. 

The Peek-a-Boo Pose. 

The Out of Control Jazz Hands Pose - Take 2. 

The Let's Pretend We are in a Wind Tunnel Pose. 

The Bored Now Pose. 

The You are Never Getting a Frameable Christmas Photo out of This, 
so Why are you Still Trying?
Can we have some Candy Canes and Chocolate Santas now, Please?

Classics all. May your Christmas Eves be fun, festive, and full of awkward moments that you remember to photograph. Give yourself the gift of future hilarity. You won't regret it! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In being Awkward!

This photo is for anyone who still had doubts as to my true awkwardness. This is how I go about getting teacher gifts ready for least the red is festive.

Posts to come soon; we are battling a mega-cold over here. I think even Super Fetus has it; can fetui sneeze? It would explain the jumping he/she is doing in there. On top of my bladder.....

So, we are in being awkward. Hope you are all in and warm as well. The awkwardness I won't wish on you. It ends up being sticky and hard to get out of the grooves.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Opening Gifts

No; not the whole Christmas eve vs. Christmas morning thing. Not yet, at least.

So, we have completed our Kindergarten Birthday Party marathon. No one set any record times, but still, we finished the race. Just in time for Super K. to come down with the fever/cough/plague that is racing through his school. He basically collapsed on the finish line and is currently ailing on the couch. It is a matter of time before he passes this to his siblings, so this post will be pretty brief. You don't have time to be reading about birthdays anyway; not while you have Jesus' to get ready for, that is.

Here's the thing: living in an university town has ups and downs. Ups being cheap booze and downs being dealing with undergrads who think that leggings are pants. There sometimes feels like there are more downs, but a definite up is the vibrant international community that universities attract. Nearly half of Super K.'s class are children of people from around the world, brought here by the university. Some are professors, some are students, all are fascinating and opening up our eyes to the vast and beautiful world out there beyond the Michigan snow.

3 out of the 4 birthday parties in our recent marathon were for some of these international children. Which meant we got to dance, sing, and party with Chileans, Indians, and Brazilians all within a week. We also bounced with most of them, as the parties were mostly Bounce House Xtreme affairs, and then we feasted with them. Thankfully, in that order. Oh Readers, the food. I can't even tell you about how amazing the food was. I seriously can't; there are not words lush enough.

But interestingly, despite the balloons, goody bags, cakes, and all other hallmarks of traditional American birthday parties, we did NOT open gifts with them. Oh, gifts were brought in, handed to the birthday child, who gushed thanks and appreciation, but then they were tucked away in a pile somewhere, totally forgotten by all the children in their glee for bouncing houses and free-flowing juice boxes. There was no ceremonial opening of the gifts. No tearing through paper and desperate parental attempts to remember which gift came from which person. We ate cake and then each guest was presented with goody bags overflowing with tiny toys and more sweet delights. The children all left on a cloud of mirth, probably due to massive sugar highs, and I didn't even notice the lack of gift opening until we were in the car and I had no lingering shame about my child attempting to open someone else's gift, like usually happens.

Was this just happenstance? Just these three families? Did it have to do with their international status? They are all from various parts of the world, so it isn't like the whole rest of the world could be less materialistic than the USA, right? (She asked with a slightly self-aware smirk.) I don't know. And frankly, I don't care why it happened. It happened and it was delightful. And I am totally gonna try to steal it for the next birthday party I host. How much luck do you guys think I will have with this plan?

Is this truly an international thing? Or was Awkward Mom just raised in extremely gift-opening-right-away environments? Please let us know in the comments. We want lots of ammunition at our fingertips when we try to sell this plan to Awkward Dad....

Because any attempt to minimize this kinda thing would be welcome.
And really good for Awkward Mom's mental health. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas Good Enough

I have been looking at my Christmas budget and I think Uncle Billy has lost the money. Plus, I can't find Zuzu petals to make them into a festive craft. It is starting to feel like Pottersville around here..... 

This is how I feel these days:

Surrounded by festive cheer, 
and yet distractedly staring off into the middle distance. 
(She is really watching Super Why, 
but go with me here.)

The Christmas season (Yes, purists, I know we are really in Advent) is beautiful and I want to give in to the magical moments that happen each day of it, but I find myself instead worried by lists of to-do. Presents for teachers. How much everything is costing. If our homemade gifts of jam and bread are going to be as ridiculous as they are starting to feel. That everyone we know seems to have a birthday in December and how to make them feel the specialness they deserve despite sharing a month with Jesus. The endless lists of holiday events, that too require a gift of some sort. Holiday sweater envy. Trying to create a balance of spiritual wonder and toy delight for my children. Dealing with all the Grandparent gifts that keep arriving and out-doing anything that Santa is intending to bring. Crafty-mom envy, which always flairs this time of year. Basically, the stress and to-dos are endless and I can't even zone out with It's a Wonderful Life and rum-laced eggnog because someone "borrowed" my copy like 8 years ago and Super Fetus can't handle the sauce. So, like an ostrich striking her head in the sand, I stand awkwardly near the tree and stare off into the middle distance. Or watch the Super Why where they talk about Halloween. I have no idea why this episode is playing on December 12th. I have no idea how we got to December 12th and nothing is done!!

I want to look like this:

Totally focused on the moment at hand,
surrounded by festive cheer.
Bright and alert and in the spirit of the season.
Even wearing red!

I am on Facebook. I see you Elf-on-the-Shelf moms with your crafty ways; making cookies and knitting stockings. I see that my mother was done Christmas shopping and wrapping the week before Halloween, when she stashed everything in my basement. I see the lights up and down my street, and the 4 blow-up scenes my neighbor is sporting this year. I see the Christmas specials on TV and the happy, festive family in the commercials where the mom isn't crying in the kitchen because her cranberry-orange bread bubbled over in the pan and is making the smoke detector go off. That mom never freaks out and threatens to cancel Christmas because she is tired and overwhelmed and just wants to hibernate until 2014. No, she is focused on the moment, surround by festive cheer, bright, alert, and wearing a beautiful red sweater she probably knit herself. I will never be her. I should just give up and go back to bed, right?

Or maybe I could just accept that I am awkward and human and not bathed in the flattering light of a commercial that was probably filmed in August somewhere in Hollywood. Maybe I could accept that I write really good Christmas cards, that might arrive on the 12th day of Christmas rather than December 1st. Maybe I could accept that I have had the Muppets Christmas album playing all week. Maybe I could accept the thoughtful birthday gifts that I have selected for my friends unlucky enough to share a birthday with the sensory-searing explosion that December is. Maybe I could accept that I have raised children who can visit Toys R US without demanding anything, without producing any major freak outs, and that Super K. picked thoughtful and loving gifts for all his (4!) friends unlucky enough to have December birthdays. I could accept that we made time to attend each party so they would feel special, no mean scheduling feat. I could accept that no, I did not knit their stockings out of reclaimed wool, but I did scored .99 stockings from Meijer and some felt stick-on letters and made personal ones that they are just as excited about. I could accept that I didn't lose it when the head fell off the 2nd wise man but calmly super-glued it back on. I could accept the Good Enough Christmas, rather than the fantasy Perfect Christmas that only exists in commercials that are trying to sell me premade cookie dough or giant-bow-decked cars.

I could look like this:

Dressed in some holiday-inappropriate shirt, but at least it is red.
Surrounded by festive cheer,
slightly distracted, but smiling a little.
Perhaps sipping some eggnog while I ponder my giant list of to-dos, 
or perhaps pleased by the fact that someone got me a new copy of It's a Wonderful Life for Christmas.....
Just enjoying the Good Enough Christmas. 

I really do need a copy of It's a Wonderful Life, people. 14 shopping days left....just saying.....maybe Sam Wainwright will buy it for me. Hee-Haw and Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Letting go

We are currently running a birthday party marathon. Super Kindergartener has 4 classmates with December birthdays, so within the span of a week, we are attending 4 birthday parties. 3 of which are at the Xtreme Bounce Zone. (No E is needed when you are talking about that level of bounce.) But today, I want to talk about the party that was Xtreme in a whole other way. A more My Little Pony way. 

Super K. and I amble into the hall the family has rented and transformed into a riot of color and cheerful chaos. We aren't early in the slightest, but they are still setting up. Putting up 5 candy stations, a buffet, 7 tables with handmade balloon centerpieces, a cake tower under a rainbow made out of balloons and flowers, a gift table, 3 ball pits, a tumbling ramp, and a life-size, climbable cow statue does take time. It is all My Little Pony themed (minus the cow), which we should have figured out from the singing invitation, an emailed slideshow with the birthday girl's face superimposed onto the likes of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. Super K. is quicker than I am, so he picked all of her gifts out of the My Little Pony aisle at the toy store, which was a riot of a whole other kind, mostly related to shopping in December. That's another story that I am still too traumatized to tell, but point is, we are well-equipped for this party, gift-wise at least.

We don't know anyone, except the birthday girl and her parents, who are understandably busy, so we stand around awkwardly in the doorway. It's what we do best anyway. Adorable Kindergartener (the birthday girl) rushes over, grabs Super K.'s hand, and they run off to climb the cow. Never did figure out how the cow related to things, but I have plenty of time to ponder this as I continue to stand awkwardly in the doorway, clutching a crooked Pinkie Pie gift bag in front of me like a shield.

Adorable K.'s mom comes over to welcome me; this is gracious but complicated by the fact that she speaks very little English and I speak very little Spanish. Shamefully and despite 4 years of high school study, my Spanish continues to hover around requests for the bathroom and declarations that the empanadas are delicious. I understand more than I am willing to try to say because my accent in horrible and embarrassing, so I am aware of the lovely things she is saying to me. I just can't really respond more than nodding and smiling a lot. She talks to me very slowly and clearly, probably because I am just nodding and smiling like an idiot, but it helps with my understanding so I go with it. She floats off to prepare for the interpretive dance act (more on that later), and I resume standing awkwardly by the door, letting the waves of happy conversation wash and flow around me. I am acutely aware of how lame and out of place I look amid all these vibrant Chilean women, laughing and looking fabulous. I wish I was way less white and lame; clear would be nice. Then I could be invisible. I can NOT wait to leave.

A song starts and Adorable K. and her cousins drag Super K. out onto the dance floor. He looks like I feel. He has no idea what is going on and what is expected of him; I can see the tears in his eyes from here. Super K. doesn't like attention on a good day; he won't sing in front of people he doesn't know. He hides behind me when we are in crowds. He recently refused to do the Christmas pageant because "people might look" at him. He is rather shy; he takes time to warm up and he has a healthy dose of my socially anxious genes. It appears that the song contains directions about what dance step to do next. They are, naturally, in Spanish. If there is one thing Super K. hates more than people hearing him sing, it is people watching him dance. He looks like he is going to throw up. They begin to dance in a circle; slow, then fast. Hopping on one foot, then going backwards. Holding hands, then spinning around. I am getting dizzy just watching it and I am fighting everything in me that wants to swoop in there and carry my child, and probably myself, to familiar safety. I am debating just grabbing him, when I see Adorable K. turn to Super K. and smile. He smiles back. He still doesn't know the steps, but he does them. Just a hair behind everyone else and with a slight shrug, like "OK, well, so I look silly. So what?" There is some move where they all lie on the floor and the children start to roll around into each other. Super K. laughs a little. Then he laughs a lot. Then they all hop up and bounce over to gorge on cookies and cotton candy at a table guarded by the smiling visage of Twilight Sparkle. The dance is over, but I can't quite get it out of my head. The tune was quite catchy, but I think you know that isn't what I am talking about.

Super K. feels out of place, I know he does. He can't understand what anyone is saying. Everything around him is wild and loud and new. He doesn't know what he is supposed to do or say. What a frightening experience for anyone, let alone someone who is 5 and kinda shy. And yet, he just gives in to it. I can see him feeling all his feelings over there and still standing next to his friend with a willingness to try. "OK, so I don't get this. Well, maybe if I stick it out, I will. Or someone nice will explain it to me. Either way, look; Cookies!" I actually watch and see the exact moment when he shrugs and just goes for it. Allows himself to look silly and out of place. Allows himself to laugh and have fun despite having no clue what this fun is. Allows himself to just let go of all that control we delude ourselves into thinking that we have. He is 5 years old and has the wisdom to just let go and open himself up to a new experience. I am 35 and hugging the door frame like an idiot.

So I let go of the door frame. I let go. I put my shield/gift in the gift pile, pick up a cookie, and talk to the next person I see, in my broken Spanish with a comment about the extrano vaca in the middle of the room. She laughs and says, in perfect English, that I am right, that cow is totally weird.

We have a lovely time. There is a magician, a fire act that lights the cake's candles, a Pinkie Pie pinata that Super K. refuses to hit, and the aforementioned interpretive dance act that involves the birthday girl using a wand to bring to life My Little Pony shaped balloon animals that her uncles have mounted on remote control cars, while her mother throws glitter on everything in sight. The party ends in a carnival-like dance with everyone whirling crazily on the dance floor around the weird vaca; myself and Super K. included. Just letting go of everything but each other.

I don't have any pictures from the My Little Pony party or of the weird cow, 
so here is a picture of Super K., my mom, and her caballo instead.
He is no my little pony, but he is just as magical and wonderful. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Animatronic Alvins

Antimatronic Alvins in Ann Arbor; I love the alliteration, but the reality is actually pretty awful. 

So, my mother-in-law and I differ in our opinion about animatroic toys. She finds them adorable. I find them slightly less adorable than mosquitoes and root canals. Naturally, the children agree with her and she buys some for them every Christmas. And various other holidays. And sometimes just because she happened to be in Hallmark. Luckily, I have convinced her that some of them want to live at her house because "it delights the children to visit them there." She went for it, so that is how I unloaded the Valentine's Day bull that sings in Spanish for some reason and the Roller Skating Casper the Friendly Ghost, who is wearing a vampire cape and who, incidentally, started to sound like Bela Lugosi when the batteries were dying. But I have had less luck with the Christmas ones and most of them live here. Thankfully, they "sleep" for 11 months of the year in the basement, but the day after Thanksgiving, all 3 Supers want to know where the "talking toys" are. And upstairs they come, like a pack of singing werewolves. Which is just as scary as it sounds.

My least favorite is the hula-hooping Alvin the Chipmunk. Mostly because the children are constantly removing the hula-hoop, which leaves him whirling his lonely hips like some furry Elvis, lustfully luring my children to him with his siren song and Santa hat. Well, this year, Super Toddler finally broke him. Of course, she only broke the hip motion part. Now, he forlornly sings, while the motor spurts and clicks in the background, trying to shake a little shimmy out. His little head is kinda drooped to the side, making his paunch all the more noticeable and sad. I guess he is like Fat Elvis now.

This is better experienced than discussed. Here ya go:

The Supers decide that Fat-Elvis-Christmas-Alvin is too sad, so they give him a friend about 10 seconds in. It doesn't make him any less sad, but they seem to find it adorable. 

Can't wait to see who shows up to traumatize me this year! 
Tis the season! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Work

At the end of the day, it all comes down to Legos. 

So, Super Fetus, while skilled in many ways, clearly can't count. Child thinks this is trimester 1 if the vomiting I did all night is anything to go on. I suppose the less said about that the better. Point is, I was not in the best emotional place this morning and it was my turn to drive the car pool. Every Wednesday, I drive the carpool, and every other Wednesday, I drive Super Kindergarten's schoolmate's mom to her bus stop. This was such a Wednesday. We chatted (she is super sweet), we got to her bus stop, she got out, and then this happened.

Super K.: Where's your mom going?

Sweet K.: Oh, she is going to work.

Super K.: I see. My mom doesn't work.

Now, he has never said this before. I suppose it just never comes up. Well, today it comes up that I don't work. Of course it does. The day I am feeling weak and gross and awful because I WORKED at growing a human baby all night long. I felt like the floor was dropping. Which could have been a wave of nausea or it could be all the respect I thought my child had for me flying out the window. They sorta feel the same. But Super K. wasn't done.

Super K.: My dad works.

Sweet K.: Yeah, my dad works too.

Super K.: Wow! Both of them?

Sweet K.: Yeah.

Super K.: You must missed them a lot.

Sweet K.: Yeah. But she doesn't work every day. And he is home at night and somedays.

Super K.: That's good. I hate it when dad goes to work. I wish he'd stay home and play legos. Mom stays home and plays legos, it's fabulous.

Sweet K.: I bet. What sets do you have?

Super K.: Oh, a ton. Like this Batman one with the Joker....

Sweet K.: You have that one?! That's awesome!

The Lego discussion took the rest of the car ride and probably could have taken the rest of the morning, if they weren't in different classrooms, but I wasn't listening. I know enough about legos and I needed to deal with the warm fuzzy feelings that felt suspiciously unlike nausea.

Work is such a loaded word to a stay-at-home mom. We like to qualify what we do by saying that we don't work "outside the home" or that we don't work "for pay." It is painful to us that our fellow "working mom" sisters might think that we are slothing around at home while they are out actually working. This makes us feel less, shamed, and like we have something to prove. We certainly work. We work all day long. "It isn't easy what we do," we shout. "We're just as good! We're just as important! We contribute! We WORK!" We might as well be shouting "Validate us!" Which is silly. That isn't anyone's job but our own. Not to mention, our children do it so well and without the constant barrage to do so. If we take the time to hear them.

Work isn't a loaded work to Super Kindergartener. It means a job you leave the house to do. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how he views me as a person that I don't have a job. It has nothing to do with his respect for me that I don't have a job. It has nothing to do with how much he loves me that I don't have a job. I'm his mom. He gets to see me most of the time. And that makes him happy. Sweet Kindergartener's mom goes to a job and he sees her some of the time. And that makes him happy. Children adapt to their surroundings. It is kinda what they do. I don't want to get into a working mom vs stay-at-home moms thingie. There is no need. This battle I am having isn't with anyone else anyway. It is totally with myself.

Because the reality is that I don't see staying-at-home with my children as work. I guess, in the technical sense, it is my job, but anyone who has worked outside the home and/or within it will tell you that job is not an effective word for raising children. It just isn't. I don't know if there is a word that fully expresses the frustrating, fulfilling, maddening, marvelous, confusing, compelling, loony, loving, and utterly consuming experience that raising other human beings is. It would be a big one. Thesaurus should get on that because then I would be able to say: "Oh me? I don't work right now. I {insert hugely understandable and descriptive word that means to parent}." And the other person would say, "Oh yes, I work right now, but me too!" And then we could bond. It would be awesome and fabulous, like Legos.

You know what? I am just gonna start telling people that "Oh me? I don't work. I lego." 

It would be pretty accurate. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Stuff they didn't tell me (Vol. 2)

It is time, once again, for a list of random stuff that I was not told at the baby shower. I swear to you, more experienced moms think it is funny to keep this stuff from new moms. Don't be that mom, sitting on information that could potentially bail another mom out. Be a help, not a hindrance. Or at least make sure she is aware that one day, despite all efforts, her child will discover chicken nuggets, "oh, thank goodness, it's just pee" will enter her lexicon, and that she should start buying stock in chocolate while her lovely bundle of baby is still in the womb; you know, just the basics. If you want to review the other stuff I wasn't told, check it out here

1. They poop all the time, and I am not just talking about the babies. Those are actually the easy poops, as hard as that is to imagine at the time. Once potty training hits, it gets even crazier and you will be convinced that they poop all the time. Plus, they will always get the urge when you are at the zoo and have no idea where the nearest bathroom is. 10 to 1 that this will be a ground-hogging situation. (Oh, God bless the urban dictionary.....keeps me young.)

2. If your child likes dolls, he or she will most likely find the ugliest, scariest, most frightening doll in creation to fall in love with. You will have no idea if it is a boy or a girl, unless you are one of those super progressive parents who insists on an anatomically correct doll but then your child will probably insist that it is the opposite gender just to mess with you. This doll will very rarely be dressed and usually carried around by a leg, which you will get used to but visiting adults will not, so prepare to explain early child development often or get used to hiding the thing. It will probably talk when squeezed or something incredibly weird. Enjoy the nightmare of having to tuck this thing in with your child every night.

3. You child will go from eating everything in sight to seemingly subsisting on air. This will happen randomly and without warning. When you are begging them to please, just eat some cake, call the doctor or your mother. You've gone round the bend. They will tell you that it is perfectly normal and as long as your children aren't losing weight, they are fine. But you'll believe it more coming from them, so make sure to call.

4. Stop buying toys that talk. I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I know they are flashy. I know your children beg for them. I know some claim to be educational. You are only hurting yourself and you are going to hurt the toy when the batteries start to die and it freaks you out by randomly going off in the middle of the night. Trust me.

5. Get some Magic Clean Erasers. You are gonna need them. If you want to make them, knock your crafty self out. Look! There is even a thrifty Pinterest-approved version!

6. A word about Pinterest; if you are crafty and become a crafty mom, you are gonna love Pinterest. Or whatever crafty-comparison-clique replaces it someday. Embrace it; that is what the internet was made for. (Well, that and porn.) But if you aren't crafty and don't want to be a crafty mom, do not despair! Head on over here and laugh with the rest of us non-crafty folk. Making fun of stuff is what the internet was made for. (Well, that and porn.)

7. Do not worry if you don't have an Elf on the Shelf. It is not required, despite what about half of your mom friends are gonna tell you. God bless you if you don't know what a shelf elf is. Something not right with those eyes.......

P.S. No judging if you fall in love with the idea of a Santa Spy and delight in the antics, but if you give me one, I am totally re-gifting it. Fair warning.

8. You will have to understand stuff like this:
Me: Wait. So, Jabba the Hutt has children with him?
Super Preschooler: Yes.
Me: Like Hutt children?
Super Preschooler: No, regular children.
Me: Did he steal them?
Super Preschooler: No! They are on the bus.
Me: The bus?
Super Preschooler: Yes, Jabba drives it. He is good now.
Me: Oh, I see. But wait, how does he drive it?
Super Preschooler: With his arms. He has arms, Mom.
Me: OK, but what about the break and stuff?
Super Preschooler: That is what his tail is for.
Me: And he got on the bus how?
Super Preschooler: He moves sometimes. Haven't you seen the movies?

You won't have any hope of understanding stuff like this, so just pretend. And no laughing because pretend play is serious business when you are 3.

9. You probably won't like Elmo. And if you do like Elmo, you probably won't like Jake and the Pirates. And if you do like Jake, then you probably won't like Bob the Builder. And if you do like Bob, there will be someone new to dislike. Or there is always Barney. Whichever one you don't like, your child will adore. Guaranteed. It stinks, but it gets you ready for the teenage rebellions to come. Think of it as practice.

10. They will figure out how to undo those car seats. It will happen way before you are ready.

11. Most stuff is gonna happen way before you are ready, so take a lot of pictures.

12. Especially the embarrassing bath ones that they are gonna hate you for someday. 
Can't put a price on embarrassing your kids. 
Obviously, don't put any butt ones on the internet, 
but keep those for when you meet their future spouses. 

Share this list (and any homegrown wisdom you have grown yourself) with the new ones. Come on now, don't let your sisters take fruit snacks to the park playdate and fall victim to the crunchy moms. Be helpful out there; it's a jungle of judgment! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Pew-mates

Dear This Sunday's Pew-mates-

Let's review, shall we? First of all, you unceremoniously shoved my child further into the pew to accommodate yourselves. Startling, but I suppose understandable. You were late and in a hurry, after all. Then, during the readings, you engaged in a barely whispered conversation, that I could totally hear, about the inappropriateness of my son's Star Wars sticker book as "church reading material." You may be right, but I doubt you heard any of the actual readings in your ire. Then, you acted put out when my 5-year-old had to squeeze by you to take up a can of food. Yeah, I suppose that was annoying. Having to move a few inches so a child could give some food to the hungry. Guess your huffs and puffs were warranted there. Then, when he got lost on his way back and couldn't find me, you declared, "Oh goodness, he is probably going to cry now." Don't really understand why the potential tears of children made you roll your eyes. But that eye roll was nothing compared to the one I received when I had to haul my pregnant self past you to go fetch him. Yes, I am huge. I get it. After sighing at us upon our return and your repeated glares at his Star Wars book, I am surprised that he wanted to hold your hand during the Our Father at all. I certainly wouldn't have.  After this kind and forgiving gesture on his part, there was no need to wipe your hand on your pants the second the prayer is over. Yes, I know he is sticky. He is 5. Couldn't you be sightly sneaky with your wiping? And finally, after all that, you have the nerve to turn to me after church and say "Well, I guess someone just doesn't know how to act in church yet." You go ahead and interpret my "Yes, some of us are still learning" any old way you please, but know this; I was not talking about my 5-year-old son.


Awkward Mom

PS Next time, perhaps not sitting next to small children might ensure you have a more positive church experience. Or maybe actually listening to the readings, especially if they have anything to do with tolerance and patience. Just a thought.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Confidence

Super Preschooler has been playing in the middle of the living room for an hour and a half. His sister is napping. His brother is on topic 36 with me. Neither of us can stand to be alone or hear the silence. But Super Preschooler might as well be in a bubble made of spun sugar and self-sufficiency. I do NOT understand the child, but I sure wish I was more like him.

I get so lonely sometimes. Which is odd for someone who can't get a second alone to pee, but there it is. I crave friends. Interactions. Conversation. Shamefully, probably attention and validation as well. Super K. resembles me in this regard. He is the kid at the park asking all the other kids to play, and I am the mom at the park asking all the other moms to talk to me. Luckily, Super K. also seems to have a teflon spirit and the "nos" and "go away little kid" don't seem to affect him with the same hurt that the mom rejections hurt me. I need to work on that.

But what I really want to work on is being more like Super Preschooler. The child is magical.

 I think he might also be a World War I flying ace. 

It isn't just that his inner world is amazing and fantastical and probably rainbow flavored. That helps, I am sure. And his self-contentment is so completely total. He seems to need nothing, even food or sleep on occasion. Sure, he has challenges and flaws; who doesn't? Super Preschooler's are there, but nothing that is gonna stop him from fully embracing the world. Or world domination. I don't think he has decided which yet. All wonderful but not the true source of the magic. The true source of his magic is his delightful confidence. He is so utterly and completely who he is. And he knows it. And I am sure he thinks "who wouldn't want to be friends with me? Anyone who doesn't, well, bless em, but their loss."

Don't get me wrong; Super Preschooler isn't arrogant or vain or anything like that. I mean, first of all, he is 3. Can one even be arrogant at 3? Not sure, but I doubt it. Lastly, Super Preschooler is totally benign and clearly wishes all he meets goodness and cheer and candy of some type. He just isn't going to chase you down to be his friend. For starters, he has enough imaginary ones as it is. If you want to hang, come on over and have a lego; he has tons and is willing to share. But don't expect massive overtures or complicated invitations. Super Preschooler knows that you don't need those. You want to party with him, as is.

The kicker is that he's right. Super Preschooler draws people to him with the sheer force of his magical confidence and charm. It is totally innate and natural; he isn't trying to be charming or confident. He just is. He is just him and people love him for it. He knows this at 3 and doesn't mess with it.

I am 35 and seem to mess this up all the time. Somewhere on my life journey, I got it into my head that "well, gee, Erin, you are kinda awkward and weird. People are probably just being nice to you because they feel sorry for you. And if they do want to be your friend, you better work like the dickens to make sure they want to stay friends with you. Keep the weirder stuff to yourself. Don't, like, start blogging about it or something silly like that, OK?"


However, despite what that little voice in my head might think, there is evidence that people do like me. Probably not as many people as like Super Preschooler, but come on:

No one else on earth is this cool, so comparing oneself to Super Preschooler is futile and pointless. 
He wins at life for that hair alone. 

But comparison is another villain and another battle. Today, I am talking about confidence. Mine should be higher. Mostly because it currently hovers above the floor, but also because I am pretty neat. And folks should want to be friends with me. I am a good friend. Sure, I'm a little weird, but if the internet has taught me anything, it has taught me that we are all a little weird. And no one is very good at hiding it on Facebook. No one. I have seen your photo albums, I know. And it's OK. I still wanna be friends with you.

There's a new month coming. December; with all it's bustle and crazy and wonder and delightful abundance. The year is ending. Jesus is coming. School is halfway. It's an interesting time of possible togetherness and potential loneliness. It happens to also be a time of year that I love and yet fear. Worry is high at Christmas; "will so and so like my present?" "Surely these handmade cookies aren't enough, I should add a gift card." "Does so and so even like me at all? I shouldn't bother them with a card. They'll feel the need to reply." "Don't look too needy." "Don't forget so and so." "Don't be so you, Erin. Simmer down." "Perk it up, Erin. Doesn't matter if you don't feel like it." Blah blah blah......Cripes, it isn't even December yet and I am tired.

Therefore, this month, I am trying something new. This Christmas season, my mantra is gonna be "Be like Super Preschooler. I am enough." I could go on and on about what that means, but you know what, I don't have to. I am enough.

I may be enough,
but Super Preschooler has always been more.

Have a feeling that moreness is gonna continue for a long time. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! 
I think it is pretty obvious what I am thankful for.

May your Thanksgivings be fun, festive, and full of food. 
May they also be just awkward enough to make a good story come Christmas.

And remember, you have to see these people again in less than a month.
Play nice!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Strong Willed Daughters

This could also be titled Super Toddler vs. the Pajamas. It is a recurring battle. 

She has been at it for 10 minutes. I can't help but admire her persistence, even as I gently coax her with "Baby, please. Keep them on. It's almost bedtime." She glares at me like her head is about to spin around and I am to be bathed in pea soup. Girl knows what she wants and she wants her pajamas off. She tugs and pulls and moves around to get better leverage. She has all but one leg free. I try to catch her, but she is too fast, even tangled in flannel teddy bear feeted pajamas. She shimmies away and turns a corner. I lumber after her, only to slip on the newly shed pajamas, pooled on the top of the stairs like a snake skin. I spy a gleeful flash dashing into the kitchen. And it is a true flash, as her diaper proved no battle at all and lies forlornly in the middle of the living room.

Her brothers were never like this. Super Kindergartener is Mr. Rules himself and informs us when we are violating some long forgotten edict that I hollered into the backseat to impress the mom in my car pool or the visiting playdate. "But Mom, you said no eating in the car last week." "But Mom, I thought sitting on the table wasn't allowed." I have a developed a fast and loose method of qualifying rules due to his steadfastness. "Oh, that is only on Wednesdays. When we have guests. If the weather is over 65 degrees." He probably remembers each and every one of those qualifiers too. Needless to say, clothes stay on Super K. Because that is what clothes are for.

Super Preschooler blithely ignores most rules, but he is also terribly and lovingly slothful. He is really more of a passive rule-breaker. He rather play in his mind with his imaginary friends, laughing at private jokes and making delightful arm movements that must relate, but look more like ethereal dances with friendly ghosts. His interactions with others are passionate, surely, but his bark is way worse than his bite. It is like a mysterious bubble houses Super Preschooler and he'll wave at you from time to time, but his world is so totally his own. He has no strong opinions about clothes. If left out of them, he'll stay out of them. If put in them, he'll stay in them. He has never yet lost a diaper. This is making potty-training a bit of an ordeal, but one battle at a time.

Super Toddler bounces through life like a super charged bouncing ball; plowing into and off of anything she happens to encounter. Her bite is way worse than her bark; we had a full-on Dracula moment the other evening because she got a little too excited during a hug. She listens to no one. She obeys no one. She eats like a starving caveman. She throws everything she can pick up. And her arm is that of a big league hurler, which delights Awkward Dad until she beans him in the face with a fastball and then laughs. She hates being dressed; clothes fly off of her faster than at a Chippendales convention. The girl thinks she is potty training, but what this amounts to is her ripping off her diaper, squatting over the potty for 2 seconds, standing up, and peeing on the bathroom floor. It's nice that she is interested, but it is costing me a fortune in Lysol.

If she saw a mountain, she would climb it. An ocean, swim it. Any obstacle that lands in her way, she plows right over. Or tries to eat it. There is no containing her. No reasoning with her. And no way to not be delighted by her. She's a little bit like an Id gone amok. She takes such pleasure in her life and whatever happens to fall into her life. And while this makes bedtime a bit of a struggle most nights and I wonder if I should give Father Karras a ring, I really wouldn't want her any other way. Awkward Dad watches her sometimes and marvels, "just think what she is going to do with her life. Just think about all the wonders she is going to meet. Just think of all those eating contest trophies."

Nope, this is full-fledged queen. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas Lists

Yes, I know you don't want to read about Christmas just yet, but this one actually makes me more in the mood for Thanksgiving anyway. 

So, the Supers were writing out their Christmas lists. Super Kindergartener, who is currently the only one with writing superpowers, was helping. Super Preschooler had just presented me with a list of ever Star Wars toy in the galaxy and Super Toddler's seemed to consist entirely of food, when Super Kindergartener ambled over with something the size of the Constitution.

Me: Baby, this is really long. You know that Santa only brings 3 gifts, right?

Super K.: Yeah.

Me: Well, wouldn't it make more sense to pick 3 things that you really really want for your list?

Super K.: Oh, this isn't a list of what I want.

Me: No?

Super K.: No, this is what I am giving to other people this year.

Me: .....

Super K.: Mom, why are you crying? Oh, is it because your name is blank? I just didn't think of anything yet, but don't worry. It is going to be amazing.

Me: It already is amazing, Baby. It already is.

What's that, Readers? Oh, 3 gifts. Well, here is my theory: if 3 gifts was good enough for baby Jesus, it is good enough for 3 Supers Kids from Ann Arbor.  

I think I might be raising the next coming of St. Nicholas. If you have a bunch of unmarried daughters and weird bags of coins come flying through your windows, we'll know who to blame.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Gender

Can I just get one that is sugar and puppy-dog tails? 

I know a lot about Super Fetus. I know that Super Fetus loves sandwiches, well, really carbs of any kind. Except those in Alfredo sauce; I think Super Fetus is cool with the pasta, but the Alfredo sauce got sent right back to the kitchen. Literally. I didn't make it to the bathroom that time. I know that opera makes Super Fetus excited, not sure yet if this is from extreme love or extreme hate. I know that Super Fetus likes to sleep through the evening chaos and doesn't bother to wake, even when the rest of the Supers are throwing massive, mega fits. This bodes well for Super Fetus. I know that car rides make Super Fetus kick me in the ribs and that sitting down at the computer makes Super Fetus poke my bladder. By the way, be right back. OK, back. Where was I? Ah, yes. I know much about Super Fetus, including that I adore Super Fetus so much that it hurts. But what I don't know is whether Super Fetus is a he or a she.

It is a little thing. What does it affect, really? Name choice and which potty training booster seat I should take better care of, the one with the penis shield or the one without. That's really it. During my first 3 pregnancies, I didn't give gender much thought. Awkward Dad and I are strict opening-your-presents-on-Christmas-morning people, so finding out the gender was never really important. It seemed more fun to wait, and the waiting wasn't really a big deal. Names were selected for either option; there are only 2 after all. It isn't too much work to pick 2. Then, we wait. Most everyone we know finds it a fun game to play; guessing if we are having a boy or a girl. Either that or they loath us for making them wait, which makes it extra fun for us. They shouldn't be so impatient or hung up on gender in the first place, right? And for 3 pregnancies, it has been just a little thing about the Awkward Family. "Oh, they are weird; they never find out what they are having." And it has been because we don't care. As long as Super Fetus is healthy, I don't care if it is a boy or a girl. 

Except, this time, I think I do. I think I do care. Readers, I think I want a girl. 

This, of course, means that I am totally convinced that I am having a boy. 

It is a vague feeling. I can't pin it down or tell you why I want another girl. There is the obvious reason that another girl would balance the gender scales around here; 2 of each sounds kinda orderly and nice. There is the other obvious reason that I am starting to stretch my acceptable boy names, while I have had a back-burner girl name since I was gestating Super Toddler. 

But that's all I can rationally point to. Everyone who knows Super Kindergartener knows that having a boy is no guarantee that you will get out of playing dress-up and princesses with your child. And everyone that knows Super Toddler knows that having a girl is no guarantee that you will get out of being beaned in the face by a stray fastball. I have no allusions of sugar and spice angels in clouds of tulle, smelling of strawberries and vanilla, and the funny thing is that I don't want a baby girl like that anyway.

I want a baby girl like her sister; fierce and fine and fragrant in her own amazing ways. Someone sly and strong, with spunk to spare. Someone fearless. Someone loud and lusty for life. But also someone imaginative and sweet, like Super Preschooler. And bold yet sensitive, like Super Kindergartener. And rebellious and funny and smart and kind and generous and utterly magnificent, like all three of them. 

Why I want this amazing creature housed as a girl is something I can't really answer. I have to think about it some more. Or maybe I just need to not think about it at all, because, deep down, I think I know that it doesn't really matter and that the second I met him or her, I won't give a rip what he or she is packing under that diaper. I will cuddle Super Baby to me and call her the marvelous girl name that I have been saving up or I will coo the totally wonderful boy name that we have yet to settle on. And that will be that. 

Awkward Dad has the most credible theory so far. He says. "I think you want 5 kids. I think you are convincing yourself that this is a boy, so that when you get pregnant for the 5th time, you can tell people, well, Super Toddler needs another girl in the family and they won't look at you like you are crazy. But they will still look at you like you are crazy because that is what people do, so just give in and accept that you want 5 kids."

Honestly, he might be right. 5 kids has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Hey, why are you looking at me like I am crazy?

 And I don't even know how I would go about looking for this particular Christmas present anyway. It isn't like my doctor has the answer all wrapped up in a pink or blue box somewhere in my file. However, that is a thought for something to rummage around for next time he is 45 minutes late and leaves in waiting in the exam room.......

They all look sugary and spicy to me. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Envy - battle 2

OK, let's be real; it is more like battle 6785349097. Awkward Mom does look good in green. 

So, this happened the other day:

Super Kindergartener: Mom, please don't put cookies in my snack anymore.

Me: Ummmmm...who are you and what have you done with my son?

Super K.: I'm serious.

Me: OK, but why? Are cookies not allowed? Did the teacher say something? (I am really bad at reading school rules sometimes, but I know what has nuts in it. It isn't like I sent him in there with a Snickers Bar; these were Vanilla Wafers. Aren't those like the healthy cookies anyway?)

Super K.: Bossy K. says that cookies aren't good for snack and that they are bad for me. She says that they will make my teeth rot out of my head. I don't want to bring them anymore.

Me: (Well, Bossy K. should mind her own dang business.) I see.

So, I show up at school the next day with Super K. and a snack bag full of cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks. I happen to see his teacher and make casual reference to my snack debacle of yesterday.

Teacher: Oh, that. (Pause laced with tons of stuff that would be inappropriate to say about Bossy K.) Super K. is so sweet and sensitive, as you know.

Me: Yes. I know.

Teacher: I am pretty sure Bossy K. isn't allowed sugar and well, sometimes, they look at each other's snacks and well, I am afraid she might have been a little jealous and maybe said some things out of that. She leans in and whispers, let's be honest; to a child, cookies are much nicer looking than kale chips.

Me: Ah.

I am familiar with jealousy. He, and his twin, Envy (I have never been able to tell those two apart anyway) are in my top tier of super villains. I have spoken of him before. I have been foes with these two since my nemesis, Perfect Preteen, showed up at confirmation in a ruffled monstrosity, with perfect 80s hair, and mocked the pale pink, utterly beautiful, muumuu that my grandmother had brought back from Hawaii for me. Doesn't matter that, years later, I am aware that I looked much nicer and, dare I say, classier. Doesn't matter that I think I even knew this at the time. All I heard were the whispers of "Erin is wearing her pajamas. And her hair looks goofy." (My cow-lick has never behaved, even with 80s-level hair-spray, so she was right about that.)  All I heard were those whispers and all I felt was less. If only I was wearing a poofy, ruffle-mess, then everything would be great. Then the popular girls would like me and let me sit at their lunch table. If only.

Envy starts young. We want what others have, we want to fit in. We want to be part of the group. There is a period around 13 where we don't want to fit in and be part of the group, but that is just another group we are trying to join anyway, so my point stands. I guess I just wasn't expecting this to be something my children were going to deal with in Kindergarten, but even that shouldn't surprise me. Perfect Preteen made fun of my First Communion outfit too. If she had been at my baptism, she probably would have had something nasty to say. Or she would have cried or spit-up on me or something, given that we were babies.

I think what surprised me was that Super K. was actually on the other end of things; envy was being directed towards him. He didn't know it; all he heard was Bossy K. freak him out about rotting teeth. Or maybe the child is far more emotionally intelligent than I give him credit for and actually knew that his cookies were somehow bothering Bossy K. and decided not to taunt her with them. Maybe. I am leaned toward teeth freaking. Either way, being on the receiving end of envy is not something I am familiar with. I am used to dishing it out.

I am jealous of other moms. Other wives. Other writers. Other bloggers who seem to write the same stuff I write and yet, "go viral." I have no idea how to "go viral," which sounds really gross when I put it like that. Maybe I am better off not being viral.... I am jealous of women who seem to dress stylish in an effortless way because I can't seem to find shirts that fit right and I have been wearing the same pair of jeans for 3 days. I am jealous of good cooks and people with spotless houses and people who say stuff like," Oh, I don't know, I just always wanted to play the guitar, so I learned. Music just comes easily to me, I guess." I am jealous of the graceful. I fell twice yesterday alone; once going to the garbage. That was disgusting, to say the least. I am jealous of women who love being pregnant; who have a glow and a perfect Hollywood bump and know how to do kegels. I am jealous of people who can spell and calculate the tip in their heads. I am really jealous of moms who were "just bored at home so I decided to write a book and, gosh darn it, Simon and Schuster just happened to pick it up. It's just my musings on motherhood. La de da."  I am jealous of people who are full-fledged adults; who understand escrow and don't find coffee too bitter. I am jealous of women who know how to do their makeup. Seriously, I look like a clown when I do it; like that drunk clown who drives a mouse in Uncle Buck. I am jealous of people who understand Bergman films and wine and modern art. I am jealous a lot.

Don't get me wrong; my life is pretty great. Oh, sure. I would like to be a famous writer who drinks coffee without grimacing in a fancy hat and chic outfit while I am photographed in my spotless, enormous house, during my interview with Oprah. I mean, who wouldn't? However, that isn't likely to happen and it isn't happening today. Suppose I will have to settle for typing rapidly in-between episodes of Super Why, while I guzzle diet Pepsi greedily in my 3-day-old pants and husband's college sweatshirt, listening to squabbles over legos in our rental with the crack that runs from the front door to the kitchen. It's not a bad life.

I have once been on the receiving end of envy and it was a big one. Here's what happened: My husband is in medical residency and this means we often have to hang out with doctors. Some are regular people and some are the doctors that Hollywood tells you about. Well, about a year ago, one of these people gave a party. It was a lavish affair at her enormous house, down winding roads, with breathtaking views. When I wasn't standing there staring at million-feet tall ceilings and walls of windows, I was trying to keep my horde of children from touching anything. Eventually, we wound up in her front yard/enormous grounds. Her son was out there and the children all started playing. I sat there, in some lovely deck chair, and tried not to be uncomfortable next to this woman, who is like twice as tall as me and 900 times more beautiful, successful, and accomplished. She swooshed her camera-ready hair out of her pore-less face, sighed like the heroine in a period drama, and turned her enormous eyes to me. I pushed my glasses further up my nose and tried not to notice the smear on the left lens. When was this party going to be over? And what pearl of wisdom was she about to drop on me? I hope it isn't about her work. I can barely keep in my head what Awkward Dad does and the DSM keeps changing and ...

Perfect Doctor/Mom/Model: Erin, you are so lucky.

Me: ummmmm......excuse me?

Perfect Doctor/Mom/Model: (graceful arm sweep toward the children) You have it all. You know that, right? You have it all.

She sighed again and looked off. Her pain is her own and not mine to exploit here, but bottom line, I had what she wanted. I had something that someone wanted. Someone who appeared to have everything. Someone who I could be jealous of all year and back was jealous of me. Me. Lame old Erin who wore her pajamas to confirmation and sat alone at lunch for years and trips just taking out the garbage and can't seem to get it together most days and doesn't know how to go viral or get a publishing deal because I am bored. Me. Someone was jealous of me.

I'll be honest, it wasn't the greatest feeling in the world. It really wasn't. Like Super K.; I was more confused than anything else, but it planted a little seed in there. A little seed that has grown since it was planted a year ago. Maybe I'm not so bad. Maybe I don't have to spend so much time wishing I was someone else. Maybe. Not for sure yet; it's still just a little plant and I often forget to water it. But it hangs on. And I think, just maybe, one of these days it is going to bloom. It is gonna bloom into a lovely, unique flower. And on that day, I am having cookies for snack. You should join me; we'll have a party. Envy is NOT invited.

Seriously, Preteen Erin. Don't worry. 
Someday you are gonna bloom like the flowers all over that fabulous muumuu. 

Preteen Awkward Uncle, I love you, but 
those pants are never gonna bloom or be fabulous. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Spiderwebs

I think Awkward Mom secretly wants to be Spiderwoman. Which isn't unreasonable, given that she is basically a multilingual spy who can walk on the ceiling, is super strong, and able to emit "venom blasts" from her hands. Who wouldn't want to be like that? 

A smart author whose name escapes me at the moment once referred to the connections between all women as a spiderweb. I love this description of female friendship. The seemingly delicate and fragile bonds that are actually incredibly strong and powerful. And while I prefer to view our womanly web as a home or net, rather than a trap to lure unsuspecting "flies," perhaps there is some truth in that less savory description as well. I think anyone who has attempted to break a spiderweb knows just how dangerous and sticky a predicament that can be. So too is it with those who would attempt to break the bonds between us fierce females.

The author, who name I really ought to look up on the wonder that is the internet, goes on to talk about the vibrations that run up and down the various strands of the spiderweb, alerting us to the menagerie of experiences and emotions that affect our sisters. Sometimes distress calls, sometimes offers of wine and chocolate, often just "hi, hope you are well;" these vibrations are communication but they are so much more. They are connection in and of themselves, and they are a loving care for each other and for our magical web. These vibrations are all it takes to strengthen and maintain our web home. Just as steel is strengthened in fire, so too are our bonds strengthened through the actual shaking, sometimes quite violently and intensely, of those very bonds. I prefer to see our web as glistening with dew and vibrating with activity, not a sad abandoned one in the basement corner. I suppose it could sometimes resemble that gray, lost one, but we are ultimately better than that and deftly able to create a new, stronger, web.

I imagine we have all used the web for nefarious purposes; gossip, petty squabbles that serve nothing but our truly fragile egos, childish and cliquish games that exclude rather than enfold. Over the years, I am sure we have all been flies trapped within and spiders trapping without; especially in those dark pre-adolescent years. This makes us human and flawed, not the wicked and vindictive sirens that society often paints us as. Those are brushes too broad and too cruel. And cruel we are not; mostly just insecure and convinced no one could possibly love us.

But that's a lie! There is a whole web of sisterhood that loves us. Just send a vibration down a strand, I guarantee you that a vibration will come racing back; with commiserations, offers of food and help, or just a joke to get you through the day. Spiders have such a bad reputation, but doesn't all science maintain that they are a truly helpful and vital part of nature? Don't be afraid of the woman web or think it is something to be brushed out of your ceiling corners. OK, well, yes, dead and drifty ones should be brushed out of the corners. But the living vibrant one that exists in your heart and the hearts of your fellow females; that one is to be treasured and used. Often and everyday.

“We're connected, as women. It's like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it, but most of the time we're just too scared, or selfish, or insecure to help. But if we don't help each other, who will?”

Sarah Addison Allen is right here, except in her use of the words "most of the time." No, Sarah, while we have all been scared and selfish and insecure and will be again, it isn't most of the time and it certainly won't be today. 

This photo of Super Toddler has nothing really to do with Woman Webs, 
except that pink clouds of tulle are kinda webby. 
Oh, and that I predict her particular strand of the web will, 
one day, be extremely strong and vibrant. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. 2 years

My sweet baby girl who I really need to stop calling baby-

Well, you did it. You went from this:

to this:

and it only took 2 years for us to learn that crazy and crabby face-making is easily one of your top 5 superpowers. Oh, and that you will probably be ruling the galaxy by next March. 

We learned a few other things these past 2 years. We learned that some babies do indeed play with their poop. And will color on the walls with it. We learned that 3 tacos can be a great way to celebrate the doctor oking solids. We learned that baby girls are full of sugar and spice and all things feisty. We learned that horse-phases can start at age 1. (We also know that horse-phases can last a lifetime, if Awkward Grandma is any indication. So, basically, I need to start saving for that pony now.) We learned that third children are indeed a breed unto themselves and will learn to open the screen door well before their siblings ever did. They will also race outside in nothing but a diaper given the chance because third children are fearless and laugh in the face of cold, traffic, and judgmental neighbors. We learned that Mommy has never seen the Terrible Twos like you are gonna pull the Terrible Twos. And, perhaps most importantly, we learned that there is no such thing as too much sausage.

I could add that I learned that I love you on a level that words do not reach and that, thus, you will never really know how wonderful it is to be able to know and love someone so totally rebellious and adorable, so brazenly herself, so entirely passionate about whatever it is that happens to be going on, so clearly strong and kind and good-natured and flexible and open and utterly fearless. I won't add that, however, because it didn't take me 2 years to learn that. I knew that the second they laid you on my chest and you screamed your somehow both joyful and indigent "Hello Mommy; I'm here!" into my face. 

I will always love you-
Awkward Mom

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Sharking

So, I tell Awkward Dad that my goal this week is to be like a shark; never still, always moving. I don't quite know how to take his response of, "Aren't you shark-like most of the time?" I don't think he was referring to my movements....

Anywho, all this sharking, and the fact that we are hosting Awkward Dad's Mom this week, means that it is busy central around here. Thus, I am post-low. Not adventure-low; those we are having daily. Just yesterday, we went to Sears to get the tires on our car fixed and I had to pull Super K. out of a tire display. Actually pull him out; he was nestled in 4 stacked tires and looked like he was gonna hang out for the night. Today, I am going to attempt the children's museum at 4 pm, known to parents of small children the world over as the "witching hour." I know someone who refers to it as the "arsenic hour," which I never really understood. Do you want to poison the children? Or yourself? Because, come 4 pm, I could see a case for either.  

But sitting here gabbing to you guys isn't exactly sharking, so off I swim. I'll be back soon, hopefully with tales and not arsenic. See ya on the fin side!

No amount of sharking,
or actual sharks, 
can get Super Preschooler out of bed in the morning. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. 10 years

Dear Henry-

(I mean, your superhero Dad-identity is sexy and all, but at the end of the day, I married the man, not the superpowers, ample as they may be.)

It was slightly snowing, remember? Magical swirling snow. Not enough to stick. Not enough to worry anyone or feel too Christmasy just yet. It was solidly November and a rainbow of leaves still clung up there in the branches. In fact, a few of them floated down, all mingled with that delightful snow, as we made our separate ways in the church parking lot.

I could see you in front of me, getting out of your father's car. Your mother threw her hands over your eyes so that you wouldn't see me, standing there on top of the parish center steps, with all my bridesmaids. I laughed. I can't remember if it was her hurried gesture to protect you from bad luck, even though I wasn't even in my wedding dress yet. Or if it was because, since we were 25 and rather broke, I was going to be wearing a dress you had seen before. Or if the snow made everything so dreamy and perfect. I don't know why, but laughing in the snow, there on those steps, is something I can see so clearly. Even 10 years, 3 and a half kids, a million memories, and who knows how little sleep ago.

I was never one of those little girls to plan my wedding. Designing each detail, down to the flowers and lights, leaving a big hole where the groom should be. Or maybe using Johnny Depp or your favorite member of the Brat Pack to stand in until Prince Charming showed up. I thought more of my career, my writing, my unfocused world-saving passion. Boys were fun and certainly something to think about, but weddings could wait.

I see now that I just couldn't have been able to dream up anything to match you anyway, so it is just as well that my mind was spared fruitless fantasies of ruffled dresses and tulle veils. At the end of the day, I would have married you in an empty airplane hanger, wearing a bag. Don't get me wrong; the wedding was fun, and having my father play Moon River for our first dance, surrounded by everyone that I loved, is one of many delightful snow-memories from that day. I can see them in my mind, anytime I want to; captured forever in a little beautiful snow globe, dreamy through the glass of time.

But lovely as that snow was, it melted. It floated away. It ended with the quickness that intense beauty often does. That's OK. That's why we took pictures. But you? No. You don't end. You, and my love for you, just grows and grows until I am sure that my heart is going to burst from holding all that love. And it kinda does, spilling out into a life that starts to include other creatures, more family, new places, different ventures, some babies, so many connections and miles. And then, suddenly and yet not suddenly at all, it is 10 years. 10 years of marriage and are you sure it hasn't been 100 years? And are you equally sure it hasn't been 10 days? I don't really care how long because I want it to go on forever anyway.

It isn't snowing today, but somehow it is still magical around here. Because everyday that you are my husband is magical.

I love you-

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Being Well-Rounded

I got the round part down, just gotta work on that well part. 

The other day I was talking to the mom of one of Super Kindergartener's classmates. I just want to preface this by saying that I really like this woman; she is nice, nonjudgmental, and not braggy in any way. However, she is a very experienced mom of four and somethings just sneak on out. She was telling me about her son's Karate lesson, her daughter's speech therapy, something about a color-coded calendar, this insurance thing, the code that is used in the school district for something something, something, and suddenly I am nodding along to a monologue that appears to be in an alien tongue of some kind. For about 10 minutes (which felt like 8 years), I rolled along on the swells and drops of this conversation and tried not to drown. I barely kept my head above the water, and I am pretty sure I swallowed some seaweed.

I should know what she is talking about. I am no Greenhorn Mom, believing everything Baby Center says and still boiling my baby's pacifier when it falls out of her mouth. (Germaphobes out there, no judging from this corner. Do what you gotta do.) This is not my first rodeo; I am gearing up to join Experienced Mom in the ranks of the moms of four and yet I am standing here, completely lost while she talks about something related to medical exceptions on this form that I wasn't sure I needed. Or wanted. And to make matters worse, she seemed well aware that it was dress-down-day; her son was sporting jeans and a school t-shirt, while Super Kindergartener was shifting uncomfortably, and occasionally glaring up at me, in his uniform khakis and button-up oxford knit. I haven't gotten one dress-down-day right in 2 and a half months, and it is starting to feel like they happen weekly. If  the mere dress-down-day is beyond me, I don't really know how I am going to figure the rest of this stuff out. I could ask Experienced Mom, but I seem to have swallowed too much seaweed from her monologue; seaweed that is feeling mysteriously like pride, but I am choosing to ignore that for the moment.

I went crying to Awkward Dad and this happened:

Awkward Dad: What was she talking about?

Me: That's just it! I don't know! I should know. I should know all of it by now; he is going to be 6 in February. We are moving off one-handed-age-counting. This is serious, and I don't know ANY of it.

Awkward Dad: You know lots of things.

Me: Stupid things. Not mom things. Not important paper insurance coded things.

Awkward Dad: Shush. You are doing fine. Super Kindergartener read that book all by himself last night.

Me: It was called Zombies in Love! I don't think we should be bragging about that one. Honey, I can't do this. I see other moms every day. EVERYDAY! I can't fake this forever. They are gonna find me out and kick me out and then where will we be? Our children will be social pariahs and they will fall in with bad people and not go to college and play bass in some crappy band, not like a good one, but a really awful one with some sweaty shirtless lead singer, and we'll have to go to these seedy bars to support them and it will be gross and awful and what will my mother think and and and...

Awkward Dad: Look at me. You are spinning out a little here. Answer me this; how did the Trojan War start?

Me: What?!?!

Awkward Dad: How did the Trojan War start?

Me:  Myth or not?

Awkward Dad: You chose.

Me: Well, Paris took a fancy to Menelaus' girl and spirited her off to Troy. Or you could go further back to that apple argument that Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite had. Either way, Agamemnon had his brother's back, but apparently not his wife's, sacrificed his daughter, and sailed off to Troy.

Awkward Dad: Right. And how many muses are there?

Me: Nine. Zeus got around. Everyone knows that.

Awkward Dad: Uh huh. How many books are you reading right now?

Me: Four. What are you getting at?

Awkward Dad: What's your favorite movie?

Me: What genre?

Awkward Dad: Never mind that now. How many movies have you seen?

Me: There is no way I know that. Hundreds. Thousands. What are you getting at?!

Awkward Dad: Wait for it.....who won the first Oscar for Best Actor?

Me: Emil Jennings.

Awkward Dad: For what film?

Me: That isn't how they did it then, but his body of work that year was The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh, which sounds way sexier than it actually is.

Awkward Dad: Could you make meatloaf for dinner?

Me: I guess, but that is what I was gonna make on Thursday.

Awkward Dad: So, there is a menu for the week?

Me: Yes.

Awkward Dad: And you did all the shopping, like usual with the ads and coupons and like 8 stores to get the best deals?

Me: Yes. All the Thanksgiving stuff is going on sale, so baking stuff is cheap. Where are you going here?

Awkward Dad: Who is Spiderman's secret identity?

Me: Are you serious? I am in a bad enough mood as it is.

Awkward Dad: Erin.....

Me: (Sigh.) Peter Parker in body, but he is technically Dr. Octopus with some subconscious of Peter still hanging around. However, there is a theory that Peter Parker's mind is actually in Norman Osborn. It is all crap and I don't want to talk about it.

Awkward Dad: But you understand it.

Me: As well as anyone understands such wacky pseudo-science, I guess. Fine. Your point?

Awkward Dad: Could you sew this hole in my pants?

Me: Sure.

Awkward Dad: Did you balance the checkbook today?

Me: Yes.

Awkward Dad: Because you do that everyday, right? And have these incredible detailed lists of all our bills and debts.

Me: Ugh, don't remind me of our debts, but yes.

Awkward Dad: What kind of animal is this?

Me: You're insane. That's a stuffed animal.

Awkward Dad: Erin....

Me: It's a Skink. Which is a lizard.

Awkward Dad: Who was the 14th president of the United States?

Me: Franklin Pierce.

Awkward Dad: Who wrote Macbeth?

Me: Are you serious? Shakespeare.

Awkward Dad: Fine. Who kills Macbeth?

Me: Macduff, but Macbeth killed his wife and kids, so I mean, he was kinda asking for it, if you ask me.

Awkward Dad: And who wrote Macbeth, the opera?

Me: Verdi.

Awkward Dad: Name 5 other Verdi operas.

Me: I know what you are doing. It's sweet, but it doesn't disprove my point.

Awkward Dad: Humor me.

Me: Aida, Falstaff, Rigoletto, Nabucco, and, your favorite, Ernani.

Awkward Dad: Don't even joke about that loony thing. Stupid horn of death....

Me: This means nothing. All of this won't help them survive in life. So I know a little bit about a lot of really pointless nerdy things.

Awkward Dad: I don't think the opera fans would appreciate being called nerds.

Me: This arcane stuff isn't going to help our children.

Awkward Dad: I think having a well-rounded mother is the best thing to help you survive in life. And you just used the word arcane in an everyday conversation, by the way.

Me: But I am not well-rounded. I am like a playdough ball with a big thumb hole where my mom-knowledge should be.

Awkward Dad: That is a really cool metaphor.

Me: It's really more of a simile. But thank you.

Awkward Dad: By the way, what is the difference between a metaphor and a simile?

Me: I could think of a few for you right now....Awkward Dad is as annoying as this pain I have in my....

Awkward Dad: You are a kind, thoughtful, loving person who cares deeply for the emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health of our children. That is enough right there. But you are also totally well-rounded and wonderfully smart and articulate and well versed in the ways of the world that our children are entering. What you didn't understand about what Experienced Mom was talking about, which sounded mostly like insurance forms and schooling codes that are bound to change format by next week, you will learn if you have to. You just haven't had to yet.

Me: But...

Awkward Dad: Stop. There is no but. There are only ands. You are smart. And funny. And weird. And handy. And wonderful. And flawed. And gorgeous. And somewhat bored by insurance forms. And a wonderful wife. And a truly experienced mother. And you are gonna write about this, aren't you? I can see it in your eyes. Why are you crying?

Me: Those are happy tears, you big adorable wonderful infuriating oaf.

Awkward Dad: Make me look all wise and witty, like you usually do.

Me: I'll do what I can.

Not that I have to do too much at all; he really is that wise and witty. On another note, Experienced Mom might not be braggy, but I am feeling super braggy with this post. Does it help that I didn't actually say these things about myself? That I just recorded them down to look at the next time I am mom-drowning? Probably not, but whatever. Sometimes a little brag is needed, I suppose. Let's not make a habit of it though, shall we? It isn't like I am Perfect Mom or something.

And she's back. 

Awkward Dad is available for pep talks from 8-10pm nightly.
Or by appointment. 
Seriously, call. He is very very good at it.